GRATEFUL DEAD PLAYS AT GUTHRIE
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)
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GRATEFUL DEAD LIVE UP TO THEIR REPUTATION
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!