An extended listening project tracking the Grateful Dead’s evolution, recording by recording. Originally posted on Twitter on each show’s 40th anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. All shows streamable via archive.org.
2/9/73 stanford: 1st gig in band’s actual hometown of palo alto since ’66, testing new PA & 7 new songs, most ever debuted at once. PA blowout on 1st note sadly not included. garcia almost immediately debuts ROW JIMMY, more subtly boisterous than later incarnations. weir’s using a nice new organ-y compression, notably on 1st LOOKS LIKE RAIN since 7/72, now unbearable without pedal steel & phil harmony. new boogie-outs LOOSE LUCY (with alternate lyrics) & WAVE THAT FLAG (the proto-U.S. BLUES) are the 1st 2 garcia songs that i find mostly disposable. 1st HERE COMES SUNSHINE near end of 1st set, 4-part vocals ragged & effective, bright changes perfect for glorious rainbow noodling. garcia’s 3 2nd set firsties begin with sweet emphatic groove of THEY LOVE EACH OTHER, song #1 in the deadhead wedding band fakebook. 1st EYES OF THE WORLD, instantly a major new tune, 19m debut dances between ambling & rambling, loses steam three times, picks up, misses the 7/8 ending & melts into 1st heartbreaking CHINA DOLL, the roughness of the rest of the show highlighting garcia’s buddha-croon.
2/15/73 madison: debut of loretta lynn’s YOU AIN’T WOMAN ENOUGH, donna’s 1st solo lead vocal, nice flash of ’72-style C&W. gentle cymbal-heavy DARK STAR, lots of garcia volume-knob violin twirls, pre-verse drift, & a lovely but clunky bass solo segue into 25m EYES OF THE WORLD > CHINA DOLL, phil sketches the 7/8 transition. the 1st big new piece for 2nd set suite-spot since ’67, really.
2/17/73 st. paul: drowzzzzy 20m early set HE’S GONE / LOOKS LIKE RAIN with, um, scatting by multiple suspects during former’s outro. punchy ROW JIMMY would fit on “Europe ’72.” terrifying ululation/flutter by donna throughout YOU AIN’T WOMAN ENOUGH. almost jamless 2nd set, save a short, buoyant HERE COMES SUNSHINE with a perfect, liquid segue into CHINA > RIDER.
2/19/73 chicago: amazing 2nd set. magical, soft-snared mix. 70m 5-song segue, starting with HE’S GONE. thankfully only phil scats. spiral splice from OTHER ONE into 1st essential EYES OF THE WORLD, lesh & weir darting lazily with garcia, 7/8 section fully formed.
2/21/73 champaign-urbana: garcia playing new tunes in his 1st slot at nearly every show. gang harmonies sound nice on ROW JIMMY. phil’s LOOKS LIKE RAIN harmonies return for final chorus. still figuring out the segue into EYES OF THE WORLD, 2 false stabs out of TRUCKIN’ (including a breakneck bass solo) before they achieve crossfade. the EYES gearwork loosens into a blissful open space, recombining a bit clumsily into a magnificent STELLA BLUE.
2/22/73 champaign: DARK STAR with flexatone(?!) & purposeful dissolve into another confident & blazing EYES OF THE WORLD. gigantic peak.
2/24/73 iowa city: 45m worth of bits/bobs. reluctantly starting to dig the brute force BOX OF RAIN vocals. consonant & opaque PLAYING IN THE BAND. tantalizing 5m post-TRUCKIN’ bass solo fragment verging on FEELIN’ GROOVY/BEAUTIFUL JAM (labeled as NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE?)
2/26/73 lincoln: 25m brightly traced DARK STAR, phil playing at SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD, meanders into EYES OF THE WORLD via finally-graceful bass segue. MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP is jaunty & surprising in the now-gentrified post-suite jerry ballad slot, billy on top the segue all the way.
2/28/73 salt lake city: great dick’s picks mix. can really hear keith/weir interaction, especially nice on SUGAREE. 2nd verse & end tag shaved off THE OTHER ONE for ’73, collapsing instead into EYES OF THE WORLD, with alternate lyric about a “lazy country home.” sequence of languid EYES dissolves ends in 1st ’73 MORNING DEW. 1st BID YOU GOODNIGHT since 8/71 to close out 1st tour-leg.
