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Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead Spring 1989 East Coast tour reviews:
4/8/89 ~ Riverfront Coliseum 
4/9/89 ~ Freedom Hall
4/11/89 ~ Rosemont Horizon Arena
4/12/89 ~ Rosemont Horizon Arena
4/13/89 ~ Rosemont Horizon Arena
4/15/89 ~ Mecca
4/16/89 ~ Mecca
4/17/89 ~ Metropolitan Sports Center

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/8/89 Riverfront Coliseum ~ Cincinnati, OH

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15th Show of 1989
9th Show of 1989 Spring Tour

After an amazing night on 4.3.89, the band emitted two average shows on 4.5 and 4.6 in Michigan.

Set 1 begins with a very crisp Let the Good Times Roll. The highlight is the finale with Weir letting out some raw but very in tune yelps. The sound the band set forth was full and expansive but also with a rowdy twinge. After a brief pause the band swaggers into Wang Wang Woodle. Weir initially stands out with his very forceful presentation of the verses; literally screaming most of the words. Jerry’s harmony is right in step and the sound is very very catchy. The jam section of the tune however is the first indication that this night may not be a lifelong keeper. The Jerry solo is a bit bland and doesn’t match the intensity created by Weir’s screaming. The following West LA also lacks a forceful punch in the jam part delivered by Jerry. Next is Blow Away, which was great on 4.3.89, but the 4.8.89 version doesn’t match the intensity. Mydland creates a very extended verbal improvisation session at the end that gets to be too long. The very ending of the song is quite impressive I should note but the previous 90% of the song just doesn’t hit the zone this tune clearly is capable of (see 4.3.89). Queen Jane rides in and just doesn’t seem to take off. The verses seem forced and too careful. The jams can’t seem to match Weir’s vocals very well and Jerry struggles to break free of the chord progression. Of all the Dylan tunes the Dead do, this is actually one of my favorite performed by Dylan and least favorite performed by the Dead. The band seemed to be in a ho hum stretch here. Loser is next and, surprisingly, it fails to wake the band up. The song itself sounds a bit overdone and the Jerry solo seems like it was performed by an autopilot. Not a bad version but certainly not even slightly above average.

The jam portion of first set is filled with Cassidy. The song itself is kind of flat. The jam, however, is likely the highlight of the first set. Jerry creates a very gradual build to the climax. It is such a slow and methodical build that just as it is about to reach the peak you don’t even know it is there. One thing to note about this version is that just as the peak is about reached Jerry dives underneath the band and starts a new theme. This theme is short though and leaves the listener wondering why they even entered it. Still it was a nice jam. The set ends with an average Doughknease Mihn.

Set 2 opens with a bang. The Ccat is a quite precise but the jam that leads into Rider is downright explosive. The band rips the head off of Ccat in an all out blitz. All members of the band are completely in sync for that one moment. It must have been a peak moment for all of them. The Rider that follows has a slow first jam but the finale reaches some great peaks and is very well rounded.

The set falls apart, however, with LLRain. Weir does a great job of singing and the vocal finale is impressive, but Jerry just doesn’t match the intensity and without Jerry the song itself lacks a key ingredient. Kind of like beer without carbonation. Or Buds without THC. Eyes of the World follows and it too falls quite flat. The first jam is well done but in the second jam Jerry seems to lose direction and the jam themes last at most 2 to 3 seconds before stalling. The post Eyes jam is interesting but short lived.

Space out of drums is devious. Jerry’s guitar tone is sinister and although the themes never really build into any monstrous attacks, it is somewhat interesting. Also of interest is that Weir played with Jerry during the space. This quickly ends and Wheel is spun for a ride. The Wheel is sung with a lot of force and intent. The effect is strong and it is a nice version, but there is little outro jam which tarnishes this version. As the Wheel slows down, Jerry immediately starts Dear Dr. Fantasy. Brent puts forth a solid effort and the band responds around him. The Fantasy has a very strong guitar solo and throughout the rhythm behind the lyrics is very strong. The Jude is pretty much the same. A great version. Miracle follows and it is a bit too laid back for my taste. The outro jam is nearly silent as well. Jerry hesitates a bit before choosing the next song (he really only had 4 choices had Dew, Black Peter, Wharf Rat, Stella; and on 4.6 he played Wharf). Black Peter was chosen and this version is pretty bland and almost seems rushed. The following OMSN is well sung by Weir but just lacked a necessary rhythmic punch. Finally, the encore Box of Rain can’t shake the previous sets of music and, as such, fails to rise above average.

A third average show in a row from the 4.3.89 masterpiece. The band almost seemed tentative at times and willing to pass on pushing for a lengthier and more intense jam and opt for the kinda jam.

What happened to SOTMoon? It was ever present in the February CA tour, and up until the 31st of March. This marks the 5th show in a row that they didn’t play SOTMoon. Perhaps it was being restructured.

1989 so far has been marked by average shows. On some rare nights the band really stunk and dipped below average. On even rarer nights (only 2 from my assessment 2.10.89 and 4.3.89) the band rose above average and danced with “it.”

Louisville was the next stop for the band, and just the name Freedom Hall jogs my memory of 6.18.74. Perhaps the Kentucky demons of the past could jolt the Dead out of their nearly pervasive average slump.

Good times – 9
Wang – 7
LA Fade 7
Blow Away 7
Queen – 6.5
Loser 7
Cassidy 7.5
Don’t Ease 7

Ccat 8.5
Rider 8
LLRain 6.5
Eyes 6.5
Wheel 7.5
Fantasy 8
Jude 8
Miracle 7.5
Black Peter 7
OMSN 7
Box Rain 7

Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/9/89 ~ Louisville, KY ~ Freedom Hall

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10th show of 1989 Spring Tour
16th Show of 1989

The last time the Dead played Freedom Hall was quite an event. Just under 15 years earlier 6.18.74 really was a special night for the band in the middle of perhaps their finest 14 day stretch ever – 6.16 to 6.30.

Set One begins with a Hell in a Bucket that smacks with energy. The band is definitely all-present in their sound and the enthusiasm amasses. The Hell features an extended Jerry solo that doesn’t quite stretch beyond slightly above average. There just isn’t that extra thematic element that makes you take a second notice (for an example of a Hell with that extra element that makes take notice, see 12.31.84 Hell). After listening to this particular version about 6 times in a row, I just can’t rate it as very above average – just minimally above average. The Sugaree that follows starts out with a nice Jerry lead during jam 1, but jam 2 fails to reach beyond the build created by jam 1. Jerry made an attempt during jam 2 to start a build but the jam stalled and he leapt back to the verses. Jam 3, where it was all at when it came to Sugaree on 5.19.77 or even 9.2.80, but not on 4.9.89. The third jam on 4.9.89 starts to build and Jerry starts doing complex cyclical progressions but his attempt to leap to a strumming doesn’t quite work and instead of reattempting the climb to Sugaree bliss, he opts for the final verse. Next is Walkin’ blues and despite inspired efforts by Brent and Bobby, the final jam features a very careful and seemingly distracted Jerry jam.

Not a very good start. Three songs, and three mostly average songs (if not slightly below with the Sugaree Walkin’ Blues).

Jerry tries to raise the ghosts of 6.18.74 with I Don’t Know, Maybe It Was the Roses. The version on 6.18.74 was sweet. This version is different but not necessarily worse. Jerry’s voice on 4.9.89 was much harsher and strained compared to the show just under 15 years earlier. But, the 6.18.74 voice was also less wise and sage…take your pick, I like both. The 4.9 version seems quite nostalgic to me and Jerry nails the solo perfectly. So far, this was the highlight of the first set.

