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Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead - Laguna Hills, California ~ May 1989:
4/28/89 ~ Irvine Meadows
4/29/89 ~ Irvine Meadows
4/30/89 ~ Irvine Meadows

Grateful Dead - Palo Alto, California ~ May 1989:
5/6/89 ~ Frost Amphitheater
5/7/89 ~ Frost

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/28/89 ~ Irvine Meadows ~ Irvine, CA

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23rd Show of 1989
1st Show of 1989 CA Spring Tour

The February CA 1989 Tour was marked by inconsistent and poor playing by the band. Jerry’s solos at times seemed almost disjointed and themes couldn’t be developed (see 2.11.1989). The 1989 Spring Tour was an improvement. The shows, on average, were average. As such, the elusive consistent run of jaw dropping shows was yet to visit 1989. The band was not only searching for a great run of shows, but as I hear it, the band was still searching for a definitive 1989 sound. Whatever they were trying to do was not consistently working for them – unless average was their goal – and it certainly wasn’t.

By the end of the Spring Tour the band seemed tired. The ends of their shows were sluggish, and the first sets were the real highlight, on average, of each show. After the final show of the Spring Tour in Minneapolis (4.17.89), the band took 11 days off. On 4.24.1989 Jerry (and on three songs Bob) joined Elvis Costello and his band for some tunes. I have yet to hear that show. As such, the band took a well deserved break.

Returning to CA, the band sounded refreshed, and as one will hear upon listening to 4.28.1989 ------ Jerry was on fire throughout.

The band opens with Cold Rain & Snow in perhaps a comment on the 1989 Spring Tour. Jerry’s voice sounds crisp and clean. The high notes are hit rather nicely, and the band seems energetic as well. The jams are not only flawless, but deep as well (e.g., the second jam of the tune, listen to just how deep Jerry gets in the traditional CRS jam). His jams are marked by a patience and understanding of time that is astonishing. The vocal finale is equally impressive in all of the harmonies that are hit flawlessly. Typically I’m not the biggest fan of this tune – but when the band nailed it to the wall, like they did on 4.28.1989, it clearly is a fantastic song to hear.

Little Red Rooster is next and it is another chilling and monstrous version. The version is chilling in that Weir’s vocals portray a shaken individual telling a tale of remorse, pity, and desire. The version is chilling as well because of Mr. Garcia – whose first guitar solo is snide and sarcastic. The slide is threatening and cold. Jerry throws this version in an odd direction. This version is monstrous because it has one of the finest finale jams I’ve heard. Mydland starts it out with a probing organ solo that reaches sufficient heights to permit Weir to enter and do his slide thing. Typically Weir’s skills as a slide player and questionable, but on this version he sounded like a master. He hits a series of high notes that sound downright delirious ---- like a person holding their breath for too long. Jerry runs away with this a version (a common theme of the night) with a nasty and monstrous jam. It is highlighted by about 70 seconds of lightning fast fanning that sends this version well into the exceptional category.

So far the band was cruising at breakneck speed. Jerry, however, always the opportunist, decides to rechannel the energy at this point with the year’s first Peggy-O. This version is slightly different than the typical soothing Peggy-O. In fact, it may be considered harsh. Jerry’s singing start out nice enough, but by the second verse, Jerry’s starts enunciating certain words with particular emphasis. The first solo is probing and through three chord cycles, each get deeper and deeper. Jerry’s goal of rechanneling the energy was already accomplished. By the next series of verses, Jerry’s singing began to include screams of numerous words (“As we ROLLED out”, “and he DIED for a maid”, “our CAPTAIN fell in love with a LADY like a dove”). This truly is a unique Peggy-O, and as the crowd claps and cheers in appreciation I find myself nodding in agreement.

Three songs into this performance, and three upper end exceptional versions. So far, a better start than 2.10.1989 and 4.3.1989, and the best start of the year. It was only to get better as next Jerry gave a tutorial on Dylan interpretation. Queen Jane soars in on the heals of a fantastic version on 4.15.1989. This version was better. The band had clearly figured out the rhythm and Jerry was now able to effortlessly improvise off of Weir’s vocals. The first jam has Jerry emitting a fast paced mimic of Weir’s vocal delivery. The second jam begins with a very fine Mydland solo that rivals the 4.15.1989 solo he had. Jerry again soars for his turn and provides an exasperated interpretation. Although I’ve said it before, Jerry had one of an uncanny ability to interpret Dylan tunes. I should mention that this version is highly exceptional also because of Weir’s vocal delivery and the harmony Jerry provides during the “won’t you come see me.”

After the February 1989 CA Tour, I noted that Mydland’s keyboards were too exaggerated, overpowering, and annoying. I also noted that the tunes he was playing were not working. That changed in the Spring Tour, as his songs really gelled (Blow Away, Just a Little Light, to a lesser extent We Can Run, and to a much lesser extent Take Me Home). Also his solos became the launching platform for some great jams ---- see once again the 4.15.1989 Mydland solo during Queen Jane. Brent was entering another peak in his playing. At this point, however, he had only 14 months or so to live. On 4.28.1989 this trend continued with a stellar performance of Just a Little Light. This version works so well because of Jerry’s enthusiastic rhythm and solos. The song is catchy. It is hard for me to judge just how good this version is as I’ve only heard two other versions (2.7.1989 --- not that great, and 2.10.1989 – very well done). I think this version is probably the finest I’ve heard and because of the depth of Jerry’s jam deserves to be ranked as exceptional.

Ramblin’ Rose keeps the flame flaming. Jerry’s singing is direct and clear. His solo is raw and bouncy, nailed perfectly. As the song advances, the tone increases in tempo and by the end of it, the tone is exasperated. The ending is slamming to say the least. Once again, Mydland deserves credit for a very fine display of rhythmic ingenuity, as his licks almost seem to push Jerry further and further in the right directions ---- a marked contrast to 1985 (in my opinion).

Next is the first ever Picasso Moon, and I had to listen to this particular version about 10 times before I could really judge its caliber. It is a fast and complicated song, and quickly performed with a lot of chord changes. Also, there are a lot of lyrics to fit into quick timings. Clearly the band had practiced this version many times because it actually sounds quite clean and polished --- if not a bit too polished. There is not much room for Jerry to improvise. As this version progresses he breaks out of this and does emit a nice and intense sound that likely is a foreshadow of where this song is to go in the future. The finale has a 40 second dash to the conclusion, and it mostly is chord strumming by Jerry instead of note plucking --- which would come with time. But, a very nice first ever version --- but just above average.

