Jul 25, 2012

March 17, 1971: Fox Theater, St Louis


Aside from two smoke bombs - both apparently set off by pranksters - nothing marred The Grateful Dead concert Wednesday night at the Fox Theater.
One smoke bomb fizzled out while police were removing it. The other, which flared in the fourth row near the end of the performance, sent up billowing smoke but there was no panic.
No injuries occurred in either incident.
Legions of young rock music fans flocked into the theater, over 3500 strong, filling the orchestra floor and most of the balcony.
To enter the ornate lobby of the city's largest movie theater, however, the crowds had to file through security guards hired as insurance against gate-crashers at recent rock concerts (and, as it turned out, unnecessary insurance).

As if that weren't enough, paying fans had to dodge colorful-looking brothers and sisters, who, posing rather unconvincingly as impoverished street people, begged passersby for spare change.
Once inside, the kids luxuriated in the gilt neo-Moorish decor of the elaborate movie palace, obviously grooving on surroundings designed to provide a high for a much earlier generation.
The concert was distinguished throughout by the fantastic acoustics of the hall, which were exploited to the fullest by continually skillful acoustical control to produce perhaps the best-sounding rock concert here in years.

The evening began with a generous 90-minute set by the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a group considered a branch of the Dead who share with the parental group its famous lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia.
The Sage is softer than the Dead, and specializes in the current country and Western in-sound, sometimes playing it authentically, and sometimes camping or twanging it up in a mod stylization.
When the Dead broke into its first number at about 9:15 p.m., the rhythmically clapping audience rose to its feet and rushed down the aisles to the stage apron, where many remained standing.

There is no doubt among rock historians that The Grateful Dead is the original rock group, and no doubt among many fans that it is still the best.
Many of their Wednesday night songs were the old hard-hitting variety, others had a strong country flavor, one or two had an almost medieval modality - and a number fell in between.
Arrangements and instrumentation were rich and strong, and unerringly performed.
Wednesday's Grateful Dead concert was an unusual treat and one in line with a group that prefers live audiences to recording studios. The performance will be repeated Thursday evening.

(by John Brod Peters, from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 18 1971)

http://www.dead.net/features/tapers-section/march-12-march-18-2007 - "3/17/71 has a few technical issues at key points in the master tapes (specifically bad cuts in the reels during Hard To Handle and the Other One suite), but from that show we were able to salvage this good version of Next Time You See Me as well as this tight version of Me and Bobby McGee, both from the first set."


  1. When the Dead don't set off their own pyrotechnics, the fans provide for themselves!

    The reviewer seems to know almost nothing about the Dead, but is quite impressed. Special note is made of the band's sound quality.
    Over & over in old show reviews we read that the audience "rose to its feet" as soon as the Dead started playing. It must have been quite a moment.

    This show does not circulate. Greg Carmack on setlists.net writes, "Set I opened with Truckin. Hard to Handle was Pig's first song, early in Set I. Set II concluded with NFA>GDTRFB>NFA (Jer had switched to a black Les Paul Custom) and JBG... Pig did not do Lovelight at this show."
    The Other One suite is mentioned by Lemieux - Cryptical is probably the tune that the reviewer wrote "had an almost medieval modality."

    So we have a partial setlist:
    Hard to Handle
    Next Time You See Me
    Me & Bobby McGee
    Other One suite
    Johnny B Goode
    ...which is quite similar to the next night.

  2. Does anyone know where I can download this show???

    1. Nowhere. As I said, this show does not circulate. 3/18/71 does, though.