A new audience tape from 1970 has surfaced, causing some excitement among Dead collectors. It’s not every day you get a brand-new tape from one of the Dead’s classic years, especially one with a “lost” Dark Star!
In October 1970, the Dead started a long tour of the east and midwest. Starting the tour with a couple “hit and run” eastern college shows, one weekend in mid-October found them playing Philadelphia on the 16th, Cleveland on the 17th, and Minneapolis on the 18th. This has always been a “lost weekend” in Dead history, with no tapes of these shows surviving. There were a few brief memories online about the Cleveland show: “I was at the show, and if the music was half as good as my memories of it, it was outstanding.” “They played almost all of Live Dead: Dark Star, St Stephen, the Eleven…”
We could only wonder…until a few months ago, when a Cleveland taper popped up and announced that he’d taped the 17th.
Taper Jeff Linton wrote David Gans:
“It was a double shotgun blast of the Live Dead/Skull and Roses experience.
It was a week before my 17th birthday and I've been on the bus ever since.
This was at the smaller Music Hall that is backed up against and shares stage area with the much larger Public Hall. I seem to recall seeing a review saying they were so loud that it could be heard in the Public Hall during a performance by either the Cleveland Pops or Cleveland Orchestra.
I can back this up with a very old mono cassette recording I made at the concert.
In spite of the Bob and Jerry songs, the Dark Star, the Other One etc, it was very much, without a doubt, Pigpen’s band.
What a BIG FAT SOUND they had back then!”
Gans arranged for the cassettes to be sent to Charlie Miller, who transferred them to the digital world. It turned out to be a good recording for the year, considering the amateur equipment; sounding comparable to some of the Port Chester shows, or about the same as the 10/10/70 audience tape. (From that month, it’s not as good as the excellent stereo 10/23/70 tape – one of the best recordings of the year – but much better than the harsh, tinny 10/11/70 horror.)
There’s a lot of room presence, and the band’s a little distant, but the audience doesn’t overwhelm the music. The guitars and bass are loud and clear, and the drums boom out – cassette recorders from those days had a hard time coping with the Dead’s loud volume, but the sound isn’t too muddy, and it doesn’t get too distorted when the band volume goes up. (Although you can hear the familiar rumble of tapenoise in the quiet parts and between songs!)
The taper and his friends chatter through the tape. (They get increasingly boisterous as the show goes on!) But the audience is not nearly as rowdy as New York audiences typically were in 1970 – for many people seeing the Dead at that show, it was their first time.
There are numerous cuts in the music, most of them severe. The recording is 2 ½ hours, but due to all the cuts (at least a half-hour of music is missing), the show must have been about 3 hours. It is the longest individual show of the month: at most of the other shows, the Dead play a single set ranging from 60-100 minutes (not including NRPS). It’s also unique for October ‘70 in having a break between two Dead sets – although apparently 10/10 also had two sets, we are unfortunately missing almost all of the second one. At a couple places (Minneapolis and Stony Brook) the Dead still had to play two full shows an evening, which always resulted in the early show being cut very short.
We’re fortunate to have most of the shows from October 1970:
10/4/70 Winterland – FM-SBD
10/5/70 Winterland – mostly not circulating, but the SBD is in the Vault
10/10/70 Queens, NJ – good AUD
10/11/70 Wayne, NJ – poor AUD
10/16/70 Philadelphia, PA – lost.
10/17/70 Cleveland, OH – good AUD
10/18/70 Minneapolis, MN (two shows) – lost.
10/23/70 Washington, DC – great AUD
10/24/70 St Louis, MO – fair SBD
10/30/70 Stony Brook, NY (two shows) – good SBD
10/31/70 Stony Brook, NY (two shows) – good SBD
[The Dead may have played an extra show at Paterson College on 10/12/70, but I haven’t seen this confirmed.]
The Cleveland show was pretty standard for the time – aside from having a Dark Star, which was already becoming rare in the Dead’s sets. All the other songs played were done quite a few times that month, in very similar versions (the setlists that month are quite repetitive) - so as a whole the show doesn’t really stand out from its brethren, except in being new to us. (Still, it’s great to have another page in the Dead tourbook restored to us!)