Bird Song is next, and based on just how well the band was playing ---- clearly the best first set of the year along with 2.10.1989 in a year marked with excellent first sets ---- Bird Song is what I was hoping for. The main jam starts out with Jerry quickly pushing the band with a choppy and aggressive first theme that drives the pace quickly. Jerry reaches a nice area and improvises off of this for about 90 seconds. The second theme leaps out of this improvisation and has Jerry surging the band forward in a ladder type jam that turns almost into an upward strut. As it reaches the ceiling Jerry starts fanning his chords and just at the peak he dives down beneath the pace and starts anew with the third theme. This third theme starts with a slow pace but Jerry quickly reaches a jogging pace. But, instead of developing a sprint or another jam peak, Jerry reenters the vocals. This was unexpected and slightly disappointing. While this Bird Song contained a great jam during the second theme, the third theme stalled, and as a whole, this Bird Song didn’t reach the great heights of 3.30.1989, despite having the potential to blow it away.

Despite finishing with only an above average Bird Song, this first set sizzled throughout and I eagerly anticipated the second set. This had the potential to be the finest show of the year --- or at least join the ranks of 4.3 and 2.10; or join the ranks of 4.15 as amazing first set and merely average second set.

The second set starts out carefully with Crazy Fingers. Jerry’s vocal presentation is very convincing and his voice doesn’t sound the least bit haggard. The first jam, however, is similar to the other 1989 versions (2.10, 4.3, 4.11, and 4.17) in that Jerry’s note plucking pace is slow, there is not too much filling improvisation, and Mydland almost seems to be directing the progression. The finale jam on this night began with an interesting note progression by Jerry that sounds like it would erupt into a bigger jam than it did. Another average version of this song. Jerry was really trying to nail this song and vocally and rhythmically he and the band were. The jams is where the song was coming apart at the seams. Jerry was not providing enough of a flowing improvisation – there were too many gaps that were filled in by Mydland. Also, the development in the finale jam had yet in 1989 to develop into a jam worthy of the name Crazy Fingers. Perhaps the band (and Jerry) would improve upon this. Clearly, Jerry enjoyed playing this song quite often in his song repertoire.

Playin’ In the Irvine Meadows is next and literally this could be renamed “Off to Planet Janet with Jerry Garcia Program.” The first theme is Jerry bending psychedelic wah wah notes aka 1972. The pace is frantic but slow ---- like trudging through a deep and murky swamp with psychedelic wah wah notes attacking you from above like birds. This theme is quick but leaves a lasting impression. The second theme is transitory in sound but Jerry opens up a very nice PITB theme here that has him improvising effortlessly in traditional sound. As this theme ends, Jerry and Mydland drive the jam into a series of chaotic sounds. Jerry surfaces from this and while Weir is still freaking out on his guitar, he starts Uncle Jerry’s Band. This PITB reached some nice places, but was rather quick in timing --- unlike 2.10.1989. A near exceptional version.

UJB is aggressive. Jerry’s first solo is fast and almost angry. The vocals are not nice or sweet but feature a fast pace and at times anger. The main jam starts out with Jerry nailing traditional notes, but quickly he stretches out into very nice improvisation. Unfortunately, the improvisation is not extended in duration and is rather short. Still a very fine and exceptional version.

After the UJB reprise, Jerry quickly leads the band back into a PITB space that quickly develops into a very nice theme led by Jerry. While improvising freely out of this theme, the jam slowly dies down and as it seems that drums was oncoming, Jerry starts the F chord entry into Terrapin Station.

This Terrapin is very solid. Jerry’s singing is on the mark and the rhythm is precise. The space after “Not to master” is extended but doesn’t break out into improvisation (unlike nearly every post April 1979 version). The vocal finale is nicely done and the main jam is very well done. But, as with most Terrapins, it is difficult to distinguish on the exceptional side. As such, this version is at best above average.

As the band entered drums, this pre drums segment was nicely done but just above average and not exceptional.

Space begins with Jerry’s midi awailing. It is noteworthy because the enter band sans the drummers participates. Weir sets a nice platform for Jerry through wah wah chord emissions and Lesh sets a bouncy meaty theme. Jerry enters this space with numerous different sounds (keyboard, gushing waterfall, piano, etc). Jerry switched his sound so many times that it was hard to keep track. A lot of different sounds and quick licks are created but instead of developing a nice jam that builds into something, the band opts for more of an introduction to Jerry’s new guitar sound.

The Wheel comes out of this and it is very well done. Jerry sings this with a nice passion and the jams reach beyond the typical sound. In the finale Jerry develops a nice crescendo of notes that peruses into a Wheel space. A very nice version considering how similar the Wheel can sound.

Weir hints and gets Miracle. The singing is on the ball and Jerry’s first solo is pure rock. The outro jam again features a great Jerry led jam that is complex and reliant upon notes. This lasts about 50 seconds. Jerry brings it down and starts Standing On The Moon. This version marks the tightest of the year. The rhythm is precise and Jerry’s timing with the vocals is flawless. The song ends with the first screaming “Rather Be With You.” The outro jam has Jerry emitting contemplative licks that seemingly summarize the entire show, tour, year and life. Although it is quite short (later versions would be longer) it is great to see SOTM fitting nicely into its second set ballad spot.

Sugar Magnolia marks the final push to the encore. This version surprisingly tight for 1989. It lacks the coming loose at the seams sound. The SSDD jam is interesting. Jerry begins by note picking several themes which slowly build into a great big ol’ jam. As Jerry switches for the finale to chord strumming, Mydland takes over the lead with a series of piano licks that maybe were a bit too loud. As the SSDD instrumental closes, Jerry turns the tables and enters Touch Of Grey. The Touch is amazing and may be the tightest and hottest version I’ve heard. The rhythm provided is nearly impeccable. The vocals are delivered perfectly. Jerry’s jam soars above typical versions and emits that extra umph that pushes it from above average into exceptional territory.

Quinn the Eskimo is punched out with a high amount of energy and the instrumental jam is very nicely done. A nice conclusion which does two things --- first, ends the show; and second, announces to the crowd that a SSDD closer is in the mix for either 4.29 or 4.30.

This show started out with an incredible string of songs --- the CRS through Just a Little Light. The set ended with a Bird Song comprising only 1 great jam. The second set also didn’t match the intensity of the beginning of the first set either (not many shows do). The show ends nicely with an amazing Touch of Gray. Despite my criticisms, this show should not be underrated --- it is a very consistent and exceptional show. On my rating scale, from beginning to end, it ranks as the third best show of the year behind 2.10 and 4.3. In addition, on my rating scale it is only the third show of the year to rank from note one to the final note above 8. Jerry gets the hats off, as the main reason this show shined as much as it did.

