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Dead of the Day: May 4, 1972

Olympia Theater
Paris, France
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With a Dark Star like this show has, it was easy to pick the Paris show from '72 as our Dead of the Day. Though the first half is overshadowed by the second, the earlier set is tasty in its own right, especially on the blues tunes.  For instance, there is an excellent Mr. Charlie, with Pig defining that tight, psychedelic blues that the Dead rolled out at will in the early seventies. Then Chinatown Shuffle picks up right where the Mr. Charlie left off as the band romps through Pigpen’s own blues tune. A little later, the boys finish off the set with their own stunning interpretation of the blues standard It Hurts Me Too with Pig – on harp – and Jerry combining on an achingly beautiful little jam. Pigpen makes a big impression early in the second set as well, delivering his painfully sad Two Souls in Communion. A song later, Pig and the Dead are in a different world altogether with a twenty-three minute, maximally funked up and jammed out Good Lovin’. But the Dark Star that comes a few songs later is what this show is known for, and rightly so. During the first half of the tune, the boys are relentlessly searching and exploring, moving from jazz-filled places to dark and sinister corners before Billy takes over, delivering a tremendous, exploratory drum solo and shaking up the vibe a bit. Coming out the other side, the band starts consistently firing away with some rocking, though still jazz-inspired, jams that are impressively distinct. And just as the Dark Star comes to an end, the definitive Sugar Mags – the one that made it onto Europe ’72 – bursts forth, breaking from the moodiness of the earlier tune into the wondrous carefree joy of the latter. The Sing Me Back Home that emerges next is mesmerizing in its own right, sizzling with the pathos of the vocals, subtle organ backing, and intense, clarion-filled jams. Two songs later, they are somewhere else entirely again with the heavy Pig-led blues of an eccentric, spectacular Big Boss Man. After a celebratory Uncle John’s, they go through an excellent GDTRFB before going full bore into a seismic Not Fade Away.

This is the second and last night of the Dead's stand at the Olympia Theater in Paris. As the 12th show of the 22-strong European tour, it is also the first night of the second half of the tour. The boys certainly seem comfortable, and they have clearly won over the audience, not that they ever seemed to have a problem with that on this tour. It is great to think how far the boys had come over the preceding five years. Back in '67, Jerry was geeking out on KMPX radio about an upcoming show that they had in New York City. And now, here in '72, they are owning their first actual tour of Europe, proving, if they even needed or cared to, that they have fully arrived.

The Dead released the Dark Star as a standalone vinyl LP for Record Store Day back on April 21, 2012. And, of course, the entire tour was released as Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings and the complete show as Europe '72 Vol 12: 5/4/72 (L'Olympia, Paris, France).



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