Today in Grateful Dead History: August 31, 1983 – Silva Hall, Eugene, OR

Dancing Skeletons

We’re still in 1983 and it’s the final night of the Grateful Dead’s three night stand in Eugene.  The first two nights lacked the compelling “wow” moments that make some Dead shows remarkable, but they were both fun, listenable experiences.  Unlike those shows, tonight’s performance does have one unique moment in the second set that caused me to sit up and take notice.

Since recording quality was a problem for the first two nights of this run, I spent a little more time than usual trying to find the best version of tonight’s show.  This particular recording has a little more low end than the others and the pitch seems to be more natural than the alternate versions, which sound a tad high.  That being said, the drums aren’t great and Bob Weir’s guitar is buried for songs at a time.  This show is plenty listenable, but it’s not an A+ example of an audience recording.

The first set has got a few of those early 80’s funky (funky for the Grateful Dead, not funky like P-Funk funky) tunes working their mojo, specifically Dupree’s Diamond Blues and West L.A. Fade Away.  Jerry’s voice is not in great shape tonight and there are some vocal flubs, but the ragged tone adds a welcome layer of grunge to the proceedings.    Cassidy, which is sometimes a fluid beast of a song, just meanders tonight, but the Dead close out the set with a fired up Don’t Ease Me In.

The second set begins with a rare Cold Rain and Snow opener.  Although the band used this song a few times as the second set opener, mostly in the earlier 80’s, they typically played it somewhere in the first set.  In fact, this is the only time they played Cold Rain and Snow in the second set in 1983.

The heart of this show lies with Playin’ in the Band>China Doll>Playin’ in the Band>Drums>Space>Truckin’>Stella Blue.  Yeah, there are two Jerry ballads in that sequence, and they are both cool, with beautiful segues into and out of China Doll and a gorgeous, peaceful (despite the fuzz) middle solo from Jerry.  The return to Playin’ is a surprise as well.  My favorite part comes during Space, when the boys launch into a very sparse, rhythmic jam that sounds a lot like the Allman Brothers’ version of You Don’t Love Me, deconstructed.  This transitions into Truckin’, which packs a wallop until the up-tempo Stella Blue.  UPDATE – On second listen, this Stella Blue is really, really good – the ending solo just soars.  This whole sequence was the magic moment of this entire three-night stand in Eugene.  From there, it’s the usual rockin’ shenanigans.

Well, we’ve gone from two 1983 shows on this site to five, so I think my work here is done.  Tomorrow will be another year.

Listen to the audience recording of this interesting show here: https://archive.org/details/gd1983-08-31.111598.Sennheiser.daweez.d5scott.flac16

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