top 100 grateful dead shows

This powerful and diverse triumvirate had three distinct incarnations: ’75–’77, ’83–’85, and ’89–’95, while the bouncy “Franklin’s Tower” also enjoyed solo spins during the in-between periods. Everyone, including band members, will tell you that studio albums never quite captured the Dead’s mystical X-factor. 48. Nineties pick: RFK Stadium 6-14-91 (with Bruce Hornsby and MIDI Jerry) “Franklin’s Tower” alone: Cape Cod 10-27-79. Send us a tip using our anonymous form. When this site started in February, 2008, I likened the collection of Grateful Dead recordings available online to a vast sea in which folks needed help navigating.

My favorites are from ’76-’77, with Donna on sweet harmony vocals and Keith adding little piano touches to the spare arrangement. Eighties pick: Laguna Seca 7-29-88; a rare later version that includes the “reprise.”. The Grateful Dead. The jamming on "Bird Song" and "Playing in the Band" is as intense as it gets, but they are only a foreshadowing of the heights that the exquisite "Dark Star" would reach in the third set, which was one of their best-ever renditions of the song. Uncle John's Band. Holly is history. This was my next-to-last night with the Dead. I’ve probably listened to the 2-27-69 version immortalized on Live Dead, more than any other piece of music, so I am hopelessly biased about its greatness—the worlds it visits, its elastic rhythmic pulse, the riffs that were perfected this night, the overall flow of the thing. In the second set, Garcia sings the reflective irony of “High Time” with plaintive force, before the real high times start: long, assured expeditions through songs from Blues for Allah and Aoxomoxoa. The Dead were about to release what would turn out to be their last studio album, the ironically named Built to Last, and they played the title track in the first set on the 9th along with a Brent Mydland showcase, “We Can Run,” written with Weir’s composing partner, John Barlow. “Sugaree”May 22, 1977; The Sporatorium, Pembroke Pines, Florida, Again, lots of great choices from 1977. This concert was the first of two there, and the recording from that generously long night confirms the relief and satisfaction I felt a week later, when I saw one of the band’s four shows at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia.

Instead, the boys drift into an unconnected spacey jam, then “Drums,” “Space,” a fantastic “Playing in the Band” reprise, and then back to the “Uncle John’s” vocal reprise; stunning! On their 1972 european tour, their first major trip abroad, the Dead – with the husband-and-wife team of pianist Keith and singer Donna Godchaux fully integrated into the lineup – were “laying down the framework of what we were up to, to a brand-new, cold audience,” Weir said in 2011. Fantasy” in between the “na-nas.” Truly electric; Jerry goes off!

“Feel Like a Stranger”August 10, 1982; Fieldhouse, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. “Scarlet” alone pick: Fresno 7-19-74.

Though I generally prefer the harmony vocals on the bridge in the Brent-era, the late Seventies versions have a distinctive haunting quality and some crushingly powerful jams. The baroque drama of “Terrapin Station” is the last stop before the open waters of “Drums” and “Space”; “Good Lovin’ ” comes in two parts with Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” shaking in the middle.

One of my favorite things about the Grateful Dead is that their style changed tremendously over time, making each era unique.

09-24-1973   China>Rider   2. I already have lots of it. By grafting the discipline of backwoods American roots music to the improvisation of Charlie Parker, Art Tatum and Django Reinhardt, they tied together two great eras of 20th-century American white-kid rebellion—the Beats and the Hippies—and then took it as far as their minds could stretch, with the early help of wide-eyed, West Coast LSD. There was new blood: keyboard player Brent Mydland. You didn’t need an advanced degree in Dead lore to decode the name on the tickets for the two ’89 shows at this 13,000-capacity arena. It’s big, bold and has both punch and crunch. This show is routinely cited as one of the Dead’s best – ever. I worked at both of them, as part of the security team. Despite the heat, the band is on fire, from the raucous "Promised Land" that opens the show to the mournful "Sing Me Back Home" near its finale. 19.

So, live recordings it is. There was a problem. We’re going with this 1970 version because of Jerry’s emotional vocal delivery and the snaky, all-too-rare, slide solo that leans heavily on the old country blues lament “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”.

It’s difficult to fathom why this lilting, bopping tune was only played during 1973 (and once in ’74), then dropped until 1992.

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