Ed & Lerry’s Grateful Dead Tour Journal: 12/1/73

December 1, 1973
Venue:Boston Music Hall
Show Details

Lerry: OK, to start out with I have a really important new theory that has been brewing.  This show (sort of) supports it (or at least it doesn’t negate it).  I absolutely need to go back and revisit other shows to see how accurate it is, but off the top of my head, I think it is fairly solid. (Keep in mind that it is not going to be absolute.)  Keep in the back of your mind moving forward and we’ll see how true it is.  Here it goes -> I think the band plays tighter in the first set when Jack Straw is played early, say in the first 3 songs or so.  There is something about the tempo that I alluded to on an earlier show that is perfect for the guys (especially Jerry) to get rippin’.  Have you ever heard a bad Jack Straw, playing-wise?  I really can’t think of any.  When they don’t play Jack Straw shows can seem to really take a while to get going.  This show, and the last one were perfect examples of this.  With that being said…

Set 1: The setlist is pretty solid, but for at least the first hour, the band sounded really loose, like they were rehearsing. Not much energy.  Looks like Rain doesn’t help with the energy problem.  Even on China Cat, which I have noticed can turn the band around a bit, they seemed like they were jetlagged or something. (Are Phil and Billy drunk here?)  So, what did I like from set 1?  Brokedown Palace was really nice, but even with that, the band still seemed a little jagged, especially towards the end. I don’t know…

Set 2: In the first half of the set, it sounds like they were having some real problems with the audience.  Perhaps that would explain the less than superb first set. Me and Bobby McGee was cool.  (Cool to hear only Bobby and Jerry on the chorus… but I’m not hatin’ on Donna!)  Mississippi was not as good as it has been on this tour. (I still think Phil and Bill sound drunk at times though).  The transition to Playin’ was terrible. (Man, I’m such a hater, and much too refined.)  However, I did dig the Playin’ jam.  Uncle John’s Band was just awkward.  It sounded as though for half of it, the band was looking around at each other wondering what to play.  The second half of Playin’ has some killer weird stuff, but that’s about it.  Nothing from the remainder of the show jumped out at me.

Ultimately, this show was a let down, and at this point, I’m not sure if it is a let down based on the rest of the tour, or if I would totally love it if we were on the 30th anniversary tour right now (83 was DOPE!!) and I just happened to put this on, OR if it is because we have listened to so many great shows recently and it just falls short?

Favorite quote:
“This was my excellent chiropractor’s first show ! And i said i’d get him a copy.”

Ed: Dude, that theory is potentially life-changing! Part of me feels like I just witnessed Alexander Fleming discover penicillin. I think it will hold up to scrutiny. I’m going to keep it in mind from now on. I wonder if the Straw-effect also impacts set 2? As in, if they play JS early in first set, which then opens up the rest of set 1, does set 2 benefit? Off the top of my head I think Cornell 77, Veneta 72, Vancouver 73 would all support that perhaps it does (I’m very interested in listening closely to the upcoming 12-6-73, which has no straw, but does have that ridiculous set 2 dark star). I plan on conducting a Beechwoodian data analysis on it soon.
Regarding this show: agree with your comments. Decent but not superb. Again, regarding context – this show is smack in the middle of the best tour ever, so judged against its peers does not reach quite the height of heights – and I had an annoying day at work with lots of interruptions, so perhaps I wasn’t able to give the show a fully fair listen. Couple of notes:

  • China cat/rider seemed sloppy to me too. Hadn’t thought of the inebriation factor, but would make total sense.
  • They love each other – to your point in last show about when did they start doing the slower version – I have no idea, but your guess of 76 seems right to me.
  • Playin portions of second set – dug it, solid second set anchor, it didn’t fully reach the stratosphere like it did on a couple of the other shows this tour (11-10, controversially 11-17, 11-21), but some good jamming, UJB was sloppy
  • GDTRFB: the crowd seems surprisingly revved up about this tune, I think I listened to a SBD, and I could hear the cheering leak into the mics – and the band are playing the shit out of it in a sort of bombastic show-closer way. I actually love this tune, but I enjoy it more when the dead play it with a more mellow approach, I don’t think it held up to the show-closing bombast.

Favorite quote:
“omsn after gdtrfb
From http://www.setlists.net/?show_id=0898

Next show: 12/2/73 Grateful Dead

Previous post: the Grateful Dead as Songwriters

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