For a number of years I've been keeping a Grateful Dead notebook. Eventually, I began writing impressions and capsule reviews of shows I have in my collection. I've adopted the style Dead archivist Dick Latvala used for the sake of organization, but also as a small tribute to the man. This blog will be an online version of that notebook. Feel free to leave comments or to email me. I want this space to be an open forum for all Deadheads.

Monday, April 18, 2016

1978-01-22 - McArthur Court

Venue: McArthur Court - Eugene, OR
Tape History: SBD (AUD by Reinhart Holwein, download here)
Release History: None

Set 1
New Minglewood Blues, Dire Wolf, Cassidy, Peggy-O, El Paso, *TN Jed, *Jack Straw, Row Jimmy, The Music Never Stopped

Set 2
*Bertha -> Good Lovin', Ship of Fools, *Samson & Delilah, *Terrapin Station -> *Drums -> *The Other One -> *St. Stephen -> *NFA -> Around & Around, E: U.S. Blues

04/18/2016: This show is a great introduction to 1978 Dead if you've yet to dip into that much neglected year. This was my second tape, after 07/08, which will be officially released May 2016. The early winter tour took place mainly in California except for this date, the tour's conclusion. (They took off with a six show Midwest jaunt about a week later. Two exceptional shows, which were combo released as Dick's Picks 18, reviewed here and here.) One day, I'll end up posting my review here for 07/08, but for now, let's dig in to 01/22, a night where Jerry is on fire throughout and the band never ceases to push. The tape quality is excellent. Phil is high on the mix, but not overpowering other levels. Bobby is equalized to the right side, Jerry is in the middle, higher in level than the other instruments. Keith is on the left and, surprisingly, the drums are very low. It's a nice, direct intimate sound. You could never tell the show was recorded at the University of Oregon basketball arena.

Overall, the first set is fine though unspectacular. There is a lot of dead air after most songs in the first set. It's hard for the band to flow when they're pausing for more than a minute, sometimes three, between songs. You can definitely tell in the first half of the set, where songs such as Minglewood, Cassidy, or El Paso usually pack a punch and deliver an energetic effect. Once we get to Tennessee Jed though, it's clear something's changed. There's a very nice second solo section, driving to a peak at the key change and a swift crash back to the chorus. Great pacing and focus, the drums and Bobby driving Jerry to climb up the register. Here Jerry shows an amazing capacity to invent melodies as he's soloing. The crowd loved it and showed their appreciation during an extended ovation. Surprising us every step of the way, the band rips into Jack Straw, oddly placed near the end of the set. Keith really shines here and connects with the Rhythm Devils to drive Jerry on that Detroit Lightning out of Santa Fe. And drive he does. Pushing and pushing to find that combination of melody and tone, crafting winding lines that unexpectedly peak, effortlessly hitting chord changes while flying up the fretboard, fanning near the end of climactic solo as a lead-in to the last chorus. Crowd goes nuts. What a special performance of Jack Straw! These two songs are exceptional not only for this era. The set closes with Music, a classic 1978 set closer, having closed all 22 shows it appeared in. There's a nice solo section that doesn't quite match the intensity in Jack Straw, with a nice drop into the main groove yet nothing like the crash in 02/03.

The second is where the money is. Pure heat, nary a pause to be found with Jerry profoundly on fire for every minute. Bertha has some great ensemble playing, much more group-oriented than the highlights from the first set. Keith is working closely with Jerry here, supporting his playing by laying down guiding arpeggios and chords as Jerry nears the end of his solo. Samson has similar group dynamics as Bertha, something the group, and drums in particular, appear to relish. From Terrapin to the end of NFA we're treated to one of the finest sequences of music this band ever created. To start, the Terrapin seems like an unlikely candidate to set off what's to follow. It is magnificent yes, gentle and patient, exploratory and reflective. It segues into Drums before we descend into the maelstrom of The Other One.

