The Grateful Dead played two nights in a row at the Hofheinz Pavilion at the University of Houston in 1972 – this is the second night.
The Dead really turned a corner on this fall tour, moving towards the much jazzier sound that we would come to know and love in 1973. But there are still a bunch of rough edges here that link the fall 1972 version of the band to it’s more raucous past. Tonight’s Dark Star is one of those rough songs – a beautiful, feedback-and-Phil Lesh heavy piece of work that goes into some pretty dark places for a show from 1972. Near the end of the song, the jam builds up until it comes crashing head over heels into the second ever performance of the Weather Report Suite Prelude. This melody only lasts for a couple of minutes before we’re back into more feedback and psychedelic wanderings until the band pulls things together with Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo.
As good as these songs are, they aren’t even the best part of this show – that would be Playin’ in the Band, a fully immersive twenty minute journey that shows off the best of the fall 1972 lineup. Everyone is playing off of everyone else here and the results are tremendous.
Finally, it bears noting that the Dead played Dolly Parton’s Tomorrow is Forever at this show. This is a song that the Dead would only play nine other times, mainly during this tour (and once in 1974). While I don’t think that this is the Grateful Dead’s best performance of this song, it is illustrative of what a powerhouse country band the Dead could be when they wanted to. (Check out the 11/13/72 show for the best version I’ve heard to date).
The Archive is being uncooperative tonight, so I can’t post the link to this show. I’ll try to swap it in some other time.
UPDATE 11/30/15: Here’s the link to the show: https://archive.org/details/gd1972-11-19.123577.sbd.gans-miller.flac24