Mar 23, 2015

October 27, 1971: Onondoga War Memorial, Syracuse, NY


The Grateful Dead and the New Riders of the Purple Sage provided a most memorable evening of rock 'n roll and Country and Western music for 6,500 concertgoers last night at the War Memorial.
The New Riders, with Jerry Garcia of the Dead on pedal steel guitar, have long prefaced the Dead's live performances. Last night, with a combination of excellent Country and Western instrumentation and brilliant vocal harmonies, the New Riders were simply suberb.
In addition to their uptempo brand of Country and Western music, the New Riders exhibited a flare [sic] for rock 'n roll midway in their performance with an outstanding rendition of "Hello, Mary Lou," first popularized more than 10 years ago by Ricky Nelson.
Following a 20-minute intermission after the New Riders' one-and-a-half-hour set, the Grateful Dead took the stage, setting the scene for a fire marshal's nightmare.
There was no way the War Memorial's security staff and the two dozen or so Syracuse University volunteers (each wearing a T-shirt proclaiming he or she a "Space Ranger"), could prevent the concert hall's aisles from being carpeted with bodies.
Nearly everyone was on his (or somebody else's) feet, as the Dead played an intensely rhythmic set of some of the finest rock 'n roll heard today.
Garcia's lead guitar playing was highly tasteful and every bit as masterful as his pedal steel work. It was wonderful to see and hear him reach back into the '50s for, once in a while, a resounding "What'd I Say?" lick or the like.
Rhythm guitarist Bob Weir's vocals were very pleasant, and the backing he received from Phil Lesh on bass, Bill Kruetzmann on drums, and Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan on piano [sic] was outstanding.
The Dead proved an important thing. The sound and excitement they generate will never be captured satisfactorily on records.
Listening to the Dead and seeing them in concert are two completely different experiences. You'll never fully appreciate the band until you've seen it on stage.

(by John Wisniewski, from the Syracuse Post-Standard, 28 October 1971)

* * *


City police undercover agents and uniformed policemen last night at the War Memorial made 16 arrests, several on drug-related charges, during the Grateful Dead concert, police said.
One teen-ager was arrested while injecting heroin in a men's room, police said.
Another teen was arrested when he grabbed a quantity of what police said were narcotics, and threw the drugs into the crowd while a suspect escaped from custody. Police said they did not catch the suspect or find the narcotics.  . . .
[Omitted a partial list of those arrested, including ages, addresses, and drug-possession charges.]
Those arrested on drug-related charges were held overnight without bail at the Public Safety Building jail for arraignment today in Police Court.
The other nine arrests, police said, were on various charges, including three on criminal possession of stolen property counts.
Trained dogs were used outside the War Memorial in an attempt to prevent persons from "crashing the gate" by climbing through windows. The dogs have been used during other recent concerts.

(by Peter Volmes, from the Syracuse Post-Standard, 28 October 1971)

Thanks to

1 comment:

  1. This reviewer is suspiciously enthusiastic - the Riders are "simply superb," the Dead are "some of the finest rock & roll heard today," but he seems totally unfamiliar with the music. The only two songs named are from the '50s, perhaps indicating where this reviewer's tastes lay! Fortunately, the country-rock Dead circa '71 were right up his alley.
    He does indicate the excitement of the crowd and the Dead's "intensely rhythmic" playing. The end of his review is particularly notable:
    "The sound and excitement they generate will never be captured satisfactorily on records. Listening to the Dead and seeing them in concert are two completely different experiences. You'll never fully appreciate the band until you've seen it on stage."
    Many would say the same thing (bandmembers had been saying since '66 that their sound couldn't be captured on record) - and it's a revealing statement to make right after a new live Dead album had come out! (Though there's no indication he knew of the album.) It's also perhaps a reminder to those of us listening to tapes of these shows that we aren't hearing 'the real thing.'

    Weir's vocals are praised, something we occasionally see in reviews around this time. Keith was on piano, of course; Pigpen wouldn't be back on tour until December. (The reviewer's mistake here reveals his lack of knowledge of the Dead; though he did know that NRPS had been touring with them for a long time.) This would be one of Garcia's last shows playing pedal steel with the New Riders.

    Right above the show review, the newspaper placed the article on the drug arrests at the show (perhaps indicating news priorities). It's a sad topic - I can imagine the paranoia of the crowd as police & plainclothesmen circulated with their trained dogs, looking for people to bust...

    This show was broadcast on the radio. (Note that Keith's piano is a bit louder in the mono FM mix than in the Miller copy I linked to.) There's very little jamming (no Other One), instead it's a tight, energetic rock & roll show - the jam between NFA>GDTRFB is a highpoint, featuring a China Cat tease and some great Garcia lines.