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Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead - Oakland Coliseum ~ May 1989:
5/27/89 ~ Oakland Coliseum

Grateful Dead - Mountain View, California ~ May 1989:
6/18/89 ~ Shoreline Amphitheater
6/19/89 ~ Shoreline Amphitheater
6/21/89 ~ Shoreline Amphitheater

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

5/27/89 ~ Oakland Coliseum ~ Oakland, CA

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28th Show of 1989
AIDS Benefit Concert – Not linked to an official tour

This was an AIDS benefit that numerous bands participated in, and of which the Dead were the main act I presume. 1989 was near the peak of the AIDS epidemic and was only starting to receive the attention it deserved. Clearly the Grateful Dead recognized the national problem at hand, and in particular the Bay Area problem, and volunteered to help raise cash. Good for the band.

Twenty days off and the band started the show sounding fresh. I must admit that I knew Clarence Clemons was to sit in with the band on certain songs and as such my expectations were pretty low. Nothing against Mr. Clemons. Touch, as stated, is started out in fine spirits and energy. Lesh stands out from the beginning of the song dropping loud bombs galore. A good sign. The main jam is slowly crafted but perfectly nailed with each note hitting the desired sound. The band, as well, pounces on Jerry’s notes during the jam in methodical precision. A nice, above average opener for the band, but not exceptional – and clearly not as good as 4.28.1989.

As Touch ends, Lesh pounces into the opening notes for GSETold. This version is quite solid during the song portion as the band races through the structured themes flawlessly and the harmony between Weir and Mydland is near perfect. But, Jerry’s two different leads sound lost and disjointed and hurriedly thrown together.

Jerry’s 2 Spot is Althea – a rare tune in 1989 (this was the third version). This version is a bit sloppy as Jerry’s delivery of the verses sounds uncertain and the band at times seems a split second behind. But, Jerry’s guitar delivery is relatively expressive in the rapid outbursts he emits. The finale jam is well done by Jerry but the band seemed a bit off. After hearing the 9.6.1980 version of this song, all others seem to fail in comparison. In relation to 1989, I think this version is average.

Weir’s bluesy spot is filled by Walkin’ Blues. As with most 1989 versions Weir does a nice job of singing the song. Jerry’s solo is well done but not overpowering or chilling. The main jam of Mydland Weir starts out competently by Mydland but the Weir solo falls apart and looses its thrust. Jerry picks the lead up a bit but the effect is ruined and for the history books we have yet another below average Walkin’ Blues. This tune definitely was in an average slump at this point in comparison to the great February 1989, and early April 1989 versions.

Next the band chooses one of the better songs of late – Aiko Aiko. The version on 5.7.1989 was very well done with great Jerry vocals. While the placement of this version in the middle of the first set may seem out of alignment, it was the vehicle for which to introduce Clarence Clemons to the show. But, Clarence didn’t appear at the beginning of the song. Jerry’s first jam is just him and the band, and he does a nice job of developing a boppy marching kind of sound. This clearly was the best jam Jerry had put forth up to this point in the set. The Mydland solo next starts out nicely but for some reason stops and about 25 seconds of rhythm rides into the next verse. In the third jam Jerry starts out strumming rhythm suggesting that perhaps it was Clarence’s key to join in, but he didn’t, and Jerry opened up a pretty tame solo before returning for the fourth verse. During the fourth verse Clarence finally joins in and sounds pretty good. But, it is short lived as the song ended pretty much just as he began. Other Aikos were better and this version sounded as though it was meant to be more than it was.

Clarence gets his chance to shine on Memphis Blues – the next tune. Weir’s vocals to start out the tune are particularly well done. His jovial and sardonic delivery suggests that his comfort level and understanding of the lyrics was quite developed. Clemons pretty much just played during the “to be stuck inside…again.” The first jam is owned by Clemons and it doesn’t sound all bad, but perhaps a bit lost. As the chord progression changes Jerry steps in and leads him in the right direction. Jerry’s solo follows the next set of lyrics and it is very well delivered. Some people get inspired with special guests – Jerry typically was one of those – as we would see later in the show. But, with this version of Memphis, the song lacks a nice progressive punch to end the tune. Andy Lemieux in the DHTCompendium suggests that Clemons hindered the progression of the 5.27.1989 Memphis resulting in a sluggish performance. I would have to agree.

Jerry next opens up a tune more suited to saxophone and free flow improvisation – Birdy. Jerry’s vocal is directly and fast paced as he clearly wanted to get to the jam. Jerry opens up the jam with a conservative theme that is fast paced and permits the band, and mostly Clemons, a chance to see the feel of the groove. Slowly Jerry increases the pace and creates a platform for Clemons to begin playing. Clarence takes off and for the first time in the show we see him contributing his own ideas to the jams. Behind him Jerry played a brisk chordal rhythm. Clemons played for about 30 seconds in the lead before slowing down and permitting Jerry to surge out of him. Jerry cruised for a while and Clemons provided a very hot and well done rhythm. The jam reaches a nice peak and maintains it for about 45 seconds. As the song is reentered, I see that Clemons was more comfortable in the rhythm position as opposed to creating new themes. A pretty nice Birdy.

The set ends with Promised Land – another tune perfectly suited for the guest star heralded from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and the Jersey Shore – Clarence Clemons. Jerry’s first jam is very hot as he cruised through his notes. The second jam belongs to Clemons. The first run through the chords features Clemons doing a nice solo that sounds like a 1950’s sock hop. During the second part of his jam he returns to rhythmic playing which sounded a bit awkward. For the main jam, Jerry takes over and emits a scalding fanning of notes to create a nice sounding rockin’roll melt for which Clemons appropriately added nice rhythm.

All in all an average set, with Clarence perhaps sounding a bit out of place, but sounded very comfortable in some rhythmic locations.

Set 2 begins with Hell In A Bucket. While the song is quite tight, the Jerry driven main starts out well but by the peak the steam is lost and the effect is not very convincing. For the ending of the tune while Weir screams about enjoying the ride, Clemons provides a nonintrusive rhythm.

Next Jerry opens up what for many was only to be opened with Scarlet Begonias: Fire on the Mountain. Lesh stands out nicely providing a very heavy and consistent bomb count as the rhythm. During the first jam Jerry travels a familiar course likely lending the sound of the song to Clarence. As the jam ends Clemons takes his turn and awkwardly creates a theme that sounds confused. As the second verse is entered Clemons provides a very adept rhythm suggesting further that his main precision was not in developing leads but in providing rhythm. Jerry’s second jam is a bit faster and hotter than the first. When Jerry reached a nice groove, however, Clemons decided to try a lead again and interrupts what Jerry was developing. Jerry quickly switches to rhythmic strumming and lets Clemons take the reigns with the similar result of a confused lead and ultimately a stalled jam. Honestly, as the final verse is ridden out with the harmonies of the band, the Clemons saxophone sounded very out of place and perhaps a bit sick. I think Fire On the Mountain is not the best tune for saxophone based on this performance. Jerry quickly exits the final jam and ends the tune.

