I was more than a little worried when all of the comments for this show talked about how Jerry’s voice was shot – this is 1988, after all, and the Dead aren’t really playing in peak form to begin with. But, like many shows where Jerry loses his voice (and yes, there are quite a few of these), he makes up for it with some really good playing, and the rest of the band seems to pick up the slack, energy-wise, at least until the final quarter. The result is a pretty good 1988 Grateful Dead show in the midlands of Connecticut.
The night starts out with a typical version of Alabama Getaway, but then we’re surprised with a second place Johnny B. Goode. This is the first time that the Dead played this song during a first set since 1976. Out of the 19 times Johnny B. Goode was ever played in the first set, the Dead played it as a set closer 13 times, so this is truly a bizarre tune at this juncture of a show. But the crowd seems to love it and Bob Weir is actively engaged on the vocals. Brent follows this with a smokin’ hot version of Never Trust a Woman, so by the time we get back to Jerry, singing a slightly diminished They Love Each Other, the building is rocking. The rest of the first set keeps up the pace, with a fast and furious Cassidy coming right before the closing Don’t Ease Me In.
The boys look to keep the pace up, opening the second set with a sloppy Touch of Grey into a good Looks Like Rain, complete with thunderous sound effects that I can’t place with the drummers or the sound board. Either way, it’s an interesting noise. A short Truckin’ evolves into a lengthy, casual He’s Gone before Drums and Space. You’d think that at 13 minutes long, something would happen during He’s Gone, but somehow, we get to the end without any major memorable moments. The band really throws a lot into The Other One after Space, but after that the energy seems to ebb, even if Brent is trying hard (like always) on Dear Mr. Fantasy>Hey Jude. Jerry’s voice goes out completely on the U.S. Blues encore.
Despite my documented dislike of 1988, I’m going to rate this show as a 7 for 1988, despite the lack of jamming. The first set is fun and the second, while risk free, is still a good one to listen to. I think this show gets at least one extra point for the quality of the audience recording, which is so good, I thought it was a soundboard at points.
Check it out here: https://archive.org/details/gd1988-04-04.aud.koucky.gmb.86913.sbeok.flac16