It is truly epic, a certain candidate one of the best I've ever heard. A great intro by Phil and the drums drops us off into the middle of this swirling madness. Jerry and Phil are very clearly driving this beast. Jerry consistently weaves his triplets above the hectic movement beneath him. Phil plays the opening riff multiple times until the band is ready to dip into the verse. Great listening from the whole band, playing as an ensemble engine to Jerry's stampeding eighteen-wheeler. After the 9:30 mark, the drums begin to pick up while Phil and Bobby nearly drop out. Keith is trying to keep with Jerry, but it is obvious Jerry is in his own zone here. At the 12 minute mark, Bobby comes in stronger and Jerry states The Other One triplet theme and takes off again. The Rhythm Devils do an incredible job here, placing their cymbal splashes and rolling toms in unison with what the rest of the band is doing. Near the 13 minute mark, Phil comes in again and we're very clearly going into the second verse. That's a very long jam with multiple thematic changes between both verses. Exceptional work by all. Around the 15 minute mark, most everyone drops off, except for Jerry, the drums, and Keith, with Phil showing shrewd restraint, recognizing that the jam is developing just fine without him. Near the 17 minute mark, the whole band save Jerry drop out, and he and his mutron expand on a fantasia that finds him leaving no turn unstoned on his fretboard. Slowly, his solo excursion leads him to quote the melody from the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," which was released two months earlier. He teases it more and finally plays it as part of his improvisation and teases it some more, the crowd notices and you can hear their surprise at what's going on. He quotes it again before seamlessly transitioning to the riff from St. Stephen, skipping the common introductory melody.

Bobby joins first, then drums, Keith, and Phil. The tempo kind of lags, but it the tune picks up after the bridge. Bobby and Keith are totally in sync, Jerry continues to float above them, and Phil stays with the drums. When they drop into the main melody, prompted by the drums, it sounds pre-planned. A wonderful moment then transformed by the drums and the Bo Diddley beat into NFA. Phil and Jerry intertwine their lines, with Phil really shining here, his bass loping all over the place. Jerry stays hot and doesn't run out of ideas as he goes through the changes multiple times. Jerry briefly plays the Playin' theme, and the band gets real quiet for a moment before gathering intensity and dropping into their reprise of the first verse.

My highest recommendation for this show. Extraordinary second set and blazing playing by the band as a whole, and especially by the man in the black t-shirt.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

1969-04-05 - Avalon Ballroom

Venue: Avalon Ballroom - San Francisco, CA
Tape History: SBD
Release History: None

Set 1
Dupree's Diamond Blues -> Mountains Of The Moon -> *Dark Star -> *St. Stephen ->  Lovelight

Set 2
Hard To Handle -> Cosmic Charlie, China Cat Sunflower -> Doin' That Rag, *Cryptical Envelopment -> *Drums -> *The Other One -> *Cryptical Envelopment -> *The Eleven -> *It's A Sin -> *Alligator -> *Feedback -> *And We Bid You Goodnight

07-22-2012: Good quality tape, some hiss, but it’s really minor. It sounds prevalent in the first two cuts of set one since they are acoustic. The transition into electric “Dark Star” is very smooth, Phil becomes louder too. This particular “Dark Star” is angular, shapeshifting, aggressive. Close to the 11 minute mark, Jerry plays a four or five note pattern that appears in many ’69 “Dark Stars.” About three minutes from the end the band begins to intensify their playing as Jerry finds a pattern that works and rides it for all its got. They go into the second verse and “St. Stephen” bursts out of the gate. I can never get tired of this kind of playing. A brief “William Tell” bridge takes us to a serious “Lovelight.” Good to know that they go back to a full “Eleven” later in set two. Big surprise to hear my man Jerome on the slide in “Hard To Handle.” The tempo is staggered, it gives the song an odd, undeveloped feel. There are also some flubs here. Not the smoothest, and neither is “Cosmic Charlie.” The second set doesn’t remain at a consistently strong level until “Cryptical.” Luckily, it remains strong through the end. This sequence may constitute one of the hardest-hitting jam segments the band played this magical year. Yes, this show has peaks and valleys. The thing is that the peaks (“Dark Star,” “The Other One,” “The Eleven,” “Alligator”) elevate the show to true greatness, rendering the valleys mere obstacles. A necessary show. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

1974-02-23 - Winterland

Venue: Winterland - San Francisco, CA
Tape History: SBD
Release History: None

Set 1
Around & Around, Dire Wolf, Me & Bobby McGee, Sugaree, Mexicali Blues, Here Comes Sunshine, BIODTL, Ship Of Fools, Jack Straw, Deal, Promised Land -> Bertha -> GSET

Set 2
Row Jimmy, WRS Prelude -> WRS Part One -> Let It Grow -> Stella Blue, Big River, Ramble On Rose, Me & My Uncle, He's Gone -> Truckin' -> Drums -> The Other One -> Eyes Of The World -> One More Saturday Night, E: Casey Jones, E: Johnny B. Goode, E: And We Bid You Goodnight