Next Weir pulls out Me’n My Uncle Big River to shake things up a bit. Weir sings particularly well during each song but the Jerry rhythm and solos lack the energetic punch these songs need, in my opinion, to become very very interesting. Still these versions are not bad. They certainly aren’t bad versions but they don’t sneak past average either. Ramblin’ Rose follows and is a step up. Jerry’s guitar sounds much more alive and alert and nails each theme nicely.

With the set momentum on the upswings after the Ramblin’, Weir chooses to sing Desolation Row. Weir’s singing is very strong and he nicely increases the tempo and exasperation as the verses pile ontop of each other. The Jerry rhythm and solos inbetween also are impressive but not overwhelming. Another slightly above average version. The set ends with a bit of surprise with Foolish Heart – the first since 4.2.89. This Foolish is clearly the tightest of the year and suggests that the band was working on it. There still are kinks in it and it is a bit rough, but the finale jam reaches some nice levels of complexity. It by no means is even comparable to 3.19.90, but it once again (like the PITB>Built To Last>PITB from 4.2.89) shows the band evolving and actively expanding their horizons.

But, another average set.

Set 2 begins with Louie Louie. Immediately I remember hearing that the band did this with Brent doing lead vocals. Upon hearing it for first time I am shocked they ever did this. In the jam portion, Mydland emits a saxophone sound and upon entry into Jerry’s turn, Jerry barely puts forth a theme before stalling. Mydland finishes the tune, and I have to wonder if they will ever do that again, and if so why? In one word – horrible. Next is one of the poorest performed tunes of the year up to that date – Women Are Smarter (remember the 2.11.89 version). After hearing several versions from this era the band sounded confused with this song – was it Cajun? Was it pure rock? Was it something else? Each version fails to answer the question and the sound just doesn’t seem right. This version is no different. Jerry’s solos don’t really go anywhere and Brent seems to be singing quite loudly throughout his harmonies. Still it was better than the Louie Louie.

Ship of Fools is next. Despite the first two songs of set 2 not really amounting to much, the Fools is quite nice. Typically I am not a big fan of this song, but this version does a nice job of evaporating the Louie Women and return Freedom Hall to a Dead Show. Jerry opened the platform for Weir to choose a jam now that would take the show above below or at average for the remainder of the night. And he chose…

Estimated Profit is next. The initial jam is typical at best. It almost sounded as though the jam was unraveling at the seems. As Weir yelps his last yelp of the song – the entire evening changed.

The Estimated outro jam is very complex and rapid. Jerry creates many unique themes that avoid Eyes of the World and aim for a while into the unknown. Jerry locates UJBand and the band performs it at a sprinters pace. The verses go quickly and are quite tight. The jams put forth by Jerry are expansive and interesting. The outro jam heads towards drums, but Jerry keeps the jam going for a few minutes with unique spacey themes.

And just like that, the evening went from flat average to wow.

The Space is atonal and doesn’t pick up any groovy jams or anything. Jerry just bounces around with 5 to 10 second runs here and there that are not conjunctive. The runs are impressive, however, and Jerry was starting to sizzle. Eventually Jerry hints at The Other One, and Lesh provides a running conversation through his bass with Jerry. As the band falls in suit Jerry opens up an extended a fastly paced Other One jam with Lesh keeping pace with him. After the first verse, Jerry ups the ante even more and creates an all out 1989 Other One blitz to the second verse. The band was flying high at this moment and Jerry was leading the way acting as the spinnaker. The post verse 2 jam features more aggressive Jerry. The transition to Stella Blue is very impressive as Jerry slows his pace from angry sprint to contemplative drift. Stella also is beautiful and very well done. The finale jam reaches heartwrenching heights. Jerry purely drips emotion out of his guitar. Sugar Magnolia starts up and rings in the memories of 6.18.74 once again, except now the band was playing exceptionally well. The ghosts had been beckoned? Likely not, the band just got in synch. The Sugar Mag is scalding hot. The rhythm is tight and no unraveling entropy is felt within the tune. The SSDD jam features about 4 well developed and explored themes by Jerry before an all out strum fest to round out the jam. The SSDD vocals are equally impressive and show that Weir could still scream in tune while maintaining an impressive band rhythm. The Knockin Heavens Door encore is a nice touch and it is well done.

A tale of three shows here really. First, the first set up to the Estimated Outro jam is flat and barely rises above average. Jerry’s themes sounded hackneyed and distracted. Second, the Estimated outro jam through Knockin Heavens Door. The outro jam is deep, the UJB is frenetic and may be the years best, the space is complex, the Other One shows that Jerry could still wave the psychedelic wand at will, the Stella is emotional bliss, and the Sugar Mag is like the ol’ days. Third, 6.18.74 must be discussed because any mention of Freedom Hall must discuss 6.18.74. Up until the Estimated outro jam, 6.18.74 was the most interesting thing about this show. But, with the resurgence of the band at the show’s finale, Freedom Hall lives on not because of one great show, but because it spawned phenomenal performances.

Onwards and upwards, the band was now to have a day off before visiting the windy city and coming ever closer to the end of the 1989 Spring Tour.

Set 1: 7.0
Set 2.1: 7.4
Set 2.2: 8.2
Set 2sum: 7.8
Showsum: 7.4

Hell 7.2
Sugaree 6.5
Walkin’ 6.5
Roses 7.5
Meuncle 7
Big River 7
Ramblin’ 7.5
Desolation 7
Foolish 6.5

Louie Louie 6
Women Smarter 6.5
Ship Fools 8
Estimated 7.8
UJB 8.5
Space 8
Other One 8.5
Stella 8.5
Smag 8
Knockin 8

  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/11/89 ~ Horizon Arena ~ Rosemont, IL

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17th Show of 1989
11th Show of Spring tour 1989

The first of the three night run in Chicago opened on a Tuesday with Shakedown Street. The previous show at Freedom Hall was quite average until the final Estimated through the encore which, in my opinion, was tremendous. Would the momentum be retained or squandered in the same manner as 2.11.89 and 4.5.89?

Shakedown is brisk. The lyrics are well sung but seemingly with an attitude of hostility. The first Jerry jam is tight and not too curious or explorative, but executed very well as Jerry is able to stir up a nice circular jam back into the lyrics. The main jam starts out with a Shakedown swagger. Some interesting jams are created but mostly it is based upon well known Shakedown themes and there is no presence of delirium (see, e.g., 8.28.81). A zenith like jam is developed in which Weir and Mydland set a bizarre tone for Jerry to freak out upon, but instead Jerry cautiously plucks low note chords and seemingly opts for a rhythm role instead of a lead. A very average version.

Next is LRRooster. Weir seems to enunciate the words perhaps a bit too finely at first, but ultimately the song is well done. In particular, Lesh is quite present and provides a bouncy and almost funky blues bass. Jerry’s first solo is expansive and slow, and tempers Weir’s macho vocals. The main jam begins with a nice and sharp Mydland organ run, followed, however, by a dragging Weir solo that instead of building upon the momentum created by the fine Mydland solo, hinders it and makes Jerry start from 0 mph instead of perhaps 50 mph. As a result, most of Jerry’s jam is spent climbing rhythmically before he can start in with his own interpretation. At the jam’s peak Jerry pulls off some nice strumming but it sounds almost out of place in relation to the jam he built to achieve such an ending. Once again, an average version.

