July 15 - July 19 '89
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Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Grateful Dead - Summer Tour ~ July 1989:

7/15/89 ~ Noblesville, IN 
7/17/89 ~ East Troy, WI
7/18/89 ~ East Troy, WI
7/19/89 ~ East Troy, WI

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/15/89 ~ Deer Creek ~ Noblesville, IN

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Noblesville, Indiana
Saturday
39th Show of Year
8th Show of 1989 Summer Tour (11th if you count the 3 June Shoreline shows)

After two duds in Washington, DC, the band left Stadium Dead, and entered the Midwest for four shows. As such, the intensity and pressure was likely gone, and the Band could lay back a bit. This was evident during all four of these shows (7.15, 17, 18, and 19.1989).

7.15.1989 was in Ohio at Deer Creek. The first set starts with Bertha that includes a fast tempo but is sung quite calmly. The band seemingly was not in a hurry to get anywhere. The jam has Jerry carefully pursuing note progressions that are not overly impressive but are nicely presented. The rhythm adds the necessary "punches" at select times, and the overall feel is present, just not in any dramatically impressive way. Absent, however, was the sluggish and tired feel of 7.12 and 7.13.1989.

Weir immediately starts GSETold. The laid back sound of Bertha spills over into this version as the singing is not overly aggressive but rather quite calm. Calm with occasional screams. The Jerry solo, as with all late 80s and 90s GSETs, is very fast but he covers a lot of ground and the rhythm is precisely in time with Jerry to end the tune. Another laid back version, but another successful version. The pace of the show was starting to grow on me.

Jerry maintains the calm approach of the band with Candyman. Interestingly, this version is performed at a rather brisk pace. Instead of the dreamy (or trippy) slow versions (see 10.19.1980 for one of the slowest versions I've heard), this version is rather fast. Jerry's singing is precise and convincing. The main solo is also rather fast in tempo excluding the sky high feel. Still, Jerry's pace adds a new dimension to the jam as it covered more ground than usual.

This was the fifth version of Candyman in 1989. The first version on 2.11.1989 was likely the highlight of the night; the versions on 3.27 and 4.5 were merely average, and the version on 6.19.1989 was above exceptional. The common factor among all of these versions was speed in that the band had left the slow motion versions for this increased tempo display. The 7.15.1989 version of Candyman may not be as spectacular as the 6.19.1989 version, but it still was a success and certainly was above average.

Next Weir breaks the Blues out with Walkin' Blues. This version, like the Candyman, is rather briskly paced in comparison to other versions. Up until the main jam it is the highlight of the first set (up to that point). Weir's singing is snide and confident, Jerry's slide is all over the place, the first jam has a fantastic combination of Weir rhythmic blasts accompanying a dutiful Jerry jam. But, with the main jam Mydland fails to start his solo on time causing Weir to start his. After perhaps 20 seconds of Weir Mydland starts his solo leading to a clashing sound. Mydland's solo is average at best, and Weir's turn after the Mydland stalls from the start. The transition to the final version is also entered a millisecond too soon. What was a great version, became below average as a whole.

Next, Jerry lifts the aura of the evening to exceptional with Peggy-O. This was the fifth version of Peggy-O in 1989. The version on 3.31.1989 was average, and the version on 4.13.1989 while exceptional was performed at a slower tempo. Then, on 4.28 and 5.6.1989 Jerry dramatically increased the speed during the song and started to almost scream the lyrics. The 4.28.1989 version was stellar in that the enunciation was matched with brilliant note progressions during the jam portion. The 5.6 version had the same screaming but the jam wasn't as impressive as on 4.28. The 7.15.1989, after over two months, retained the speed, the screaming, and the very fast jamming. Jerry's solo, in particular, stands out on this version for its complexity and speed, but also its soothing sound. If this indeed is a new style of performing Peggy-O, than while the 4.28 version was a success for its speed and ferocious nature, this version is a success for its speed but soothing nature, and as such, is also exceptional.

Weir retains the exceptional sound with Queen Jane. This version rivals the Milwaukee Mecca version from 4.15.1989 and the Irvine Meadows 4.28.1989 version as the best of the year. Jerry's harmony throughout is very in tune, and the Weir vocals get exasperated as the verses continue. The jams provided by Jerry really steal this version. The progressions are very fast and the theme is laced with Dylan uncertainty, while adding the necessary patented Jerry signatures. This isn't the typical series of Jerry solos that are interesting to hear but aren't dramatically impressive. This is a version where Jerry steps up and really provides a lot of emphasis on certain notes and a lot of unique structure and development. Queen Jane had been performed 11 times prior to this version in 1989, but on 7.15.1989 the band __really__ nailed it in a special way. 4.28 or 7.15 as for best of the year --- too tough to call.

Not surprisingly Brent steps up next and provides an exceptional version of We Can Run. The tempo on this version is increased compared to previous versions, and the result is that Brent's voice doesn't drag on for each word are presented quickly and "snappily." Jerry's rhythm throughout is very impressive, and the harmony from Jerry is very well done. The cherry on the ice cream for this version, however, is that an outro jam is created for Jerry. After the final verse Jerry takes an almost contemplative stab with his guitar at the tune. It winds the song down nicely. This marked the second exceptional tune by Brent in a row (the 7.10.1989 version of Just A Little Light was amazing) (***note I'm not counting the Dear Mr. Jude Fantasy because that to me is more of a duet with Jerry***). Despite having just over 12 months to live, Brent was riding high with his new tunes and the band was obviously enjoying them as well.

The set ends with its fourth exceptional version in a row with Bird Song. Based on the laid back playing the band was emitting throughout this first set, high expectations existed for the Bird. After a typical run through the song, the first jam involves safe note progressions that lightly dance on the rhythm. The tempo slowly builds during this theme and reaches a pace that Jerry sustains for about 2 minutes. During this time, Jerry stamps cyclical progressions left and right that surge the band up and down, all the while returning the band to the familiar Bird sound. The second theme, starts with Jerry slowing the tempo down to a bit of a creep before opening up timed note blasts followed by moments of silence, thereby increase the intensity. As the band begins to follow this change, Jerry takes off and surges through note progressions and chord strums the sent the jam to a whole new level of beauty. As the band reaches what likely was the zenith, Jerry opens up an all out fanning (liquid notes) that crushes and melts the sound. Instead of landing back to the reprise, however, Jerry opens up a third theme that retains the timed note theme from the second theme, but is more improvisation off of its development. This aftermath drifts the band into a teasing kind of jam that for about 60 seconds seems like the band is about to return to Birdy but doesn't but finally does (for another great teasing by Jerry - see the 8.4.1976 Scarlet Begonias just at the conclusion of the main jam as the band rhythmically pleads to reach the structured conclusion, Jerry dances around it over and over creating a great anticipation). This Bird Song really was impressive due to the signature note progressions from Jerry and the numerous surges through the jam culminating in the complete fan meltout.

