Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Europe72 Revisited Part Twenty-One


May 25, 1972 is the next-to-last show of the Grateful Dead’s immortal tour. Here’s an excerpt from Europe 72 Revisited:

            Four standalones, “Me and My Uncle,” “Big Railroad Blues,” “Chinatown Shuffle,” and “Ramble on Rose,” start the second set. “Rose” was the darling of this group. At this juncture, one might believe this is an off night by the standards of this tour. But to give up on any show from Europe ’72 is foolhardy. “Uncle John’s Band” commences a stunning, three-song segment of Garcia tunes. Jerry delivers a dazzling between-verse solo. At the end of “UJB,” the band noodles into what sounds like “Dark Star,” but they take a “Wharf Rat” detour. Since we know that “Dark Star” is inevitable because “The Other One” was last night’s masterpiece, “The Rat” is a welcome anticipation builder.

            A mesmerizing crawl through “Wharf Rat” doesn’t break stride as it glides into “Dark Star.” Keith’s feathery piano licks help set the stage as a dreamy aura fills this voyage. The jam builds with methodical yet euphoric intensity. After seven minutes in seventh heaven, the band opts for cosmos. Time and physics have been stripped from the equation. Phil plays individual thick notes and Jerry answers with either two or four shrill notes. They talk to each other back and forth like crickets in rhyme—celestial sounds. When the time is right, they reestablish the “Dark Star” melody, sweet and slow.

            “Into the transitive nightfall of diamonds,” sings Jerry. Billy, Phil, and Keith take over, striking up a conga-like beat with jazzy flourishes. It’s an unusual twist this early after the first verse, but it’s irresistible; the type of riffing you hope will never end. Suddenly, Mr. Lesh decides that since the tour is almost over, the time is right to bring back a “Feelin’ Groovy” jam, the first once since 5-4-72 Paris. Jerry jumps back into the fray for the next four minutes as the Dead dig the groove.

            Fragments of “Feelin’ Groovy” hang on as the Dead scuba-dive through space. They are in the thick of it all: comets, meteor showers, shooting stars, solar explosions. The band doesn’t want this last European “Dark Star” expedition to end. After thirty-four minutes, Weir strikes a chord that suggests “Sugar Magnolia.” The rest of the band is jarred back to reality as they scramble to get in their last “D-Star” licks—the show must go on. 


                                                    EUROPE 72 REVISITED


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