Venue: Springfield Civic Center - Springfield, MA
Tape History: SBD
Release History: None
*Cumberland Blues, *Here Comes Sunshine, Mexicali Blues, Wave That Flag, BIODTL, *Loser, Jack Straw, Box Of Rain, They Love Each Other, El Paso, *Row Jimmy, Around And Around, Brown-Eyed Women, You Ain't Woman Enough, Looks Like Rain, *China Cat Sunflower -> *I Know You Rider
Promised Land, Loose Lucy, Me & My Uncle, Don't Ease Me In, The Race Is On, *Stella Blue, Big River, Half-Step, *WRS Prelude -> *Dark Star -> *Eyes Of The World -> *Playin' In The Band, Johnny B. Goode
11-29-2010: I know, I know. Just starting the site out and already two 1973 shows? Can't help it, it's arguably the Dead's most consistent and amazing year. I know I haven't touched the big '73 gigs (02-15, 05-26, 11-11, etc), only gems for now. Sometimes the lesser known shows serve as a useful tool to put shows and tours in perspective.
Big surprise to open with "Cumberland." Kicks the proceedings off with strong energy. Following up with "HCS" was very smart, given how transformative this tune became throughout the year. I'd go out on a limb and say that this was one of the first great versions of the year. (I'm fully aware that 02-15 is real gnarly as well.) Interesting bass sounds from Phil at the end of "HCS," sliding down the fretboard. His harmonic lines with Bob are on point. Love this version, though it's short compared to many other strong takes. First three cuts find Jerry in fine form, sharp tone ever-present. "Wave That Flag" pre-"U.S. Blues" lyrics is always hilarious. Got to admit though, that chorus is quintessential Dead. The first set remains song-centric, with a few longer excursions ("Row Jimmy," "Loser," and "Looks Like Rain.") Jerry's first solo in "Loser" matches the intensity and piercing tone from the 09-21-72 and Barton Hall versions. Strong playing by everyone in "China" -> "Rider."
Not gonna lie: second set looks just like a regular '73 first set would up until "Dark Star." (I was going to say "Stella Blue," since that tune is a second set regular as a landing patch or "everything's going to be okay" spot. But "Dark Star" easily draws the line.) "WRS Prelude" -> "Dark Star" is completely unexpected and very tasty, with big jam sections, and peaking solos by Jerry; it's not a deep space tune until nine minutes left. I refuse to call this '73 sound "jazzy" because there is nothing jazzy about it. I think it's a lazy crutch to describe the band's sound in this year. When they're jamming, it's fluid, open, controlled but expansive, and altogether fearless. This "Dark Star" has all of it. It's the best "Dark Star" of the year, with 11-11 coming in second. The transition into "Eyes" feels like an exhalation after the high concentration jamming. I can't believe they actually closed the show with "Dark Star" -> "Eyes" -> "Playin'." One the hardest-hitting jam segments this band ever put together. I give it a strong recommendation only for that, but truthfully, the feeble and bewildering first half of set two is enough to keep it from greatness. That's 1973 for you, adventurous, anything-goes jamming with sometimes odd setlist construction. There are other spring shows (02-09, 02-15, 05-26) that stand out as Lightning Skull gigs more than this one. This is still a solid companion piece to the more well-known early '73 shows.
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.