A tale of two sets within the first set. The first four songs were just slightly above average as a whole, but the last four songs were among the finest ever played. Entering the second set the band was really on a roll…

The band starts the second set with Foolish Heart - which was such a dramatic success on 7.10.1989. This version rivals it. The same confidence is present on this version except that Jerry hesitates a tad on some of the verses. The first jam is fast paced and has Jerry dancing through the rhythm. The structured peak is nailed. The second jam is slower and more contemplative and equally reaches the desired outer boundaries. Jerry's vocals at the end get a bit out of tune, but based on the very nice jamming from the first two jams, the singing doesn't come close to tarnishing this above average version.

As with the 7.10.1989 version, the Foolish Heart drops features a third jam that is more of a brief transition. On 7.15.1989 the band entered Victim or the Crime. This version is sung perfectly by Weir with a suspicious paranoia. Jerry's rhythm is nearly textbook perfect as the sound sounds like a slow motion slurring monster (you can truly see the trails within the sound). The jam has the band sounding very tight. After the structured portion, Jerry pops out into a space that only he occupies and emits an extended series of notes that catches fire, gets quite chaotic, and enters a fanning meltdown. In this aftermath Jerry switches the tone of his guitar and spins into a beautiful cascade that drops into Crazy Fingers. This was a very cool Victim, as the song was nailed perfectly, and Jerry was able to surge outside of the structured Victim notes in the main jam and wind up in Crazy Fingers.

The Crazy Fingers is a bit bittersweet. The song itself is well played by the band and Jerry's singing is for the most part convincing and confident. The first jam portion is one of the finest Crazy jams I've heard. Jerry beautifully wanders through the chordal in seeming slow motion. His surges are brief and sharp, calm and direct, and hypnotic. Many of the earlier Crazy Fingers from 1989 lacked continuity in the in-between verse jam, often stalling a bit (see 2.10, 4.3, 4.11, 4.17.1989). The 4.28.1989 version improved during this jam, but wasn't very impressive in Jerry's note selection; it sounded a bit flat. Then, the band suddenly "got it" and Crazy Fingers as a whole dramatically improved. The 5.7.1989 version was likely the highlight of that show, the 6.19 version was a gem among gems, and the 7.2.1989 version was the highlight (along with PITB) of the show. Notably, these last 3 versions had flowing, non stalling, and continuous in-between verse jam. As noted the 7.15.1989 version continued this trend, and rivals 6.19.1989. The reason this version is bittersweet is because out of the in-between verse jam Jerry Bob and Brent each sing different vocals, leading to a frustrated lack of strumming from Jerry. This moment of awkwardness lasts about 2 seconds and in my opinion fails to tarnish the very impressive jam that had just elapsed. The outro jam is equally impressive in that it captures a tension of uncertainty as to which direction the band is heading toward. Jerry's playing through this is sweet and is filled with signature progressions. Eventually it dies down, and Jerry starts the opening notes to Truckin. Another very successful and impressive Crazy Fingers --- the third exceptional version of Crazy Fingers in a row (6.19, 7.2, and now 7.15).

The Deadhead's Taping Compendium review merely mentions the Bobby error out of the in-between verse jam and fails to mention the dramatically impressive Jerry solos. Alas, the Compendium misses another golden jam…

Truckin' slams into force and is tight and contains the necessary shuffle to make it an interesting song. The main jam has Jerry scaling perfectly before launching into a very nice jam. The jam is fast paced at first but quickly drops to a bluesy sound. Jerry rings out more Truckin' themes for about another minute before surging into an extended Truckin' sprint that has the whole band racing towards a zenith. As the band reaches the peak, Lesh emits some very nice bombs, and in the shadow of the aftermath Weir starts chopping out Smokestack Lightning chords before bellowing out "Whooaaa Smokestack Lighhhhhtnninnnngg." A very very nice transition, and another very nice Truckin jam. Truckin' jams clearly were on the rise, as the previous version (7.9.1989; which likely was a bit longer and more intense) suggested.

Weir's signing on Smokestack, while not Pigpen, are impressive and confident. Jerry's echoey rhythm throughout the song is sinister and screams of yesteryear. The first Jerry solo is rather tame, but has enough note bends and blurred notes to suggest that more of a jam was to come. As Weir finishes singing the second verse, Jerry opens up a bluesy jam comprising note sliding, bending, quick runs - all sustained by moments of silence and a surging rhythm. Very impressive. Weir returns vocally for the vocal finale and sends the song off for another series of jams. This time Jerry carefully develops more of a psychedelic theme that has consistent runs of notes sustained by occasional note bends. Jerry reaches a very fine point where he pounds out numerous runs of notes underneath a near silent band. A drifty bluesy jam starts at this point that has Jerry basically racing through scales as the sound and band drift closer and closer to drums. As the song blends into the mist of pre drums, I have to say that from Peggy O on the band was very much on fire and playing very very well.

Space - wier present; at first mostly chaotic sounds from Jerry and Bob; The weir tones provide Jerry sounds to build off of resulting in a somewhat structured sound; Mydland joins to provide more of a platform. Jerry still sounded as if he was testing the sounds of his midi out, but he certainly was also creating music. At one point the odd sounds emitted from weir, midland and Jerry create an almost cacaphonic symphony. One thing was for sure, as the shows went on, Jerry's ability to understand and create melody with his midi was emerging rapidly. The Space segment was rapidly becoming one of the more interesting parts of the show.

Eventually Jerry wanders into of all things Close Encounters and emits numerous "invitations" to the crowd. This develops into a Close Encounters jam that likely is more space than anything. Interestingly, Jerry retains the midi throughout this jam and switches back and forth between the various sounds (waterful, hammer, flute) further demonstrating his prowess with the midi.

As the Close Encounters space dies down the drummers return and provide a nice percussion element. Jerry, however, was not playing at this moment and the crowd was treated to a Brent and Percussion jam that lasted about three full minutes.

This Space eventually gets rather strange and eerie. Jerry returns and leads the band into a very very fine China Doll transition with his midi. As the band enters China Doll Jerry still was playing his midi. This was to be likely his first tune performed with the midi throughout. The singing from Jerry is fast paced and mournful. The solo from Jerry is with the trumpet sound of the midi. It sounded great and the progression of Garcia continued. Never one to let things be the way they are, he introduces an entire new sound to the band, and does so successfully. As if a ghost from the past objected to this transition, Jerry's guitar during the third verse emitted a loud "BLOOOUUMP." The band around this attempted to hold the structure of the song together (the drummers and mainly Brent). Jerry was able to switch out of the midi to his traditional sound but as he started returning to the song, a loud "SQUOOOOOAAAAOOHHH" was released that must have made those already completely freaked out by the peculiar and taboo space even more freaked out. Jerry opts out of the midi at this point and rescues the jam and the song. The "Take Up Your china doll" is sung relatively well by Jerry and the resulting outro theme, while short, is somewhat sweet. All in all a pretty odd China Doll considering the bizarre space it erupted out of, and the midi blasts in the middle of the song. Jerry picked up the pieces pretty well. This version has to be considered average, despite the technical errors, because the introduction of the midi to a song by Jerry.

