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Dead of the Day: February 10, 1979

Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Hall
Kansas City, Kansas
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With only two shows to choose from for this date, it is pretty easy to pick the February 10, 1979 show at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, as the Dead of the Day. The first set is solid, but not extraordinary, with a rocking Jack Straw featuring some solid vocals capping the set and providing the highlight. It is during the second half of the night that the Dead really start to blaze, beginning with a very strong Scarlet>Fire and a mind bending Other One into a riveting Wharf Rat. The only complaints about the second set regard the Godchauxs. Keith contributes nothing to the mix – by this point he was deeply addicted to heroin and practically in a “vegetative state” according to Lesh – and Donna is responsible for the abomination that is From the Heart of Me between the Fire and Estimated, made all the worse because it was being played nearly every night of the tour. But fortunately the rest of the members more than make up for Keith’s playing in the second set and make you quickly forget the Donna tune.

The February 10, 1979 show was the second of a two-night run at Memorial Hall, where they would also play two other shows later that year. After this show, the Dead crossed Missouri, played a single night at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, and then took a week off before a benefit in Oakland and the end of the early 1979 tour. That Oakland show also marked the end of Keith and Donna’s tenure with the band. Between Keith’s heroin addiction and poor playing, Donna’s cocaine abuse and absences, and their marital spats, the Dead had more than enough reason to kick them out. But it was a mutual decision for them to leave, with Keith and Donna wanting to get a fresh start and get off the drugs, which they both eventually did.

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Hall, often referred to simply as Memorial Hall, hosted the Dead on seven different occasions from 1969 to 1979. Built in 1925, the architecture is a mix of Georgian and classical architecture. Inside, twelve columns, sixteen arches, and two giant chandeliers adorn the hall, with patriotic quotations and etched names of the honored dead in prominent locations.

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