I went out on a limb and chose a hometown show from 1993 over what looked to be better options from 1980, 1970 and most definitely 1969 and was rewarded with the live debut of Easy Answers.
I’m only half kidding. Easy Answers is pretty terrible, both here in its first incarnation and in each of the subsequent 43 versions. To make things worse, the band drops this premiere right in the middle of what sounds like an OK version of The Music Never Stopped. As in, as soon as Bob Weir sings “The music never stopped”, the band plays the three note bump, bump, bah, and then we’re treated to the opening notes of a new and almost universally loathed tune. So . . . strike two. But after the boys work their way through this ragged performance, they transition very smoothly back into The Music Never Stopped, where Jerry gets to let his frustrations out with a ripping solo as if nothing had ever happened, which is a pretty cool way of dealing with things and makes for a interesting and unique listen.
As most devoted listeners know, the Dead really began slipping in 1993 and the success of the shows seemed to depend almost entirely upon which Jerry showed up – strung out Jerry or engaged and enthused Jerry. Well, tonight’s Jerry came to shred, which he does with unfettered abandon for almost all of the 11 minutes and 45 seconds of Fire of the Mountain, a scorching bit of playing that stacks up very nicely against a lot of the fast moving earl 80’s Fires that we all love. But that’s not all. Tonight’s show also boasts an above-average-for-any-era Sugaree (clocking in at over 14 minutes) and a nicely done Candy Man. There is also an Estimated Prophet that appears with a thud after a good Crazy Fingers. This Estimated features some good keyboard atmospherics and a mid-song, full-band crescendo of sound that wells up out of nowhere and disappears a little while later having induced a double-take. Near the end, the band even displays some beautiful jamming out of Space and into a chugging The Other One.
In fact, as far as 1993 shows go, this one seems to be pretty darn cool, which is surprising if you read most of the comments on the Archive, which focus on the rain and one particular guy who apparently jumped off the upper deck (and survived). Someone purporting to be the jumper actually comments on the show – he’s still all about the music! Unfortunately, none of the audience recordings are any good and the soundboard appears to be the monitor mix, with Vince turned up really high throughout. Still, if you’re looking for ’93 Dead, this will satisfy and more.