04-11-2012: Middle show of a three night run at Winterland. First set is not the strongest, though “Here Comes Sunshine” (see video above) is a very strong tune, expert jamming and uninhibited playing by all. Keith especially shines on this track. The second set is where the money’s at, for sure. “Let It Grow” is a raging version. One of the best for the year. “He’s Gone” -> “Truckin’” -> “Drums” -> “The Other One” -> “Eyes” is a brilliant sequence, full of intense jamming and exceptional work by the whole band. I usually don’t compliment Weir’s playing, but his rhythmic backdrops in this sequence are what give Jerry the space and framework to take off on his breathtaking runs. I have heard this show a number of times, and feel it could grow on me with repeated listenings. Not sure if it can match the next night, one of my first tapes. I’m withholding the Lightning Skull because those kinds of shows must A) have an immediate effect, and B) a lasting effect. Nevertheless, this show is excellent, and a great table-setter for the next evening. Last “HCS” until 12-06-1992. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

1988-04-13 - Rosemont Horizon

Venue: Rosemont Horizon - Rosemont, IL
Tape History: SBD (AUD by Greg Holtz, download here)
Release History: None

Set 1
Half-Step -> Feel Like A Stranger -> Franklin's Tower -> Little Red Rooster, When Push Comes to Shove -> Queen Jane Approximately, Don't Ease Me In

Set 2

Sugar Magnolia -> Bertha -> Playin' In The Band -> Uncle John's Band -> Drums -> Space -> Playin' In The Band -> GDTRFB -> Morning Dew -> SSDD, E: Touch of Grey

12-18-2011: This '88 Spring tour began lifting the band after Jerry's diabetic coma in '86. There seems to be a malaise settling on the band in the few performances in '86 and the overextended '87 tours. In '88, the cobwebs are beginning to be swept away and the energy is reaching for consistency.

Here we are, just past the midway point in the Spring '88 tour. First show of a three-night run at the Rosemont. They waste no time in getting to it by opening with "Half-Step." Although Jerry's voice sounds tired though, his guitar does not. They build to a hard, stirring peak after the coda section. The drums are turned up pretty loud in this recording. The heavy kick drum sound is way up front. You can hear how they and Brent urge Jerry to scale his solo ever upwards by stacking up fills and climbing through the keyboard's register. The drawback to this is that Phil is less clear in the mix. Hearing this level of interaction, wish such an up close sound is magnificent. The crowd appropriately responds with wild cheers to Jerry's "Half-Step" peaks.

They go even more wild as "Stranger" starts up, a perennial early first set favorite in this era to signal great things to come. I love the crowd's reaction at Bobby's line, "Let's get on with this show!" When Jerry takes off near the 4.30 mark, hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen. The solo with envelope filter lasts about two minutes, and it's non-stop melodic variations, hitting the changes even though he's creating new phrases and lines on the go. It's an incredible solo that only gets better as he shuts the filter off and goes clean. Bobby's playing under his solo is great too, helping rein him in to end the song. And we go straight into "Franklin's" after this?! Whoever doubted if they were feeling it this night, here's your proof. Unfortunately, the rest of the first set isn't even close to living up to this amazing trifecta. "Rooster," just like "Wang Dang Doodle" or "Walkin' Blues," is a rally killer. It's not that I don't like the blues, but these tunes slow momentum and alter the vibes of the sets they're in. And Bob's grating slide gets on my nerves. Dylan tunes (other than "Watchtower", and especially "Desolation Row") that are not encores have the same effect. I don't know what came over the band!

I get a feeling they're making up fort his with the way they begin the second frame: "Sugar Mag" to open followed by a rollicking "Bertha," that's a way to start! (Note that they did not go into the "Sunshine Daydream" section of "Sugar Mag". It will surely reappear before the show's over.) Although a relatively short version, "Playin'" goes places quickly, with Jerry going into overdrive leading the group to the cosmos and back to Earth to play in "Uncle John's Band." I rarely comment on "Space," but this one is odd and magical. It's basically an unaccompanied Jerry solo, with Bob occasionally chiming in. There are a lot of hints of other tunes in this jam, namely "Dark Star" and "Slipknot!" before the rest of the band enters and they maneuver their way to the conclusion of "Playin'." We get a special treat after a short of but hot "GDTRFB," a fantastic "Morning Dew." Brent and Jerry are completely in tune, using the subtle changes in melody to great dramatic effect. The Rhythm Devils also do a good job, as in "Half-Step", of pushing Jerry to reach higher levels. Take a look at Jerry's central solo, how there are peaks and descents in each line as he's reaching the chord change. Textbook Garcia. They end it with a brief rock n' roll "SSDD" and encore with their hit single "Touch of Grey."