I should mention that, when listened to on its own, it is a great show, representative of the Dead at their 1970 peak. That it’s so similar to other October ’70 shows is a testament to how high the average Dead standard was then. This was not a band that (as Dead reputation has it) fell on their faces at every other show, unable to produce any glimmer of magic – though the band themselves may have felt that way! (And there certainly are some weaker shows from this period, too, where the band does fall flat.)
But as Jay Itkowitz wrote, about the 10/10 Queens show (which apparently felt like a disaster in person, though it sounds strong on the tape): “Musically the concert was a bummer, but to many of the people there, it was a tremendous success. The reason for this is simple: the Grateful Dead are such a fantastic rock band that even when they are bad they outshine almost any group in the contemporary rock scene.”
By 1970 the Dead were a well-oiled audience manipulation machine, able to bring any audience to its feet and take them through the tightly-rehearsed twists and turns of the medleys, gasping at Garcia’s solos and cheering at Pigpen’s antics til they were spent, weary but happy and calling for more. In the first set at Cleveland, the band plays some less demanding tunes, works through some distractions, and takes the tone of the place – in the second set, they’re out to impress, playing an almost interrupted series of ‘greatest hits’ that leaves the audience stunned. (One audience member who was looking for a tape of this show on the Archive years ago wrote, “It was a real stunner… I believed I was dancing on the ceiling.”)
It’s notable in the Cleveland show that the band plays only a few new songs, though they had just finished recording a new album. (And it can be hard to remember that there was a time when Truckin’, Sugar Magnolia, or Goin’ Down the Road were “new”!).This was their first time in Cleveland (though they’d played shows in Columbus, Athens, and Cincinnati, Ohio before), and they may have intentionally played tried & true tunes for a new audience.
There are a few other important things to note about the tour, at least in its early October stages. The Dead were not playing acoustic sets – in general, they were done with those, except at the Fillmore East and Capitol Theatre, Port Chester shows. And it’s no accident that half of our 1970 Dark Stars come from the same two theaters! (Though we know they played it at least a couple times in October, there’s no sign of it for two months after the New York run in November.)
Garcia was interviewed on October 11, just as the tour was starting, and he mentioned, “There's only two theaters, man, they are the only two places that are set up pretty groovy all around for music and for smooth stage changes, good lighting and all that - the Fillmore and the Capitol Theater. And those are the only two in the whole country. The rest of the places we play are sort of anonymous halls and auditoriums and gymnasiums and all those kinds of places… We do our best show…here in New York.”
The New Riders apparently did not open for the Dead for the first two weeks, not showing up until October 23rd. Weir even announces at the start of the 10/10 show, “Marmaduke stayed home. There’s no New Riders tonight. This is the economy package.”
When asked why they were absent, Garcia replied, “It's a question of can we afford it, because it costs a lot of money to move a cat from the West Coast to the East Coast. And, like, at the Fillmore they pay us enough - where we can bring whatever we want, pretty much. But at other places, like, colleges and stuff like that where we're playing in a small hall and they're not going to have much in the way of gross capacity and everyone is going to bust in anyway, we can't afford to bring that many people and to do all that… We take them with us when we can. We work it out in front but a lot of times people - whoever the promoter is - says, ‘No, we don't want the New Riders 'cause we don't know who the fuck they are.’”
And, most importantly, the Dead were not traveling with their own sound crew – the Alembic team stayed home. (As McNally writes, “It was a low-budget tour, without the Dead’s own sound system.”) This left the Dead at the mercy of local PA systems and mixers, and sometimes the shows suffered for it. So this turned out to be one of the last tours where that happened – a few months later, they bought the Alembic PA and hired several new roadies for the April ’71 tour. (Bob Matthews’ apparent absence from this tour may be one reason why the Dead weren’t taping their own shows in these months – there just wasn’t anyone available to do it.)
When asked about the Queens show, Garcia was quite grumpy about it: “It was shitty. I mean, we flew all day long and came here for that gig, and didn't get a chance to check out the sound very well or anything like that. The PA system wasn't too good, and the sound was muddy on stage, and when it's muddy it just destroys any kind of hope for good interaction. You know, we can sort of play together instinctively, so it was together, but it wasn't really high because it wasn't enjoyable…
“We don't take anybody on the road with us or anything. We don't make that much bread. I mean, for example, if we were making enough bread to be able to afford to do that, we would have had our own PA last night, and we would have gone through a number of sound tests to do what we could to make it better. But we don't have any control over any of that shit, so we have to use whatever is there. It depends on there being at least a fairly decent one and that's hardly ever the case.”
