GRATEFUL DEAD LIVE FRENZIES THE FLOCK
Mania, the most ephemeral of emotions, was captured in the Municipal Auditorium Thursday night as Grateful Dead performed its wizardry for a flock of rock music fans.
People absolutely throw themselves into the quintet's music. Your viscera addle in the frenzied aura of a live show. "Dead" music is a percolating, blowsy sound of titillating rhythms that establish carefree rapport with an audience. Dormant cerebrums are ignited by drifting melodies. For fans to react so visibly to a group is a rare sight.
A New York promoter recently revived dance marathons and imported Grateful Dead to provide some funky tunes for the opening.
Said one exhausted girl as she was carted away: "It's their music. Honestly, I mean I couldn't stop moving to that beat."
They were moving in the aisles Thursday night. The engaging impulse was evident from the initial lyric of Bob Weir, whose lilting harmonies with Phil Lesh form vocal "Dead."
The group is an irrepressible force easing a crowd into an elevated sense of "getting off" on the songs.
Weir and Lesh sing easily about "Truckin," "Ripple Wine," "Big Boss Man" - get-away numbers eliciting warm feedback. And eardrum fanciers delight in their lenient vocals on "Bertha" and "Mama Tried."
Weir conveys a song's feel and nuance well.
Lead guitarist Jerry Garcia has mellowed his guitar style into a countrified honk of beguiling discipline that solidly buffers the Dead against opus jellification.
"Feel good" is Garcia's simple description of "Dead" arrangements. It was a good feeling indeed to hear a concert of lifting ballads; a sort of musical massage after a hard day at the job.
The Dead have given birth to "New Riders of the Purple Sage," a country-folk foursome that is the brainchild of Garcia and "Dead" drummer Mickey Hart. The group showcases vocalist John Dawson. They whet the air with what must be honestly termed "ditties," casual and forgettable. The Riders seem ill at ease in front of a crowd foaming at the mouth for Grateful Dead.
The crowd was blustered a sellout by advance hawkers, but it seemed some 500 seats were empty when the Dead appeared. This is really not very significant, because very few fans occupy seats during Dead time, and a premature upheaval may have accounted for the deserted rows.
(by Karl Schnittke, from the Atlanta Constitution, 12 November 1971)