[ during the dead's 14 days off between 2/28 & 3/15/73, garcia played 12 times: 3 shows with merl saunders, the 1st 8 old & in the way gigs, & pigpen's wake. not going to make a habit of tweeting garcia solo joints, i promise, but maaaaybe occasionally...
3/7/73 garcia/saunders at keystone berkeley: w/ ex-frumious bandersnatch/founding journey guitarist george tickner, who is oddly great, comping cool/responsive stuff under garcia & holding his own during great space-spirals out of MERL'S TUNE. subtle segue into GEORGIA ON MY MIND. garcia sounds genuinely & genially bummed to have to stop when the bar flips on the house lights. ]
3/15/73 uniondale: 1st gig since pig’s death, 1st at nassau coliseum, band wearing nudie suits, ala 12/72. phil’s 33rd birthday. weir’s outro freak-outs ramping up show by show; a slippery/hilarious slope. hard to reconcile the utter long island chaos of the audience tape with the quiet swing evidenced when source switches to A+ soundboard. spacious layouts in 24m PLAYING IN THE BAND jam. jerry ballads bookend EYES OF THE WORLD suite with wild OTHER ONE. 3+ hours, the new normal.
3/16/73 uniondale: nice jammy 1st set with BIRD SONG / PLAYING IN THE BAND combo to close. 1st local cheer for “just like New York City” in RAMBLE ON ROSE. jerry: “all you people throwing joints on the stage, why don’t you light ‘em up & pass ‘em around?” phil: “we’re ALREADY high, thanks.” return of the PROMISED LAND/BERTHA/GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD next-beat segue suite from 9/72, some decent cowboy boogie, & then… DARK STAR, with odd intro harmonies establishing a sustained dreaminess, moody tangents, & an atonal high-step into TRUCKIN’ > MORNING DEW.
3/19/73 uniondale: inaudible drums, indoor fireworks, & off-time crowd clapping on audience-tape portion make everything woozy. 1st HE’S GONE since pigpen’s death, crowd inventing a new meaning with small successive cheers during outro. last time in the 1st set. 1st TAKE A STEP BACK, lesh/weir-tandem dead-style crowd control. funnier than weir’s YELLOW DOG JOKE. PSA from garcia: “there are some krishna consciousness people out there passing out good things to eat. it’s okay to eat it.” 1st THE RACE IS ON since 5/70, excepting weir’s sit-ins with the new riders. half-smooth half-segues from HALF-STEP > STELLA BLUE > JACK STRAW. again, band doesn’t jam into EYES OF THE WORLD, opting for a clean next-beat start after THE OTHER ONE & easily hitting the thoughtful, lazy gait. at all 3 nassau gigs, 1st big drug busts by undercovers, apparently audible on some tapes. band won’t return til ’79.
3/21/73 utica: 1st properly rehearsed & quite lurvely WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE serves as an intro to DARK STAR. unconvincing space-out but awesomely zapped crossfade into EYES OF THE WORLD, 7/8 outro in full blossom. 1st ’73 WHARF RAT, rare mangled lyrics, nice jam.
3/22/73 utica: lesh & garcia charmingly bait the fire marshal. jerry, giggling: “yeah, try to keep your fires in the fire aisle.” big CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. terrific OTHER ONE with cartoonish stomp intro, busted gearwork, lyrical jerry/phil duet, return of the flexatone. plum excellent archetypal ’73, gorgeous soundboard, with band in absolutely zero rush. solid 106m of jam songs/suites.
3/24/73 philadelphia: A+ 30m TRUCKIN’ that gets lost en route to DARK STAR. breathless uptempo dazzle & 1st SPANISH JAM since 2/70. 4m DARK STAR proper is shortest ever & melts into SING ME BACK HOME, which i thought was retired. happy to be wrong.
3/26/73 baltimore: wolfman jack introduces the band before the 2nd set, which appropriately opens with the WJ-referencing RAMBLE ON ROSE. a poised post-TRUCKIN’ unwind into a warm WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE that picks up steam, sparkles almost reluctantly, & dissipates into WHARF RAT. then, another long jam (EYES OF THE WORLD) into the set’s 3rd jerry ballad (MORNING DEW) to go with ’73′s 1st CANDYMAN. nearly 4 hours of music.
3/28/73 springfield, MA: phil plugs upcoming “interstate smoke-in” on the steps of hartford capitol building on 4/19. “bring your own.” STELLA BLUE bridge lyric finally changes from “can’t keep from cryin’” to “gonna make ‘em shine.” 63m WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE > DARK STAR > EYES OF THE WORLD > PLAYING IN THE BAND dream sequence also contains anxious & unfocused night terrors.
