Today in Grateful Dead History: June 13, 1984 – Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, CO

terrapinIf you were going to graph standout Grateful Dead shows from 1983 through 1988, you’d draw a lopsided bowl with a ragged edge on the right, with things getting progressively worse from 1983 through 1986 and then rebounding in 1987 through an uneven 1988.  1983 and 1984, in particular, strike me as the “mailed it in” years, with not a lot of spectacular playing but not a lot of terrible nights either, although 1983 certainly has its share of good shows.  So when I listen to a show from 1984, I’m always on the lookout for a transcendent moment to rise above the crop of typically short, standard tunes.

Those moments are fleeting on this rainy night in Colorado, but they do arrive, briefly, in the second set when The Wheel emerges out of Space and then, after a pause for I Need a Miracle, when Stella Blue shines like a beacon in the night.

The Wheel is one of those tunes that sounds like it was built for the transition from something else, since it can ramp up from a thousand different directions.  Tonight, Space congeals into this pretty version, slowly but surely gaining ground until the song is upon us.  This little passage, like many of these Wheel transitions, is great.  The rest of the tune is fine two.

Stella Blue is pitch-perfect tonight, especially the delicate soloing near the end as Jerry weaves his spell.  According to the Archive, after a very wet first set, the sky cleared during the second half of the show, and these haunting notes must have been stunning to hear on a clear Colorado summer night.

Everything else tonight, as usual for 1984, is just fine, but nothing stands out.  The sets are short and the only portion of the show that could charitably be called a jam comes during the last five minutes of Let It Grow.  But hey, the boys were drenched and doing their best, right?  Right.

Listen to this sub-par soundboard (the recording quality is sub-par, not the show) here:


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