Set 1: 8.7
Set 2.1: 7.8
Set 2.2: 8
Set 2sum: 7.9
Show sum: 8.3

LRRooster 9.5
Peggy-O 9
Queen Jane 9.5
Just a Little Light 9
Ramblin’ 8.5
Picasso Moon 7.5
Birdy – 7.5

Crazy Fingers 7
UJB – 8.5
Terrapin – 7.5
Space 7.5
Wheel – 8
Miracle 7.5
SOTM – 7.5
Sugar Mag 8
Touch 9
Quinn 8 Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/29/89 ~ Irvine Meadows ~ Irvine, CA

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24th Show of 1989
2nd Show of 1989 CA Spring Tour

The Dead were confronted again with the day after a very hot show. After 2.10 and 4.3.1989, the band was flat and not very interesting. Aptly (maybe), the band started 4.29.89 with Hell In A Bucket. The pace is laid back and Weir carefully sings the verses. The first Jerry solo is average. In the main jam the band puts together an above average effort to achieve a nice sound; Jerry in particular creates some complex themes. The song ends in typical 89 fashion with Weir’s voice effected by Healy in echoes. All in all this version sounded a bit forced or hackneyed to me. Still, because of the nice main jam this is an above average version.

Sugaree is next – a tune not played very often up to that point in 1989 (this was the fourth attempt in 23 shows). Sugaree is a jam tune (which will always in my mind by immortalized with the 5.19.1977 version). Jerry’s first lead is careful in that the pace is not overwhelming but it is finely crafted and suggests Jerry was grooving on this version. The second jam starts with Jerry playing a low note rhythm while Brent starts a lead. This quickly ends and Jerry takes over the reigns. This jam is much faster in pace and quickly rises into a nice series of improvised runs by Jerry. The third jam is very slow but filled with very nice improvisation, which leads to the final verse. Clearly a very laid back Sugaree. The jams are well crafted and show Jerry’s ability to improvise off a tune that he likely had played about 1000 times, but no monster jam.

Walkin’ Blues is next. Weir’s singing is very well done, but Jerry’s timing was off in the rhythm. The jams are a bit lethargic as well. Mydland doesn’t rise too high in his shot, and Weir’s slide seminar is less than desirable. This was one of the worst performances of Walkin’ Blues in 1989 --- typically this tune was nailed over and over by the band.

Jerry resurrects the set a bit with BEWomen. The song itself is well played, but at best average. The Jerry led jam shows off his ability to still create interesting themes in tunes he had played numerous times. Still the band was emitting what at first I thought was a laid back sound, but it rapidly was turning into tired, disinterest, or ambivalence.

During a very lengthy tuning break, Jerry starts a Finiculi Finicula, which is slightly interesting but not noteworthy by any means. Weir next sings Memphis Blues Again. At first, it sounded as though Jerry’s rhythm was off for the first few verses, but by the first Jerry led jam, we see that the band is actually really cooking. Jerry’s themes are very well constructed and the highlight of the set. The Mydland solo is also impressive, but Jerry doesn’t add another jam after it (which was disappointing). The vocal finale has some nice chord fanning by Jerry which adds a truly inspired sound.

Jerry decides next to share the California crowd with one of the more impressive tunes of the Spring Tour – Built To Last. Unfortunately, this version lacks a certain spark and sounded tired and forced. Jerry forgets some of the lyrics and the jam sounded rushed.

Blow Away fills the jam spot of the first set, and this version is nothing like the 4.3.1989 or the 4.15.1989 version. Instead it too suffers from lethargy as did the Built To Last. The massive drive that was created on 4.3 and 4.15 didn’t surface on this version, and the resulting request by Brent to put one’s fist in the air sounds rather unconvincing. His soliloquy actually gets, in my opinion, too personal and it drags on. Jerry does provide some interesting rhythmic note plucks while Mydland does this.

Despite the lethargic and average set, the band decided to end the set with OMSNight --- a rare visitor to the first set. This version actually sounded pretty energetic. Jerry’s first solo was very fast and ended with a great chord fanning. The main jam is a bit too brenty in the mix, but the band sounded pretty good. The vocal finale hit the right notes and screams as well ---- although Weir’s main scream during the walk up is a bit conservative as he likely didn’t want to trash his voice for set two --- they were getting older at this point.

All in all, set one sounded rather tired and uninteresting. The highlight was probably the rhythmic finale to Memphis Blues or the OMSN.

Set opens with a brisk China Cat Rider. Jerry’s inbetween China Cat verse jams are particularly hot and well done. A marked change from the first set. The transition jam has Jerry soaring to the traditional Chicat structured jam. This transition is extended and Jerry teases the ultimate result numerous times. Unfortunately, as the band ends the first China Cat structured jam, Weir enters the Rider transition while Jerry wanted to jam more on China Cat. It isn’t extremely noticeable, but it is there nonetheless. The Rider is extremely well done with fine singing and well crafted jam themes by Jerry. This Chider was likely the highlight of the show up to this point of the show, and was the first exceptional version of the show.

This exceptional version trend continued into LLRain. This version is not as hard and angry as some others, and is more remorseful in sound. Weir’s singing is not jagged but is more soothing. Jerry’s first solo gnaws at the inner tension of a nervous heart, and the result is fast paced and a digging jam. The vocale finale has Weir shouts countered with a frantic rhythm from Jerry. Jerry’s guitar is given the echo effect and it truly works and sounds like pelting rain drops. Jerry’s guitar and Weir’s bellows mixed well and here is another stellar example. Despite a minor flub in the conclusion of the song, this version is definitely exceptional.

He’s Gone is next and Jerry does a great job of singing this and the middle jam is very energetic and bouncy. Not only is this version competent, but it straddles the line between above average and exceptional. The ending has an extended bluesy wailing session that doesn’t sound all that bad. This leads to a typical He’s Gone jam that I guessed would drop into drums, but instead is swallowed by Spoonful. The Spoonful is a pleasant surprise. Weir sings it with quite a bit of power, and the Jerry led jams are equally impressive. A great version which leaves me wondering why they didn’t do this combination (He’s Gone Spoonful) more often.

Space features Jerry’s midi sounds – now the third show in a row, and likely a mainstay from this point on. The majority of space is just Jerry still experimenting with the sounds ---- I particularly like the gushing waterfall sound. Mydland joins Jerry about halfway through the space with some chaotic playing. No real thematic jams are formed – just quick expressions. Still, the midi sound is a refreshing change. Jerry certainly liked it.

One thing that is clear regarding 1989 (and perhaps many previous years, although I have not listened chronologically to any previous year) is that the Space segments are mostly disjointed and do not highlight the band creating new and interesting themes and jamming them out. Instead we get Jerry having a few runs here and there, and some odd sounds. Some of these spaces are very interesting, but for the most part it is nearly impossible to distinguish one 1989 space from another. For instance, 9.17.1982 has an extended space prior to the Spanish Jam in which Jerry develops several different themes that build on top of each other. Weir joins, and the theme gets a new direction. Mydland joins with the same effect. Before long, the band is headed in an altogether new direction that they never had pursued before. The band clearly had different objectives with the Space visions and the 1989 spaces clearly were not meant to be jam-facilitating agents.

Mydland gets the out’a space selection with Take You Home. While this song has yet to grow on me, it doesn’t seem to be bugging as much as before. Inured? Maybe.

