On May 4, 1972, the Grateful Dead’s second show in Paris features the only two verse Dark Star of the tour. Here’s an excerpt from EUROPE 72 REVISITED:
Garcia’s steering the ship as the “Dark Star” voyage ascends. After a smooth launch from the melody line, Jerry strings together repetitive guitar runs as the band supports. Although it’s an impressive jam to listen to, it seems to be missing that certain Je ne sais quoi, as the French might say. The music’s ripping along. Will this jam ever make it to the first verse?
Suddenly, the band agrees upon making the move into the “Dark Star” melody. Usually Jerry lets the melody marinate, but on this night, he pounces on this verse as if it might disappear. “Dark Star crashes pouring its light into ashes.” And then the music veers towards weirdness—a cacophony of strange sounds that goes on and on until it tumbles into a drum solo. Up to this point, this hasn’t been the most invigorating “Dark Star,” but the Europe ’72 mojo’s about to kick in.
Out of intergalactic silence, the return trajectory to Earth begins. Billy and Phil push a rumbling beat as Jerry takes over navigation—burning licks that hint of a celestial expedition. Bobby and Keith are on board chopping away as the Grateful Dead rocket streaks through the sky. The jam circles round and round, becoming more intense. It’s as if the band’s riding a shooting star. Phil suggests “Feelin’ Groovy” and the band latches onto the idea in an evasive way. They play on the outskirts of the jam before easing back towards “Dark Star” country. It sounds like they’re heading towards the second verse. It’s not a tease. Jerry croons, “Mirror shatters in formless reflections of matter.”
The second half of the 5-4-72 “Dark Star” is a sensational recovery of a lost jam, and it’s the only time the second verse was sung on this tour. As the singing subsides, the band’s searching for the next tune, and you can sense a St. Stephen > Eleven. But that’s another glorious era from the band’s recent past. After a one-second pause, they bounce into “Sugar Magnolia.” It’s a flawless version that smokes, and consequently, it was selected to be on Europe ’72.
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