I’ve talked here before about the little moments that often stand out from an average Grateful Dead show – pinpoints of brilliance that make listening to 3+ hours of sometimes similar sounding music pop. I counted two of those moments in this show from the Greek Theater in 1982.
The first comes during the spirited Sugaree that follows Jack Straw as the one-two show opener. This is a good Sugaree, with those repetitive Jerry Garcia runs that are a trademark of this song from this era. But midway through this version, Jerry slows things down for a minute and the song opens up, with the space between notes acting as its own instrument and standing in contrast to the fluid sprinting that took place before. This openness is not unusual for Sugaree in the 80’s, but on this particular Matrix the notes ring clear and true and they send shivers.
The second moment occurs much later but it involves similar use of open space in the music. We’re going to fast forward to the end of Space, which is slowly turning into Not Fade Away. At this point, we’re experiencing the reverse of the situation I just described. Instead of hearing the song open up, we’re hearing Space gather slowly together, bit by bit, into the coherent, heavier song. This often happens in Grateful Dead jams, especially at this point in the show. But once again, the clarity of the playing, the crystalline sharpness of Jerry and Bob working their way into Not Fade Away, stands out.
Those are my favorite moments. The rest of the show, especially the first set, is nicely played and there are some fun versions of classic songs like Cumberland Blues and Deal. There are lots of rockers in the second set and not a ton of jamming, but if you’re interested in having a party with the Grateful Dead, this would be a good show to listen to.
It’s the 80’s, so if there is a Matrix available, I typically like to work with it. Listen to the very nice mix here: https://archive.org/details/gd1982-05-22.mtx.seamons.101450.sbeok.flac16