Today in Grateful Dead History: November 18, 1978 – Uptown Theater, Chicago, IL

Dancing Skeletons

On Monday, while reviewing the November 16th show from Chicago’s Uptown Theater, I talked about the uneven quality of Grateful Dead shows from 1978 .  Skip ahead two days and the November 18th show at that same venue finds us once again on shaky ground musically, although today’s show is arguably better than the performance from two days ago.

The first set of this show has a couple of interesting moments, including a long, winding Sugaree that is sloppy but features lots of Jerry Garcia runs.  After having to sit through Donna Jean Godchaux’s butchery of From the Heart of Me, a song that wouldn’t be good no matter who the singer is, we get a spirited version of The Music Never Stopped that, like Sugaree, isn’t going to win any awards for tightness but at least the feeling is right and the band sounds engaged.

The second set actually features a few of the same songs that we heard on the 16th, and once again the Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain is disappointing.  Then we get to I Need a Miracle, one of my least favorite Grateful Dead songs.  However, this I Need a Miracle is actually pretty great, with Bob and Jerry bombing away and everyone else sounding like they are enjoying playing the tune, which is incredibly rare.  Put this on your all time best I Need a Miracle list.  Eventually, Miracle devolves into He’s Gone, which is nowhere near as good as the version on the 16th, but it is followed by a good-for-1978 version of The Other One.  The rest of the show is just meh.

Once again, 1978 strikes with an uneven show with few true highlights and a couple of minor disasters.  But that’s ok – we did get to hear that I Need a Miracle.  Check out the Charlie Miller soundboard here:


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