Jesse Jarnow

#deadfreaksunite 1972 (revisited)

#deadfreaksunite 1972 (revisited)
tape-by-tape notes

An extended listening project tracking the Grateful Dead’s evolution, recording by recording. Originally posted on Twitter on each show’s 40th/50th anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. Many shows streamable via archive.org. Expanded notes for many shows (with press, scene reports, and images) can be found on Twitter by searching for my username (bourgwick) and the show date. Please consult JerryBase for the latest data, Dead Sources for original articles (1965-1975), and LostLiveDead/Hootrollin for deep dives. My notes on my first full pass through 1972, with mp3 links. Grateful Deadcast transcripts for Europe ’72 (as well as Fox Theatre ’72, Veneta ’72, and Bob Weir’s Ace) are here.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978] [1979] [1980] [1981] [1982]

1/2/72 winterland: a post new year’s sunday at winterland, announced the day before, with the new riders, yogi phlegm, & the heavy water lights. bill graham intro, “when you stop to think how many groups could get any of us out on january 2nd, there’d very few of them. there’s only one that can do it for me & i hope for you, the grateful dead.” 21-minute GOOD LOVIN’ > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > GOOD LOVIN’ is pigpen’s last bay area showpiece. rolls from full-service rap into moody proto-MIND LEFT BODY theme. instead of just teasing CHINA CAT, garcia jumps full into it, 1st RIDER-less version since ’69, last ’til ’85. 16-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY swells gently at edges but never shifts course, through totally burning GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD finale, & pig gets in on the NOT FADE AWAY scream-out.

3/5/72 winterland: sunday with the grateful dead at winterland, native american benefit with yogi phlegm, the new riders of the purple sage, and (in full body cast) MC wavy gravy. pigpen’s last hometown show.  members of yogi phlegm (aka sons of champlin) are late, so bill graham enlists garcia & lesh to jam with rest of band. BIG BOSS MAN hits descending MIND LEFT BODY-like place. housekeeping note: for much of 1972, winterland’s stage is repositioned in the venue, running the wide northern width instead of the narrow western end. @corry342 & the commentariat on the nuances of 3/5/72 winterland benefit & stage positioning. weir brings out 2 songs from “ace,” whose basic sessions wrapped 3 days previous. debut of weir/barlow’s achy breaky BLACK THROATED WIND, pretty finished, besides 1990 rewrite. 1st GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD since 4/71, now with manic piano-enhanced bounce. wavy, as CHINA CAT starts: “i got a beer in my hand. a miracle happened once in texas. we had 1 beer, we passed it around. it was bb king’s beer & everybody took a sip & everybody got some. we’re gonna pass this beer around. everybody sort of just wet their tongue…” tape is blurry, so this might be inaccurate: “…the beer is kool aid, the music is kool aid, it’s all going on!” & band drops on next beat into a pretty hot 11-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. cause/effect? as CHINA/RIDER transition jam gets going, rando seems to stage crash & grab the mic, saying “it sure is nice to be here…” before a burst of feedback & chaos as weir’s(?) cable gets knocked out, presumably while interloper is dragged away by roadies. half-hour 2nd set highlighted by deep 17-minute GOOD LOVIN’, pig’s last bay area jam & sounding great, lesh now singing high harmonies. during pig’s rap, band slides into 1st real MIND LEFT BODY jam, descending pattern that’ll anchor jams for next 3 years.

3/21/72 academy of music: a stopover en route to europe but hardly a warmup. debuts & new jams comin’ in hot. return of the dead marathon, 3.5 hours of happy, with plenty of gear breaks. says weir, “you may think it’s all roses & honey being a rock & roll star… more like barbed wire & peanut butter.” off-mic, garcia riffs on the fugs: “sounds like homemade shit.” weir debuts just-recorded LOOKS LIKE RAIN, garcia on pedal steel, lesh on harmony vocal, definitely the arrangement of the song that most to my taste. 1st real PLAYING IN THE BAND jam, tripling to 3-minute break that gets wild quickly, garcia going from zero to freakout. bittersweet age for GOOD LOVIN’, pigpen sounding a little weaker but more creative/expressive (“i need your love to keep me alive”), finding new flows for his bits while band gets denser with weir co-leads, meltdowns. 42-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. pre-verse jam melts down & kreutzmann snaps into wild groove that runs parallel to ME & MY UNCLE segue, but instead skates on mutant pocket. post-verse meltdown never fully escapes void except brief weird-jazz swing. show keeps going & going. debut of pigpen’s THE STRANGER (TWO SOULS IN COMMUNION), neither pig’s voice nor band’s dynamics quite delivering with this version, but i love this sad R&B. pig plays harmonica on BIG RAILROAD BLUES. and a finale 15-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAND > ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT, a laidback burn, with weir calling audible into SATURDAY NIGHT & whole band doing a cool build together, 1st draft of a segue that’ll stick.

3/22/72 academy of music: another absolute marathon night, more than 3-and-a-half hours of stage time, not counting set break, though lots of extended tuning breaks & almost-audible off-mic dialogue, too. music is just delightful. good noo yawk accents yelling for “alli-ga-tuh!!!” lesh’s “sea to shining sea” harmony on JACK STRAW rings out a little past weir’s, which sounds cool. off-mic later in the set, lesh suggests WALK IN THE SUNSHINE, recently recorded for weir’s “ace” but never performed by the dead. PA goes off briefly during LOSER, restarting almost just where they left off, in the words of one head who was there, “like your trip was stopped & started up again.” 1st BROKEDOWN PALACE of ’72 gets cheers, sounds beautiful with ghostly B3 & strong harmonies. long tuning break has fascinating off-mic setlist negotiation, resulting in unusual sequence. lesh suggests TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > KING BEE > CAUTION. garcia nixes KING BEE, & they eventually land at (part of) what gets played. 42-minute SUGAR MAGNOLIA > CAUTION > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND, purposefully steamrolling from fuzzed SUNSHINE DAYDREAM ending to 1st CAUTION since 3/71 with dark pig raps & breathtaking garcia-led coda jam. evocative themes & stumble-segue into UNCLE JOHN’S BAND.

3/23/72 academy of music: another night with endless amusements, on-mic, off-mic, & in between. getting ridiculous. a 2-hour 1st set tonight, opening with exuberant CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. bouncing CUMBERLAND BLUES. 1st semi-rare COMES A TIME of the year, just the slightest bit shaky but still breathtaking.
“ALLIGATOR!!!!!”
weir: speaking of alligators, does anybody know what the alligator problem in the sewers is like these days?
lesh: seen any alligators in the subway lately? if you learn to call them by their name, they will tell you secrets.
weir: donald duck is a fascist.
lesh counts in 23-minute DARK STAR, 1st of ’72, diving into bright arpeggios & bass detours. exquisite post-verse quiet blasts off into mutated themes, lesh freakout, FEELIN’ GROOVY adjacent jam (almost turning into SUGAR MAGNOLIA), & clean ending with final vocal harmony. and then a screamingly joyous 16-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY to close night. maybe just as amazing as the actual jamming is the sound of the band, oversaturated & inviting.

3/25/72 academy of music: the grateful dead play for the nyc hells angels at the academy of music, backing bo diddley for a set & playing 2 on their own. donna jean godchaux’s proper debut. fun moments during probably unrehearsed hour-plus set/jam with bo diddley, especially on tunes with his pseudononymous beat (HEY BO DIDDLEY, MONA). mostly just fun to hear the dead as a backing band (“piano, take it a bit!”), but a little much for me. during I’VE SEEN THEM ALL, bo starts name-dropping about people he’s shared bills with. interesting to see who gets cheers. very few. none for bobby darin, sarah vaughan. some for elvis. bigger for chuck berry & john lee hooker. jimmy reed gets off-mic “yeah!” from pigpen. “it’s party time everywhere in this building & we’ll see you in a little while,” lesh announces then, 2 more sets of grateful dead, opening with donna jean godchaux’s 1st real appearance. donna jean’s 1st real live appearance ever is on holland/dozier/holland’s HOW SWEET IT IS & b. berns’s ARE YOU LONELY FOR ME BABY, only dead versions, both done by garcia/saunders. harmonies don’t quite work. but besides gang vocals, ARE YOU LONELY is especially inspired. 1st (live) PLAYING IN THE BAND with donna vocals, also including donna’s 1st PLAYING IN THE BAND wail, just before the final verse, a moment i’ve grown to reassess & mostly love over the years in all its messiness & energy. request for SMOKESTACK LIGHTING & garcia assents immediately (“right away?” lesh asks off-mic), the last version with pigpen, featuring a few big peaks that seem like they’re about to drop right into TRUCKIN’. revived by weir in ’84. big jam is 21-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, band & crowd both frothing, pig sounding pretty energetic, making moves. “this one is dedicated to all of us who are in jail,” lesh says before CASEY JONES. for bear?

3/26/72 academy of music: another marathon with new songs, big jams, & lit-up banter. not sure if it’s the official mix, but band is extra-clicked, especially godchaux (assertive parts in BLACK THROATED WIND, JACK STRAW, everywhere). pigpen’s percussion pretty tight, too. weir watch: “there’s a guy that’s been out there for the last few nights, he’s been hollering ‘alligator!’ & that’s no joke, there’s an alligator that lives out there under rows double-E and double-F, seats 4, 5, & 6, & you’ll wanna watch out for that.” the off-mic goofiness at these shows is off-the-charts cute in a dead sort of way, like they’re in their own beatles movie. can’t tell who says it, but before YOU WIN AGAIN, someone onstage: “this one’s gonna get ripped a new asshole, right boys?” all else: “RIGHT!!!” if you’ve ever wanted to hear pigpen say the words “steely dan,” this is your tape.
lesh: did i hear a request for “psychedelic dildo”?
pigpen: steely dan #2.
lesh loses it at the “naked lunch” reference. steely dan’s debut album is still 8 months away. lesh is chatty, introducing keith godchaux as “our old piano player, we just didn’t know it for a long time” & PLAYING IN THE BAND as “a song that’s about playing a song that’s about playing a song that’s about…” no donna after her PLAYING debut the previous night. top-notch set-closing 17-minute GOOD LOVIN’. “every way but loose,” pigpen repeats at one point & jam is like that. super tight. lots of fun ricocheting conversation. pig announces the setbreak, a wee rarity. monumental 65-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > ME & MY UNCLE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. 1st truly jammed-out TRUCKIN’, cracking from boogie into low, ruminative glow of scattered drums & noodles, then coalescing into delighted lesh-led trio with assertive piano. with this TRUCKIN’, this still-expanding PLAYING (over 10 minutes for 1st time tonight), & rapidly abstractin’ GOOD LOVIN’, more songs are now open to deep jams & ’72 becomes ’72. effortless, fully wired/weirded/weir’d OTHER ONE, constantly shattering & recombobulating. WHARF RAT keeps building, SUGAR MAGNOLIA overloaded & exuberant, TWO SOULS IN COMMUNION getting powerful in late set slot. imagining a non-existent future that included a standard late-show pigpen ballad. humongous NOT FADE AWAY sequence. obviously.