This immediately transitions into Watchtower. Weir's singing is convincing and solidly supported by the band. The main Jerry jam starts out very slowly but surely builds into a very large and massive jam. The final jam likely lasts about 3 minutes as Jerry cultivates it and grows it. While certainly not as impressive as the Watchtower on 6.19.1989 (most are not) this version is certainly above average.

As the Watchtower jam subsides, Jerry drops beneath the tempo of the band and starts a rather impressive transition that lands in Stella Blue. Oddly, this was the second Jerry ballad in three songs. This Stella is pretty standard. Jerry's singing is precise and unflubbed. But the jam leading into "I've Stayed In…" is a bit sloppy, and the main jam doesn't develop into an impressive amount of passion (unlike 4.3.1989 - a __great__ Stella).

Sugar Magnolia blends nicely at the end of the Stella jam. The instrumental SSDD develops a nice amount of momentum but seems to stall a bit as the and attempts to find the right time to land. The ultimate conclusion of the jam seems a bit off. The jamming as a whole is not bad but not jaw dropping (see 10.15.1977 for a fantastic SSDD instrumental). The vocal SSDD is alright in that Weir and Brent sound ok but not overly impressive. If anything it sounds a bit rushed, and the slam into the conclusion of the jam is a bit off timing wise. But, Jerry does provide a nice fanning at the end marking the conclusion of the show.

Brokedown ends the show. Jerry sounds convincing and the jams are sweet if only above average. The harmonies sound strong and Mydland's final organ solo is pretty well done.

All in all the Summer Tour 1989 rolled on closer and closer to the conclusion at Alpine. The stretch of tunes beginning with Peggy through Smokestack was incredibly hot and easily one of the highlights of the year (rating for this set of tunes is 8.47 ** and it likely fits on one disk). The remainder of the show didn't quite match the intensity (rating at 7.225).

Consistent with the majority of this tour is the overall ranking - here 7.884. This was a very entertaining performance if not exceptional as a whole. The band was establishing their typical shows as being very above average --- a very nice contrast to the Spring Tour 1989.

Of note, the band did not play One More Saturday Night despite it being a Saturday. In fact, through this 39th show of the year, the band had played on seven Saturdays (2.11, 4.8, 4.15, 4.29, 5.6, 5.27, and 7.15) and had only performed three One More Saturday Nights (4.8, 4.15, and 4.29); and the band had performed OMSN only on Saturdays up to that point in 1989.

Alpine being next, I think I'll have to view the Downhill From Here DVD concurrently with my review.

Set 1: 8.118
Set 2.1: 8.1
Set 2.2: 7.2
Set 2sum: 7.65
Show: 7.884

Bertha 7.3
GSET 7.5
Candyman 7.65
Walkin' Blues 6.75
Peggy 9
Queen Jane 9.5
We Can Run 8
Bird 9.25

Foolish Heart 7.75
Victim 8
Crazy Fingers 9
Truckin' 8
Smokestack 7.75

Space 7.75
China Doll 7
Watchtower 7.3
Stella 7
Sugar Magnolia 7
Brokedown 7.15
Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/17/89 ~ Alpine Valley ~ East Troy, WI

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Monday
40th Show of Year
9th Show of 1989 Summer Tour (12th if you count the 3 June Shoreline Shows)

The final three shows of the 1989 Summer Tour began on a Monday in rural Wisconsin at easily one of the most pristine places to see the Dead --- Alpine. Sadly, the band would be barred from Alpine following the final show, and would not play Alpine again until without Jerry in 2002. The Garcia Band would play Alpine in September 1989.

7.17.1989 is for the most part (the Row Jimmy, Masterpiece, Push, and MNStopped are omitted and replaced with the 7.19.1989 West LA, Desolation, and Deal) presented on the DVD Downhill Free Here. The DVD is very appealing because it does not mar the songs with annoying psychedelic side effects.

Let the Good Times Roll starts out the concert to a dusk setting. I've really grown to like this opener and this version is just as great as most. The harmonies, which really make the song, are all in synch and the band seems happy. The finale has very nice series of Jerry notes, followed by a Brent falsetto, followed by Bobby falsetto screams that suggest the evening as a whole may be special.

Feel Like a Stranger immediately follows. The DVD shows Jerry almost prancing on the stage with a big smile on his face. Based on other videos I've seen of the band (particularly 1984 and 1985) Jerry seemed very healthy and happy. His eye contact with Brent is nearly incessant through the Stranger, and Jerry was smiling a lot. The main jam is perhaps a bit short. There is only one main theme, but Jerry does a good job of creating a groove. The jam is not overly impressive, but the band sounds quite in synch and relaxed.

Jerry next delivers Built To Last. As with the progression of the other new Jerry tunes, notably Standing On The Moon and Foolish Heart, Built To Last was on a roll. The previous version of Built To Last (7.9.1989) was a highly exceptional version, as was the version on 7.17.1989. Jerry's vocals were now confident and his inflections on certain phrases suggested that the song was beginning to take its own form. Weir's note progression through the song encourages the contemplative edge of the lyrics. Truly, it now was a Grateful Dead classic. To highlight the previous comment even moreso, Jerry chose it as his first tune of the night on 7.17.1989. As with the previous versions, Jerry's singing is confident yet suspicious, and the band's rhythm is completely in tune. Another fantastic version of Built To Last. On the DVD, as the song ends Jerry turns to face Kreutzman who puts a thumb's up --- Jerry smiles in return.

Next is Me'n My Uncle. Weir's singing is a bit relaxed in comparison to the vicious early 70's versions. But, as with the rest of the scene, the music and the band had changed over the years. Late 80's Me'n My Uncles were not so much about attacking the listener but seemingly moreso on the careful presentation and nice improvisation by throughout the song. All stats included, MAMU had only been performed 4 times in 1989 (the previous version on 5.7.1989 which was above average but not exceptional). Jerry's rhythmic improvisation during the song portion is perhaps a bit repetitious, but the main jam has Jerry taking nice improvisation leaps and creating a nice tension filled ending. The song's finale does an adequate of pouncing on the ending "Left his dead ass there by the road." Not the best but not the worst version. If anything it sounded a bit too polished and not gutsy enough.

Jerry immediately drives the band not into Big River or Mexicali, but Cumberland - a bit of a surprise. The harmonies and jerry's singing are perhaps a bit rough, but this Cumberland has a swift pace and the enthusiasm seems to be very present. On the DVD, Jerry is smiling nearly through the whole song. Jerry's first solo is very fast and lifts the band from a fast pace to a faster pace. The second jam has an even faster pace and high note squeezes (ala Europe 72 versions) and high note bends that reek of Southern Blue Grass Roots. On the DVD, as the second jam starts, Jerry and Brent are each bobbing their heads while staring at each other. The finale harmony sounds better than the harmonies at the beginning of the song - and as a whole the Cumberland was a success.

