I had to leave the office early today, so if I was going to review a show, I needed I short one. Thanks for being there, 1985!
As I’ve said basically every time I review a show from 1985, even though the Dead don’t play a long show, it doesn’t mean they play poorly. Most of the tunes today are well-played – you just shouldn’t expect a ton of jamming.
The first set opens with a raved-up Hell in a Bucket. I don’t know what got into the band before this show, but they come out raring to go. Sugaree slows things down a bit, but Jerry is still on point and slinging darts. Cassidy surprises – it sounds like it’s going to tank, but somehow the band pulls through it and delivers a nice ending sequence. Ditto Let It Grow to end the first set – here, things really do go off the rails for a while, but when the boys recover, all is forgiven. It’s a fun version of a fan favorite.
I can’t say for sure what went on at intermission, but if I were going to bet, I’d say that the Dead may have bathed in cocaine backstage, because when they launch into Touch of Grey to start the second set, the tempo is, shall we say, elevated. Of course, there are lyrical flubs galore here, but the playing itself is nice. Then we’re on to Estimated Prophet. This is a really nice version, quite spacey considering how fast everyone is playing. Bob Weir doesn’t even go too far out with the vocal gymnastics at the end. It’s probably the highlight of the show, for me. Estimated drives 100 mph straight into Eyes of the World. It’s shocking that everyone is able to keep up with the drummers here, but the Dead deliver what can charitably be called a spirited version of the tune before running off stage for Drums / Space.
From here, you’d assume it would be your basic rock out Dead show, but coming out of Space the boys manage to put together an unexpected and thrilling Morning Dew. From there, it’s your basic rock out Dead show.
Listen to a pretty ok Matrix here: https://archive.org/details/gd1985-11-22.135607.mtx.tobin.flac16