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Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead - Summer Tour ~ July 1989:

7/2/89 ~ Foxboro, MA
7/4/89 ~ Buffalo, NY
7/7/89 ~ Philadelphia, PA
7/9/89 ~ East Rutherford, NJ
7/10/89 ~ East Rutherford, NJ
7/12/89 ~ Washington, DC
7/13/89 ~ Washington, DC
 

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/2/89 ~ Sullivan Stadium ~ Foxboro, MA

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32nd Show of Year
1st Show of 1989 Summer Tour

The start of the 1989 Summer Tour in Boston among a very large stadium crowd. A different scene than the Spring Tour with smaller venues. The DHTCompendium provides a photo from above the stadium of the crowd and the stage - the crowd was massive.

Jerry welcomes the large crowd with "How Y'all doing?" It makes the crowd scream as a whole, and me as the listener as well. As the tuning progressed I wondered if I had put in the second set disk as PITB was seemingly tuned. Sure enough as the band launched into PITB, my mouth went agape.

The highlight of this PITB, however, is not in that it was chosen, but rather in that it is a very fine reading. The vocals are strongly delivered by Weir, and the Jerry rhythm is extremely hyper and excited (e.g., check out the Jerry lick right after Weir scream's "World at my command" - truly excited and motivated Jerry).

The PITB space begins with a nice little opening from Lesh and the traditional wah wah notes from Jerry. Moreso, as the band transitions from the final structured PITB song notes into the space, the sound has the collective sigh of relief that I once thought only a second set PITB could bring. Considering that this is the first song of the show and the tour I was quite impressed. The first theme of the space is led by Jerry and begins at a shuffle's pace. The sound is by no means caustic or driving, but more pleasant. The band sounded comfortable. Quickly Jerry starts a deep styled Playin' progression that drives the sound into the realm of uncertainty causing a shift in the tempo. Jerry finds the pace his likes and rides this for about 20 seconds emitting pure a pure Playin' sound. He starts a new theme at this point that is driving in nature. Jerry rides this theme for about 60 seconds before reaching a plateau causing the jam to slow down. The crowd senses the transition and cheers. Jerry starts the notes to Crazy Fingers causing an even louder frenzy among the crowd. Despite a very short Playin' space (only about 2.5 minutes) this was a great way to start a show and tour.

As Jerry starts singing "Your Rain Falls Like Crazy Fingers" his voice is exuberant and he sounds very happy. Weir's rhythm is pronounced with loud "wooww" sounds. This version is very tight and swings back and forth. The structured guitar solo is nailed by Jerry and is very interesting. Crazy Fingers had become a great song in 1989. Each version seemed to improve in its direction and confident delivery. The 7.2.1989 version continued this trend. The outro jam by Jerry created the necessary tension between the sweet playing by Jerry and the tight rhythm changes from the band. The band and Jerry reach a peak at the end that is tremendous as Jerry cycles through his progressions and the band cycles around him.

The band at this point entered a transition that was almost mean in sound, and sure enough the chords to Wang Dang Noodle are entered. Weir's singing is inimical in his devious enunciation. Jerry's harmony for the chorus is equally sardonic. As they scream "All Night Long" I wonder to myself what this night has in store. The first Jerry jam is textbook hot Jerry as he nurtures deep growling note progressions that dig the song into an all out jam. Fantastic and tight is an understatement. I don't even know what this song is about but this version is so convincing in its delivery and jam that I don't care or at least I am convinced that I do know its meaning. The main jam starts with a great Mydland solo that has Jerry stretching the rhythm perfectly. As Jerry starts his jam the transition from his rhythm to lead is effortless. He quickly reaches a point where the low notes are just fanned and the sound is once again an all out jam. As the final vocals are belted out by Jerry Brent and Bob, and Bob drives the song home with the final "All Night Long" the opening trio is ended. Bravo to the band. What an opening.

What an opener! What a statement to make. The 1989 Spring Tour was so hampered by its similarity. This opener seemingly makes the statement that not only was this night to __different__ but that the band was __different__ as well. This was completely the unexpected, which is the essence of the Grateful Dead.

After a brief tuning the band puts forth the finest We Can Run up to that point in 1989. While the same limitations are present (namely the lack of spot for Jerry to jam, and the preachyness) this harmonies delivered by the band make this a keeper. Brent sounds great, and the band can do no wrong at this point. I listened to this show about 4 times prior to the current listening for the review and I found myself singing this tune out loud at times. A rare event for me and a Brent tune (except of course for the 9.6.1980 version of Far From Me which is the definition of stellar Brent and stellar Jerry interaction with Brent). Brent deserved a pat on the back for this version and the crowd cheered loudly as the song ended.

Jerry quickly entered in his 2 Spot Tennessee Jed. This is not the typical Tennessee Jed, but rather is the "all out party" type. This is clear as Jerry screams "Drink all day, party all night." Jerry's vocals are nearly all over-pronounced with screams and sighs. Jerry epitomizes the frustrated tone of the written lyrics while simultaneously over emphasizing a delirious tone. The jams inbetween the verses all crackle with an edge. The main jam brings the band back to the realm of mortality, however, as the finale doesn't reach a sustained delirious sound. This still is an above average version, but not exceptional.

Next is the Weir Dylan tune and he chooses Queen Jane. This relaxes the sound a bit. Weir's vocals are precise, and the rhythm is for the most part directly where it should be. The groove the band creates as the song progresses is very catchy. The actual solos by Jerry and Brent are not mesmerizing by any means, but they certainly are above average. The drummers do a very nice job on this particular version as well.

To Lay Me Down is next. This version is not as sweet or innocent as the 2.10.1989 version, but is more bitter and harsh. Jerry almost seems to be sweating out the lyrics. The main jam begins in a sorrowful manner, but finishes in an uplifting manner. The harmonies provided by Mydland and Weir (in particular) are a bit off as the song is ended. Additionally, the musical rhythm stalls a bit during the vocal finale. This version seemed a bit out of place so late in the first set. Nonetheless, it always is nice to hear a To Lay Me Down - even a slightly above average version.

Cassidy is the jam song of this first set. Jerry provides a very tight and animated rhythm throughout the song sung by Mydland and Weir. The main jam begins with a driving and fast theme led by Jerry. Jerry pushes this quickly to the edge and forces Weir / Mydland / and Lesh to stab the chord changes around him. The band gets the first "chord stab" flubbed. Jerry maintains his pace, but it certainly isn't as feverish or styled as the 6.21.1989 version. The jam reaches a brisk pace and Jerry cycles in a peak a few times, but the band surrounding him didn't nail the rhythm.

This immediately shuffles into Don't Ease Me In. Jerry once again sounds very happy singing the Southern Blues. The band's rhythm is very tight. Mydland's first organ solo is flawless. The Jerry led guitar solo is fast but doesn't venture beyond the typical Don't Ease realm.

This first set really was a tale of two sets. The first four songs were exceptional. The second four songs were only slightly above average and progressively got worse as the set proceeded. Nonetheless, on my calculations, this set may be ranked as a 7.7 - which is high.

The second set, along with the first set, starts out unusually with Friend of the Devil. This version is paced quickly. The first jam begins with Mydland doing a Fiddle - sounding solo that is perhaps a bit too overdominating. As his solo dies, Weir receives a turn but does nothing leaving an awkward 20 seconds before Jerry opens his solo. Jerry flies through the notes and lands the band back into "Got two reasons why" before starting another round of solos beginning with Brent - which is no more or less impressive than the first set of solos. As Jerry's second turn ends he once again throws the band back into "got two reason." Perhaps Jerry forgot that the band already soloed, and already went back to that bridge. Despite the thrill of the unique song selection, this version is not tremendous or thrilling by any means and is slightly below average.

The band sought new life with Truckin'. Weir's vocals are a bit slurred and animated. The rhythm is relatively standard. Jerry's note plucking during the song is barely noticeable at times. The structured instrumental Truckin' jam is surprisingly well done by the band. Jerry maintains the pace leads the band down a raucous road for about 45 seconds before the pace drops to a stand still. Jerry at that point started He's Gone.

He's Gone is slow and not hypnotic but perhaps a bit sedating. The song seems to drag on and on and only at the 12 minute point does the band start the outro jam. The version is average in that no real special moments or flubs are present. The outro jam has nearly no rhythm while Jerry massively hints for a while at Spoonful. No one takes the bait and the sound drifts a bit. Just when it seemed the band was headed for a drums break, Jerry starts - Eyes of the World. Jerry seemingly had to drag the band back up to do another tune - or so I speculate.

Eyes is well sung by Jerry, but the rhythm surrounding him sound less than enthused. Jerry's first guitar solo wakes the band up a bit. The actual guitar solo is rather bland and doesn't go anywhere interesting. The second guitar solo is a bit more briskly paced but still is very average. The magic the band started with had now diminished. The Eyes outro lasts about 4 minutes and mostly is just Jerry noodling around. The band except for Brent and the drummers could not be heard.

Interesting beginning to the second set. FOTD was unexpected but poorly done. The Truckin' song was very sloppy but the jam was nailed but was very short. The He's Gone was one of those drip drip drip versions that literally last long enough for you to leave your house, go grocery shopping, and return home prior to the end of the song. Than, as the band was very ready for the drums break Jerry pushed for Spoonful which was not jumped into by Weir, and just when it was only Jerry on stage, he started an average version of Eyes of the World. Jerry's enthusiasm is to be applauded but the band seemed to be resisting it.

The Space segment is mostly just Jerry and his midi. The transitions, like the 6.21.1989 version, were beginning to develop nicely. This Space is still a bit ho hum, but Jerry's comfort level with his new effects machine was progressing.

The Wheel comes out of Space and is a relatively average version.

Next is Dear Mr. Fantasy with Hey Jude stuck in the middle. This version rises to the occasion as Brent does a typical very nice job singing the lyrics. Jerry seemed to always like the progressions on this tune, and on this version he created some smoking runs. At one point he fanned for a few seconds during the vocal finale giving a very nice sound. But, the Weir Lesh element wasn't quite there and at times the rhythm sounds a half second behind.

Weir starts Sugar Magnolia which is average with no highlights or lowlights. The SSDD instrumental by Jerry is paced quickly but filled with minor note flubs. In addition, the band provides little rhythmic punch to Jerry's progressions. The vocal SSDD seems listless in Weir's efforts. Right at the vocal finale Jerry's guitar is markedly absent, suggesting he busted a string or something. Eventually he returns but the sound during the absence was more than awkward.

It seems like except for the first four tunes of the show this was a typical first show of the tour after a lengthy break. The band sounded tired and the versions were for the most part quite average.

Jerry's desire to mix up the normality is to be applauded. The PITB>Cfingers>Wang was fantastic. As a whole this show fails because the band didn't seem as enthusiastic as Jerry. Numerous times during the show there are great versions ruined by the listless rhythm - To Lay Me Down (during the vocal finale); Cassidy (during the main jam the band doesn't keep pace with Jerry); FOTD (Weir doesn't take solo and leaves about a 20 second gap of nothing); Truckin' Jam (band doesn't emit same energy as Jerry); Eyes (band was basically in the drums solo before Jerry brought them back for the tune); Sugar Mag (no real punch delivered with Jerry's attempts to create a SSDD instrumental jam).

It being the first show of the Summer 1989 Tour - mulligans are permitted.

Set 1: 7.7
Set 2.1: 6.8
Set 2.2: 7
Set 2sum: 6.9
Show: 7.3

PITB 8
Crazy Fingers 8.5
Wang Nang Loodle 9
We Can Run 8
Tjed 7.5
Queen Jane 7.5
To Lay Me Down 7.2
Cassidy 7.2
Don't Ease 7

FOTD 6.75
Truckin 7
He's Gone 6.5
Eyes 7
Space 7
Wheel 7
Fantasy Jude 7.5
Sugar Mag 6.5
Quinn 7
Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/4/89 ~ Rich Stadium ~ Buffalo, NY

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7.04.1989 Buffalo
33rd Show of Year
2nd Show of 1989 Summer Tour

America's 213th birthday was celebrated quite well in Buffalo, because, of course the Dead was in town. This being the second show of the Stadium Dead Tour 1989, the band was coming off a relatively flat performance on 7.2.1989. While Jerry showed a lot of enthusiasm, the band behind him didn't sound as encouraged. Of note on 7.2.1989 was the brilliant first four tunes of the night - Playin' Crazy Wang We Can Run.

