Apr 12, 2022

April 11, 1972: Newcastle City Hall


The Grateful Dead is the best rock band in the world. It may seem a slightly prejudiced view, but that's how I feel after their long-awaited North-East appearance at Newcastle City Hall last night. 
Their music is a unique blend of rock, country, and folk, combined successfully with psychedelic electronic avant-garde music. 
For many fans, this concert will be the musical event of the year. The inter-weaving inventive guitars of Weir, Lesh, and Garcia were a joy to listen to. 

(by Harry Cohen, from the Northern Echo (Darlington), April 12, 1972) 

...IN TUNE  [excerpt]  

[The first part of the article reviews a Mott the Hoople concert.

The finest rock group I have ever seen took the stage at Newcastle's City Hall before a capacity crowd last Tuesday. 
The group I'm referring to is Grateful Dead, who had a very appreciative audience's complete and undivided attention throughout their long performance. 
Many people claim that Grateful Dead are the best group to come out of America and on Tuesday's performance I would defy anyone to prove their fans wrong. 
They were so tight and together that it was hardly believable, and although most of the audience, I'm sure, were not too-well acquainted with the Dead's material it did not detract at all from their enjoyment of the show. 
Grateful Dead were on stage for fully four hours in a remarkable pop show, and they are scheduled to play for nine hours at the Bickershaw Festival next month. 
As guitarists go, Jerry Garcia will take some beating and his leadership shone out on Tuesday. 

(from the Dumfries & Galloway Standard (Dumfries), April 19, 1972)


It's a pity that the Grateful Dead, thought by some to be the best rock band in the world, didn't start to knit together until about half an hour from the end of their three-hour performance at Newcastle City Hall last night. 
I have not been so appalled by a band's performance since Alvin Lee, Ten Years After's wonder-boy, undermined everyone's intelligence at the City Hall about three years ago. 
Between visual obstructions caused by people walking in front of me, leaving the hall to go for a walk round the block, I saw a rehearsal on stage. I counted 35 speakers covering the whole of the stage and most of the raised levels at the rear of the stage. 
The band was loud, but it was powerless. Not only did it lack guts, it lacked a solid foundation from which to work. 
The technique of Jerry Garcia, hailed as the greatest rock guitarist in the world, pulled him through. It was not that any one member of the six-man group, was having an off-day. They were all having an off-day. 
For a total of more than three hours, this U.S. band stood before dozens of their entourage at the back of the stage and played complacent, uninspired music before a capacity audience. 
There were no links between numbers, just clapping for about six seconds, and then a pause of about a minute. There were none of the intricate time signatures characteristic of their albums. There was no fire, no enthusiasm. 
Grateful Dead will lose a lot of friends if they persist in this attitude for the rest of their British tour. 

(by R.T., from the Shields Gazette (South Shields), April 12, 1972) 


  1. A trio of short reviews from Newcastle '72. I confess my favorite is the utterly negative guy who hated the Dead; but he's balanced by the other two who agree that the Dead are "the best rock band in the world." I suspect he was "so appalled" he may have left early.
    I also like the rumor that the Dead "are scheduled to play for nine hours" at the Bickershaw Festival....they didn't last quite that long!

    The "capacity crowd" apparently appreciated the show; but oddly Weir remembered this gig very differently after the tour. He told Crawdaddy:
    “We played in Newcastle in a small, 1500-seat capacity theater...and nobody seemed to be at all interested in what we were doing. It was the coldest, stiffest audience I’ve ever played for. We finally managed on the last number to get them up by playing ‘Not Fade Away,’ ‘Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad,’ and built that into our version of monumental rock ‘n roll. If they still aren’t going to come unglued, then we hit them with ‘One More Saturday Nite.’ If they still don’t come unglued, then we go back to the hotel and lick our wounds... We actually didn’t play that poorly, but I’m told that that’s about as responsive as a Newcastle audience ever gets.”
    [The Dead didn't play Not Fade Away either...]

    The tour book, the Book of the Dead, had a more positive take:
    "On Tuesday they rehearsed all afternoon at City Hall... The hall fills up. 2,200 capacity. Promoter Tony Smith sits at the back, underneath the massive organ that towers behind the small stage. 'Half of these kids have hitch-hiked from Scotland just to come to the concert.' They had a great time and ended up roaring for more, even after the encore, reluctant to move out into the rain away from the fiery warmth of the flying dragon's music."

  2. I remember the press at the time saying that the Dead would be playing for up to 9 hours at Bickershaw, 'running through their entire back catalogue'. Nice thought - I would have liked to have see them playing New Potato, Alligator, etc. Happy with what we got at Bickershaw though..... Dark Star > The Other One? Tasty!