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Dead of the Day: September 12, 1981

Greek Theater, University of California
Berkeley, California

September 12th is another day without a bad show, from the 1993 date at the Spectrum to the second night at William and Mary back in 1973. For our Dead of the Day, we ended up going with the 1981 date at the Greek, mainly because Jerry is ridiculous all night, playing like a man possessed. The Shakedown opener never gets old, always providing a funky entree into the magic that is a Dead show. But, while it is all good, everything is really just a warmup until they get to the Bird Song about halfway through the first set. There, Jerry moves the jam into so many sparkling interstices while Bobby and Brent provide some lovely accompaniment. What’s more, the Bird Song heads into Cassidy, which is itself packed with jamming goodness. After a long pause for, presumably, some technical difficulties, the boys come back with Tennessee Jed. While this is no early 70s Jed, it has its own scrumptious run in the latter half before it shifts into Looks Like Rain, which Bobby nails vocally, drawing in the crowd. At the same time, Jerry alternates between sparingly perfect picking and blistering runs. Then the band unleashes a heady China> Rider with sick playing by Jerry throughout. Coming out of the break, the Scarlet> Fire is seriously tasty with more superlative guitar work from Jerry, some fine power chords coming from Bobby, and simple earth-shattering bass lines from Phil. Things slow up towards the end with the drummers leading it into Fire On The Mountain. The Fire is one of the better you will hear, starting off slow, but then gaining energy and, before too long, blazing away. The Estimated> Eyes is also a mind trip. In the latter half of the Eyes, the band is powering through some outer realm of the universe before they suddenly come upon something interesting, slowing it down to investigate in deep space. And whatever it was they found, they never leave it, noodling around and probing it from every angle before the drummers just take over. The Not Fade Away> Wharf Rat out of Drums is definitely worth the listen as well. The boys seem to lose some of their momentum from there, but it is still a great show.

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