The drummers sound the call for the Other One at the conclusion of Take Me Home, and while it seems that Lesh is maybe going to do a bass roll, he doesn’t. But, the resulting jam is impressive. Jerry presents a sinister sound and Lesh keeps pace with him through appropriately placed bombs. A second theme develops that is classic Other One improvisation by Jerry. Nothing extremely new with these jams, but still interesting nonetheless and good to hear this stuff still coming out of Jerry. The post verse one jam gets better. It starts out with Jerry doing the cyclical Other One attack and quickly morphs into a high note bending session by Jerry with the band racing behind him. Jerry pushes the pace envelope here extensively and reaches a pace few jams reach in 1989. Jerry clearly is in the zone. As the band returns for verse two, even Jerry’s rhythm while Weir sings is manic. Jerry opts for a third Other One drift jam after the second verse, and it too is impressive. Jerry quickly drives this into another all out cyclical jam, but the band doesn’t follow as tightly. As Jerry finishes, the drummers markedly slow the beat (similar to the post verse 2 Other One jam on 12.31.72). Jerry doesn’t acquiesce, however, and continues pushing the Other One. Slowly it changes into a frantic and chaotic sound and as it ends Jerry starts a series of chops with 1 second, 1.5 seconds, and 2 second intervals. After the final chop, Jerry chops into Wharf Rat ----- a very very hot moment for the band, and definitely one of the highlight transitions of all time into Wharf Rat.

The Wharf Rat is well sung by Jerry, and the song is flawless. But, the first jam doesn’t rise to any impressive heights. The outro jam is interesting in the sounds created by Jerry. It also doesn’t reach any impressive spots. Jerry clearly was trying though, as the outro jam definitely is a different Wharf sound.

Throwin’ Stones is the choice Jerry leads the Wharf Rat jam into. This version is done competently but inevitably Weir faces the Thowin’ Stones conundrum – to sing or not to sing the “On Our Owwwwnnnn.” He begins to try it, faces the same result he had faced for the previous 5 years (((horrendously out of tune moaning))) and backs out of it. Jerry wasn’t ready for this, and the transition to the jam is a bit awkward, but bravo to Weir for not belaboring the point that he just couldn’t hit that note anymore. The resulting jam led by Jerry is well done, but not extremely impressive.

Instead of NFA, the band chooses Lovelight. This version is a bit flat, and the Jerry jams sound forced. Better 1989 versions exist --- see 4.16.1989. The US Blues won’t change your life either, unlike the 5.19.1974 version, but Jerry does a slightly above average job on this one due to a nice guitar solo.

4.29.1989 – a pretty average show with a few exceptional highlights. The second set pre drums segment was quite nice; the Other One has some great jams. But the reason to get this show is the tremendous transition from the Other One to Wharf Rat. Beyond that, there are better shows from 1989.

Set 1: 7.01
Set 2.1: 7.9
Set 2.2: 7.56
Set 2sum: 7.73
Show: 7.37

Hell 7.5
Sugaree 7
Walkin’ 6.5
BEWomen 7
Memphis Blues 7.2
Built to Last 6.7
Blow Away 6.7
OMSN 7.5

China Cat 8
Rider 8
LLRain 8
He’s Gone 7.5
Spoon 8
Space 7
Take Home 7
Other One 8
Other One Transition to Wharf 9.5
Wharf 7.5
Tstones 7
Lovelight – 7
USBlues 7.5
Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

4/30/89 ~ Irvine Meadows ~ Irvine, CA

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25th Show of 1989
3rd Show of CA 1989 Spring Tour

Fresh off a exceptional night on 4.28, the band played an up and down show on 4.29. Highlights were a great Other One, and a sizzling transition to Wharf Rat. But, 4.29 mostly was average. As such, 4.30.1989 was to be the rubber match.

4.30.1989, however, was to be the weakest of the three night Irvine Meadows run.

The show started with a very careful ˝ Step. The Jerry solos are not noteworthy but they are flawless. But, there also weren’t any of the choppy note clicks either. The first Rio jam is quite poor. Jerry starts out with a theme but stops after about 5 seconds and permits the band to guide the flow into Rio. The Rio vocals are just fine. The 2nd Rio jam starts out awkwardly, but Jerry rises to the occasion and emits some nice licks – offering hope that this show may still join the ranks of exceptional.

But, with the onset of Wang Dang Poodle, exceptional was going to be a long long shot. The Weir vocals are right on, but the Jerry leads are way off. In the first jam Jerry barely presented a theme. In the second jam, Jerry almost seemed lost in that he didn’t present notes that seemed correct. In fact, he even wanders into Nobody’s Fault But Mine for a few seconds before Weir cuts him off and returns to the final verse. Bad way to start a show.

Stagger Lee is at best average. Jerry’s voice sounds particularly haggard, and the leads don’t go anywhere above average. Masterpiece is a flop. The band doesn’t seem to get the rhythm to match Weir’s vocals and it sounded forced. Jerry’s rhythm is also not too impressive. Tennessee Jed is at best average. The main jam has a nice build up but the finale, while nailed, is not awe inspiring. We Can Run is done about as well as it can be done. No real flubs but the band didn’t sound too enthused.

Picasso Moon, the second in 3 shows, sounded very forced. There are so many chord changes that occur within such a short time span that it begins to sound mashed. The 4.28.1989 version was a bit cleaner and was definitely better. Also, the final push at the end of the song barely has any interesting Jerry licks.

Deal offers hope for the second set as it rises out of the murk to claim first prize of the first set. The first jam is extended and Jerry races in and out of nicely developed themes. This is also extended in that Jerry had about 4 opportunities to return for final verse, but instead pushed the jam onward. Who woke him up? The main jam starts out with a series of runs through lower notes that slowly but surely rise in speed and the fret-board. The band, too, completely keeps up with him and seemingly pushes him further. Jerry’s temptation to immediately send the jam into overdrive is curbed, and we are treated to a very hot medium paced series of jams for a while before Jerry does shift to 72nd gear. This peak out on the high fret board lasts about 30 seconds, before Jerry starts yet another drive to the top. After this spell dies out, Jerry musters even yet another peak out drive which ends with a beautiful fanning of notes before dropping into the chorus reprise. Very very well done jam. This may not be the hottest Deal of all time, but after suffering through the majority of this first set, it was a pleasant surprise.

Obviously the Deal was the highlight to a pretty lackluster first set.

Set two starts out with Box of Rain. A glimmer of hope that the second set would not suffer in the same means as the first was provided with the smokin’ Deal that closed the first set. But, as Box progresses, we see Lesh’s singing is a bit off, the rhythm not very tight, and the Jerry solo barely stretches beyond the traditional notes of the song. Average may be a compliment for this version.

Aiko Aiko arises out of the Rain. This version is better than the preceding Rain. Jerry creates some nice themes during the first and second jams that build nicely. During the second jam, Jerry seems to trade off leads with Brent. The sound is not “clench your fist and open your mouth as much as you can” – esque jamming, but rather it is quite laid back (as the song should be I gather). This version works for me, and I find it to be above average.