On 7.2.1989 the band performed where the Patriots played football (who went 5-11 in 1989 and their starting QB was Steve Grogan), and on 7.4.1989 the band played where the Bills played football (who went 9-7 in 1989 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Browns). In other words, the Dead were playing to gigantic crowds.

Jerry starts out the 4th of July gala celebration with the all American favorite Bertha. The band immediately sounds very tight and quickly it is obvious that Jerry's intention is not to rip the top off of this Bertha but rather to perfect a bluesy sound. This is quite clear during the jam. Jerry's playing is furtive in its approach as he dances the notes in-between the rhythm. Eventually the rhythm picks up and begins the onslaught on chord punches. The interplay between Jerry and the band here is so precise that it wreaks of second set comfort levels. A very fine reading of Bertha that is most impressive. Also, as will be seen with the next tune, Bobby lets out some massive screams during the vocal finale.

Sure enough, Lesh immediately starts Greatest Story Ever Told. This is a very impressive version mainly because of Bobby's vocals. Literally each and every lyric is massively screamed. Stadium Dead at its finest. This isn't necessarily the typical lunatic Weir screaming (which I like) but rather is forceful and directed - he's spreading a message. But as he screamed, "finished his bottle and broke into mine," I began to wonder if maybe Weir had finished his own bottle and broke out some lines. The screaming certainly sounded like it (for another massive Weir screamfest see 9.17.1982 Women Are Smarter). The jam in the middle of the song is well done and certainly above average as Jerry puts forth an almost snide response to the rhythmic progression surrounding him. Another great version, and another show starting out quite well.

Jerry keeps the up-tempo pace next with Cold Rain & Snow. This version is particularly impressive. While the harmonies surrounding Jerry's vocals are strong and meaningful, it is the second and third instrumentals that steal this version. The second jam starts out with the structured CRSnow jam. But, at its conclusion Jerry opens up what normally is just a simple transition to the third verse into a strumming monster that reaches the comfort level's edge. Unexpected bliss is certainly an underrepresented type of bliss. The third instrumental is mostly just Mydland perfecting a sloshing-esque sounding solo. The vocal finale with Jerry belting away and Weir/Mydland harmonizing the belts truly captures the frustration buried in the lyrics. As the band chucks the song on the ground marking its conclusion, Jerry opens up a low sounding groan through his guitar that sounds like a French man's deep laugh (oaaaagh oaagh oaagh) (pinch your next; you're your chin up and do a low pitched laugh --- that is the sound). Another great version.

Not to be outpaced, Weir keeps the show jogging/sprinting along with Walkin' Blues. Weir's vocals are exquisite on this version as he nails the flabbergasted / annoyed / confused sound. At times he's hysterical, angry, and surprised. Great singing. The Jerry solo is nailed and creates the perfect tension against the lyrics. The main jam begins with yet another fantastic organ solo that creates the perfect platform for Weir. Weir opts to remain in the middle part of the freeboard for his solo instead of the typical high note squeals. The effect works quite well except that he perhaps was drowned out sound wise in the mix. His playing is quite good for Weir. This is a creepy version of Walkin' and is quite atypical which makes it all the better and certainly exceptional.

Jerry wastes absolutely no time prior to starting Row Jimmy. The first slow tune of the night comes at a good time as the pace of the first four songs were all fast. Jerry's goal as well, undoubtedly, was to open the sound up and let the instruments breathe a bit. My opinion, but it certainly was the result. The vocals from Jerry are sung tenderly and carefully. This is a slow paced version, and at times it sounded as though Jerry was sucking every morsel out of the tune. Jerry leaps into the first solo, and as with all great Row Jimmy's, the audience immersed in a soup of Row Jimmy. Jerry surges back and forth, but his playing is precise and quite directed. The first jam has two themes but each is calculated and ends nicely. A lot of Row Jimmy's are a bit sloppy, but not this version. The second jam begins with a Mydland solo, which adds to the Row Jimmy soup sound. Jerry plays a restless rhythm during the organ solo, as he clearly couldn't wait to continue with his solo. Mydland's effect was nice though as it opened the tune up a bit and forced Jerry not to immediately play fast but to slowly build the theme to the desired location. Another brilliant aspect of Brent. As the second theme ends, there is about a ½ second pause marking just how in time the band was with each other. The vocal finale is equally as nice, if not a bit too slow for my taste as I like the band to trot into the finale. Also the major rhythmic chord changes into the "That's the way its been in town" are a bit tame and not really punched. Still, an overall above average version.

The band enters the first average song of the night next with Masterpiece. The Weir Garcia harmonies sound a bit strained on this version. Mydland lays down throughout the rhythm a fiddle sounding effect that is overdone. The Jerry solo is not as tender or sweet as the 2.10.1989 version. The vocal finale is also performed just fine but isn't spectacular. A flubless version, but quite typical and average.

Jerry increases the pace again next with Stagger Lee. The opening is faster than usual and the effect is an upbeat and jovial sound. Jerry's voice sounds confident and direct. The main portion of the song is relatively typical with a heavy Mydland presence drowning Jerry out during the C C C G/// C C C D. Jerry's instrumental has some nice surges of notes in it that max out with note bendings, but nothing jaw dropping. The vocal finale has some Jerry screams that remind us all that his voice was diminishing but still could hit the notes he needed to hit. The outro jam is quite similar to the first jam and confirms that this was an average version.

Apparently it was threatening rain at this point because the band chose Looks Like Rain and it apparently began raining after the first verse of the tune (as noted in the DHTCompendium). Jerry's instrumental includes the typical low note echoey gurgling that slowly amasses, gains steam, and floods the lower notes in an energy releasing rush. While Jerry's attempt here is errorless and he obtained his goal, the pace was a bit quick and sounded rushed. It lacks a mourning sound that other versions languish in (see 6.22.1973 where it sounds like Jerry is crying in his playing). The vocal finale is rather typical of the late 1980s/early 1990s with Weir screaming away and rhythmically providing a rain drop sounding slosh effect. Weir's screaming seems a bit overdone to me, but I've always felt that this tune should be sung with a female voice (Donna or Joan). Again, an errorless version, but also quite typical.

Jerry shakes things up quite a bit in the set closing Deal. The song is paced rather quickly and during the first jam Jerry develops some very complex patterns. The main jam starts out with a drive toward the oblivion. Jerry soon reaches a point where he is playing extremely fast and bending odd sounding notes. Eventually he fans for a few seconds before beginning a slow change in pace to a slower and more manageable zone. Of course, once he reaches the slower pace he starts yet another ascension back to a faster pace. As the band maxes out they suddenly stop and Jerry starts the reprise, "wait till that deal go down." Quite impressive, and a nice way to end an above average set - certainly one of the better first sets of the year.

Set two starts with Touch of Grey. This version while tight, errorless, and nicely sung by Jerry, is rather typical. The Jerry solo doesn't quite sparkle like other versions (see 4.28.1989).

Women are Smarter rides in next - a tune more likely than not below average in the first half of 1989. Jerry's first solo, however, is very well done and maintains a consistent pace. It definitely was one of the better Women Jerry jams of the year up to this date. Unfortunately, this jam is cut short about 85% of the way through it as Jerry just stopped playing. The crowd cheered a bit louder than usual. In the ensuing jam number 2 Jerry is markedly absent and eventually returns suggesting perhaps a broken string. Thus, what could have been a very fine reading of this tune was cut short. While Jerry returns eventually, the same energy from the beginning of the first jam was lost.

Jerry slows things down next with Ship of Fools. After an average Touch and a below average Women (arguably due to technical difficulty) the choice of Ship of Fools was certain to slow things down even more. Jerry's voice sounds at times strained and at times clean during this version. The guitar solo accomplishes its goal and is actually somewhat impressive. Summarily, however, this version is just a bit too slow and sleepy.

At this point the band jumps into a PITBand space led by Jerry. The space is rather short and while interesting for developing out of nothing, doesn't cover any impressive ground. Quickly the band guides the jam into PITB reprise. This is relatively average and at times sounded flat. The band rarely did the reprise and they sounded rusty. As the structural ending of the song is entered, Jerry opts out and heads back into a space. He lands into a few interesting progressions, but again nothing dramatically impressive. Quickly (45 seconds?) this transitions into Terrapin Station.

Jerry's Terrapin is bittersweet as his voice sounds even more haggard, and he committed a few noticeable flubs in his axe playing. Still, Jerry provided some great moments in this version as well. In particular, note the space prior to the "inspiration" and vocal finale is well done. The instrumental finale, as with most versions, is relatively standard. Not the greatest Terrapin but certainly not the worst.

Despite a strong (7.8) first set, the second set was rather average. Also, the pace was very slow (Fools, PITB, Terrapin) suggesting that perhaps Jerry was getting fatigued.

The Space segment is very well done by Jerry. His mastery of the midi was definitely improving. He created a very full sounding space that was at times oppressive in its attack. Jerry still was mostly just experimenting with the sounds but little layered progressions were beginning to arise. Soon, Jerry began the Trumpet Call serving as the harbinger of the other All American Favorite - I Will Take You Home.

I Will Take You Home, destined to be in the regular lineup of 1989, is average I guess. Some people really claim to derive a special meaning from this song and found it soothing after the Space segment. It just doesn't do it for me. But, that should not confuse the reader into believing that I am a Brent basher. On the contrary I think his rhythmic performance throughout a majority of shows in 1989 was stellar, impressive, and wholly necessary.

The band gears up for the finale of the show with Watchtower. Despite a major flub just prior to the first verse, Jerry scorches during his solos. During the first solo he speeds through his progressions and sounds like someone woke him up. During the second solo Jerry gets maniacal, as his speed was very fast and complicated. Eventually he reaches a cyclical pattern that wreaks of 1972 styled jamming. Another impressive Watchtower to right home about, and the second in a row (6.19.1989). The outro jam is not short and also reaches some scalding sounds. This clearly was the highlight of the second set and rivals the GSET and CRS for best tune of the show, and the ensuing Morning Dew.

Morning Dew is chosen by Jerry as the next tune, and based on how well the Watchtower was jammed, the Dew was destined for great heights. Jerry's singing was still rather hoarse and the band takes a little while to rhythmically get involved as the verses continued, but by the "young man moan" segment, the band was geared for jam number one. The first jam has Jerry racing like a madman through his progressions while the band, however, plays a bit slower than him yielding a nice staggered sound. Finally Jerry begins a massive fanning of an odd sounding group of notes and holds it for about 8 seconds. The vocals from Jerry after this have him trying to hit very high notes and it is clear that he really is feeling this version. The finale jam starts slow but quickly has Jerry advancing at a faster pace. The jam reaches the zenith almost too quickly as the build up was nearly absent. Nonetheless, the zenith jam is full of extended Jerry fans, which is always pleasant to my ears.

Jerry immediately leaps into NFA strumming, and the band is off again in pursuit of the elusive exceptional version. The jam after the first verse is paced quickly and is standard Jerry. Post second verse Jerry opens things up a bit for a nice extended jam. At first he trades off licks with Brent - each trying to outdo the other. This is very interesting to hear. Finally they both reach full jam status and an all out NFA jam ensues. This lasts, however, for only about 20 seconds before the band goes back into the lyrics. Still, the interplay between Jerry and Brent here was fantastic and extremely well done. The Jerry Brent jam wreaked of Keith Jerry on 5.19.1974 just prior to GDTRFB. The vocal outro is long, as usual, and has the Stadium sized crowd singing with them.