3/27/72 academy of music: yet another loose & delightful night at the academy. even without any of the big jams, still more than 3 hours. weir riffs on kreutzmann getting sold the brooklyn bridge. lesh: “now you’ll have to pay *him* toll.” lesh, before LOOKS LIKE RAIN: “the color of this song is blue & red, blue for the blues & red for blood.” as band starts, weir yells to pick up the tempo. still my favorite era of the song with garcia’s pedal steel & lesh’s rough harmony & lead bass. donna jean’s back, on PLAYING IN THE BAND in its soon-to-be home closing the 1st set, the jam meltdown getting more & more intense. DJ returns to join weir on the 2nd set-opening GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD for 1st time, as on the just-recorded “ace.” not even a NOT FADE AWAY sequence, only extended jam is a 21-minute GOOD LOVIN’ that gets deep & moody, band feeling extra-alive & responsive to pigpen & one another, almost like pig is just another voice in the jam.

3/28/72 academy of music: another 3+ hour marathon to close out the band’s weeklong nyc stay before heading to europe. BROKEDOWN PALACE gets huge cheer & sounds tender & powerful. ecstatic CUMBERLAND BLUES with tidal garcia shreds. PLAYING IN THE BAND opens set for 1st time, getting longer & drippier, 8 minutes of zipping/zapping jam. also 1st PLAYING with post-jam wail by donna. slightly extended THE STRANGER, with garcia slide guitar during the finale, i think for the only time. 35-minute SUGAR MAGNOLIA > THE OTHER ONE, with the band bombing straight outta SUNSHINE DAYDREAM into a nearly half-hour OTHER ONE. leisurely jam is full of subtle variations & episodes & a few near-reformations, but never fully opens into new territory. 17-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY back to primo levels of invention in the 1st transition, donna jean joining for 1st time on vocals during GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, which isn’t exactly working yet. quote of SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK before mighty ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT encore, assertive B3 bounce, dancing piano runs, weir changing the lyric to “everybody’s dancing at the old academy.” band’ll be back in ’77 when it’s the palladium. now, off to europe!

4/7/72 empire pool: the grateful dead begin their europe ’72 tour at london’s empire pool, now @OVOArena, accompanied by joe’s lights, formerly the joshua light show. for cavernous venue, pristine tape, Band-like B3/piano combo in full effect. weir/garcia/pigpen alternate songs for most of 1st set. opener is appropriately GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, also 1st show starting with full version of “new” band, feat. donna. set 2 jumps into 56-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > EL PASO > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT, TRUCKIN’ going appreciably out before the drum break. weir drives a pair of dynamic episodes before & after 1st OTHER ONE verse, slashing shapes, pigpen bouncing along. post-EL PASO, jam unwinds & garcia pushes band into new space, weir drifting through inventive jazzy comping while garcia ups the energy, followed by kreutzmann, holding & weirding for a long moment. though RAMBLE ON ROSE undoubtedly has a lightness, it generally lives in 2nd set showcases in this era, when the band was warm, only moving exclusively to the 1st set later in decade. traditional american NOT FADE AWAY boogie-out.

4/8/72 empire pool: exuberant night all ‘round. great piano parts on BLACK THROATED WIND, burning garcia solo in fantastic NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME. roaring CUMBERLAND BLUES used on “europe ’72,” overdubbed vocals on “complete recordings” box. during the keeper take of CUMBERLAND BLUES, garcia apparently pops a string, because then weir tells the YELLOW DOG STORY, with godchaux leading phish-like cocktail jazz accompaniment that almost lands with the punchline. 1st set gets a pair of ~10-minute preview jams with melty PLAYING IN THE BAND & zagging GOOD LOVIN’, pigpen’s proper london debut, with abbreviated greatest hits rap (“jump in your saddle…”) & tight moves before pedal steel LOOKS LIKE RAIN, all nice contrasts. weir watch: gives TRUCKIN’ the same “top of the charts in turlock” intro as the night before &, off-mic, bandmates give him shit for repeating himself. true to form, the TRUCKIN’ jam doesn’t bloom the same way as the night before, leaning into the big sparkling boogie. monumental 58-minute DARK STAR > SUGAR MAGNOLIA > CAUTION, the stuff that dead freak dreams are made of. themes, gear shifts, valleys, & starbursts unfold with zero dead ends in unstoppable DARK STAR. joyful/impeccable/dramatic MIND LEFT BODY transition to SUGAR MAGNOLIA. the SUNSHINE DAYDREAM coda steamrolls right into a stellar, crackling CAUTION, pigpen jamming on B3 & harmonica but not really doing any vocalizing. instead, 18-minute blast of ballroom-style primal shred.

4/11/72 newcastle: slightly less crackling than london tour openers. enjoying the deep summer bounce of GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. rare misstep as band crashes intro to BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE & badly try to cover. “no, no, everything’s alright,” garcia says. much pig. 55-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > COMES A TIME gets wild quick, TRUCKIN’ scattering into free jam that occasionally resolves into mutated & vibed-out jazz trios/quartets, setting tone for rambling to come. OTHER ONE goes in/out of focus but eventually emerges into fully developed & blissin’ FEELIN’ GROOVY jam, dissolving into dark garcia/lesh clouds & charging towards what could be ME & MY UNCLE, landing (with some dissonance at start) in stunning COMES A TIME. pretty excellent BROKEDOWN PALACE encore, a rare song this tour & a personal keeper take. pig on B3, nice piano color, ragged-but-right harmonies, garcia getting incredibly quiet during the verses.

4/14/72 copenhagen: an old favorite from the cassette era, broadcast a few days after the show on danish national radio. the dead’s 1st proper show in a non-english-speaking country. long funny moment as lesh & weir try to figure out how many people can understand them. lesh loses the bet. “you win,” he says, “again.” & in comes garcia with YOU WIN AGAIN. propulsive PLAYING IN THE BAND, the jam now 6+ minutes & beginning to turn some corners, relentless bass subdividing the non-time into fractals, twisting space-ward. keeper “europe ’72” version of BROWN EYED WOMEN, just exactly snappy. final pedal steel version of LOOKS LIKE RAIN & garcia’s final onstage pedal steel with the dead for 15 years. too bad on both counts. sounds great in this arrangement against B3 & piano & phil’s big backing vocals. 64-minute DARK STAR > SUGAR MAGNOLIA > GOOD LOVIN’ > CAUTION > WHO DO YOU LOVE > CAUTION > GOOD LOVIN’ is well balanced suite showcasing all the members of the dead in different ways. DARK STAR has to work to break out & find focus, lazing & dissolving & finding little orbit-adjacent episodes for 17 minutes. immediately after verse, it picks up, bursting into well-developed FEELIN’ GROOVY jam, into the free muck, & up into SUGAR MAGNOLIA. GOOD LOVIN’ sequence is pretty much peak pigpen dead, lots of fun inventions/variations/one-liners. WHO DO YOU LOVE is just one verse, 1st time on tape since ’66, but fierce. a 4-day creep, drinkin’ & gamblin’ & other piggisms surely felt deeply by the danish. always amused by garcia’s intro, “this is a song called RAMBLE ON ROSE & it goes exactly like this…” good ol’ 16-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY (with a twist of CHINA CAT), donna at textured place in the mix.

4/16/72 aarhus: a danish university cafeteria with a serious history as a jazz venue. typically buoyant 1st set, probably the closest the dead get on europe ’72 to a random one-nighter at a midwestern college. 1st DIRE WOLF in nearly a year & 1st with keith godchaux. PLAYING IN THE BAND now going full molten as a matter of course, love hearing piano in the thick of it & as part of final thin-out. donna’s absent, not singing in any of her 3 usual vocal spots (GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, PLAYING, GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD). a few big jams in 2nd set, including GOOD LOVIN’ in which pigpen uses the ugly phrase “bitch dog in heat” a few times, one of the few times i can think of him using anything that remotely yucky in his not-unlascivious raps. 53-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > ME & MY UNCLE > THE OTHER ONE > NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY, the juicy part mostly located in the big lesh-driven jam out of TRUCKIN’, bass-led episodes & full band shape-shifting. after ME & MY UNCLE, band finally makes it to the 1st & only verse of THE OTHER ONE. as lesh leads band into another jam segment, love kreutzmann’s 20-second turnaround into the NOT FADE AWAY.

4/17/72 copenhagen: 30 minutes are the 1st live rock telecast in danish history, some other parts shown later. cameras flip on midway through 1st set. debut of HE’S GONE, written about just-sentenced ex-manager lenny hart. lazy river vibe already there, minus “wind don’t blow so strange” bridge & singalong outro. except for their new european single ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT, the half-hour on actual live TV is mostly missing from the video, including steve parish’s alleged KO of the announcer & nice 10-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND jam. really some of the all-time excellent footage of the dead, including rare video of pigpen fronting the band, rosie mcgee dancing, & (of course) the dead in clown masks for BIG RAILROAD BLUES. unfilmed 3rd set is 66-minute DARK STAR > SUGAR MAGNOLIA > CAUTION. patient pre-verse DARK STAR jamming, garcia/godchaux/lesh conversation. after verse: modal clouds, waterfalls, brightness, weir-led proto-LET IT GROW episode, easy bubbling into SUGAR MAGNOLIA. find someone who loves you the way lesh loves doing that lead bass segue into CAUTION. crackling garcia leads, straight shot of the warlocks. pigpen is low energy but moody & vivid, almost a literal fever dream, describing waking up “back is soaking wet.”

4/21/72 bremen: a session for the beat-club television show in bremen. only 1 song makes it to air, but they set up their 16-track & play a full set. fun taping with some delightful asides, including weir’s cartoonish “ladies & gentlemen, the graaaaaateful dead” intro. seen in (almost) full, a truly fantastic document. no audience, besides band’s family, robert hunter & mountain girl dancing off screen. glimpses into band dynamics during false starts. garcia pulls plug on SUGAREE, genially calling out someone for playing the wrong changes (pigpen, i think) & starting over. 2 full PLAYING IN THE BANDs, 2nd getting into especially deep zonk. good weir intro to 2nd take leads to false start, “this is the 600,000 watt clear-channel voice of treason.” weir then accidentally subs “treason” in song’s 1st line, gets shit from bandmates. only ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT will make the cut for the actual beat club TV show, with album covers used in the chromakey behind the band & rerun for years on VH1, etc., opening an episode with a stacked lineup. 31-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE. some pretty solid jamming for the cameras, satisfying dynamic from space into drama, plus rare post-song epilogue that starts ambient & develops into brief theme.

