I’ll be honest with you, faithful readers. I was intrigued by today’s setlist, which features Help On The Way>Slipknot!>Franklin’s Tower, Bird Song, Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain, Attics Of My Life>Spoonful>The Other One>Morning Dew (with Spoonful through Dew featuring Steve Miller, to boot) and a Baba O’Riley>Tomorrow Never Knows encore. But I was concerned about that ’92 hanging around. No need to worry – this show delivered the goods.
The post-Drums segment of this show, which is often the dumping ground for a Jerry ballad and some Bob Weir rockin’, is an incredible performance, starting with a lyrically and harmonically adept Attics of My Life (one of only three played in 1992). Steve Miller then appears on the scene as the band rips into Spoonful, which sets the table for a fascinating, pulsing The Other One and a magnificent Morning Dew. Although Miller’s contributions here (like many other guitar playing guests during these years) are hard to hear in the mix at times, he definitely charges the band, forcing Jerry to up his game tremendously, especially on Morning Dew. The Miller-less encores, which, if you know this band’s history with Beatles and Who covers doesn’t bode well, are actually really good – the Dead’s spin on Baba O’Riley in particular is worth hearing.
It’s funny that, given the heat (Vegas at the end of May – seriously?), the boys get better as the show goes on, but that’s definitely the case today. The beginning of the night is okay, but Jerry is having equipment issues that seriously detract from Help>Slip>Franklin’s. The quieter trio of It Must Have Been the Roses, Queen Jane Approximately and Bird Song are the best parts of the first set, as if the band is testing the heat and not trying to exert itself too much. The Bird Song is appropriately exploratory but nothing special.
This leads us to the start of set two (this was a long show), with Scarlet>Fire among other songs, some good, some not so much. So Many Roads into Saint of Circumstance seems like an odd choice, but Bob makes the most of it and this is the point where you can feel the energy start to shift, leading into a delicate He’s Gone and then Drums/Space. If you don’t have a lot of time to listen today, start with Saint and go from there to the end and you’ll have a nice 80 – 90 minutes from a pretty darn good 1992 desert show.