The Grateful Dead were busted by the New Orleans PD after last night’s show (the event that led to the famous line in Truckin‘), but the band, troopers that they were, still made it to their show at the Warehouse tonight. Unfortunately, after playing 8 songs, Phil’s bass amp exploded and the boys were unable to continue playing as a full band. So Jerry and Bob, with a little Pigpen, played an impromptu acoustic set for another 45 minutes and then everyone called it a night.
Obviously, the acoustic numbers, plus the early-morning arrest story, give this show something of a legendary reputation, but when you evaluate it simply on the music, there’s not a ton going on here, which isn’t surprising since everyone except Pigpen was in jail over night. There are some serious rarities in the acoustic set, including Seasons of My Heart (5 times played), Saw Mill (first time played out of 8 total) and Old, Old House (2 times played, this is the last), but since these aren’t normal Dead tunes, they aren’t really that great – it’s more like the boys sitting around a room passing the guitar back and forth. (Some of the other songs are more polished and would hang around for a while). The cool thing about these tunes is the insight they give into the band’s state of mind at the time – this is the stuff they were immersed in while preparing Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty, and the influences are clear on those albums. But live, and unrehearsed, it’s more a historical document than a great show.
The actual electric portion of the evening shows promise, especially Hard to Handle, which developed over this year into a pure monster of a tune, and Morning Dew, which was not a subtle song back in 1970 but it almost always works. If you want to hear what could have been had Phil’s equipment not gone haywire, you can check out tomorrow’s show, which features a 40 minute batshit crazy version of Lovelight featuring Peter Green on guitar. But for tonight, you’ll have to relax and enjoy the coffee house vibe.