FOTDevil follows LRRooster and is nicely performed in a soothing manner. Perhaps a little too soothing as it borders on acting like a sleep agent. The jam starts out with Mydland emitting a fiddle sounding sound. It is competently presented, but sounds a bit hoaky. Jerry’s solo is sweeping in nature and in the upswings digs nicely but doesn’t create an inspiring edge. The transition back to the vocals is flawless. With the end of the careful and average version of FOTD, the band tries to switch things up with Am I the Victim or the Crime.

Victim is a welcome song at this point in the set for two reasons. First, the band had the chance to always pull off a nice jam out of this which could save the show from the boredom annals of average song after average song. Second, it was bound to shake up the set. Weir’s vocals are harsh and deep. The jam is neither the deepest nor the fiercest, but Jerry is able to create some dark themes in contrast to Weir’s chordal runs. Not a great version in relation to other Victims, but it definitely was better than the previous three songs.

Out the ashes of Victim arose Built To Last --- rapidly becoming one of my favorite new Jerry tunes. This tune is bouncy and well performed, and at that point in the set was the highlight. In particular, the Jerry lead in the middle of the song is well done and perhaps the finest of the year. Also, the band’s rhythm was nearly perfect at this point. The song was definitely evolving nicely at this point and could only get better. Interestingly, the band did not pursue an outro jam ala 4.6.89 in which it went back into PITB. Beyond all of that, what I see here with Built to Last is yet another Hunter Garcia Classic =-=-

We Can Run is next after a 4 show absence. Like built to last, the band was getting the hang of we can run, but it just didn’t seem to be a bit flat – I don’t think there is enough of a rhythm platform. One thing I like about Dead tunes in general is the complex vocal arrangement accompanied by a complex rhythm. This tune doesn’t have the rhythm element and I find it boring. This version, on 4.11.89, while very competent just exemplifies the tune’s limitations. It shall be interesting to see if the band performed it throughout the entire year or stopped playing it.

Weir raises the tempo a bit with Whoa Mama Can This Really Be The End? This version is very well done. Weir’s vocal delivery is snappy and snide – just how it should be. What makes this version great, however, is that Jerry’s rhythm equally is snappy and snide. The rhythm behind Weir is consistent and very very tight. They really nailed this version. In general, Jerry’s interpretation of Dylan is hauntingly precise.

The set ends with a sizzling Wait Till That Deal Goes Down and topples Built To Last as the highlight of the set. The jam is where it was all at. It started with a fast tempo and Jerry slowly but surely over numerous cycles brings the jam to the brink. These jams are quite intricate – more of a series. Jerry developed 3 or 4 jams that lead to high intensity and then would fly back to a slower pace, repeat 3 or 4 jams to an even high peak, repeat and bring the band to even a higher peak, and then once again --- 4 of these cycles. This Deal truly is amazing and resurrects an average first set to average with spectacular versions of Built To Last and Deal.

The first 4 songs of the first set were not above average. The second 4 songs were all above average (except for We Can Run which I can’t assert as above average) and the band ended on a roll. Set 2 began with high expectations. Sampson, however, is a bit flat. The Jerry jams build between verses but don’t reach any sharp edges. It is a careful and cautious Sampson, and those typically aren’t the kind you write home about (most Sampsons are).

Jerry eases the band into Crazy Fingers next. This version is particularly competent. The solos, unlike some other versions, are well developed and coherent. The sung is well done, despite Jerry’s aged voice. The outro jam has some nice moments as well. This version is not stellar, however, because the jams don’t develop into any intense moments (see 4.3.89). A well done version, but just average. In many respects, average for this tune in the late 80s was an accomplishment.

Jerry sends the band into PITB next, and a very creative and interesting set of jams follow. Jerry immediately switches into an odd sounding tone for the first theme of the space. After some nice digging Jerry alters the theme to a more psychedelic pace. It works quite well, and the band responds by racing with Jerry. For a few moments the jam sounds almost like 1972. The second theme takes a long time to get off the ground and in any unified thematic direction. Eventually Jerry finds a path, and after band joins him, it stops as Jerry enters Let My Inspiration Flow. The first thematic jam of this version of PITB is very very impressive. The second jam barely develops. A rhyme of contrasts.

Terrapin Station typically is the last station on the line prior to the drums. As I have said before, Terrapin is a very difficult song to review because there is not much room to distinguish it among other versions. As such, I begin with the presumption that it will be average and work up (as opposed to 1972 Dark Stars which begin with the presumption of 10 and work down if necessary). This version is competent as the band holds the rhythm tight, Jerry delivers the vocals effortlessly, and the tune moves in the right directions. The space before “inspiration move me brightly” is a bit brief (check out the 1979 versions of any Terrapin for great spacey moments). The extended finale is also well done but no more impressive than most other Terrapins, despite a heavy keyboard preference. There is no outro jam into the drums.

Could someone label the top 5 Terrapin’s of all time and distinguish them from each other? And if so, how?

The space segment is pretty much a Jerry solo. It basically is random runs by Jerry with the echo function working. It creates an interesting sound, but is really not beyond average. As the space closes, the band creeps back onto the stage. Jerry immediately starts Gimme Some Lovin’ and the final push of the evening is commenced. The Gimme Some is well sung by Mydand and Phil Lesh. The jam portion is competently done but not nearly as hot as other Spring versions --- (2.10.89). SOTMoon is next, and it is the first version in over 5 shows. The sound is definitely tighter and is performed at a quicker pace. In addition, Jerry added an outro jam after the Be With You segment that is very nascent but welcome to hear. This easily was the strongest SOTMoon of the year (at that point) and showed this tune evolving in a good manner. This spot was to be the ideal spot for Jerry to sing it (late 2nd set ballad). Tstones flows out of this and it is quite flat. Weir’s singing is less than enthused, the Jerry jam seems distracted, Weir’s “on our Owwwwwwnnnn” is more off and out of tune than usual, and the final jam reaches an interesting thematic progression but stalls as Mydland overpowers the jam with his keyboards. The resulting NFA has a bit more kick than the Tstones, but it is not a great version by any means. The jam extends out nicely and Jerry and Brent have some riff trade off moments, but it is mostly average. Weir does do some in tune Not Fade Awaaays at the end as well. The show ends with USBLues encore which also is nowhere near above average. The band lost steam it seams, and sounded tired at the show’s conclusion.

The band mostly was average on this night with a few below average and a few above average tunes. Once again that features a strong first set, pretty good pre drums second set, and at best average post drums second set. As a whole, the show was slightly above average. Of highlight is the Built To Last, the Deal, and the first thematic jam of PITB.

Set 1: 7.75
Set 2.1: 7.25
Set 2.2: 6.9
Set 2sum: 7.1
Whole show sum: 7.4

Shake 7
LLRooster 7
Fotd 7
Victim 7
Built to Last 9
We Can Run 7
Stuck inside 8.0
Deal 9

Sampson 7
Crazy Fingers 7
PITB 8
Terrapin 7
Space 7
GSLovin’ 7
SOTM 7
Tstones 6.5
NFA 7
USBlues 7

  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/12/89 ~ Horizon Arena ~ Rosemont, IL

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18th Show of 1989
12th Show of 1989 Spring Tour

The first night in Chicago may be surmised as average, hot, average, with the hot coming at the tail end of the first set. Apparently, according to people who were there, the sound was atrocious on the first night. Perhaps it was fixed by this night. Regardless, my recording is a soundboard. As the Spring Tour winds down, one wonders if the magic of 2.10.89 or 4.3.89 could be grasped one time more prior to the beginning of the CA Spring Tour.

