Way back in 2012, this show was the first installment in the ongoing Dave’s Picks series of official Grateful Dead live releases and for good reason. This mellow, slow-jammed show from an incredible month of concerts is larded with nuggets that deserve to be heard time and time again.
Compared to some of its more high-intensity cousins from earlier in the month, this night’s performance is calm, almost resembling a 1976 show with its careful craftsmanship and tempos. But just because it’s slower doesn’t mean that this show is sleepy. Far from it.
For instance, the second set opens with a raging Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain. In a month of incredible versions of these songs, including what might be the greatest ever on May 8th, tonight’s performance stands close to the top. The transition between the two, in particular, is incredible, with peaks and valleys and blistering heat from both guitarists. Fire on the Mountain settles into its groove and almost never lets go (Keith blows one part for a second but recovers nicely), transporting you smoothly into the outer limits. After a very good Estimated Prophet, we get an awesome He’s Gone. This song fits the mood of the night perfectly, and the Dead dig into it, playing back and forth between verses and nailing the bridge. As the song ends we dive into Drums, which soon erupts into a very intense version of The Other One. This is a fifteen minute tour de force that never lets you down until Wharf Rat takes over. The end of this tune is laced with beauty and short, tinkly runs from Keith and Jerry before we’re back at The Other One again for another three minutes before sliding into a pitch perfect The Wheel with more wonderful keyboards.
The first set doesn’t possess the fireworks of the second set, but it’s filled with great songs. After opening with an above-average Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo into a good Jack Straw, the middle of the set really does most of the work here, with stellar versions of Cassidy, Loser and Lazy Lightning>Supplication. All of the songs here are good and it’s a fun listen throughout, even when it comes to the more “basic” tunes like the set-closing Promised Land.
Since Dave’s Picks has been sold out forever, we need to listen to the soundboard version. I would love to get my hands on the official release, since the sound quality here is a B. But it’s worth it! Listen here: https://archive.org/details/gd1977-05-25.sbd.miller.87591.sbeok.flac16