Heya. So here we are on Friday again. Man, a freakin' week has passed already? Okay, well kids, you know what Friday around here means, right? That's right, it's Polka Time!!!! Now when I count to 3, everybody start to Polka. A-ready? a-one and a-two and a-three.... are you Polkaing yet? No? Alright, how about some Dead? We left off last week with the show on April 23 in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Why'd they play there when they'd later play 2 shows in Philly? Beats me but they did and then the next night of the tour was a stop at the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York City for a visit on The Late Show with David Letterman. I think I posted that video the day it was on TV . . . BUT WAIT!!! What you may not have seen but might be interested in is some pretty cool pics from Jay Blakesberg that were posted on JamBase. So give a click, if you wish, and check 'em out!
Or... on with thy tune-age!!
The Dead Spring '09 -- Volume IX
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Uniondale, New York
Easy Wind, Death Don't Have No Mercy, Don't Ease Me In,
Lost Sailor-» Saint Of Circumstance
Electric Set 2: Alabama Getaway-» Jam-» Dark Star-» Drums-» Space-»
Knockin' On Heaven's Door-» Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad
Brown-Eyed Women's a little lyrically sloppy in the beginning but the crowd, as usual, doesn't boooooo, they laugh, they know Bob's human and he'll screw up now and again just like the rest of us. They all weren't on the the same page but maybe partially because of that screw-up, they got to the same place they needed to be and executed the rest of the in fine fashion. Warren's playing here is... it's him yet he's clearly channeling Jerry but not imitating Jerry completely. It's nice and this version is mostly stellar. What a great way to start this show!
Could it really be possible that Baby Blue is my personal highlight of the first set? I'm sitting here listening and I'm nearly speechless. Okay, maybe it's not exactly a slice of drop dead gorgeous perfection but it's sure as dang comes close. It's just so good. Warren's slide guitar is a nice touch that most of haven't heard, Jeff's got some great spots to fill in the sound on keys, and Bob's command of the vocals here is wonderful. Jerry who?! (HA, I kid.)
The fantasticality of this show keeps rollin' on with a magnificent Easy Wind. Here it's Warren who has great command over Pigpen's vocals and his lead guitar here really helps make this a sweet 21st century version of this song. As they begin to jam, Mickey & Billy and Jeff kinda lay low while Phil and Warren step up to drive forward... but it's not just those two as Bobby is playing a huge part havin' a whole lotta fun on rhythm guitar. The way he was sometimes so perfectly on with Jerry, the way he'd make rhythm guitar an amazing art form, that's what he's doin' here, too. Hell yeah, this is... it's awesome!
Death Don't in the first set like this? Anything goes with this band so while odd it's not that surprising. What it definitely is is interesting. The way Bob & Warren take this on is practically magical. Jeff on Brent's Hammond B-3 gives a bit of a Pigpen sound at times, really eerily late 60's. The pace the band has set is just right and again Bobby's rhythm guitar alongside Warren's lead is just perfect.
Noooooo! End of the set already? After Bobby throws the crowd a big, fat Lost Sailor tease, the band is soon starting up Don't Ease Me In -- a standard first set-closer. There's great playing from Phil but overall, it's just got no spark to it. Kinda sad. Man, I gotta tell ya, if that was the end of the set, what a let-down... but the guys never left the stage and we do get to hear Lost Sailor. Bob's eyes must've accidentally skipped down the setlist sheet, or maybe he wanted to skip Don't Ease but Phil wanted it and over-ruled Bob? In any case, Sailor-> Saint wraps up the first set and a really nice bunch of steam they pick up on the way. The jam kinda fell short of a Mt. Garcia peak but the push onward is steady and smooth and the band is clearly having fun up there. And the crowd? Hopefully most 'em are dancin' their asses off at this point!
Harken back, if ye will, to Show #2 of the tour, in Washington, D.C. . . . the guys came out for the second set and kicked things off with three songs done Radio City 1980-style (acoustically.) That was the second show and then for the next six shows that had completely disappeared. Anyone notice? I did. But here they are once again breaking out the acoustic guitars for a delightful Masterpiece and Peggy-O that's sung so wonderfully by Phil. Man, oh man... seriously, Jerry who?! No, no, no... what I mean is what a brilliantly sung and well-played tribute to Jerry. And then ha ha, Bobby's gives us a false start to Looks Like Rain to round out the acoustic threesome.
