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.

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.