Appropriately, the band returns for the third All American Favorite of the night (the first was Bertha, the second was Take You Home) U.S. Blues. Jerry sounds rather jovial on this version and it is a bit better than most encores, which are at best average. Jerry's guitar solo is tightly played by him and suggests he gave it some thought. The pops by the rhythm as the song closes are equally nice.

Certainly this is not the best show of the year (2.10, 4.3, 4.28, 6.19 or 6.21…hmmmm) but there are some great moments that provide a lot of hope for the remainder of this 1989 Summer Tour. For example, for the second show in a row the band started with amazing versions of songs. The trick for them will be maintaining this level of quality. Jerry, during the beginnings of both second sets sounded tired. But, Jerry ended both shows quite well. The Watchtower on 7.4.1989 really should be heard by any serious collector as should the NFA interplay between Jerry and Brent. The band was to have three days off prior to the next show in Philadelphia (thankfully not at the Rectum, but rather JFK) as Stadium Dead - 1989 Style - rolled onwards and upwards.

Set 1: 7.8
Set 2.1: 6.8 (absent Women Smarter the average is 7)
Set 2.2: 7.6
Set 2sum: 7.2 (absent Women Smarter the average is 7.3)
Show: 7.5 (absent Women Smarter the average is 7.55)

Bertha 8
GSET 9
CRS 8.5
Walkin 8
Row Jimmy 7.5
Masterpiece 7
Stagger Lee 7
LLRain 7
Deal 8

Touch 7
Women 6****technical difficulties****
Fools 7
PITB 7
Terrapin 7
Space 7
Take Home 7
Watchtower 8.5
Dew 8
US Blues 8
Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/7/89 ~ JFK Stadium ~ Philadelphia, PA

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34th Show of Year
3rd Show of 1989 Summer Tour

Consistent with the first two shows of the main 1989 Summer Tour, the Dead started out with an exceptional song (Hell) on 7.7.1989, but on 7.2 and 7.4 the band squandered the gained momentum and settled into average performances. That was to change as on 7.7.1989 not only did start out with a scorching Hell, the band maintained it throughout the first set and through the second set, thus permitting it to join the ranks of 2.10, 4.3, 4.28, 6.19, and 6.21.1989, as one of the exceptional shows from 1989. People frequently ask me why I collect so many shows, and my answer is that unlike any other type of band, when the Dead were "on," the band's hackneyed and overplayed songs took a new type of existence and the culmination of the entire performance was enough to leave a crushing impact on me. Not to overstate it, but there was nothing like a Grateful Dead show, but there ___really___ was nothing like a Grateful Dead show where the band was truly ___on___.

Hell In A Bucket starts the third Stadium Dead show of the tour. JFK Stadium in Philly is (was?) a giant place. Immediately the band sounds very tight and Weir's singing is completely on. After the first verse Jerry enters a jam that bends and pulls at the structure of the song and Weir is barely able to lasso it in to start the second verse. The main jam has Jerry once again emitting lightning licks that grumbles in low notes before flying into the high notes. Eventually it reaches a point where Jerry cycles back and forth before the jam ends and a giant drop with a very nice Lesh bomb. No doubt about it - the band was on. As the vocal finale is reached, Weir starts to wail out high-pitched screams complete with Jerry scorching away underneath him. Jerry pushes the jam to the brink of disaster as the pace nearly outdoes Weir's screaming. Typically the vocal finale wouldn't go this far but the band pulls it off splendidly. As the song finally ends, Jerry immediately starts into Aiko Aiko.

Aiko starts out with choppy chords setting the pace on fire. Jerry's singing is very Cajun (as well as he can do with that) and the harmony behind him is perfect. The first jam is slowly paced permitting Jerry to open up a very nice boppy jam that covers a lot of ground. Eventually it reaches a point where Jerry is just bending notes left and right creating a great swinging sound. After the second verse, Brent treats the crowd to a rousing organ solo that maintains the pace and even pushes it a bit further. Another example of just how important Brent was to the band in 1989. Typically when he was on, the band was on. After the third verse Brent again starts a jam that builds into another fastly paced theme. When Brent's jam reaches its zenith, Jerry steps up and delivers one of the finest Aiko jams I've heard. It starts out quickly pushing the edges of the pace as Jerry dances in-between the rhythm. About half way through Jerry's improvisation reaches the platform where he just dives and dashes in-between high notes and sweeping low note runs back to the high notes. Jerry Garcia at his best. As the song comes to a conclusion, the band once again (for the 1989 Summer Tour) had started out on fire. But unlike 7.2 and 7.4, the band was to maintain this momentum.

After a brief pause, Weir starts Little Red Rooster. The interplay of Weir's lyrics and Jerry's slide rhythm is highly psychedelic. Jerry's first solo is disgusting in the only way possible for Jerry to make disgusting enticing. His sweeping slide notes build into a raw jam with cyclical high notes mixed with drowning feedback. It sounded like psychedelic sweat pouring out of Jerry's guitar. The main jam starts out with Brent taking a turn on the lyrics screaming once again about the LLRooster not meaning shit to him. His ensuing organ solo is stabbing with its high notes mixed with low grumbles. Brent was phenomenally on at this point. Weir's solo is another slide display that is equally disgusting but in only Weir's way. He reaches a point where his high notes cycle back and forth. The only way I can describe it is for the listener to clench his jaw as tight as possible and raise his eyebrows and hold that position for about 30 seconds. That is what I did when I heard this version. Jerry's entrance after the dizzying Weir display starts out with low note progressions that eventually build into a scalding display of extended fanning. Amazing to say the least. This is one of the finest LLRooster's I've heard. Each element was amazingly present - Weir's vocals are perverted, Jerry's first jam is chilling, Brent's jam raises the pace and platform for Weir, Weir's jam is dizzying and disgusting, and Jerry's culmination jam has fanning that sounds like the song was on fire and emitting sparks of bliss.

Of note at this point is the rhythm the band was pulling off. It was precise and directed and not lazy or sloppy. Each song so far had a distinct meaning and was being redefined.

Jerry's two spot songs at this point may have been a slow one (e.g., To Lay Me Down or Peggy-O) so as to open the space up a bit and calm the crowd. Instead Jerry chooses Ramblin' Rose. The boppy march of the verses is precise and the harmonies from Mydland and Weir match Jerry's surprisingly clear vocals to a tee. The first jam has Jerry immediately switching to his wah wah effects, and his jam races through the chord progression before once again peaking with him improvising at will. The band's rhythm during Jerry's solo is particularly inspired as the chords are literally attacked. The drop from the peak of Jerry's jam into the third verse is breathtaking as Jerry creates a series of two-note picks that somehow lands into a brief one full second silence prior to the return of singing (for another great second of silence in the middle of a song, please see 7.18.1976 Wharf Rat just after the "to live the life I should…"; actually also see 7.8.1978 at the exact same point on Wharf Rat where Lesh breaks the silence and says "Shhh"). The band literally explodes into the "Goodbye mama and papa" segment sending this version again into exceptional status.

The crowd begins chanting "We want Phil" at this point, but the band had already started the tuning for Memphis Blues. This version, surprise, is among the finest I've heard. As the song progresses Weir reaches an exasperated tone during the "Whoa! Mama, could this really be the end" that alone makes this version exceptional (for another example of Weir's singing alone making a song exceptional, see the 7.4.1989 Greatest Story). This version doesn't immediately reach such an exasperated tone, as Weir gradually builds the tension from verse to verse. Jerry's first solo takes the pace created by Weir and increases it. As only Jerry could instrumentally interpret Dylan, Jerry also creates the necessary tension with a sense of idiocy. Mydland's solo also reaches a very nice complexity before Jerry jumps on top of it and creates another improvised tension reeking of Dylan. Also of note is Jerry's fantastic harmony to Weir.

Next Jerry finally slows things down a bit with Loser. His vocals are intensely direct and the rhythmic push in-between each verse stretches the tension inherent in the song to the edge. The Jerry solo is creepy with his mixture of high note harmonics and low note progressions. As this jam ends the rhythm creates such a massive push to back to the "Last Fair Deal" portion that it sounds like a massive dam about to burst --- and burst it does back into the song (for another amazing smash back to the "last fair deal" out of Jerry's solo, listen to 9.7.1973). This was one of the finest Loser's I've heard. As Jerry vocally finishes the song, one can hear the crowd cheering just a bit more extra than usual.

The jam portion of this first set is filled with Let it Grow. As with the other songs, the band's rhythm surrounding Weir's lyrics is extremely aggressive and pronounced. The band sounded energetic and thrilled to be immersed in the songs they were playing. Jerry in particular presents a rapid and complicated rhythmic progressions throughout the song that seemingly are begging for the main jam. As the song reaches the first "I am" each successive "I am" is like a punch in the listener's gut - the band could rhythmically do no wrong. Of course at this conclusion, Jerry pounces and drives the band through a rapid and exaggerated run through the first structured jam. The effect of Jerry's solo on this structured theme is that it yearns for more wide-open space. His wish was to be granted soon as the first portion of the song ended, and the jam portion began. Jerry starts the main jam with a slowly churned series of low note progressions that buries the jam in a downward spiral. Eventually the band joins Jerry in the freefall, and as they catch him he leaps down the fret board into higher notes - cat and mouse at its best. Jerry wanders into a very odd sounding series of notes and Brent capitalizes by add some peculiar echoey organ sounds. Jerry captures himself and surges out of this with a slow fanning of notes that catapults him and the band back into a high paced ferocious note progressions. This rapid pace marches along for about 45 seconds before out of nowhere Jerry and the band transform into the structured 1 - 2 -3 , 1 2 3 , 1 2 3 4, 123, 4 - sounding jam. Jerry plays with this theme for a few runs prior to improvising beautifully off of it and dripping it to a soft and innocent sounding series of high notes that effortlessly blend back into the Let It Grow theme. This jam was not at all like the pounding and driving force of 2.10.1989 Let It Grow, but, on the contrary, this version is softer and more explorative. If I didn't already know the answer I'd wonder if Dark Star was on the horizon for set two. As the band finishes the "I ams" Jerry once again starts out on a jam. The band starts with the same 1 - 2 -3 , 1 2 3 , 1 2 3 4, 123, 4 structured jam with Jerry carefully improvising off of it. Eventually Jerry switches from the structured jam back into the Let It Grow ending, and so concludes another Let It Grow that will make you scratch your head. No earth shattering jams, but rather a very contemplative and soft version of Let It Grow. Easily an exceptional version.

Before Let It Grow officially ends, Jerry starts out the driving beginning to Blow Away, and this amazing first set continued. The band is very present on this version, accentuating the rhythmic segments very nicely and in a determined manner. Jerry's rhythm is provided with a slide guitar creating a raw effect matching the raw lyrics from Barlow Mydland. This version is a success and is highly exceptional for many reasons (easily rivaling 4.3 and 4.15.1989 for the year's best version). First, as mentioned the band is completely behind Brent on this one and the sound is genuine. Second, Jerry obviously loved this tune because of the rowdy and determined playing he puts forth. Finally, Brent is the main reason for this version's success. On other versions he adds too much verbal filler in-between the main lyrics that interferes with the all-important rhythmic sound. On this version, he seemed calmer and didn't scream as much - until the end. At the end he screams quite a bit, but due to the lack of screaming before, his desired effect at the end of the song is more convincing. As a result he was able to drive home his message and wander into some cool sounding verbal effects (note at one point how he begins signing over and over Real Love Real Love Real Love, and note just how good his voice sounds). Also of note is that this version isn't nearly as angry as other versions. It still is an angry version, but some other versions are just so angry and almost personal that the listener is almost embarrassed for Mydland's inability to leave his personal life at home (or at least keep it private). This version seems to focus more on the song, and less on Brent telling off the world. All in all, as with the 4.3 and the 4.15.1989 versions, Jerry backs Brent's rambling with a scorching series of notes and the band also provides the mountainous sound that eventually gets so intense that the song had to end. Clearly this version was a tribute to just how important and stellar Brent could be. Bravo --- too bad that at this point in his life, he had 54 weeks to live.

