Nov 5, 2017

October 18, 1970: Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis


Rock music, as distinct from its ancestor rock and roll, is now old enough to have its agreed-upon founding fathers. The Grateful Dead, who appeared in an eagerly-awaited concert at the Guthrie Sunday, is definitely one of those groups.
Along with bands like Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and others, the Dead built the San Francisco Sound of the mid-1960's. They have travelled far since then, and their styles have changed, but they have usually managed to keep some of the free spirit of that time in their music. They had it to give here, too, but in a fairly mellow and relaxed version. Unfortunately, the audience seemed to want something more.
The Dead spent plenty of time setting up, but they kept talking to the folks in the house, so things were cool.
Their first number, "Casey Jones," promised a good concert, and for the most part, we got one.
Their distinctive use of two drummers (Bill Kreutzman and Mickey Hart), combined with the strong but eloquent electric bass of Phil Lesh gives them power in reserve and allows guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir the freedom to improvise, a privilege which they rarely carry to excess. In spite of being just a little too loud for the theater, the concert was soothing in its warm self-assurance.
They did a balanced show of original Dead songs, old folk songs like "Me and My Uncle" and "Walk Me Out in the Mornin' Dew," country tunes like "Mama Tried" and "Cumberland Blues," and even some older hard-rock hits like "Good Love." All of them were performed with the usual strength and aplomb of the Dead, but for some reason I did not quite apprehend, their keyboard man, Pigpen, was playing an organ (it appeared, though the program identified it as a piano) which could not be heard. This seemed to be a more serious sound problem than the other minor hassles such as occasional feedback; his playing was really missed. His vocal mike was also dead at one point, but he seemed to take the whole thing with good grace, even tipping his hat to the sound-mixer when the mike went on again.
The audience was not quite so well-mannered, for after a full two hours of music, they nearly refused to leave the auditorium to the second-show audience without an encore. They did not get it, and they sludged out with many childish and rude words flung at the stage.
I suppose they thought that giving a standing ovation to "Good Love," the last piece, brought the Dead under obligation to play again. It should not have, as they were probably wise to quit at that point; it was the only time they really got it on with everything cookin', and it tired them out. They looked a little tired when they first came on stage, and they probably were played out for the moment.
Perhaps they should not accept (and Walker should not offer) bookings for shows so long and yet close together that the performers must conserve energy to make it through. But that seems to be the only way we can all get a chance to see them - both shows were sold out well in advance. If our gluttony for entertainment necessitates water in the stew, we shouldn't complain when the cook says "No more left."

(by Scott Bartell, from the Minneapolis Tribune, 19 October 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead, the original psychedelic madmen, played at the Guthrie Theater Sunday night and practically tore the place apart with their patented mixture of rhythm and blues, screaming hard rock and modern country and western.
The Dead was one of the original groups in what was commonly known as the "San Francisco Sound" back in 1966-67. They have matured tremendously since then and the interplay between the six musicians is a joy to see and hear.
The group consists of two guitarists, two drummers, a bassist, and occasional vocalist-organist, Pigpen. They opened the concert with "Casey Jones," a song from their latest and best album. Lead guitarist Jerry Garcia sang the lead in his high sweet voice and received fine vocal support from second guitarist Bob Weir.
Garcia is the person who always comes to mind when the Dead is mentioned, but that is somewhat of a misconception. Both Weir and bassist Phil Lesh seem to shape the direction of the music as much as Garcia does, and when Pigpen takes over the singing for one of his R&B specials like "Good Lovin'" he makes them sound like an entirely different band.
Weir seems to handle the more country-oriented material and his clear, full-bodied baritone more than did justice to Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," and John Phillip's "Me and My Uncle." He is also an excellent rhythm guitarist, but playing in the shadow of Garcia he tends to be overlooked.
The Dead are famous for their ability to play extended improvisations and they lived up to their fame last night with beautiful jams on "Morning Dew" and "Good Lovin'."
Lesh is one of the finest bassists in rock. He is so fast that at times he seems to be playing lead guitar and yet he never lets his virtuosity obscure the music of the others.
Garcia, of course, is one of the best lead players in the world. He can do almost anything with guitar, from blazing blues runs to slick country picking.
The group's two drummers, Bill Kreutzman and Mickey Hart, are first-rate musicians. I am usually bored stiff by drum solos, but they played an entertaining and inventive duet that was by far the best I've ever heard.
Most of the material they played was familiar from past albums, but they did do one new song and it was an absolute knockout country number, with some beautifully tight three-part harmony singing by Garcia, Weir and Lesh.
The only disappointment of the evening was the fact that they didn't do any acoustic numbers with Garcia playing his pedal steel guitar.
But why quibble? It was still one of the finest nights of music Minneapolis has heard in quite awhile. Good ol' Grateful Dead: they never let you down.