4/24/72 dusseldorf: nearly 2-hour 1st set. 17-minute GOOD LOVIN’ is wild, bending to rubbery space-blooze before going drumless & free & a bit atonal as pigpen continues freestyling, coalescing into bizarro not-quite-CAUTION freight train groove. pig also quotes a bunch of james carr’s POURING WATER ON A DROWNING MAN. between his 3 newish originals & expansive spieling, the europe ’72 tour feels like a genuine & heartbreaking creative peak for pigpen. set 2 is 61-minute DARK STAR > ME & MY UNCLE > DARK STAR > WHARF RAT > SUGAR MAGNOLIA, pretty perfect. another rewarding DARK STAR, pushing into churning atonality, breaking apart, turning to leaping brightness, & breaking apart again before 1st verse. after verse, back into the big churn, uneasy & beautiful, shifting into ME & MY UNCLE. 2nd part of DARK STAR is substantial, too, & borderline aggressive. big piano attacks, moody shapes that keep turning until garcia slashes into WHARF RAT in lieu of 2nd verse. short 3rd set opens with brisk HE’S GONE. uncommonly noisy HURTS ME TOO solo. compact 13-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY. weir watch: now plugging the ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT single.

4/26/72 frankfurt: an all-timer personal go-to classic via its release as “hundred year hall.” bright & delicious everywhere. love garcia’s asides in GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. return of pigpen’s THE STRANGER, 1st version in europe & 1st with lesh/weir backing vocals during outro, slightly tentative, but otherwise a keeper take. during the 1st set, just after BIG RAILROAD BLUES, the dead meet @NakedPoleGuy’s german cousin. 2nd set begins with excellent patter involving shouts for WHITE RABBIT & lesh hitting boiling point. turns out to be a new crew member (or someone instigated by him), adding unknowingly but perfectly to a band in-joke going back years, a story told on the newest deadcast. 2 classic sequences in the 2nd set. 61-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > COMES A TIME. fully unhinged OTHER ONE from the drop, pinwheeling into conversation, spiral brightness, jazz shapes, skitters, meltdowns, some of my favorite dead jamming. 32-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT is A+ closing sequence showcasing all 3 lead singers. not much pig in LOVELIGHT, mostly relentless garcia jamming & gorgeous group invention, half NOT FADE AWAY as they land. for the 1st time, weir uses GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD’s instrumental BID YOU GOODNIGHT outro to bridge cleanly into ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT. here, he does it with a count-off but will become a standard transition for the band through ’88, but especially fun tonight. robert hunter’s vivid description of the 4/26/72 2nd set, from the 1995 archival release “hundred year hall.”

4/29/72 hamburg: 1st ever show-opening PLAYING IN THE BAND, a zipping/zapping intention-setter & a rare slot in any era (through ’95, anyway). been enjoying donna & weir’s blend & even the scream. couldn’t even speculate why, but NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME is about 15-20 bpm slower than the usual tempo as played since ’66. another big honkin’ 17-minute GOOD LOVIN’, finding a strategic balance between pigpen & ripping garcia. 3rd version of HE’S GONE & 1st with the “goin’ where the wind don’t blow so strange…” bridge, sung with slightly different inflection, garcia then leaning into the verse reprise that follows, clearly loving the song’s new destination. another night, another 58-minute DARK STAR > SUGAR MAGNOLIA > CAUTION, really a special window. DARK STAR swells into the FEELIN’ GROOVY jam before the 1st verse & some deep weirding after, garcia finding martian textures as weir builds into SUGAR MAGNOLIA. like GOOD LOVIN’, CAUTION tips towards the jammier end with only a few isles o’ pig, mostly building on fierce garcia shreds. jam widens & weirds, pigpen even returning to B3. encore is 1st UNCLE JOHN’S BAND of europe.

5/3/72 paris: band catches a few canonical song versions, including 11-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER in the 1st set, bubbling & light-filled, just exactly perfect. TENNESSEE JED, too, at the precise musical border of chill & languorous. pigpen gets unusually quiet during his GOOD LOVIN’ freewheelin’. 1st SING ME BACK HOME since 11/71 is 1st with donna. really works! an almost literal keeper take, pulled from the “europe ’72” reels for possible LP inclusion. a great dead cover entering its classic period. 62-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > ME & BOBBY McGEE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT, taking the quiet weird route into THE OTHER ONE, with extra bass rolls & multiple lesh-led solos/jams/episodes before & after BOBBY McGEE. and after the big jam, the “europe ’72” version of JACK STRAW, love garcia’s quiet playing. they wiped the original vocals when making the album, so A+ harmonies here, & also making it sound like garcia is singing parts he took over later in the tour.

5/4/72 paris: the night when the acid was miscalibrated & donna jean ended up under the piano. solid weir intro to CHINATOWN SHUFFLE: “do what thou wilt… right now, pig’s gonna do what he wilt.” fierce 23-minute GOOD LOVIN’ opens 2nd set, hinting towards MIND LEFT BODY jam, perhaps a more open jam vehicle than the still-expanding PLAYING IN THE BAND. 47-minute DARK STAR > DRUMZ > DARK STAR > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. 1st jam finds heat as garcia accelerates out of space & kreutzmann tumbles in behind him, setting band into adventure mode. post-verse abstractions melt into dreamy drum break perfectly fit for DARK STAR. gradual recombobulation, where band is briefly playing the FEELIN’ GROOVY jam & DARK STAR simultaneously before leaning into the former, then landing the latter with an unusual post-ending jam. cleanest DARK STAR/SUGAR MAGNOLIA pairing so far, enough that SUGAR MAGNOLIA can be separated & used on “europe ’72.” donna’s SUNSHINE DAYDREAM vocals here are overdubbed, but not on the lovely SING ME BACK HOME that follows.

5/7/72 bickershaw festival: in front of ~40,000, their biggest ever gig outside the states. the rain stops & the dead play 2 sets & 4 hours of music. after sam cutler handles the lost child announcements, band gets boogeying. uncharacteristically on-point festival performance, maybe cuz they get 2 sets. rare 8 1/2 beat BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE. after a weekend of rain festival goers, weather finally brightens during the dead’s 1st set & a peak experience for many attendees, the band relaxing into their “regular” show. biggish GOOD LOVIN’, the slightest hint of TEQUILA as they head back into tune. 64-minute DARK STAR > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > SING ME BACK HOME, rare sequence with both of the big jam songs, only time in ’72 & last ’til ’78. DARK STAR wanders into bright double-time, dissolves, floats into verse, & dissolves again into drum solo & fireworks display. after the 1st OTHER ONE verse, 10+ minutes of episodic jamming minus birthday boy kreutzmann, lots of bass ruminations & noise zzzrts amid the wanderings, drums returning for a DARK STAR-like peak before the 2nd OTHER ONE verse & out into haggard-land. 24-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY is relatively brief exclamation point, garcia switching to slide during LOVELIGHT raps.

5/10/72 amsterdam: slightly loose night. uncharacteristic lurching during shift between CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. canonical “europe ’72” take of HE’S GONE, though lots of overdubs on the album. PLAYING IN THE BAND crosses 13 minutes for 1st time. 62-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > ME & BOBBY McGEE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. 1st OTHER ONE jam goes into moody space blues, adjacent nearly to DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY before deconstructing further en route to somewhat mellow verse. after OTHER ONE verse, whispering conversational free drumming by kretuzmann breezes through the others’ freakouts before ducking out for a few minutes & returning to help sail back through jams & into mournful cosmic zones, mellow by local standards. love THE STRANGER in a late slot, band’s dynamics in place, backing vocals getting better. another fantastic SING ME BACK HOME, subtle B3 colors. GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD strikes ace blend of sweet/chill & triumphant/conclusive.

5/11/72 rotterdam: 10-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND opener feels like jam prelude for later in the evening. but first a 90-minute program of almost all new material. sweet chiming window at heart of CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER transition. garcia moves over to B3 for the song parts at the beginning & end of GOOD LOVIN’, which he does for the rest of the tour. relatively austere 12-minute version, getting quiet & moody in middle, pigpen moving with the mood. 2nd set opens with the 1st MORNING DEW since 8/71 & the 1st of the godchaux era. transitory bits of warm-uppy iffiness, but basically ready for its canonical close up a few weeks later. thoughtful almost methodical outro with pulsating bass. depending how you count it, 48-minute DARK STAR is longest ever & it’s a joy to get lost inside, infinite jeweled hallways & pockets of melody/groove/freeness, blurring & reforming. 17+ minutes, proto-LET IT GROW densities, & drum break before the 1st verse. then, a half-hour of floating themes, zapping ideas, & small pockets of space. band soars through bright changes, pigpen super-active on B3, contributing in non-trivial ways. jam deflates & garcia uses old-style sputnik theme to land. coulda played the 2nd verse! 34-minute SUGAR MAGNOLIA > CAUTION > TRUCKIN’, the last version of CAUTION, the earliest dead original. if pigpen had lived into the years when the dead codified their segues, i can imagine this pivot from SUNSHINE DAYDREAM into pig-land staying a regular thing. le sigh. suitably fierce & monumental send-off for CAUTION, filled with dark corners & singular pigisms, e.g. “expeditionary forces on a 4-day creep.” did you just say “got so many children, don’t know what to do”? like in copenhagen, a brief dip into WHO DO YOU LOVE in the middle. set-closing combo of TRUCKIN’ & especially UNCLE JOHN’S BAND feel almost like rough punctuation, the band slightly worn-out in the best way. what lovely punctuation.

5/13/72 lille: a return to lille, france, where a sabotage of their equipment truck had caused a previous cancelation, & play a free show on the fairgrounds. a dripping, tripping day in the french countryside, cruising through the repertoire in the afternoon light with a subtly different energy. can almost feel it in the easy cooperative gear shifts between CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. weir introduces donna & donna introduces the song, “this here’s called PLAYING IN THE BAND” with intense tiger-ish meltdown. 2nd set opens with a hearty 50-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > HE’S GONE. super-rich OTHER ONE, kreutzmann pushing into thoughtful space before 1st verse & finding magical afternoon shimmer. after verse, a wide zone of nearly drumless conversation. arpeggios, bass counterpoint, lovely B3, & up into a gallop.

