THE DEAD LIVE IN PASADENA
It was a nice night for chucking out to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The evening air was nice and warm, and the headliners at the concert were none other than the Grateful Dead. I had heard all sorts of fascinating stories about the Dead, so it was with awe and wonderment that I approached the auditorium.
I have never attended a concert at the Pasadena Civic before, and I must say that the promoters of the show have found themselves a nice little place. The seating is comfortable; the stage is easily visible; and its acoustics are pretty good. There seemed to be a slight inconvenience for mutual ticket holders in that they had to wait in rather lengthy lines in order to exchange said slips of paper for the real thing. However, once inside everything was smooth, quiet and controlled.
This was the case as the first group of the evening performed. They were the New Riders of the Purple Sage, who are a group of lads who hang around and jam with the Dead. Performing with them was Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar. The set, which lasted for about an hour, was slow and unimpressive. And the band members were all so listless that I half expected them to crash right on stage any minute.
Musically, the Sages travel deep into Country and Western territory with an occasional stopover in Monotony. The only times that they managed to excite the audience to any appreciable extent was during their last two numbers, which were "The Wait" and "Honky Tonk Women." Instrumentally, they were loose and lazy with Garcia's slide work being the only sound that was comfortable to listen to.
Following their performance, there was a brief intermission wherein the audience milled about, met their neighbors, got stoned and above all, anxiously awaited the arrival of the Dead. After a few moments, the lights dimmed and the M.C. (a bearded pipe smoking freak) appropriately introduced the Dead as rockdom's most outrageous group.
The spotlights came on to reveal the Dead in all their grace and splendor. Jerry Garcia, the figurehead of the group, stepped forward and spoke to the audience. He was warm and friendly, which is surprising when one considers that his appearance closely resembles that of a grizzly bear wearing work clothes. This, of course, is due to the mass of black frizzy hair which covers his head and face except for his eyes and nose. As spokesman and lead guitarist for the group he is perfect.
After the opening remarks, they started off their set [with] "Casey Jones" which let the audience know right off that the Dead were in good shape tonight.
Following their first song, there was a slight delay during which time Garcia got the houselights turned up and the spotlights turned down so that the group and the audience could see one another. From then on, the show was out in the audience as well as on stage, because most of the crowd was up and dancing in the aisles as soon as the second number started.
It nearly goes without saying that the efforts of the crowds did not go unrewarded, for the Dead went on to play some of the finest San Francisco type music to be heard in a long time. As usual, almost all of the faster material broke into those long instrumental jams for which the Dead are famous. It was during these jams that Garcia displayed his talents on the guitar which have made him one of the most popular figures in the music scene. He plays with such apparent ease that he makes those long, high pitched leads of his look like child's play.
That evening, the Dead went on to play cuts that were representative of their past album efforts. The set also included a large dose of the Dead's new country material. The crowd loved all, although [--line missing--] slower material as they were with the faster stuff. This is due to the fact that when people come to a Grateful Dead concert, they are coming to move to the music, to dance to the music and not just listen to it. That is why everyone really went berserk during "Good Love" and "Mona," even though they aren't typical Dead material.
One can't really blame an audience for getting so excited during the Dead's performance because the mood and the tempo and the feeling of the music is just begging you to "get your hands out of your pockets" and freak, especially during a tune like the fast-paced "Good Love," which - besides being a rocker - was a vehicle for [a] double drum solo between Hart and Kreutzman. Other tunes that were performed that evening to the delight and enjoyment of all present were "Dark Star," "Easy Wind," and a slowed down rendition of "Candy Man."
But the highlight of the evening came when "Mona" trailed off and then turned into "Turn on Your Lovelight" which has got to be the most requested and favored Dead song of all time. Even the most stoned out downer freaks were up and dancing to this one. And why not? Garcia's riffs were high, flawless and clear, the drumming was tight, and the rest of the group's backing efforts were smooth and well integrated.
After "Lovelight," the Dead left the stage to the sound of an insatiable horde that could have listened to the Dead play all night. As it turned out, they only played for a measly hour and forty minutes.
(by Jacob Wiesel, from the Los Angeles Free Press, 2 October 1970)
Alas, no tape!