(by Jim Gillespie, from the Minneapolis Star, 19 October 1970) 

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Alas, no tape!


  1. Better than having a review of a lost show is having two reviews!
    The Dead played early and late shows (at 7 and 10:30), and both of these reviewers covered the early show. This would be one of the last times that the Dead played early & late shows in a day, as neither they nor their audiences were very happy with the early-show experience, and the practice was gradually being phased out. (Note the pissed-off audience leaving unhappily after a mere two-hour show!)
    The first reviewer notes that the Dead "looked a little tired," but the show was warm, "mellow and relaxed." Likely they saved the big jams for the late show.
    It's possible Pigpen's organ was intentionally turned down (as it often is on SBD tapes that year), but I suspect it was a technical problem - the Dead weren't using their own PA system on this tour. They'd also decided to drop the acoustic sets (reviving them only for the Capitol run), and these mid-October shows were also minus the New Riders, so one reviewer sighs that he didn't get to see Garcia on pedal steel.

    Deadbase already lists the songs mentioned:
    Casey Jones (opener)
    Me & My Uncle
    Morning Dew
    Mama Tried
    Cumberland Blues (one reviewer lists this as a country cover!)
    a new "country" song (probably Candyman)
    Good Lovin' (closer)
    The second reviewer also says they played more songs from their previous albums, and in a two-hour show this is obviously a very incomplete setlist; but of course it was customary for reviewers to only name some covers and familiar album songs.

  2. There are many audience memories of both shows on and, adding more songs:
    "There were two shows at the Guthrie Theatre that night requiring separate tickets. The crowd was moving in their seats but remained in them for the first show. Between shows the theatre was emptied. All the Deadheads stepped out to the street, had smokes or whatever and then reentered with their tickets for the late show. The same people as had been at the first show. With the first chord the whole audience was up out of their seats and dancing down the aisle."
    "I remember both shows well...they were really two sets of the same show, you just needed two tickets. For the start of the second show Mickey had an idea so Jerry just signaled "go ahead". Mickey played a few bars solo, then the band kicked in with China Cat. I also remember The Other One. Mickey's other great idea was to fire a small cannon on a big downbeat (he had a trip wire hooked up) but the cannon failed. Still, the house manager leapt on stage and tried to stop the concert. The band just turned their backs and continued to jam."
    "I was at the first show - didn't know enough to stay for the second - I remember Good Lovin' from the first show, and Cold Rain and Snow."
    "It was a two show night and we only had tickets for the first show. We tried to hide in the bathroom for the second show but got caught... The show ended with Good Lovin'."
    "I was at the second show only. Still have the "program". The only tunes I can recall for sure were Easy Wind, with Jerry having tuning issues, Alligator/Caution, and an acoustic Uncle John's for an encore. The explosions. i believe, were actually set by one of the roadies, not sure who, but quite sure it wasn't Mickey. (That must have been common practice for them in those days, because both Labor Temple shows also had the bombs.)"
    "Second show in second row right in front of Jerry. Danced like crazy and only recall third encore with Jerry coming out alone and playing Uncle John's Band, and being joined by the rest of the boys on acoustics."
    "Two shows. No New Riders. I had tickets to both shows, but gave away the first show ticket...
    Saw some friends from Rochester in the lobby, and they said the Dead had played some Anthem of the Sun in the first show (The Other One?), and I was real disappointed to miss that...
    We all sat quietly for the first few tunes, and mightily resisted the urge to dance. I had a fantasy of making the Dead work for it, but China Cat blew away any inhibitions...
    Pig Pen did King Bee, Easy Wind, and ended with Lovelight. I remember a lot of Working Man's and American Beauty, China Cat and Dancin' In The Streets. The encore was Uncle John's Band a cappella except for Jerry's acoustic Martin...
    Some guy kept yelling for Dark Star..."

    Remembered songs:
    early show - Cold Rain & Snow, the Other One
    late show - China Cat, King Bee, Easy Wind, Dancing in the Street, Lovelight (end of set), Uncle John's Band (acoustic encore). [One person remembers an Alligator>Caution which seems unlikely, but it's possible.]

  3. This night is also the most likely source of this mysterious photo of Phil Lesh with two female drummers:

    I once called the photographer, who confirmed it was from the Guthrie, probably from between the two shows, though he had no memory of the the mystery musicians.

  4. I show NRPS on 10/16 and 10/17. Is that incorrect? I had them listed for this night, too (and not two GD shows).

    1. No NRPS on 10/16, 10/17, or 10/18! They joined the tour midway starting on 10/23.

  5. OK, I have updated my data. Thanks!