Last fall, when we spoke about the Grateful Dead’s 1980 acoustic / electric concerts, I mentioned that it was hard to review these shows because they are all fairly high quality performances and they feature a lot of the same material night after night, especially in the acoustic portion of the evening. (These shows opened with a set of acoustic music – the Dead’s first since 1970 – and two sets of electric music). Since this site forces me to listen to shows from specific dates, I haven’t listened to any shows from this run since last October, and I forgot just how great these nights are.
Tonight’s show starts with the standard 1980 acoustic set. Heaven Help the Fool, Bob Weir’s instrumental track, gets a very warm reception tonight and for good reason – it’s filled with neat little runs and sounds fantastic. But it’s the electric portion of the evening that really cooks.
You know things are about to go off from the very start of Jack Straw, the second set opener. The band is chomping at the bit to get into this song and they rip into the second half with force. Row Jimmy is another great tune in this set, clear and sparkling with plenty of space for Brent and Phil to operate. The last two songs, Tennessee Jed and The Music Never Stopped, dial things up even further, with Tennessee Jed in particular rocking the auditorium to the limits. Listen to how Bob and the drummers drive things into a frenzy about 2/3 of the way in.
The energy doesn’t dissipate as the third set starts with Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain. The transition here is not very long, but the playing on both is excellent. After Samson and Delilah and Ship of Fools, the Dead dig deep into a really intricate, spacey Playin’ in the Band>Drums>Space>The Wheel>Playin’ in the Band. It’s hard to pinpoint where the boys are heading at the end of this segment, but once they get into Black Peter, the give it their all. As if to make up for the letdown that this lyrically depressing song can sometimes produce (even though the music at the end is really strong-willed), the Dead end things with a high voltage Good Lovin’ that gets everyone out of their seats where I’m sure they stayed for the Brokedown Palace encore.
So there you have it. Another great show from the Warfield Theater in 1980. They’re the gift that keeps on giving.
There is a soundboard of the acoustic set here: https://archive.org/details/gd80-10-03.set1-sbd.aj.2200.sbeok.shnf
Or, you can hear the whole show as a pretty good audience tape (if you play with the levels at bit) here: https://archive.org/details/gd1980-10-03.nak700.ellner.koucky.89128.sbeok.flac16