A funky Shakedown storms out of the gate on this warm night in 1981. A sweet pairing of Me & My Uncle and Big River followed up by Tennessee Jed, all full of verve and gusto, keeps the action going. A fun Cassidy follows with Brent really adding some heady keys and solid vocals to Jerry and Bobby’s efforts. An aching Candyman then comes out before a beast of a C.C. Rider with Jerry tearing it up in the latter half. And the man keeps it going on the Althea that follows, even if the audience recording we have here doesn’t do a great job of capturing his vocals. The boys then turn to a mesmerizing Let It Grow, finishing up the set and a top-notch three-song sequence.
The second set gets going with a rocking Might as Well and Man Smart, which surely got the Portland crowd up and dancing. Afterwards, the boys turn to To Lay Me Down, slowing the pace and crafting an alluring version with some beautifully meditative jams. Bobby then takes us into Sailor> Saint, the latter of which gets particularly hot. A lengthy and impressive Terrapin follows, bright and powerful with a frenetic, searching jam that eventually segues into Drums. And Billy and Mickey steer towards the Not Fade Away beat right as the rest of the band returns, which results in the boys skipping Space altogether for a groovy lead-in to a fun NFA. At the tail end, the band drops into Black Peter, the crowd clapping along to the dark and existential tune. A superb Sugar Mags breaks the spell, which is followed up by an energetic One More Saturday Night encore.
This evening was in the midst of a little three-night Pacific Northwest swing after a single Salt Lake City date three days prior. The other two shows - 8/14 in Seattle and 8/16 at McArthur Court - are probably stronger overall performances, but there are certainly some stellar moments in this show. And, there can be no doubt that the Dead were firing on all cylinders at this point in 1981, making this show more than worth the listen.