With quite a few shows to choose from, it was still relatively easy to pick February 11, 1970 as the Dead of the Day. Topping a bill with Love and the Allman Brothers, the Dead played two shows that night, but it was more like a quick first set and a monster of a second half. The first show opens with a short, sensational, Other One>Cryptical. In the second show they again bust out of the gate with flames, going with a phenomenal Not Fade Away. The show continues strong and purposeful, eventually meandering to a Dark Star that is chopped up on the recording but begins the true magic of the evening as the guys from the Allmans, Fleetwood Mac, and Love start joining in. The Dead drive them forward into a scintillating Spanish Jam that cascades into a – superlatives won’t do it justice – Lovelight. By the time it is over, at least Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, Danny Kirwan, Duane and Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, and Berry Oakley are on stage trading licks with the Dead. Somehow, after that incredible jam session, the Dead manage to put the perfect cap on the evening with a soulful, acoustic Uncle John’s.
It seems that the night was as special for the Dead as the music makes it sound. Phil dedicates a few pages of his autobiography, Searching for the Sound, to breaking down the evening and, especially, the epic end to the second show. It is a wonderful read as Phil describes the action practically lick by lick, adding that by the middle of the Lovelight his “mind starts to stretch out of shape” as “everyone on stage is flat-out wailing.” But perhaps the best part of Lesh’s telling is what happens afterwards. Walking out the loading dock door, “it’s daylight, and snow is falling gently on the streets of New York….We stand there, our breath steaming, and look east down the crosstown side street. A distended orange sun is rising between the buildings, casting lurid shadows on the fresh snow. I grab Bob and Jerry in a group embrace: This is what it’s all about.”
Anything else I could say about this special night would just be superfluous. Instead, just sit back and give it a listen.
Yesterday's Dead of the Day:
Other February 11th Shows and Recordings:
- 1969 - Fillmore East - New York, NY - not on Archive, commercially released
- 1979 - Kiel Auditorium - St. Louis, MO
- 1986 - Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center - Oakland, CA
- 1989 - Great Western Forum - Inglewood, CA