Today In Grateful Dead History: November 5, 1970 – Capital Theater, Port Chester, NY

skeleton&rosesIf you’re not used to listening to slightly muddy audience recordings, then this show is going to come as a shock to your ears, but trust me, if you give it five minutes, your brain will adjust and this recording, from the Capital Theater in Port Chester, New York (where, incidentally, Phil Lesh is playing a multi-night stand right now), will reward you with a peak blast of 1970 power.

The 1970 Capital Theater shows are all epic, and most of them were taped by Ken Leigh, one of the ushers, who literally wired the balcony of the theater with microphones.  Tonight’s performance is pretty darn sweet, and yet it doesn’t even come close to the Dead’s best shows at this venue, so stay tuned for future shows from Port Chester – they are going to smoke, I assure you.

Turning to this particular show, things start to pick up with Truckin’, which merges into a pulsating The Other One that you can hear coming a mile away.  Even so, those first Phil bombs, which rattle the balcony, will set you right over the edge, and the Dead don’t give you any room to catch your breath before they fire into one of the spaciest, feedback laced Dark Stars you’re going to hear in 1970.  Things get under way normally enough, but about a third of the way through, the band almost completely shuts down.  You can hear a pin drop.  And for the next eight minutes or so, we’re treated to a very sparse journey into the outer reaches of Dark Star, before the Dead bring all of the dissonant pieces back together with a very tight, melodic jam into St. Stephen.  At the first hints of that song, the place just starts to lose it.  The band picks up on that energy and flings it right back at the audience with a huge Not Fade Away>Going Down the Road Feeling Bad>Not Fade Away that tumbles head over heels into Turn On Your Lovelight.  This is one of those Lovelights, clocking in at nearly half an hour and featuring everything from long jammy passages to Pigpen actually getting someone from the audience to agree to go home with him.  It’s a super way to end a show.

To say that this is one of the lesser Port Chester shows does this a disservice, because this is one hell of a show.  Still, wait till you hear the others . . .

No soundboard exists – deal with it:  https://archive.org/details/gd70-11-05.aud.warner.17182.sbeok.shnf

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