As I said a couple of days ago, the Dead were really playing well during this Midwest tour in 1982, capping the run with this wonderful show at the University of Iowa. Now, according to the comments on the Archive (and Phil Lesh himself, who complains from the stage), the Iowa Fieldhouse was apparently not the best place to listen to a rock concert. But you wouldn’t know it if you listen to this incredibly well-done Matrix, and the band’s playing certainly isn’t harmed by the acoustics.
Like a lot of 1982 shows, the first half tonight is up-tempo, starting right off the bat with Feel Like a Stranger. Friend of the Devil follows – it’s an incredible version and shows off the growing Jerry-Brent dynamic very nicely. New Minglewood Blues is only notable because Bob Weir calls the women in attendance “corn-fed fillies”, showing off the wide range of his early 80’s sexism. Bob keeps things going strong a couple of songs later with a very nice version of Cassidy, too. Equipment issues arise and slow things down a notch, but the band rebounds with a few upbeat numbers, including the last Stagger Lee for almost three years, before ending the first set with an unusual Bertha that almost falls off the rails as it careens around the Fieldhouse.
That speed continues unabated in the second set, when the band comes out and rips off an incredible China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider to get things going. There are a lot of good China>Riders floating around in the early 80’s – this is definitely one of them. After a good Lost Sailor>St. of Circumstance, we get to the heart of the matter, a canter-wheeling, coked-out, twelve-minute version of Eyes of the World that, if it were played at a 1973 tempo, would have lasted for half an hour. But the band is on fire tonight, and while this version feels like it’s going to collapse, Jerry manages to produce run after run that pushes right up to the edge of sloppy but never falls into a mess. This is a good one. Post-Space, the most notable moment for me comes when Jerry finishes the second verse of Stella Blue and the band just rips in behind him with incredible, unexpected force. It’s chilling. The rest of the song is just so-so, but that moment catches you by the throat. At the end of Stella, Jerry launches into Around and Around, but Bob directly contradicts him and starts playing Sugar Magnolia instead. Although things don’t fall apart completely, it takes the Dead a minute to regain their footing before finishing things off on a high note, capping quite the run of 1982 Grateful Dead shows.
Check out this amazing Matrix here: https://archive.org/details/gd1982-08-10.mtx.seamons.fix.92073.sbeok.flac16