3/30/73 rochester: crackling CUMBERLAND BLUES. i want to know why somebody (weir?) clearly says “BEEP!” at the 1:10 mark of I KNOW YOU RIDER. amicable drop from EYES OF THE WORLD into NOT FADE AWAY, a ’73 rarity, but it feels out of place in the post-EYES gloaming.
3/31/73 buffalo: predictable apeshitness at the right moment in the 1st buffalo TRUCKIN’. PROMISED LAND/BERTHA/GREATEST STORY choppy as ever. THE OTHER ONE contains a breakneck SPANISH JAM & a post-meltdown FEELIN’ GROOVY into the only CHINA CAT-less I KNOW YOU RIDER between ’70 & ’85.
4/2/73 boston garden: fried ‘n’ frayed tour closer. atrocious vocals. band sounds off, too. still, typically devastating PLAYING IN THE BAND. the only fully jammed HERE COMES SUNSHINE: rich post-outro weaving loses thread quickly & reverts to insect-space & then ME & BOBBY McGEE. last WEATHER REPORT SUITE-less PRELUDE to tired EYES. SUGAR MAGNOLIA freakout nearing peak weir. BID YOU GOODNIGHT now features donna. no thx.
5/13/73 des moines: 3-set/4-hour (plus breaks) lazy marathon. 1st jam (besides CHINA > RIDER) doesn’t come ’til end of set 2. perhaps due to tape degeneration, the 28m PLAYING IN THE BAND is a pleasant unceasing rain that never quite breaks into a storm. beautiful stasis. pre & post-verse, the band glides adroitly out of THE OTHER ONE triplets into consonant & constantly renewing churn.
5/20/73 santa barbara: the spring of 3-set stadium gigs continues. garcia’s voice is thrashed. sounds kind of cool, albeit painful. jerry’s renewed interest in banjo via old & in the way is obvious in crystalline, articulated runs in BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE. the nuanced, piston-like PLAYING IN THE BAND jam & spare post-verse OTHER ONE ruminating are both hard to imagine in front of 17K people.
5/26/73 kezar stadium: 1st show in the haight since 3/68. A+ bettyboard with gorgeous stereo separation & a high circulation staple. still a good starter tape. everything glows with spring sunshine. FEELIN’ GROOVY JAM now firmly built into CHINA > RIDER. final run of the very ’73 HE’S GONE/TRUCKIN’/OTHER ONE/EYES OF THE WORLD/CHINA DOLL sequence with deep quiet & a thrilling EYES peak.
6/9/73 RFK stadium: gang harmonies impressive on LOOSE LUCY, even donna, voices blending indistinguishably. BIG RIVER = primo boogie. garcia cycles through MORNING DEW & HERE COMES SUNSHINE licks during a discombobulated post-TRUCKIN’ dissolve. eventually, a nice count-off segue into PLAYING IN THE BAND. after 2 sets & 3.5 hours (following 2 openers), jerry announces that the dead are done & it’s time for the allmans.
6/10/73 RFK stadium: a stone summer classic with endless highlights. effortless 1st set glides to a weaving BIRD SONG & cymbaly PLAYING IN THE BAND. set 2 opens with EYES OF THE WORLD > STELLA BLUE (featuring an accidental(?) new melody) & rarely lets up, though AROUND & AROUND is weir at his dinkiest. a satisfying 26m DARK STAR filled with high-speed pre-verse maneuvers & a thorough bass meltdown into a WHARF RAT where kreutzmann lays out entirely during the bridge, wonderfully quiet music in a big, big stadium. a 3rd set superjam with dickey betts, butch trucks, & allegedly merl saunders, totally inaudible. mega hippie bullshit, but also great. lurvely GD debut of TRAIN TO CRY & then moldies: 1 elvis, 1 buddy holly, 2 chuck berry. likely the only decent grateful dead version of JOHNNY B. GOODE cuz the betts/garcia & kreutzmann/trucks combos are totally sweet. a delightful melding of the dead & allmans vibes.
6/22/73 vancouver: opener of 1st proper tour since march. 4 hours with a solid half devoted to jam songs & suites. my kinda dead. keith’s rhodes back in action with chiming, unexpected peaks in BIRD SONG finale. 1st tour with both rhodes & grand piano? 1st BLACK PETER since 10/72. l’il shaky with nobody’s strongest vocals, but band’s instinctual dynamics shine. lots of nice space. (sidenote: weir’s standard HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ transition is one of the few places where a count-off & segue mark can co-exist.) 5m semi-farty bass solo & near-ambient drumless jam as prelude to THE OTHER ONE with shattering arthropodal zap sesh.