This is the kind of second set that the opening three tunes of the show deserve. Yes, it's an uneven show, as many of them are, but there are great cuts in here and some inspired playing. Just serves as a reminder that even the least obvious shows in the least likely yeas have something to offer.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

1972-05-03 - Olympia Theater

Venue: Olympia Theater - Paris, France
Tape History: SBD
Release History: Europe '72 Complete Recordings [Sugaree and GSET will be included in Europe '72 Vol. 2]

Set 1
*Bertha, Me & My Uncle, *Mr. Charlie, Sugaree, Black-Throated Wind, Chinatown Shuffle, *China Cat Sunflower -> *I Know You Rider, BIODTL, *He's Gone, Next Time You See Me, *Playin' In The Band, *TN Jed, Good Lovin', Sing Me Back Home, Casey Jones

Set 2

*GSET, Ramble On Rose, It Hurts Me Too, *Truckin' -> *The Other One -> *Drums -> *The Other One -> *Me and Bobby McGee -> *The Other One -> *Wharf Rat, *Jack Straw, Sugar Magnolia, *NFA -> *GDTRFB -> *NFA, E: One More Saturday Night

There are multiple reasons I'm reviewing this massive Europe '72 landmark now. First, I thought it would be a cool idea to celebrate the release of the mammoth tour boxset and the upcoming (Sept. 20th) Volume 2 release. Second, this is my twentieth post (!) and my first for the very special year, 1972. So what better way to celebrate these moments than featuring one of the most underrated shows of the tour.

There are undisputed Europe '72 masterpieces (for me, they are 04-14, 05-11, and 05-26) and then there is the rest, ranging from great to greater. All a matter of taste, really. And hey, why stress about it when there are 22 brilliant gigs to go through? For me, 05-03 is pretty damn close to masterpiece level. The amount of crisp, innovative, on-point playing is just staggering. Five fingers to the fist. In standalone tunes, the jamming is compact and short and the group's playing is supreme. And when the whole band is roaring along at full horsepower capacity ("Truckin'" -> "The Other One"), you should check your face to see if it's still there.

One of my favorite aspects of these '72 shows is the amount of attention they paid to both sets, choosing freely from Bobby, Jerry, and Pigpen tunes. Their focused playing on the standalone tunes are often the most spirited performances of those songs, thought of as the "ideal" cut all others are measured against. Take a look at this "Bertha," with Jerry squeezing squeals out of his axe or the break in the middle of "Mr. Charlie." It's heartbreaking to know that Pigpen was in ill health in this tour. His last show with the band would be their very first stateside gig (06-17) after the conclusion of the European tour. When I think of his best performances, and the many here and throughout this tour, Pigpen performs acts of sorcery. His voice, raps, and attitude would conjure sounds and risks the band wouldn't ordinarily take without him.

The first set, all hour and 45 minutes of it, is a set of continuous highlights. I had to pick the best among the great to recommend in this review. Telling you to check out the five-star tunes that were already included in the original Europe '72 compilation ("China" -> "Rider" and "TN Jed"; "Jack Straw" from set 2) feels ridiculous. We all know how wonderful these cuts are. How about the fifth-ever performance of "He's Gone"? They take a languid approach to the tune, Phil playing counterpoint to Jerry's picking and Bob's chords. Keith and Pig on the keys are creating lines out of Jerry's main melodic phrase. Check out the band's ensemble playing during Jerry's solo. They seem to live in each other's heads, knowing how their playing will fit in with teh others and how what they play next will work with what the rest of the group is doing. Brilliant. For those who want their jams a bit longer, we get prime versions of "Playin'" (love Jerry's wah-wah pedal!) and "Good Lovin'". To end the set a "Sing Me Back Home" for the ages and a "Casey Jones" closer. Are you kidding me?

