Today in Grateful Dead History: June 20, 1980 – West High Auditorium, Anchorage, AK

Dancing Skeletons

It’s day two of our Alaska journey here at the Daily Dose, and tonight’s show is a notable improvement over yesterday’s warm up.

For starters, the recording, a Matrix, is much better than any of the other offerings out there – on the soundboard recordings, the vocals are too high in the mix and the audience is a little muddy.  So this is the best of both worlds.

Second, the band’s energy is up.  The Jack Straw>Franklin’s Tower opener cooks.  Now, Franklin’s Tower isn’t going to win any awards tonight, but it’s still a zinger through and through.  Ditto the Bob Weir cowboy tunes that follow before we get a casual Friend of the Devil.   At this point, the show takes a dramatic left turn, with an unusual mid-set Let It Grow>Althea combination.  Everyone gives it their all on this Let It Grow and Althea, while not as good as yesterday, is still Althea and therefore almost always worth hearing.  Things meander a little from here until a slightly ragged Deal ends the first set.

The second set contains the meat of this show, but not before the upbeat set opening combo of Alabama Getaway>Greatest Story Ever Told and a great Ship of Fools with a two round melodic solo from Jerry.  Now that everyone is limbered up, the boys dive deep into Estimated Prophet>The Other One.  As far as I can tell, this is the last time that the band ever played this sequence, after visiting it occasionally between 1977 and 1980, and they really let us have it, with an intense, fire-breathing Estimated and a short but oh so sweet The Other One that hits all of the good notes right off the bat during the transition and doesn’t let up for five solid minutes of improvisational glory.

After Drums and a good Space, the band seems to want to let things rock, and they do so with gusto, playing a bunch of the expected rockers plus an up-tempo version of Black Peter.  The Don’t Ease Me In encore completes the party.

Tomorrow is the solstice and the final show of this little run.  But for now, listen to this fun night in Anchorage here:  https://archive.org/details/gd1980-06-20.mtx.seamons.92783.sbeok.flac16

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