This sandwich, MAMUCumberland, featured two songs rarely played by the band as of 7.17.1989. The MAMU was a bit too clean for my taste (not enough room for error), but the Cumberland sounded great.

Weir's bluesy rock tune is All Over Now. I've always really liked the Dead's version of this tune. Another great tune for Jerry to harmonize Bob. Bob's singing is a bit hysterical but not as much as other versions. The first Jerry solo is crackling and very complex while sounding simple - pure Jerry at his best. The main jam starts with Brent organning his guts out with gushing keyboard solo. Mydland's solo reaches some great areas and is interesting in its melody - more than just the typical energy rising organ runs, but really creative. Jerry jumps in at this point and provides a rhythm in Weir's absence (it must have been his turn). Finally Weir returns but the jam had stalled a bit. The final push of the major jam was lost and the chord pounces didn't sound completely on the ball (1.. 2.. 3.. (slight pause) ___4___ (bang)). Because of this messed up solo, this version is below average. The DVD failed to shed light on whether Weir was having technical trouble during the finale jam.

Row Jimmy is also a bit bittersweet. The song itself is sung nicely by Jerry but is almost a bit too fast. This leaves a hurried feel to a sung meant to be played very slowly. The jams are nice as Jerry reaches some nice points and leaves the solo relaxed enough not to kill the version. But, these jams are at best average and by no means are transcendental. The finale is marred by some flubs and the overall effect of the song is lost. This was removed from the Downhill From Here.

Masterpiece is next, which also was removed from Downhill From Here. The harmonies between Jerry and Bob sound great, and the song for the most part is nailed. Of note, Brent was beginning to sing harmony at times. But during the Jerry solo the rhythm's timing is off at one point, and as Jerry creates the push to the "When I left Rome" segment, Brent overplays his keyboard drowning Jerry's notes out. Better versions exist. The energy just isn't as sizzling as in other versions (for example, see the 7.10.1989 version which is incredible except for the last 10 seconds).

Jerry's next tune is When Push Comes To Shove. This tune gets a bum rap I think. I think the lyrics are just fine, but the jam segment is a great pad for Jerry to improvise within chordal structure (just like West LA Fadeaway). Apparently the evidence is against my contention because this was to be the final When Push Comes To Shove. This version is not bad as Jerry sings nicely and the band provides a swinging rhythm. The jam has Jerry running through his scales but not really providing an impressive display (unlike the 6.19.1989 version; sans the Weir effects). Shove is also omitted from Downhill From Here, as is the ensuing Music Never Stopped.

This rather up and down first set ends with Music Never Stopped. The previous version of this was played on 7.10.1989, which was very well done (despite the slightly rusty transitions during the final jams). It appeared that perhaps the band intended on keeping this tune in their repertoire. This version starts out with a slick and slappy rhythm that adds a sarcastic twinge to Weir's presentation of the lyrics. Jerry mostly directs this approach, as his rhythm is choppy and direct. The often changes in tempo of this song make it fun to listen to and the 7.17.1989 version rises to the task. The band leaps into the drift segment after the final "Music Never Stopped." Jerry starts the drift with soaring notes that must have cascaded into the Alpine Valley breezes. This jam starts out slowly and barely increases in pace, until Jerry starts the ascension. The rhythm clearly responds and Weir starts to emit very nice note blasts as well. Jerry finally reaches a zenith and starts repeating the same cycle of notes permitting the band underneath him to switch to the overdrive segment of the song. As they do this Jerry effortlessly switches gears as well. Unlike the 7.10.1989 version, this transition was flawless. The finale is an all out jam with Jerry repeating cycles of high end notes along side Weir's signature MNS finale bars. As noted, the set as a whole was a bit up and down, but what a great way to end it.

The second set begins with one of the finest China Cat's I've ever heard. Throughout the song the band is tight, not over anxious with their complex parts, and as a whole just let the song develop. Jerry's singing is subdued and not aggressive. Brent's keyboard fills the gaps nicely and does not mimic or ape the Weir / Garcia parts. The jams in-between the verses are confident and flubless.

The highlight of the show (tour?) happens during the instrumental finale to China Cat. Jerry slowly set the stage for an incredible peak at the finale of the instrumental jam. After the final verse, he slowly works through a series of notes cycling back and forth. On the last run, however, he surged deeper - and the band instantaneously followed. As the pace suddenly began to increase, the jam was now in full gear and surging ahead. As the band set a very fast pace Jerry began a series of note cycles high up on the fret board that began to make the sound delirious. Not only was the band cooking, but Jerry was teasing the ultimate finale. For about 20 seconds Jerry dances his notes in this zone and at any second within it the band could have entered the structured finale. But, Jerry didn't and instead dove the band deeper into the jam with a return to the middle portion of his fret board. This was short lived, but the effect was to reset the jam and the tension filled within the jam.

The beauty of the Grateful Dead is endless, but one aspect that I truly enjoy is their ability to create tension not from what they are doing but from what they are not doing. In this instance, the tension was from Jerry teasing the finale of Ccat and making the listener nearly beg for the finale.

Of course Jerry starts another attack, and this time he skips through his notes to a very high-end series of spackles. This time Jerry has returned to creating the platform for a monstrous finale. He almost plays rhythm and assists the band in creating the right sound from which to spring. Of course, the ultimate result of this minor segment is more than just adding a cool sound. Jerry, by switching from improvisational lead to rhythmic lead once again assists in creating tension. The listener upon hearing this can't help but ask, "Where's Jerry?" You hear him but you don't know what the hell he's doing. One thing you do know is that he will pounce, but the question is when?

As the jam surges forward, the pace begins to envelop the sound. Brent is freaking out on his keyboard. Lesh is dropping short lasting but impressive bombs, Weir is nearly fanning his guitar, and the drummers are pounding away about as fast as possible. Jerry, on the other hand, was still racing through his rhythmic notes ever ever ever increasing the tension. Sure enough the sound could have been likened to the Hoover Dam about to explode. Still, with all of that pace and tension, Jerry was still dancing through his rhythmic improvisation.

Just as the sound was literally about to implode from too much pace, Jerry springs out of the blob of hysteria and starts another improvisation surge toward the ultimate goal - Ccat finale. The band was forced to keep the pace underneath Jerry and the job must have been tasking - they were going on 60 straight seconds of pure all out jam pace. As the improvisation hits a zenith Jerry perfectly leaps onto the structured finale. After all of the tension that led to that point, the structured finale is soothing. Yet, a bit unnerving because of its intensity. Jerry Garcia - the ultimate teasemaster.

From beginning to end, this China Cat instrumental jam provides one of the finest 3 mintues of Dead jamming I've heard (actually 2 minutes 48 seconds). I think it definitely ranks among 8.27.1972 and 11.19.1972, except of course, Jerry provided the lead instead of Bobby.