The second set begins lazily with about 3 minutes of tuning and laughing on stage. The band sounded loose and happy. Each instrument seemed to be adding to the sound. Eventually Jerry started the traditional chords to Box of Rain - a very laid back opener. This likely was a strong choice by the band, because instead of challenging the intensity of the first set and trying to immediately outdo it, the band instead chose a song that was mellower than 7 of the 8 first set tunes. The band sounds comfortable behind Lesh's thick lyrics. Lesh's vocals are unique and almost sarcastic. As Jerry develops the first instrumental the band sounds very into this version and a smile escapes from my inhibitions. Jerry's solo is slow and methodical - carefully touching upon each theme. This version is not as rousing as the 3.19.1990 version (another second set opener), which I find to be among the better. Rather, the 7.7.1989 version is more relaxed and calm, and the effect on this particular second set is to open the range of possibilities. Indeed, the band could literally have gone anywhere at this point - from Truckin, to Playin' to even Ship of Fools ---- but instead, the band delivers its finest rendering of Scarlet Fire up to that point in 1989.

Upon the conclusion of Box, Jerry starts the chords to Scarlet - but as with the Box, his playing and presentation is slow, deliberate and choppy. Pace obviously was not the band's concern at this point - quality over quantity. Jerry's vocals are clean and poignant as he literally pronounced each word precisely. The band surrounding this display, as with the entire first set, is among the finest of the year in terms of presentation and delivery. At times the band performed Scarlet a bit too quickly, but this version obviously was not to suffer that fate. As Jerry reached the first solo, the sound is ready for the second set's first improvisation, and Jerry delivers on key. The theme begins slowly as Jerry wraps himself deep inside low notes. He cycles in and out of various progressions but remains tight to his careful pace for about 90 seconds. Slowly he and the band increased the tension within the chord progression of the song and Jerry began opening up some high notes bends that starkly contrasted the fast rhythm. As the band begins reaching a faster pace he starts stabbing high notes left and right before being carried in a swooshing progression back through the low notes before returning for more stabs at the high notes. Eventually his playing becomes somewhat desperate in tone and from deep in the low notes he amasses a very very strong surge with the band toward the high notes and (as with the stellar Loser from the first set - remember the "dam" bursting) the band blasts back to the song. This first Scarlet jam is not the type that makes you leap from your seat and scream in joy, but rather will make you sink deep in your seat and wonder at its complexity (for another contemplative example, see the 11.11.1973 Dark Star). The key to this particular first jam's success resides in the slow beginning, because it creates a yearning for more pace, and when it finally arrives, the listener is completely wrapped up in its drive. Jerry Garcia - the perfect teaser, who on this particular night was not to forget to deliver the goods. As the band returns for the final verse, they are deeply in tune with each other, and the oncoming Scarlet outro was highly anticipated. Jerry adds emphasis to this with his direct singing and places a cherry on top of it all as he sings, "in the heart of gold band, heart of gold band___dah___."

The Scarlet outro jam begins with a low note progression that results in a widening of the space. Jerry resides in the low note progressions as the band calms out of the structured Scarlet theme. Jerry waits patiently and eventually finds an opening and opens the second theme which is barely Scarlet in tone, and is more of the interzone between Scarlet and whatever the band was to enter (for a fantastic display of interzone Dead at its best see 12.31.1972 in-between Truckin' and The Other One; at this point Mr. Teeple is reviewing the Fall 72 shows and I can't urge the people here at LIS enough to read his uncanny ability to review that very complex tour). This second theme begins with a marked change in Jerry's play from sweeping progressions to a timed spacing in-between his notes. This timing wanders into a bright transition to mid level notes that include bended notes and reach a point where Jerry creates a series of cyclical progressions that wander around and around with him being the only person who truly knows where it was going. This is Jerry improvisation at its best. He creates a standard tone in this theme that he returns to over and over. He starts the third theme that begs for a change as it returns to a series of high note stabs that eventually cycles over and over and sounds downright beautiful. As this third theme ends, Jerry switches to the Fire-esque wah wah. Lesh begins emitting the traditional groans, and the band now effectively was in Fire On The Mountain. Once again we see how despite no overriding maddening pace, the music grasped the listener and lulled him into a deep appreciation. I can't state how refreshing it was to hear the band no rely on fast paced transitions but rather more deep and contemplative playing.

As the traditional opening to Fire is entered Jerry rides the familiar theme for only a short time prior to opening up a smacking series of progressions. This ends with Jerry stepping away and permitting Lesh to rack out some bombs. The song is sung slowly and carefully. Jerry was clearly to suck out each and every morsel of delight on this version. The harmony from Weir and Mydland is so perfect that it sounds like two bums screaming the warning that Jerry was on fire. The first Fire jam has Jerry immediately at the high notes creating complex progressions that max out in note bends and quick tasty runs of notes. He creates a delirious series of notes that instead of peaking out switch back to more progressions. Eventually he reaches a point where he just runs up and down the fret board effortlessly before once again reaching a slow and careful run of progressions deep in the Fire language. My reading doesn't do it justice - one must hear it. The band creates a slow drip back to the second verse. Jerry's singing is crazy (e.g., takes all you GAHHT just to stay on the BHEET…..when your DAAHREAMS come true." The second jam starts out with Jerry quickly reaching a fast pace (truly one of the first of the night) and he attacks the song with fast progressions and surges left and right. The progressions quickly become entangled in themselves as Jerry screeches in and out of fast runs and pronounced high note bends. This clearly was the best Fire as of this date in 1989. Jerry finally reaches a series of high note improvisations before opening up a long (30 second) fan that scalds the audience and the version. This easily could have been the final jam of the song, but alas, the band was only in the second jam. Jerry carefully drops this scorch session into a long drift that drops perfectly back into a Jerry pause while Lesh again blasts the crowd with his Fire rhythm. As the band returns to the reprise and started singing "Fire, Fire on the Mountain" there is an odd singing by Weir (?) in-between the lyrics where he kind of moans "huh huh aahh uh uh." It adds to this already immense psychedelic performance. The third and final jam is blistering as what Jerry had already done was to be outshined. Jerry starts a theme that runs with a tone of desperation and grumbles in its yearning. He builds this tone up and up and winds up deep in high notes with timed note blasts. As this run peaks out, Jerry once again amasses a surge in pace and power. As the band peaks out in this surge Jerry starts the drop to the end of the song.

The crowd cheers, but if their experience was anything like mine, seeing the Dead was one thing (which was amazing) but I never truly appreciated just how good or bad or stellar a version was. For example when I saw the 1990 June Shoreline run, I knew it was well played, but only after carefully listening years later to 6.16.1990 did I realize just how important a show it was. The Grateful Dead gave us all a gift in life with the number of shows they performed because of the sheer access it gave people to see them live and participate in their magic. But, even perhaps more so, with the recordings they permitted, their magic lives on and from a historical analysis point of view they continue to give. Listening and studying their music is one of the finer pleasures in life. In my opinion, the Dead are no less alive now with the plethora of recordings available to hear and study and enjoy than they ever were when they were still playing with Jerry.

This particular Scarlet Fire is another example of how when the band was precise and contemplative they were truly difficult to grasp and understand - but with patience and the repeat button on a cd player, it is graspable. To review this particular Scarlet Fire, I probably listened to it about 20 times in a row over the last 5 days while sitting at work. At first I didn't know how to read it, but with careful listening and notes, I was able to grasp its effect (at least for myself). Jerry's style on this version is very deep and contemplative, and demonstrates just how complex a guitar player he truly was. Anyone who is skeptical of late career Jerry should hear this Scarlet Fire. Bravo Jerry, and bravo to the band --- take a bow.

At this point considering the June Shoreline shows (in particular 6.19, and 6.21.1989) and with at least the stellar openers on 7.2 and 7.4, I believe it is safe to presume that the band had shed the first half of the year, and was well on its way to establishing amazing music for the second half of 1989. With the looming Dark Stars of the fall, I can only eagerly anticipate how on the band must have been to reach that point.

Estimated immediately quashes the briefest moment of silence. At first the sarcastic and "intoxicated" sound is difficult to become adjusted to after the immense lulling within the Scarlet Fire. As Weir starts singing the first verse the Estimated rhythm and Weir's vocals become lulling in their own right. Despite a very noticeable vocal flub by Weir, this version lives up to its surrounding peers and is driving. Weir's vocals are fanatical with a purpose as his delivery is both impassioned and literally crazy. The rhythm led by Jerry is the voice of reason keeping the listener slightly at ease in the face of this madman screaming the lyrics. The first jam, however, has Jerry turning the tables as he switches roles and becomes the fanatical madman on a mission towards jam bliss. The jam isn't nearly as carefully developed as the Scarlet or Fire, but rather quickly reaches a pace that nearly makes the listener get up from his chair and join the movement. As it reaches its zenith the main notes are nailed perfectly and the mission is accomplished. Jerry must have been proud. As the pace drops into the vocal finale Weir decides not to attack the crowd with screams or yelps and lets the jam drift (similar to 1.20.1979). Jerry takes the cue and starts a calm Estimated jam that swirls in its approach. It is complex and yearning, and quickly Jerry is at another improvisational bliss level. A new theme is reached where Jerry starts a tense jam that stretches and bends. It is a bit unnerving. As it drops in pace Jerry starts strumming G C D C G chords signaling Standing On The Moon. All in all a great Estimated that while above average was not stellar or exceptional. I don't mean to run it into the ground, but on the contrary, this Estimated achieved its goal with the swelling Jerry jam and the nice transition.

Standing On The Moon was an immense success. The pace is confident and Jerry's singing is direct and meaningful. The previous Spring Tour versions had a hint of uncertainty that made them unconvincing. This version is just the opposite as it sounds as though it had been successfully performed numerous times. In fact, this likely was the first successful SOTMoon. Clearly the band had rehearsed this song as it sounded quite polished. The 7.19.1989 version was to be better perhaps, but this version is definitely worth hearing. As the song reaches the vocal finale, Jerry belts out some sweet "Be with you's." The outro jam is extremely melodic and marked the first version ever with an impressive jam. The final jam is rather soothing and the jamming is not driven towards lifting the listener out of his seat but is a return to the contemplative jamming this show was already filled with. This version while impressive was still a bit nascent, but bravo to the band for the dramatic improvement over previous versions. As the jam ends, the drummers start their turn.

All in all, after the tremendous first set, the band continued the impressive drive with an inspired and contemplative pre drums second set - the first of the Summer Tour from 1989.

Space begins with Jerry on the midi and the drummers continuing their noodling. The addition of the drums adds quite a bit. This is short lived, however, as the drummers quickly exit the sound. Weir stands in and adds a nice rhythmic component. The drive from Jerry is mostly atonal in sound. No real themes are developed despite attempts from Bobby. Jerry eventually begins an Other One theme with Weir kicking out feedback. From this point themes are developed and Jerry's midi playing is rather impressive. The sound is ephemeral with the weird midi tones. At times it is truly spacey and at others it is oppressive in tone. The drummers return and once again add quite a bit to the Other One space. In anticipation for Lesh, the sound gets nearly quiet. Mydland returned and the table was set for Lesh. Finally he joins the Other One space, but quietly. Jerry opens a distinct Other One theme but still wrapped in the midi tones. The jam progresses into a swelling jam, and in the middle of it Jerry switches out of the midi tone. As it dies, Lesh finally delivers the goods and emits a bass roll. The resulting jam quickly reaches a nice pace that drops into the first verse of the Other One. This pre verse jam was not as intense or contemplative as it could have been. Lesh was tentative and the jam sounded like it. The post verse one jam starts with Jerry attacking high notes. A cyclical onslaught is reached and after about 10 turns Jerry explodes from it and delivers another fast paced Other One jam. While impressive, the post verse one jam was only slightly above average as the jam sounded a bit constrained. The tightness and precise jamming evident in the Scarlet Fire was absent, and it sounded a bit muffled at times. After the second verse Jerry starts a nice drift that falls in pace into Wharf Rat. This Other One was only slightly above average in my opinion.

