Today In Grateful Dead History: February 18, 1971 – Capital Theater, Port Chester, NY

stealie It’s nice to be back from vacation and settled back into the Grateful Dead.

Today’s show from Port Chester, New York in 1971 features the live debuts of Bertha, Greatest Story Ever Told, Loser, Johnny B. Goode and Wharf Rat, so it can realistically be called a historic performance, and that’s even before you find out that it was Mickey Hart’s last night on stage with the Dead until the 10/20/1974 “farewell” concert.  Also, it’s at the Capital Theater, and since there are no bad performances at the Capital Theater, this show is worth your time even without the attraction of the new songs.

Let’s talk about the debuts first.  First off, they all basically sound like themselves, which is somewhat unusual for the Dead, who would often debut a tune and tinker with it for years before arriving at a “definitive” version. (I’m thinking of the In The Dark songs in particular, which were worked out live for years before being officially released).  The one interesting note comes in Bertha, which features a final Jerry solo after the last chorus – this wouldn’t stick around for very long.  The rest are all typical versions.

I think the most interesting musical section of this show takes place here: Hard To Handle, Dark Star>Wharf Rat>Dark Star .  This is a very good but not top tier Hard to Handle, but the combination of Dark Star and Wharf Rat, with a return to Dark Star, is very nicely done.  The band nails the transition from Dark Star to Wharf Rat, but the really awesome part is the truly beautiful playing during the jam out of Wharf Rat and back into Dark Star.  It’s an all-time highlight.

The remainder of this show is a frantically paced rocker, with no more jamming but a lot of your favorite songs well-played.  Strap in and enjoy.

Check it out here:  https://archive.org/details/gd71-02-18.sbd.stephens.6672.sbeok.shnf

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