Monday, November 12, 2012

Boston Run in September 1993 - Utterly Ridiculous

I haven't been very regular in updating the blog but I assure you that I'm always listening to Grateful Dead, and almost exclusively Grateful Dead from the 1990s.

It's been 17 years since Jerry died and thanks to technology I've been able to download and hear soundboard recordings of tons of shows (although  I wish the band would officially release all the recordings from the 1990s).

I've never been very good about memorizing which shows really stand out and I'm not one of those Deadheads that can tell you what show has "the best performance of Samson ever". One reason for this is because after I hear a great tape, I am immediately trying to forget it so that I can "rediscover" it again in another year or two.

Well in the last week or two, I worked my way through a run of shows from Boston in September 1993 that contain some unbelievable Grateful Dead moments and is probably the best GD run ever (to my unique tastes). Of course, if I could go back to any show in a time machine, it would be the Harmonic Convergence show in 1987, but a close second would be this run back east.

Grateful Dead Played Better on the East Coast?

I have to admit, although I've seen some great shows, I never saw the band firing on all cylinders like this run.  It features huge stretches of flawless and inspired performances by Jerry. Of course, he is just newly playing the "Lightning Bolt" guitar which allowed him to play easily and fluidly compared to the previous Doug Irwin guitars. To those who disparage the "acoustic tone" of Lightning Bolt, I would urge them to listen to Jerry reinvent some old tunes during this run (I write a lot more about Lightning Bolt here).

Again, I have listened to show recordings for the 17 Grateful Dead shows I went to and they just don't compare to the band in Boston during this run (possible exception was the Sunday night Vegas show I saw in 1994).  Shoreline (aka Snoreline) shows in particular pale in comparison.

I have come to the undeniable conclusion that the band played better on the East Coast (specifically New York, Philadelphia, and Boston).

Audio and Video Links and More Discussion about These Shows

I found one youtube video of a complete concert from these shows (the 3rd of 6 shows - Sunday, 9/26/93 thanks Voodoonola!). I'm going to post links to the recordings for all these shows.

Then down below  the video, I am going to maybe weigh in on some specific thoughts and highlights from these shows (I do this way down the page so that the person who may be hearing these for the first time can listen without knowing the setlist and enjoy the surprise of the show).

Some Random Thoughts from This Historic Boston Run
This show is great, but I wasn't listening as closely because I didn't realize it was such a monumental run. Any show with Scarlet/Fire is great and the Days Between was good as well.
This first set is ridiculous.  There is an absolutely incredible Loser and the Cassidy/Deal closer shows Jerry playing at a magical level.   The Foolish Heart is always an ambitious choice and this is a "pretty good" version (very long).  Crazy Fingers and The Wheel are 2 of my favorite songs and make the 2nd set a winner, but overall, the 1st set owns the night.
So it was during this tape that I really started realizing how great this run is.  High Time (first set) and Ship of Fools (2nd set) are rare and awesome to hear especially in the same show.  The Standing on the Moon closer and Rain encore left me speechless.
This is the only show that I didn't have the soundboard of so I listened to the audience recording from  More of the band and Jerry playing great.  A great China/Rider and a personal favorite Attics of My Life highlight this show.  The ending Throwing Stones then Good Lovin' and then US. Blues encore just further highlight how much more special the Dead seemed to treat their East Coast runs.
Sugaree and Dire Wolf highlight the first set, and the surprising/disappointing (choice) Tennessee Jed set closer is redeemed when the band comes out and opens the 2nd set with Eyes of the World. Terrapin is great and the surprising Playin' Reprise is great coming out of Space.
This is my favorite show of this run...  Here Comes Sunshine is incredible and the Candyman and Stagger Lee are played really well although you can hear Jerry's voice is really struggling...I think it was the last show of Fall Tour. If you really want to hear how clear and beautiful Lightning Bolt sounded, listen to the opening notes of Candyman from this show.... that guitar just cut through clear as a bell.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is a personal favorite so as 2nd set opener I think that's great.  Crazy Fingers played for the 2nd time this run and is good (Stagger Lee is also played twice on this run and it's one of my all time favorites with Crazy Fingers so you can imagine how much extra that makes me like this run and this show in particular).  Jerry plays some great guitar at the end of He's Gone (during the "ooooh nothing's gonna bring him back..."), I've never heard him play like that during this part of the song.

Other One>Wharf Rat is not a sequence I like that much but instead of the usual Lovelight after they switch it up and go to Not Fade Away where Jerry plays and sings just incredibly (what happened to the 1st set hoarseness I have no idea).  The show ends on such a high note and then of course what else could end a 6 night run (and tour) better than Brokedown.... perfection.

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

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