NOTE: This material was originally published in 2015 on my previous site. It has been updated and edited, sometimes heavily, and was posted in several batches in August, 2016.
This show is the first in a run of three shows that some consider to be the best three days of music that the band ever played. I can’t agree with that but I do think that if you take the first set from this show and couple it with the second set from the Cornell show on the 8th and add in the Help>Slipknot>Franklin’s from Buffalo on the 9th as an encore, you can make an argument for that being an all-time best show.
What makes this first set so great? The Bertha to start is great despite the PA blowing out in the middle of the song and Peggy-O is a slow-burning masterpiece. The Music Never Stopped is a ripping set closer and I think it equals or betters the much-lauded Buffalo version from the 9th. But what seals the deal for me is the Mississippi Half-Step>Big River which, as far as I’m concerned, is the best version of Half-Step I’ve ever heard, even though Jerry forgets the words to the easiest chorus ever written. The soloing before the chorus is tremendous, but that’s not the whole story. Listen to Bob Weir’s fills throughout that passage – he’s doing some amazing things back there that will change the way you listen to this song forever.
Unfortunately, the second set is not equal to the first. This doesn’t mean that the second set isn’t awesome, it’s just lacking the first set’s punch. Part of the problem is the decision to start off with Terrapin Station, which brings the mood down a notch and they never seem to catch fire again, despite a bunch of up-temp numbers like Samson and Delilah and Eyes of the World. The jam out of Eyes/Drums into The Wheel is wonderful and Wharf Rat is also well-done, but, over all, the song selection coupled with the missing energy doesn’t help this show to rise into the pantheon.
Also, an important caveat: the band is plagued by equipment problems throughout this show, especially in the first set, so the breaks between songs are frustratingly long.
Here’s a link to the Charlie Miller soundboard: https://archive.org/details/gd1977-05-07.sbd.miller.88525.flac16