G. Dead 1989 Stat's
Misc. '89 reviews
Feb. 5 - 12 '89
Mar 27 - Apr 3 '89
Apr 8 -17 '89
April 28 - May 7 '89
May 27 - June 21 '89
July 2 - July 13 '89
July 15 - July 19 '89
Aug 04 -6 '89
Aug 17 - 19 '89
Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob
Grateful Dead - Laguna Hills,
California ~ May 1989:
~ Irvine Meadows
4/29/89 ~ Irvine
4/30/89 ~ Irvine
Grateful Dead - Palo Alto,
California ~ May 1989:
5/6/89 ~ Frost Amphitheater
5/7/89 ~ Frost
~ Irvine Meadows ~ Irvine, CA
Top of Page
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
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
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
Queen Jane 9.5
Just a Little Light 9
Picasso Moon 7.5
Birdy – 7.5
Crazy Fingers 7
UJB – 8.5
Terrapin – 7.5
Wheel – 8
SOTM – 7.5
Sugar Mag 8
Quinn 8 Rob
~ Irvine Meadows ~ Irvine, CA
Top of Page
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Memphis Blues 7.2
Built to Last 6.7
Blow Away 6.7
China Cat 8
He’s Gone 7.5
Take Home 7
Other One 8
Other One Transition to Wharf 9.5
Lovelight – 7
~ Irvine Meadows ~ Irvine, CA
Top of Page
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
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
Obviously the Deal was the highlight to a pretty lackluster first
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
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
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
˝ step 7
We Can Run 7
Picasso Moon 6.5
Box Rain 7
Baby Blue 7 Rob
5/6/89 ~ Frost
Amphitheater ~ Palo Alto, CA
Top of Page
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
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
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
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
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
Good Times 8.5
Ship Fools 7.5
Take You Home 7
~ Frost Amphitheater ~ Palo Alto, CA
Top of Page
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
Aiko - 7.3
Built To Last 7
Picasso Moon 6
Foolish Heart 7
Crazy Fingers 7.3
He's Gone - 7.5
Other One 7.5