I don't think they could have picked a better opener for set two. David Lemieux must have thought the same, since "GSET" was chosen to be in the upcoming Volume 2. Jerry's wah-wah flight before the final chorus is swift, while Keith on keys brings a honky-tonk flavor to his chording as Phil urges the band ever forward. The meat of the set goes from "Truckin'" through the three segues into and out of "The Other One" and settling into "Wharf Rat." It's an incredible, ever-shifting section of music. Going form big ensemble jams to standalone tunes back into big jams, cleanly, precisely, as if rehearsed that way. Throw in a textbook "Jack Straw" and a vibrant "NFA" -> "GDTRFB" -> "NFA" sandwich, and you have one of the best shows of the tour. Yep, this listen has firmly placed it among the masterpiece shows of the tour. Essential listening for all Deadheads.

Friday, August 12, 2011

1982-08-10 - U. of Iowa

Venue: University of Iowa - Iowa City, IA
Tape History: SBD (AUD by Kenny Mance, download here)
Release History: None

Set 1

*Feel Like A Stranger, *Friend Of The Devil, New Minglewood Blues, Tennessee Jed, *Cassidy, *It Must Have Been The Roses, On The Road Again -> BIODTL, Stagger Lee, I Need A Miracle -> *Bertha

Set 2
*China Cat Sunflower -> *I Know You Rider, Lost Sailor -> Saint Of Circumstance -> *Eyes Of The World -> Drums -> Space -> *Iko Iko -> *Truckin' -> *Stella Blue -> *Sugar Magnolia, E: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue, E2: Johnny B. Goode

08-12-2011: This is the last show of the July/August summer tour, following a two-day stop at Alpine Valley. In its truest sense, this is a sleeper show. A lot of folks would have skipped this show after Alpine and the preceding shows across the Midwest. It is these kinds of shows where you know the band is likely going to rip and let loose. And that they certainly do with this barn-burning "Stranger" opener. Jerry's leads in the breaks hint that he's ready to go and is just waiting until they unleash him. That they do in the solo section, as he rides the envelope filter, listening sharply to Brent. Together they create a stirring duet plus accompaniment section. An excellent opener, leading us to "FOTD," where Jerry, taking his turn through the end of solo, creates, shining hairpin turns with each line, leading up to the lyric "Got two reasons I cry away each lonely night." The band seems to have a clear grasp on the pace they want for this set. We get notable versions of standalone first set tunes.

After "Stranger" and "FOTD," the most noteworthy are "Cassidy" and the caffeinated closing "Bertha." In "Cassidy," they leave the general structure behind and take off with no flight plan. This is when the Dead are at their most adventurous. Jerry's manning the ship and Bob is urging him ahead with his high register rhythmic strokes. You can feel the big shift coming for the "Flight of the seabirds" lyric, and the longer they keep from it, the more tension increases. In the end, the tension led to a smoothed-edge (not an explosive) transition back. Pairing it with "Roses" is a great touch, and a fine mid-set development. This set illustrates what is so great about 1982. There is plenty of intuitive, sensitive playing, with energy to spare. Phil is invigorated, taking chances and pushing the playing. Jerry and Brent are dialed-in, chasing each other throughout the solo sections. In videos of the band in the '80s, you can see them look at each other and smile when they know they are doing something great. I can imagine that happening here many times. Another note about this first set: this is the second "Stagger Lee" since 1979 (the first was six days earlier), and the last for three years (Greek 1985), before staying in regular rotation.

Here we go, a "China" -> "Rider" opener to get juices flowing and folks riled up. The Dead quickly dispense with the verses and get going with the main jam. Bob and Brent conspire on the lick signaling "Rider" with about a minute left. Bob continues to lead the way, as Jerry mounts up and lo and behold, we're in "Rider." No "Feelin' Groovy" or "UJB Jam" to unite both tunes. Just good, old fashioned Dead magic. Oh, and "Rider" is lively and driven. We get another juicy combo in "Sailor" -> "Saint," establishing a change of pace and allowing Bobby to get two consecutive tunes in after the Jerry-centric opening. Jerry's turn again and here we take off with one of the fastest "Eyes" I've ever heard. Man, they are flying by! I can't believe the kinds of phrases and inventive lines he makes going this fast. The Rhythm Devils are responsive to his phrasing and accent their playing to show that. Just in case anybody ever doubted, the Grateful Dead had the best ears in the business. I can't even remember what verse they were just singing, I just want them to continue playing. The ensemble sections here are superb.