With all that as background, let us return to our new show, and let the night unfold…
The 16-year-old taper Jeff Linton and his friends went to the Music Hall that night, armed with a mono cassette recorder and a bundle of Nakamichi tapes, and posted themselves on the front row balcony. Once the band came on and the applause died down, the taper started recording and let the tapes run – no pauses between songs, no trying to conserve tape!
The tape starts with quiet chatter among the audience as the band sets up. The guitars tune to the organ, and the drummers test their rattling drums. Someone announces, “Good evening, football fans…” Then we hear someone giving instructions on where to place the drum mikes: “Turn the drum mike down…OK, that’s two mikes in the front…overhead mike on the other side…so it doesn’t slap back up the wall like that. That’s better - bring that up just a little bit – that’s too much…” Meanwhile, Weir teases the Star-Spangled Banner.
After a long wait, the band finally begins with a rousing Casey Jones. Then Garcia signals a few notes of China Cat to confirm the next song with the band – he tends to do this throughout the first set, which shows that the band was choosing songs on the fly.
China Cat gets an extended intro as Garcia doesn’t sing the first verse for a while. Otherwise it’s a standard version for late ’70 - Weir plays his usual transition solo, and the band plunges right into Rider with Garcia playing just a few short licks. Some people in the audience cheer when the band starts singing Rider (it would have been a new pairing to most people, indeed a surprise). The band’s volume really goes up in the short solos, with Garcia taking flight and Lesh darting around him.
After it’s over, there are a few requests from the audience, but in general the crowd is noticeably calm. Garcia asks, “PA man, whoever you are – in the monitors, turn down Bobby’s microphone…” Then he signals Me & My Uncle with a quiet lick, and we hear Pigpen get back on the organ. (It was one of the few songs he still played on that year. At any rate, his organ can barely be heard when the band’s playing, so this is about the last time you hear it in the show.)
After a strong Me & My Uncle, there’s a long pause. Garcia explains to the audience, “We’re trying to get the electricity together, you know – in a bit it will all work out.” Silence ensues from the stage – but the audience waits patiently and quietly, not nearly as noisy as a Port Chester crowd would be! Finally the instruments come back for more tuning and adjustments, the band playing little random phrases for a couple minutes.
Pigpen takes the lead for a strong Hurts Me Too. As it ends, someone talks to the taper: “I hope you got all that on tape. (That’s a taper.)” “You really want to take the tape out?” “No. Don’t worry, it only tapes on both sides, not in the middle…” [Or something like that.]
Then someone in the band speaks: “Light show man, it seems like there’s a big beam of light in our faces, moving up and down, so if you could, turn the house lights up a little bit, and turn the spotlights down.…” The audience applauds, but apparently nothing happens. “I guess you didn’t hear me. Mister spotlight man? Hey, who’s the union representative around here anyway?” Garcia signals Truckin’.
Truckin’ is still a new song (they’d only recently started playing it electric), and it’s a bit more laid-back than it would become. But there’s not much to say about it – the tape cuts out less than a couple minutes into the song. (It sounds like the tape running out at the end of the side.)
The Other One cuts in on the opening crash, the crowd clapping and cheering. (In late 1970 it still frequently appeared in the first sets, for instance the week before on 10/10.) There is quite a bit of music missing here. The first known Truckin’>Other One segue was on 10/23 – some have speculated that an even earlier segue may be missing behind the cut here. But I don’t think so – I believe Truckin’ ended, and they started the full Cryptical suite. There are a few reasons:
In the 10/23 segue, the Other One flows smoothly from Truckin’, without a big bass roll or the crowd reaction, both of which are on 10/17. (You also hear the big cheers when the Other One starts on 10/10.)
Also, one witness on dead.net recalled, “What I really liked were the drummers center stage and all the percussions stage left. If I recall, there were about 3 drum solos throughout the show.” We have one long drum solo in the second set (in Good Lovin’), and his memory would be substantiated by another drum solo here. They did Truckin’>drums>Other One a few times in November, so that could be possible here – but, most importantly:
The Other One segues into the Cryptical reprise. In late 1970, this never happened unless they played the whole Cryptical suite – there were no Truckin’>Other One>Crypticals.
