Today in Grateful Dead History: June 30, 1987 – Kingswood Music Theater, Maple, ON

terrapinThe Grateful Dead swung north for this one-off Canadian show in the middle of their 1987 summer tour, and like many shows during this summer, it’s a fun, lightly jammed, upbeat affair.

The boys played a lot of songs during this show, and most versions are the typical “good but not great” 1987 productions that we expect.  There are a few first set highlights – Mama Tried>Big River is sweet summer soloing and When I Paint My Masterpiece is a great sing along tune.  But nothing in the first set is going to blow the doors off.

I picked this show for its second set, which is quite something on paper, with two classic combos and an epic jammer:  Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain, Estimated Prophet>Eyes Of The World>Drums>Space> The Other One>China Doll>Dear Mr. Fantasy>Around And Around>Good Lovin’.  Scarlet Begonias is just ok, but once the band warms up, Fire on the Mountain booms.  Estimated Prophet>Eyes of the World flows well, especially Estimated, as Bob Weir does his best Bob Weir impression.  As Eyes of the World begins to move towards Drums, a short, different jam – basically a Brent solo – develops.  It’s rather jazzy, in the best possible way, and leads us into an extended, free wheeling Drums/Space.  When The Other One appears it’s time for a smooth liftoff, with Bob’s effects-laden vocals leading into the rousing chorus (screamed happily by the crowd on this Matrix) and tumbling into another cool, short jam prior to China Doll.  Phil, as he should be, is noticeable in the mix here and he’s all over the place, playing nearly as fast as Jerry as Bob crashes out chords around them and the drummers tumble out a swirl of sound-effects boosted noise.

Keep in mind that 1987 is not 1974 (or even 1978), so these “jams” are concise.  But there are a lot of cool ideas in the air, and you can hear the foundation being laid for the more monstrous and adventurous noise that the band would spit forth in 1989 and 1990.  After this portion of the show, it’s rock n’ roll time, with Brent’s performance on Dear Mr. Fantasy beating out Bob’s on Around and Around>Good Lovin’ for the best rockstar vocal of the night.  (It’s a close call).  The only Box of Rain encore of 1987 sends the Toronto fans (and, from the comments, a ton of Americans too) home satisfied.

Check out this Canadian adventure here:


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