This is a spectacular show from an uneven year and features a top-of-the-80’s version of Playin in the Band that deserves to be listened to again and again.
The first set might not look like much, but every song is very well played. Phil Lesh is the star tonight, dropping bombs all over the place, but especially in Minglewood Blues and Tennessee Jed (in the first set – we’ll get to the second set in a minute). Looks Like Rain is great in its sappy way and the Hell in a Bucket opener smokes.
This is all just the warmup for the second set, which is on fire from start to finish. Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain leads things off and the playing all around is stellar. The boys really nail the transition here, especially the first few minutes of Fire on the Mountain, with more and more Phil, who basically takes over the show from here on out. When Fire on the Mountain ends, we move right into Playin’ in the Band. This is just a prime version of this tune. About three minutes in, Jerry, Phil and Brent lock into an amazing, fluid groove that leaves plenty of space while maintaining the heart of the song. Bob Weir begins to add texture a couple of minutes later and then we’re off, crashing into an incredibly spacey but never abstract ten minutes of music before China Doll emerges. The jam out of China Doll eventually rolls into Drums, which is cut on this recording, and the Space that emerges is really more of a Playin’ in the Band reprise, as hints of the song appear and disappear throughout the next ten minutes. At the conclusion of this beautiful piece of music, the Dead fire up the rockers, with Throwing Stones>Going Down the Road Feeling Bad>One More Saturday Night. You can tell that everyone is really on it tonight, with Jerry growling out the lyrics to Going Down the Road Feeling Bad with heartfelt energy, something that was often missing in 1984. Even the Day Job encore is cool.
I don’t think that I’ve done a great job describing the Playin’ in the Band>China Doll>Space sequence that anchors this show – just trust me when I tell you that it’s great and go dig in here: https://archive.org/details/gd1984-10-06.aud.Holtz-Bolton.Nak100s.112860.flac16