The show gets going with a solid Cold Rain And Snow. From there, the band seems to gather energy and verve as they go so that by the time they get to Row Jimmy, everything is firing. But then the Big River, with Keith’s rollicking keys and Jerry’s occasional bursts of incredible guitar, comes out to top the Row Jimmy (and, as an aside, just compare Keith's work on this Big River to Brent's on the Dead of the Day from two days ago...the Dead always had some amazing talent behind the keyboard). And after that comes a stimulating Deal, followed up by a mammoth Weather Report Suite to close out the set. As good as the first set gets by the end, the second tops it all repeatedly, starting with the monstrous Wharf Rat. And just a song later, the Dead take it deep with a tremendous Playin’, heading off into some really trippy space in the latter half. But right when things seem like they could get no weirder, a change sweeps in with a gathering jam, becoming a full-fledged, face melting Mind Left Body Jam. It is lilting and lovely and so beautifully complex, a real treasure to behold. By the end, you know they are heading into He’s Gone, which seems to emerge organically in the last minute or two of the jam before the unmistakable first notes of the theme itself actually make their appearance. The Truckin’ that comes out next sort of gets lost in all the magic, but it is a serious piece of work itself, especially in the sparse and billowy noodling jam of the second half. After that, it is Stella Blue; yes, that is right, both Wharf Rat and Stella in the set, which is just phenomenal. Sugar Mags - sadly absent from the Dick’s Picks 14 release - then roars in, providing some pure joy before the magisterial Morning Dew closer.
Other December 2nd Shows and Recordings:
- 1966 - Pauley Ballroom, University of California - Berkeley, CA - unknown setlist, not on Archive
- 1971 - Boston Music Hall - Boston, MA
- 1981 - Assembly Hall, University of Illinois - Champaign, IL
- 1992 - McNichols Sports Arena - Denver, CO