And, the DVD does a fantastic job of focusing on Jerry's fingers throughout the main portions of this jam (and on Weir's and Lesh's). I recommend buying the DVD just for this 3 minute jam --- the remainder of the show is gravy.

The ensuing Rider was doomed to be in the shadow of the epic China Cat, but it still was exceptional. Jerry's first solo is a bit tame and he sounds distracted (the DVD suggests that Jerry was having no technical troubles as he stood in one place through his lead). The final jam, however, is literally blistering as Jerry scorches through his jams. Easily one of the finer Riders of the year. Easily one of the finer Chiders the band had done.

The band immediately launches PITB. The song is tame and the timing of all the instruments almost hypnotic. On the DVD the band looks serious and in full concentration.

The first theme of the jam features Jerry doing very timed and rhythmic PITB melodies while Lesh and Bob take turns emitting signature runs. Lesh, in particular, opened a bit of a solo. This intro was very standard for this era, but this intro is nicely done.

From this Jerry opened up a very nicely paced PITB theme that was a bit typical but certainly enjoyable and certainly impressive. Jerry really starts to fly and the band is equally in pace (reminds me of Star Wars as the Millennium Falcon flies through hyperspace).

Just as the band begins to hit a nice stride Jerry opens the third theme by altering the pace of the jam with a new melody. The band quickly follows suit, but not necessarily in Jerry's direction. For a few moments Jerry is going one way with his new theme while Weir emits very funky wah wah blasts.

The fourth theme starts with a slow drive by Jerry. The band slowly calms behind him and they start into a drifting type jam. Mydland influences the direction by providing a tension filled melody. Jerry pounces on this and sends the jam towards a desperation sound. Jerry reaches a point where he nails some chilling note cycles. As these cycles are finished the jam starts tumbling from the tense back to familiar PITB. Another of Jerry's fine skills was the ability to reach a zenith point in a jam and effortlessly run equally as fast in the opposite direction - complete fluidity.

The fifth theme has Jerry returning to familiar PITB jams. This lasts for about 30 seconds.

Jerry next opens the sixth theme by altering the effects on his sound and slowing his pace a bit suggesting a desire to search for a new song. Upon reaching the desired sound, he starts a timed note progression that almost sounds like a march. At this point PITB had certainly been exited, but no new song was clear. The pace gets quite delicate as the band is playing very slowly while Jerry is delicately (yet very quickly) spinning transition webs. At times the sound is PITBish, and at times not.

Eventually Jerry starts the seventh theme which is a extremely impressive drift starting with an increase in pace, followed by a decrease in pace that lands directly in Uncle John's Lap. In his review for the Compendium, Brian Dyke purports that instead of typical B scale drift into UJB, Jerry chose a G scale drift. Either way, the transition was very sweet.

A stunningly complex PITB for this era. Jerry's ability to flip themes at such short notice was uncannily on on 7.17.1989. His mastery of pace changes was also clearly still present. For the most part, the DVD shows Jerry hanging his head throughout these jams.

The UJB is the band flexing its muscles. Unlike the angry version of 7.10.1989, this version is more of a tale. The overall pace is slow, and Jerry's solos are crisp and direct. His first jam is flawless and demonstrates his unique ability to create melodies out of nothing. As the song reaches the main jam the pace rises. The main jam starts with the structured jam, but Jerry breaks free and starts his own interpretation. Basically he presents a pattern of very fast sprints followed by five or six lengthy notes. The intensity dramatically rises as the band rhythmically creates a storm cloud underneath Jerry. Jerry makes the storm even more intense by joining in the all out strum session that effortlessly breaks into the bridge. The DVD shows Weir rushing forward and backward in unison with the rhythm. After the final vocals, the band launches into another rhythmically driven UJB outro theme. But Jerry, instead of joining in on the jam begins to drift back towards the confines of PITB (for a truly breathtaking glimpse of UJB back to PITB listen to the 11.17.1973 transition). The band does little to resist as the sound drops into a slow but extremely impressive Jerry drift that lands into the strumming of a G chord, followed by C, followed by D, by C, and by G --- Standing On the Moon. This was a very fine reading of UJB. As noted, it is not as aggressive as others, but more soothing. It certainly fits in perfectly with this truly amazing pre drums second set of 7.17.1989.

Standing On The Moon is a masterpiece. Rumor has it that there was a full moon that arose behind the stage just as Standing On The Moon started. The DVD does not confirm this as its focus is on the stage. The band's confidence with the song was very evident. Jerry's singing was direct, heartfelt, and meaningful. This was, in my opinion, the first exceptional Standing On the Moon. The previous versions all lacked for some reason or another (even the previous version on 7.7.1989 which was a great success didn't have the ephemeral feel that this version has). The outro jam starts slowly with melodic contemplative note runs, but the jam builds and hits a point not of intensity but perhaps melancholy. Jerry drifts the jam downward and to a standstill. The song ends and the there is silence for about 3 full seconds before the start of drums.

This must have been another impressive moment for Jerry. Once again in his exquisite career he had written a new song, developed the music, struggled through the rough early versions, altered its complexion, and, on 7.17.1989 watched his labor turn into fruits. The DVD shows that the lights dimmed to near darkness as the song concluded, but my guess is that Jerry likely was smiling.

After the drums, Jerry starts the space out only with one of the drummers. His first Space theme is relatively happy in tone and shows off his newfound mastery of the midi by switching between a horn sound and a bell sound. Weir arrives and starts providing a few feedback blasts and wah wah blasts. Weir's effect is to make the sound as a whole a bit eerie. Jerry next starts a series of waterfall sounds. The third theme has Jerry's guitar sounding like the bass on Seinfeld. His pace increases and soon Jerry is flying through his lead. This jam is rather impressive. Through the third theme Jerry switches to the flute sound and continues the incredibly fast picking. The notes with this sound tend to blend together lending a nice psychedelic effect. Jerry switches back again to the Seinfeld bass. A fourth theme is started with a very odd sound from the midi. It quickly switches to the 7.15.1989 Close Encounters midi sound. Sure enough Jerry starts another interesting Close Encounters jam. The fifth theme has Jerry attacking the high end of his fretboard before emitting more waterfall sounds. The sound and feel is gushing, and at this point the entire band is onstage with him. After the waterfall is complete, Jerry switches guitars and starts a nice drift accompanied by a massive cymbal splashing that blends into the Wheel. A rather impressive Space considering the second theme's pace, and the Close Encounters jam. As had been the trend through this Summer 1989 Tour, the Space segments were getting better and better.

The DVD unfortunately clips about 4.33 minutes of the Space. What is missing is the third theme to the beginning of the Close Encounters theme.

The Wheel is well done with nice vocals and nice jams, but as a whole is not really above average. None of the jams are flubbed, but the jams won't force you to hear them either. Jerry hints at Gimme Some right as the outro jam to the Wheel starts, and the resulting transition is about 10 seconds in length.

Gimme Some rolls in and Brent's vocals sound a bit strained. The band seems very enthused, but this by no means is an exceptional version. The jam within the song starts with Jerry missing a note and the resulting lead from him is at best average. The outro jam fails to gain momentum before landing into GDTRFB.

