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Dead of the Day: October 29, 1977

Field House, Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois

From the first notes of Might As Well - Keith firing away on the keys, Bobby strumming hard, and Jerry playing sharp - it is clear the boys are raring to go. Other versions might have better Jerry solos, but this one is it for the combined effort and pure energy that Jerry exhibits on vocals. The rest of the first set is just as magical, led by Jerry who is clearly having a phenomenal evening. At the same time, everyone is perfectly on throughout the set, as witnessed by none other than Phil, who says, just after It Must Have Been The Roses, “I just want you all to know out there, this is the happiest day of my life.” And then the boys roll into what has to be one of the finest stand-alone Let It Grows ever; Jerry’s guitar is chillingly relentless, and Phil and Bobby provide striking accompaniment. It proves to be an amazing way to see the first half out. The second set gets underway with a rocking Bertha, right into a bone shaking Good Lovin’. The Friend Of The Devil that comes out next is superlative, especially with Jerry’s stratospheric solo. But it is the Estimated> Eyes that stands above. The Estimated starts off lucid and bright, and Jerry’s guitar is going off from nearly the first notes. By the second half, he is like a giant sauntering through the landscape, and the rest of the band is his entourage, traipsing off into heady fields. A sudden transition into Eyes flips the whole feel, bringing forth a lighter exploratory trek off into mountain air and moonbeams with a little street-smart percussion grounding it all. By the time they are at the first chorus, the band is firing as an inseparable unit with everyone so locked in and dealing; it is an amazing listen. After a momentary pause, Eyes takes it into a searching Space that finally connects with a powerful Saint Stephen. A short drums solo, which Phil joins in on after a minute, takes it from there into Not Fade Away. Then we get a tender Black Peter, culminating in a milky jam with Keith’s keys and, above it all, Jerry’s fiery guitar taking it away. From there the night goes out with a high energy, incredibly well-played Sugar Mags set-closer and then a One More Saturday Night encore.

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