A continuous burst of energy, interrupted only be a stellar "Stella Blue," ends the show. "Iko" and "Sugar Mag" bring the house down. My highest recommendation, and one of the best for 1982.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

1991-04-01 - Greensboro Coliseum

Venue: Greensboro Coliseum - Greensboro, NC
Tape History: SBD (AUD by John Bleich, download here)
Release History: None

Set 1
*Jack Straw
, *Peggy-O, It's All Over Now, *Candyman, Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues, Picasso Moon, *Bird Song

Set 2
*China Cat Sunflower -> *I Know You Rider, Looks Like Rain, *Dark Star -> *Drums -> *Space -> *Dark Star -> *Playin' In The Band -> *Black Peter -> Lovelight, E: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

Here we are with night two of this memorable spring '91 run. We begin with a truly great "Jack Straw." Jerry is nowhere to be found due to technical issues, so Bruce takes the first solo section. The issues continues as we hear the band supporting whom we think is Jerry, but no Jerry! Eventually, we hear him but turned way low in the mix. It's too bad these tech problems came up, because when they are finally resolved (4.24 mark), Jerry is absolutely tearing things up. If we could have heard what he was playing before! Alas. A sweet, gently "Peggy-O" follows, before the flow is thrown off by "It's All Over Now." It's a questionable choice for that particular spot. It feels like a capitulation sort of tune, something to close a set or be paired with a strong rocker ("Bertha," perhaps) in a rocker-oriented set. Hey, these kinds of things happen.

Jerry pulls out the second "Candyman" of '91 to put proceedings back in order. He delivers with an exquisite solo, as the band responds to the shifting moods he conjures from his guitar. For those who want to hear Phil sing, here's one for you: Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." It stands alongside its first set tune-oriented peers. (All except the closing "Bird Song" [16 minutes] are fewer than eight minutes long.) I feel Jerry had a better handle on the overall atmosphere of the show thus far. Other than "Jack Straw," his choices of "Peggy-O," "Candyman," and especially "Bird Song" contained the most inspired playing of the set. Listen to Phil and Jerry in the middle solo section. They often begin and end each other's lines, simultaneously guiding the band in any direction they want to go. This is the miracle of the Dead, instead of the song falling apart, it soars. An absolute highlight of the tour and year. Possibly the best post-Bren "Bird Song."

The best way to begin a second set is with a bang. "China" -> "Rider" definitely qualifies as a band in my book. The Rhythm Devils's momentum picks up as they near "Rider," with Vince taking a secondary lead behind the Jerry/Phil/Bruce behemoth. (Vince here inexplicably switches to the "choir" synth pad on his keyboard. It is an intolerable sound. I'm happy he ditches it after a few minutes.) We get a nice "headlight" verse from Jerry and company and off they go into another great jam. Bruce is given space to lead the band. He's such a sensitive player, a great listener with stupendous feel for what is happening within the music. He also brought out the very best in Jerry while he was in the band (Sept. '90 - March '92.) (I think he would have been the best available permanent replacement for Brent, but he chose not to commit due to his other projects.) "Looks Like Rain" is a very odd choice here in the second set, especially after "China" -> "Rider." (Can we just point out that the questionable song choices are Bobby songs?) It halts the momentum the set was building and its status as a compact song befits it more to the first set. The echo effect on Bobby's voice is disorienting too. (Healy's decision?)

Finally, all the teases and hints form the night before are now a reality. The first "Dark Star" of the year is a shimmering beauty, full of the melancholy brightness Jerry has been summoning this run. This style holds up until about the midway point; thereafter, midi pads and synths take over. Very '90s. Bruce's chording around the 5.00 mark is pure jazz. The leading melodic notes are correct, but the surrounding notes have a different voice and color and make the chord unusual and also recognizable. Eventually - after "Drums," "Space," "and a "Dark Star" reprise - we end up at "Playin'," which concludes the previous night's unfinished excursion. Where the previous show ended unevenly with two Chuck Berry tunes followed by an excellent encore of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," here we come out of the central sequence of the set to a luminous "Black Peter," a send-them-home-rocking "Lovelight," followed by a beautiful and subdued "Baby Blue" as encore. A much tighter and forceful way to end a show. These shows aren't close to being my favorite from 1991. They have two Dylan covers in the first set and encores; two very big jams in each second set; and some of the best of '91 candidates ("Eyes," "Bird Song".) There are exhilarating highlights in each show and are a great place to dive into this uneven but at points excellent year.

Bird Song