Europe ’72, the Grateful Dead’s legendary tour began fifty years ago today in Wembley Empire Pool on April 7, 1972. The following night in Empire Pool is a beloved show, one of the best of the tour. But every night during this run, the Grateful Dead delivered transcendent music. Here’s the second set masterpiece from 4-7-72.
Excerpt from Europe 72 Revisited:
A lively “Truckin’” greets the attendees in Empire Pool to start set two. After the chorus reprise, the band pivots towards “The Other One,” and this evening’s episode of masterpiece theatre begins. For most of the tour, the Dead would feature Truckin’ > Other one night, and “Dark Star” would take its place the following night. This ensured that Europeans catching the Grateful Dead would experience some of the most creative, diverse, and strangest improvisation they’d ever heard before during any given show. And future audiences of Deadheads would have epic versions of iconic jam anthems to savor for eternity.
After Billy’s brief drum solo, “The Other One” funnel cloud forms quickly. Garcia and Lesh go on the offense, bombarding London with bold, stinging runs. The intensity diffuses and the jam changes shape. The storm is now a drizzling rain. After stripping the audience of their whereabouts, the band picks up the initiative and surges towards the first verse. “Spanish Lady come to me and she lays on me this rose,” sings Weir as Garcia’s shrill leads respond in between lines.
Out of the verse, “The Other One” tornado rages. The playing is unmerciful, and then it dissipates. The music softens and floats through cosmic debris. Once Empire Pool is lost in time and space, a high-speed train comes roaring down the tracks. Billy and Phil lead this “Caution” like charge, but the destination is unclear. The train stops and the passengers are dropped off in space. They float through the earth’s atmosphere and land near the Mexican border, in the West Texas town of El Paso.
The transition from epic exploration to a Marty Robbins cowboy song works against all odds. As Weir sings the final word of “El Paso,” the band aggressively whirls back into “The Other One.” The jamming is once again furious, funky, and then jazzy—streaming in and out of consciousness. Cowboy Neal is at the wheel. The final verse segues into “Wharf Rat.”
A perfectly paced, emotionally sung “Rat” with two superb Garcia solos concludes this awesome segment of music. An announcement follows asking the fans to clear out the aisles and return to their seats because of fire safety regulations. And then Sam Cutler jokes, “You see the thing is, the cops haven’t got enough room to dance.” A spirited “Ramble on Rose” with vocal fubs follows. If that didn’t get the crowd out of their seats dancing again, the ensuing “Sugar Magnolia” did.