It’s fun to listen to several shows in a run to get a sense of the band’s momentum, which is why I’ve passed up several other promising performances (including a 1979 show at this same venue) to check out the middle night of this three night stay at Red Rocks.
After yesterday’s disappointing effort, the Dead sound like a totally different band tonight, with thick, interesting jams and a much more dynamic first set. You know things are going to be better right off the bat with a forceful Hell in a Bucket opener followed by a wailing Sugaree featuring some peak Jerry shredding, especially during the middle passages. Hearing this, it’s hard to believe that Jerry completely relearned how to play the guitar less than a year ago. The middle songs of the first set are all pretty good, but the set ending Bird Song>The Music Never Stopped takes the jamming prize, especially Bird Song, which goes way out on a limb.
The second set gets off to a rollicking start with a fun-loving but not very unique China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider. This leads to The Women Are Smarter (or whatever it’s called – it’s all Iko Iko to me). Terrapin Station comes next, and while it’s not going to blow any doors down, it’s still a welcome addition to the show. Drums/Space is very trippy and the transition into The Other One is interesting. The Other One itself is short but very good, so long as you don’t get frustrated with the now ubiquitous Bob Weir vocal effects. This brings us to Dear Mr. Fantasy (average), Wharf Rat (above average for 1987), Lovelight (average) and a Quinn the Eskimo encore (average but always fun).
So, now we’ve spent two very different days at Red Rocks. Anyone interested in seeing what happens tomorrow?
Here’s the soundboard for the show: https://archive.org/details/gd1987-08-12.sbd.walker-scotton.miller.81677.sbeok.flac16