Today in Grateful Dead History: February 4, 1979 – Dane County Coliseum, Madison, WI

Dancing Skeletons

We spent yesterday in Madison, Wisconsin 1978, so today I thought it would be fun to travel forward in time to Madison, Wisconsin 1979.

Things have changed in the space of a year.  We’re sitting at the tail end of the Keith and Donna era here – February 17th is going to be their last show with the Grateful Dead.  By this point, the road had taken its toll on Keith in particular and his playing here tonight is definitely limited.  However, the rest of the band’s energy is just fine, and this is an above average musical performance from start to finish.

The Dead played a bunch of Mississippi Half Step>Franklin’s Tower openers in 1979, and this one hums along with the best of them.  But for my money, the highlight of the first set is the fantastic Peggy-O, with some crystalline guitar work from Jerry.  Lazy Lightning>Supplication at the end of the set is also fiery, with Bob Weir playing his heart out and Jerry shredding relentlessly.

The second set is not exactly larded with my favorite Dead tunes, but the band is playing well.  There are a couple of really sweat moments in Terrapin Station and portions of Playin’ in the Band are also fairly dynamic.  You’ve got to stick with it to hear the band rip Around and Around to pieces.  This is one fired up version of that song – one of the better ones I’ve heard recently.

So, in conclusion, this is a well played concert for the  beginning of 1979, with some really good first set songs and not as much going on in the second set, due primarily to the choice of songs and not the band’s approach.  Catch Keith and Donna while you can.

For some reason, this show is split in two on the Archive.  Here’s the first set: and here’s the second:


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