At any rate, the Cryptical>drums usually ranged from about 6-9 minutes during this period. So on top of the 4 minutes that are missing from Truckin’(and whatever happened in between), this is a major gap. The taper must not have noticed that the tape had stopped, or perhaps was unable to flip it for a while.
The Other One is 10 minutes long, and great. At this point the band still sticks to the main rhythm throughout – though they’re sometimes almost on the verge of slipping into a spacier or more melodic section, as they would do in ’71. (I think the first version with a space-out is 11/29/70.) There’s a delicious part after 2:20 as the band quiets down, Garcia finds one ringing bent note and repeats it through several bars, and they suddenly storm up and pound out the song chord. After the verse the music gets quieter for a bit, with Garcia and Lesh playing twin leads – through the jam they’ll come back to the main riff for a bit, then take it out in a new direction. Between Garcia and Lesh’s fast notes and the band’s revolving patterns, the music seems to be spinning in circles – there’s a heavy jam on the theme, Garcia’s tone massive, piercing, with hints of feedback. The return to the verse is super: as Lesh pushes him forward, Garcia brings the jam to a well-timed, high-pitched climax, and the crowd applauds in amazement as the band falls back into the second verse.
The Cryptical reprise is short, 3 minutes long. (The epic reprises of the past were pretty much done with at this point, and most of the Crypticals of late ’70 are also this short, or skipped altogether.) There’s big applause as Garcia starts the verse, but he never goes into the “you know he had to die” part; after the first two lines it stays instrumental – gently rolling, hypnotic, sometimes stirring beneath the waves but then subsiding. (9/18 is another very pretty version where they don’t do “he had to die.”) As they often did in 1970, they just drift quietly in Cryptical for a couple minutes, not committing to anything – until Weir hits the first couple chords of Sugar Magnolia, seemingly at random. In an instant, the band abandons Cryptical and springs on Sugar Magnolia. (This wasn’t new: Sugar Magnolia had also come out of the Cryptical reprise back on 6/7 and 8/18, and they would do the same segue on 11/11 and 12/28, so they must have liked the jarring effect.)
Sugar Magnolia is unusual for the time since Garcia doesn’t use the wah-wah, so this is one of the rare 1970 Magnolias with his normal guitar tone. (Maybe since they came out of the medley, he didn’t have the wah pedal set up.) They’d only been playing it since June and the song was developing slowly, so the middle jam is still short and restrained, not quite as electrified as the wah versions. Garcia plays the cute little lick bridging the jam to Sunshine Daydream (most well-known from the 10/4/70 version). The band sings the “doo doo” backing vocals to Sunshine Daydream, which is still quite short – Weir seems to end it abruptly.
The band tunes up and pauses for a couple minutes, while the taper’s friends chatter. (They’re still talking quietly at this point!) I think one of them says, “That’s nearly a Dark Star…”
Then there’s a stage announcement that “the fire monitor’s here,” apparently concerned about smoking, to the crowd’s dismay. (A witness on dead.net mentions that the fire marshal was onstage.) There’s a bit of obscure stage banter, but the band ignores him and goes right to the next song, another new one from American Beauty. (Which would not be released until November.)
Candyman gets a long guitar intro, with Garcia playing an interesting little solo where the first verse would usually be. We don’t get much of this Candyman though, for after 2:05, there’s a cut and we skip from the first verse to the last verse – so most of the song is missing, about 4 minutes. (Someone near the taper keeps talking through the whole song, too, not very interested in this slow new song.)
There’s a little more tuning, and the audience is once again pretty subdued and quiet between songs (definitely not a wild & crazy crowd tonight!). The taper is telling a story, I think about technical troubles recording an earlier show (I can only make out a piece of it), but he’s interrupted by the band as they start Hard to Handle. “…[taping a song,] then you look down, and you missed the whole thing…. We missed a half hour of it, about an hour and a half, then they came out after intermission and tuned, we got the tuning perfectly, they’re using their electrical equipment, we had it at high level to record soft sound, then we forgot we had it at high level to record high sound – distorted - and all you get between songs is this tuning….”
