Today in Grateful Dead History: July 26, 1994 – Riverport Amphitheater, Maryland Heights, MO

terrapinThe fact that I still enjoyed this show despite the presence of Childhood’s End, Easy Answers and Victim Or The Crime>Samba In The Rain means one of two things.  Either I’ve become acclimatized to the Dead’s unfortunate mid-90’s song selections or this was a pretty good show despite those four duds (and an I Fought the Law encore).  I think it’s a little of both.

The most noteworthy song of the night is the 19+ minute Estimated Prophet that anchors the second set.  The Dead were typically playing 11 – 13 minute versions of this song in 1994, with the occasional outlier thrown in, but tonight appears to be the longest version of the year (followed by a 17 minute one on August 1st at the Palace).  This song starts tight and quickly flows out into free jazz territory while never quite tipping into Space – you can always hear Estimated Prophet in there somewhere.  While not all of the musical ideas take full form, this is still an interesting piece of music with only a couple of brief noodling passages to bore you.

Backtracking a bit, the first set is ok.  Jerry doesn’t botch lyrics too badly, and some of his songs, like Lazy River Road and Friend of the Devil, are good, straightforward renderings.  There is some interesting call and response work at the end of Queen Jane Approximately that makes it worth hearing as well, and this Deal is a good 1994 version.

The China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider that opens the second set seems pretty sleepy, and things don’t get any better when we move into the aforementioned Victim or the Crime.  However, coming out of Space, the boys put together a very pretty transition into the Wheel, and Attics of My Life is surprisingly well-sung.  As if to acknowledge that the second set has probably not gotten a lot of butts out of their seats and dancing, the band closes the set with Sugar Magnolia, which probably did the trick.

This is a good AUD – listen here: https://archive.org/details/gd1994-07-26.AKG451.Darbys2nd.120292.Flac2448/gd1994-07-26.AKG451.t02.flac

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