On Jerry’s birthday, the Grateful Dead only played a handful of shows. But they did lay out an excellent celebration in 1973 that serves as our Dead of the Day. A Promised Land breaks the show open with the Dead rocking it out of the gate. And then they go into a Sugaree, which is a classic early version, elemental and sparky. After a very solid Race Is On, Donna busts out You Ain’t Woman Enough, and, depending on your perspective, it is either one of the highlights of the first set or something to flip right on through. Regardless, Keith delivers some phenomenal keys in the effort. The Bird Song that comes out next is absolutely transcendent with Jerry and Keith coming together to make a truly standout version. The first set continues in tremendous fashion with a Mexicali and an upbeat They Love Each Other. A song later, a beautiful, haunting Stella Blue completely changes the tenor of the set as Jerry throws his all into the tune and Keith mingles in some lovely fills. Big River comes out right afterwards, erasing the melancholy of Stella with the hot picking. The second half gets off to a fiery start with a ripping Around And Around, followed up by a tasty Half Step that brings the pace down a notch. And after Me And My Uncle, the slower, contemplative pace resumes with a totally styling Row Jimmy as Jerry shows, once again, just how dialed in he is on this night. With the crowd calling out tunes, the band then peals out the first notes of Dark Star, bringing a quick cheer from the audience. The version is tremendous with the boys completely focused on the matter at hand, spending nearly thirty minutes just working around the interstices of the theme, playing out the possibilities while drifting along on a cloud of space dust. Somehow El Paso bursts out of the Dark Star, providing a momentary interlude before the band blows out an epic Eyes Of The World. The Eyes heads off with momentum and exuberance, streaking into the planetary space and continuing to hum along for the duration. What’s more is that the Eyes eventually leads into a milky, cosmic, scintillating Morning Dew. The Dew stretches out before releasing into a sparkly, so fun Sugar Mags that sees the set out. But the boys come back out for a Going Down The Road Feeling Bad> One More Saturday Night encore that makes certain everyone went home shaking their bones.
Jersey City, New Jersey