The song of Wharf Rat is typical and straightforward. Jerry's singing is precise and the rhythm on the mark, but not truly inspired. The first jam following "I'm sure she's been true to you" starts with Jerry driving the theme nicely. It reaches an exasperated period of improvising from Jerry at the zenith but is not the driving mass of passion exhibited on 2.10.1989. It reaches a nice peak, but is not over the top and at best is only slightly above average. As the song ends, the outro jam quietly drifts without a driving feature. This drops into Lovelight.

Lovelight starts with a springy bounce. Weir starts the vocals behind a slow but precise rhythm. Slowly the pace increases and during the second verse Jerry is improvising nicely behind Weir's vocals. The jam has Jerry improvising at will behind a driving rhythm. The jam quickly becomes quite impressive, as Jerry's pace and melodic themes are nectar to the ear after the lackluster Other One Wharf Rat. The final vocal onslaught has Jerry providing a great harmony. Weir reaches some impressive screams and the sound eventually gets downright delirious. The pace is extremely fast. As the final notes are nailed tight, the song comes to a conclusion. But wait, while Jerry strums the final fans of the night Weir starts another "Shine on Me" finale. This was very nice to hear, as obviously Weir was not done with the tune. This finale is a bit tamer but still quite impressive. The song ends, and it truly does end this time. This was an inspired and exceptional Lovelight due to the great Jerry solo and the impassioned Weir vocal finale and the second Weir vocal finale. A great way to end one of the finer shows from 1989.

The encore is Knockin' On Heaven's Door. A fitting conclusion to this rather contemplative show. After a nice Mydland solo, Jerry starts a slowly paced but driving theme that reaches a nice series of melodic notes. The vocal finale reaches some nice points as well. Still this wasn't an overpowering version like the 6.21.1989 version.

7.7.1989 was a tremendous accomplishment in its entirety. A stunningly impressive first set featured only exceptional versions of each tune. The second set began exceptional with the Box and the Scarlet Fire. Despite the lull with the Estimated through Wharf (still all above average but not quite exceptional), the Lovelight was exceptional. Also it was very nice to hear the SOTMoon that was on its way to becoming a classic. Also, the massive blast out of the Loser jam back to the Loser vocals should be heard by each and all.

Set 1: 8.8
Set 2.1: 8.2
Set 2.2: 7.55
Set 2sum: 7.87
Showsum: 8.34

Hell 8.5
Aiko 8.5
LRR 9.5
Ramblin' 8.5
Memphis Blues 9.5
Loser 8.5
Let It Grow 8.5
Blow Away 9

Box 8
Scarlet 9
Fire 9
Estimated 7.5
SOTMoon 7.5
Space 7.5
Other One 7.25
Wharf 7.25
Lovelight 8.5
Heaven's Door 7.25

Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/9/89 ~ Giants Stadium ~ East Rutherford, NJ

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35th Show of Year
4th Show of 1989 Summer Tour

After the amazing performance on 7.7.1989, the band took a day off and rolled east to Giants Stadium - continuing the Stadium Dead 1989 Tour. This was the 7th day of the tour - leaving just 10 before its conclusion.

Shakedown Street, a relatively rare opener in 1989, started what really must have been a crazy Shakedown Street outside the concert. With likely over 60000 fans in attendance, the scene before, after, and during (unfortunately) the concert must have been nuts. The song itself is not as electric or crisp as some other Shakedowns (see 12.31.1984) or as trippy as others (see 8.28.1981). The first jam is relatively standard in that Jerry starts out with a theme that begins slowly and reaches a nice pace without any interesting melodic note progressions. The vocal finale before the main jam is typical with the exception of one nice Jerry bellow ("Theyl me this town aint GHAT no HAHHT" - complete with demonic inflection). The main jam begins with Jerry cycling back and forth in layered low notes. It creates kind of a swirling effect and the band finally bursts from it. Jerry, however, goes the opposite way from the band, and dives deeper towards widening the space instead of increasing the pace. It was only partially successful as Jerry's jam doesn't quite go anywhere. The band and Jerry seem to meet in the middle and they start another theme together. This third jam is more successful as Jerry and the band create a nice pace and Jerry bends notes off of it. Eventually Jerry starts a marked increase in pace and the band chases him. This obviously was to be the final push of the jam. The jam itself, though, doesn't reach any impressive points. As soon as the band catches up with Jerry, they retreat towards the final vocals of Shakedown, ending a purely average version.

After a 2 second pause, the band jumps into Jack Straw from Wichita. As with the Shakedown song, the band sounds a bit tired. It isn't really sloppy per se, but rather just a bit ho hum. The first Jerry jam is very short and is barely melodic. The band does generate a nice push toward the final jam though, and Jerry leaps at it. The jam begins with a very fast pace and progressively gets faster and faster. Jerry mostly just races from low notes through high notes. As the band behind Jerry reaches is maximum speed Jerry wasn't quite in synch. The result is that Jerry hurriedly switches from melodic picking to a few strums. Better versions exist, as this version is slightly below average mainly because the final jam wasn't quite nailed.

Jerry's 2 Spot of the night is West LA Fadeaway. This too is a bit lethargic and even sloppy as some rhythm flubs arise. Jerry's first jam achieves its goal of beginning slowly and racing to the next verse, but again there was a lot of feedback and little melodic presentation of notes. The main jam seems a bit hurried (the transitions between the peaks of the notes and the rhythm seem a bit fast), and it doesn't have the rhythmic slaps that other versions have (see 7.24.1987 for an example of very nice rhythmic punches following Jerry's singing of "West LA Fadeaway"…..rhythmic punch (smack) x3).

So far this was easily the blandest beginning to a 1989 Summer Tour concert. Three shows in, and 1 average and 2 below average songs.

The band decides to really take the concert in a different direction with Victim or the Crime. The band's lethargic display so far during the show works well on this song. Weir's vocals sound at times directed and at times nonchalant, just as the lyrics suggest a caring at times and ignorance at others. The Jerry rhythm through the song isn't as creepy as it could have been. The final jam reaches some nice places as Jerry and the band surge at first in the structured jam toward high notes. After this, however, Jerry really opens things up with a sloshing and melting kind of jam. Clearly the first song success of the night for the band. But, other versions are better and darker.

Brown Eyed Women is the first sign of the show that the band was waking up. The rhythm is very fast throughout, and while a bit sloppy here and there, is mostly on the ball. Jerry's vocals are also direct and inflected nicely. The jam is very fast and Jerry nails the correct zones. Still, despite the increase in quality from the previous songs of the night, this version isn't quite exceptional. The band still had an uninspired sound to them.

Queen Jane is more of the band mostly running through the motions and not really presenting anything beyond average in performance. Jerry's solos are paced quickly, but the uninspired sound of the band was still quite evident. Weir's vocals, as well, are bit too Dylan-esque as the whining is more pronounced than usual. Another average version.

Bird Song is the jam tune of this relatively flat first set. The first theme of the jam is mostly slow in pace as Jerry and the band get in synch. Next Jerry increases the pace but the band isn't quite with him. Jerry hits some notes but the sound is a bit awkward. Finally Jerry pauses a full second and starts a strumming Bird song jam that definitely is nice to hear, but certainly wasn't overly impressive. After the strumming and the resulting increase in pace Jerry hits some nice melodic progressions. The energy level nearly gets very impressive but comes up short. Not the best Birdy of 1989 as this is at best above average.

For the most part, this first set was quite uninspired and a bit sleep inducing. I had to listen to it about 6 times in a row before I could actually force myself to take notes and review it. Challenges usually are more rewarding. But, perhaps the reward was to be the second set.

The second set starts where the first set failed to visit - with an exceptional version. The opening Chider is nothing short of spectacular. The song delivery during the China Cat is edgy and delivered with precision, and the in-between verse jams are also on the mark. But the pure highlight is the jam between the China and Rider. Jerry cruises through numerous themes in pursuit of the China Cat instrumental finale. The band and Jerry almost taunt each other in this pursuit. The finale is all it could be and more. The Rider is also particularly inspired with very hot Jerry led guitar jams in-between the verses. Jerry's "I wish I was a headlight on a northbound train" is also very impressive. All in all, one of the finer late 80s Chiders around.

Next is a Sampson'n Delilah. Typically, this tune along with Women Was Better in The Early 80s, and Saint of Circumstance lacked the necessary punch in 1989. But, this version is atypical in that it rises to exceptional status. Jerry's solos are stabbing in nature and attack the listener ala 1977. I was a bit surprised to hear such an aggressive Jerry. Weir's singing is also noteworthy in its aggression. This kind of aggression was all to absent during the first half of 1989. The band clearly was rising out of the 1st half 1989 doldrums and becoming its own beast. I'm happy to hear this change of guard.

Further punctuating the change in the band's status from sleeping giant to sage master is the following Built To Last. The song evolved during the year but still had a nascent sound. On this particular version, the band had the timing down perfectly and Jerry's vocals match. The guitar solo is the cleanest and most precise of the year as well. But the element that really makes this version is not so much the timing and precision, but rather a distinct sound of calm teaching that emanates from Jerry's presentation. It isn't so much from his guitar or his singing, but a definite feel of a tale being told is present - the uncanny sound of understanding, security, cynical confidence, and nurturing so omnipresent in classic versions of BEWomen, Tennessee, Terrapin, and many other Garcia Hunter tunes. Now included is Built to Last - clearly a cherished member of the band's repertoire.

Truckin' follows and the band manages a nice choppy swing through the tune. The jam that follows is the highlight of the show. Jerry's trip down the instrumental jam is flawless and the punch from Lesh at its conclusion is pronounced. But, what really makes this Truckin' jam special is the ensuing Jerry jam. At first he begins a traditional Truckin' read, but at its conclusion the sound gets a bit exasperated. Jerry clearly struggles out of the Truckin' theme and enters an interzone that the late 80s rarely saw - post Truckin jam. As the last Truckin' restraint is released Jerry opens a great jam that comprises about 5 straight seconds of fanning followed by note bending, which is repeated about 10 times. The crowd, as evidenced by the audience recording, begins to go nuts. As this dies down, Jerry starts the new interzone jam, which quickly leads to a fastly paced jam that reaches a frightening theme. As the band toys with pushing this a bit further, the sound dies even more, and unfortunately they lets the jam be enveloped by the drums. Still, one of the finest Truckin' jams of the late 80s and dare I say, of their career. While certainly not as long as other versions (e.g., 12.31.1972; 5.26.1972), the energy reached is clearly analogous. Bravo to the band.

The space segment has Jerry still noodling with the midi guitar and trying to find its capacity. No real jams are developed and the sound while interesting gets a bit boring.

Gimme Some Lovin' arises out of this and it is at best average. The jams are not flawed but they don't kick any dirt off of the ground either.

GDTRFB makes a rare 1989 appearance and it is pretty much well done. The song itself is held together and the vocals sound great. The jams by Jerry are not scalding by any means (see 8.22.1972 for a jaw dropping version) but they are better than average. It's great to see the band throwing new things into the mix.

Throwin' Stones follows and while not mesmerizing is at least rather rocking. The Weir scream at the finale, while a bit off and out of tune, is not as harsh as other versions. This rolls into NFA, which is the highlight of the post drums. Jerry triggers an extended jam that the band and him thoroughly seem to enjoy. Jerry in particular runs through numerous themes and pushes the jam to the edge. Not a bad way to end the show.

The encore Brokedown is sweet in its delivery but considering the so so show as a whole, this choice seems a bit out of place ---- I've always thought Brokedown was the ideal encore for amazing shows only.

