Oct 17, 2020

October 30, 1971: Taft Auditorium, Cincinnati OH

The Grateful Dead is a musical family. They are not rock stars - rather they are simple folk playing genuine, honest rock and roll. 
The Dead are playing with a sweet country flavor at present. Songs like "Sugar Magnolia" and "Candyman" are a pleasant transition from their earlier pennings. 
But, the Dead are at their optimum (and I like them best) when they freely improvise around a basic rock pattern. They ended their recent set in Cincinnati with an old Crickets tune, "Not Fade Away", and if you were fortunate enough to have a tape of their performance (it was broadcast live and the reproduction was excellent) listen to "Not Fade Away". 
Here the Dead improvise the way they used to. Complex, interwoven passages that border on the cosmic. 
I miss the "Dark Star", "Turn On Your Love Lite" Dead and hope that they are merely going through a stage. 
All the Dead were at the concert with the exception of Pigpen who is ailing with liver and ulcer problems. On the tour Keith Godcheaux is sitting in on keyboards and vocals as a replacement. 
At Taft Auditorium they played a lot of new songs. The Dead are in a constant musical evolution. A song never sounds the same twice and Godcheaux added a distinctive personal touch that was flavorsome indeed - but it wasn't Pigpen. 
A brief word about the audience - DISGUSTING. Between songs and even before songs ended a certain few would bark out their favorite Dead tunes. They got so obnoxious that at one point Garcia said, "Hey, are you trying to play cop?" 
One yokel kept screaming for the Dead to play "Truckin". Garcia once again, "Hey man, you may dig 'Truckin' but what about those who don't?" 
I got to the concert too late to see the Purple Sage and apparently the audience didn't see them either. 
(by Mike Kelly, from the Journal-News, Hamilton OH, 9 November 1971) 
* * * 
Somehow a concert by the Grateful Dead can end up being gloomy. Not even helium-filled balloons with "The Grateful Dead" printed on them could cut through the feeling of depression at Saturday night's concert at Taft Auditorium. 
Perhaps it was the drugs. I had the feeling even the drinking fountain was laced. 
Or maybe it was people's clothes. Both performers and audience could have been dressed in khakis and looked just as cheerful. 
But most of all I think it was the steady, pounding beat of The Grateful Dead. Their performance was sturdy, and well executed, but the music tended to lumber and bear down on the listener. 
The rock group is made up of five men playing three electric guitars, piano and drums. But instead of using the tone colors of the individual instruments, they stick to one basic sound that has neither very much color or originality. 
I wish the whole concert could have been performed by the warm-up group. I have never heard better country music. 
The New Riders of the Purple Sage use three electric guitars, a slide guitar and drums - very close to the Grateful Dead instrumentation. But whereas the Dead were dreary, the New Riders were rhythmically sophisticated, glorious in their mellowness, and thoughtful to the point of having good counterpoint. 
From the tearful "The Last Lonely Eagle" to the rocking "Louisiana Lady" they were original and constantly engaging. The orchestra pit was full of people bouncing up and down in time to their music. 
The concert was an instant sell-out, largely, I guess, due to the Dead's reputation. 
(by Rob Cook, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, 31 October 1971)  

Thanks to Dave Davis.

1 comment:

  1. Two short but interesting reviews of the Dead's 1971 stop in Cincinnati.
    The first reviewer, from the nearby city of Hamilton, starts out sounding like one of those midwestern listeners who only cares for the Dead's "sweet country flavor," but it soon turns out he's a fan of their improvs, and he recommends their long version of Not Fade Away.
    That was the only real jam in the entire show, a trend he sadly observes: "I miss the 'Dark Star' Dead." He also misses Pigpen and hopes this is just a phase and they'll get back to improvising "the way they used to."
    But he recognizes that they're "in a constant musical evolution," made evident by all the new songs, and he likes Keith's "flavorsome" touch despite the loss of Pigpen. (I don't think Keith had any vocals on this tour, though.)
    As he mentions, tapes were soon available from the radio broadcast. This was very much a brand-new bar-band-style Dead show, with almost every song newly added in the past year. In that, and the relative lack of jamming, it was typical for the tour. (A lot of the bigger jams on this tour were on non-broadcast nights...like the next night's Dark Star.)
    One Archive attendee who'd seen the Dead in previous years drove from Louisville for this show, but also missed the older days: "I was very disappointed with the short songs and lack of jamming."

    The Enquirer reviewer didn't care for this Dead at all. He doesn't say if he'd heard the band before, but his main response was boredom. He grudgingly admits that "their performance was sturdy and well-executed," but overall he finds them dreary, lumbering, colorless, and lacking variety.
    He loves the New Riders, though, and can't praise them enough - "I have never heard better country music." If only they'd played the whole show! (Their set was also broadcast on the radio.)
    He says the crowd also liked the New Riders (the other reviewer missed them), but doesn't give much hint at how they responded to the Dead. I suspect he was alone in his gloom, as other concertgoers recall the "general merriment."

    The other reviewer complains about the crowd's obnoxious behavior and constant requests, which can be heard on the tape. For instance he quotes the episode after Ramble On Rose:
    GARCIA: C'mon man, you gonna be a cop? Is that it? 'Play Truckin', play Truckin'!' We'll play whatever we like.
    WEIR: Yeah, it's a free country you know!
    GARCIA: 'Course that's not saying that you won't like it, you might like it too, it might be all right. It might be something perfectly okay. What about all those people that might not like Truckin'? Well, how about it man?
    Later they introduce Truckin': "This one's for you! This is the one you've been waiting to hear!"

    I checked the News-Record, the student paper at the U of Cincinnati, and the Nov. 5 issue had a picture of Garcia at the show (the caption calling it "a standing-room-only crowd"), but it didn't carry any review.
    I have yet to find any reviews of the following night, 10/31/71 in Columbus.