This is our first show from the Dead’s 1990 European tour, a group of shows that was booked prior to Brent’s death and probably should have been cancelled. But the band played on with a run of decent, but not exceptional, playing. Tonight’s performance is a good example from this tour – things are solid, nothing goes too crazy, and the boys leave town.
The Feel Like a Stranger opener is one of the highlights of the evening, with the boys cutting to the quick and jamming out pretty hard on the second half of the song. The set ending West L.A. Fadeaway, Queen Jane Approximately and Iko Iko are also well done. But as I said at the onset, this is not a barn burning show.
The second set begins with Help on the Way>Slipknot!>Franklin’s Tower, but these songs seem perfunctory. Even Franklin’s fails to take flight. This is followed by Truckin’>He’s Gone, which makes for, on paper, one hell of a second set. In reality, the boys are just going through the motions here. By the time we get to the post-Drums segment, I think everyone was ready to go home. Bob gives it his all on I Need a Miracle and Around and Around, but no one else seems very engaged.
Don’t mistake my lack of enthusiasm for criticism of the playing tonight. The Dead do fine. There’s just not a lot of magic in the air in Hamburg.