Today in Grateful Dead History: October 7, 1980 – Warfield Theater, San Francisco, CA

Dancing Skeletons

I’ve already discussed the origins of the Grateful Dead’s 1980 acoustic / electric shows at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco and I’m not going to revisit them here.  In case you don’t want to read that post, just know that this show, for reasons you’d know if you read that post, features an acoustic first set and two electric sets.  It’s also an audience recording.

The acoustic set opens with Iko Iko, but since it’s acoustic Dead, it doesn’t really evolve into that powerful display of funk that the electric version can be in the right circumstances.  My highlight from this set is Deep Elem Blues – nothing else really grabbed me.

Moving into the electric music, we’ve got a set of ok songs that really starts to move at the end with Don’t Ease Me In>Let It Grow>Deal.    Don’t Ease Me In, really?  Yup, if for no other reason than the nuclear blast of Brent’s Hammond B3 that rips through the audience after the first verse and Jerry’s solo after the second.  Let It Grow is basically the only exploratory piece of the whole night and the band goes pretty far down the road.  Deal is a set-ending Deal from 1980, so it’s intense.

The third set starts with a Shakedown Street featuring a lot of playing but not a lot of great ideas.  Still, it will get you tapping your foot.  Same goes for Estimated Prophet, which makes up for the lack of ideas with some serious energy.  Something has definitely gotten into the band between sets. . . but things slow down with He’s Gone>Drums>Space>The Wheel.  Finally, we arrive at Stella Blue.  The first half might be sloppy, but the ending sequence makes you sit up and take notice.  It’s a good one.  This typically sleepy song seems to launch the band back into orbit and they throttle through up-tempo versions of I Need a Miracle>Good Lovin’ before the Alabama Getaway encore.  And the crowd goes wild.

As I’ve said before, this run of shows features a bunch of well played songs that typically don’t stand out from the pack.  Tonight’s a good example of that.  If you’re picking and choosing songs from this show, focus on Let It Grow and the third set, especially Stella.  Otherwise, it’s kind of a take it or leave it night.

Check out the AUD here:  https://archive.org/details/gd1980-10-07.nak700.ellner.koucky.89189.sbeok.flac16

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