5/16/72 luxembourg: the smallest in-person audience of the tour but beaming across europe & beyond. tape begins with a bit of the soundcheck, possibly from the day before, with garcia singing johnny cash’s BIG RIVER, sung by weir on new year’s & more regularly starting in the fall, but a lovely little alternate universe here. short show starting at midnight, 2 ~75 minute sets, bleeding over a little bit from the advertised 2 hours. another fierce HURTS ME TOO solo. 1st THE PROMISED LAND since 8/71, keith’s 1st, now locked into the repertoire for good, played at nearly every show for next year. 34-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE with slight stretching before the break. casual swingin’ time suspension & freedom dances before 1st OTHER ONE verse. longer post-verse jam disassembles towards noisy core. weir watch: cute dedication of SUGAR MAGNOLIA to his sweetie, “if frankie’s still listening, this one’s for you.” and proper promotion of the new ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT single (“this here romantic ballad”) over the airwaves of the world.

5/18/72 munich: the tour’s last show on the continent. nicely escalating 1st set, building through patient & triumphant CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER to a noisy PLAYING IN THE BAND & GOOD LOVIN’ with more garcia on B3, especially aggressive during vocal reprise. SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD makes 1st appearance in europe to open 2nd set, the start of its final stand, a standby since ’66 (& on the 1st album), played at 3 of tour’s last 5 shows, then gone. another sinuous GOOD LOVIN’, last with a pigpen rap, the final 4-day creep. 38-minute DARK STAR > MORNING DEW, 1st of 8 versions of that very heavy pairing thru 10/74. beautiful but low-stakes 1st jam, gentle conversations in orbit. post-verse improv builds to a martian storm, neon dust streaking by quietly & then torrentially, before stunning DEW. totally knockout SING ME BACK HOME, donna sounding just absolutely magnificent, & majestic garcia solo. of course, everything sounds golden, even ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT, which i find stupidly irresistible when played like this.

5/23/72 lyceum ballroom: big jams, good vibes, keeper album takes. by all accounts, one of the chillest scenes ever, GA with open floor & seated balcony, skylight that slid open in nice weather (!), enough room to hang. 1st PROMISED LAND show opener, a norm for next buncha years, weir’s post-verse “WOO!” more pronounced. LP version of MR. CHARLIE, boogieing hard. THE STRANGER feeling tighter with weir/garcia outro vocals. 12-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND continues to explore sunset wah-wah pastels as jam resolves. debut of short-lived garcia-sung ROCKIN’ PNEUMONIA & THE BOOGIE WOOGIE FLU. crowd kerfuffle, requesting DARK STAR, i think.
weir: you wouldn’t recognize it anyway, man.
garcia: how much you wanna bet, man, i bet you wouldn’t.
weir: i bet we could slip it in on you & you’d never know.
garcia: how do you know we haven’t already done it?
dripping prelude as band drifts into 42-minute DARK STAR > MORNING DEW, magical from the start, sky-dancing into shapes, melting into abstruse bass/drums conversation. post-verse, garcia/lesh duo builds to freakout & eventually DEW. 21-minute GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY > HEY BO DIDDLEY > NOT FADE AWAY, the official & delightful garcia-sung debut of HEY BO DIDDLEY after backing bo in march (& singing it with wales in january), played a few more times in ’72.

5/24/72 lyceum ballroom: last ever version of HURTS ME TOO, pigpen staple since debut in ’66, the take on “europe ’72.” garcia’s solo doesn’t have the noisy peak of other recent versions. love the weird pocket the band finds mid-PLAYING IN THE BAND, garcia rocketing around it. semi-rare YOU WIN AGAIN makes cut for LP. love the B3 here, vaguely garth hudson-y (though way less bonkers). only BLACK PETER of tour & last with pigpen’s B3 providing gospel layer. great dynamic version. surprisingly long & articulated MEXICAN HAT DANCE tuning jam. 54-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > SING ME BACK HOME. TRUCKIN’ gets mildly out before THE OTHER ONE goes all the way there, weir co-leads driving band around/thru cloud banks. after verse, long drumless conversation, a whole lotta lesh, & tender SING ME BACK HOME. final TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT with pigpen is a fast-spiraling 12 minutes. pig’s last rap hits the big themes before a ripcord into THE STRANGER, which i love in a late set slot. sadly, pig’s vocals getting weaker, weir & garcia’s outro getting stronger.

5/25/72 lyceum: ticking off final versions of pigpen tunes. last BIG BOSS MAN ’til garcia’s ’80s revival, in the repertoire since at least early ’66 & possibly in ye olden warlocks days. last pigpen GOOD LOVIN’ (& last with garcia on B3), awesome sinuous jam but no rap. nearly 16-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND getting further & deeper into the ether, floating into weightless jazz-ish headiness after the conclusion of the meltdown, followed by a totally right-on BROKEDOWN PALACE, ace dynamics, last with the perfect piano/B3 combo. 60-minute UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > WHARF RAT > DARK STAR > SUGAR MAGNOLIA is lovely & flowing, increasingly rare spot with 3 garcia songs in a row. UNCLE JOHN’S slips into rare jam with bare hint of WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE. powerful WHARF RAT just falls into DARK STAR. the last europe ’72 DARK STAR, another stained glass beauty, 1st jam rising sweetly above the clouds & down into vibrant formless masses of shimmering undulating star stuff & electric bass, rolling up into only verse. charming post-verse lesh/godchaux/kreutzmann trio, weir & garcia trickling back in, turning into a watery FEELIN’ GROOVY jam that fractures back to the elements. false start segue into SUGAR MAGNOLIA that weir almost successfully tries to make sound intentional. nice moment at the beginning of late set COMES A TIME with just garcia & pigpen playing. final version of SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD, at home in the garcia repertoire back to ’72, apparently soundchecked again in the ‘80s.

5/26/72 lyceum: pigpen’s last real show. in 1st set, final MR. CHARLIE, CHINATOWN SHUFFLE, NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME (in repertoire since ’66) & THE STRANGER. on the last, pig’s audibly weary but bringing it & arrangement is finally there, never to be finished in the studio. crowd cheers for the start of PLAYING IN THE BAND, as if they know what’s coming after 7 other UK shows. biggest PLAYING yet, the jam itself crossing the 10 minute mark for 1st time, a sense of breaking through into ever-more-shimmering territories. way cool: audience wants to hear NOT FADE AWAY, starts clapping @BoDiddleyBeat, & band starts it up. will become deadhead tradition many years hence. rare 1st set NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY, sparkles from garcia/lesh/godchaux. set 2 begins with 71-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > MORNING DEW > THE OTHER ONE > SING ME BACK HOME, which gets edited (& overdubbed vocally) into the classic 37-minute final LP of “europe ’72,” but looser & equally classic in its original form. TRUCKIN’ drips naturally into jam & whole sequence puddles in/out of zones, 1st dissolving into beautiful weightlessness, up over the hill into THE OTHER ONE, down into bass valley, brief drum break before returning to verse before a long space-out that makes the LP cut. pigpen doesn’t sing any songs during this set, but he does actually feel pretty present. in the deepest part of THE OTHER ONE, excerpted as PRELUDE on “europe ’72,” shows up playing excellently zonked 2-chord pattern for a long moment, before fading back into mix. and then the canonical MORNING DEW, huge band dynamics & riveting guitar, another spot where pigpen’s B3 is really contributing (& will really be missed). the album version replaces garcia’s slightly shaky vocals on early part of song, but not end. totally beautiful. DEW flows into a substantial OTHER ONE concluding segment, with bright bass peaks & more B3 before the verse, landing in a near-perfect SING ME BACK HOME. stunning quiet garcia vocals & soft wonderful donna jean harmonies, a version to play for haters. and they keep going, 2 of the final 4 tunes making “europe ’72” including RAMBLE ON ROSE (filled with life this far into the tour & set) & ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT encore, as always, even better not on a saturday, just exactly perfect ending to europe ’72.

6/17/72 hollywood bowl: after delicious europe multi-tracks, a rude welcome back to US soil with totally debauched audience recording of pigpen’s final appearance. he doesn’t sing, but plays B3 for all night, contrary to myth, loud & clear on semi-“new” audience tape. the debut of STELLA BLUE, lyrics written in 1970, music finished in germany. ghostly, slow, & graceful from the start, a little faster than where it’d settle, garcia deeply inside vocal. almost literally haunting B3 part. the “new” audience tape, apparently made from the front row, has a group of heads absolutely *bullying* weir to put on some kind of funny hat throughout the first set. “WEIR! PUT ON THE HAT!!!!!!” “THE HAT!!!!” which he does before BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE. many randos wandering around stage apparently. 42-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > RAMBLE ON ROSE, OTHER ONE jam melts beautifully pre-verse, pigpen right in the conversation, spiraling into DARK STAR-like territory. post-meltdown freak jazz settles to 2nd verse. 16-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT gets into gorgeous bass shimmers during 1st transition, pigpen jamming all the way to the end, now & forever etc.. farewell warlocks, goodbye pigpen.

7/16/72 hartford: a sweltering afternoon in hartford, including a pretty decent superjam with most of the allman brothers. messy tape, going between gnarly audience recording & slightly better soundboard, absence of pig’s B3 very felt. odd afternoon pacing. PLAYING IN THE BAND meltdown early in 1st set. 2nd ever STELLA BLUE feels lonely in the middle of sunstroked daylight. absolutely ripping jams near the end of CUMBERLAND BLUES, keith elegantly divebombing around garcia’s shreds. debut of MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP, in some ways the last song of garcia/hunter’s americana period, 1st written with a donna vocal part. ending a little patchy here. 53-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > LOOKS LIKE RAIN. 1st OTHER ONE segment shape-shifts delightfully, chaotic lead bass shouldering band in new directions before landing in 1st HE’S GONE with sleepy vocal outro. briefly returning to THE OTHER ONE, they land in a not-quite-purposeful drift & the 1st LOOKS LIKE RAIN without garcia’s pedal steel. lesh’s harmony is also gone except at end, which also saddens me, but he thunders all over this version, maybe partly the mix. show ends with 25-minute power-jam co-starring dickey betts, berry oakley jr., jaimoe, & gregg allman, audible at various levels during 25-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > HEY BO DIDDLEY. it’s pretty successful as these things go, especially NOT FADE AWAY, with big sweet betts leads, thundering oakley bass (the real dead freak of the allmans, apparently, his last time playing with them), & not too much audible B3.

7/18/72 roosevelt stadium: 1st NYC area mega-gig. in the 1st set, 1st BIRD SONG since 4/71, debuting new arrangement with room for 2 jams (1st: soaring, 2nd: elegiac), drum-flutter ending between, & lots of telepathic piano that seems to provide the magic to the new floating vibe. lesh’s vocals are super-loud on this tape, overcompensating because (as he makes known) he can’t hear himself, but also maybe the beginning of the era when his harmonies start to harsh a bit. promoter john scher begins his tradition of quality setbreak entertainment. 47-minute TRUCKIN’ > DARK STAR > COMES A TIME. after floating for a while, DARK STAR leaps into soaring & busy double-time jam. post-verse, a garcia/lesh duet leads deeper into noise & wildness, landing in tender COMES A TIME by way of the sputnik arpeggio. big closing 16-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY, another phase where garcia seems to be able to spit out fresh-feeling rainbow lines in each version, despite playing it nearly every night. many fireworks, onstage & off.

