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Dead of the Day: September 20, 1990

Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
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There are a number of really intriguing shows from this day in Dead history. For instance, the ’91 show at the Boston Garden has an intense and surprising second set with the Help> Slip> Fire On The Mountain opener. And the boys played a stupendous show in Paris back in 1974. But for our Dead of the Day, we went with the last night of a monstrous week-long run at Madison Square Garden in 1990. The boys are on from the beginning with the Feel Like A Stranger opener. But the highlight of the first set has to be the Ramble On Rose. In the midst of an already stellar jam, Jerry suddenly hits another level altogether, sending out a sublime MIDI-fueled run. However, the second set is really where it is at, beginning with a fiery Truckin’. The China Cat that comes right on Truckin’s heels is even more scorching, heading into a heady I Know You Rider. Then a well-played, rocking Man Smart, Woman Smarter bridges the gap into Drums and Space. A Dark Star shoots off out of Space and heads into some interesting territory, but seems to get a little muddled and lost, which, in some ways, is not a bad place for a Dark Star to go. At that point, though, Playin’ In The Band comes out and rescues everything with an easy-going, relaxing take on the reprise. Renewed by the Playin’ interlude, the Dead return to Dark Star and head right back into spacey realms. And soon enough, they take it into some mesmerizing, dark spaces, rocked by Phil’s bombs, and together the boys create a chaotic aura of vague terror, a top-notch Dark Star moment for sure. With all the noodling at the end of the Dark Star, old Heads can be forgiven for being a little disappointed when Throwing Stones is what emerges out of the tail end of Dark Star. But the Throwing Stones is tight with a fantastic jam in the middle of it, all highlighted by Bruce’s phenomenal keys. And then Touch finishes off the set, oozing pathos in that mixture of optimism and melancholy that is at the heart of the tune.

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