Yesterday one of my two readers asked why I hadn’t posted the July 7, 1978 show from Red Rocks as my show of the day. While that show has its merits, in my mind, today’s performance is much better.
In a year that is known for some sloppy, rushed performances, the first set of this show features a lineup of “typical” first set songs that are very well played, none more so than the tight version of Dire Wolf which isn’t going to win any awards for length but the execution is perfect. Ramble on Rose is another example of this phenomenon – the band isn’t spitting fire, but the song really grabs you in a way that many other versions don’t.
The quality of the recording, which is top notch, definitely contributes to this show’s renown. Even through basic speakers, the depth of this performance is noticeable – all of the instruments are present and well-balanced and you can even pick up the cymbal tone from the drummers, which is often difficult to do.
By the time we get to the second set, the Dead have ramped things up to another level, culminating in this sequence: Estimated Prophet>The Other One>Eyes Of The World>Drums>Wharf Rat>Franklin’s Tower>Sugar Magnolia. The Estimated>Other One>Eyes in particular flows very naturally, with top shelf licks all around and a dialed-in rhythm section propelling everyone forward towards smokin’ versions of Wharf Rat and Franklin’s Tower.
Perhaps sensing that this is a pretty good night, the band busts out a three song encore that starts with a fantastic Terrapin Station, a rocking One More Saturday Night and a playful Werewolves of London.
I have my feelings about 1978 as a whole, and those feelings are generally negative, but this night is a highlight for the year and it seems to be a crowd favorite as an “all time great” show. While I’m not going to call it that, I get where everyone is coming from. This is a very high quality recording of a high quality performance and it deserves the praise it gets.
Here’s the Charlie Miller soundboard: https://archive.org/details/gd1978-07-08.sbd.miller.106070.flac16