7/21/72 seattle: owsley’s fresh out of the halfway house & once again ready to cause havoc across state lines. show feeling a little lumpy. i might still be adjusting to the post-“europe ’72” soundboard mixes, but think it’s the flow, too. STELLA BLUE dynamics coming online, but still a bit awkward in the 1st set. 2nd set includes earnest quasi-debut of weir’s WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE, changes he’s been tinkering with for 3 years. band gamely tries to accompany but fall apart quickly. weir laughs & swerves into ME & MY UNCLE. it’ll be back next fall (& in jams before then). 46-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > COMES A TIME. fairly paint-by-number OTHER ONE, though cool passage in 1st half where garcia sounds like a manual version of a delay pedal. post-verse jam includes intense tiger freakout.

7/22/72 seattle: tape begins with lesh asking, “are you there, bear?” 9-minute BIRD SONG settles into its lovely new 2-jam structure, like different sky colors. once again awed by keith godchaux’s piano playing, understated but so filled with confident rippling movement. both STELLA BLUE & MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP move to the 2nd set & both benefit mightily for it. some beatlesy turns in these early versions of STELLA BLUE. garcia’s soul-bearing vocals are pretty perfect. the group singing on HALF-STEP is… not. zonked banter. warped high-octane PLAYING IN THE BAND jam. weir watch: might be wrong, but i think this is the last version of the YELLOW DOG JOKE, told during tech breaks since ’69, garcia & godchaux accompanying with HEART & SOUL. wild times. no real jam sequence, just a mildly wilded TRUCKIN’ that (after a brief pause for tuning) resolving into HE’S GONE, the singalong getting more confident. but the big oomph provided by MORNING DEW, the 1st since europe. good off-mic chatter before SUGAR MAGNOLIA:
garcia: what’re you doin’, mr. goulet? [perfect, jer] weir [on mic]: well, folks, i’m gonna do the song that *made me famous*
kreutzmann: there is one?
shit-giving continues.

7/25/72 portland, OR: 1st set hits the key summer ’72 destinations in floating BIRD SONG, lesh’s harmony almost in balance. the 2 newest, STELLA BLUE & MISSISSIPPI HALF STEP, both get the night off. 54-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. iffy TRUCKIN’, but OTHER ONE overflows. pre-verse: cozy conversational weirding, swingin’ niftiness, drumless garcia/weir/lesh trio, SPANISH JAMish elegance with thematic changes & sweet garcia slide.

7/26/72 portland, OR: bickershaw festival earlier in the spring gets the win for the longest dead show, but this night in portland is only a few minutes shorter, though lots of extended tuning breaks, too.
lesh: minor technical difficulties, turning into major technical difficulties, that’s the story of my life.
weir: a stitch in time, however…
lesh: …saves none.
weir: or a cold solder joint in time, at this point.
38-minute DARK STAR > COMES A TIME. jam really gets going post-verse with drum/bass break that godchaux/garcia/weir follow outwards, gliding into shapeshifting hippie swing & cracking back to space. another quasi-drum break coalesces into more edge-of-form weirdness, with awesome responsive scene-focusing semi-free drumming. last time garcia sings already rare 2nd DARK STAR verse until ’81 (slightly messing up his entrance) & last with lesh’s cascading counter-vocal. garcia’s late set vocals on COMES A TIME & STELLA BLUE are otherworldly, both so pure & aching in these early versions & both well placed late into the evening. their only time in the same set until 1980). both are heavy but not sleepy.

8/12/72 sacramento: good fun & a lot of great banter, on & off mic. not sure if it’s the mix, but godchaux’s piano is either at the exact loud-but-not-too-loud level or he’s extra-active/conversational throughout, or maybe both, just telepathically attuned.
off-mic:
garcia: what’s it gonna be, roberto?
weir: how about EL PASO?
garcia, aw, man, we just did a cowboy song.
(they play BLACK THROATED WIND & weir waits for his next turn.) lovely quiet. BIRD SONG stops show with weeping garcia jam. whoever made this file correctly applied double exclamation points to an exquisite STELLA BLUE!! late in the 1st set, not yet affixed to the jam sequence. some heads cheer as if they know it already. gorgeous bass. weir watch: “this next song rose straight to the top of the charts in, uh, my living room. i really like it” before PLAYING IN THE BAND. more incredible jam-driving keith. wah-wah happy garcia throughout, dripping all over PLAYING, but also ME & MY UNCLE & elsewhere. 1st HE’S GONE to lead into a jam sequence from the vocal outro, delicious 42-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > BLACK PETER > THE OTHER ONE, getting way heavy. middle jam warps into to wah-wah peels, resolves to weirdo space-jazz, & drips into rare-ish BLACK PETER. after elegant BLACK PETER, a thoroughly dug-in crest jam before 2nd OTHER ONE verse. thrilling TRUCKIN’ comes a breath away from hitting the defining peak they’d institute later down the line, still new territory. to my ears, 1st MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP that really clicks, with big 4-part singing. after overdubs previous week, 1st ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT with fun answer vocals in outro.

8/20/72 san jose: tape keeps switching between suboptimal & slightly better sources. 1st FRIEND OF THE DEVIL since 4/71, finding a more comfortable electric bounce. the 1st with keith godchaux, not that he’s terribly audible. another big night for the jam suite, 45-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE, 1st time STELLA BLUE appears in post-jam slot. post-verse OTHER ONE meltdown opens to lesh-led proto-STRONGER THAN DIRT theme, tumbling outwards with blissed-out garcia. funny to hear STELLA BLUE out of the tag that used to land in CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT. not a totally smooth vibe shift, but these early versions are knockouts. beautiful dynamics & vocalin’. *distracted boyfriend meme but jerry & STELLA BLUE & COMES A TIME.*

8/21/72 berkeley community theatre: intense 13-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, getting deeper in new ways post-europe, here with over-the-top piano, another night with chatty godchaux. wah-wah jam in GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD is more rippin’ by the show. 34-minute DARK STAR > EL PASO. after conversational 1st jam, post-verse meltdown trickles out into quietude, garcia leans into MORNING DEW & is overruled by lesh, then unusually dominant godchaux leads the charge through pointillistic space-jazz thrills. this was apparently the 1st show of greg, the dude dancing in the front row in the grateful dead movie.

8/22/72 berkeley community theatre: unmentioned from the stage, but a wailing 25th (& 75th) birthday to donna godchaux! garcia watch – after this version of LOSER, the “sweet suzie” aside in the chorus disappears except for a few scattered versions in the later ‘70s. 51-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. slight TRUCKIN’ disassembly before another long OTHER ONE, sleepy until post-verse bass solo, godchaux-led jam, & deconstructive freak-out. the return of the NOT FADE AWAY suite, getting very slightly rarer after a year-plus of constant play. 19-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > HEY BO DIDDLEY > NOT FADE AWAY. last dead version of BO DIDDLEY except a 1-off in ’86.

8/24/72 berkeley community theater: after an evening off, the new riders of the purple sage open. BIRD SONG continues to mature, effortlessly floating between verse & jams, everybody contributing in bright & sometimes very quiet ways. harmonies sounding the teeniest bit shaky but still big & confident. donna speaks! before PLAYING IN THE BAND: “here’s a chick singing with the grateful dead, it must be kind of strange.” giggling. “but can you imagine how strange it is for me?” weir: “she’s been wanting to say that for 6 months.” 40-minute DARK STAR > MORNING DEW. ace thematic playing throughout. lesh dives into 1st jam, the band coming close to shifting into proto-KING SOLOMON’S moves. post-verse meltdown coalesces into gorgeous fully-formed 5 minute denouement & quiet drift into devastating DEW. without pigpen & with the band seemingly trying to avoid closing with NOT FADE AWAY etc., interesting to see what they deem to be heavy enough to end with. tonight includes 2 common ones that i dig in late show slots, RAMBLE ON ROSE & SING ME BACK HOME.

8/25/72 berkeley community theater: “we’d like to introduce the boys for the people who are visiting from boise…” & bill graham goes one by one through the band. when he reaches weir, garcia adds LOONEY TUNES theme. “from marin county, the grateful dead…” short by ’72 standards, less than 3 hours of music, but still brings the goods. tight song performances (though a few weird slips in BERTHA), including reborn electric FRIEND OF THE DEVIL & 17-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, the meltdown now replaced by fusion darting. 53-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. long bass dissolution floats into moody 1-verse OTHER ONE. not much drama, but much great conversation/theme/variation around the pulse, super-present godchaux piano, deep space, lovely STELLA BLUE descent.

8/27/72 veneta: every bit as good as i remember & a personal desert island dead show. the next subtle turn from the europe ’72 band, exuberant & sun-drenched all-around, though according to all accounts a true battle to experience IRL. subtle lyric tweak in BLACK THROATED WIND, “bringing me down, this cloverleaf town.” the jams (& perhaps other things) really kick in during 15-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, floating into a new field of melodiousness after weir’s transition riff. from then on, it’s classic city. on-fire set-closing BERTHA. slow-tempo’d 18-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND drops immediately into high-energy jam that slows even further into dynamic conversation, disassembly, dank subterranean wandering, solar flares, piano cascades. lots of stage announcements by merry prankster ken babbs, perhaps slightly dominating the rap on the tape, but an interesting experiment in stage/audience communication, acting as bulletin board (& context!) as wavy gravy goes through crowd & brings back messages. properly spare JACK STRAW with big piano (plus: enter naked pole guy, scampering to his rear-stage perch). for many, the canonical electric BIRD SONG, deeply lyrical jam floating into the blue. screaming skyrocket of a GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. set 3 jumps right into 36-minute DARK STAR > EL PASO, dog barking as they start. pre-verse jam holds in magical static space. post-verse sails off into sweet-toned tumbling. after bass solo, band goes cosmos-skipping. garcia moves for MORNING DEW, weir overrules. then, one of the keeper dead versions of SING ME BACK HOME, absolutely hitting the spot after the previous 40 minutes or so. a few rippin’ rockers & it’s off into the oregon night, finally cool enough to breathe.