Clemons sat out for a while at this point. Mydland, who had been slighted out of his jams mostly by Clemons, opened up Blow Away next. From the start Jerry is on the slide and I believe it sounded very good. The thrust of the song is well delivered. The final jam by Mydland sounds a lot like all of the other versions “heart is a jail cell” and “fist in the air.” As the groove hits a very nice spot Jerry starts a massive fanning of his guitar that puts this version over the edge. At that point however Mydland thought the band had even more of a punch to deliver and slowed down the song for another little rap. This didn’t work and the song began to drag on and become a bit boring. Jerry’s use of the slide was a welcome addition.

Truckin’ follows and it sounds very weak at the knees and sluggish. The rhythm provided by the band is not convincing upon hearing Weir’s vocals. Clemons joins in for the Truckin’ jam and during the traditional Truckin’ ladder jam Jerry sounds disinterested. But, just when you think one thing Jerry is ahead of you. At this point Jerry flipped his energy switch on and opened up a massive and very very hot series of themes that sizzled. Clearly this was the highlight of the show and perhaps one of the highlights of the year. The jams are characterized by staggered note picking complete with fast fret board surges and slow moans. The band follows in suit. Eventually Jerry drops in massive hints at The Other One. But, the drummers get the stage just as it seems Lesh might take a chance and start The Other One. Clemons participated in this jam but was for the most part unnoticeable.

Jerry’s midi space is somewhat interesting in that it almost seemed as though the notes were going somewhere. Just as this was happening, however, his tone changed and he entered an electric trumpet sounding effect. Sure enough the pace died as well and Mydland started the lullaby notes signifying the emergence of Take You Home. Not much to say about this tune. My wife heard it as we were on a road trip when I listened to this performance and she asked me why the band couldn’t see how bad it sounded. I laughed.

After Take You Home, the band returns to the stage and Jerry teases the Other One for a few seconds. At this point the band slows down to a complete standstill and the crowd starts chanting Phil Phil Phil (ala 9.17.1982 ---- one of the most highly recommended 1982 shows I’ve heard). Lesh replies with his bass and does a full bass roll (ala 5.7.1989). This was monstrous and encouraging. Monstrous because of the effect; encouraging because it marked two Other One’s in a row (5.27 and 5.7) where Lesh did the bass roll. I would not be disappointed if he kept this in his repertoire. The jams are also impressive. Jerry directs a rather complex stream of themes that construct a deep Other One jam. The only drawback I hear in this version is that Mydland and Weir seemed too connected to the traditional Other One rhythm. Jerry’s progression suggested a deeper and new sound for the Other One, and the Weir Mydland traditional E chord rhythm clashed with it a bit. Still this was a great version of this tune. Along with the Truckin’ jam it was the highlight (so far).

After a tasty Other One outro jam the band settled in for Wharf Rat. The main jam after “I’m sure she’s been true to you” has a blistering Jerry solo. He races up and down the fret board and creates an intense and exasperated sound. Jerry was definitely reaching a very nice spot and as for the entire show – from the Truckin’ jam on he was on fire. This Wharf jam is not the all out jam session that 2.10.1989 was, but rather it is just Jerry sizzling away. The outro transition jam leads to the return of Clarence for Lovelight. Clarence must have been impressed with Jerry’s playing. I wonder what he told Springsteen.

Clarence takes the first jam on the Lovelight. He presents a nice series of notes, but they are repeated pretty much incessantly and it quickly began to sound like a nice rhythm. Jerry caught on eventually and began to provide a very hot series of notes prior to the return to the song. Weir does a nice job of creating a thunderous vocal finale.

Another highlight is saved for the encore which is Brokedown. Jerry’s singing is crisp and meaningful. Clemons provides the lead during the solo and does a fantastic job. Brokedown is a mournful song and the saxophone added a dejected sound that fit perfectly. This was the best tune of the night for Clemons – and for me was one of the finer 1980’s Brokedowns that I’ve heard.

Despite a pretty average first set, the band finished the show very strongly. One of the weak points of the main Spring Tour was an inability to retain energy during the late part of the second set. These May shows (5.6, 5.7, and 5.27) showed Jerry playing stronger as the show went on. But, there were many days off inbetween shows. Clearly, the dog days of the summer tour would test his endurance.

Regarding Clarence Clemons, his role sounded better when he was on rhythm. Clearly his highlight of the night was the mournful solo he so aptly provided during the Brokedown Palace.

Next on the list for the band was three weeks off prior to three Shoreline shows, followed by about 10 days off before the onset of the 1989 Summer Tour.

Set 1: 7.0
Set 2.1: 7.0
Set 2.2: 7.67 (Truckin’ Jam through encore was 7.8)
Set 2 sum: 7.335
Show sum: 7.12

Touch 7.5
GSET 6.5
Althea 7
Walkin Blues 6.5
Aiko 7
Memphis 6.5
Bird Song 7.5
Promised 7.5

Hell 6.5
Fire 6.5
Blow Away 7.5
Truckin – 6
Truckin’ Jam – 8.5
Space 7
Take home 7
Other One 8
Wharf Rat 8
Lovelight 7.5
Brokedown 8.5  
 
Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

6/18/89 ~ Shoreline Amphitheater ~ Mt. View, CA

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29th Show of 1989
1st Show of June 1989 Shoreline Run

After a 5 week or so break with only show in the middle (5.27.1989) the Grateful Dead arrived at Shoreline for the beginning of an Early Summer CA Tour – being three days, and ending on the Summer Solstice. After a week opening to the year in February, the band improved during the main Spring Tour, but not dramatically. The April and May CA shows were still relatively average, although Jerry was beginning to show more stamina late in the second set. The band was stagnating.

But the Summer Tour of CA, and later starting on the second of July the main US Tour, as with any tour, could always breath life into the Dead.

As such, the band started the 18th of June 1989 with Foolish Heart. Despite a flooding of Brent organ, the band sounded tight and determined as Jerry progressed through the opening lyrics. During the first jam, Jerry created a very well done “uncertain” sounding jam as it progressed to the structured halt. Not by any means a scalding jam, but certainly the band was showing improvement in this selection. The middle of the song is equally well done and Jerry opened his voice up with a few “foolish hearts.” The jam out of this starts with some extraverted Jerry themes but it quickly drops into a slow and lost sounding jam. Clearly the band was not determined with how to handle the middle part of this jam. As with a lot of their songs, it seemed that instead of rehearsing a structured zone, they would instead hammer it out during live performances. Eventually the band returns to the “Bite the hand” verse. The finale jam begins with an extended Brent jam. His enthusiasm is well placed, but instead of Jerry leaping out of this the band decides to quickly end the tune. Obviously the band was still figuring this song out, but I like this song a lot and consider it another Hunter Garcia masterpiece. So for me it is very interesting and satisfying to hear it progress.