6/24/73 portland: phil, maybe half-snickering post-THEY LOVE EACH OTHER: “and now we’re going to put you folks into a MELLOW mood.” cue LOOKS LIKE RAIN. miasmic DARK STAR ’til phil hits on bass theme. quickly, jerry counterpoints, sketching pre-verse cloud-shapes with weir.
6/26/73 seattle: until this project, i’d thought of ROW JIMMY as the lethargic, poor brah’s version of the SUGAREE slow roll. but, man, there are just endless worlds within that perfect, ‘luded-out stillness. often pretty good harmonies, too.
6/29/73 universal amphitheater: noncommittal OTHER ONE, garcia oddly uninspired ’til short, radiant detonation into MORNING DEW.
6/30/73 universal amphitheater: after a small onstage electrical fire, garcia: “don’t panic, folks, this is the movies, remember?” shitty vocals everywhere. buttery combo of keith’s rhodes & garcia’s attackless wah tone on BIRD SONG & PLAYING IN THE BAND. wish keith used the rhodes more. lots of piano in ultra-patient (but by no means mellow) EYES OF THE WORLD end jam with sudden, decisive drop into STELLA BLUE.
7/1/73 universal amphitheater: warm front-of-board audience tape that trades ugly whooping & off-time clapping on quiet songs for totally fat ’60s garcia guitar tone on a way-out OTHER ONE that almost veers into EYES end jam. A+ zonked melt into WHARF RAT & effortless crossfade into BOBBY McGEE. best early ’70s audience tape i’ve heard, but gentlemen still prefer boards.
7/27/73 watkins glen: 2-set 90m “soundcheck” in front of 250K people. lesh: “this whole thing is a fraud, we’re really clever androids.” 16m BIRD SONG (longest ever?) with semi-free breakdown & one of the few non-obnoxious pinched harmonics solos in musical history. casual & legendary 20m DARK STARish standalone improv with multiple themes, including a proto-FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN jam.
7/28/73 watkins glen: the dead had a rep for botching big shows. at 600,000, WG was the biggest ever. not the greatest, but way solid. last BOX OF RAIN ’til ’86. i’d finally learned to love the barked harmonies. especially going to miss garcia’s faux-steel filigrees. 24m PLAYING IN THE BAND with fantastic freak flights by jerry & gang-of-one drumming by kreutzmann, dropping onto martian plateau near end. unidentified organ player on AROUND & AROUND. a bit bouncy, more garth hudson than gregg allman. either way, why only on one song?! lots of jams in 2nd set, but no long space-outs, defined by 2 decent weir half-segues: TRUCKIN’ > EL PASO, EYES OF THE WORLD > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. recording (especially the guitars) gets sadly muddy for the set with the allmans. super-blissed 24m MOUNTAIN JAM & WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN coda.
7/31/73 jersey city: back at roosevelt stadium. surviving tape by @RelixMag co-founder jerry moore. recording is great. killer snare. another extraordinary PLAYING IN THE BAND, 1st jam is unusually rhodes-driven. kreutzmann in full free-dance mode. plus, he got a glockenspiel? 2nd set is boogie all the way down, minus 2m of smooth TRUCKIN’ fusion & when BLACK PETER achieves a nice, sad soar.
8/1/73 jersey city: jerry’s 31st birthday. perfect 24m DARK STAR. sparkling lunar rain as prelude to spacedust curlicues & thumb piano. the rest of jam is great. even EL PASO cooks. huge MORNING DEW with garcia soloing in joyous, apocalyptic paragraphs.
9/7/73 nassau coliseum: A+ tour opener. 6 righteous jams, weir mixed warmly enough to justify his “mccoy tyner’s left hand” claims. guy yells incessantly for ME & MY UNCLE(!?). finally, irritated dude replies “YOU & YOUR SISTER!”, predating chris bell by 5 years. rare show with keith on occasional B3, only audible on audience tape. (thru stage amp only?) well used on LOSER, TRUCKIN’ & thrilling 1st LET IT GROW, minus preludes, giddy with high-speed aero-flips as band explores new spaces, landing at STELLA BLUE.
