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Dead of the Day: October 9, 1989

Hampton Coliseum
Hampton, Virginia

There are a lot of amazing shows on this date in Dead history, but there is nowhere else we would go for our Dead of the Day but the legendary Hampton Coliseum show from 1989. A heady version of Feel Like a Stranger, actually the one from Without A Net, opens the show. From there the band goes into a really solid Built To Last, followed up by an amazing Little Red Rooster. A song later Brent delivers what might be the best We Can Run ever; say whatever you want about the preachiness of the tune, this is a sweet version. After a nice Jack-A-Roe, the set becomes merely ordinary until The Music Never Stopped that closes it out. But it is the second half that is the real gem, and it begins with a soaring Playin’, opened with some incredible keys by Brent. Things get fairly spacey shortly after that, and everyone comes in with some great work, especially Jerry’s MIDI guitar play and Mickey’s funky drums. After ten minutes, the Playin’ rolls into a fresh Uncle John’s before coming back to a Playin’ reprise. Then the first notes of Dark Star roar forth, sending the crowd into pandemonium. And the first Dark Star in five years does not disappoint, moving through other dimensions and vast space before handing it over to the drummers. Out of Space, they go to a powerful, haunting Death Don’t Have No Mercy, besting the breakout version - after twenty years - from ten days earlier at Shoreline. And from there, things continue to churn with a Dear Mr. Fantasy> Hey Jude that is as innovative and it is welcome. Though there is nothing at all surprising about the late-set Throwing Stones that comes out next, it is still a good effort, pouring into Good Lovin’ where Brent delivers some stupendous vocals opposite Bobby. But even with all that, the Dead still have one more gift on this evening, the exceptional Attics of My Life encore, beautiful in itself, but even more tremendous given its seventeen-year hiatus.

The two-show Hampton run was released by the Grateful Dead as Formerly the Warlocks. As we mentioned yesterday, the band billed themselves by the same name for the concert, which had only been announced ten days prior. Heads from across the eastern US made their way to Hampton knowing that the late announcement in a legendary venue would probably mean a tremendous two days of music. I don't think anyone went home disappointed, and, judging by the comments on Archive, memories of scoring that ticket with the gold-embossed "Warlocks" after a long drive remain a highlight.

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