After a very brief halt, the band flubs the intro to Jack Straw. The band sounds a bit rusty during this version. Jerry’s first solo is cut short just as he was beginning to progress by Weir, the rhythm throughout the song sounds very forced, and Mydland’s organ was beginning to dominate. In addition, the main jam is also butchered. Jerry began the jam slowly and furtively created a faster and faster pace. Well before he even met his stride, Mydland was peaking on his pace. This caused a conflicting sound as Jerry was intending to develop a monster and Mydland seemingly was attacking this development. Eventually Mydland reduced his pace, and Jerry kept building the jam. After some fanning Jerry surprised even me as he started yet another theme which was extremely fast. But, just as this new jam started, Weir prematurely leaped back into the vocals. Despite the flubbed nature of this version, Jerry definitely sounded quite “on.”

As if to restart the entire show, Jerry next chooses Alabama Getaway. The first version in many years. Jerry continued his strong presence on this version with salty and blistering leads. The pace was startlingly similar to the wonder 1980 versions. Jerry was definitely grooving at this point. The band ends the song on a flub, but nonetheless the band was beginning to catch on fire. Agetaway could have only improved and would have been a very nice addition to the repertoire, but this was to be the only Agetaway until 1995 – the 30th and final year of the Grateful Dead.

Weir chooses Queen Jane next as the Dylan tune of the night. This version is very solid and once again shows Jerry interpreting Dylan in just the right way. Weir’s singing is very convincing and calculated. The Jerry solos are inviting yet scolding – the perfect contrast. Mydland also has a very nice organ solo from which Jerry creates another beautiful run. The song ends with poor harmonies by Jerry. While the band was not nailing each tune perfectly, they certainly sounded amazing at some points during each song.

Jerry once again flips the off switch on ordinary and chooses Cold Rain & Snow. This version is strong. Jerry’s guitar solos are nailed perfectly and the vocal harmonies accompanying his verses are in tune. This version is a bit laid back though, and almost seems like the band was beginning to switch to autopilot.

The band kept up with the unusual song selection next with a rare late first set Little Red Rooster. The band’s rhythm is quite laid back and bluesy. Weir’s singing is exasperated – as all great versions of this song are. Jerry’s first solo is well done with his slide, and he creates an insecure theme that is somewhat chilling. Of note, the band continued the trend of not having Mydland sing a verse. Perhaps that was to be the norm now. The main jam begins with Mydland developing a slow building theme that only at the very end is filled with a lot of enthusiasm. Weir’s solo on the slide fills the void nicely and his theme development is synchronous. His peaks, unfortunately, don’t amass to a hysterical sound. Jerry begins his turn with a lot of low note strumming. He opts out of any sort of note picking for the most part, leaving the jam sounding a bit out of place. Not the best version out there by any means. Brian Dyke reviewed this concert for the DHTCompendium and applauded Weir’s slide playing. I consider Brian to be one of the stronger writers in the Compendium series (see his 11.11.1973 review) but I was not as impressed Weir on this version as he is. But, I should note that I have heard Brian play the guitar before and he is a very fine blues guitar player. As such, perhaps Weir’s solo was better than I surmised.

Keeping with the unusual even further, the band opts out of a traditional jam spot tune and choose Hey Pocky Way. Mydland’s almost a majority of the verses yielding a rusty sound. The jams make up for the loss in hearing Mydland sing. His first organ solo is rapid and dance inspiring. Jerry’s chance is filled with very fast note picking and theme development. Eventually, he begins fanning his notes and the sound is very impressive. Jerry was on fire. Jerry slows the jam down for a transition and slowly continues the boppy theme. Then Jerry starts singing Aiko Aiko. The pace of this version is a bit off in my opinion. It is very rapid and it clashes with the laid back Cajun sound of Aiko. The band couldn’t seem to shake the Pocky Way pace. The jams are fast and Jerry seems to be the only member of the band that effectively switched the pace to Aiko. His themes are well taken and are impressive. After the second verse Mydland opens the jamming with an enthusiastic organ solo that nicely builds for Jerry to leap from. Jerry’s jamming includes more impressive note picking. As the band ends the tune, the traditional pace of Aiko is finally reached. This Pocky Aiko was certainly a pleasant change from the norm, but the Aiko was a bit fast for my liking.

All in all, a strong Jerry first set that was marked by inconsistencies from the band.

Set 2 begins with Sampson’n’Delilah. As the band begins it seems that no one wants to step up and take the lead resulting in a forced sound. Jerry’s first solo is somewhat typical in the note placement and the theme barely rises in pace. Weir’s singing seems to be on the mark during the second verse. Jerry’s second solo is quite similar to the first in that the pace is not elevated and the note placement seems very hackneyed. The ending of the tune is quite flubbed as well.

Jerry immediately starts the next tune Cumberland Blues. The song is sluggish. Jerry’s vocals sound unconvincing and tired. His first guitar solo takes a long time to reach any interesting note development and the band behind him is present only in pace. The next set of verses suffers from the same lethargy. Jerry’s next solo is equally slow and is a bit boring.

Next is Saint of Circumstance and it is an ugly version. The song itself is filled with flubs and Weir’s vocals clash with the rhythm at times. The band sounded very rusty. The main jam is malled by a sluggish Jerry who could not reach the necessary pace and note theme necessary for the transition back to the verses. Instead Jerry’s note development literally goes nowhere. The transition is one of the more ugly moments of Dead history that I’ve heard. The final vocal push is flubbed with the harmony as well. Truly one of the worst Saints I’ve heard. A strong clash to the all time great Saints (e.g., 9.6.1980, 8.28.1981).

Jerry quickly starts He’s Gone. This version is average. The vocals are well delivered as the band sounded in synch throughout. Jerry’s notes during the jam are standard but not flubbed. The vocal finale is extended and filled with moans and groans. The outro jam is long but goes nowhere before slowly being enveloped by the drums.

The midi space is filled with gushing sounds left and right, but little jam development is reached. After 11 minutes Jerry spends about 1 minute hinting at Take Me Home. This would have been a great choice considering that for the most part this show was destined to be a disappointment. But, instead Jerry starts the Wheel absent any transitional theme.

The Wheel is sluggish. The band enters the vocals on a flub, and for the first verse the singing is only done by Weir and Mydland. The pace does pick up during the song, but it doesn’t reach any impressive heights. The structured chord jam is massively out of time and the result is a very awkward sound. The band was going nowhere at this point. The outro jam is filled with a scattering of notes by Jerry that instead of rising in pace descend slowly to a near stand still before Jerry chooses Miracle.

Miracle starts the late second set surge with some loud vocals that seemingly attempt to wake the rest of the band up. The song is relatively standard. Jerry’s first solo is in synch with the band but fails to reach an interesting or rocking sound. The outro jam is very sluggish as well. Jerry’s jam lasts about 5 seconds before starting the descent into Stella Blue.

