Today in Grateful Dead History: September 8, 1973 – Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY

stealieI’ve barely touched 1972 – 1977 on this site during 2016.  (I did re-post a bunch of reviews of shows from these years from my old site).  I’m pretty sure that this happened because it’s difficult to find the time to listen to full shows from the mid-70’s, since they stretch out for so long.  But it’s nice to be here in 1973, where there really isn’t anything but goodness pouring out of the speakers.

Today’s show from Nassau Coliseum features a couple of firsts and a bunch of very tight playing, but none of the extended jams that the band typically threw down in 1973.  There’s no Playin’ in the Band, Dark Star or The Other One in this show, and therefore no huge, twenty-plus minute excursions to Mars.  But the lack of jams gives us the opportunity to focus on some really interesting moments in a couple of often-overlooked songs.

Let’s talk about the firsts first.  Today was the first performance of Weather Report Suite Part I, the part of the Weather Report Suite after the musical Prelude and before the much more common Let It Grow.  The Dead had been experimenting live with the Prelude for some time, and Let It Grow debuted the previous night after Loser, so tonight is actually the first time that the entire Weather Report Suite was played in order.  I’ve always liked Part I, especially the end, and it is great to hear it fully formed here.

There’s a second premiere tonight, Keith Godchaux’s Let Me Sing Your Blues Away.  In keeping with the unusual night of firsts, this is the only live performance of this song (it was only played six times total, all in September 1973) that does not feature a horn section.  This song is not quite there yet vocally, with some serious issues on the harmonies.  Still, it’s good to hear Keith’s very nice solo singing voice – he would have fit right in with the Band.

As I said, the other highlights of the evening come in unusual moments.  The Dead’s version of Row Jimmy is one of the sharpest, most collaborative performances of that song that I’ve ever heard.  Likewise, the quieter moments of Ramble on Rose are amazing, as are the last four or five minutes of He’s Gone into Truckin’.  Finally, there’s Stella Blue, played as an encore for the first time out of a grand total of two encore performances.  (The other was 10/19/73 in Oklahoma City).  So even though there are no huge songs, there are plenty of things to chew on at this otherwise overlooked performance.

Listen to the soundboard here:  https://archive.org/details/gd73-09-08.sbd.wulf.183.sbefail.shnf

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