Now that the band was on a roll, they entered Estimated Profit ($22 for each set???), and surround themselves in the main girth of the second set. This Estimated, however, while well sung by Weir is marked by a poor Jerry presence. During the main jam, he almost is not present during the jam – you can hear him trying to develop themes, but it just doesn’t amount to anything (eerily similar to 2.11.1989 – both LA shows). Finally Mydland steps up and does a nice keyboard theme with rapid note development that makes the crowd cheer. The outro jam starts out with a Jerry led traditional Estimated sounding jam. This goes not too far before Jerry loses interest and switches the sound. This new jam is a bit rawer in sound, but as with 2.11.1989, Jerry can’t seem to create any new themes. After about 2 minutes of trying, the band seems to collapse into an Eyes Expressway – providing an ample freeway for Jerry. Jerry responds and a mildly competent transition is made to Eyes of the World. This version begins with a little series of jams by Jerry that is average at best, but noteworthy in that it is a note developed theme. The jams Jerry creates in the post verse 1 jam are rigid and don’t really grow on top of each other. The same can be said of the post verse 2 jam, although it is a little better than the first jam. All in all a very bad version of Eyes of the World. The post Eyes jam is relatively long. Jerry, while trying to develop some nice jams, stalls once again. Certainly not his best night of the year.

Space is once again a midi space, but as with the other 1989 spaces no real themes are developed that build from each other. The result is the typical series of odd and unique sounds before about a 20 second transition to Truckin. The band seems excited at pulling this out of space and play a pretty enthused version. The transition following the final “Hay Get Back Truckin’ On” is flubbed. But, of note is that the result of this flub is that the pace the band generated during the Get Back segment was completely lost, and Jerry was forced to start the Truckin’ instrumental jam for zero miles per hour. The band also was afforded this luxury, and it actually sounded quite good. Lesh was able to slowly attack Jerry’s progression, Weir joined in as necessary, and Jerry was able to slowly build to his peak. While they entered this in error, it will be interesting to see if they return to it. The result was an easier and cleaner opportunity to attack Truckin. The Truckin’ jam that followed was slow paced and bluesy. Jerry created some interesting themes and fanned out his conclusion --- definitely the highlight of the second set.

Following is a Gimme Some Lovin that has a very fine performance by the band, but Jerry stumbles during his solos. In the second jam, his entry is off by about 2 seconds and his jam stalls after about 5 seconds. Stella Blue is very uneventful. The outro jam barely rises off the ground before Round and Round is begun. Big surprise as this version also fails to feature impressive Garcia.

The Round and Round stops in the typical 80s style where Good Lovin’ would be entered (just about a second after final verse). But, the band takes about 20 seconds here to figure out what they want to do. The silence is rather interesting because one can hear Phil plucking the intro notes to GDTRFB. Bobby, however, starts Good Lovin. Its hard to say from just hearing the audio what was really going down. Perhaps Jerry motioned “no” to Phil?

Speculation doesn’t take you very far, and neither did this Good Lovin’. Once again, Jerry was quite off during his solos. The band seemed content on having Mydland take over a large percentage of the lyrics for this song. At one point, Mydland and Weir do a duet and start in unison singing “Got to Got to Got to have lovin’” After two cycles, however, they begin screaming it together and it really did not work --- their screams conflicted entirely and the sound was quite awful.

Baby Blue is the encore which Jerry manages to make average.

Of note ---- the SSDD instrumental that was left without a SSDD vocal on 4.28.1989 was not completed, as I thought it might be completed on 4.30.1989 ---- perhaps 5.7.1989 to round out the CA 1989 Spring Tour?

4.30.1989 was another example of the statistically typical 1989 show --- mostly average versions mixed in with a bunch of below average versions, and one or two highlights (in this case the Deal, Aiko, and the Truckin’ jam).

6 days off for the band prior to Frost Amphitheatre on 5.6.1989.

Set 1: 6.875
Set 2.1: 6.75
Set 2.2: 6.78
Set 2sum: 6.77
Show: 6.82

˝ step 7
Wang 6.5
Stagger 7
Master 6
Tennessee 7
We Can Run 7
Picasso Moon 6.5
Deal 8

Box Rain 7
Aiko 7.5
Estimated 6.5
Eyes 6

Space 7
Truckin’ 7.5
Gimme 6.5
Stella 6.5
RR 7
Glovin 6
Baby Blue 7  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

5/6/89 ~ Frost Amphitheater ~ Palo Alto, CA

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26th Show of 1989
4th Show of 1989 California Spring Tour

Despite a strong start to the Irvine Meadows show (4.28.1989), the following two shows were progressively worse. After a 5 day rest, the band moved north for two shows in lush Palo Alto. My anticipation upon hearing these was high - the band always seemed to play well in Palo Alto.

The show started with Jack Straw. The band sounded tight and energetic. The vocals were well delivered, and upon entering the main jam, the potential was quite high. Lesh in particular at this point was very noticeable as he was laying out bombs left and right. A nice addition that was lacking through the main Spring Tour. But, while the band and mostly Jerry created a nice beginning to the main jam, the peak is narrowly averted leaving an awkward transition back to the reprise. The aim was right but the precision was off.

Jerry chooses Peggy-O next, and he delivers a version very similar to the 4.28.1989 version featured raw vocal delivery and very aggressive leads. While Jerry's vocal delivery on 5.6.1989 was equally as strong (but not as surprising) the guitar leads were a bit more soothing. This is still a strong and above average version. It was nice to hear Jerry draining even more creative juice out of a tune as old as Peggy-O.

Blues time for Weir is Walkin' Blues which falls short of average. Weir's singing is quite strong, but the guitar solos are flat. Jerry's initial solo is average and not as chilling as some other 1989 versions (see 4.3.1989), the Mydland keyboard solo fails to achieve the nice rise is usually does (see 2.10.1989) and the Weir finale solo is markedly absent or just poorly played. A pretty bad version.

Perhaps one of the most interesting spots of each show during 1989 was the post introduction tune song selection from Jerry --- the Jerry 2 Spot as I call it. Typically Jerry always pulled out a great tune in this spot such as To Lay Me Down, Stagger Lee, Peggy O, Jack a Roe, and on 5.6.1989 - They Love Each Other. This spot easily was one of the most interesting parts of each show to hear, in my opinion. The 5.6.1989 TLEO has strong vocal delivery and harmony, the Mydland keyboard solo is quite strong, but the Jerry solo doesn't reach any impressive heights and is quite short.

Weir next does the unexpected and pulls out The Race Is On, and it is surprisingly well done - lending hope that the band would insert this tune into their repertoire. The vocal delivery is very strong by Weir, the rhythm provided by the band is very tight (not coming loose at the seams), and the Jerry solo is precise and sharp. All in all a real treat, and at this point of the set, the highlight.

