08-30-80 The Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pa. (Sat)
1: Stranger, Peggy-O, Cassidy, FOTD, Minglewood, Cold Rain> L. L. Rain, Easy To Love You, Althea, Jack Straw
2: Scarlet> Fire, C. C. Rider> Ramble On, Estimated> Eyes> Drumz> NFA> Black Peter> Sugar Magnolia
E: Saturday Night
The Grateful Dead played the Spectrum 53 times between 1968 and 1995. I had the pleasure of stepping into this venue twice. Once, to see The Dead last year (May 2009), and for the closing of The Spectrum, which Pearl Jam played (October 2009). I can honestly say that I wasn’t sad to see the demise of this venue, but it will forever be a legendary one for The Grateful Dead.
This is one show that I can say the band starts out on fire! There is some added element, possibly Mydland, that makes this “Stranger” feel like it has an element of 70s funk. Garcia and Mydland both add to Weir’s vocals fabulously.
Garcia’s vocals sound great on this “Peggy-O.” The band is in synchronicity with each other. Probably one of my favorite “Peggy-Os.”
Weir’s vocals on this “Cassidy” are very strong and clear. It isn’t anything spectacular, but a tune that is easy on the ears.
“If I get home before daylight, I just might get some sleep tonight…” Who doesn’t like a good “FOTD?” Weir and Garcia sound great together on this version. The jam is beautifully played; making this 9 ½ minute “FOTD” one not to be missed.
Mydland adds a lot to this “Minglewood.” Weir’s vocals are a bit scratchy, but overall sound pretty good. He actually says, “A couple more shots of whiskey, these Philly girls start looking good” and “It’s T for Philadelphia, where the little girls know what to do.” At least we know that he knows what city he’s in. Garcia really wails out some nice chords on this as well.
“Cold Rain” starts out with a bit of feedback, but Garcia sounds so smooth. His voice resonates clearly, and his playing is near flawless. I do think that Weir doesn’t harmonize as smoothly as Garcia does. It almost seems like his voice is trying to overpower Garcia’s.
Weir takes his overpowering vocals into “LLR.” I almost feel like telling him to calm down at the beginning of the song. His vocals quickly improve into a standard melody. Garcia really starts to rip it up at about the 2:45 minute mark. Wow! I’ve always enjoyed the end of this song with Weir just belting it out. This one is pretty good. There isn’t a “just another fucking rainy day,” but it is heartfelt and powerful nonetheless. I’ve heard many different “rumors” about what this song is about; including a Yugoslavian model Weir had an affair with while on tour in Europe. I would be happy to hear any and all ideas about this song that anyone out there might have.
They finally let a Mydland tune slip in. “Easy To Love You” is a favorite of mine. I just really like the whole melody. I think Garcia compliments Mydland so well on this one. There is about a minute of dead air at the end of this track.
Garcia’s vocals continue to radiate during this “Althea.” The lyrics from this song have always gotten to me, such as “there are some things you can replace, others you can not…” There never seems to be a bad version of this song for me.
I think my feelings about “JS” are pretty well known from my previous reviews. This version doesn’t let me down at all. A strong way to close first set, especially since Weir requests us to “…hang loose and everybody get to know each other.” Is he trying to force us all to be friends? 😉
“Scarlet>Fire” is a nice way to open a second set. Garcia falters on some of the “Scarlet” lyrics. He pulls it together though because, “once in awhile you get
shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” The “Fire” really sounds great. You don’t want to miss out on this version of the combination.
Weir really rocks out “CC Rider.” His vocals are strong and the band really does sound good.
The crowd erupts when Garcia sings, “just like NYC” during “Ramble On Rose.” I’m not sure why, considering they are in Philadelphia. I suppose that many New Yorkers probably did travel to this show. I sometimes travel to Philadelphia to see shows now.
Weir sounds really good on “Estimated.” His vocals have certainly improved since first set. He does flub some lyrics at about the 5 ½ minute mark. Mydland’s keys really come through on this one. It’s nice to hear him tinkering away. This is a very even keel “Estimated,” that does not include any overly excited Weir vocals, if you know what I mean.
The band goes right into “Eyes” from “Estimated.” A special treat indeed. This “Eyes” does seem like it is being played a quicker tempo than normal, although I have heard it played even faster than this. I like a slightly slower “Eyes,” but am not overly picky about this song, as it is one of my favorites.
“Drums>Space” are transitioned into very nicely from “Eyes.” As you know, this is my go get a beer/take a pee time. I really enjoy this one though. The crowd seems to enjoy it too.
I don’t have a Deadbase X handy right now, but I would assume that “NFA” is not a common song to come out of “Space.” I can only think of one other show, and that’s January 14, 1978. I think that this “NFA” is just OK. I don’t think it’s the best spot in a setlist for it to be planted.
This “Black Peter” is just as lackluster as “NFA.” The band picks it up for “Sugar Magnolia” though. Weir and Mydland sound celebratory during this rockin’ version of “Sugar Mag.” Weir belts out the lyrics to this quick “Sunshine Daydream” following “Sugar Mag.” A very nice way to start a dance party with this combination! I will admit that Weir does start screaming a bit towards the end of this, but it’s all in fun, right?
“OMSN” is probably my favorite encore. “At the stroke of midnight, the place is going to fly!” I sure know that I would have been rockin’ my socks off at this show. Well, that is if I could navigate around the horribly compact concrete seats boxed within the narrow aisles.
Out of the shows that I’ve reviewed so far, this may well be my favorite. I’m actually not sure why this was never an official release. Phenomenal show, by a phenomenal band!