03-02-1992 @ The Omni, Atlanta, GA

This 1992 show, with the crowd energy in the mix, and so many good things to listen to, had to be today’s pick, despite the excellence of today’s 1969 show. This is the kind of solid show you recommend to a non-Head, as a taste of what we’re all talking about: the singing is good and the band is tight. Even the more pedestrian tunes raise your heartbeat and get your foot tapping. And the noodling and exploring is focused in a way that shows that the band is on, working together, and trying to answer the same question.

The real gem of the first set is When I Paint my Masterpiece. Bobby’s singing is perfectly intense. The second set is where we move from a simmer to a boil. I’ve never heard a China>Rider I didn’t like and most of the reviewers mention it in their comments (and to a Head they include the messed up ending). The Women Are Smarter alone makes the show worth your time. Stella Blue will especially break your heart with its just gorgeous perfection. And just when its got you heavy in your boots and your diving down thinking those deep thoughts around comes Around and Around to lift you out and get your feet moving again.

Not too many reviews at the Archive of this one, but I have to agree with alabama_getaway in that despite the fact that the show has a lot of heat, it is almost completely overlooked. Exploding Rodent calls it, “one of those well-balanced audience tapes where you really appreciate the interaction between the Boys and the crowd. Not too much Bob or too much Phil, etc. Tremendous energy and vibe for a post-Brent era show.”

I strongly considered today’s 1969 show, which followed yesterday’s pick. Check it out if you’re not into this one. If you follow Dead For a Year, you’ll recall that they highlighted the Dark Star from this show with an excellent play-by-play of the song, its placement in the lineup, and a little bit about the rest of the show.

Set 1: Cold Rain & Snow, Little Red Rooster, Brown Eyed Women, It’s All Over Now, Loser, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Deal

Set 2: China Cat Sunflower-> I Know You Rider, Women Are Smarter, Terrapin Station-> Drums*-> Jam-> The Other One-> Stella Blue-> Around & Around,

E: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

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03-01-1969 @ Fillmore West, SF, CA

Get ready to go to church! Your classic 1969 show here: both sets pretty much just roll from one song to the other and the ending crescendo leaves you a little breathless and maybe even surprised you’re not at the show, but still sitting in your house – wife and babes all tucked in – with the headphones blasting. The first set has some great grooves – the crushing Other One that opens and you wonder, if this is the beginning, where are we going to end up? (You end up with a St. Stephen that leaves you feeling like you were on the working end of a heavy bag.)

Many of the comments on the Archive single out the opening to this show as its major highlight: Liamfinnegan asks, “if anyone knows another Dead set-opener in their history that rips better than this one, let me know.” Another Archive reviewer, clementinescaboose, posted, “the New Potato Caboose is one of the greatest and most unique versions, even if it’s not perfect. Phil is absolutely ON FIRE! Such a great opening combo – maybe the best ever!” Soon we come back to earth with an easy mellowness, ending with Doin’ That Rag and easy-going, but strong Cosmic Charlie. You’re feeling good and ready for another dose.

The second set has all the heat our little, mortal minds can handle: they lull us into a late 60s-the-sun-is-shining-on-everything-so-brightly hypnotic groove with delicate versions of Dupree’s Diamond Blues and Mountains of the Moon. Then we suddenly snap-to in the strong current of an early Dark Star and are soon pressed into a hot version of St Stephen>The Eleven>Lovelight combo. It’s heavy density. You’re floating, not fighting.

doug_the_dude captures the general feeling of the entire show: “the opening Other One stands up and practically *dares* you to compare it to any other rendering of the entire suite. The rest of the show really exists in the wake-explosion of this opening chaos – and it all serves it well. The quite-amazing Lovelight mirror-bookends it, with Pigpen reminding us he’s the real frontman, even though he’s been completely absent all night!”

Setlist:

1: Cryptical Envelopment-> The Other One-> Cryptical Envelopment-> New Potato Caboose-> Doin’ That Rag-> Cosmic Charlie

2: Dupree’s Diamond Blues-> Mountains Of The Moon, Dark Star, Saint Stephen-> The Eleven-> Turn On Your Lovelight

E: Hey Jude

How to Listen:

This show has been commercially released as “Fillmore West 1969: Complete Recordings.”

Here’s a copy of the show at the Archive.