Today in Grateful Dead History: January 7, 1978 – Golden Hall Community Concourse, San Diego, CA

Dancing Skeletons

We continue Jerry’s Garcia’s beginning of 1978 laryngitis tour with this stop in San Diego, where we find Jerry completely unable to sing any songs.  This means that if you have a thing against Bob Weir, you better not get anywhere near this show tonight, because, at least vocally, it’s all Bob Weir all the time.  But as he did at yesterday’s show in San Bernardino, Jerry shines tonight with some great guitar playing, and the band does some really unique things behind him.

If you’re used to the normal Jerry song – Bob song – Jerry song rhythm of a Grateful Dead concert, then this show is going to take some getting used to, but once you adjust, it makes for some interesting first set listening, especially the ending sequence of El Paso>Let It Grow>The Promised Land.  Jerry lets it all hang out in the usual places on Let It Grow, and the band plays a bunch of those 1976 sounding fusion riffs and rhythms during the second half of the song, showing that they still have their chops here at the start of 1978.

The second half of the show really opens up.  You first hear evidence of what’s going on with the 23 minute version of Dancin’ in the Streets, which has to be one of the longest iterations of this song that I’ve ever heard.  There is a lot of space here, with Jerry and Bob passing lyrical guitar passages back and forth and Phil dropping in here and there to gather some of the space for himself, while the drummers throw down some bizarre stuff in the background.  The Samson & Delilah that follows is pretty typical, but then we get to our second Playin in the Band in as many days, and while this version isn’t as crazy as last night’s, it’s still very well developed and an excellent 1978 version of the song.  After Drums we’re treated to Not Fade Away, which goes pretty far out there for such a basic song.  I don’t know what has gotten into Jerry and Bob, but here they are again, trading licks and playing runs together like Duane and Dicky.  It’s a pretty manic, magical version of the tune, and pretty unique.

Even if you think that you’re not going to like a show with no Jerry songs, you’re going to find something here to enjoy.  Check out the fairly clunky soundboard here:  https://archive.org/details/gd1978-01-07.sbd.clugston.7204.sbeok.shnf

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