The Stella Blue is very slow. Jerry’s vocals are on the mark, however, and there are no flubs. The outro jam is exquisite Jerry portraying a morose theme. The outro is short however before it starts the transition to the next tune and no orgasmic finale is reached.

The next tune is Round’n’Round. The band picked up the pace and pulled off a relatively nice version. Jerry’s solos are rocking and nicely paced. Instead of ending the show with a final RR jam, the band leaps into Good Lovin. This version is also nicely paced and lacking flubs. At the conclusion Weir’s vocals are altered by the soundboard. As the vocal finale gets interesting, however, my recording is cut – which is denoted at etree. Of note, Mydland did not take a verse and as such the listener was spared from the typical Mydland chime about “hot good lovin.”

The encore is Useless Blues, which has a nice Jerry solo, but is not over the top breathtaking.

Set 1: 7.42
Set 2.1: 6.37
Set 2.2: 7.07
Set 2: 6.72
Show: 7.07

Foolish Heart 7
Jack Straw 7
Agetaway 8
Queen Jane 7.5
CRSnow 7
Pocky Way 8
Aiko 7.5

Sampson 6.5
Cumberland 6.5
Saint 5.5
He’s Gone 7
Space 6.5
Wheel 6.5
Miracle 7
Stella 7.5
RR 7.5
Glovin 7.5
US Blues 7

Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

6/19/89 ~ Shoreline Amphitheater ~ Mt. View, CA

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 30th Show of 1989
2nd Show of June 1989 Shoreline Run

Jerry Garcia had a pretty good show on 6.18.1989 but the band wasn’t as successful. 6.19.1989 started out with Feel Like a Stranger. Immediately upon the opening notes Brent’s organ floods the sound and all that can be heard are the faint taps of some drums and an occasional hint of Jerry. Weir’s vocals seem a bit overexerted for the laid back sound emitted by the band as the song begins. The instrumental transitions seem lazy. As the song progresses the pace and rhythm increase and upon the “long long crazy crazy night” trio from Jerry Bob and Brent the pace is ripe for Jerry to scald the audience with an amazing guitar solo (just as he did on 2.10.1989 to open the show). Jerry’s solo is extended, slowly paced, but very creative. Clashing with him throughout is Brent who presented a very hyper type of rhythm. The clash actually seems to work. Jerry’s first jam is mostly presented on the middle to high end of the fret board. As the jam builds in speed and complexity Jerry pauses and starts a new theme that begins much more slowly and deeply. This transition from Jerry was very impressive and strongly suggested that perhaps this was to be a special night. Slowly this second theme crept up the fret board and finally reached a nice high point permitting a nice series of note spatterings. Brent jumped the gun about 3 seconds early for the transition to the end of the song but it certainly didn’t change the fact that the band sounded very on at this point. As with 2.10.1989 the band next chose Franklin’s Tower.

Riding on this momentum Jerry chops the chords to Franklin’s in a determined and timed manner. The opening vocals are filled with occasional screams by Jerry (“may the Fawww! Winds blow you, etc.). The first solo is skips along at a conservative but inquisitive pace. The second jam is similar in that no real peaks are met, but Jerry’s note development keeps the listener on edge. The third jam has Jerry inserting more enthusiasm into the solo and he reaches a few points where the jam resembled a bubble that was about to burst. Another impressive Franklin’s Tower. The fourth and final jam has Jerry on slide. This serves more as a transitional jam than anything else. The transition to Walkin’ Blues is marked, but a bit sneaky as Jerry pushes the Franklin’ side a bit more than the Walkin’ side at first. An impressive Franklin’s and a very sweet transition to Walkin’ by Jerry on his slide.

Also like 2.10.1989, the band next choose Walkin’ Blues. Jerry’s first solo is expansive in the ground it covers and chilling with the insertion of the slide. The main jam starts with Mydland complexly creating an interesting mood for Weir. Bobby’s jam, however, stumbles and doesn’t take off. In fact all that is heard is rhythm from Jerry and Brent leaving the question that perhaps Bob’s guitar was off or maybe he dropped his pick. Weir’s singing throughout is very well done, but without an impressive jam in the middle reaching the same heights, this version is still average because of the very strong presence of Jerry on the slide and the complex Mydland solo.

Despite the flubbed Walkin by Bobby, this trio opener was very very impressive and suggested that tonight was to be one of those special nights ---- perhaps the 4th of the year.

The Jerry 2 Spot features Candyman. This version is superb. Jerry’s vocals are strained and meaningful. The guitar solo in the middle covers a lot of ground because of its pace, but it is haunting in its harmonics. The solo ends with a spiraling surge of notes that winds into the “oooh ooh oooooh.” The band was really on fire at this point.

Next is Brent’s turn and he chooses We Can Run. This version is well done in light of previous versions. The harmonies are nailed nicely and the rhythm seems more in synch on this version. But, there is no option for Jerry to open up a lead, and as I’ve said before, the tune is a bit too preachy for me.

Jerry’s next tune is Push Comes To Shove. This is another great Hunter Garcia tune. Clearly the band was quite into it on this night because the rhythm is quite on, and Jerry’s vocals are crisp. The jam starts out strong with a solid punching line of notes from Jerry during the first run through the chords, but during the second Jerry’s lead is drowned a bit by Weir adding some effects. During the third run through the chords, however, Jerry makes up for this and emits some stellar strumming pushing the energy over the top. Despite the Weir effects during the jam, this version is great and will put a smile on most faces.

Stuck Inside of Memphis is one of the finer versions I’ve heard. Weir’s singing begins softly and carefully, but as the song progresses it slowly becomes more and more exasperated. Jerry’s rhythm throughout matches the intensity. The Jerry solos are extremely complex, and Mydland’s organ is not dominating but rather is probing. By the song’s end Weir’s shouts become hysterical pleas. A fantastic version of this classic.

Bird Song fulfills the jam spot, and literally stuffs that spot to the gills. The main jam is broken into three themes. The first is an inquisitive and probing development that is highlighted by deep and bending notes from Jerry. This first jam was truly deep, and opened the door for the band to wander in any direction. Jerry included feedback moans in this as well. Clearly this was not to be a rushed version. The second theme begins with a series of mid range notes with from Jerry in which several notes are left hanging for extended periods of time. The result is a barrage of cyclical progressions of notes that scream of psychedelic. At numerous different points Jerry could have opted out of this theme, but he maintained it. This second theme was also noteworthy because while the band is racing to keep up with Jerry’s note progressions, Jerry seems to not be hurriedly racing through his notes, but rather seems to be patiently and methodically spitting his notes out. Contrasts like that are what made the Dead so interesting. A third theme is entered into in a shuffling increase in pace but instead of max-ing out Jerry chose a medium pace to further explore the limits of this version. As it seems destined for a finale, however, Jerry increases the pace once again to another plateau for more solid jamming. The band must have realized at this point what a special version this was. Finally, Jerry enters the fourth (fifth?) theme. This fourth theme also starts slow as Jerry starts a taunting of the rest of the band with a series of choppy chord blasts that creating an almost marching sound. Finally, Jerry reaches a peculiar sound and just exploits the hell out of it creating an extended fanning that brings this particular version outside of the realm of normal. In the aftermath, the band must have been impressed with this version. This version epitomizes that pace is not everything. Truly, the band took 10 pounds of Jam and stuffed it into a 1 pound jam bag.