The Race Is On momentum is maintained with a very solid West LA Fadeaway. Jerry's singing is morose but in a snide manner. The first guitar solo reaches some nice peaks, but is quite structured. The main jam has Jerry soaring and building a nasty sound. Perhaps Brent was a little too involved. Still a great version.

West LA Fadeaway, to me, is very similar to Shakedown Street and perhaps is to be likened a mini-Shakedown?

With the momentum of two well done tunes in a row, the band reach onto Brent for Just A Little Light. Despite strong versions on the Spring Tour, this version falls a bit short. The band can't seem to get in synch with Brent's vocals and it sounds like Mydland is singing over a vast emptiness. Also, Jerry's solo is fragmented and lost. Ultimately the song sounds forced.

Queen Jane is the Dylan selection by Weir, and it too was a bit flat as a whole, confirming that the Band was once again immersed in a relatively average first set. Jerry's first solo covers some thematic ground, but it is nowhere near as interesting as 4.15.1989. Also present on the 5.6.1989 version was a pediatric synthesizer sound throughout the sound which I found to be rather annoying.

Unexpectedly, the band ends set one with China Rider. This version is pretty average but some nice features exist. The China structured jams are pretty well done but not jaw dropping. The transition to Rider begins slowly as Jerry can't find the right pace. As he does, the band settles in for a nice jam. Lesh stands out at first dropping a lot of bombs at rapid pace. Jerry resists the urge to jump at the same pace and instead extends the ultimate China Cat finale. Eventually the band reach their goal and blast out a very nice China Cat finale. Nice, but not stellar. All in all an average version. The Rider quickly rolls in. The first jam has a flubless Jerry led solo that reaches some nice areas. Included in this first jam is a cyclical spiral rhythm provided by Brent. A different sound from him. After Jerry bellows out a wish to be a headlight, the finale jam is entered and Jerry creates a nicely paced run for the finish line. The solo is by no means impressive, but it is nice to see the band finish the set on a good note - even if it was an average China Rider that I'll likely never hear again.

Another average 1989 first set, but with the highlight of The Race Is On. Hopefully the band would keep this in their repertoire.

Set 2 is like a second chance. An opportunity to restart. An opportunity to get up and fly away. But, as with the Wharf Rat, such opportunities are often either missed or unrecognized. In 1989 the Band didn't seem to realize that after an average first set, they could come back and rip the head off of the second set and shout at it, "see, I'm getting up and flying away from you!" Perhaps that is a little too much imagination for some, but for others the idea is well made. Regardless, the band once again faced the beginning of a second set following an average first set.

On 5.6.1989 the band shed their average first set skin, and donned a new skin.

As if my advice was heard (or mattered) the band started the 5.6.1989 second set with Let The Good Times Roll - typically a song reserved for the opener to set one. As with most versions of this song, the band falls into a nice groove. Each band member sings heartily and lets out some warm screams. The finale may not be as well done as 3.28.1989, but it still sounds nice to hear the harmonies. After a full five second pause, Mydland slams into Hey Pocky Way (which sounds no where near as nice as slamming into Dark Star). Actually the band rises to the occasion with this suggesting that they truly did enjoy playing it. After a lengthy Mydland organ solo, Jerry steps up and starts a lengthy and well themed jam. As it rises from cycle to cycle the band joins in Jerry's enthusiasm and for a few moments the band reached a very hot zone. Most of the jam, however, is spent building up to this point and that rise is not too impressive. Still, not a bad start to the second set of 5.6.1989.

After a tuning break the band starts Sampson'n Delilah. The band provides a solid song. The first jam starts with Jerry racing through different themes at a fast pace. The second jam starts out at the same pace as the first jam, but Jerry somehow manages to increase the speed and drive home the winning run. This second S&D jam, along with Race Is On, is easily the highlight of the show up to that point. The band was cooking at this moment.

Being the classic chameleon that he was, instead of driving forward with another fast tune, Jerry starts Ship of Fools. Despite some out of tune moans from Jerry, the guitar solo is raw and aggressive, and quite well done. Perhaps this version drags a bit, but Jerry's guitar efforts make this an above average version, and continue the 2nd set momentum.

A well done second set gets even better with the PITB. The first main PITB jam is very long (about 10 minutes) and is Jerry going all out in pursuit of whatever it is he pursued through all of the PITBs he jammed. This is very fast Jerry playing, and the band races with him. Eventually this jam turns down a notch in pace, leading to the second PITB theme. The second PITB theme is transitory in nature as Jerry races up and down the fret board obviously with something other than PITB on his mind. This stops with the beginning of Eyes of the World - and the second set continues on a very nice path.

Eyes is not surprising in that during the first solo Jerry cruises through very interesting and complex themes. This first jam is so well done that it makes me wonder what the second jam will be like. The second jam starts out with a beautiful series of notes from Jerry that surpasses jam one. A fantastic Eyes of the World, and up to this point of the year, the best Eyes of the Year. As the tune ends, Jerry starts a slow and contemplative drippy jam into the drums.

This pre drums series of songs was remarkably strong. The main difference was Jerry. In the first set he was flawless but also wasn't providing that extra juice to make the tune more interesting. During the predrums second set, he was providing that extra interesting lick or punctuation to make each version particularly interesting and at times exceptional.

The Space is pretty typical with Jerry on the midi and near the end Brent joins him. At the conclusion Brent starts Take you Home. What is interesting about his version is that Jerry continues to use his midi sound through the tune. At the conclusion, Jerry starts the Wheel and enters a solo while waiting for the band members to return to the stage. This lasts about 30 seconds. The Wheel is not bad, but doesn't have the same energy that the predrums second set had. It is upbeat though, and while average, shouldn't be lumped in with other sleep inducing versions.

Things pick up once again with I Need A Miracle. Jerry soars in and out of this version. The first jam has reaching very high peaks while the band chases behind giving that patented Grateful Dead Staggered Sound - Catch me if you can. Unfortunately during the final part of the song there was a massive equipment failure and feedback goes off everywhere. While the band picks up the song, the final jam can't match the intensity. As the outro jam sputters a bit and comes to a conclusion Jerry is faced with ---- Stella? Black Peter? Or Wharf? And he chooses Wharf. If ever there was a time in his career when Jerry needed an extra ballad it was in 1989. SOTMoon would soon provide the fourth spot (I know Morning Dew might be included on that list, but it was so rarely played that I don't include it on the night to night rotation).

The Wharf actually is very well done. Jerry's singing and the song are pretty standard (the band likely could put out a solid version in their sleep) but the first jam soars. While the 2.10.1989 version was sizzling hot and over the top, the 5.6.1989 version is more contemplative, and has more bending extended notes. This is definitely a sad Wharf, while the 2.10.1989 was an angry Wharf. Both work quite well.

