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Dead of the Day: September 11, 1973

William and Mary College
Williamsburg, Virginia

There are a lot of very good shows on this day in history, but our Dead of the Day takes the cake. Despite starting with Promised Land, the band is subdued throughout the entire night. But in the best jazz form, the boys are perfectly on all evening. This sort of playing makes the Sugaree as dark and noir-ish as the tune can get. A little later in the first set, the jam in Tennessee Jed saunters along, lulling you before you suddenly realize the Dead arrived in some heady territory. Jack Straw continues that spare sound with Bobby’s vocals and Billy’s drums up front in the mix, but Jerry and Phil perfectly audible at a little further distance, all coming together beautifully. After, a really short and, once again, subdued version of China Cat Sunflower, the tune leads into a lengthy, and so tasty pure rock jam into I Know You Rider. Led by Jerry, they take the song into some sparse but scintillating areas, through a diverse and intriguing version of Rider. But that does not send the set out as the boys continue on with a solid El Paso and really wonderful Half Step before taking it into break with a Playin’ In The Band. The Playin’ gets out there, but in a way characteristic of this show: jazzy and reserved, yet still unreal. The second set opens with one of the few Let Me Sing Your Blues Away. The Weather Report Suite that rolls out next is often considered the best ever, and it is easy to see why. It is jazzy throughout with Jerry’s licks coming in measured fashion, perfectly ripe. The vocals are ridiculous, and Phil’s bass is just there on the edge, providing an extra bit of majesty. But the thing that sends this Weather Report Suite over the top completely is Martin Fierro on sax and Joe Ellis blowing the trumpet. A sweet Row Jimmy follows with a ripping Big River coming on its heels. The Deal, though only five minutes, is packed with tasty nuggets too. A song later, Dark Star comes forth with thrilling loveliness topped by Phil’s long bass solo into Morning Dew. And what a Dew it is, with some sparkling guitar work by Jerry and just great playing by everyone with a tremendous crescendo to end the set. Then they scorch - really the only time all evening they do that - Sugar Mags for the encore.

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