May 29, 2012

February 11-14, 1970: Fillmore East

The Grateful Dead demonstrated this past holiday weekend (11, 13-14) that they have arrived as a top draw act. Following its New Years' weekend sellout, the Dead returned to headline the six-show holiday concert at the Fillmore East, NY. Playing to a near-capacity house, the shows grossed $55,000. The all-California bill included Love and the Allman Bros.
The Grateful Dead's approach to rock is based upon their inventive explorations of driving blues, country & western, hard rock and well conceived eerie atonal passages. With Jerry Garcia's crystal clear guitar serving as a starting point, the sextet has a spontaneity that finds all the members sharing equally in the final product. Phil Lesh's imaginative bass lines combine with the stereo drumming of Bill Kreutzman and Mickey Hart for a unique rhythm section, while Bob Weir's smooth guitar fills the gaps. The Grateful Dead have attracted one of rock's most dedicated followings with their no-gimmick music.
One of the earliest of the Los Angeles rock groups, Love has undergone extensive personnel changes since 1965 with leader Arthur Lee the lone holdover. Whether belting away or projecting a sensitive vocal, Lee is a unique singer whose lyrical vocals mellow the quartet's hard rock emphasis.
Like the Dead, the Allman Bros. are a hard blues band whose emphasis is on extended instrumentals. The sextet has the ability to drive each other and motivate the audience, but at times get hung up with repetitive chord patterns.

(by Jeff, from Variety, Feb 18 1970)

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Fillmore East, New York
Love, with only Arthur Lee still around from the original group, were strong in the second show at Fillmore East, Feb. 11. The West Coast group, in its first Fillmore East appearance, was sandwiched between two acts returning after brief absences, Atco Records' Alllman Brothers, who opened, and Warner Bros. Records' Grateful Dead, who headlined.
The Dead, one of the pillars of the underground, were in good, untheatrical form, while the Allman Brothers, stressing instrumental over vocal material, also were good. The Wednesday shows were added to the regular Friday-Saturday schedule because of the next day's Lincoln's Birthday observance.
Lee's distinctive voice is Love's key, whether singing in blues style or high folk style. Lee also played a strong rhythm guitar. Lead guitarist Gary Rowles also [shone], while bass guitarist Frank Fayad and drummer George Surinach contributed importantly to the Blue Thumbs Records' quartet's sound.

(by Fred Kirby, from Billboard, 21 February 1970)

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NEW YORK - Blue Thumb's legendary Love highlighted a friendly and entertaining weekend at the Fillmore recently.
Love was formerly an Elektra group, but the only remaining member of that group is the leader and lead singer Arthur Lee. The group, entertaining, different and pretty together, received a well deserved ovation. Also on the bill were the Allman Brothers.
The Grateful Dead headlined the bill and, as always, were excitedly applauded by their fans who view them as the world's greatest rock band. They have their ups and downs, but they are generally extraordinary.

(by Dan Goldberg, from Record World, 28 February 1970)


  1. I added a second review, from Billboard, of the 2/11/70 late show.
    Most of the reviews I post here have something to offer - this one, though, is spectacularly bad. The reviewer was only interested in Love. The Dead & Allmans get tossed off in a sentence. The giant show-ending jam with several bands merging? Not even mentioned. He'd probably left by then.

  2. I added a third brief review from Record World. As you might expect from a record-industry paper, Love gets the most attention once again, being an established Los Angeles pop group. (Owsley, taping these shows, disliked them so much he taped over the Love sets! "Love did not impress me, and I had no real interest in keeping them in my diary - so with the vain hope each night that they would improve, I used the same reel of tape over.")
    The Allmans were still unknown to New York reviewers. The Dead don't get much notice in a 6-sentence review, but this reviewer takes note of their fans (who "as always" greet them with rapture and think they're "the world's greatest rock band"), and admits that the Dead are indeed extraordinary.

    1. By the way, Record World had called Live/Dead "one of the greatest rock albums ever released and by far that group's most successful artistic record." (2/14/70 album reviews)
      Record World had also noted, "Warner Brothers Records is planning an extensive advertising and promotional campaign for the Grateful Dead's return to the Fillmore East Feb. 11, 12 & 14." ("Promotion for Dead," 1/31/70)

  3. A brief mention of the 2/11/70 show, from an unrelated article:

    "Fleetwood Macs ended their three month American tour with a bang at Madison Square Garden in New York City, playing for a capacity crowd of 22,000. Two nights before the show Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood jammed with the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore East. Mick danced a mad fandango on the stage while Peter Green simultaneously played guitar and rapped with Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, which means that Mick had cheered up somewhat after having all his clothes stolen from his hotel room in Vancouver."
    (Richard Robinson, "Wintersend Kicks Off Pop Festival Season," Rockland County Journal-News 3/28/70)