MUSIC: GRATEFUL DEAD AT THE MUSIC HALL
The Grateful Dead rose again before a packed and ecstatic audience last night at the Music Hall. Tonight they will perform part two of their Boston engagement.
Diminutive Marmaduke, of the "Riders of the Purple Sage," kicked off the evening with an hour-long set of fine Country flavored music. As usual Jerry Garcia, the Dead's lead guitarist, joined Sage on an abbreviated, pedal-steel guitar.
Some of the Dead fans claimed to be from as far away as Baltimore and San Francisco, proclaiming that they have never missed a Dead concert. Craig Robert said, "I only go back to Johns Hopkins for exams, and then only if they don't conflict with a Dead concert..."
At nine, the Dead walked on, opening with "Truckin." Drummer Mickey Hart was noticeably absent, and the rhythm was maintained by second drummer, Bill Kreutzman.
The lead vocals were equally shared by Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, throughout the incredible 2 1/2 hour set. Pigpen occasionally came from behind his organ to offer a blues or soul standard. Phil Lesh played bass and backed Garcia and Weir on vocals.
Since emerging as one of the original San Francisco, acid-rock bands, the Dead have evolved to a refined country sound which stresses vocals and two part harmony. They have that country twang but combined with a surging rock strength.
The sound was impeccable, and the Dead brought along their own tie-died bank of amplifiers. Even down front, there was not a shred of distortion, and the vocals were absolutely clear.
The long evening of music presented dozens of Dead tunes stressing their latest country sound, although they did turn back the clock to answer a request for "Saint Stephen."
Most interesting was their rendering of the Kristofferson hit "Me and Bobby McGhee." Garcia beautifully twisted the melody into a new form which had a distinctly different flavor than Janis Joplin's rendering.
At the end of the set, the entire house was dancing to a medley of old rockers that brought it all back home with Chuck Berry's "Johnnie B Good."
The group will be back tonight with more incredible rock and roll at the Music Hall.
(by Charles Giuliano, from the Boston Herald, 8 April 1971)
Thanks to Dave Davis.