As Weir announced it was time for break, the band deserved a pat on the back. In particular, the Stranger Franklin’s was very well done. The Candyman and Memphis were likely among the best of 1989, and the Birdy was one for the ages. The only question remaining was whether 6.19.1989 was to fall into the category of 2.10, 4.3, and 4.28.1989 and blow away the second set as well, or was to fall into the category of 4.15.1989 and present a dud second set.

China Cat Sunflower opens the second set. The song is well sung by Jerry and Weir’s intro is right on the mark. The first two jams are a bit normal – as are most. The magic really hits the fan during the main jam. Jerry starts the theme slowly and carefully builds it up until the whole band is in a major driving force jam. Jerry rides atop this movement spitting out precise notes that make this one of the better China Cats I’ve heard. Finally, the jam slows a bit for the structured China Cat finale which is also just nailed. The transition to Rider is effortless as the theme just drops into it. The Rider is not as hot as it could have been. The first Jerry solo is a bit laid back. The vocals by Weir are a bit out of tune. The final Jerry jam is a bit off in that Mydland starts out with a piano solo. By the time Jerry’s lead begins it is laced with feedback and slowly begins suggesting that perhaps Jerry was having technical difficulties. Either way, despite the Rider, the China Cat was tremendous.

PITBand rolls in next. The space starts out with a slow and hypnotic channeling of notes by Jerry. The band doesn’t sound lethargic nor relaxed, but more in awe. Slowly Jerry starts cranking the gears and increases the pace. The band is hesitant to follow his pace, however, likely because the sound was so perfect with Jerry streaming away. Jerry starts a second theme and the band begins to get more involved. This theme is directed more to cutting against the grain by Jerry as he begins to play away from the rhythm. A third theme returns to traditional PITBand sound, but with a twinge of hysteria. Jerry always did a fine job of probing the edge of each jam and that seemingly was the goal with this version. A fourth jam arises which is much more of a transition to Crazy Fingers. This version of PITB was quite spacey and deep as Jerry probed several different sounds and directions (notably not including an atonal meltout). In some ways it was similar to the China Cat transition jam where Jerry opted not so much for a frenetic pace, but rather carefully placed and timed notes. This PITB is the same. The pace will not blow you away nor leave any holes in your seat, but the complexity and the development might. This PITB presents a very relaxed sound from Jerry and in some ways, ala 11.11.1973, a mature sound. (Many people have always said that 2.13.1970 is the acid man’s Dark Star…and 11.11.1973 is the thinking man’s Dark Star). For the most part 1989 up to June was an uncertain and contradictory sound from Jerry --- this PITB and the China Cat transition is some of the more certain sounds from Jerry of 1989. Hopefully this trend would continue, and based on the looming Dark Stars of the Fall Tour, perhaps this was to be the case.

Crazy Fingers had become one of those songs that when Jerry was playing very well he turned to. For example, in 1989 up until June 19, there were three phenomenal shows from beginning to end (in my opinion of course), and Crazy Fingers was played at each of those shows. This version retains the trend of calculated and meaningful note selection from Jerry. The vocals are a bit harsh as the band was arguably getting a bit old to hit the difficult harmonies. Regardless, this is a great version. Jerry’s guitar solo is better than the 2.10, 4.3, and 4.28.1989 versions because he doesn’t get lost in the middle of it – the jam is forceful and well directed. The ending has a surge of notes that drain right into the next verse --- a feature no up to that point 1989 version was lucky enough to claim. The outro jam is equally impressive as Jerry tippy toes across the rhythmic floor created by the band. In particular, the band sets up the traditional Spanish-eque sound for the Crazy Fingers outro. This outro has teeth as Jerry surged up and down this floor for a good 3 minutes before switching the wah wah on and zapping back into PITB. The band doesn’t follow immediately and instead opt for about a 30 second meltish – transition back to PITB space.

The PITB second space segment is a bit more sweeping than the first segment. Jerry’s note development is within the realm of PITB but the band (mostly Mydland and Weir) aggressively stretch the boundaries. Jerry takes the bait after a while and opens up an atonal-esque jam. This last for a few seconds before Jerry starts the reentry to the vocal land of PITB. The band doesn’t bite, and Jerry is left with yet another wide open landscape from which to improvise. It is short lived however as the drummers horizon swallowed the pre drums second set segment.

Another impressive series of songs and jams. Jerry’s playing, as noted, was among the most determined and directed of the year. Regardless of the outcome of the post drums second set, this show was an immense success.

Space is the typical midi emissions from Jerry but there was a more determined path on this evening. Soon it became obvious that the next song was to be Take You Home. The Space as a whole was relatively short in comparison to other versions. The Take Me Home is really no different than the others. I’ve always felt that Take Me Home was a jam-kill, but as the next set of songs illustrated, that theory was not patently correct.

Watchtower creeps in and Weir accentuates his vocals in Dylan fashion. The song is maybe a bit sloppy in that Weir’s vocals are nearly slurred, but this is all overshadowed by the ensuing jam led by Jerry. This first Watchtower jam begins with a series of lightning fast picks from Jerry and after a few cycles through the chords gets way out there. Jerry creates an extended jam complete with bending notes and feedback that pushes this version over the edge of normality into exceptionability. As Jerry’s lead dies down the band opts not to reenter the song but instead yields the floor to Brent for a very fine organ solo. After about 3 minutes of Brent Jerry once again takes over and emits a high fret board series of notes that literally gush with energy. Weir returns to the song, and without even the outro jam, this may be the finest Watchtower I’ve heard. Indeed, the outro jam features a long Jerry lead that is lightning fast but mournful as well. This blisters on for a while and culminates in a very nice cyclical duet with Mydland. This version stinks with energy and is one of the finer Watchtowers around.

As the pace dies down, Jerry starts the familiar riff to Black Peter. This version is relatively above average until the final outro jam which is, like the Watchtower, extended. Jerry reaches an odd sound and strums, fans, and cycles through it for about 30 seconds transforming the sound from end of song to “where are they going?” From this Jerry opens up a bluesy snicker of notes that quickly reaches a max out sound. The band is right there with him. As it seems the jam would end, Jerry opens up yet another theme laced with more strumming and fanning. A wicked Black Peter that is literally all jam. This easily was one of the finer 1989 moments for Jerry.