After a very average first set (the first of the summer), the band kicked it up nicely for the predrums second set with a fantastic Chider, Sampson and Built To Last. The highlight of the show, however, was next with the Truckin' jam that easily was one of the best jams of the year. After the drums segment, the band fell into auto pilot a bit as the tunes rolled out in very competent but not noteworthy fashion. The NFA was pretty hot though. But, in retrospect, its hard not to like a show that provides such a hot Truckin' jam and a hot NFA jam.

Set 1: 7.142
Set 2.1: 8.25
Set 2.2: 7.25
Set 2sum: 7.75
Show sum: 7.446

Shakedown 7
Jack Straw 6.75
West LA 6.75
Victim 7.5
BEWomen 7.5
Queen Jane 7
Birdy 7.5

China Cat 8
Rider 8
Sampson 8
Built To Last 9
Truckin 7.5
Truckin Jam 9

Space 6.5
Gimme 7
GDTRFB 7.5
TS 7.5
NFA 8
Brokedown 7
Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/10/89 ~ Giants Stadium ~ East Rutherford, NJ

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Monday
36th Show of Year
5th Show of 1989 Summer Tour (8th if you include the 3 June Shoreline Shows)

The 36th show of 1989 took place in front of a lot of people - a lot of wet people. Based on a random Google search, Giants Stadium can hold 79000 people. I doubt that many showed up for this concert, but my guess is about 60000 people. And as with the disease slowing eating away at the Grateful Dead in 1989, there probably were about 15 to 20000 people outside of the venue (I certainly may be off on the exact estimate of the number of people who didn't have tickets). This particular evening was rather interesting in that it was pouring rain. At one point the band even comments on the rain and jokes about it. An interesting backdrop for the 36th Show of 1989 - a year that through the Spring Tour was markedly average; a year that was markedly improving by the Summer Tour; a tour that already 7 shows in (counting the Shoreline June shows) had 3 phenomenal performances (6.19, 6.21 and 7.7.1989).

Luckily there is a circulating vcd of this show that is a stadium feed. The quality is above average (not quite exceptional). Of note there is psychedelic effects here and there, but it does not tarnish the jams in the same way the View From The Vault series does.

The band doodled for a while onstage prior to beginning the show with Feel Like a Stranger. First sets on this Summer Tour had for the most part (except for 7.9.1989) had started out very hot. This show was to be no different. The sound from the band on entrance into Stranger is very exuberant as the band bounces through the opening chords. The singing from Weir is typically manic and the harmony from Jerry and Brent is equally hot. The main jam begins with two themes from Jerry that are driving in nature. The jams get rather deep and create a wide-open space. But, these first two jams don't go over the top and are not overly impressive. The third theme, however, gets very complex as Jerry switches from low notes to high note cyclical progressions that increase the overall pace and send the intensity quite high. Eventually Jerry slides this theme to the structured finale in a very impressive manner. The finale is nailed and an above average version is completed. Of note is that the excited nature of the sound is more than present. The vcd certifies the wholehearted energetic nature. Jerry looks very healthy and full of stamina.

Franklin's Tower immediately starts at the conclusion of the Stranger. This version continues the overall excited nature started with Stranger. The rhythm is quite bouncy and the singing from Jerry is very happy. The first jam from Jerry is rather deep and does not increase the overall pace. This is interesting in the contrast between Jerry's deep progressions and the band's excited rhythm. The second jam starts with a fast leap from Jerry into high note cycles thereby increasing the pace of the jam. Instead of pursuing an extended series of notes, however, Jerry quickly switches to familiar chord strumming. The effect is to get the crowd very excited. The third jam is similar in that Jerry does a lot of strumming. The fourth jam starts with some lightning fast licks from Jerry that immediately evaporates into more high intensity chord strumming. The fifth, and final, jam begins with high-pitched fanning from Jerry that melts into the conclusion of the song. This version is a real crowd pleaser in that Jerry opts for more strumming of the A G D G A than note progressions. Still, as with the Stranger, the sound is uncannily hot despite the lack of interesting jams. The intensity itself raises this somewhat technically average version to above average status. The vcd shows Jerry in a serious mood. At one point the camera focuses on Lesh who is emitting a huge smile.

Walkin' Blues is next, and it is a bit different than the typical 1989 structure. While the song itself is the same, the jam's are a bit odd. First off, instead of the typical first Jerry jam, Brent takes the spot and emits a very nice intensity driven jam. The main jam oddly begins with Jerry delivering a nice jam that at its conclusion has Weir beginning his turn. Weir's jam stalls from the start and goes nowhere leaving a "dead air" sound. A rather poor version of this tune. It makes me wonder if the odd structuring was intentional. The vcd sheds little light on the odd structure. When Brent takes the first solo it appears intentional. The camera mostly focuses on Brent, and Jerry is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps the structure was intentional.

Jerry picks up the pace with his 2-Spot - Jack a Roe. This version is forceful and deliberate. Jerry's singing is strong and precise. The first jam from Jerry starts out fast and with the delivery of very hot note progressions. By the end of this jam the pace is at a breakneck speed. The final jam is exasperated in tone and features the kind of Jerry note smacks that delivers a smile on nearly any face. A great version, and clearly the highlight of the first four songs, and the first exceptional version of the night. The vcd shows Jerry truly grooving to the rhythm. The camera work does a nice job of showing Jerry's fingering as well.

Bob next chooses Masterpiece. This version is very well sung throughout. Weir's delivery is astonishingly happy in his yelps and Jerry's harmony is right on the ball. Is there a better late 80's duet for Jerry and Bob? Jerry's main jam is driving in nature raising the theme from exuberant to purely powerful. Unfortunately as the vocal finale is being delivered a monitor problem likely occurred because Jerry and Bob get the timing of their final bellows off leaving a very awkward sound for the song's end. Despite this, this has to be one of the greatest average versions of this song ever --- up to the vocal finale, this was at least an exceptional version. If you can live with the finale, as I of course can, this version will brighten your day to say the least. The vcd shows Weir truly having a great time with his vocal presentation, and it shows him dancing around on the stage during the main jam. Regarding the errored conclusion, the vcd does not suggest a technical problem but a flub likely on Jerry's part. Weir in particular looks at Jerry with an uncertain glance.

At this point the rain must have been coming down like mad because Jerry states, "well, it looks like its gonna rain!" The camera scans over the crowd and the rain can be seen coming down in buckets. Weir sarcastically asks the crowd, "well should we turn this off yet?" Next he states, "y'all ought to be floating up to eye level pretty quick." Lesh next states, "there ain't a lot that we can do about it, but we can enjoy it." I can't help but speculate that perhaps the rain situation caused the vocal flub present at the conclusion of Masterpiece, but the vcd does not verify this. The scene must have been crazy.

Jerry appropriately next starts Tennessee Jed. During the first verse he sings, "you know you bound to wind up WET." A real crowd pleaser. The vcd camera work shows the band from afar and the rain can truly can be seen coming down in sheets. Beyond this tidbit of information, this version really is incredibly strong. It is classic Tennessee Jed slapstick. The final jam is very complex as Jerry cycles through some very strong and fast progressions. As the band reaches the zenith the rhythm is strongly presenting the chords and Jerry is more than keeping the pace as he reaches a dazzling finale of note spackling. Amazing to say the least. The vcd focuses on Lesh for a while who was wearing a wicked tie die. Unfortunately as Jerry peaks during the jam the camera is not focusing on him but rather on Brent and a scene from afar. This version rivals the 1972 versions that defined the type of delirious conclusions this tune is more than capable of. Often times in the late 80s and 90s Jerry didn't keep up with the pace delivered near the finale and the sound was a bit awkward, but certainly not with this version. Garcia at his best - take a bow Jerry - you deserve it.

After a brief pause the band starts Music Never Stopped. From the start the band sounds very tight - the delivery of the vocals and the rhythm is very cocky and confident. This was the second version of Music for 1989. The first was on 4.2.1989 and it was slightly above average. The camera nicely focuses on Weir and his Hawaii shirt. The 7.10.1989 jam started with the drift. Jerry started with the drift slowly as if he was truly cherishing it. The drift starts slowly as Jerry creeps the speed up little by little. Weir matches the drift with very nice wah wah blasts. Eventually the jam gets more intense. Jerry sounded great here as he provided more than just nice jamming but patented signature note licks as well. The vcd provides a nice side view of the band and nice close ups of Jerry's fingering. The transition to the sprint jam is a bit premature as the rhythm cuts Jerry off. Still the drift for the most part was very well done. The sprint portion has more signature note blasts from Jerry and a great jam is developed. Again the vcd provides very nice close ups of Jerry's fingering and even Lesh's fingering as well. The conclusion is again just a bit off in the timing of the rhythm with Jerry. All in all a very hot version considering the nice drift and the nice sprint and the confidence emitted by the band.

Jerry immediately starts Don't Ease and it isn't by any means a bad version, but the jams are certainly overshadowed by the Music Never Stopped. The vcd provides nice close ups of Jerry as he sings away. During the jam the vcd shows Jerry full of smiles. And so closes another successful first set despite the rain.

After Weir announces the set break a person states to the crowd that heavy winds and heavy rain with heavy lightning is expected, and that a deep concern exists for the people on the field. The crowd cheers in anticipation. The vcd does not show this.

The second set starts with Foolish Heart. The vcd cuts into the first verse. This version is very tight and may be the best of the year up to this date. The band sounds more comfortable with this complex song. Jerry's singing also sounds very tight. The first jam has interesting Jerry progressions and the structured finale is nailed tightly. During this first jam, the vcd shows all the band members keeping close eye contact. Jerry is focused on and it shows him truly grooving to the jam he is creating. After nice "foolish haaaaarts" from Jerry (which the vcd shows Jerry belting out with smiles) the second jam starts with complex and interesting Brent solo followed by a slowly developed Jerry jam that has complex patterns of notes and pushes the edge of the tune before slowly finding way back to theme. Once again this was perhaps the finest second jam for Fheart of year. The vcd shows Jerry rocking back and forth during the jam. Jerry truly looked happy throughout. It also shows Lesh and Weir smiling at Jerry throughout the jamming. The band was on an upswing. The new tunes were coming alive. Built To Last, the upcoming Brent tune, and Foolish Heart were now truly great songs to hear. After more nice "hearttts" the jam transitions to Just a Little Light. This version of Foolish Heart was an amazing success. Compared to earlier versions the band now sounded very comfortable with the song portion, the first jam, and the second jam featured a secure improvisation jam that didn't seem aimless but rather directed. Incidentally, compared to earlier versions the band dropped the third jam portion, which in my opinion was a great idea. Earlier versions sounded a bit redundant with the third jam. Foolish Heart - a great tune that was very nicely developing into the 1989 repertoire.

The following version of Just a Little Light was also a tremendous success. The singing is not overdone, the harmonies are precise and the Jerry wah wah rhythm throughout is very entertaining. This was a convincing example of how Brent had developed more than ever into an integral part of 1989 Dead. The vcd shows the band truly getting into this version. Lesh in particular looks focused, as does Weir. Jerry's note smacking is evidence enough that he is into this version, and the vcd shows him with a very serious look on his face. The short but sweet Jerry jam displays again that the band was not blowing off the Brent tune, but rather was embracing it.

The band at this point was really on a roll. The vcd shows Weir screaming out "3 5 7 8 9 10" and PITB was entered. PITB was next and the jam portion is slowly paced for the first theme. Jerry spinned intricate PITB webs around the rhythm. Unfortunately, the vcd fails to focus on Jerry's fingering. Instead it focuses mostly on Brent. The lighting was rather dim, and perhaps a clean shot of Jerry was too difficult to capture. Eventually the rhythm slowly gets more and more exasperated causing Jerry to add a twinge of hysteria to his note spinning for the second theme. The third theme is the transition to UJB. This transition starts slowly and it is very nicely hinted. The transition is flawless and very interesting. The PITB jam portion is short but very well done. Despite no intense jamming this version is very above average because the transition to UJB is so perfectly and sweetly done.

