The Dead started out 1979 at the Spectrum, then ran up to New York for four nights at Madison Square Garden and Nassau Coliseum before returning to the Spectrum for today’s performance (the only January 12th show available), which made up for the cancelled 11/27/78 Philadelphia show. That, ladies and gentlemen, is one busy-ass week, and the Dead in general, and Jerry’s voice in particular, are suffering for it tonight.
The first set features a bunch of good songs, but nothing really takes off save Peggy-O. Sometimes this works to our advantage – the muted playing reduces Donna’s shrieking on Deal to acceptable levels, whereas last night Donna’s “heightened energy” made Deal almost impossible to listen to.
The second set is make up of a bunch of throw-away burners, but there are a couple of items of interest. First, Garcia’s ragged voice on It Must Have Been the Roses ads a bit of gravitas to the song and elevates it to “listen to it” status. Second, Jerry stays out on stage with the drummers after Dancin’ in the Street and just lays into his guitar without mercy for approximately eight minutes. Jerry doesn’t appear to care what is being played behind him, leading to some interesting moments of catch up from the drummers, but this is a very interesting and quite unique opportunity to hear Jerry go off without any guitar, bass or keys behind him. You should definitely check this section out – it’s part of Drums on this particular recording.
Let’s just take those two songs and be happy with them. Here’s hoping everyone went back to the hotel and slept for a day after this crazy week.
Check out the audience recording here: https://archive.org/details/gd1979-01-12.132217.aud.wise-claridge.fob.sony.ecm-280.flac16