9/8/73 nassau coliseum: debut of full WEATHER REPORT SUITE with perfect autumnal PRELUDE & surprise EYES OF THE WORLD > CHINA DOLL to close 1st set. 1st LET ME SING YOUR BLUES AWAY, sole keith-sung dead tune. Europe ’72 bounce can’t redeem hunter’s litest lyrics & keith’s non-voice. neato co-lead guitar by weir on spiraling TRUCKIN’. more ghosts of cool organ parts via keith’s undermixed B3.
9/11/73 william & mary: dang, @mountain_goats, you’re right, this IS an exquisite LOOKS LIKE RAIN. intricate quiet garcia detailing. never thought i’d say this, but starting to dig these spare, 1-drummer versions. still can’t take the street cats & the freak out. horns join for 2 songs & it’s suck city, getting extra ham-handed/honky/unnecessary atop the lattice-like LET IT GROW jam. 1st fall DARK STAR. busy & melodious without really going anywhere. more weir leads & lovely spider skitters.
9/12/73 william & mary: allegedly, the band had such a good time the previous night that they came back & played for free. the BIRD SONG middle improv opens into a soaring cathedral space, keith’s electric piano undermixed but twinkling like a celeste. big energy fun, especially the high-velocity garcia/lesh weaves during LET IT GROW & a proto-SLIPKNOT EYES jam.
9/15/73 providence: another glorious BIRD SONG with typical quizzical garcia lyricism & atypical assertive electric piano. last BIRD SONG ’til the ’80s. why?!? ugh. satisfying 2nd set with 2 30m suites. horns stay for all of it & sound far more integrated, albeit a big sunshiny mess on TRUCKIN’. WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE gets tasty LOL-flute. LET IT GROW gets squonk ululations & a nice solo garcia bridge into STELLA BLUE.
9/17/73 syracuse: with horns more or less in line, a confident & peppy 55m TRUCKIN’ > EYES OF THE WORLD > WEATHER REPORT SUITE > STELLA BLUE. keith’s B3 seems to be gone, but is it possible the he’s playing an ondes martenot on WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE & LOOKS LIKE RAIN?!
9/20/73 philadelphia: 1st flat show of tour. ondes martenot is gone already. strident EYES OF THE WORLD outro. schmaltzy SUGAR MAGNOLIA with horns.
9/21/73 philadelphia: 1st OTHER ONE since 7/1 unspools from wind-up toy spins into 1st MIND LEFT BODY in a year. same venue, too. final LET ME SING YOUR BLUES AWAY, abandoned after 6 performances. cool with me.
9/24/73 pittsburgh: an off night at the civic arena. band crashes GREATEST STORY three times (with a LOONEY TUNES interlude) before starting. garcia sings 1st NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE since ’66 after teasing it in post-TRUCKIN’ blooze noodles for months. bleh.
9/26/73 buffalo: last of 8 gigs with horns (phew), final SING ME BACK HOME (laaame), dense jazz freefloats in LET IT GROW (!)
10/19/73 oklahoma city: DARK STAR is notably slower than summer versions. the band almost doesn’t know what to do with all the space & out comes the most developed & dramatic MIND LEFT BODY JAM yet, escher-like chromatic knots, simultaneously descending & ascending. thoroughly satisfying EYES OF THE WORLD > STELLA BLUE encore that weir feels compelled to play JOHNNY B. GOODE after.
10/21/73 omaha: weir announces the A’s world series victory over the mets (“another baseball year endeth”) & garcia responds w/ LOSER. 1st BLACK THROATED WIND since 2/9. PLAYING IN THE BAND > MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > BIG RIVER > PLAYING IN THE BAND with planned-sounding hard-splice segues. high-speed DMT drop into deep space PLAYING reprise. low-key HE’S GONE, garcia’s solo finding a sad sweet place, to kick off an hour of unflashy & effective song-suiting.
10/23/73 bloomington, MN: keith plays venue’s wurlitzer, including soundcheck noodling on 1st WANG DANG DOODLE, jerry singing off-mic. a short & not particularly compelling show. keith adds some nice wurlitzer on a lazy TRUCKIN’ & oddly upfront piano on LET IT GROW. CASEY JONES aborted due to fight. kreutzmann allegedly tackles security guard while phil freaks (“ALRIGHT ASSHOLE!!”)