The ensuing UJB is tremendous and may be the highlight of the night. The rhythm throughout is incredibly enthusiastic and precise. The Jerry led jams are intense and driving in nature thoroughly emphasizing that this UJB is at times not a nice tune but rather a scalding tale rich with anger and revenge. The final jam has Jerry finely emitting complex patterns. The vcd does a nice job of capturing Jerry's fingering, and does a nice job of showing the band singing. Of note, the band looks very concentrated during this version. While Brent is shown smiling, the remainder of the band looks very serious and determined.

As UJB concludes Jerry spins the jam back into a lazy but very interesting PITB drift. This drift lasts for about 4 minutes prior to Jerry opening up a calm theme that matches the drifting rhythm perfectly. The lighting was rather dim, and the vcd struggles to get good images here. Eventually the drums take over. Again, there is no intense PITB jamming here but this PITB drift is certainly above average because of the striking contrast to the previous UJB intensity.

After Drums, the Space begins with various midi themes from Jerry. The vcd shows Brent is present throughout providing a structure for Jerry to build from. Likely because of the dim lighting, the vcd mostly focuses on Brent. At this point in 1989 the Space segment was coming along very nicely with the midi jams starting to really build into complex and structured themes. The mixture of Jerry's thematic ability with the at times grotesque and beautiful sounds of midi is very interesting to the ear.

Out of nowhere Jerry starts Aiko which at first sounded like NFA. The vcd shows The Neville Brothers joined the band at this point. The vcd further shows Jerry again belting out his lyrics with a huge smile on his face. The first jam has Jerry waiting for a Neville Brother theme (the vcd shows Jerry motion with his hand to the Neville Brothers), but after about 30 seconds or so with no real theme emergence, Jerry fills the gap and provides a slick and fast jam lasting about 1 minute. The third and fourth verses are sung by the Nevilles (the vcd shows Jerry again motioning their way with his hand). The second jam starts with one of the Neville's doing a keyboard solo, followed by a Neville guitar solo that actually sounds pretty good. Eventually after about 70 seconds the Nevilles and Jerry trade off licks. Jerry takes the lead over and Nevilles provide a nice rhythm. Jerry's jam is rather short. All in all, there was a lot of energy in this version. This version is doesn't quite have scalding Jerry solos, but the vocal presentation is truly amazing. The vcd shows the Weir, the Nevilles, and Jerry truly grooving during the vocal finale. The sound of the Dead with the Nevilles was great.

Weir starts Watchtower and it is nicely sung. The first jam by Jerry is not extended but is quite fast. The second jam has Jerry leading with the Nevilles providing a pretty cool rhythm. Jerry reaches some nice themes, but as a whole it is a bit short. The third jam has Jerry leading into a nice theme that peaks quickly and slowly drifts to next tune. This version as a whole is slightly above average because it is high energy in delivery but the jams are not over the top. Again the vcd does a nice job of capturing the precise fingering from Jerry.

Jerry wanders next into Morning Dew. Jerry's singing is superb and passionate. The first jam is burning with pride and reaches very nice peaks but is perhaps a bit quick. Jerry emits some mournful and heartfelt "guess it doesn't matter" bellows before the finale jam. The finale jam reaches some nice points as well as Jerry bends odd sounding notes and eventually reaches a strummers paradise and creates a rush of fanning. A nicely performed Dew but the jams were perhaps a bit short. The 6.21.1989 version was certainly a step better. Of note, the Nevilles were not intrusive on this version. The vcd again focuses perfectly on Jerry's fingering, and in particular the zenith fanning.

The set ends with Sugar Mag. It was nicely performed during the song, but during the SSDD instrumental jam Jerry starts out with a complicated and well-done note based jam that stops about half way into the jam for strumming. The vcd shows the band in high spirits and Weir rushes back and forth on the stage. Jerry mostly faced the Neville guitar player and traded big smiles. The jam finale does not feature Jerry jamming like a madman, and perhaps this version was a bit complacent, but the feel was definitely hot. The SSDD vocals are very well done with Jerry providing a surprisingly melodic and hot rhythmic note progression. Weir's singing reaches the necessary yelps and the vcd nicely captures this.

The encore is Knockin' On Heaven's Door. It is a nice conclusion but the jams don't transcend average and the Neville's fail to provide an impressive solo jam.

The vcd is truly worth obtaining. Based on the Downhill From Here (7.17.1989) and this vcd from the stadium feed, there likely is plenty of video for the band to release over time.

Still, the band was playing very well on this tour compared to the Spring Tour.

Set 1: 7.64375
Set 2.1: 8.07
Set 2.2: 7.558
Set 2sum: 7.814
Show: 7.73

Stranger 7.75
Franklin's 7.7
Walkin Blues 6.5
Jack a Roe 8
Masterpiece 7.5
Tennessee Jed 8.5
MNS 7.9
Don't ease 7.3

Foolish 8.25
Just Little Light 8.25
PITB 7.6
UJB 8.5
PITB 7.75
Space 7.5
Aiko 7.75
Watchtower 7.25
Dew 7.9
Sugar Mag 7.8
Knockin' 7.25

Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/12/89 ~ JFK Stadium ~ Washington, DC

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07.12.1989 JFK Stadium, Washington DC
Tuesday
37th Show of Year
6th Show of 1989 Summer Tour (9th if you count the 3 June Shoreline shows)

The show starts with Touch of Grey and the band immediately sounds tired. The vocals are a bit strained from Jerry and the rhythm lags a bit forcing the overall pace of the song down. The solo from Jerry hits the right spots but is not animated or passionate in delivery. Of note, however, was Lesh who was could be heard throughout the song with many many bombs. A very average version.

Minglewood rolls in next. As with the Touch, Lesh is way out in front and dropping bombs everywhere. The first Jerry solo is a significant improvement over the Touch solo as Jerry rounds out the corners of the jams and leans into them driving the crowd wild. But this momentum is not quite maintained. The main jam starts out with Mydland doing a skat along with his organ solo that does not appeal to my ears. The ensuing Weir solo, laced with his slide, starts to reach a nice zone but abruptly stops leaving the Jerry solo stumbling to catch up. Jerry's jam is filled with a plethora of note progressions that dissolve into a nice jam. Still - nothing outstanding or all that interesting.

Jerry's 2-Spot begins with what sounds like Let It Grow noodling before ½ Step. Weir's harmony is very off and almost hard to listen to. Jerry's voice sounds tired and a bit haggard. But, Jerry's first solo is on the mark and retains the semblance that perhaps the show and song has hope. The second jam is nearly identical to the first jam, however, as no increase in pace or energy is displayed. The band was going through the motions on autopilot it seemed. The band, of note, also seemed very uninterested in the flow of the show. In the Rio Grandeo first jam Jerry does a better job of lifting the energy and the elation of the show a bit, but the jam is relatively short. The singing of Rio starts with a very harsh Jerry below and more out of tune harmony from Weir. Ouch. Jerry starts the finale jam with Lesh dropping more bombs. The final jam reaches a slightly interesting zone before dropping in pace and concluding. Another average version - certainly not the monsters from 1977 (see 9.3.1977 for a phenomenal Rio Grandeo jam).

At this point it was clear that the band was not having their best night. But, what still remained to be determined was whether the band was to switch direction and salvage the remaining portion of the show or flatly give up if they hadn't already.

Lesh starts the next phase of the show with Tom Thumb's Blues. During the instrumental opening Jerry strums the wrong chords suggesting that not much was going to click for the band on this night. Lesh's vocal delivery is as odd as usual - and requires some getting used to (but, I should say, I have always been a fan of Lesh's vocal sound). On this version, however, he sounds a bit uncertain. Jerry's solo hits the mark and matches the slow but driving delivery from Lesh. The final verse is not elevated in intensity like some others (see 6.28.1985) leaving a flat conclusion to the song. The first below average song of the night.

Next is Brent's all-time number one hit - Farfrommee. As the initial piano notes are nailed I'm reminded of my favorite version of this song - 9.6.1980 Lewiston, Maine. This version ain't 9.6.1980. Still Brent's vocal delivery was a striking contrast to the bland delivery of the first 4 songs of the show. He was screaming and hitting very high notes. The rhythm provided by the band didn't match this intensity, however, yielding a forced sound. The harmonies provided during the "So Long Blues" is way off and is almost humorous. The final Jerry jam rises to the occasion and creates a nice tension between his progressions and the boundaries provided by the chords. Eventually Brent takes over and starts a piano solo. Brent returns the song for one last vocal push, and embarrasses himself and the listener by directly screaming, "There's just nothing to hold onto with you - Bitch!!!" Nice Brent. Despite Brent's opening up his front door closet for everyone to gape into, the finale Jam between Jerry and Brent was not bad and ultimately was slightly above average.

Cassidy is next, typically a song with a lot of potential. But, based on the first five tunes of the show, my expectations were not too high. The singing is again marred by a flat rhythm and almost no Jerry note picking during the song. The band nearly sounded asleep at the wheel. The instrumental verse, as with the singing verses, is flat and uninspired. But, with the beginning of the main jam, the band somehow managed to pull off a very effective and convincing jam worthy of above average status. Despite some marked note errors by Jerry the jam raises in intensity and develops a lot of momentum before flawlessly dropping into the vocal finale. I wasn't expecting it, and I was pleasantly surprised.

As if the pace of the show wasn't slow and sleepy enough already, Jerry next starts a slow version of Friend of the Devil. The song itself is filled with errors. In particular, Weir really blows it with an attempt to start "Got two reasons why I cry" about 2 verses too soon. The solos are long and for the most part boring. Brent emits a fiddle sounding solo that doesn't go anywhere, the Weir solo is forced and not interesting, and the Jerry solo wanders a bit before quickly returning to the end of the song. Ahh. That was tough to suffer through.

Promised Land rounds out this very sluggish first set with an almost sarcastically large jam at the end of the song suggesting that just maybe the second set would be better.

Set two begins with special guest star Bruce Hornsby who, of course, was to provide quite a bit of inspiration to Jerry (mostly in 1991). This was his first appearance with the Dead. Sugaree was chosen, and Jerry's first opportunity to jam with Hornsby is relatively typical. No real impressive progressions or expressions are developed. Hornsby's first solo is accordion-eque in sound. It too is not overly impressive. Jerry's leap from this solo is relatively fast but no monster jams are created. After the third verse, the finale jam starts slowly, builds with cyclical progressions to a nice speed, but than slows down again just before it started to get somewhat interesting. A pretty bland version of Sugaree.

Next is Women Are Smarter - also with Hornsby. This version is surprisingly energetic. The singing by Weir is emphatic. The first Jerry solo begins in a nice manner that rises to a nice valley. Mydland, unfortunately cuts this jam off with the singing of the second verse. The second round of jams begins with a very impressionable piano solo from Hornsby that really rocks - a very fine piano player he is. At the conclusion of his turn, Mydland starts a turn that doesn't really go anywhere suggesting that perhaps he wasn't ready or even aware that it was his turn. Jerry picks up the gap and delivers a raw attack that really just nails the song to the wall. The jam is fast, direct and must have impressed Hornsby. Definitely an above average version.

Hornsby leaves the stage at this point and had just tasted his first impressive jam with the Dead. Bravo to him for coming back for more.

Next Jerry pulls out Ship of Fools. After the slow first set, and the brief glimpse at increased pace with the Women Are Smarter, this was a bit of a disappointment. But, the version is not all bad. While a tad slow (this version lasts over 9 and a half minutes!), the jam is filled with nice runs from Jerry. All in all though, the momentum gained with the Hornsby laced Women was lost a bit with this Fools.

