I like to revisit this one from time to time. I have a hard time being objective about it, though.
On the afternoon of December 31st, 1987 I was leaving The Bass Center in Calabasas. I owned a couple of Alembic basses and had a 'Steal Your Face' sticker in the back window of my car. A guy on the freeway (whose license plate was "SYFROYH" for "Steal Your Face Right Off Your Head") pulled me over and said he was sick and headed to the airport to see if any Deadheads heading north wanted his ticket, but saw my sticker and wondered if I was interested. Oakland for New Year's. As I had some lunch in Hollywood and looked at a map I realized I'd just taken a ticket to a show that I'd have to break a lot of speed laws to make. And with that I started my career as another one of the annoying "Touch-heads" (though my timing was essentially random and not intentionally related to the phenomenon...honest).
This is a great, exuberant show. Watching the video you can see that the band was really in good spirits. The groundswell of attention following Jerry's illness and the subsequent release of 'In the Dark' was still in its novelty stages. The crowds weren't quite the unmanageable mess that they'd be a year down the road. The band was making money hand-over-fist and enjoying actual radio airplay for the first time in many moons. In 1989 Paul McCartney was asked why he was mounting a tour and said, "I've been inspired by The Grateful Dead, man! Jerry Garcia!" The sense that everybody in the world suddenly wanted to be a Deadhead hadn't played itself into a cultural sickness quite yet and the guys seemed to be riding a wave of euphoria. Watch the Mickey-as-Mr.Spock or Cooking with Jerry segments from the set break and you can see guys having the time of their lives.
This show also highlights the band performing a "real Grateful Dead show" complete with amps on the stage, Dan Healy out there mixing the sound, Candace Brightman's lighting...the old crew. None of the new guys had come along yet. No MIDI-sequences running during Space to "help make the band trippier" or anything. Things were still essentially just like the early 80's only scaled up in size a little.
Brent Mydland, who was generally hated by long-time fans of the band for being too "pop" and seeming like a Gregg Allman clone, was at the peak of his powers and really driving the band with his B-3 a lot of the time.
Jerry had bounced back from his collapse amazingly well and was in the best form he'd seen in several years.
Bobby still seemed like a kid. Just a couple of years later he looked like he'd aged a couple of decades.
This is a good show for people who want an introduction to the 80's Grateful Dead lineup. It's not the same band you'll see in a more notable film like Sunshine Daydream, but this is an excellent example of what they were at the moment they caught the nation's attention. By the time Jerry died in 1995 the Dead had been the highest-grossing touring act for pretty much every year since this show. If you were ever curious about where that mess all got started this is Exhibit A.
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?