The good ole Grateful Dead in Amsterdam fifty years ago today (5/10/72). An excerpt from Europe 72 Revisited:
Set two begins with an aggressive march through “Truckin’.” The jams before and after the chorus reprise are sharp and unusually concise. Billy’s focused drum break points to “The Other One.” The cyclone funnel forms as the band races round and round, a wildcat rejoicing in the joy of chasing its own tail. This Truckin’ > Other One is serious business until seemingly out of nowhere, the bottom drops out and the weirdness creeps in.
The Dead leave the cosmic zone and enter Bluesville. The pace eases as Jerry bends and squeezes strings out on a lonely avenue. Keith’s thoughtful playing complements the mood. Phil politely strikes restless notes, reminding his mates that they need to head back to “The Other One.” The music swirls and intensifies. The move to “Spanish Lady” is sly as Bobby starts singing at an offbeat moment.
Garcia’s playing is engaging on the other side of “Spanish Lady,” but the jam quickly crawls into a dark hollow of time and space. Jerry, Phil, and Billy dig into heavy playing that gels in an odd way. Keith locks into a jazz melody and the band follows. Tidbits of creative sonic energy ripple on. The band picks up “The Other One” theme and Jerry gives the audience a glorious reminder of his virtuosity. There seems to be a determined effort to bring this to the ensuing verse, but the band rediscovers the joys of chasing its own tail and then delaying gratification. They scramble back into the dark hollow. Weir’s clever chord riffing entices Jerry back to Bluesville. They are mad scientists experimenting with the audience in Amsterdam, and future audiences that would be listening to the tapes. After thirty-four minutes of “Other One” madness, the band slides into “Bobby McGee.”
The transition back to “Other One” isn’t as long or as satisfying as the one from Paris 5-3-72. I prefer that Other One > Bobby McGee > Other One to the Amsterdam version, yet this rendition is another unique performance with fresh peaks, valleys, and explosions—the bus to never-ever land in the Netherlands. The band transitions into “Wharf Rat” to close this segment in style.
COVID Blues, a new novel by Howard Weiner. Field of Dreams meets Almost Famous in the thick of a global pandemic.