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June 9, 1984

Cal Expo Amphitheater
Sacramento, California
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On this day in 1984, the boys stormed into California’s capital and delivered a superb night of music at the Cal Expo Amphitheater. A bouncy Iko gets the energy flowing and the blood pumping, with Jerry and Brent going back and forth between ripping guitar and piano riffs. Hell in a Bucket keeps the momentum going with Bobby’s youthful and energetic vocals. Jerry’s solos are absolutely scorching, and they add the perfect touch to the jaunty tune. A slow and eerie Loser follows, filled with ripe storytelling and some gorgeous organ from Brent. Jerry’s lyrical flubs are quite apparent throughout, but he more than makes up for it with some juicy solos. A fun Cassidy comes next, filled with splendor and joy, as well as a wonderful Dupree’s Diamond Blues and C.C. Rider. Then, a blazing Deal rears up, which Jerry shreds with his otherworldly playing. He glides up and down the neck of his guitar with such effortlessness and ease, absolutely bringing down the house to close things out.

I Need A Miracle - with blistering guitar work - gets everyone up and dancing to open the second half. And the transition afterwards is spectacular as well, ferrying us through different worlds, before popping out with a ripping Bertha. Out of that comes an ungodly Playin’, journeying through the outer, psychedelic realms. Phil drops meaty bombs throughout the tune, especially during the intense jams. Out of the commotion of Playin’ comes undoubtedly the highlight of the evening: China Doll. The tune is so emotional and words cannot plumb its ethereal depth. Brent’s keys are insanely stunning, sounding almost like “the bells of heaven,” summoning the crowd from the hereafter. The song finely transitions into a joyous Playin’ Jam, cleansing us of the sorrow and melancholy of China Doll. Drums> Space provides a lovely interlude before the boys come back to a Playin’ reprise. Black Peter brings us back to the poignant darkness. And, afterwards, the Dead give us another exuberant release with Sugar Mags, as fun as ever, before a rocking, set-closing One More Saturday Night.

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