Today in Grateful Dead History: June 6, 1970 – Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

skeleton&rosesHold on to your heads – this one is loud.

As we always do when we discuss Grateful Dead shows from 1970, we have to briefly talk about the structure of these performances.  Typical Dead shows from this time consisted of a set of acoustic Dead, a set from the New Riders of the Purple Sage (with Jerry and Mickey) and then a set of electric Dead to close out the night.  On this particular night, it appears that Southern Comfort also played in addition to the New Riders, making this a very looong show indeed.  Unfortunately, the full Dead show isn’t public, so we have a few snippets from the acoustic set and then the entire electric explosion, which is all you really need.

That’s not to say that the four acoustic songs aren’t good.  They are, especially Friend of the Devil.  But the magic takes place later.

The band starts off the electric portion of the evening with Morning Dew, which is just the shot of whiskey before things really get moving.  Two songs later, we get the first ridiculous blast of power with a killer Dancin’ in the Streets that gets rocked way out.  This is followed by a soulful Next Time You See Me and a decent China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider.  Then things start to really take off with a Good Lovin’ sandwich that contains one of four known performances of New Orleans, a song that seems to be a perfect fit for the Grateful Dead (Bobby sings it here but it would have worked for Pigpen too).    Calm sets in with a stellar, all-time good version of Attics of My Life and a fun Dire Wolf.

Not satisfied yet?  Good, because all of this was just the warm up before the explosion that is Alligator>Drums>Jam>Turn On Your Lovelight>Not Fade Away>Turn On Your Love Light.  This hour-plus segment, especially the Alligator>Drums>Jam, is a perfect distillation of the ragged, full speed ahead, barely contained but yet somehow a lot “cooler” than 1969 recklessness that was the Grateful Dead in 1970.   Add into the mix a very good Lovelight with some outrageous passages before we even get to Not Fade Away and you have just a stunning display of how good the Dead were during this incredible year.  (And just so that any thorough listeners can’t complain, I know that I’ve said before that I can’t deal with super long Lovelights.  This one is different because, 1, it’s divided by Not Fade Away and, 2, there is a lot of fully formed jamming and not just a ton of endless noodling from both band and Pigpen).  Just plug this thing in and get out of the way.  It’s a top-notch Alligator – probably one of the better ones, and it needs to be played loudly.

You can hear the electric set here: and the acoustic moments here:



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