9/3/72 boulder: in some ways, the anti-8/27. 3 sets, over 4 hours of stage time, & many of the same songs but nothing that coheres or transcends quite like the weekend before, though still great music throughout. fairly monster 17-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND. weir watch: channeling tina turner’s intro to PROUD MARY, “every now & again we get the feeling that you’d like to hear us to do something nice & straight, well, we never ever do anything nice & straight…” before EL PASO. big jam sequence is 49-minute HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. HE’S GONE melts into its 1st real (short) jam with mellow trilling outro. THE OTHER ONE finds some swinging conversational pockets but never launches into its own space. rainstorm leads to st. elmo’s fire onstage (story by j. barlow), break to dry out piano. weir: “we forgot to specify an amphibious piano & we got the regular kind & we got to work with that.” relatively rare ROCKIN’ PNEUMONIA leads off late-show choogle.

9/9/72 hollywood palladium: slightly askew vocal mix but wonderful 11-minute BIRD SONG with enraptured garcia/lesh conversation. after frenetic zapping, 18-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND settles onto a cloud before final reprise. 51-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE. rewarding OTHER ONE. garcia hits proto-SLIPKNOT! transition riff early. full band flows together in/out of abstraction & loveliness, linked by occasional garcialogues. godchaux now has wah-wah on piano, subtle beautiful new color. no 2nd encore, rhythm section MIA.
garcia: we’d like to play some more, but some of the boys are already in tijuana.
weir: we have a bass player who was last seen heading out the back door with some cute little filly, so that’s about it, see you tomorrow.

9/10/72 hollywood palladium: not much to add to the usual ’72 highlights, but incredibly dense PLAYING IN THE BAND swoops & dives. 2nd set opening HE’S GONE with maybe the sweetest & most mournful outro garciaing yet. weir comes ever-closer to linking it to TRUCKIN’. and tonight, 50 years ago, @thedavidcrosby joins the dead to jam on a 41-minute DARK STAR > JACK STRAW, flowing with a different mood than usual with croz’s not-quite-leads. hard to say who’s doing what, but densities abound, falling into drum break & out into JACK STRAW. croz also sticks around for SING ME BACK HOME & SUGAR MAGNOLIA. hard to make out his guitar in the mix, but he sure ain’t singin’.

9/15/72 boston music hall: with “ace” out in the world, the majority of the songs in the set(s) are now officially released. painterly 17-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, breaking apart from high-speed freak-out to more abstract fields. 35-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE. all seem to be pushing each other, garcia (& lesh’s) proto-SLIPKNOT! densities & especially godchaux’s sometimes noisy/atonal wah-wah keys feel like new OTHER ONE trends, weirding as they go, getting disjointed near end. taper is ecstatic as band finishes up SUGAR MAGNOLIA (with wild garciaing), wishing his friend richard a happy birthday into the microphone. “if the dead are anything like this saturday night [like] they are on friday night, wow!!!”

9/16/72 boston music hall: 1st proper BIG RIVER after new year’s & soundcheck versions, big new addition to weir’s book. always rare MORNING DEW 2nd set opener. 1st DON’T EASE ME IN since ’70 acoustic sets & 1st known electric version since ’67, equally inspired & fuzzed. ned lagin joins on electric keys (with wah) for fantastic 32-minute DARK STAR > BROKEDOWN PALACE, he & godchaux almost equally ambient at times, but both there. gentle waves before 1st verse, dazzling episodic turns later with agro keys that i think are ned.

9/17/72 baltimore: full-service 1st set with BIRD SONG, CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, & multi-flare 18-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, folding from high-speed freakout/meltdown mode to beautiful mellowed-out conversation as kreutzmann pulls into spaced-out swing. 49-minute HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE. long satisfying sequence of post-verse wilding, from space to intense ricocheting conversation, garcia taking back seat to aggro piano. once again, garcia steers band towards MORNING DEW, here derailed by tuning break.

9/19/72 roosevelt stadium: a cold rainy night with a fuzzy tape. a few delicious bits. some especially committed garcia vocals throughout 1st set, little variations during BERTHA, SUGAREE, TENNESSEE JED. 45-minute HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. blown-out metallic flowerings post-verse with what i assume are some very delicate piano colors, but most/all of the subtle details are lost in the fuzz.

9/21/72 philadelphia: their 1st headlining appearance at the spectrum. another all-timer, an almost perfectly separated owsley soundboard with garcia in left channel, weir in right, only coming into circulation in the ‘90s. earns totally fair comparisons with the veneta show for deep playing & an even deeper setlist. certainly, garcia gets right to the jams, calling BIRD SONG & CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER in his 1st 2 slots. beautiful wah-wah piano in BIRD SONG, godchaux taking the lead (with nifty garcia comping) there & throughout. due to the mix, a peak weir tape. powerful RAMBLE ON ROSE & CUMBERLAND BLUES (in a lesh-called slot between garcia & weir), now-usual 17-minute set-closing PLAYING IN THE BAND. 26-minute HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ goes from ache to bounce, 1st successful version of a segue they’d rely on for next decade. titanic 49-minute DARK STAR > MORNING DEW ripples thru pre-verse. staccato bubbles & wah piano. post-verse, garcia disappears for keith-led jam. then, sustained conversation, a triumphantly articulated & almost bluegrass-y MIND LEFT BODY theme. garcia really gets his DEW. late set has a few more big moments contributing to the complete-feeling quality of the show, including now locked & soaring MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP, sunshining FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, sterling NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY.

9/23/72 waterbury: 1st set has the now-usual 3 jams with CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, BIRD SONG, & PLAYING IN THE BAND, all very slightly shorter tonight, but what a golden age. something’s in the water at setbreak & band emerges extra-punchy. crowd control:
weir: you folks down there in the orchestra pit had best get out on account of you may not be there very much longer anyway. what i mean to say is…
garcia: they’re gonna drop the orchestra in through the cleverly concealed trap door in the ceiling. 2nd set begins with a semi-segued THE PROMISED LAND/BERTHA/GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, a sloppy fun 1st draft of the next-beat transitions they’d get into more in the later ‘70s, with some of the same components. then, a series of bust-outs. 1st AROUND & AROUND since 4/71, still tolerably fast, but about to get played every 2-3 shows (or more) for the next 10+ years. 1st IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE since 11/70 is fantastic & committed, garcia only spacing a few lines. 1st CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT since 12/71 (& last ’til ’85) is messy af, end of the original suite era. 37-minute CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. OTHER ONE is semi-unremarkable loud/quiet/loud except also perfect dynamic conversation.

9/24/72 waterbury: developing topography in 18-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, thinning out into flickering free space before roaring to peak, settling back down into fast minimal churn, re-wilding, & twisting sideways into the finale. another attempt at stringing together 3 songs by way of next-beat transitions in the later ‘70s style, tonight GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD/BERTHA/THE PROMISED LAND, flipping the 1st & last from previous show. kreutzmann barrels through the 1st 2 & it mostly works. debut of dolly parton’s TOMORROW IS FOREVER, 1970 duet with porter wagoner, sung by garcia & donna jean, an inspired pairing of their voices, a feature in the dead’s repertoire mainly in fall ’72.
group crowd work in the 2nd set:
garcia: c’mon, man, i don’t scream requests at you.
weir: what would you do if we spent all evening hollering at you guys?
weir & lesh (on cue, in unison): STAND UP, SIT DOWN, STAND UP, SIT DOWN.
lesh: you’d just love it, wouldn’t ya?
47-minute DARK STAR > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. ranging 1st jam stays inside lines. post-verse bass moods, screwdriver piano, darkness, trialogues, dialogues, drum break. from break, percolating uptempo jam that slides joyfully into CHINA CAT.

9/26/72 stanley theatre: “get well pigpen” banner in balcony. shouts to jay kerley, who snuck into the sold out show by moving in some lighting gear, then hid in bathroom for 4 hours, dosed, & listened to soundcheck, including the not-yet-busted-out BOX OF RAIN. exquisite 15-minute HE’S GONE in 1st set, languidly stretching during garcia outro. sparked-up CUMBERLAND BLUES (in the lesh slot), filled by patch. chiming & soaring BIRD SONG harmonics, dashing & darting PLAYING IN THE BAND jam-swing. weir watch: repeats “stand up, sit down” spiel from waterbury, less powerful without lesh. last dead version of briefly-lived YOU WIN AGAIN (revived by garcia solo in ’75). by contrast, weir’s newly-revived covers BIG RIVER & AROUND & AROUND are here to stay. 42-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE is a lovely one-time occurrence. 1-verse OTHER ONE churns/dances, already pretty bass-heavy before post-verse bass solo. feedback/tuning melt into BABY BLUE, vocals & guitar both sweet & powerful, last ’til ’74.

9/27/72 stanley theatre: now rare MORNING DEW opener doesn’t quite reach intensity of late-set versions, but still huge, setting deep mood for the night. delicate 1st jam in BIRD SONG. PLAYING IN THE BAND just always a thrill. 37-minute DARK STAR > CUMBERLAND BLUES is perfect 1-off specimen, chiming into busy conversational swing, bass-led moodiness opening to space, 20+ minutes before only verse. then, zooming into brightness with lesh leading charge into CUMBERLAND. as a postscript, ATTICS OF MY LIFE returns for 1st time since 12/70 (besides 9/71 rehearsals) & sounds glorious, almost a showmaking moment on its own. UNCLE JOHN’S BAND hits harder in late show slot.

9/28/72 stanley theatre: maybe the most pronounced ST. STEPHEN jam so far in screamingly ace GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, crossing the line from a hint to a full-on tease (or some such) & then peaking further, with donna wailing delightfully along. stately BROKEDOWN PALACE. 60-minute HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > ME & BOBBY McGEE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT, a long bass drift into the OTHER ONE, mellow jazz dances, garcialogue, slashing weir shapes, noise skitters & the 1st mid-suite BOBBY McGEE since europe.

9/30/72 american university: weir is wonderfully (& almost aggressively) loud in the mix, giving slightly new energies to less-delicate but expansive 12-minute BIRD SONG & the big slash-dancing PLAYING IN THE BAND. spinal tappy element #1: the dead’s equipment picks up local station @WMALDC, with a perfectly timed station break after DEAL that makes it sound like the show is being broadcast. some latin-sounding flute jazz floating in just before ME & MY UNCLE. spinal tappy element #2: setbreak entertainment includes an appearance by a former playboy bunny dancing to brown sugar & performing risque balancing acts with lit cigarettes. 42-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > SING ME BACK HOME highlighted by a godchaux/lesh/kreutzmann trio jam that holds its weirdness when the guitarists return, staying out until lesh steers them back for quick last verse, almost derailing anyway.

