A commentator discussing my old review of the 5/29/95 Portland Meadows show called this 1995 run of Pacific Northwest performances “GOOD Dead” and I’m inclined to defer to him despite my limited sample size. While this show is short (a 49 minute first set and an hour-ten on the back side if you take out Drums/Space), there are several interesting explorations mixed in with the usual 1995 chaos.
You would be forgiven if you shut this show off based on the perfunctory Touch of Grey opener (Jerry lyrical flubs abound) that is followed by a decent Minglewood and another lyrically messy Lazy River Road. But stick with this show through that and you’ll be rewarded with perfectly fine versions of Me and My Uncle>Big River and a set-ending Bird Song that deviates into the far reaches of space, breaking down almost completely before somehow coming back home at the end. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your entire first set.
The first half of the second set is the main course here, even if it might not look like much: Iko Iko, Saint Of Circumstance, Way To Go Home, I Want To Tell You>Estimated Prophet. 1995 Jerry seemed to like the vibe of Iko Iko and his playing here is excited and engaged. Saint of Circumstance, which always sounds weird as a stand-alone song, even through the Dead played it that way all the time after the last Lost Sailor in 1986, rips once the band gets up to speed. From reading the comments, you’d think I Want To Tell You is a complete mess (see how I skipped Way to Go Home there?), but it’s actually all right and the crowd seems to enjoy it.
This brings us to Estimated Prophet, which is the clear show highlight and one of the better mid-90’s versions that I’ve heard. Everything works here, from Bob’s vocals to the pretty significant mid-song shredding from Jerry and Phil. If you listen to nothing else from this show, listen to this.
After this, things seem to go a little bit south, although Bob’s energy through I Need a Miracle is good and the boys make a valiant attempt at stretching out on Wharf Rat, which is sloppy but still pretty emotional as only that song can be.
In summation, this is not a bad 1995 night and it offers a couple of definite listens that should assuage the mid-90’s skeptics. Have a gander at that Estimated Prophet (and maybe some of the other breadcrumbs) here – it’s a serviceable but not great AUD: https://archive.org/details/gd1995-05-24.pzm.russjcan.97610.sbeok.flac16