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Dead of the Day: November 4, 1977

Cotterrell Gym, Colgate University
Hamilton, New York

For our Dead of the Day we head back to that inimitable year of 1977. The band was supposed to go from the November show in Toronto to a date at the War Memorial in Rochester some three days later. But just a few days before, the band announced an added night just another hour down the road in the gym at Colgate University. As people who were there note, the Heads were far outnumbered by the student preppies at their homecoming. Moreover, only 1500 or so people were in attendance, and, with general admission and a low stage, everyone who wanted to could get close to the band. The show opens with a rocking Bertha, and the rest of the first set is very fine. But with the smoking Let It Grow at the end of the set, things really turn up. Bobby and Jerry tear it up, not so much trading licks as joining them. With Keith adding some hot keys, it gets into raging territory. There is also an interesting, momentary Lazy Lightning tease at about 8:45 before they seem to catch themselves and regroup for a final push on the theme at hand. With some technical difficulties at the outset of the second half, Phil introduces the band as the Jones family in humorous fashion. And just like that, they are off and running on Samson And Delilah and then a very tasty Cold Rain And Snow. After another tuning-technical pause, the band launches into Playin’, which starts really heating up before dropping into Eyes. And from the opening moments, this Eyes is something special, but it gets even better as it goes on, hitting some incredibly fiery and focused jams. There are a lot of amazing Eyes out there, but this one definitely has to be in the conversation for the top of the heap. Jerry is just extraordinary. At the end, they take Eyes into Estimated for the first time, flipping the normal routine on its head with a stellar, quick - blink and you miss it - transition. The Estimated itself is very good, but not quite up to the Eyes that came before. Sure, Jerry wails the trademark wah-wah guitar sound and the entire band rips through the tune, but then they flip the switch into The Other One and, as things really take off, it is clear how much more they had in them. It is a lightning-quick Other One, but also pure, unadulterated perfection; even Donna hits her backup vocals flawlessly. Drums takes over next, and Mickey and Billy do not cede control as they head into Iko, driving the tune forward with a rhythmic loveliness, forcing the rest of the boys to play along with their game. Afterwards, Stella comes out and is as beautiful as always. In addition to the music itself, on the audience recording here you can hear the space of the gym perfectly, giving you a sense of just how relatively small and empty the place was. There is no doubt that this must have been a magical show to be at with the intimate confines. And the band sends out the set on a high note, coming back into Playin’ and picks up right where they had left off with power and verve galore.

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