As the outro jam dies down Jerry jumps on top of Round and Round. This version is well done. The jams aren't extraordinary but Weir creates a nice pace and beat with his vocal delivery. This stops short as if it would go into Good Lovin' but instead Weir starts NFA. After the first verse Jerry begins the jam with a series of fans, before opening up a very nice extended jam. Jerry really pushed the buck here - and put out a sizzling version. Weir and Lesh also stand out in this jam. By the second verse Weir and Jerry __scream__ the verses out. In fact, after the "I Tried to Show You But You Drived Me Back" verse, Jerry lets out a loud "Uuhhhghhh." The band certainly didn't sound tired. After a series of very in tune "bop bop bop bop"s from Weir and Jerry, the tune dies down, before one more run at the NFA verse. A very fun version. As the crowd carries the NFA into the past, I am happy to have heard this second set and was a bit surprised considering how average the first set was.

One consistent thing about the Spring Tour was an inability to rebound from average to above average or exceptional. On 5.6.1989 the band did just that --- a pretty average first set followed by an above average and at times exceptional second set.

The encore was Black Muddy River. It too was very well done.

Set 1: 7.05
Set 2.1: 8.1
Set 2.2: 7.44
Set 2sum: 7.7
Show sum: 7.4

Jstraw 7
Peggy 7.5
Walkin' Blues 6
Race Is On 8.5
West LA 7.5
Just a little light 6.5
Queen Jane 6.5
China Cat 7
Rider 7

Good Times 8.5
Pocky 7.5
S&D 8
Ship Fools 7.5
PITB 8.5
Eyes 8.5

Space 7
Take You Home 7
Wheel 7
Miracle 7.5
Wharf 8
RR 7.5
BMRiver 7.5

  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

5/7/89 ~ Frost Amphitheater ~ Palo Alto, CA

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27th Show of 1989
5th Show of 1989 California Spring Tour

The final show of Spring Dead in 1989. While there still was a show to be played on 5.27.89, it was to be with Clarence Clemmons. Not counting the 5.27.1989 show, the band was to have 5 straight non Grateful Dead weeks (at least from touring). As such, the light at the end of the tunnel was quite bright and right in front of them as they began Aiko Aiko on 5.7.1989. Based on the 4.17.1989 performance, my guess prior to hearing this show was that the band would be pretty flat through the first set and the pre drums second set, but pick things up as the show ended due to the proximity of their 5 weeks off.

Aiko is surprisingly tight, and was developing into a very well performed opener. The laid back but bouncy rhythm provided a nice platform for Jerry to not only loosen his vocal chops, but also to develop interesting leads through his axe. The 5.7 version does just that. The pace during the song is brisk and the vocals sung perfectly by Jerry and the harmony. The first two jams are a bit conservative as Jerry and Brent test the waters, but by the third jam Jerry opens up a very nice fast paced theme. Upon return to the next verse, Jerry starts ___really___ belting out the lyrics; and at some points he starts screaming, "HEY Now." While this version may not be the greatest, it does suggest that Jerry was in good spirits and that he came to play.

Weir next opts out of an intro tune and heads straight for the Blues Room (or bathroom as this version suggests). While Weir's vocals are competent, it lacks the raw razor edge screaming that I like. The first Jerry jam is relatively introspective and fails to reach any interesting paths and lacks the chilling slide that Jerry is so capable of playing. Of note, Mydland did not sing the "Hey there little red rooster - you aint shit to me" verse. I was not disappointed. The main jam begins with a very solid Mydland organ lead. This lead adequately rises the bar from the song to a fast paced and intense sound. Weir's timing upon entering his theme was nailed perfectly, but his note picking fails to develop into coherent themes. Instead, it sounded as though Weir's sound was disjointed. As such, Jerry's entrance into the jam is not a dive off of the pace maintained by Weir but rather is a climb in pace. The result is a Jerry jam that initially focuses on speed development but than switches awkwardly to the structured finale. Not a great version nor an average version by any means.

As if to restart the set, in the infamous Jerry 2 Spot he chooses Bertha. Jerry's vocals are not nearly as animated as during the set opening Aiko but he still sings this quite competently. During the jam as Jerry finishes the first G C cycle and enters the G C GG G C GG G C C# D reprise he sings the vocals. This is a bit odd considering he rarely if ever did this. After the end of the reprise Jerry reenters the jam and starts anew. The punches produced by the Rhythm are well done and effective, but the Jerry solos are mediocre and lacking in creativity. A merely average version with an interesting twist packed in tightly in the middle.

Weir lifts the set a bit with a very solid reading of MAMUncle. Jerry's solo is particularly inspired and filled with angry little runs here and there - the feeling of desperation prevails in his note picking as with most great versions of MAMU. But, as MAMU ended and the band entered Mexicali, the run of one above tune in a row ended. This Mexicali is very well sung by Bob and Brent, but during the main jam Jerry gets markedly lost in his thematic progression causing Weir to step up with his rhythm and Brent to fill in the lead gap. It definitely is an awkward sound.

Jerry's next song is Built To Last - a song which did very well during the Spring Tour but during this California week in May was merely average. This version is not much better. Jerry's vocals sounded a bit haggard and overdone. Perhaps the band needed to slow the pace of the progression a bit to compensate Jerry's vocal issues. The jam, however, is well done by Jerry and displays how musically this tune was still developing very nicely. Still, as a whole this version reminded me that the tune was still an infant.

Picasso Moon was rapidly becoming one of my least favorite new tunes. As I mentioned in a previous review the song sounds __way__ too busy with too many chord changes, a slick and annoying Mydland set of notes that is repeated virtually every 5 seconds throughout the song, Jerry's platform for jamming is limited to the very end of the song (due to the fact that based on the rapid onslaught of lyrics Weir's rhythm is limited requiring Jerry to pick up the main rhythm); and Weir's singing __needs__ harmony especially when he reaches for falsetto notes. Picasso Moon was the next song chosen by the band on 5.7.1989 and it may be the worst of the year (it being the third version ever). In particular, Weir's singing is at times way off key and makes the listener cringe. The jam at the end of the song is nonexistent and the very ending is flubbed. I know that this tune had some good moments from other versions I've heard (or maybe that was Eternity?) so it shall be interesting to see how the band tinkers with it to make it more amenable to their goals.

As the band reached the Jam Spot of the 1st Set, Jerry transfered the very below average to average set to a very nice place with Birdy. The first jam meanders for quite a long time at a consistent pace as Jerry tests out different riffs and leads. The band seems content with his pace and they certainly don't push Jerry in any direction whatsoever. This extended jam is not bad but it doesn't have much of an edge. Finally, Jerry starts reaching for more of a sharp sound and starts leaping up the fret board causing the band to rapidly follow him. As he reaches his destination Jerry opens up a series of cyclical notes that reach the essence of Bird Song. Soon Jerry switches to strumming mode and the all out jam was in effect. For a beautiful 3 minutes had leaped outside of the 5.7.1989 first set shell and made it all worthwhile. While not the greatest Birdy from 1989, this version is well done and has some great moments.

One set down one to go until their vacations would begin.