4.12.89 was a Wednesday and started with Jack Straw From Wichita. The song is delivered strongly and forcefully. The Jerry led jam features inspired runs and a fast pace. Jerry covers a lot of ground but the zenith part of the jam is not over the top. Yet, I still rate this as an above average version – so far the band was on.

Next is Row Jimmy which rumor was one of Jerry’s all time favorite songs to play. This version is very calm and in direct contrast with the energy erupted with the Jack Straw. The jams are soothing and so relaxed that the themes seemingly coast along with little direction. Jerry’s note picking was quite on at this point, as each new theme started with almost sassy openings. While not the best Row Jimmy of the tour, this version kept the band riding at with two above average tunes in a row (but not exceptional, and not as well done as 3.30.89).

Minglewood rolls in and Jerry provides a nice rhythm along with Weir’s vocals. The main jam starts out with a nice Mydland solo, followed by a Bob solo that has its good moments but hacked moments as well. Jerry’s turn sounds a bit overdone at times and perhaps redundant or a little autopilot. It is far from a convincing rendition which is sharp and ripping. Tennessee, Tennessee, There Ain’t No Place I’d Rather Be is next. The main jam nicely shifts gears at the right spot but the final push is not delirious light Tennessee can be…not a bad version, but not stellar. Someday Life Is Gonna Be Different is probably the most consistently well done Dylan by the Dead in Spring 1989. This version may be the weakest version. Weir’s singing lacks the nice edge he typically affords to Masterpiece, the Jerry solo stalls and Brent takes over, and during the vocal finale Jerry’s harmony is particularly out of tune. A sluggish and not very interesting version.

Out of the ashes of Masterpiece is Cumberland Blues. This version, in comparison the other first set songs on 4.12.89, is surprisingly hot. The harmonies are well done, the Jerry guitar solo is blistering, and the pace is very fast. Certainly this is the highlight of the set up to that point.

The Cumberland momentum is clearly retained in the Let It Grow. The band cooks through the song. During the jam Jerry pushes through several different themes and raises the pace nicely. But, as Jerry is cruising through one of his themes, Mydland overanxiously jumps into the 1 2 3 jam too soon, not once but twice. Finally when Jerry does go to it, Mydland is off again. This threw the timing of the jam off dramatically and the pace nor the attitude was not regained. After the final “I am” the last jam is nicely done but not overly impressive.

Yet another average 1989 first set with only one version standing out as exceptional – Cumberland Blues.

The second set starts out strongly with Touch of Grey, and metaphorically it may be an apology for the very average tour. The harmonies are all nearly perfect, the rhythm is precise, there are no flubs, the Jerry lead is crisp, and the finale of the song is loaded with Lesh bombs. My kinda Touch of Grey.

The band shifts into second gear with Truckin’, which is competently sung, but the Truckin’ strut ladder jam is flubbed many times and literally runs out of steam before its conclusion. It is an awkward sound. The ensuing jam has cautious Jerry picking and is not too impressive. What is impressive is Weir’s transition of the jam into Smokestack Lightning. Although it was likely planned, the mixture of Truckin’ and Smokestack blended perfectly and really worked. The song itself is well played but not monstrous. This goes into Spoonful and back to Smokestack. Intermixed are surprisingly well done Jerry jams. The outro Spoonful jam is almost a blues trainer course. Hopefully the band would keep this in the repertoire. As the final blast of Smokestack Lightning clears, Jerry starts He’s Gone. This He’s Gone is very tight and Jerry’s singing sounded great. The jam is precisely nailed tight, and rhythm throughout is also quite tight. The vocal finale gets bluesy is a nice counterpart to the bluesy Smokey Spoon Smoke they had just performed. The outro jam is atypical from most He’s Gone outro jams in that it is kind of a lazy drift into drums. I’ve never really been a fan of He’s Gone into drums. He’s Gone to me is more of a jam platform, not a jam destination.

Space is pretty much just Jerry once again. Several themes are developed but the complexity is not too interesting. An average space at its best. As it winds down, Mydland shows up and its lullaby time as he begins You Can’t Get Lost When You’re Always Found. This tune still isn’t growing on me in the least.

Next the band pounces into a great jam with All Along the Watchtower. The band sounds like they had a blood transfusion because the amount of energy they emit during the main jam is impressive. Jerry presents a nice dance ontop of the complex rhythm and it truly rocks out. With this new found momentum and speed, Jerry drops the band into Wharf Rat. The main jam is done very well. Jerry extends the jam deeply and the band responds with an intense rhythm. Jerry creates numerous Wharf themes that really sizzle. This Wharf may not be as good as 2.10.89, but this jam really flies and should be heard. Definitely one of the highlights of the show. The outro jam is short, but after the first jam there likely was little left to say. Weir quickly starts Lovelight. The first jam is extended by Jerry and features numerous fast paced themes (including about 15 straight seconds of strumming). The vocal finale is very tight and well executed as Weir screams in tune and Jerry nails the note progression perfectly.

The Watchtower Wharf Love was sizzling. The encore is Muddy River and it too is soothing and in only the way Jerry can, displays hope through a morose tale.

4.12.89 by no means was a poor or merely average show. But, it didn’t quite attain the level of exceptional in my opinion. The highlights list is certainly larger than 4.11.89 and includes the Cumberland, Touch of Grey, Smoke Spoon Smoke, Watch Wharf Love Muddy. A whole show rating of 7.5 is quite high for 1989, and I certainly recommend it. But, I still recommend 2.10.89 and 4.3.89 a bit more enthusiastically.

Set 1: 7.4
Set 2.1: 7.5
Set 2.2: 7.67
Set 2sum: 7.6
Showsum: 7.5

Jack Straw 7.5
Row Jimmy 7.5
Minglewood 7
Tennessee Jed 7.5
Masterpiece 6.5
Cumberland 8
Let it Grow 7.5

Touch 8
Trukin’ 6.5
Smokestack Spoonful Smokestack – 8.0
He’s Gone – 7.5
Space 7
Take Me Home 6.5
Watchtower 8
Wharf 8
Lovelight 8
Bmuddy 8.5

  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/13/89 ~ Horizon Arena ~ Rosemont, IL

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19th Show of 1989
13th Show of 1989 Spring Tour

The only 3 show run on the entire Spring Tour of 1989 started the third night with Aiko Aiko. The song is well sung, but Mydland really sets the tone with a ripping organ solo that Jerry just pounces on with his turn. The result is a very hot reading of this song and a general feeling of wow. Weir next chooses GSETold and Jerry is still on fire through this tune. While Weir sings the verses, Jerry holds down the rhythm with wah wah note plucks that really provide a weird sound. The jam, while short (in a similar manner to 4.3.89), is very well done. The few themes Jerry chooses are ripped head straight for the heart. Second tune done for the evening, second exceptional peformance.

Jerry opens the mood up next with PeggyO. The pace is slow and calculated. Jerry’s singing is clear and the band maintains the rhythm nicely. The jam by Jerry goes through about 5 chordal progressions before returning to the verses. Jerry explores nicely and clearly demonstrates that he is particularly playing well.

Weir aptly chooses All Over Now next. Weir’s singing is quite antagonized (“with every man in TOWN!!!”). During the main jam Mydland begins his organ solo with a scat which does not ruin the song. His ensuing keyboard solo is very fine and as with the Aiko solo provides a very nice platform for Jerry to take off from. Jerry takes off nicely but in the middle of his jam Weir tried to take over the jam with power chords. Jerry seemed confused by this and the jam literally stalls and snoozes for the last 60 seconds before awkwardly going back to the verse. A true shame to say the least.

