It strikes me as somewhat funny that the Grateful Dead began their final year of touring by playing not one, not two, but three shows in Salt Lake City, Utah, one of the most conservative big cities in the country (although not even close to the most conservative place in Utah). Tonight’s show was the band’s first of 1995, and it seems like the Dead are playing it safe, with a setlist of tried and true songs that doesn’t push the boundaries but isn’t going to be too much of a disaster either.
Before we go any further, just insert all of the usual 1995 Jerry Garcia caveats here. They apply, as always, to this show, but it’s not too bad tonight.
The first set of this performance never really gets going until we arrive at Walkin’ Blues three songs in. This is a really basic tune that, due to Bob Weir’s exuberant vocals and the strange rhythms, actually gets your foot tapping. I don’t know why I’m partial to this song in the 90’s, but I am, and it’s one of the better early efforts tonight. The set closing Don’t Ease Me In is also good, with a couple of competent solos from Jerry to end things.
The second set opens with China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider, the clear show stopper tonight, mainly for the I Know You Rider portion. Jerry really rips into this one and it sounds like the band is going to push this show into another gear. Samson and Delilah follows and is, at the very least, up tempo. (Not mid-80’s uptempo, but still…) However, things slow down for Phil Lesh’s If the Shoe Fits and the band really never picks up the pieces again. Near the end, Attics of My Life is nicely rendered, and the It’s All Over Now Baby Blue encore is always a sentimental choice.
So there it is – the start of the Dead’s final year and a not too shabby performance in a strange place to get things going. One could argue that it’s all downhill from here.
Check out the audience recording here: https://archive.org/details/gd1995-02-19.schoeps.wklitz.95443.flac16