The band enters the jam portion of the night with Estimated Profit. From the start this version is filled with energy as Weir screams numerous vocals. The first Jerry jam starts out with complex progressions but loses steam by its conclusion. The finale is urged heavily by the band's rhythm but Jerry's notes don't quite amass the same intensity. Weir finds his vocal prowess and lets out numerous Estimated screams that aren't bad (will any ever be as good as the 9.17.1982 Estimated yelps?). The Estimated outro jam is filled with a calculated pace from Jerry that permits free flowing improvisation. The first theme is heavily Estimated and is pretty well done. The second jam gets into the interzone area between Estimated and whatever song was next. Jerry develops a bluesy kind of jam here that still retains the moderately slow pace. By its conclusion, the jam sounded like Eyes. The third theme really takes off and is truly Eyes of the World. Jerry's gambit in retaining a slow pace pays off as he was able to hold the band at a slow pace while improvising at a rapid pace. The pre Eyes jam here is very impressive.

The Eyes of the World fails to retain the momentum gained during the Estimated transition. While sung in an average manner, the first jam fails to take off in any formed direction. The result is a disjointed sound that eventually is replaced by chord strumming into the second verse - not Jerry's best effort. The second jam, while a bit faster and more retained in form, doesn't amass to any life changing events either. While the finale of the second jam increases in pace, the sound just isn't very convincing. This Eyes seemed rushed or hurried, and the cohesive hipness of this song was lost. A bland to below average version. An Eyes outro jam occurs after the second verse that ultimately is swallowed by the Drums segment.

Space is relatively atonal for the most part. Jerry provided some nice runs here and there but mostly it is nonlayered progressions and non connected blasts. Brent sits in for the majority of the Space and emits a lot of strange sounds. Bobby joins in after a few minutes but is unable to lasso Jerry in for directed jamming. As such, this version is relatively boring. Eventually all of the strange sounds form into one consistent strange sound with Jerry bursting out of it with I Need A Miracle notes. A pretty cool transition.

The Miracle is well intentioned as Weir does a nice job of singing it. Jerry's rhythm, however, is quite lost at times. The first jam starts out in a very hot rush, but stumbles and stalls. The final jam once again gets little help from the Band. Jerry wanders a bit at a fast pace but doesn't really do anything too interesting.

This jam wanders into Dear Mr. Fantasy. And, finally, the Band was able to break free from the lethargic sound. Jerry goes all out on this version. Mydland's singing is on the ball, but Jerry's rhythmic note progressions are almost maniacal. During the main jam Jerry creates a near monstrous jam that goes over the top. The band, however, was still lethargic in its attack. A very interesting version just to hear Jerry's attack on this tune.

Next is Black Peter, and it cooks. The singing is a bit strung out in sound as Jerry's voice seemed labored, but the jamming from Jerry and the finale jam are frenetically paced and feature tons of notes.

Lovelight ends the show and as with the preceding two songs, it is very well done. Jerry's solo is pure rock'n roll and flies. Weir ends the show with massive screaming.

Black Muddy River is the encore and is above average.

A relatively flat show that ended quite well with the stellar Fantasy, the above average Peter, and the slightly below exceptional Lovelight. The Deadhead's Taping Compendium gave this show a very harsh review authored by Mr. Brian Dyke. While I mostly agree with his review, I disagree with the last three tunes of the second set.

Set 1: 6.9375
Set 2.1: 7.1
Set 2.2: 7.42
Set 2sum: 7.26
Show: 7.1

Touch 7
Mingle 7
½ Step 7
Tom Thumb 6.75
Far From Me 7.25
Cassidy 7.5
FOTD 6
Promised 7

Sugaree 7
Women Smarter 7.75
Ship Fools 7
Estimated 7.25
Eyes 6.5
Space 7
Miracle 7
Fantasy Jude Fantasy 8
Black Peter 7.5
Lovelight 7.5
Muddy River 7.5

Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/13/89 ~ JFK Stadium ~ Washington, DC

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Wednesday
38th Show of Year
7th Show of 1989 Summer Tour (10th if you count the 3 June Shoreline shows)

After a pretty flat show on 7.12.1989, the band returned to JFK Stadium for one more show before heading west with the ultimate goal of East Troy, Wisconsin. This was to be the final Stadium Dead show of Summer 1989.

Hell In A Bucket starts out this performance. At first the band sounds a bit between sluggish and laid back. The singing by Weir is very relaxed and the rhythm is quite loose. The main jam has Jerry reaching some nice points that create a nice moment or two, but is not overly impressive. The vocal finale has Weir at first struggling to tone his voice for the impending screaming. After sustaining his goal, the tune ends. An average version with no real highlights.

After an extended delay (2 minutes?) Jerry chooses Cold Rain & Snow. This version sounds quite sluggish. Jerry's vocals are barely direct in tone, and the rhythm barely sounds present. The Jerry instrumental is flooded by Mydland, and the main jam doesn't amass any momentum. A marked contrast to the fantastic version on the 4th of July, 1989.

Weir's blues tune is next, and he chooses Little Red Rooster. From the start Weir's singing seems a bit strained and over pronounced. This version seemed to be heading nowhere with the first Jerry solo. He barely amassed a string of notes together before stalling and struggling with repeated cyclical note progressions. The rhythm throughout this version was also very slow and sleep inducing. Mydland steps up to the microphones for the "you ain't shit to me" verse and likely woke the crowd up a bit considering how much louder he was than Weir. His ensuing solo is not bad, but he was struggling against a tired sounding band. The result of his attempts was to raise the tempo from sluggish to forced jog. Weir wasn't biting either. His solo that was birthed out of Brent's solo is barely present. Weir hits a few notes, pauses for several seconds, returns for a few notes, and doesn't create any semblance of a jam. Jerry's turn that arises out of this much starts a few seconds late and is quite typical. After some low note runs the band runs through the typical conclusion. Three successively worse songs in a row.

Bruce Hornsby joins the band for Tennessee Jed. As with the day before (7.12.1989) his effect is to waken the band a bit. Jerry's vocals seem a bit more alert than on the Cold Rain & Snow, but still a bit sluggish. During the song, Hornsby provides numerous embellishments that stand in contrast to the bands "routine." As the song progresses, one can almost hear the band slowly shaking off their sludge. The main jam starts out with Jerry riding through the progressions but barely nailing his notes. The rhythm, while driving, also sounds hesitant and unconvincing. The finale has Jerry hitting a few notes, but not too many, and the sound is lacking. The shedding of the sludge would have to wait for at least another song.

Weir introduces Hornsby to Dead Styled Dylan with Memphis Blues. This version lacks any passion. Weir's vocal delivery is tired and flat. The Jerry solos sound distracted and fail to develop any momentum. The Hornsby presence is barely detectable. Another below average version (for a truly amazing version of Memphis see 7.7.1989).

As if the set was too hyper and needed to be calmed down, Jerry next chooses To Lay Me Down. Perhaps this is a very calm and contemplative version, but honestly it is difficult to separate it from the other tunes of this first set which were all sluggish and passive. Jerry's vocals are sung slowly and the pace of the song is among the slowest. His guitar solo doesn't pierce the heart or mind like some others (12.27.1981, and 2.10.1989). The vocal finale, while in tune, also doesn't raise any goose pimples on my arm. But, I guess this version could arguably be rated as average.

The set is concluded with the highlight of the first set - Let It Grow. The Weir verses are delivered in the same tired expression, but during the first main jam, Brent steps up and creates an extended keyboard solo that forces the tempo up. Jerry finally bites and jumps into the lead position at this pace. The pace does diminish while he was at the reigns, but not too badly. The progressions at first are interesting and complex (the first of the night), but eventually he slips back into sluggish and tired note runs. Just as it really starts to get ho hum again, the band slams into the structured jam just prior to returning to the song. Not dramatically impressive, but certainly impressive in comparison to the previous tunes of the night. Finally Jerry was able to deliver and interesting guitar solo. The final jam after the final "I am" is a bit passioned and a nice jam is created that stretches the limits a bit. Having ended the first set with their finest song of the night suggests that maybe the second would be worth sticking around for…

As if the band was shedding their first set skin, set two starts uniquely with He's Gone. This version, while well intended, is still a bit slow and sleepy. The in-between verse jam doesn't liven up for the "Goin where the wind don't blow so strange," and the vocal finale drags on a bit too long. The outro jam nearly immediately enters into the next tune. Despite an interesting appearance as the set 2 opener, this version is merely average.

Things get cooking, however, during the ensuing Looks Like Rain. Weir sings the verses in an impassioned manner and lets loose a bunch of screams and yelps. The finale is really where the jam crosses the border from average to above average as the Jerry led rhythm features attacking notes (like plucks of rain) matched with Weir's hysterical and exaggerated lamenting. Very nice finale.

Terrapin Station is next, which like the He's Gone, is a bit rare to see as the third song of the second set. Jerry's presentation is for the most part flawless and direct. The theme of this evening had evolved into listless and ambiguous - a real "who cares?" attitude. As such, one can only expect to be let down and when the let down is surprising or the let down is not as bad as you'd think, then you have a success. For me that works once, and I likely will never listen to that show again. This show was rapidly securing that status. The Terrapin Space just before "since the end is never told" is not too interesting (unlike 10.19.1980 which ___really___ gets deep). The finale is very typical of other Terrapins - nothing dramatic or nothing anticlimactic. Average at its essence.

This leads into Drums.

The final portion of the show starts with massive swelling sounds from a keyboard (Brent). Jerry steps into this massive storm of sounds and starts his own midi thing. After more swelling storm sounds we see why Brent was on the stage as he starts the opening notes to Take Me Home. This turns into a Take Me Home piano jam wherein Brent improvises on its theme for about a minute. Somewhat interesting I guess. Jerry didn't participate in this. As his midi reaches the necessary "horn" sound, Brent starts the first verse. I guess this version is average.

The Other One erupts out of this. The first jam is rather extended lasting about 5 full minutes before the first verse. Jerry leads the band through different themes, but none really get too excited, nervous, tense or angry. The jams are rather dull to be honest. Jerry seems at times to be awaiting the entrance of Lesh, but Lesh opts toward more quiet playing. For the most part, Lesh is not too present. The post verse 1 jam, on the other hand, has Jerry melting a lot of his notes together due to the rapid speed of his plucking. Eventually the jam reaches a spinning effect that yearns for a bursting out in any direction. Jerry eventually pops this bubble but instead of lashing out in any direction it just deflates. Still a pretty hot jam had just been released which was relatively rare for the show as a whole. After the second verse, the band enters a drift that drops into Wharf Rat. This version of the Other One, due to the post first verse jam, may be labeled as slightly above average.

Wharf Rat follows and while the singing is precise, the jams are a bit sluggish. This version is at best average as a whole.

Tstones is next and it too is average. The jams don't reach any real interesting highlights and the song is sluggish at times.

Good Lovin is entered instead of NFA, and this version is marked with flubs. The Jerry led middle jam is marked with timing errors, and the song portion is also a bit off as Brent took a verse typically sung by Weir leaving the band not quite knowing where to go.

The encore is Us blues which is a bit better than the previous set of songs. The Jerry jam is enthusiastic.

This was the second lackluster show in a row for the band and marked the end of the 1989 Summer Tour Gigantic Stadium run. There were highlights - notably in two areas - first that the band continued to perform much better than on the Spring Tour, and also in that the 7.7.1989 and the 7.10.1989 shows were very well done (with the 7.7.1989 show being phenomenal, and the 7.10.1989 show a tad short of exceptional). Next was the confines of Ohio followed by three shows in a row at Alpine Valley.

Set 1: 6.78
Set 2.1: 7.2 (note only three songs were performed; shortest of the year)
Set 2.2: 7.02
Set 2sum: 7.11
Show: 6.94

Hell 7
CRS 6.75
LRRooster 6.25
Tjed 6.5
Memphis 6.75
To Lay Me Down 7
Let it Grow 7.25

He's Gone 7
Looks Like Rain 7.5
Terrapin 7
Space 7
Take Me Home 7
Other One 7.15
Wharf Rat 7
Tstones 7
Good Lovin 6.75
US Blues 7.25

Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

 

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