Jerry’s scalding portrayal was to continue through the remainder of the night which started with Throwin’ Stones. Throwin"’ Stones blended beautifully from the sizzling Black Peter outro jam, and was to have its own punch as well. But, the song itself is started and sung in an unconvincing way. Jerry’s first solo sounds distracted and it doesn’t go anywhere. The rhythm was a bit off too, but by the third verse the band seemed to be in the same step. As with all post 1986 Throwin’ Stones versions, Bob tried to howl “On our owwwwnnnnn” and the result was the typical out of tune uncomfortable where if you are in your office at work, you turn the volume down. But, this led into an extended (for Tstones sakes) Jerry led lead. The jam is pretty much a sprint for Jerry and Brent. No real milestone-esque peaks are reached here (unlike the Watchtower, the Black Peter, and the NFA to come). The end of the song is well sung by Weir and the band creates the feeling of desperation. Jerry does a great job of harmonizing Weir’s vocals as the song ends, as well. Absent an exceptional Jerry led jam in the middle, this version is merely above average.

The set ends with NFA, and it sizzles in both presentation and length. After the first verse Jerry fans pretty much all the way to the second verse. After verse two, however, Jerry opens up a long and deep NFA jam. The theme begins with a structured series of notes that the entire band hits at the same time. The band does this three times before opening up a jam. The DHTCompendium suggests this is Little-Feat-esque. I am not certain – my first thought was that it sounded similar to CSN’s Love the One You’re With. Either way, the ensuing jam is more impressive as Jerry stretches the notes left and right to the edge of the jam’s limits. As this theme reaches its end, the band jumps back into a NFA explosion into the vocal reprise. And so ends yet another great Jerry jam from this amazing show.

The band and the crowd sign NFA into the encore which is a truly beautiful rendition of Knockin On Heaven’s Door that rivals the 4.17.1989 version. Jerry’s vocals are sorrowful, Mydland’s piano runs are effective, and Jerry’s runs of notes make this version more than special.

Based on the band’s average performance on 6.18.1989, expectations were not too high surrounding this performance. But the band came to play and pulled off arguably the best show of the year up to June 19, 1989; or at least earned the right to be lumped together with 2.10.1989, 4.3.1989, and 4.28.1989.

Most impressive on this night was Jerry’s methodical playing during jams and transitions. Instead of creating fast paced runs, he opted more for slower but more calculated runs. The effect in particular is evident during the amazing Bird Song, but also is very present during the China Cat transition and during the two PITB segments. The post drums run of tunes is just amazing Grateful Dead at its best as the band took their ordinary songs and transformed them into living and breathing memories distinguishable among the thousands of others we’ve heard. In particular, I’ll never forget the extended Watchtower jams, the Black Peter outro jam, and the NFA jam. And of course, as with every other truly amazing show from 1989, Jerry played what I am guessing to be his favorite song of the first half of 1989 – Crazy Fingers. The band deserves a lot of credit for many many things – one of which is the stellar performance shared with us on 6.19.1989.


Set 1: 8.08
Set 2.1: 8.0
Set 2.2: 8.07 (((note that absent Take Me Home the average was 8.25)
Set 2 sum: 8.03 (((absent Take Me Home, average was 8.125)))
Show 8.06 (((absent Take Me Home, average was 8.1 *** suggesting that this tune did little to tarnish the very special evening the band had)))

Feel Stranger 8
Franklin’s 8
Walkin’ Blues 7
Candyman 8.5
We Can Run 7.5
Push Comes to Shove 7.7
Memphis Blues 8.5
Birdy 9.5

China Cat 8.5
Rider 6.5
PITB 8.5
Crazy Fingers 8.5
PITB 8
Space 7
Take You Home 7
Watchtower 9
Black Peter 9
Tstones 7.5
NFA 8
Knockin 8.5
Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

6/21/89 ~ Shoreline Amphitheater ~ Mt. View, CA

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31st Show of Year
3rd Show of 1989 June Shoreline Run

After a brilliant performance on June 19, 1989, the band returned after an odd day off, to play not only on the summer solstice, but also nationally on Pay-Per-View. In fact, I believe that I purchased this event way back when…

As could only be expected, the sound system was not too functional to begin the show resulting in about a 10 minute delay prior to the opening song. The band filled the gap with various noodlings including a structured Hide Away – which was pretty cool.

Finally, Touch of Grey is entered by the band. The song itself is very tight and relaxed. This was to be their 9th California show in a row, and the west coast aura was clearly relaxing their sound. In all seriousness, this version is quite impressive in just how tight it is. The band emits an exuberant and confident sound. The jam led by Jerry is textbook for 1989 Touch of Greys, but the pacing and the note selection by Jerry distinguish this version. This certainly rivals 4.28.1989 as the hottest Touch of the year.

Weir wastes no time in driving the band into Minglewood Blues. Weir’s vocals are cocky and confident with a brush of insolence. Jerry’s first solo is sweeping in its attack and gets so deep that one almost forgets it is Minglewood. The main jam starts out with a superb organ solo from Mydland that builds a very nice platform for Weir. Throughout this and the ensuing Weir solo, Jerry’s rhythm is nearly hypnotic. Weir’s solo is in the key of slide, and it results in a nasty and gnawing sound. That likely was the desired effect. The Dead have always had things that musically make you cringe but secretly want more of – Donna’s PITB wails, and Weir’s slide solos. Jerry’s finale is a bit of a contrast to Weir’s disgusting (yet enticing) display, but soon Jerry’s solo has its own feet and surges through some very fast note picking. The jam ends with the structured walks. By no means is this a sinister version of Minglewood (e.g., 2.26.1977) but in its own right is a very fine and exceptional version. The band up to this point was quite on, and for 1989 standards, this was the first post amazing show of the year that they started out brilliantly.

Ramblin’ Rose is Jerry’s 2 Spot selection. This version is rather careful and precise, but the delivery is full of exuberance. The band really seemed to be enjoying themselves as the Pay Per View showed them full of smiles and giggles. Jerry’s guitar solo is on the wah wah and it is nailed perfectly. Three songs into the show and three exceptional versions.

The crowd massively started chanting We Want Phil over and over and the maestro accommodated the gallery with Box of Rain. Despite the beautiful interaction between the crowd and the band, this version is a bit listless. Lesh forgets several of the words, and Jerry’s guitar solo stalls in the middle of its theme. Better versions of this tune exist (3.22.1973).

Jerry quickly reenergizes the show and the crowd with an out of place (wasn’t it bobby’s turn?) Dire Wolf that is a high energized and enthusiastic version. On several occasions Jerry openly screams out the lyrics ---- while the BOYS sit ‘round the fire. The rhythm from Mydland is expressive, and the guitar solo by Jerry quickly reaches the edge of panic. This is one of those versions where the music overpowers the singing, but the singing keeps the music at bay – just barely. A great and fun version. The band was really cruising at this point.

