Feb 27, 2018

January 2-3, 1970: Fillmore East, NYC


FILLMORE EAST, N.Y. - This rock emporium hosted one of its less spectacular shows last weekend. On the bill were Grateful Dead, fresh from a non-playing engagement at the bad scene Rolling Stones concert in California; Cold Blood, a new group from San Francisco; and the Canadian-based Lighthouse, making its Fillmore debut.
Drummer Skip Prokop and his 13 man Lighthouse group got the proceedings under way. These RCA Victor artists are obviously talented musicians, yet somehow their set failed to catch fire. A curiously atypical Fillmore audience, with a sizeable proportion of tourists, didn't exactly help matters, nor did a medley of Beatle songs employing what was basically the original arrangements, which worked fine for the renowned foursome but were hardly designed for this baker's dozen.
The real excitement of the evening was the appearance of Lydia Pense, lead singer of Cold Blood. Much will be written in days to come of Lydia's resemblance, both physically and vocally, to Janis Joplin. It would be unfortunate if this similarity were to distract audiences from this girl's clear and dynamic talent. She is no imitator; she brings her individual approach to each song and the results are explosive. At the Fillmore, she transcended an instrumental back-up which was disjointed and lacking in real enthusiasm. She was especially memorable on the current charter "You Got Me Hummin'" and the eloquent "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free."
Grateful Dead showed up to offer an undistinguished set, plagued by faulty amps, a malady which is getting to be the rule rather than the exception at their appearances. Except for their "Alligator" which was loose and occasionally imaginative, they merely played their instruments and left at the appointed time.

(by e.k., from Cashbox, 17 January 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

https://archive.org/details/gd1970-01-03.137559.sbd.miller.flac1648 (early show)


NEW YORK - The triple header program of Lighthouse, Cold Blood, and Grateful Dead, at Fillmore East Jan. 2-3, kicked the '70's off to a groovy start at this New York mecca of rock music. The three bands, rich in talent and coordination, individual in style, turned in a three-hour concert which can easily be rated among the best ever staged for discerning Fillmore audiences.
Setting the pace was Lighthouse, a 13-member group, which utilizes strings, brass, and percussion instruments, to produce a unique and thoroughly enjoyable rock sound with distinct baroque undertones not often found in underground music.
The group, on RCA records, is comprised of talented and very professional musicians who, one suspects, would be as much at home playing in a symphony orchestra as they were on the Fillmore stage. The only weak spot of their very successful Fillmore debut was the excessive length of some of their solo pieces, which detracted somewhat from their overall performance.
Lighthouse was followed by Cold Blood, on San Francisco Records. This nine-member outfit with a blues/rock beat, featured a big brass sound and a diminutive lead singer that is a combination of Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and Ten Wheel Drive's Genya Raven.
She stole the spotlight with a very well-rehearsed act which included the old gospel standard, "I Wish I Knew How It Feels To Be Free," and the Rolling Stones hit, "I Want to Make Love to You."
The evening's piece de resistance came from Grateful Dead. No strangers to New York audiences, the Warner Bros. artists were their usual professional selves, serving up a dish of cool and groovy fare that was in sharp contrast to their forerunners. Basically a folk-rock outfit, the seven-member band, with Ron McKernan on vocals, is versatile and original without being theatrical. Its evening's repertoire included many tunes from its recently released album, "Live/Dead."

(from Billboard, 17 January 1970)

https://archive.org/details/gd70-01-02.early-late.sbd.cotsman.18120.sbeok.shnf (late show)

See also: http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2015/08/january-2-1970-fillmore-east-nyc.html  

1 comment:

  1. A couple reviews of these Fillmore East shows from the national music-industry magazines; these are short but look at the whole evening's show rather than focusing on the Dead.
    They have very different reactions - Cash Box calls it "one of the less spectacular shows" at the Fillmore, but Billboard calls it "among the best ever." The discrepancy may come in part from the reporters being at different shows - the Cash Box reporter saw the Jan. 3 early show (with 'Alligator'), the Billboard reporter saw the Jan. 2 late show (with the Live/Dead sequence).

    Lydia Pense seems to have been the highlight for both reporters - this Cold Blood concert video gives an idea; it's from three years later but has a couple of the same songs mentioned here:

    The Dead must have stood out on the program, coming after a couple big horn bands (Billboard says they were "a sharp contrast"). Again, the reporters disagree - Billboard calls the Dead "their usual professional selves" with "cool and groovy fare...versatile and original," but Cash Box groused that they were "undistinguished" and, as usual, "plagued by faulty amps."
    Granted, the Dead's early shows at the Fillmore were confined to less than an hour - it must have been a disappointment for the audience when the Dead, as reported, "left at the appointed time" - whereas the late shows could be at least two-hour extravaganzas.
    Note that Pigpen is the only singer mentioned in the Dead - he was still considered the "lead" in the group.