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Dead of the Day: May 13, 1983

Greek Theatre, University of California
Berkeley, California

Things start off with Phil bombing away on an impeccable Cold Rain and Snow. A bit later, West L.A. Fadeaway is a true standout with excellent playing. Right after that, the band debuts Hell in a Bucket, the raucous, bawdy tune whose lyrics are a real trip. This version is still somewhat rough, but it is fun nonetheless. Bird Song and Let It Grow finish off the first half and do so in magisterial fashion. Jerry is resplendent on both tunes and Brent provides some stylized fills that set off, answer, and extend Jerry’s jams. But as good as Brent is in the first set, he really joins in the fun in the second. In the intro to China Cat, he fills in for Bobby, who was fixing his guitar, providing a more subtle and breezy opening to the tune. Once Bobby gets back in the mix, Brent does not go away, dominating a ripping China Cat all the way into a slippery transition into I Know You Rider. With Jerry streaking off, Brent and Bobby continue to offer up some strong rhythm along with the drummers. Estimated then comes out in a little more relaxed fashion than normal, as the band paces things with some fabulous vocal harmonies before driving into a powerful jam. All too soon, they segue into Eyes, which, at twenty minutes, is the crux of the show. Everyone has their moments during this tune, and together the band crafts a stellar version that absolutely soars as it explores new territory and takes us on a lovely trip along well-trodden ground as well. It must have been something else to hear it live under the stars at the Greek on a glorious May day. After Drums and Space, we get a relatively early – and first of the year – Throwing Stones. The Other One> Wharf Rat up next proves to be a treat, as they almost always are. Then the band finishes off the show, sans encore, with a rocking Around and Around> Good Lovin’. All told, it is a great show with some really terrific playing from Brent and the rest of the boys right on their home turf in the Bay Area.

By the time the Dead played this show at the Greek, the place was already eighty years old, having been built in 1903. Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst funded its construction. While it officially opened in September 24th, President Theodore Roosevelt gave a graduation address in the unfinished bowl earlier that year. Designed by John Galen Howard, the theater was based on the ancient Greek theater of Epidaurus. The Dead played at least 29 shows there over the years, from 1969 to 1989. During the eighties, Dead shows at the Greek were an annual summer right of passage, providing a sort of community gathering for the Bay Area Dead faithful.

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