Set Two begins with Foolish Heart, and it is very well sung by Jerry. The first jam has Jerry plucking his notes with confidence and as the jam reached its structured conclusion the band solely nails it and Jerry pounces on the next verse. Clearly the best rendition of 1989 up to this date of that first jam. Jerry opts not to let loose vocally on the "onto a foooooolish heaaaaart," prior to the second jam. Mydland starts it with a nice funky reading of his typical solo from which creeps up the back and starts his own very nice and well paced jam. This Jerry led jam is markedly slower than the other Spring versions and in my opinion it works much much better. The slow pace permits more exploration and doesn't put pressure on Jerry to outdo himself. This version really works. As it slows down a near crawl the band stalls a bit - but bravo to them for exploring the option of not increasing the pace of a song but rather slowing it down. As the final verse ends Jerry once again opts not to deeply sing the "onto a foolish heaarrt" finale (unlike 3.19.1990). The outro jam ends before it begins and drops into a very brief tuning space prior to the start of Victim or the Crime. This Foolish Heart is another example of the band struggling to grow musically along with their age. Clearly to keep things fresh the band needed new tunes, and with new tunes comes the growing pains of trying new things and good old trial and error. The 5.7.1989 Foolish heart wasn't the best ever but the strides the band slowly was making with this tune was interesting to watch.

As noted, another new tune was blessed with the second song of the set - that being Victim or the Crime. This version is pretty solid. Weir's vocals are on the mark and have a certain hint of snide sarcasm. Jerry's rhythm throughout isn't as mocking as it sometimes can be. The finale jam reaches some uncomfortable places as the clash between Jerry's driving and pursuing jam and Weir's calculated rhythm progression works very very well. This tune seemed to be working especially when the band didn't try to hurry the pace too much. While the outro jam here was a bit short, the main effect was great and resulted in an above average version.

As Victim fizzles into my memory Jerry and Weir start Crazy Fingers - complete with Weir on wah wah effect to begin with. Crazy Fingers is one of those tunes the band played in the late 80s that commonly had the feel that the seams were unraveling as they sang and jammed. But, Jerry clearly liked this tune as he chose it very often in the first third of 1989. This version is better than most from 1989. The vocals are strongly delivered and the rhythm doesn't stray in its sound. The main jam is well done by Jerry and does not stall as other versions do (see 4.3.1989). But, the band sings three different verses at once upon reentry to the song --- Mydland correctly sings "gone are the days," Jerry sings "life may be sweeter" and Weir sings a mash of both. Mydland wins the battle. The finale jam does not reach any interesting themes, but it does retain its identity longer than most 1989 versions do.

Next the band chose one of my least favorite 1989 songs - Women are Smarter. Perhaps the 2.11.1989 is to be forever scalded into my memory. Regardless, this version actually is probably the best of the year. Jerry's thematic progression cruises from one idea to the next during his first jam and the band seems content with the complexity of the rhythm. As the second jam starts, Mydland does a nice job of maintaining the boppy rhythm for Jerry to jump off of. Jerry does just that and creates a nice series of well crafted licks that eventually build to a peak-esque sounding jam. But, with fate keeping an eye on this tune, Weir fails to leap back into the lyrics as Jerry finishes his jam and the band has to proceed through one more run through the chords before the song is vocally completed. But, Jerry deserves a lot of credit for finally putting forth a very solid reading of this tune.

Next is He's Gone, which I've said before is one of my least favorite songs from which to enter drums. This version is very solid. Jerry's vocals are crisp and, as he once said, "crackling with energy." The middle jam has Jerry confidently marching through the structured theme. After some nice moans and bellows from the band the outro jam enters into a great bluesy jam that quickly becomes Spoonful sans the vocals. While no monster jams are created through this jamming, it once again is great to see the band moving into new positions. The previous time the band did the Spoonful was 4.12.1989 (a very fine version sandwiched between Smokestacks) and the previous He's Gone Spoonful was on 4.29.1989. After both versions, I remember thinking the band should have maintained spoonful in its repertoire; especially after He's Gone. For me He's Gone is a platform tune from which the band would enter various jams and lifeforms --- not an end point tune. Providing a spoonful jam or song after He's Gone is a nice transition and permitted ample instrumental progression.

Space, as was the trend after 4.17.1989, included Jerry on the midi. Like most other spaces from 1989 Jerry plays alone but near the end the other band members join him. About half way through the space Jerry hints at the Other One, and from there on it pervades his Space. As the band returns Jerry drops the sound to a mere tippy toe dance from which Lesh unleashes 1989's first Bass Roll. The effect is very well taken and the explosion lasting and begs the question of why Lesh didn't do such a roll during every version. The Jerry jam that gasps for air from this massive explosion takes a fierce direction and pace. The resulting jam is not superior to most versions but still it was great to hear Lesh let loose. The inbetween verse jam also is average, but bravo to Lesh for reintroducing the 1989 Deadhead's to his preserved power.

Jerry spins the Other One a bit following the final verse and drags it down into Black Peter - Wharf Rat's ugly sister. This version is relatively tame until the end when Jerry emits some nice screams. The jam starts out slow but Jerry quickly develops some groovy riffs ala 10.6.77. Just as the groove plateaus Weir starts Lovelight.

This Lovelight is very well done. Weir's vocals are dead on and the harmonies not only sound good but seem to encourage the main singer (kind of like how Weir used to incite more out of Pigpen). Jerry steals the song, however, with a very fast paced and interesting main jam. True rockin' roll.

The Tour ends with Knockin On Heaven's Door --- just as the Spring Tour ended on 4.17.1989; and as with the version on 4.17.1989 - this version is very well done.

All in all, the band definitely had improved from the pre Bird Song first set. While the pre drums second set was not the hottest of the year or even exceptional, it showed definite hope for the remainder of the year as Jerry finally nailed a Woman (are smarter); the Foolish second jam was markedly slowed down in pace as it would remain; the Victim finale jam was nailed; the He's Gone was not boring; the Spoonful jam while not completely surprising demonstrated that the band was still pursuing new ideas with old friends; Lesh nailed the Other One with a Bass Roll; Jerry created a nice funky jam out of Black Peter; Jerry nailed Lovelight; and KOHDoor was as well done as it was in Minneapolis on 4.17.1989. And, a trend definitely maybe was beginning to develop --- finishing shows strong.

Bring on the June Greeks --- but wait there first is a benefit show on 5.27.1989 --- which I shall listen to tonight.

Set 1: 6.98
Set 2.1: 7.35
Set 2.2: 7.54
Set 2sum: 7.445
Show: 7.21

Aiko - 7.3
LRRooster 6.5
Bertha 7
MAMU 7.6
Mexicali 6.5
Built To Last 7
Picasso Moon 6
Birdy 8

Foolish Heart 7
Victim 7.5
Crazy Fingers 7.3
Women 7.3
He's Gone - 7.5
Spoonful 7.5
Space 7.2
Other One 7.5
Bpeter 7.5
Lovelight 7.5
KOHDoor 8

  Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz


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