Jul 18, 2012

May 2, 1970: Harpur College, Binghamton NY

LIVE DEAD LIVE DEAD LIVE DEAD LIVE DEAD

The article above this one raves about Pentangle. Sure, they gave a fine concert.
BUT...they didn't approach the Dead. The concert was the finest in Harpur history...the finest the Dead has ever given on the East Coast to my knowledge. And the finest concert I've ever seen - and that includes a 3 hour thing in Tompkins Square by the Blues Project, Janis and Big Brother's finest moment at the Fillmore East and also all of Woodstock.

LIVE DEAD
Waiting at the door. Tons of freaks waiting also. Painted. Tripping. Stoned. The doors open. A mad rush for the floor. Balloons fly through the air. "Clear for an aisle." "Anybody got any matches?" "No Smoking." "Anybody want Electric Wine?" Whoo. Whoo. Screams. A Bird Call.
Then the dead. Garcia and Weir come out and do acoustic stuff. I don't remember most of it. Some was really fine. Most was really fine. An acoustic "Beat It On Down The Line" that was really fantastic. Sit down. Everybody sit down. Garcia plays "Don't Murder Me." Screams. We sit and stand. End of acoustic set.
"Where's the electric?"

THE NEW RIDERS
Announcing the NEW riders of the Purple Sage. Out comes some blond haired freak. Marma-Duke? Fine country music. The crowd roars but "where's the electric?" Riders do a fantastic version of the old Jack Jones song "The Race Is On" and a great "Weight" and "Lodi" which puts Creedence to shame. Then out comes Weir and they sing some more country stuff.
Break.
The Electric. Garcia plays the first two notes of St Stephen and the crowd goes berserk. The light show (Better than any I've seen) flashed St. Stephen with horns and snake hair. St. Stephen more powerful and better than on Aoxomoxoa or Live Dead and the crowd fills in the album screams.
That's It For The Other One, the long first cut on the second album, endless and non-ending and phenomenal. Garcia's guitar is cosmic. Then a song I don't know. Someone told me it was the Train song. People flopping on top of themselves. Garcia throws in a Dark Star riff I think. Sit down, people scream. Good Lovin or maybe it was Dancing In The Streets. Pipes and Joints flow to the Music.
IT'S IN THE MUSIC.
Pigpen gives a stirring rendition of Good Lovin and Garcia gives a break which almost goes into Lovelight but never quite makes it.

IT'S IN THE KOOL-AID
Cosmic Charlie and people jumping up and down. The hour grows late and the Dead is giving their best concert on the east coast and where? AT HARPUR. Here. Binghamton dinktown USA and the dead are amazing.
IT'S IN THE WATER.
On the screen a cartoon: A guy rolling a stone and falling under it again. Cold Rain And Snow, one of the best things in the set. The music comes on and keeps coming.
Break.
Everybody gets water and runs through the rain; People look dazed. Some sitting giving TRIPRAPS and others sleeping.
MORE DEAD
Cool, calm, collected and totally controlled and superb Morning Dew OFF THE FIRST ALBUM. THE DEAD NEVER DO ANYTHING OFF THE FIRST ALBUM ANYMORE. bullshit.

ANTHEM OF THE DEAD
Followed by Viola Lee Blues with three buildups, the last ending with people screaming and shouting and Garcia pulling the most phenomenal notes out of one guitar. AND WE BID YOU GOODNIGHT, which they don't stop singing because no one will let them go.
But they do and the concert ends.
five and one half hours.
IT'S IN THE MUSIC.

(by Richard Wolinsky, from the SUNY Colonial News, May 5 1970)

DICK'S PICKS 8

3 comments:

  1. This article was also included in the Dick's Picks booklet.

    Another rave review from someone who was a fan of the Dead and clearly knew what he was seeing. Sounds like he can barely contain himself enough to write the article.
    "The Dead is giving their best concert on the east coast and where? AT HARPUR."

    Ironically, Cold Rain & Snow is called "one of the best things in the set," in spite of the tuning troubles. (One of four songs off the first album, although some say "the Dead never do anything off the first album anymore.")

    It's interesting how fans identified the songs on Workingman's Dead, which had been played live for months, but hadn't come out yet so they didn't know the names. Dire Wolf is known as "Don't Murder Me," and Casey Jones is "the Train Song."
    Note the emphasis on the excited 'freak' audience. It sounds like a lot of people at Harpur were repeat attendees of Dead shows!

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  2. As security for the show, and former drug counselor at the High Hopes Drug Counseling Center, he is correct. I saw 14 shows and this was the best. Second show in this format, the first at Fredonia a flop. They did not have the supplies or the " spirit " of the crowd on the dead side of Harpur.

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  3. Hey anonymous! I also volunteered at High Hopes and was at the concert at Harpur. I've been to many shows; most of them in the 70's. This was the best with a couple at Fillmore East sharing second place.

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