Alas, one of those technical glitches occurs even as he speaks, and the tape cuts out just as the band starts Hard to Handle, cutting back in when Weir starts his solo. (So all the verses are lost, about 2 ½ minutes. I’m not sure why two such big cuts would happen so close together, just four minutes apart…)
Lesh stomps on a four-chord pattern at the end of Weir’s solo; then we get a nice, smoky Garcia solo, propelled by a bass drone. This isn’t one of those blowout Hard to Handle solos, though - the band drops unexpectedly back into the song when you think the guitar break’s going to last longer. (In comparison, check out 10/23 for a hot Hard to Handle from this month.)
And that’s the end of the set – Weir says, “We’re gonna take a little break…and we’ll be back in about five minutes…” Just before the tape stops, we can hear the tapers exclaim: “Motown!” “Damn right…”
When the tape comes back on, the band is tuning and the crowd is clapping a beat for them. The taper’s friends are having a conversation (they’re getting louder and more giggly as the show goes on). Since the band’s quiet for a little while, the taper says, “I’m going to turn the tape off,” but just then the drumbeats for Good Lovin’ start up.
Good Lovin’ has the extended drum intro the band was doing at this time – the crowd cheers the opening drums. (Clearly they’ve become more excited over the set break.) There’s the usual long, meandering drum break, 6 ½ minutes (ending at 8:40) – the crowd listens, mostly quiet. Then it ends with the two drummers doing their end-of-drums ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ in unison and the band bursts back in, to a big cheer.
Often at this point the Good Lovin’ drum break was longer than the actual jam, which was usually kept to just a few minutes. This is the most jammed-out Good Lovin’ of the month, though! (Although 10/24 is also very hot, even going into a St Stephen jam.) As usual the jam is very energetic, with rollicking drums. (It’s still an instrumental jam – Pigpen didn’t start doing a rap in Good Lovin’ until 11/29/70.) After a few minutes, the guitarists step back and let Lesh take the lead – astonishingly, we then get a bass solo! It’s very rhythmic, and the audience starts clapping along – then the guitarists return and rip into the jam again. At 15:00, they come back to the stop & start riff – as they always did in late ’70, they repeat this over & over for a couple minutes in call & response fashion, the bandmembers taking turns playing little licks between the riffs. The crowd really cheers when the band hammers back into the song, which ends to wild applause at 18:22.
One witness on setlists.net remembered this part of the show in particular: “This was an excellent show. I would dearly love to locate a recording of it, if just to confirm my fond memories of the performance. I recall an extended jam in which Phil Lesh just killed. Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir got on each side of him, pointed their guitars at him, and pushed him through a series of short solos, trading licks and revving things up tremendously.”
Garcia soon starts Cold Rain & Snow. There’s another cut here at 1:45 – it cuts from ‘combing back her yellow hair’ to ‘I married me a wife.’ (So it’s missing about 90 seconds.) There’s a break for a couple minutes after the song as the band tunes and gets ready for Dark Star - Hart may have had to set up his extra percussion instruments. The crowd whistles and hollers, more active than in the first set, and there are some calls for St Stephen. (The taper chatters through this, though I can’t quite make him out; he finishes talking over the start of Dark Star.)
Dark Star starts out more muscular than ethereal – Lesh is loud and booming; Weir’s chords are clear and jangly; some percussion taps out the rhythm; Garcia is in the zone, carefully dropping sweet notes into the mix. A very enticing intro jam, but as it’s heating up, there’s a big cut after 3:10 which zaps us to the very end of the first verse. (The other Dark Stars of the period have intro jams ranging from about 4-6 minutes long, so about 2-4 minutes is lost in this cut. It had been only 7 minutes since the last cut, so once again what happened is a mystery…)
A ringing gong takes over as Weir’s guitar falls silent, and we enter space: low notes from the bass, ghostly chimes of feedback, and scraped strings (which, at 4:55, sound like a quacking duck). The audience is dead silent during the space, but after a couple minutes they can’t hold it in any more and cheer. The band responds by getting noisier – splashes of gong, a jet-drone from the bass, more feedback.