10/2/72 springfield, MA: super-active lesh in evening’s BIRD SONG sky-painting. CUMBERLAND BLUES (in the lesh slot) feels just slightly more jammed than usual, with godchaux & weir pushing some cool turns under garcia. will give garcia credit for trying MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > STELLA BLUE, with a little descending thingee to link them, though doesn’t really work. they have better luck next time, a few months later. band builds deep jam without OTHER ONE or DARK STAR, 32-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > JAM > MORNING DEW, accidentally echoing about-to-be-released “europe ’72.” NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE moves before break & FEELIN’ GROOVY theme after, dripping into wondrous DEW.

10/9/72 winterland: a benefit for… the roadies. plus, a post-show football game, the toilet bowl. the dead don’t skimp. 1st BOX OF RAIN since its brief 9/70 incarnation with the augmented lineup, coming with a different heft than the studio version. lesh’s vocal on the tender side of bluster. dig garcia’s faux steel. surprise, another great 20-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, increasingly less reliant on wah-wah meltdowns. might be an abnormally loud piano mix, but jam seems seriously godchaux-driven, gliding from intense crossfire down into quieter abstraction. fairly zooted grace slick appears at start of 2nd set, her only (taped) time with the dead, riffing over a blues jam. micro-WHITE RABBIT tease. “you get that bitch off the stage,” sez grace as bill graham escorts her away. she reappears later to similar results. big jam is econo-sized by ’72 standards, 37-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT, a long bass/drums bridge into THE OTHER ONE which travels into deep but concise misterioso conversation. powerful WHARF RAT, the ending seeming like it’s going to fly away itself. then, after the show 50 years ago today: the toilet bowl! touch football on the winterland floor pitting weir & kreutzmann & roadies (aka the dead ringers) vs. bill graham & crew, lesh & friends & a few heads rooting them on. conflicting reports on who won.

10/17/72 st. louis: oddity for the year, 3+ hours with only a few brief(ish) jams, standard issue fantasticness. 1st set has the 3 big pieces: glittering BIRD SONG, CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, & wild 23-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND with dappled thin-out. in 2nd set, band keeps bouncing through repertoire, a sweet night for pure boogie, finding a few new colors of sunshine in 18-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY, amid what amounts to 40 minutes of set-closers.

10/18/72 st. louis: almost an hour less music than the previous night but more jamming. unusually short 1st set, just over an hour. 13-minute BIRD SONG with high fluttering piano in the 1st jam & gentle guitar circling in the 2nd. 2nd set doesn’t dally, jumping into the quite serious 64-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > DARK STAR > MORNING DEW > PLAYING IN THE BAND, only time all 3 appeared in the same set, let alone same jam. PLAYING meltdown unmelts into swing, before DRUMZ & a retune. DARK STAR patiently disassembles down to near drumlessness & rebuilds pre-verse. after, gliding, skittering, a bass solo (like, nobody playing but lesh) mutating into the glorious 1st PHILO STOMP (named by dick latvala) & an exquisite FEELIN’ GROOVY jam that arrives at DEW. opulent melt into 1st ever PLAYING REPRISE. sequence of pleasant boogies (unmentioned, but PROMISED LAND on chuck berry’s birthday in his hometown) & sweet BROKEDOWN PALACE in casual standalone late-set spot.

10/19/72 st. louis: band’s last ever show at the much-loved fox theatre. band pulls out a few songs they didn’t hit on the 1st 2 nights. 1st DIRE WOLF since europe & the last ’til late ’73. very rare night without PLAYING IN THE BAND. unusual 2nd set BIRD SONG sets up the big sequence with wonderful garcia/lesh skywriting in the 1st jam, garcia seemingly popping a string & godchaux stepping up to lead the band through piano clouds. 41-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE. sweet wah-wah piano throughout OTHER ONE, again taking front when garcia pops string (or takes smoke break?). delicious godchaux/weir/lesh jam, then godchaux/kreutzmann duo, building to galloping melts. super HE’S GONE, coming to big elegant peak (almost proto-CRAZY FINGERS) & rolling naturally right back (briefly) into THE OTHER ONE. 1st aching COMES A TIME since july is the last ’til garcia revives it in the studio in ’75. oh well. sayonara fox!

10/21/72 nashville: their last free outdoor show outside san francisco (though the band got paid). apparently a bunch of gear got stolen at (or before) this show, resulting in weird tape mixes (or no soundboards at all) for rest of october/november tours.  garcia at full autumn flight during BIRD SONG, tape providing a lesh’s-ear view, with crazy loud bass, playing counterpoint, harmonizing riffs, dropping big low note after fake-out ending. 42-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > MORNING DEW. during TRUCKIN’, bass gets cranked &/or drums basically disappear. pleasantly weird/ambient OTHER ONE mix, already absurdly bass-heavy but tape cuts & bass returns belligerently loud/abstract. great moment.

10/23/72 milwaukee: weir watch – “it’s polka time in ol’ milwaukee!” weir announces before extra-hyped MEXICALI BLUES. semi-rare STELLA BLUE successfully holds quiet space at big rock show. only version of this tour leg. last ROCKIN’ PNEUMONIA, played a few times by the garcia band in ’75. nearly all the PLAYING IN THE BAND details disappear into audience tape, but ready to burst into new groove. can only infer kreutzmann’s monster playing. donna’s moved between garcia & weir on this tour. weir watch: “i was walkin’ out of a hotel in new york city the other day…” *big cheers* proceeds to tell his absurdist bee joke while kreutzmann & godchaux accompany with cocktail jazz & punchline drop. early 2nd set BROKEDOWN PALACE sets up fog-shrouded 37-minute DARK STAR > MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP, carving river-like shapes. pensive post-verse wah-wah piano, big melts & wind-down. garcia confidently hits HALF-STEP intro, all right behind him. great flow.

10/24/72 milwaukee: could be the murky tape casting weird shadows but 11-minute BIRD SONG soars into some unusual patches, excitable kreutzmann turbulence in both 1st & 2nd jams, leading to well-earned peak. another hyped MEXICALI BLUES, really emphasizing the polka. after bustout earlier, the big-harmonied new arrangement of BOX OF RAIN enters the rotation, played at nearly all shows thru summer ’73. impatient crowd claps during tuning break & for once band matches their tempo, garcia hitting crowd-pleasing FRIEND OF THE DEVIL. anti-smoking PSAs & other banter throughout the tape that’s virtually impossible to discern, if someone feels like a mission. 24-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND uncoils into circling jam, storms gathering & breaking with weird alien-toned garcia near end. 51-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE. jams get big post-verse in OTHER ONE, bass solo launching into PHILO STOMP theme with deep kreutzmann backbeat, finding nooks, going out, coming back, then garcialoguing into space. after the show, band/crew initiates actual fireworks fight *inside* the marc plaza hotel where the mcgovern campaign is also staying. the only arrest is keith “ACAB” godchaux.

10/26/72 cincinnati: monster garcia shreds on BIG RIVER. again, PLAYING IN THE BAND moves to opening of 2nd set & turns monstrous, 28 minutes, longest yet. big lesh/kreutzmann duo, throwing weird grooves & not quite PHILO STOMP-ing. great singin’ by garcia on DEAL & BROKEDOWN PALACE before 42-minute TRUCKIN’ > DARK STAR > SUGAR MAGNOLIA > SING BE BACK HOME. TRUCKIN’ downshifts through NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE noodling & a space-blues disintegration prelude to DARK STAR. DARK STAR feels a bit restless, coming into a few moments of propulsion/clarity, but mostly floating around in a delicate 5-way conversation, losing a little steam post-verse before weir cleverly strikes up SUGAR MAGNOLIA over a garcialogue.

10/27/72 columbus: revived BOX OF RAIN was surely a highlight for many heads. growing on me in its live incarnation. after, garcia & keith & kreutzmann fool around on NIGHT TRAIN. all circulating tapes missing BIRD SONG, the set’s only jam. boo. 48-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > MORNING DEW. getting to where a 20-minute OTHER ONE feels short. cool scene changes, brief pre-verse lesh time warp, drifting post-verse ambience with bass/drums that find a new pocket. another well-executed quiet-pause transition to HALF-STEP, after which is a rare case where they sorta pause to tune but still feels like a real transition, into a throughly wonderful DEW. band gets huge ovation after whole sequence.

10/28/72 cleveland: 1st CANDYMAN since 10/71, 2nd of the godchaux era, perhaps reclaiming it from recent sammy davis jr. hit. 23-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND snarls & pops. big kick drum aids HE’S GONE set opener. last ATTICS OF MY LIFE ’til ’89 is gorgeous, a sad goodbye. 36-minute DARK STAR > SUGAR MAGNOLIA is luminous & ultra-locked even before lesh hits PHILO STOMP, all hopping on for joyous articulation, carrying into 15 more thrilling, churning minutes. not much of a segue, but last très ’72 pairing with SUGAR MAG.

10/30/72 detroit: deep 11-minute BIRD SONG, 1st jam gets big & confident & locked, . though with an unfortunately moodbreaking tape cut. a more whirling path near the end. only 10 minutes of PLAYING IN THE BAND, splicing in mid-jam, finding wide piano zone. 16-minute TRUCKIN’ opens 2nd set, sparking but not quite catching, pretty good stand-in for the set as a whole. some big curls in GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP, & GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY, but never goes *there.*

11/12/72 kansas city, ks: 1st show since “europe ’72”’s release & 1st time in a while where audience might be familiar with most songs. there don’t seem to be any photos of this show (& very few of this tour leg), but probably the debut of garcia’s erlewine stratocaster (with big numbers on the frets), weir’s short hair, & possibly even the band’s nudie suits, which appear in shots later in the week. extra-wacky 1-beat BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE intro. skewed mix is hard listen but offers new perspectives on garcia’s parts especially. during BIRD SONG jam, he’s often not soloing at all but still leading, comping at top of conversation. only place the music feels coherent (even though mix isn’t) is 23-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, especially new-feeling as it thins, bass coming to front, garcia laying back but still bubbling with little ideas & asides, moving between slashing & sparkling.

11/13/72 kansas city, ks: stonkin’ good CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, bit longer than others in this window. 22-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND (going to bear’s tape midway), volcanic kreutzmann propulsion nearly as soon as jam hits, quiet detailing as they stretch. 45-minute DARK STAR > MORNING DEW. rumbling wah-wah piano in middle & especially sparkling near beginning & after post-meltdown bass solo blossoms into another PHILO STOMP, high-speed FEELIN’ GROOVY theme & group twists, & confident drop into enormous DEW.

11/14/72 oklahoma city: mellow, effortless night of peak cowboy dead, though little jamming. 49-minute HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > SING ME BACK HOME. nice sleight-of-hand move into TRUCKIN’. OTHER ONE bubbles with wah piano.