Keeping in step, When I Paint My Masterpiece next rolled in. Weir’s vocals are strong and determined. Jerry’s harmony blends beautifully with Weir’s voice creating a unique sound only the two of them could create. Jerry’s solo, however, makes an early stab at the bridge that flubs and stops the sound for an awkward two seconds. After another series through the chords Jerry nailed it the next time around. This flub tarnished the energy for the remainder of the jam. The vocal finale is very well done, but with the flubbed guitar solo, this version is average.

The band enters its first mellow tune of the night next with Row Jimmy – rumored to be one of Jerry’s favorite tunes ever. Rumors and legends aside, this is a great tune and this version is great as well. Jerry’s singing is poignant and steady. The guitar solo soars in its delicate presentation and dances. Jerry’s themes are not so much impressive in speed but rather in the careful and contemplative delivery. This version also has a very nice sweeping rhythm from the band which makes this version particularly well done. Mydland deserves credit here as well for a very impressive electric piano.

The band ends arguably one of the finer first sets of 1989 with two incredible versions of Cassidy and Deal. The Cassidy is likely the strongest of the year up to that point. The rhythm supported by the band is extremely tight and the Mydland Weir vocal delivery is flawless. The first instrumental jam is literally perfect as the rhythm is more than precise and Jerry’s note picking is pronounced and confident. Finally, the main jam is nothing short of an adventure. Jerry opens the main jam with a cautious but aggressive sounding lead that mostly resides in low notes. Eventually the pace picks up and Jerry wanders down to the middle of the fret board improvising at will, but keeping the jam just one inch short of explosion. The pace picks up again and Jerry begins a cyclical progression of notes that again reaches that zone of dancing on a cliff of no return. Jerry regains energy for one last surge through the complex chord changes provided by Weir and Lesh and Mydland, and seemingly dives inbetween all of the rhythmic stabs. Finally the band leaps back into the song, and once again the band has completed a Cassidy – but not just Cassidy, but one of ___those___ Cassidys. Actually, Jerry does commit a minor note flub upon reentry out of the jam to the main part of Cassidy – it is noticeable, but considering what transpired before it, it does not tarnish this enormous version of Cassidy.

Deal comes in and as if the entire Shoreline Amplitheather wasn’t on fire enough, Jerry basically drops about 19720000 tons of gasoline on top of it, causing the fans to drown in Garcia’s heat. This version of Deal may steal the set. Jerry’s vocals are a bit harsh as his ability to hit high notes certainly diminished over the years, but the jams he created were astonishing. The first small jam is short, but is extremely complex suggesting that the main jam would be one to remember. It was. Jerry starts out on a path of pure lightning fast leads and ferocious bending of notes. This lasts about 3 minutes and there isn’t much to say about it except that it is all jam. Once this completes Jerry starts about a minute long contemplative period of feedback and low moaning notes as he likely was letting the crowd, band, and himself catch their breath prior to one last surge. Slowly Jerry started the upward descent of pace and desire until he was again operating at lightning fast speed. The jam envelops itself in the finale as Jerry emits a strange but very hot and in tune blast of feedbacks that catapults the band in an even faster direction. Ultimately Jerry slowed the jam down, and the band vocally laid down not only the amazing Deal, but the purely amazing and dazzling first set.

A lot of comparisons have been made between 9.27 and 9.28.1972. 9.27 is commonly referred to as the more contemplative of the two shows and 9.28 the more rock out of the two shows. Here, we have 6.19.1989 where the first set was very careful and precise but extraordinarily effective – just like 9.27.1972. The first set on 6.21.1989 with the all out Touch, the Dire, the Cassidy and the Deal was definitely the more rockin’ of the two sets, just like 9.28.1972.

But, there still was a second set to play in this Shoreline Run, and that was to be with Clarence Clemons.

The band starts the second set with Scarlet Begonias. Considering just how well the first set had been played, this Scarlet had a lot of potential. As the song begins, Weir’s rhythmic chops stand out for their full sound. Jerry changes one of the verses a bit – “from the other direction, __I__ was calling her eyes.” Jerry’s first solo is filled with very nice note runs and solid rhythmic support from the band. The first set energy seemed to be carrying over to the Scarlet as Jerry created a complex web of progressions in the pursuit of the “Wind and the willow” bridge. As the jam reaches the zenith, it didn’t reach any delirious state or wicked ultra-fanning. Instead, it was just another complex progression from Jerry that beautifully led back to the verse. This really was the theme from 6.19 and 6.21.1989 – precise and meaningful note emissions over fast paced and over the top. Jerry’s sound was thoughtful, contemplative, creepy, and cryptic --- but perhaps more than anything --- Jerry sounded entranced with the music, and he sounded excited.

After finishing the Scarlet vocals, the band seemingly enters the Fire On The Mountain Expressway. Jerry starts the lead with a medium paced lead that is very expressive in its theme. While not being very fast, Jerry presents an uncomfortable sound that nonchalantly unnerves the listener. But, just as the jam was perhaps headed to the zone of inbetween Scarlet and Fire, Jerry stops completely, and the band starts Hell In A Bucket – a big surprise.

This Hell is very solid and strongly delivered by Weir. Once again, the band’s sound was extremely confident and cocky. The main jam has Jerry surging through the rockin’ roll progressions in a surly sound. His jam culminates in a nasty fanning of notes that sound like a gurgling. The vocal finale by Weir has him screaming like the ol’ days (see the version on 12.31.1984) and Jerry wailing away on rhythm. Clarence Clemons enters the scene here and does not inhibit the Hell. On this song he only played rhythm, which based on the 5.27.1989 performance, is ideal for him. Despite the lack of Fire, this Hell was a surprise that became welcome as the band scorched this version.

Ship of Fools provides Jerry a chance to mellow the crowd and sound a bit. His singing is very on, and the guitar solo is flawless but not overwhelming. But, this version, like many other nailed versions, is a bit boring. Clemons provided an occasional note or two during the song, but stayed out of Jerry’s jam.

Estimated is next, and is well delivered by Weir with saxophone notes buzzing around his head. The first minute or so of the main jam has Jerry starting leads and stopping in anticipation of Clemons starting a lead of his own. Clemons passes, and Jerry eventually starts a true lead that rapidly evolves into the jam ending strumming back into the end of the song. A rather disappointing jam considering how well Jerry was playing – it would have been nice to hear a full note progressed theme. Alas, we can’t always get what we need.

The end of Estimated is rather typical with strong Weir yelps. The outro jam starts with Jerry spinning a very complex and slowly delivered web of Estimated notes that is very impressive. The jam slowly develops into the Estimated/Eyes zone before Jerry commits to Eyes. Clemons played no lead in this jam, and didn’t seem to interfere. Clearly his goal was rhythm and not in doing leads.