Way off in the distance, Garcia starts the sputnik pattern, sounding like wind-chimes, but stops in a whine of feedback. Then we hear volume swells from him, the wobbly-wire effect from Weir, big bass hums, and cymbals. After about 8 minutes, Garcia is playing a very quiet part (almost subliminally) – raising the volume, he starts playing slow notes again in some slow, sad melody that the band accompanies. Coming out of the weirdness and tinged with feedback, the dignified melody feels almost unearthly.
The band is being careful and deliberate here, slowly working their way back to earth. A glockenspiel starts to accompany Garcia (it’s very loud and prominent on the tape, perhaps the best capture of this instrument in any Dark Star). Lesh is picking up the beat, at 10.30 Weir starts to play chords again, and the jam builds momentum. It feels like a song forming as Garcia plays piercingly pretty notes.
By 12 minutes in, they’re speeding up – Garcia’s doing fast runs and Lesh hints at Tighten Up; but it’s just a feint, they’re not doing a familiar theme tonight. Garcia slows down the jam, to great effect - he has that magnificent echoing tone (as in the 9/19 Dark Star), sounding enormous, majestic and soaring over the room. At 13.20 Garcia enters the slow ‘bright star’ riff (as on 9/19), but it’s not time for reentry yet, and he backs off.
To a loud bass and tapping cymbals, he starts quietly playing runs again – as he gets louder, Weir and the drums come back in, and they hit a rocking groove. Garcia chops out some rhythm chords at 14:50, then goes back into a fast sputnik that trickles out. The others are playing a quick, sparse backing, and Garcia joins them for a fast jam. Under his lead, they gradually shift the rhythm back to Dark Star as he plays long, hanging notes. (Here it sounds like the end of a Dancing, where they always have to slow down to get back to the song.)
Just as Garcia resumes the Dark Star riff at 17:40, the tape cuts again, to the first line of the verse. (This must be a short cut, as there’s not much missing – less than a minute.) At the end they play the slow transition to St Stephen without a peep from the crowd . (However, there’s a loud crackling from the tape – there were a lot of tape crackles and pops in the quiet parts of Dark Star!)
Even with the cuts, this was a tremendous Dark Star. Structurally, it doesn’t offer any surprises as it follows the same pattern as the surrounding Stars – the Dead play the same sections, more or less the same way, so there’s little new in that respect. Moodwise though, each Star follows its own path, and this one has a different feel from the 10/11 Dark Star. That one was crackling with wild energy, while this one is more subdued and deliberate. It also has a sadder tone than the bright & happy Stars from 9/17 and 9/19, with their killer thematic jams – this one doesn’t hit such a satisfying climax. (It’s telling how quiet the audience is throughout, when other Stars have them bursting into spontaneous applause.) All the same, Stars have a way of shifting over time, and a Star can sound very different from one listen to the next. Among the amazing Dark Stars of late 1970, this one holds its own.
The pent-up audience hollers at the first notes of St Stephen, clapping along to the beat. (Our taper joins in.) This is a good Stephen, with the big chiming raveup in the middle that really gets the crowd going. As usual for the year, after the “answer man” the drummers go into the Not Fade Away drumbeats. (The band closed almost every show this month with NFA.)
As the audience hollers, Not Fade Away starts out rough & rowdy, with the crowd really into it. It’s a short version, less than 5 minutes, like most of the late-’70 NFAs (the giant versions came to an end when Goin’ Down the Road was introduced). Garcia plays a rather gentle melodic solo after the verses are done (very similar to the 10/23 version).
The transition to Goin’ Down the Road is not quite smooth yet (they’d first done it just a week before), but the band delivers a nice instrumental intro – that part of the song was down from the beginning. Garcia sings it a bit differently from later versions, and plays a ridiculously short middle solo, just one verse long (20 seconds) – then they sing just one more refrain before the Goodnight outro. This is actually a historic version – it’s the first version we have where the Bid You Goodnight instrumental was used as a coda to Goin’ Down the Road. It’s played stompingly (with cowbell!) – they repeat it twice, then dive back into Not Fade Away without an extended jam.
They race through a brief 90-second Not Fade Away reprise, sounding like a band in a hurry – but this was typical of the time, as the other NFA bookends of the month are just as short. Garcia and Weir alternate singing “not fade away!” at the end – this is an interesting comparison for me, since I was just listening to Pigpen sing the end of NFA with Weir in 1972. It’s a different approach – Pigpen is more cool & sure in his approach, while Garcia just wails it.