GDTRFB was making its fourth appearance in 1989. The first was on 4.2.1989 (an above average version); the second was 4.13.1989 (a below average version); the third was 8 days previous on 7.9.1989 (which was above average; came out of an at best average Gimme Some; and featured tight Jerry solos that by no means were overly impressive). This version is better than the previous three, but just barely better than the 7.9.1989 version. The first solo by Jerry is tight and well directed, and Weir even adds a China Cat intro theme. At the close of the second verse, Jerry raises his guitar high and leans toward Brent, as if to introduce his turn. Brent's solo cooks. Jerry's jam follows Brent and starts at a fast pace and gets even faster. The band kicks in rhythmically but there is not the sense of overwhelming jam that other versions of GDTRFB almost need to be exceptional (see 8.22.1972 - by the time the band is at the peak of the second jam the feel of the jam is extremely intense; whereas this version while definitely including fast jamming doesn't have the extra feel of a special moment).

After the outro jam Jerry and Bob start the chords to NFA. Absent an entry jam, the band launches into the first verse. In-between verses, Jerry opens up a strum session as he fans through nearly each and every chord before opening up the space for an extended jam. This jam is short-lived however as opens the jam complete with extended feedback, but instead of expanding, the bands drops back for the second verse. After the second verse, Jerry does open up an extended jam. The first them is a typical NFA jam that lasts a long time. As a result Jerry builds up a lot of pace and the band underneath him starts to get restless. The feel of the jam was that it would blow at any second. Instead Jerry started fanning low notes resulting in a gurgling or drowning sound to the jam. Jerry leaps from this into very high notes with the band returning to familiar NFA chords. Jerry starts the second theme which is still traditional NFA but his improvisation is more pronounced during this theme and the jam as a whole is much more interesting. Despite a frantic attempt by the band to return to NFA, Jerry persisted in jamming in the opposite direction. The thought of the band pulling a rubber band one way and the Jerry the other is rather appropriate. Finally Jerry lets go, the jam or rubber band snaps back onto the band, and Jerry delicately starts the NFA chords. More easily written than performed. The NFA ends with an extended vocal delivery by Bob, Jerry and Brent. This NFA had two very nice extended jams. The crowd bridges the gap between the NFA and the encore with extended singing of NFA. The DVD shows the band in high sprits as smiles abound.

The first encore is Bid You Goodnight. This was the first Bid You Goodnight since 12.31.1978 (which someone once said was 756 shows earlier than 7.17.1989). Obviously this version is marred by the vocal restraints of the band, but from a sentimental aspect, it couldn't have been sweeter. A real treat for the crowd. And, this was the beginning of the re-release of songs that seemingly had been retired…

The band leaves the stage, but returns much to the surprise of nearly everyone for a second encore. This time the band pulls out Johnny B. Goode. Jerry's solos are very well done and Brent has a nice solo too.

A very fit ending to this great show. Interestingly, the set list provides that Weir had only one song wherein the verses were sung only by him - PITB - until the JBGoode encore. Clearly this was Jerry's performance. The Good Times Roll, Built To Last, and Music Never Stopped were all exceptional. The Rider and UJB were exceptional. The NFA had two very well done jams. The Bid You Goodnight marked not only a very nice conclusion but also the beginning of the re-release of retired songs. The PITB featured a very complex series of jams from Jerry, as did the post drums Space. The Standing On The Moon was the finest of the year, and marked the first exceptional version. And, and, and the China Cat Sunflower finale instrumental jam was easily one of the finest Jerry led jams of their career. For those who challenge the notion that the Dead was as good in the 80s as they were in the 60s/70s (as I used to), check this show out.

The show rating of 7.74 is a bit deceiving. Typically my goal is to flesh out the "exceptional shows" which comprise performances averaging better than or equal to 8. But 7.17.1989 was one of those shows that despite the dips in the first set and the post drums second set, the band truly made it evident that this was a special night.

A very nice audio mix of this show would be: LTGTR, Built To Last, MNStopped, Chider, PITB>UJB>Moon; Space, NFA, Bid You Good, JBGoode.

The stage being set, the band would return the next day and continue the 1989 Summer Tour - in rain.

Set 1: 7.445
Set 2.1: 8.45
Set 2.2: 7.63
Set 2: 8.039
Show: 7.74

LGTR 8.25
Stranger 7.25
Built To Last 8.25
MAMU 7.15
Cumberland 7.8
All Over Now 6.75
Row Jimmy 6.95
Masterpiece 6.8
Push Comes To Shove 7.25
MNStopped 8

China Cat 9.5
Rider 8
PITB 8.75
UJB 8
SOTMoon 8
Space 8
Wheel 7
Gimme Some 6.8
GDTRFB 7.6
NFA 8

Bid You Goodnight 8
JBGoode 8
Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead February 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/18/89 ~ Alpine Valley ~ East Troy, WI

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Tuesday
41st Show of Year
10th Show of 1989 Summer Tour (13th if you count the 3 June Shoreline Shows)

After a rather epic night which featured the return of Bid You Goodnight and one of the finest China Cat jams ever, the band resurfaced for night two of three at Alpine. According to Mr. Brian Dyke who reviewed these three shows for the Compendium, the rain was pouring and the mud was everywhere for this show.

Destined to be in the shadow of 7.17.1989, the band opened with Touch of Grey. As the opening chords and verses are performed the band sounded tired and sluggish. The song itself is flawless, but not atypical. The jam suffers the same fate as it fails to develop beyond typical.

In contrast to the Touch, Jack Straw has the band sounding more awake and alive. Weir's screaming of the verses adds quite a bit to this "energetic" feel, but it was Jerry's main jam that really adds spark. In particular, the main jam builds nicely and has interesting note runs from Jerry, but the jam doesn't build into a massive fanning of notes (ala 1978), but instead peaks out as the jam is rising (very similar to the Europe 72 versions; e.g., see 5.4.1972). This version works.

Jerry's 2-Spot is Jack A Roe. This tune worked well as the two spot on 7.10.1989 and 4.3.1989 mainly because the Jerry led jams really built the pace resulting in high tension. This version on 7.18.1989, unfortunately, didn't have the pace builds during Jerry's jams. The result was a constant pace throughout the song rendering it a bit flat.

Weir's blues spot is next filled with Minglewood. Weir does a nice job of singing this and the song itself is flawless. But Jerry is again a bit flat. The first Jerry solo is slow and not edgy, and the main jam has Jerry's finale being flat and barely increasing the overall pace.

Jerry sounded distracted at this point. The Touch, Jack A Roe and Minglewood efforts by him were at best average.

Next is FOTDevil. The show intensity up to this point was teetering on barely above average, and the intensity was lacking. This FOTDevil was a bold selection considering that if it wasn't very well done, the listener would be half asleep. This version is __very__ slow. The jams are equally slow as well. Jerry walks through various scale runs, but the main jam fails to develop into any interesting heights. At some points the pace is so slow that the Jerry's leads begin to stall before they even cover five or six notes. Many better versions of this tune exist.