Eyes quickly starts, and Jerry’s voice sounds very clear. The first jam has Jerry spitting out notes from one extreme to the next. Half way through the jam Jerry once again tries to get Clemons to take a lead, which he finally does. Jerry’s rhythm is daunting and is more complex than the Clemons lead. Clemons presented little in the area of lead as he mostly sounded the same as he did with his rhythm. Jerry picks up quickly and reasserts a lead that soars and is filled with bending notes. The second jam starts with Clemons taking the reigns again, and getting the same stalled sound. As was seen on 5.27.1989, Clemons had a lot to offer, but it mostly was in the form of interesting rhythm. Jerry picks up eventually and presents a fast paced and very complicated series of progressions that does a great job of salvaging this Eyes of the World. While Jerry was still on fire, the introduction of Clemons to the second set was stifling it. The Estimated and Eyes were slightly above average because of Jerry’s attempts to get him involved. This resulted in a stalled sound, and instead of having the jams build, the Jerry jams were interrupted by periodic moments of space while Clemon’s attempted taking leads. As was to be seen in March of 1990, the band was to play very well with Branford Marsalis. Clemons, however, is a different type of saxophone player than Marsalis, and wasn’t capable of opening up interesting leads on the flip of a dime. Perhaps the main culprit in all of this wasn’t necessarily Clemons, but was Garcia as he relentlessly tried to get clemons involved. Either way, the band was still showing amazing signs of life as the post Eyes jam died down into drums. Despite the Clemons interruption, the band was playing like Kings again --- and for the first time in 1989, they had two amazing nights in a row lined up.

The Space features mostly Garcia still playing with his midi, but on this Space he actually crafts some different themes that slowly build on each other with a hint of The Other One mixed inside of it. Eventually Jerry switches to an organ-esque sound and creates a haunting – Phantom – of – the – Opera kind of sound. This marked a very interesting and creative Space in which Jerry was now switching from experimenting with the sound of his new midi guitar, to actually utilizing the sound to create new layers of progressions. His midi now knew few boundaries. At different points, Lesh and Weir separately played with him, and near the end Mydland stayed. Eventually, at about the 12 minute point Jerry switches back to his old guitar and starts the transition into the next song. The Space sounded like The Other One to me and as Lesh returned to the stage I was awaiting a Bass roll. And so marked one of the better Spaces from the year. Jerry was really starting to layer his midi sounds in comprehensive ways.

Jerry started an echoey transition complete with vacuum sounding (and feeling?) effects that wreaked not of the Other One but of Truckin. As Clemons stepped back on the stage I didn’t know where they were going, but one thing was certain --- this was easily one of the longest post space tune transitions of the year.

Truckin’ is started by Jerry. The Clemons sax sounds great during the vocal Truckin. Once again the band sounds strong and confident. The outro structured Truckin’ jam is timed perfectly and Jerry stays in synch for the duration culminating with a loud thump of a punch by Phil. Easily one of the better structured Truckin’ jams of 1989. The ensuing jam begins immediately as a Truckin’/Other One hybrid (ala 12.31.1972). The drummers immediately shake the rhythm to a slower and more determined beat, and Jerry follows suit with low note Other One emissions. Slowly Jerry begins building the pace and, with Phil, they both do a Bass Roll into the Other One.

The band was incredibly on at this point.

The pre verse Other One jam is massive Jerry creating a wide open assault that culminates in a extended high note blitz. Shocking is an understatement. What year was it? Is an apt question. Weir brings in the first round of vocals. Jam 2 begins again with Mydland altering the pace to more of a slowly paced march with Jerry screaming lightning fast notes on top of it. This second jam featured three distinct themes. Each covers extensive ground and ends up in peak outs. The third jam ends with Jerry fanning savagely and even racing further up the fret board and culminating in a splash of notes which wind up into heavy heavy Other One E Chord strumming back into the second verse.

Amazing.

After the second verse, Jerry begins the free fall drift that falls, floats, and drops into…

Morning Dew.

Aptly, considering that 6.19 and 6.21 were likely the strongest two shows of the year that Jerry’s ballad on night 2 be Morning Dew. After the loud cheers from the crowd, Jerry’s vocals are more than meaningful or sorrowful, but teach of an understanding I have yet to comprehend. The transitions inbetween the verses are crisp and tight, just like the Europe 72 versions. As Jerry screams “Young Man” the band geared for the first jam, and based on just how well Jerry was playing – I guessed it would be a big one.

It was more than big. Jerry surged back and forth with the band through the jams, and created that exhilarating feel that only special Dews can yield (12.31.72, 12.15.72, 5.26.72, 6.18.74, 9.17.82, etc). Jerry complex note progressions are equally impressive and similar to nearly every other song and jam from these two special nights.

After the vocal reprise, Jerry starts the upward ascent to the same peak he just visited. Beautifully, Jerry stretches the ascent out and provides numerous note runs. Finally, the jam builds to the point of no return, and Jerry starts racing up and down his fret board – not missing a single note nor emotional expression. Bending notes, gurgled fans, poignant high note plucks, and finally --- one last surge of energy with a hummingbird fast melting of his guitar strings lasting for about 70 straight seconds. As Jerry finishes off the final “doesn’t matter” the crowd cheers loudly in appreciation. I too nod my head in appreciation and pride in knowing that still floating out there are profoundly amazing shows I had yet to hear nor understand. A deeper sense of pride in that this person that I consider my friend who never even met me had yet another special night.

Weir immediately started Lovelight, and the band pounces on it with him. Clemons here certainly had a chance to shine a bit more on this tune. He was present throughout the Truckin Other One Dew but barely audible and certainly unintrusive. Clarence takes the first lead and while it mostly was rhythm, it sounded pretty good. Jerry soon follows and develops about a 3 minute solid jam that races back and forth. Jerry was still clearly on fire. The vocal finale of the song is well done and features very strong Weir screaming/singing and very strong rhythm backup from Jerry and Clarence.

The band encores Brokedown - which in many ways serves as a tribute of Jerry’s kindness. Here he was in the midst of his finest playing of the year, and instead of riding that out on one more tune, he chooses the tune that Clarence performed so well on 5.27.1989 – Brokedown. As the song ends Jerry is the one who says thanks and good night. And after a few seconds of pause, Jerry thanks Clarence and asks the crowd to do so as well. This Brokedown is as well done as the 5.27.1989 version.

These were the final shows prior to the beginning of the 1989 Summer Tour. The band sounded more confident and determined than they had throughout the first half of the year. In particular, Jerry sounded phenomenal and legendary. Would 6.19 and 6.21.1989 be the two best shows of the year? Or would they just mark the beginning of a very amazing run of shows?

Set 1: 8.22
Set 2.1: 7.7
Set 2.2: 8.33
Set 2: 8.01
Show: 8.12

Touch 9
Minglewood 8
Ramblin’ 8
Box of Rain 6.5
Dire 9
Masterpiece 7
Row Jimmy 8
Cassidy 9
Deal 9

Scarlet 8
Hell 8.5
Fools 7.5
Estimated 7.5
Eyes 7.5
Space 8
Truckin 8.5
Other One 8.5
Dew 9
Lovelight 8
Brokedown 8
Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

 

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