Jerry pulls an ace out next with 1989’s second To Lay Me Down. On 2.10.89 Jerry created a version worth storing in your brain. Jerry’s singing on this is sublime. His aged voice works very well on this tune. The guitar solo matches the mourning in Jerry’s voice, and the finale is quite intense. The harmony created between Mydland, Jerry and Weir is beautiful. A phenomenal version.

The jam spot of this first set is Cassidy. This version falls short of what I expected based on the previous tunes in this set. The main starts out very slowly with Jerry careful pursuing one theme. As it concludes the next theme he pursues is faster and starts to drive the band in a rhythmic direction, Mydland jumps to a speed much faster and more exaggerated than everyone else. The sound clashes for a moment before Jerry starts a third theme that raises the band and himself to Mydland’s pace. The result is well placed and beautifully picked series of notes by Jerry. The exit out of the jam is flawless. A very hot version, and a version that shows how even when developing themes Jerry was capable of leaping ahead in his mind and correcting problems. Truly a musical genius.

Dh’o N’hese M’in closes the set is average in comparison to the previous tunes.

And that marks the end of a very very well done first set with only one tune flubbing (the All Over Now) and only one average tune (the Don’t Ease). I rate this set as 7.8 which is quite high. If the band put forth a second set of equal caliber, this clearly would be the third best show of the year.

Set 2 begins with Foolish Heart. The pace is still slower than it would achieve in 1990, but it sets a nice grove. Jerry’s vocals are still strong and the rhythm keeps the song wrapped in at the seams. During the first jam, Jerry creates a very nice and boppy jam that leads back into “dare to tread.” The next jam begins with a very nice Brent solo that Jerry leaps from into an extended Foolish Jam that shows the tune’s maturation was well in progress. At one point as the jam is proceeding at a nice pace, Jerry surges the band into a new direction, and the band completely follows. Also, at one point the band drifts for a few seconds and it truly didn’t sound awkward. Foolish Heart was maturing incredibly well and based on this second jam, was truly becoming a song of the Grateful Dead. This clearly was the finest version of Foolish Heart of the year, up to that date.

Weir starts the chords to LLRain next. Weir sings this quite well, but the Jerry led guitar finale matching Weir’s vocals just doesn’t go over the top. It is well done and certainly at least average, but just not above average. Next is Eyes of the World, and it too struggles to break free from mediocrity. The jams are ok and have developed themes, but the themes don’t create the certain tension or wow feeling. Actually, the post Eyes jam is more impressive to me as Jerry maintained a nice pace while being attacked by the drummers for their solo.

Space is well done and features Jerry along with Bob and Phil. For 1989 up to this date, having a nearly full band involved in the space segment was rare indeed. Jerry creates some interesting themes and the band responds nicely. Still no earth shattering material here. The Wheel flows from this space, and it too is merely average.

I Need A Miracle breaks the band from the 4 song average streak they were in…but not by much. During the song, Jerry puts forth a great guitar solo and truly rocks. Unfortunately, the outro jam is tame to say the least and doesn’t create any sense of standing on a cliff and screaming I Need A Miracle! In fact, the outro jam is pretty much almost sedating. At its conclusion, Jerry starts Dear Mr. Fantasy. Jerry and Brent do a nice job here at times. The harmonies between their voices sounds quite nice, and the Jerry led Fantasy jam reaches some nice points, but again doesn’t go over the top like the jam is capable of. The finale of Hey Jude is actually quite sloppy and the added harmonies of Weir and Lesh don’t mix well at all.

Jerry rounds up energy for the final push of the show and launches into GDTRFB. This version is not one to write home about. The first jam by Jerry barely takes off, and the second jam (where most versions truly take off – see 8.22.72, 5.19.74, 9.17.82) is given to Brent for an organ solo. Even the GDTR FB finale is short. This version doesn’t necessarily sound bad, it is just missing some key ingredients for me to rate it highly.

Next the band begins to get sloppy with Glovin. Weir forgets the lyrics to verse 2 and Mydland takes over with Weir singing backup. It is not that interesting of a sound, and in fact sounds more than strained. I cringed when I heard it. Jerry’s jam is average at best, and the vocal finale is present in a very hurried manner. The encore Baby Blue is also quite average. The band appeared to be more interested in finishing the show and moving on to Milwaukee.

4.13.89 is perhaps about as prototypical as can be regarding the 1989 Spring tour. A strong (but not exceptional) first set is followed by an average second set that dwindles into sloppy poor for the climax of the show. Indeed, shows like 2.10, 4.3, and 4.9 (post Estimated) were becoming the four leaf clovers of the year.

Set 1: 7.8
Set 2.1: 7.3
Set 2.2: 6.8
Set 2sum: 7.04
Show: 7.4

Aiko 8
Gset 8
Peggy 8
All Over Now 6.5
To Lay Me Down 9
Cassidy 8
Don’t Ease 7

Foolish Heart 8
LLR – 7
Eyes – 7
Space 7
Wheel 7
Miracle 7
Fantasy Jude – 7
GDTRFB – 6.5
Good Lovin – 6
Baby Blue 7

Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/15/89 ~ Mecca ~ Milwaukee, WI

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20th Show of 1989
14th Show of 1989 Spring Tour

The Dead rolled into Milwaukee for the tail end of the 1989 Spring Tour. Two nights in Milwaukee and 1 in Minneapolis. The tour itself had been mostly average. Two real highlight shows in 11 – that being 4.3 and 4.9 (post Estimated). The previous three Chicago shows were slightly above average but not as a whole exceptional. The band was stagnating in average versions of songs, and on average showing signs of being tired by the end of their shows.

The Mecca in Milwaukee is a small venue and according some older Heads, is eerily similar to what Winterland was like. The interior was very old, and instead of cement structures, the hall was lined with wooden structures and intricate carvings. It truly was a beautiful and very psychedelic location to say the least.

The Band started 4.15 with Half Step. Jerry’s singing is very crisp and Brent is clearly way on as his rhythm filler is extremely impressive. The first two jams are competent and precise. Each is not predictable and creates an intricate web that the listener gets lost in before the band rolls back to the next verse. The first rio grandeo jam leaps off of the final Half Step verse and keeps the momentum as Jerry chops through three complex cycles before he just drops the jam perfectly into the “Across the Rio Grandeo” verse. After some nice harmonies that made me almost sing out loud at work, the final jam is entered. This jam is a bit more complex than the intro rio grandeo jam. Jerry is a bit more hide the ball and crafts some deeper jams that have direction but are not aimed at over the top Rio Grandeo bliss (see 9.3.77). Instead, Jerry almost tests the waters. First, he had the rhythmic structured jams with the Half Step; second he had the first Rio Grandeo jam to test fast paced themes; and third, he had the final Rio Grandeo jam to probe into the more complex thematic progressions. By opting for the deeper final jam, Jerry clearly was thinking about the rest of the evening. Clearly the band is on at this point. But for how long?

Feel Like a Stranger rises out of the Rio Grandeo’s complex depths and attacks the listener. Weir’s screaming is almost cynical but direct and stark. The final jam starts out as a psychedelic dancin’ bear with Jerry’s wah wah themes, but before you know it the jam has shifted character into a serious jam. Weir stands out with Jerry here as he emits complex rhythmic patterns from which Jerry cruises on top of. The beauty of this version is the jam effortlessly shifts from a nice jam into a monstrous jam with Jerry leading an assault.