To start off the third set, or Electric Set 2, is Alabama Getaway with Warren on vocals. I wasn't sure if I was diggin' it but the truest test of that for me, to really make sure, is to stand up and see if I start dancin' around the house -- yup! What's most interesting here is the way Alabama slides into a Jam and then into.... Dark Star??? Wow. What an assault on the senses this is. The music is far from rockin' out but there's so much to hear. One particularly cool moment comes a little more than halfway through when Phil starts wailin' on some Lovelight chords and Bobby momentarily jumps in. It doesn't last long and goes absolutely nowhere but it's really fun to listen to! Twenty minutes of playing dwindles down until Billy and Mickey are left to do their thing. It sounds for a moment like it'll be a more traditional Drums but within a couple minutes they're diving deeply into all the electronic stuff. Eventually they go tribal and whomp on the skins for awhile before exiting for Space.
Knockin' On Heaven's Door begins the end and what a lovely rendition of this classic it is (and lovely's not a word I use everyday!) Even though it's a Bob Dylan tune, I think this was clearly the Jerry tribute of the night. They follow that up with a big ol' heapin' helpin' of GDTRFB fun -- so nice and rockin', and with the Touch encore, a perfect way to finish the night!!!!
Comparing shows is so totally not my thing as I like to take each show on its very own merits without having to live up to the standards of others.... but.... through the first nine shows of the tour, hands down this is one of the two best!! It's gotta be! It just does. With the exception of Don't Ease and another run-of-the-mill D->S, this is all soooooo sweet, so well-played, and just a great listen from first song to last!
My comments were written
without reading a single word about this show from anyone else.
The Grateful Dead's tape archivist is on tour
and I wonder what he has to say...
Another pre-1972 sequence of songs opens this show at Nassau Coliseum. I asked a friend if the backstage area was as, um, filled with character as much as the rest of the building was, and was told that DW on the recording crew had whacked a roach, so, yes, it was. The show opened with a couple of tour repeats, which is to be expected by this, the 9th show on the tour, opening with the classing Europe ’72 sequence of Jack Straw and Brown-Eyed Women. Next was Dylan’s It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, followed by Easy Wind and then the first big surprise of the night, Death Don’t Have No Mercy, a tune I’ve heard many people calling for. Although nothing can really touch the way the GD did this in 1969, with some Jerry’s finest, most emotive singing ever, this band certainly does play these bluesier songs very well. The GD’s versions from 1989-1990, while not of the intensity of the 1969 versions, are definitely worth seeking out, as all of them were excellent, with each of Brent, Bobby and Jerry taking a verse. And Jerry’s solos were spectacular, particularly the one at Shoreline on 9/29/89. Next up is another song that entered the Grateful Dead’s repertoire around the same time as Death Don’t (1966), Don’t Ease Me In. This is followed by the Weir-Barlow combo of Lost Sailor-Saint of Circumstance, something I’ve been awaiting all tour, as I’d heard it a couple of times in soundchecks. It’s such a great pair of tunes, and at a time like this, 14 years after the end of the Grateful Dead, there’s really never been a more appropriate time to hear that this ain’t the real thing “but it’s close enough to pretend.” The music and band members might be different, but there’s still nothing that compares to looking around a full arena and seeing 16,000 people genuinely getting off on the music, moving as one, listening to the same songs that they’ve been hearing for 5, 10, 20 or 30 or more years. So, an entire set of music from 1979 and before. Pretty cool.
A quick set break note on the recordings from these concerts: they’re brought to you by the same recording team that has brought you more than 300 RatDog shows, David, Peter and touring member of the team, Derek. So, whether you get these recordings at the concert as you walk out (a totally cool concept!) or download them, these things sound great.
A very nice way to open the set, with another Bob Dylan song that was added to the Grateful Dead’s repertoire in 1987, When I Paint My Masterpiece, followed by Peggy-O, two always-fun-to-hear songs by the Grateful Dead. Following this is Looks Like Rain, which is to say three mellowish tunes to open the set, but all of them are excellent. And, it seemed like an appropriate song selection considering they were played acoustically, the first acoustic segment since the second show of the tour in DC on 4/14/09. They then jumped into some electric music with Alabama Getaway, a song that always rocked. Jeff has really carried on the tradition of those amazing Brent solos on this great Garcia-Hunter tune. This was followed by the tour’s second Dark Star, last played in this building a little more than 19 years ago, on 3/29/90, with very special guest Branford Marsalis sitting in for the first of a few mighty fine collaborations with the Grateful Dead. Dark Star flowed into Rhythm Devils, which, as I’ve mentioned a few times during the tour, have been exceptional all tour long, with the inspired drummers taking this portion of the show way out there. Space led into the tour’s first Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, the show’s third Dylan song of the night. Nice. Then come a couple of rockers, Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad and Touch of Grey to wrap things up, as we bid farewell to La Casa De La Cucaracha, and move over to Madison Square Garden for the Saturday night show
by David Lemieux
OtherOnes.net has a few dozen great pics from inside + out in the lot,
plus, as always, more from Jay Blakesberg at JamBase