10/25/73 madison: warm, light-drenched HERE COMES SUNSHINE. weir keeps tinkering with lyrics of already-recorded BLACK THROATED WIND. sleepy gossamer dialogues in 23m DARK STAR, articulated MIND LEFT BODY, ondes martenot blurps, an hour of otherness.
10/27/73 indianpolis: efficient PLAYING IN THE BAND > MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > BIG RIVER > PLAYING IN THE BAND. less thrilling than previous take, but great 1st segue.
10/29/73 st. louis: 1st COLD RAIN & SNOW since 2/28, 2nd of only 3 ’73 versions. super-pro next-beat build from BERTHA into GREATEST STORY. TRUCKIN’ downshifts into low flying jazz; OTHER ONE stumbles & ambles to similar happy place of quiet chord tracings. weir finally articulates the alternate BLACK THROATED WIND lyric: “but i can’t deny the time that’s gone by / full of babies and bottles and mountains of debt.”
10/30/73 st. louis: DARK STAR jam animated by weir’s chatty staccato patterns & an almost standalone MIND LEFT BODY before the verse. despite a gripping EYES OF THE WORLD, band is archetypally mellow, lulling & lolling. a fine line between warm comfort & sleep.
11/1/73 evanston: superb drip from rare MORNING DEW 2nd set opener into torrential 1st PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND.
11/9/73 winterland: 1st TO LAY ME DOWN since 9/70. off-key, plodding, new donna vocal part. still, hushed C&W swing is breathtaking. no big jam, but locked-in idea-filled LET IT GROW outro is A+ prelude to EYES OF THE WORLD’s microscopic rhythmic conversations.
11/10/73 winterland: PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > MORNING DEW > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND is more party trick than improv but the sleight of hand is riveting. excellence carries through standalone STELLA BLUE & properly choogled TRUCKIN’. WHARF RAT is kind of a struggle, though.
11/11/73 winterland: DARK STAR does its thing ’til post-verse space-out when kreutzmann drops into a beat & shit gets really real. major key drama, ricochet crosstalk, dissolution, & double-time MIND LEFT BODY as an almost-perfect bridge into EYES OF THE WORLD.
11/14/73 san diego: one of the all-time great 2nd sets. TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > BIG RIVER > THE OTHER ONE > EYES OF THE WORLD > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. wonderful drumless zone in 1st OTHER ONE. EYES omits 7/8 break for last OTHER ONE verse & a jammy, dreamy WHARF RAT.
11/17/73 UCLA: nearly flawless PLAYING IN THE BAND >UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > MORNING DEW > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND. swarming jams, lush valleys, masterful segues. a packed 14m EYES OF THE WORLD. everyone totally together for precise, successive explosions in 7/8 outro. no exit strategy, though.
11/20/73 denver: surprise turn from MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP into 1st DIRE WOLF since 10/72. smooth segue, sluggish song. much of set feels likewise. airy circular jams as OTHER ONE winds into MIND LEFT BODY. again, a near-perfect bridge, this time to STELLA BLUE.
11/21/73 denver: even on the audience tape, no reaction to “i’m as honest as a denver man can be” in ME & MY UNCLE opener. another sweet half-melt out of HALF-STEP, this time into a mammoth PLAYING IN THE BAND > EL PASO > PLAYING IN THE BAND > WHARF RAT > PLAYING IN THE BAND > MORNING DEW. EL PASO flowers briefly into DARK STAR before WHARF RAT (with a drumless bridge!) after which garcia & lesh hit peak fuzz.
11/23/73 el paso: only ever el paso gig and, unlike denver, the crowd DOES freak when weir sings the city’s name. a few nice OTHER ONE drifts but distant drum mix makes the whole show disconcertingly placid, even by dead standards.
11/25/73 tempe: brilliant 17m PLAYING IN THE BAND, a mirrored infinity room of free snare dances & cascading guitar diamonds. 1st credible BID YOU GOODNIGHT since its february revival thanks to restrained (& even tasteful) donna jean vocal.
11/28/73 palace of fine arts: debut of seastones, ned lagin’s group with garcia, lesh, hart, & croz playing modular improv structures. dream wails, processed voices, quadrophonic balaphones. an avant-dead necessity. A+ recording: http://bit.ly/1brMQUt
11/30/73 boston music hall: rare 3-show theater run. band apparently doesn’t know of the 1st show & arrives/starts extremely late. donna jean gone on maternity leave through year’s end, huzzah! the band’s harmonies are appropriately winterly, austere, & pleasing. LET IT GROW glitters divinely into a short shape-shifting DARK STAR jam & a happy, lumpy post-thanksgiving EYES OF THE WORLD.
