Today in Grateful Dead History: May 15, 1983 – Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA

Dancing Skeletons

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.

Shows at the Greek Theater tend to be laid back, well-played affairs. This one is not at all laid back, but it is very well played. Jerry’s solo on Althea is great and the entire band really comes together for the finale of Looks Like Rain. The set-ending Deal is also quite good – I love how the band duplicates Jerry’s runs right after he plays them.

The second set starts with Help On The Way>Slipknot>Franklin’s Tower and while the first two songs are humdrum, the Franklin’s is a barn burner.

I don’t normally talk about Drums or Space, but in this case the band is joined by Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, so I paid closer attention to these songs than I normally do. Flora Purim is one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time and Airto Moreira played on Bitches Brew and Weather Report and was a founding member of Return to Forever, so I figured that there would be a lot going on during these numbers, but aside for some wailing mid-Space and a little extra percussion, Purim and Moreira didn’t add a lot to the musical mix. That being said, what is called Space here is really a very long jam into Truckin’ featuring Jerry, and it’s well worth a listen. The ending of Stella Blue is also a keeper. Finally, John Cipollina joins the band for Not Fade Away to close the show.

I actually favor audience or matrix recordings over the early 80’s soundboards, which sound really tinny. This is a great example of an audience recording by Rango Keshavan, who documented quite a few of these 1980’s California shows: https://archive.org/details/gd1983-05-15.fob.sonyecm220t.keshavan.miller.fix.94516.sbeok.flac16

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