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Dead of the Day: February 5, 1978

UNI Dome
Cedar Falls, Iowa
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The last date of the early '78 tour, February 5 at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa is clearly special, making it our Dead of the Day. While the first set looks quite good, including a smoking Bertha to kick it off that made it onto Dick’s Picks 18. But we do not have the first set here as it is absent from all the recordings on Archive. But the second set, which is all here, is extraordinary. Starting off with an excellent Samson, the band hits nirvana with Scarlet>Fire, a version that many consider the best ever. It most assuredly rocks, but judge for yourself. And make certain you listen all the way through to the rocking jam in the middle of Around and Around.

As we stated above, the February 5th show capped the early ’78 tour. After playing a good run at Winterland to close out ’77, the Dead had rested a few days off before taking the stage again at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino, California, on the 6th day of January. From there they made there way through California and into Oregon, closing out the West Coast on the 22nd at the University of Oregon. A week later, the band opened a three-night run at the Uptown in Chicago before swinging through Madison and Milwaukee on their way to the show at the Uni Dome. Musically, many consider this early ’78 tour an extension of the fabulous 1977 sound, and that is true to a large degree. While Jerry continues to fire, Bobby’s playing actually seems crisper in early ’78 than it regularly had in ’77. Moreover, in these early 1978 shows, Donna conistently adds more than she takes away, providing some really lovely accompaniment.

The UNI Dome, on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa, is an odd, though beloved, multi-purpose sports arena, with both football and basketball games held inside, that occasionally hosts concerts. When the dome opened in 1976, it had an inflatable roof, meaning the ceiling was supported by forced air pressure. After the roof collapsed repeatedly in snow storms ("snowed so hard that the roof caved in"), the university finally installed a fixed, metal roof in 1994. During the show in 1978, about eight inches of snow fell, though not enough to endanger the old roof. One commenter on Archive who attended the show, Alan Vande Kop, said “February 5, 1978 was remembered as the coldest night of the year that winter, but that was easy to forget in the light, airy confines of the UNI Dome.”

Jerry busts out an epic, long jam during the Samson, apparently because of a broken mic. The technical issues result in a 133 second break before Scarlet starts. Bobby, being Bobby, takes to the mic, telling a long, shaggy dog of a joke about a lumberjack. Sadly, the banter is not on Dick’s Picks, but is on our recording here.

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