Franklin’s Tower finishes this trifecta opener. Jerry’s bouncing introduction sets a very happy tone in contrast to the Stranger which almost is frightening. The first jam has the band carefully testing the Franklin’s Tower waters at first, but as it progresses Jerry gets more daring with his note progressions and by the end he is flying through his themes. As Jerry finishes the first jam he strums the A G D G A G D progression for about 20 extra seconds – a moment where nearly everyone in the stands must have been smiling head to toe. The second jam is a bit faster in Jerry’s note pluckings. He develops a ladder-type lead that begins with in the low notes and rises to the high notes. Behind him Mydland is on fire. He perfectly matches Jerry in a non interfering way, and when Jerry switches back to the A G D strums he throws in a beautiful lick. The third jam is extremely complex in a snappy kind of matter that makes Franklin’s such a great tune. He returns several times to a cyclical theme that the rhythm pounds out with him. As if that wasn’t enough, as that cyclical theme ends Jerry breaks through with another theme complete with bending note sounds that is purely beautiful. The fourth jam starts out fast but quickly brings the song down to the depths of extremely slow progression. The sound almost gets silent and the crowd cheers anticipating the final verse. As the band finishes the final Roll Aways, Jerry storms out with the fifth jam which quickly ends and the band takes 4 seconds to catch their breath before Weir enters Walkin’ Blues.

Walkin’ Blues had become probably the most consistent hot blues jam that Weir performed. Indeed, the two shows of 1989 that were stellar from note one to the final note included Walkin’ Blues. This version is almost funny in the way Weir hysterically sings it – complete with voice cracking wails. The first jam has Jerry mimicking Weir’s hysteria with his slide. The final jam has Mydland once again putting forth another extremely solid and trouncing jam from which Weir aptly leaps from and provides his jam. Fourth song of the night – fourth exceptional song. The band was really on at this point.

On 2.10.89 Jerry’s 3 spot song was To Lay Me Down. On 4.3.89 it was Jack a Roe. On 4.15.89 it was When Push Comes To Shove. This version totally rocks in just the right way. This truly is a great song. Truly Grateful Dead and Hunter Garcia at its finest. The rhythm provides a sweeping sound that Jerry sings from. Throughout the song Mydland once again provides amazing keyboard filler. The jam has Jerry bopping along theme to theme in a complex manner and is nailed tight. The final vocals is almost funny in the high pitched harmonies that accompanies Jerrys vocal assault. Another nailed tune.

At this point the band was truly cruising at breakneck speed. Just when I thought that the band was stuck in mediocrity with their Spring Tour they pull out 4.15.89 and while a lot of music was yet to be played, the show in my mind was already a raving success. Honorable mention definitely goes to Mydland who likely was playing one of finest shows ever (at least up to this point in the show).

Weir enters Bob Dylan land next with Queen Jane. Typically I never thought the band quite got this tune. The jams sounded out of synch with Weir’s vocals, but on this version – surprise – it may be the finest I’ve heard from the band. In fact, after hearing this version I quickly got the chords to it and learned it on my guitar. Jerry’s harmony during the “Won’t You Come See Me…Queen Jane” is done so perfectly that it reminds me of how sweet Weir’s and Jerry’s voices mix together. In the second jam, Mydland lets loose a beautiful series of progressions that are not only rapid and complex but in the finale the crowd cheers out loud in appreciation. As it dies down, Jerry pounces and provides an amazing series of notes that truly show his uncanny understanding of Dylan. Another exceptional song of the night. In fact, this was the hottest song of the night so far.

As if in clear understanding that Mydland was totally on fire, the jam spot of the night is yielded to Mydland with Blow Away. This is easily the hottest performance of this song that I have heard – keeping in mind that a lot of 1989 was left to hear. While 4.3.89 provided an amazing second set opening Blow Away that likely was in response to the riots, this version surpasses it. The band’s rhythm behind Mydland’s vocals is astonishingly tight and provides a strong argument to all Mydland naysayers (myself included) who claim all Brent tunes are lame. Jerry’s first jam is complex and returns to the bridge in such a tight way that it sounded as though Jerry had been playing this song for decades. The progression of Mydland’s vocals from easy and soft “It’ll Blow Away” to intense screaming is almost effortless. The band kicks in behind Brent and provides a pounding and driving force that sends the tune over the top. Jerry’s complex rhythmic progression is intense as well. At its peak the band stops and Brent enters his soliloquy about how love should be tendered carefully. His rap slowly builds in anger and the band responds for one last push toward bliss. As the tune ends Mydland deserved a strong pat on the back for such an amazing display – take a bow Brent – you deserve it.

Out of the ashes of Blow Away, Weir starts chords to Promised Land. This version sails. Weir’s vocals are tight and rapid, and the band’s rhythm is right on the mark. The finale jam features an all out blitz and peaks with a chord strumming finale.

And so marks the end to a truly amazing first set in Dead history. I rate it as 8.4/10 which is well beyond exceptional in my opinion. In comparison to the other two amazing 1989 shows (as of this date), 2.10.89 was 8.9 and 4.3.89 was 8.55. But, don’t be fooled because there clearly is error in my ratings.

Set 2 begins with China Cat Sunflower. The song itself is well played and the inbetween verse jams are flawless – if not a bit too laid back for my taste. This China Cat doesn’t attack the listener like some versions. The transition jam is rather tame and while error free doesn’t stand out above average. I Know You Rider also is average in that the jams don’t display the same energy of the first set.

Next, the band decides to open things up and enter PITJam. The PITJam clocks in at 5:45. Jerry slowly starts his first theme with low moaning notes that slowly build into a funky jam with Lesh nicely providing a running commentary. In the next theme, Jerry jumps a bit higher on the fret board and increases the speed. The band responds and a nice zone of jamming is entered which is not mind blowing. For the third theme, Jerry develops a hysteric sound and begins attacking the notes. This jam is well done but as it slows down, instead of entering a fourth jam, Jerry begins the transition to Terrapin Station. This version of PITB was, as was the Chider, average.

Terrapin, however, rose above the Chider Playin. Jerry creates a very complicated jam just prior to “since the end is never told” that pushes this version above average. The remainder of the tune is really no different than most others. This leads into drums, and the listener is left wondering what happened to all of the first set magic. But, it was now clear that the magic of the first set did not carry into the second set.

Brent sits in with Jerry and provides some apocalyptic synthesizer sounds from which Jerry is able to create some interesting themes – mostly dark in sound. The jams don’t quite go anywhere, however, and no themes are really built into longstanding jams. Sure enough, as the space dies down, Mydland starts his I Will Take You Home notes. I guess based on Mydland’s first set performance, he deserved to do as he pleased. While this song still isn’t growing on me, I still think Brent had an amazing first set (once again, take a listen to his keyboard solo during the Queen Jane --- very very impressive).

All Along the Watchtower has some great whiney Weir vocals. The second jam really takes off with Jerry soaring through his notes and with Lesh offering up huge bombs. The final jam, however, doesn’t match the second jam’s intensity and quickly drops in speed for the next song which is Morning Dew.

Morning Dew was the second of the 1989 Spring tour (the first was on 3.31.89 which was very well done). This version is well sung by Jerry, and the “thought I heard a young Man” is screamed in just the right way. The first jam, however, reaches a nice climb but just as it is about to be peaked, Jerry starts the descent to the reprise. The finale is marked by a very nice slow building jam. By the conclusion the band builds up a nice jam. This certainly is not a bad Morning Dew but it certainly is not above average. The encore OMSN is also strictly average.