(To digress a little bit, October ’70 is one of the rare times where we can hear a new song being born, changing and developing from one show to the next.
Goin’ Down the Road was played instrumentally in the 10/10 Not Fade Away, with no sung lyrics. On 10/11 they sing the first full version - they’re still working out the transitions, and it’s rather hesitant & clunky; they go straight from the last chorus back to NFA. On 10/16, as we heard, they’ve added the Bid You Goodnight coda. On 10/23, they’ve changed the structure of the song a bit – it’s already more smoothly done, with more of a solo. They’re also already extending the Goodnight coda, spending more time on the transition back to NFA. (It still sounds uncertain, though, as they wouldn’t come up with a real transition jam until ’71.) On 10/24, there’s another more extended transition back into NFA, done a bit better – 10/24 is also notable for being the first Goin’ Down the Road with TWO guitar solos between the verses.
So the Dead evidently worked on this song between shows, making little tweaks here and there and adding new parts. By the end of the month it isn’t quite ‘finished’ – the final verses are still unsettled, and sung more gently than they later would be; and the song isn’t as fully jammed as it would be in some November versions (when it still varied in length). Also, the feel of the song is different because Garcia hasn’t yet discovered the rolling guitar-part that would be so prominent in later versions – he first stumbles on it briefly & awkwardly at the end of the month, and slowly develops it over the next two months. Though later Goin’ Down the Roads sound effortless, they took a lot of practice to get that way!)
At the end of Not Fade Away, the band hops right into Lovelight, which gets a big cheer. It steams along at a quick pace – the crowd claps along, with lots of cheers for Pigpen. This turns out to be an unusually short Lovelight, though: there is a big cut after the first verses, around 1:45, and it jumps to Pigpen’s final rap. So the whole heart of Lovelight is missing – the rest of the verses, the jams, “shine on me,” “box-back nitties,” “pocket pool”…all gone. Probably around 10 minutes are lost here. When we return, Pigpen goes “wait a minute!” and sings over percussion backing as everyone claps along. After a couple minutes, the band starts the ending chords, and we get the usual slam-bang finale with screams and crashing drums and grinding guitars, ending at 9:50.
“Whoa!” someone cries. The audience chants “More! More!” and the tape keeps rolling as they keep clapping for three minutes, screaming when the band returns. There’s still chattering in the taper’s circle – they sound completely blasted. After a bit of tuning, the encore is Uncle John’s Band - the crowd cheers it gratefully and claps along. It’s a fine version with rolling percussion: there’s a very warm, communal feel as the band sings to the clapped beat. When they leave the stage again, this time the audience soon quiets down, knowing it’s really the end. “No more,” someone says…
One audience member wrote a review on dead.net:
“This was the Dead’s first concert in Cleveland and my first Dead show.
They opened the show with Casey Jones.
We had very good seats center stage twentysome rows back, $3.50 I think or $5.50 at the door. We were dancing in the aisle by the second song….
Pigpen was unbelievable, when I think of him I see him as the TRUTH.
Butane balls of fire rolling across the Music Hall’s ceiling and an explosives canister. Pigpen lit it off and caught Hart by surprise....almost knocked him over.
They kept playing and playing, they were hot and having a very good night. I don’t think the officials in Cleveland knew quite what to do with them. They wanted the show to be over and the Dead wouldn’t stop playing. Up came the house lights, they still wouldn’t stop. Then a couple of cops, the fire marshal and a couple of suits stood on stage in a line, most with their arms crossed staring. The Dead kept playing for another ten, fifteen minutes. I believe if they hadn’t been forced to stop they would have gone on for hours.”
The band would be back in Ohio again on November 29 for the last show of the tour, at the Club Agora in Columbus, a long and spirited show which luckily also survives on a decent audience tape.
If you’d like to explore other shows from October ’70, I’d recommend these:
A short show without much jamming, and perhaps overrated because it’s long been well-known from the FM broadcast & bootleg; but it’s a popular favorite in pristine SBD sound.
Similar sound & setlist to the 10/17 show. Garcia said this show was “shitty,” and one witness called it “a bummer,” but the show sounds pretty strong on tape – you be the judge!
A good show in great AUD sound.
The SBD is rather weak, with many problems, but the show is hot.