’73 was a very fine year, and this show is the cream of that turn around the sun. The first set is extraordinary, topped only by the second half and its epic Dark Star> Mind Left Body> Eyes> China Doll. It all opens with a relaxed and mellow version of Promised Land, allowing you to really feel the dirt and grime of the hard traveling and the pure ecstasy of making it into LA. A song later, Bobby comes back on a furious Greatest Story. Sugaree and Black Throated Wind are excellent as well; it is really hard to find an even just good song in the whole lot. And the Weather Report Suite at the end is as heady as they come. Jerry is just spectacular, leading the band on a hardcore jazz session throughout the Let It Grow. Mississippi Half-Step takes it out of the break, and it starts out nearly ordinary before busting out in the second half as the boys soar forth, roll into a sweet and poignant stash of vocal harmonies, and then rise on the wings of a Jerry solo. The Big River is no slouch itself, hot and feisty with some lightning-fast picking. But it is after a pause that the real meat of the set begins, with a mind-meltingly cosmic Dark Star. Jazz stylings reign as every member makes his way toward the same spot by all taking a slightly different path, spinning off and then intertwining and then wandering off again. At the end come a rightesouly groovy Mind Left Body Jam. At some point you are just left wondering how in the hell you got there from the beginnings of Dark Star, and that moment will cause you to break out in a beaming smile. The Eyes keeps the music-driven joy coming with a brilliant, enlightened version, again keeping that jazz sound coming. Then a breathtakingly, heartrending China Doll comes forth, shattering the feeling, but sending it all into a crystalized world of melancholy loveliness. From there, a Sugar Mags rushes to the emotional rescue, taking the amazing set out in bone-shaking manner. A three-song encore, topped by a lovely We Bid You Goodnight, sends everyone on their way to cherish the memories. Sit down, kick back, and put this gem of a show on right now.
San Francisco, California