4.15.89 was truly a tale of two sets. The first featured the Grateful Dead at its best, and the second featured the Dead being merely average for the most part. This familiar tale had become the identifying feature of 1989.

I attended this show and had pretty good seats. I actually remember things being the inverse – that the first set was average and the second set amazing. At that point, however, I was pretty disappointed in the Blow Away selection not because of its caliber but rather the selection. One thing I remember is wandering out into the concession area during one of the first set tunes (wandering is an understatement) and seeing hundreds of people spinning in the hallways. It was amazingly psychedelic and I fell right into it through the remainder of the first set. Wild show to attend, even if the band was not at top form from beginning to end.

Set 1: 8.4
Set 2.1: 7.05
Set 2.2: 7.1
Set 2sum: 7.075
Show: 7.7

½ Step – 8
Stranger – 8
Franklin’s – 8.5
Walkin’ – 8
Push Comes – 8
Queen Jane – 9
Blow Away – 9.5
Promised – 8

Ccat – 7
PITB – 7
Tstation – 7.2
Space –7
Take you home – 7
Watchtower –7.5
Dew – 7
OMSN – 7

  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/16/89 ~ Mecca ~ Milwaukee, WI

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21st Show of 1989
15th Show of 1989 Spring Tour

The show starts with a rousing Hell in a Bucket. The Jerry jam actually is not all that impressive, and it takes Weir a long series of “’least I enjoyed the ride” before his voice gets in tune, but the energy the song emits is quite high. Jerry quickly enters the year’s first TLEOther. TLEO sounds quite polished and is very tight. Jerry messes a few lyrics up, but for the most part I’m mainly interested in the jams for each song. The jam for TLEO starts out with Brent putting forth a nice organ interlude. As with 4.15.89, Mydland’s solo seems to acutely inspire Jerry because the Jerry solo is filled with quick dashes and complex note patterns. A truly fine and above average TLEO, despite the fact that they hadn’t played it since 10.18.88 in New Orleans.

Weir’s blues tune is LRRooster. Weir’s singing is rather typical and full of angry hysteria. Jerry’s first solo is nailed perfectly – his slide moaning almost sounds like he’s crying, and he takes an extra turn through the chordal progression giving his turn an extra time length. Mydland takes his turn and he mainly does a moaning like skat that sounds almost bearable but not really. His organ solo is much nicer and targets the real macho-esque but cynical feel of the song. Weir’s turn is sinister in the high notes he squeals from his guitar. Usually this high noted notes are hard to swallow but this version is really not bad. Jerry’s turn is ultimately the peak of the song, and he rises to the occasion with extended fanning near the conclusion that raises this from an average to above average version. It has that monstrous feel that I think LRRoosters need to be great versions.

Stagger Lee is Jerry’s next choice and it is very well played in a laid back style. The lyrics to Stagger Lee sound almost better with an old sage voice like Jerry’s. This version is quite tight and there are no flubs to mention. The outro jam has some nice “Look at Stagger Lee”s from Jerry, and the jams are intricate (but not overwhelming). Another above average tune.

Mama Tried is next, and it is performed at a snappy pace and is well sung, but the jam itself does not distinguish it from hundreds of other version. In a similar capacity, the Mexicali Blues fails to rise above average.

Bird Song filled the jam spot for this first set. The jam begins with a building rhythmic jam from which Jerry enters the second theme which mainly involves some complicated patterns and ends with a nice series of notes from Jerry. The third theme attempts to raise the jam to a higher level, but the band doesn’t seem to move in unison. The jam stalls a bit. Jerry enters the fourth theme with chord strumming which raises the pace of the jam. Upon the pace change, Jerry races through some notes, but soon drops the jam to lower and quieter levels. Sure enough, Jerry (with very nice aid from Brent) start another ladder type jam that quickly reaches the highest point of this version. At this point the band reaches a point of Bird Song bliss and maintain the jam for about 45 seconds. This transitions to the final verse, and the song’s end. This truly was an exceptional version of Bird Song, and most definitely was the highlight of this mostly average to above average first set.

The second begins with Scarlet Fire. Jerry signs the vocals with confidence and accuracy. The whole tune possesses a nice swagger. The first jam features a slow build to a nice series of full band jamming but it is a more laid back Scarlet jam than others. The outro to Fire begins with a bit of a drift filled in by Phil. When Jerry steps, he immediately crafts an intricate note theme that sets a nice pace and drives the band into a Scarlet / Fire inbetween state, from which the band immediately steps into Fire. This transition was rather fast to say the least, and offered little full jamming by the band. It really was just Jerry doing a slight Scarlet jam that he forces into a Fire theme. The was not much input from anyone else that I could hear. Fire really begins with Lesh who does his opening bass notes and the crowd goes crazy. The opening jam by the band is more than tame and don’t extend very far. As with the Scarlet, Jerry does a nice job of singing on this song, and the harmonies by Brent and Bob are nailed as well. The first jam after the first verse, however, stumbles out of the gates. At first Jerry starts out with a sprint but quickly changes his mind and switches the effects on his guitar for about 2 seconds leaving an awkward sound. Once he is established, the jam he creates has little thematic development and rather is just a series of quick little leads that don’t go anywhere. The second jam fares much better. Jerry creates a deep high fret board series of cyclical notes that extend in one direction. This theme quickly breaks through the development stage and peaks out for about 20 good seconds before Jerry pulls back and launches back to the third verse. This second jam of Fire was clearly the up to that point highlight of the second set. After the third verse, the third jam, however, begins with a slow pace and does not develop into any sort of theme before the end note theme to Scarlet Fire is entered by Jerry. This was a weak Scarlet Fire and in my opinion it was below average, and was a weak way to start out the second set.

The year’s first Saint of Circumstance gets an A for effort, but a D/C for product. This song did not age gracefully. The 1980 and 1981 versions were so spectacular (see 9.6.80 for my favorite version, and 8.28.81) but after that each year seemed to take a toll. This version is marked by an untight sound as the sound seemed to be coming loose at the seams (lack of tight rhythm). The main jam is short and no peak is really met which sounds so awkward and wrong in comparison to those early gems. Ouch was all I could think. Honestly, this was a horrible version. But, the band clearly must have loved this song considering how they returned to it over and over again during the years despite the flubbed versions.

Truckin’ is next and despite another loose at the seams song, the jam developed by Jerry is actually quite impressive. It starts out with the Truckin’ ladder jam, which is average, but next Jerry leads into a bluesy theme that covers a lot of ground before dropping into the drums. At one point it almost sounded like the band might go into I Need A Miracle.

The Space segment is Jerry and Brent, and has a slight hint of the Other One throughout. Still, it is not nearly as interesting as the 2.12.89 show. Brent’s synthesizer almost starts to get annoying by the conclusion of the space as it seems to become dominant over Jerry’s themes. As the Other One is entered, the band clearly is doing the spacey jazzy type that was pursued on 2.12.89. Weir enters verse one with absolutely no band jam prior to it, which likely was intentional. But, with the “Comin’ Comin’” the band slams into gear. The inbetween verse is lead by a traditional fast paced Other One jam. At first the band pursues a nicely patterned theme, but eventually Jerry slows down while the band keeps going at a fast pace, and the jam kind of stalls. Jerry enters a new theme at this point which sounds almost tired. The band attempts to rally around him, but Jerry just does not really enter any interesting themes or progressions. Lesh throughout this jam deserves a bit of mention because he truly can be heard, and does lay down some nice bombs. Based on the model developed on 2.12.89, this version of the Other One is relatively flat and sluggish. The pre verse 1 jazzy space development was absent, and the slam into jam after verse 1 didn’t come together very well. All in all, a below average version.

