Today In Grateful Dead History: March 10, 1981 – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

dancing-bear This show, the second night of a great two night stand at Madison Square Garden, literally starts off with a bang as one of the band’s speakers explodes a minute into Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo.  Obviously, this throws things into a bit of confusion, but we get to hear a nice instrumental passage until Jerry picks up the verse again several minutes later.  Things remain – how should we say it – “disorganized” until the bridge.  At this point, Jerry plays a very gentle, calming solo that seems to go on forever – it’s not the most technically adept solo you’re going to hear on this song, but atmospherically, it’s brilliant.  As Half-Step concludes, the sounds issues resolve and the band fires off into Franklin’s Tower, one of my favorite show opening combos.

It doesn’t get much credit from the commentators, but Lazy Lightning>Supplication is powerful tonight, as is the set closing Deal.  The Dead are playing the Garden like an instrument and you can hear the crowd ooh and aah as the night goes on.

After the break the band busts out an almost thirty minute Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain which is quite good but not top-notch as it is filled with lyrical problems and tempo changes.  The other big second set highlights are China Doll, one of the better versions you’ll hear from this era, and the Smokestack Lightning jam after Truckin’The Brokedown Palace encore is always appreciated.

Last night’s MSG show, which I haven’t written about yet, is probably a better show over all – for me, that is one of the all-time great Jerry shows, with his guitar turned way up.  But tonight, especially the first set, is smoking too.

There are lots of options for listening – I did the Matrix today, but the pure AUD is also really nice.  Check out the Matrix here:


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