GRATEFUL DEAD KEEPS 4000 FANS WAITING
The Grateful Dead is alive and well - despite all the years it has been putting electric shocks into rock.
The six-man San Francisco band takes its name from an Elizabethan folk song about persons consigned to roaming the earth because they cannot die. When death finally comes, they are grateful for it.
Last night, The Dead, one drummer short, performed in the Babylonian splendor of the creakingly-old Fox Theater.
It was the first night of a two-night engagement in St. Louis.
The Dead trailed on to the stage almost an hour late. There had been some minor quarrels back stage over arrangements for the concert. But the approximately 4000 rock music freaks didn't seem to mind the Dead's delay.
The gaudy Fox is a good place for the Dead.
Jon McIntire, born in the St. Louis area and manager of the rock group, called the Fox "a boss place." Translated, that means McIntire and The Dead liked the place.
One source suggested that the Fox, which opened Jan. 31, 1929, might well become sort of a Fillmore Midwest - between the two famous Fillmore rock halls on the East and West coasts.
The crowd last night included many hair freaks in Salvation Army clothes, who could not have been long into chewing bubble gum when The Dead first exploded on the psychedelic music scene. That was in San Francisco in the Acid Test days of the middle-1960s. Then it used frenetic rhythms, blasting decibels, light shows, and mind-blowing music. Last night, The Dead's music was more economical.
The musicians opened their set with their traveling song, then went into several country- and blues-flavored songs, including "Me and Bobbie McGee," a current big single from the late rock diva Janis Joplin's album "Pearl."
Bob Weir, the rhythm guitarist, handled that vocal nicely, but a more vibrant vocal was Ron (Pigpen) McKernan's "Turn on Your Lovelight." Many in the crowd screamed and danced.
Pigpen, cowboy hat pulled low over his face and moustache, danced around on stage handling several instruments.
Particularly noteworthy was Jerry Garcia's electrifying flights in his lead guitar sequences. He is a flashy, good guitar player, with an on-stage image of a bearded, elder statesman of rock.
Phil Lesh, bass, and Bill Kreutzmann, drummer, (second drummer Mickey Hart was not in the concert) provided able support as The Dead got into more electronic musical flights.
The concert ended just before midnight with many in the crowd dancing and shouting, "Play all night."
The Dead were preceded by the New Riders of the Purple Sage, who are members of The Dead's musical family in Marin County, Calif. The Riders rode the range between rock music and country. The closer they got to country, the better they sounded.
Both groups are to appear again tonight at the Fox Theater.
(by Thomas Newsom, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 March 1971)
Also from this issue:
ARRESTS, BOMB AT CONCERT
Police arrested six persons suspected of drug violations and handled the explosion of a smoke bomb in the lobby of the Fox Theater, where the Grateful Dead rock group performed last night.
Tony Paluso, theater manager, told police he kicked the smoke bomb out a side door when it began to sputter in the lobby about 9 o'clock. Bomb squad detectives took charge of the bomb.
Extra police details patrolled the theater area, because of the size of the crowd near the theater.
[Two people] were booked suspected of illegal possession of narcotics. Police said they had found what was believed to be marijuana and hallucinative drugs in the suspects' automobile.
[Four others were also] booked suspected of narcotic violations... [One] was offering LSD for sale.
Thanks to Dave Davis.