12/1/73 boston: magical BROKEDOWN PALACE, in part because of bedraggled harmonies, in part because of extra-warm soundboard mix. nightmarish extended segments of mojoless crowd control failure. weir promises they’ll relearn ST. STEPHEN. phil angrily cuts him off. “besides, the cops are from heaven! they’re from heaven!” chirps jerry, sounding like he might actually be having a bad trip. 34m PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND with a curling UJB intro, & a stark donna-less ROW JIMMY in the jerry ballad slot.
12/2/73 boston: more testy banter, though band’s mojo has returned. phil gets pissed at audience member: “what are you, the heat??” 2nd set is a mofo, solid 80m of attempted suite-linkage, starting with 1st & only WHARF RAT opener. iffy singing, but heaviness awaits. 1st unfinished PLAYING trails to guitar laughter & piercing biofeedback. weir arpeggiates listlessly & eventually cues MIND LEFT BODY. new spaces everywhere. cool rhythmic MIND LEFT BODY outro permutations, messy BIRD SONG-like flutters in HE’S GONE.
12/4/73 cincinnati: late start (by 5 hours?), short show (47m 2nd set), even more surly phil (“where the fuck did you say we were?”) tremendous 24m EYES OF THE WORLD with deep phil/jerry noise canyon ’til billy drops a beat & band builds to a chaotic swing-stomp.
12/6/73 cleveland: approaching peak donnalessness on ROW JIMMY. longest ever HERE COMES SUNSHINE dances with VIOLA LEE-like ecstasy. an all-time DARK STAR. one of the longest (43m) & oddest, beginning with a slow coalescence from tuning into theme. extremely uncharacteristic assertive, uptempo electric keys by keith, in full conversation with garcia, melting into fuzz-bass nebulae. more top-speed ultra-melodic inventions & a perfect EYES OF THE WORLD > STELLA BLUE comedown with one final bass feedback punchline.
12/8/73 durham: nice spidery piano during BLACK THROATED WIND bridge. lovely lulling weave-waves in HE’S GONE outro jam. in & out of focus 28m OTHER ONE ending with more visceral post-seastones biofeedback, weir noodles, & 2 jerry ballads.
12/10/73 charlotte: 1st PEGGY-O! quite brisk, almost in the mold of DIRE WOLF. someone sets off fireworks between verses. incredible EYES OF THE WORLD with hyper tonal, almost smooth, over-the-top bass leads, total full-band precision, & ace BROKEDOWN PALACE coda. for 2nd show running, garcia upends song alternation with weir. 1st split-up SUGAR MAGNOLIA with GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD in middle. with donna jean still on pregnancy leave, weir’s SUNSHINE DAYDREAM freakouts have gone next level.
12/12/73 atlanta: another jaunty PEGGY-O. frictionless gearshift segue from MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP into ME & BOBBY McGEE. not much flow to the 2nd set, but a long MORNING DEW gets down to a stretch of delicate quiet & sparse piano colors.
12/18/73 miami: great mix, excellent playing throughout. fabulous, extra-crackling LET IT GROW as prelude to final ’73 DARK STAR. labyrinthine 1st jam teases & builds to post-verse bass-zap brain-blastage. “we’ve got a blown speaker!” jerry shouts off-mic. in my college house, whenever we wanted/needed unstoppable laughter, we’d play the last 1m of this SUNSHINE DAYDREAM.
12/19/73 miami: “dick’s picks, v. 1″! funny to hear complete version finally. weir sneezes during 1st line of PROMISED LAND opener. always wondered why MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP faded out. it’s another lovely melt segue into ME & BOBBY McGEE, turns out. 2nd & final time that happened. penultimate HERE COMES SUNSHINE & one of the best, 14m of curling lightbeam solos. PLAYING IN THE BAND somersaults into the spectral wah-wah void. 5m bass solo is excised from this version, too. on the audience tape, it’s fully ridiculous, but also has a neat melodic shape. (audience tape also has a great pre-show warning by the band about security. garcia: “remember your hippie training, folks: be cool!”) last 5m of OTHER ONE is the band’s most sustained fszszszzt-out so far, dripping with absolute grace into STELLA BLUE.
…and so concludes the grateful dead’s 1973 & the #deadfreaksunite broadcast year. see you at winterland in february.