After verse two of the Other One Jerry enters Stella Blue. Jerry sings this nicely and the band provides a solid support through the song. The jams, however, don’t rise above average. The finale jam starts out with a quiet and slow sprinkling of notes by Jerry with the band barely noticeable. Instead of rising into a climax, Jerry wanders into Throwin’ Stones, and counting Space and The Other One, the band now had hit three below average versions in a row.

Tstones features a sluggish rhythm, in particular from Jerry. His notes are scattered at times and he does not sound very interested in where the band was going. Weir once again stretches my limit for pain by singing “on our owwwwwwwnn” about 9 times === each time horrendously out of tune. The Jerry solo after this starts out in a tired fashion but by the conclusion the rhythm provided by Weir makes it somewhat interesting. Another below average version.

Turn On Your Lovelight marks the conclusion to this below average second set. Jerry is able to muster up some energy and enthusiasm for this version. He provides a very nice guitar solo during his spot which although not mind blowing lends hope for 4.17.89. The vocal finale is well sung by Weir (complete with in tune yelps) and a driving force is felt by Jerry in the rhythm. Despite the previous four songs, this Lovelight is above average and is grounds for hope that 4.17.89 in Minneapolis might have a chance at being worthwhile. The encore Box of Rain has a nice jerry solo and is well sung by Lesh

Set 1: 7.36
Set 2.1: 6.75
Set 2.2: 6.66
Set2sum: 6.71
Showsum: 7.0341

Hell 7
TLEO 7.5
LRRooster 7.5
Stagger 7.5
Mama 7
Mexicali 7
Bird Song 8

Scarlet 7
Fire 6.5
St Circumstance 6
Truckin 7.5
Space – 6.5
Other One 6.5
Stella – 6.5
Tstones – 6.5
Lovelight – 7.5
Box Rain – 7

  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/17/89 ~ Met. Sports Center ~ Bloomington, MN

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22nd Show of 1989

16th Show of 1989 Spring Tour

The final show of the 1989 Spring Tour. Time wise, this marked about 50 straight days on the road for the band. Show wise, it clearly was not their best tour ever. For the most part, the band played average to above average first sets, average predrum second sets, and average to below average post drums second sets. 

<st1:City><st1:place>Minneapolis</st1:place></st1:City> provided the <st1:place><st1:PlaceName>Met</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType>Center</st1:PlaceType></st1:place>, which was an old hockey centerish location. It wasn’t nearly as beautiful as the <st1:City><st1:place>Mecca</st1:place></st1:City>. But, this still was a sterile and overly clean place to see the Dead, especially on a Monday.<o:p></o:p>

The band started out with a very laid back but well jammed Aiko Aiko. Jerry provides some very interesting leads and Mydland also fares well during his turn. The jams develop nicely and create a nice series of peaks and valleys. Next is Minglewood. Garcia soars during his first jam. The themes start out slowly but at snapped at by the end. During the main jam, Mydland again puts forth a great solo that Weir leaps from. Bobby’s slide solo starts off a bit poorly, but he picks it up, and finishes his turn nicely. Jerry too is about a second late in the onset of his turn. His solo reaches some nice points but the end product is not overwhelming.

Jerry immediately flips the gears into Row Jimmy. This also is very laid back in the vocal approach. Jerry’s first solo slowly progresses and while sounding nice at some points, it doesn’t really go anywhere. The second jam starts with a nice Brent solo followed a similar Jerry lead that starts out with a nice pace but quickly slows down into a very sedate progression. Honestly, this is one of the more boring versions of Row Jimmy I’ve heard – which doesn’t mean it is a flubbed or poor version, just that it is nearly impossible to distinguish it from most other versions. 

Brent’s turn is next and he chooses Far From Me. The previous version of this tune was on 4.5.89 and it was quite poor. This version seems tighter, and vocals are stronger. The main jam features leads by Jerry that really are above average. This was an improvement not only over 4.5.89 but also for this set.<o:p></o:p>

Resting on the momentum of Far From Me, Jerry returns to one of the successes of the Spring Tour – Built To Last. This version, unfortunately, is relatively flat in comparison to 4.15.89. Jerry’s vocals are strong, but the jams seem a bit forced and fragmented. 

Victim or the Crime fills the jam spot of this set. This is a dark version but jams don’t really go too deep. Jerry seems to lose interest right in the middle of the jam and it just stalls, gets silent quickly, and the song ends. Not a great version by any means.

Bertha, certainly a surprise, rounds out the first set. This version is bouncy and quickly paced. During the jam, however, the band can’t match the rhythm and Jerry’s themes, and it has a fragmented sound. The vocal finale is nicely done, however. 

The second set started with CRSnow. The jams really go nowhere. The band sounded not only tired, but also as if they were ready for the Spring Tour 1989 to be over. Sampson & Delilah is next. The jams are slow building and fail to head in any real direction. The following Crazy Fingers has sluggish vocals from Jerry, and during the main guitar solo he hits a lot of wrong notes.

The energy present before the Estimated was in my opinion quite bad. This truly was not the Dead dancing with “it” and creating magical moments of love, joy and devotion. Rather, this was the Dead most likely feeling dog tired and ready to go home. A job is a job. Estimated provides the highlight of the entire show – not with the outro jam, but rather the in song bridge. Jerry actually begins the jam with a few flubs, but out of nowhere the whole band rises to the occasion and each and everyone sprints for the jam. Weir squeals a bit and the outro jam quickly transfers to Eyes of the World. While quick, Jerry’s playing certainly is not bad. The Eyes jams inbetween verses are virtually nonexistent. This is not a situation like 2.11.89, but rather just an uninterested kind of feel. The post Eyes jam is over in about 10 seconds before being swallowed by the drums.

The highlight of the whole show is the space. Jerry introduced his new midi sound and created some very interesting sounds. Jerry clearly was having fun with it – which in my mind is always a plus. The space is long – covering about 12 minutes. The thematic progression is not too impressive, but just the new sound is.

Jerry switches guitars (or turns off his midi) and the band returns for the Wheel. This version is lackluster to say the least. The jams barely develop before stalling. The following Gimme Some is equally poor and sluggish. The Wharf Rat, however, is quite impressive. The finale jam soars and Jerry races up and down note paths. This jam was probably the highlight of the show along with the midi space. The NFA that follows is surprisingly well done. Jerry really develops some nice themes, and the band responds well. The encore Knockin’ is one of the finest I’ve heard. In particular, the Jerry lead jam is purely beautiful.

This marks the conclusion of the 1989 Spring Tour. On a high note the band ended the show well, but the first set was merely average, and the majority of the second set was below average. The band was to have 11 days off prior to the CA 1989 Spring Tour which consisted of three shows at the Irvine Meadows followed by 2 shows in <st1:City><st1:place>Palo Alto</st1:place></st1:City> at the Frost.

Set 1: 7.07
Set 2.1: 6.7
Set 2.2: 7.1
Set 2sum: 6.9
Show sum: 6.98

Aiko 7.5
Minglewood 7
Row Jimmy 7
Far From Me 7.5
Built To Last 7
Victim or the Crime 6.5
Bertha 7
CRS – 6.5
Sampson – 7
Crazy Fingers – 6.5
Estimated – 7
Eyes – 6.5
Space – 7.5
Wheel – 6.5
Gimme Some – 6.5
Wharf – 7.5
NFA 7.5
Knockin’ - 9

Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

 

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 Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

 

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