Like a sleep-deprived driver who shakes his head to stay awake, Weir next enters Memphis Blues. Memphis starts out nicely, but the verse-to-verse rise that Weir typically does so well (see 7.7.1989) sounds a bit forced on this version. Jerry's leads in-between the verses is also rather banal at points and unconvincing.

Obviously the band was not having their best night of the year (hmmm … 2.10? 4.3? 4.28? 6.19? 6.21? 7.7? or 7.17?). All totaled Jerry sounded a bit too relaxed or lethargic - perhaps a bit too much Persian.

But, just when a label may be dropped on the band for at least this particular performance, Jerry pulls out Bird Song - the highlight of the show. The timing of the song portion is immaculate and features very nice pauses in-between certain parts (e.g., "I'll show you….(pause of silence for about 1 full second)…snow and rain." The jam portion features three distinct themes. The first involves very deep Jerry probing with the band providing a chipper rhythm. The second theme gets more pace driven as Jerry cycles through the lower part of his fret board. The improvisation here in this second theme is very complicated and drives home the message that Dark Star was on the horizon. Finally, the third theme involves a complete strum session with Jerry creating a monstrous sound. This Bird Song is very different than the previous songs in that Jerry's note picking was very complicated and interesting. It was almost as if a different band took the stage.

The previous band returned to the stage for the set ending Promised Land. While song with a lot of enthusiasm by Weir, the ending jam is a bit flat and doesn't get beyond typical in its theme.

A rather dull first set. Perhaps the band was a bit hung over from the great performance the previous night. But, the Bird Song makes the first set worthwhile and should be heard by all.

Set two starts with Sugar Magnolia. Weir does a nice job with the song portion, and the rhythm is equally exuberant. This was a very nice start to the second set considering the lackluster first set (sans the Bird Song). As the SSDD instrumental starts Jerry barely plays SSDD before switching flawlessly into Scarlet. The transition was very well done. But, only being able to review the song portion because there was no Sug Mag SSDD jam, this version is just above average.

Scarlet Begonias is strong. Jerry delivers the versus with pluck, and the first jam creates a nice drive that is just shy of exceptional. The outro jam starts out with a little bit of complicated note playing from Jerry. But, just as the jam begins to get interesting Jerry switches to Women Are Smarter. I would have preferred Fire On The Mountain, but the ensuing Women is very well done.

Women Are Smarter, surprisingly, is likely the highlight of the second set. The reason is the main Jerry jam which is very extended. Jerry provides a very nice Cajun theme that flows through numerous pace changes and interesting themes. As the song ends and the vocals slowly drift to a near silent "that's right, the Women Are Smarter…" Jerry starts Eyes of the World.

Eyes is well sung, but the jams don't rise too well in pace. Jerry's themes seem to stall rather quickly and the "feel" is just not there. This version is the definition of average as the song is ok, and the jams, while flubless, are barely interesting.

As the drummers start, the band just didn't sound very enthused. With the exception of the Bird Song and Women, the versions were for the most part average or below average.

Unlike the very layered Space of 7.17.1989, the 7.18.1989 Space is mostly cacophonic with numerous midi blasts but little thematic progression.

Near the conclusion of Space Jerry starts dramatically hinting China Doll. The song itself is not played too well. It sounded loose at the seams and not very tight. Mydland provides a very present harpsichord sound that sounded a bit out of place (the harpsichord sounded great on acoustic versions (like on Mars Hotel and the September October run)). The jam is not atypical either.

Next is Fantasy Jude. This version is not bad. Mydland is rather hyper as usual with this song. It truly is impressive to hear him nail the high notes. The jams on this version reach some nice heights as Jerry puts forth some nice runs, but they are not overly impressive.

Throwing Stones is next and the band sounds a bit tired. The song is slowly played and Jerry's rhythmic notes don't sail like some others (see 4.13.1983 for a fantastic Throwing Stones with very interesting Jerry throughout). The Weir scream ("on our owwwwnnnn") is toned down a bit and sounds alright. The main Jerry jam doesn't really take off however. The band sounded like it was on autopilot at this point.

As Throwing Stones melts into the "ashes ashes all fall down" the band stops and starts the vocal SSDD. Weir produces some nice yelps on this but the Jerry driven rhythm sounds tired. Not overly impressive.

The encore is Quinn The Eskimo, and Jerry does nice job of creating interest after mostly average show; but not that much interest.

Perhaps this was the inevitable hangover show from a well done show.

Set 1: 7.3125
Set 2.1: 7.4375
Set 2.2: 7.125
Set 2sum: 7.2815
Show: 7.297

Touch 7
Jack Straw 7.75
Jack roe 7
Minglewood 7
FOTD 6.75
Memphis 7
Birdy 9
Promised 7

Sugar Mag 7.15
Scarlet 7.6
Women Are Smarter 8
Eyes 7
Space 7
China Doll 7
Fantasy Jude 7.5
TStones 7
SSDD 7
Quinn 7.25

Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

7/19/89 ~ Alpine Valley ~ East Troy, WI

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Wednesday
42nd Show of Year
11th Show of 1989 Summer Tour (14th if you count the 3 June Shoreline Shows)

The 42nd show of the year was also the final show of the main 1989 Summer Tour. This main tour comprised 11 shows in 17 days. Only one show (7.7.1989) was exceptional. But, the average show was definitely on the rise - certainly a better tour than the 1989 Spring Tour.

The band started with Hell. The band immediately sounded stronger and more energetic than the previous night. The Hell is strongly sung by Weir with a mixture of cockiness and revenge in his voice. Jerry's rhythmic timing is nearly perfect and the first jam really takes off. The main jam reaches a nice series of peaks with not only the Jerry jamming but Weir as well throwing in nice wah wah effects. The main jam is perhaps a bit too extended as the band's support slips a bit near the end, but Jerry's note picks were still lightning fast and not typical. The vocal finale has Weir belting out some great screams as well. As a whole, a great way to start the show.

Sugaree is next and the band still sounds very tight. The first jam has Jerry creating a nice pace with consistent picking that eventually blends to a strumming - leaving open the possibility of wide open jams for the next jam. Jam 2 starts with Brent while Jerry awaits turn. Jerry takes over and opens up another elevating jam that builds to point where Jerry starts improvising. It reaches a nice cyclical groove that sounds very hot. From this Jerry starts a Sugaree digging theme that is blisteringly fast. The jam reaches a point of no return and has to come down. No strumming or fanning but a very hot jam by Jerry. Unfortunately jam 3 starts with some chord strumming but quickly stalls into no jam - and Jerry returns to song. This version is hurt by this. As a whole, this Sugaree was on track to be exceptional but with the lack of third jam, the version is just above average.

Mama Tried is next and the band still sounds very tight. Weir's singing is very energetic. The main jam is tightly hit but nothing dramatically impressive.

