Today in Grateful Dead History: October 18, 1988 – Kiefer Lakefront Arena, New Orleans, LA

terrapinPrepare yourselves, fellow travelers.  On my seventh try, I finally found a show from 1988 that I would listen to a second time.  (Small sample size, I know . . .)

The Dead only played nine shows in Louisiana, and tonight would be the last one, in a ten thousand seat basketball arena on the campus of the University of New Orleans.  This show has quite the Louisiana feel to it, with members of the Neville Brothers joining in during Drums and for the Iko Iko encore.  There are also a slate of rockin’ tunes to close out the show, including a Throwing Stones>Not Fade Away that almost comes off the rails but hangs in there.

But that’s not why we care, loyal readers.  Tonight’s show is a keeper because the Bangles join the boys for the second encore – a very strangely played (the key and tempo just aren’t quite right) Knockin’ on Heavens Door.  Words can’t begin to describe . . .

Nah, let me try to describe. . .

On second thought . . .

Just try to picture the backstage scene. . .

Moving on . . .

There is some serious juice during the rest of this show, especially in the second set opening Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain and the Estimated Prophet>Eyes of the World that follows.  Neither of these pairings is going to take you to places you haven’t been before . . . Wait a minute, let me rephrase that.  There is one portion at the end of Scarlet Begonias that sounds a whole lot like a typical Bird Song outro jam, so that’s unusual, but besides that, these are just fun, good late 80’s versions of four great songs.  And given that it’s 1988, this makes things even a little more special.

Speaking of Bird Song, it’s the first set closer and the first set highlight.  The boys get pretty well out there in the middle of this song, barely anchored by Brent, who is definitely the unsung hero of the night.  His playing fills all sorts of holes all over the place, for example during Little Red Rooster and When I Paint My Masterpiece, another highlight.  And since we’re near the bayou, we might as well get a pretty cool Peggy-O too.

There’s a lot more to this show than just these tunes.  You’re going to want to hear the whole thing and develop your own opinion, but to-date, this is my best of 1988.

Here’s the only version with the encore – it’s a pretty good but not great Matrix:


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