11/15/72 oklahoma city: 3+ hours of on-point dead, seemingly missing beginning of the show. tape mix gets properly set in time for 11-minute BIRD SONG, keith’s wah-wah grand piano adding subtle ambient bubbling. 2 lesh slots with both BOX OF RAIN & CUMBERLAND BLUES. opening 2nd set, PLAYING IN THE BAND crosses half-hour for 1st time, gradually downshifting into lush & tumbling drift, rather delicate by the end. keith’s wah-wah grand (which i used to assume was rhodes) is a subtly defining sound of the era.

11/17/72 wichita: a snowy evening in wichita, featuring an ultra-mega jam. keening & almost literal BIRD SONG tones at the beginning of multiple solos, flutters in the high air, perfect grace. only ever JACK STRAW in wichita elicits no particular cheers (though garcia’s hyped & jumps the gun on the tulsa lyric shoutout). rippin’ CUMBERLAND BLUES turns corner deep in jam, godchaux throwing colors. a commenter says garcia quotes hank garland’s SUGARFOOT RAG, performed the following week in austin with doug sahm at the thanksgiving soiree. extraordinary 35-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > BROKEDOWN PALACE. band blazes into OTHER ONE at full abstraction, hitting 1st verse quickly & dashing into underwater swing. brilliant piano. thematic (& relentless) lesh-bent knottiness that signals dawning weird-jazz era. econo late set rocker sequence feels especially ecstatic/effective at least based on the weir yelps, the mirror ball apparently getting deployed & melting minds during SUGAR MAGNOLIA. UNCLE JOHN’S BAND coming in fast.

11/18/72 houston: intended to be a co-bill with the allman bros., who cancelled due to berry oakley’s death. the (known) debut of the nudie suits. fantastic garcia vocals on 16-minute HE’S GONE, though counterbalanced by an off-night for donna jean. extended vocal outro & even more extended jam, super mellow in the best way, with lazily unfolding conversation & lots of bass. all lookin’ sharp! wall-to-wall endlessly-renewing full-tilt 26-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND. chattering bass, dizzying garcia ellipses, general shred-melt mayhem, clomping piano densities, etc., all threaded along kreutzmann’s dancing snare, constantly resetting the swing.

11/19/72 houston: another night originally scheduled with the allman bros. TRUCKIN’ conspicuously absent on both nights in the city too close to new orleans. lesh/godchaux/weir lock into gorgeous patterns under garcia’s BIRD SONG flight. really sweet version of garcia & donna jean’s duet on dolly parton’s TOMORROW IS FOREVER. 39-minute DARK STAR > MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP. sleepy pre-verse jazz, almost gentle bass. after, lesh solo builds to deconstructive PHILO STOMP, moving into brightness. weir briefly plays proto-WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE, but no one else quite registers. nice landing, too. after SUGAR MAGNOLIA, garcia shifts into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD, in unusual spot as a show-closer with no additional weirness afterwards. BID YOU GOODNIGHT instrumental ending is a lovely chill way to close the night.

11/22/72 austin: super kickin’ snare drum mix is just exactly right. lack of piano early on, though BIRD SONG finds clouds anyway. CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER transition is relentless, lesh almost audibly stepping on gas & then continuously upshifting. with piano dialed in just in time, PLAYING IN THE BAND is a mofo, even at “just” 16 minutes. all kinds of colorful full-group juggling & micro-scene changes as different players seem to come to the front & converse before dynamics change again. 51-minute HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE starting to resemble “modern” set structure. funny pause right before OTHER ONE bass drop. jam shifts almost democratically, weir sometimes at front, sometimes lesh, keith, garcia.

11/23/72 armadillo world headquarters: the thanksgiving jam at armadillo world headquarters in austin starring sir doug sahm, @jerrygarcia, leon russell, phil lesh, benny thurman, & pals. in some households, a headier tradition than alice’s restaurant or the last waltz. small thing, but pretty sure this is the only recorded instance of members of the dead sharing a stage with a 13th floor elevator, former bassist benny thurman, who switched to fiddle post-elevators, seen behind garcia here. super hot vocals & mushy mix make it a tough listen for me. garcia sings lead (& plays 6-string) on HIGH-HEELED SNEAKERS, THAT’S ALRIGHT MAMA, MONEY HONEY, & TRAIN TO CRY (all staples with merl saunders), fun duo with sir doug on SEARCHIN’, & occasional backup elsewhere. lots of fun tunes that don’t appear often in the garciaverse, including SUGARFOOT RAG, which garcia quoted a week earlier. almost seems like garcia’s pedal steel leads band into MR. TAMBOURINE MAN, lovely to hear either way, though (as throughout) it’s buried in the mix. jam highlight is 9-minute HEY BO DIDDLEY, led/sung by sahm, garcia singing backup. another shredder high up in the mix in the jam. is it sahm himself? russell’s on piano. through-the-roof energy & russell seeming to try to open it up further, plus a big coda. also fun is leon russell’s brand new holiday single, SLIPPING INTO CHRISTMAS. given the amount of people onstage, kind of amazing that proceedings stay song-tracked/concise & not just infinite boogie jams, though they do slip into that a few times, too.

11/24/72 dallas: another weird mix. this time, weir & godchaux are often absent, making everything starker than usual, but garcia/lesh/kreutzmann are a sick power trio. lovely garcia rain as 21-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND opens into a few delicate spaces with quiet drums. nice ‘72ness, but not much other jamming. self-contained 12-minute TRUCKIN’ stays between lines. 22-minute NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > NOT FADE AWAY, though garcia pops string early in jam, leading to extended lesh/godchaux mellowness.

11/26/72 san antonio: murky soundboard mix makes the jams sound like blending watercolors, 11-minute BIRD SONG bubbling in fall tones. delicious 19-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND gets way textural, watery vibrations & dancing piano. 30-minute DARK STAR > ME & BOBBY McGEE bobs gently for a while before post-verse bass solo floats from PHILO STOMP territory to glowing FEELIN’ GROOVY theme (its last appearance in a DARK STAR), melts into TIGER gnarl, & resolves to country-pop. wonderful sequence. garcia extends mood with hushed BROKEDOWN PALACE, ace late deployment. standalone GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD blows thru BID YOU GOODNIGHT for rave-up ending. someone hints at STELLA BLUE, but it’s sunday so they have to play ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT.

11/26/72 san antonio: murky soundboard mix makes the jams sound like blending watercolors, 11-minute BIRD SONG bubbling in fall tones. delicious 19-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND gets way textural, watery vibrations & dancing piano. 30-minute DARK STAR > ME & BOBBY McGEE bobs gently for a while before post-verse bass solo floats from PHILO STOMP territory to glowing FEELIN’ GROOVY theme (its last appearance in a DARK STAR), melts into TIGER gnarl, & resolves to country-pop. wonderful sequence. garcia extends mood with hushed BROKEDOWN PALACE, ace late deployment. standalone GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD blows thru the BID YOU GOODNIGHT instrumental coda in favor of rave-up ending. someone hints at STELLA BLUE, but it’s sunday so they have to play ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT.

12/10/72 winterland: originally co-bills with the allman brothers, who canceled after berry oakley’s death. high country open tonight. missing 1st part of show, including topical COLD RAIN & SNOW opener & BIRD SONG, 19-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, jumping into a delicate winter storm of a jam & swinging between snowflakes. weir is now a short(ish)hair. harsh cuts, including STELLA BLUE peak. 29-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE. post-verse, kreutzmann slides groove around. brilliant weir curlicues provide micro-clarities before another harsh cut, full growl, & recombobulation into new weird shuffle.

12/11/72 winterland: sons of champlin open. another cold night & less-than-full house, per memories. adoring bill graham intro, “those magnificent men from marin country, the grateful dead.” beautiful soft garcia vocals on LOSER. reports of garcia/weir stage theatrics during AROUND & AROUND. last FRIEND OF THE DEVIL ’til 9/74, closing my favorite window of original electric versions. outsized wilding by all on 19-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, partly owing to punchy snare mix & way-saturated garcia/weir/lesh. keith not loud enough. nice shimmer before reprise. 42-minute DARK STAR > STELLA BLUE sparkles into melodious pre-verse clank with flying backbeat & forward-squiggling garcia. post-verse is all in-twisting space-dread, falling into a pretty perfect STELLA BLUE. last TOMORROW IS FOREVER ’til ’74.

12/12/72 winterland: rowan bros. open. the california debut (& only local appearance) of the band’s nudie suits. curling, confident BIRD SONG. another CUMBERLAND BLUES that briefly finds a green new valley. 18-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND opens 2nd set, similar to many post-’76 versions in that it’s kinda static, except in the wondrous, perpetually-renewing dynamics of its 1-drummerness. 40-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > SING ME BACK HOME passes through NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE theme & bass solo sketch of the EYES OF THE WORLD coda & makes its mellow, jazzy way to 1st OTHER ONE verse. much churn, only a very brief sparkle-out. weir watch: dude’s voice is thrashed. still, during a late show tuning break, he makes a point of telling his absurdist BEES IN A BOX JOKE, the highly underrated b(ee)-side to the YELLOW DOG STORY.

12/15/72 long beach: the last road show of the year. newspaper report says no opening act, but multiple heads remember otherwise, though nobody caught their name. one description sounds like high country (feat. jerry’s old tripping/picking buddy butch waller), who opened at winterland a few days earlier. the grateful dead holiday show is a lot like a regular dead show, but that’s cool. didn’t even bring the nudie suits, seems. 19-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND does its razzle-dazzle needlework. wonderful 45-minute TRUCKIN’ > DARK STAR > MORNING DEW. thoughtful TRUCKIN’ morphs through quiet feedback, swing noodles, & plucky percussive theme, never stating DARK STAR ’til landing in verse. 10 minutes of dread & noise before soaring DEW resolution.

12/31/72 winterland: the dead ring in 1973 wearing their nudie suits, with the new riders of the purple sage & the sons of champlin. one of the finer new year’s, a “regular” ’72 show with slight extra edge. dead start at midnight, coming out of countdown with AROUND & AROUND (get it?). KSAN DJs enthuse about giant holograms bill graham has allegedly deployed on venue floor. can’t tell if this is radio theater, DJ hallucination, or something real? not seen other references. also: a bunch of very high level LSD dealers hanging around from the brotherhood of eternal love. can hear that extra juice on 19-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, donna sounding fantastic. even as it spaces, everybody keeps up chatter with side conversations & statements. great detailing for such a wild night. 68-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > MORNING DEW is righteous capper for righteous year of dead music, channeling “europe ’72.” after drum/bass break, david crosby adds ambient 12-string, his last onstage jam with the full dead & maybe best, chiming through scenes. weir sweetly dedicates SUGAR MAGNOLIA to bill graham. after SING ME BACK HOME, show stops cuz there’s a dude in rafters, snuck in from the roof. graham talks guy down, ready to catch him, dude appears briefly on mic.

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