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Dead of the Day: January 16, 1970

Springer's Inn
Portland, Oregon
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The show gets started with a fine Casey Jones, but really starts hitting its stride three songs later with the Hard To Handle. On that tune, Pig makes his presence felt as he flat-out balls the lyrics and the boys offer up a hard-driving, psychedelic blues rendering of the Otis Redding classic. The China> Rider that comes out next is splendid with bouncy, joyous jams shimmied into this relatively short rendition of the duo. Then High Time provides a resplendent, puffy respite before the rocking end to the first set in the heady as all get out Good Lovin’. 

The Dancin’ that follows the break starts off saucy and ripping before a slow, agonizingly awesome jam through the latter half; it is hard to believe that something as splendid as this comes in under seven minutes. Then, after a moment of hesitation, the boys head into Alligator, keeping some of the same syrupy-thick, bass-heavy sound coming as Pig serves as the tour guide on a trip through the acid-drenched swampy extremes. After, a rolling, energized drum solo - the drummers are giving it their all throughout this evening - provides the segue into an illustrious Eleven jam. And into Death Don’t Have No Mercy the Eleven jam goes, turning into a rumbling, menacing, and, at the same time, poignant steamroll of a tune. The Cumberland up next has to be one of the best ever, jammed out, dark as the lyrics, and just pure Dead blues, but, sadly, clipped. Me And My Uncle is another short treat, followed up by a sensational Dire Wolf that appears like the darkest of Grimm brothers’ fairy tales. Then a fantastic - we are truly running out of superlatives for this fabulous music - Uncle John’s. Following that, Pig and the band are absolutely on fire for Easy Wind with repeated, spine-tingling runs interwoven with Pig’s deep, evocative vocals. Then an intense Other One suite bursts forth with a stellar, lengthy drum solo before the headlong rush of The Other One surges outward in wave upon wave. A final Cosmic Charlie ends the set, but, unfortunately, it too is cut before its natural end.

There are a lot of fine comments about this show on Archive, but one of the best has to be from “The Dirty Mac,” who points out how unreal it must have been to be at Springer’s with a handful of other people on a cold Oregon night and hear the Dead shred like they do here. Then he goes on to say, 

Friends, this is a show. This is a show you might have as your soundtrack if you lived in some 'Lord of the Rings' world. Like if you were on a quest that took you through stinking, crowded, cobblestone markets, through endless dark forests, over high cold snow mountain passes and cast upon stormy seas. In these chapters of the journey there's not any elves or goblins, princesses or fairies- just the gruel of the road, the sweat of the horse, a tankard of ale at Springer's Inn. The salt of the Earth. Dig it? "...Every leaf was turning/to watch him die..."

After listening to this great night, we have some sense of just what Dirty Mac is getting at.

Other January 16th Shows and Recordings:

  • 1966 - The Matrix - San Francisco, CA - unknown setlist, not on Archive

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