The Mama rides right into Mexicali Blues. This version sounds less convincing and a bit too loose. The main jam has Jerry and Brent trading off leads, but it doesn't sound like it initially was intentional. Jerry's timing throughout the main jam is a bit off as well - more rehearsals on this version would likely pay off.

Jerry revives the set with Althea. Again the band sounds solid throughout the song, but the jam is exceptional. Jerry's first jam in-between verses jam has an echoey effect that sounds interesting and the note runs are well taken. The second jam really flies and gets nearly agitated. The third jam as well sounds very tight and hot. The transition to "there are things" is perhaps a bit off but still sounds great. The fourth jam starts out with fanning from Jerry before opening up nice run of notes exclaiming the intensity of this version. The final jam is extended and has Jerry nailing home the intensity of the tune. The note runs are complicated and feature nice note bends that only Jerry could create. While not as well done as 9.6.1980 (which may be a 9.75) this version cooks and easily was the up to that point highlight of the first set.

Next is Victim Or The Crime and it is slick and haunting. The band was really in synch during this version. Jerry's rhythmic notes are nearly chilling and Weir's vocal delivery is almost more of an accounting than of song delivery. The final jam has Jerry once again reaching outer limits of first set jamming. This was a very nice tune for him to jam on. This version was basically a destruction jam because the jam while cycling through its chords gets way out there before Weir corals sound in with step up in chord structure. The final outro is mostly just Jerry moaning through some strange guitar sounds. A great version.

West LA Fadeaway keeps the exceptional trend alive. Jerry sounds mean in his vocal delivery. The first jam is snide and leering - definitely on a path. The jam shuffles through its notes and certainly reaches a "bursting effect" as Jerry reaches the West LA theme. As it concludes the transition back to "got a steady job" was seamless. The final jam quickly develops into a massive beast with the Jerry lead theme getting more and more intense. This was easily one of the best West Las I've heard. Downhill From Here DVD provides this version. The band looks to be deep in concentration. The footage does a very nice job of capturing Jerry's fingering throughout.

Desolation Row is next, and it too is on the Downhill From Here DVD. Weir's delivery is truly impressive, but Jerry's vocal harmonies are a bit off at times. The jams from Jerry start out a bit flat but by the final jam it is well done. This was a pretty good version but not exceptional.

The band saved the highlight of the first set for the last tune - Deal. Jerry's pace on the vocal delivery is very fast, and the band is right there with him. The main jam turns into a monster very fast. This jam as a whole reaches about three different zeniths. The first is Jerry strumming away and fanning home what could have been the finale, but instead Jerry continues and builds another note driven zenith. Finally, as if that wasn't enough, Jerry captures another zenith with an extended note cycling that is nothing short of beautiful. This is one of the all time great Deals. Luckily, it was captured on the Downhill From Here DVD and during the final zenith, the drummers are focused on showing Kreutzman openly smiling and laughing out loud.

This first set was a welcome refreshment from the lackluster first set of 7.18.1989 (not including the Bird Song).

Set 2 starts with Box of Rain. This version is a bit flat. The rhythm sounds sluggish and Lesh's vocals a bit off. The final harmony is way off and the timing of the transitions is not that great. Jerry's solo is at best average. Better versions exist (see 3.19.1990 and 12.10.1972)

Like 3.19.90, this Box of Rain goes into Foolish Heart. Unlike the previous stellar versions (e.g., 7.10.1989), this version is a bit sloppy. The transitions are at times a bit unconvincing during the song. The first jam is majorly flubbed as Jerry prematurely hits the structured note finale leaving the band off guard. The sound completely comes to a halt while Jerry continues to jam, but the sound is very awkward. The second jam gets out there but stalls a bit.

Considering the above average first set, this was not a great way to start the second set.

Next is LLRain and it is relatively standard. According to Brian Dyke's Compendium review, the timing of this song was appropriate due to the rain that was occurring. The jams on this version are not overly impressive but the Weir vocal finale has some nice Jerry moments underneath the bellows.

The pre-drums portion of the 7.19.1989 second set ends with Terrapin Station. This version is flubless, but the version as a whole is not beyond average. While it sounds great, Terrapin is a difficult tune not to call average because there are few moments where the band has opportunity to improvise.

The Space segment has flowing streams of midi notes from Jerry. Still this version was not as impressive as 7.17.1989 but not as poor as 7.18.1989. Unlike the 7.18.1989 version, this is more sharp and angled. The jams don't build on themselves as much like they did on 7.17. Jerry eventually hints at the Other One and band starts to coelesce around him. A little better than average Space.

The Other One has both good and bad. The jam into verse one barely present and has little interesting jamming. Perhaps it was meant to be jazzy esque but there was little Lesh (not nearly as well done as 2.12.1989). The "good" part of this Other One was the post verse one jam. Jerry jams through with his midi sound. This was the first "song" to have the midi since the 7.15.1989 China Doll (which suffered from technical problems). The sound was great as Jerry cycled through various themes with Lesh matching his wits. Jerry was mostly testing the waters here and not overly jamming. About half way through this jam Jerry switches out of the midi and back to his regular guitar sound for final push. As a whole this was not a blistering Other One, but the presence of the midi sounded great. Jerry was slowly making the transition to include his midi in his songs as well as his Space.

Out of the Other One Jerry enters the Wheel. This likely was an error considering that the band played the Wheel on 7.17.1989. This version is rather fast paced but marred by instrumental and verbal flubs and there were no overwhelmingly interesting jams.

Jerry recaptures sweetness with Morning Dew. Along with the West LA and the Deal, this was the highlight of the show. The vocals are mournful and exclaimed by Jerry. The first jam is monstrous and fast paced peaking with very nice strumming from Jerry. The second jam slowly builds but features some very impressive note sprinting. Eventually the pace of the rhythm catches up to Jerry and it turns into all out meltdown. The sound reaches some bizarre note emissions as Jerry fans home the finale. A great way to end the set.

The band encores Lovelight. There is a nice extended jam by Jerry and the Weir vocals are nicely presented - in particular the vocal finale.

And so concludes the Dead's final stand at Alpine, and the main portion of the 1989 Summer Tour. The band's 7.17.1989 was the highlight of this three night run, followed by 7.19, and followed by 7.18.1989.

Next for the band was the Cal Expo - on 8.4.1989.

Set 1: 7.774
Set 2.1: 6.9875
Set 2.2: 7.4
Set 2sum: 7.19375
Show: 7.48

Hell 8
Sugaree 7.5
Mama Tried 7
Mexicali 6.8
Althea 8.1
Victim 8
West LA Fadeaway 8.5
Desolation 7.5
Deal 8.3

Box 6.9
Foolish 6.8
LLRain 7.25
Terrapin 7
Space 7.15
Other One 7.25
Wheel 7.2
Morning Dew 8.1
Lovelight 7.3
Rob Goetz ©

Grateful Dead 1989 concert reviews by Rob Goetz

 

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