April 20, 2012 at 8:23 AM
First rule of “Fight Club”….Never go see a Grateful Dead concert movie with ‘Toast” if you want to show up at Radio Free Santa Fe the following day and form a coherent sentence. Toast 'N' Jam aired a Grateful Dead repeat two hours Thursday night so The Mighty D could bundle four of us into the back of a stretch limo with a twelve pack, a bottle of Jack and assorted other sundries and breath mints. The midnight ride of Paul Revere has nothing on a six o’clock I-25 roll to the Cottonwood Mall for a classic Dead set on the silver screen.
Twenty hearty Deadheads, none under the age of 50, danced in the aisles, shimmied in their seats and stroked their $25 popcorn buckets as the lights went down…First up, three cover songs of Dead songs submitted by fans that warmed us up for the main event: 1989, two sets of Alpine Valley goodness….Jerry’s vocals and guitar work, a warm reminder that when he shined, he positively glowed…a crazed Brent Mydland, eyeballs burning in his skull, adding keyboard flourishes and occasionally leading the band through smoking covers of ‘Hey Jude” and “Dear Mister Fantasy”….Bob Weir, a fashion maven in short-shorts and ankle socks…The twin drum attack of Mickey Hart and Billy K. almost taking the band off the rails during “Space and Drums”….and the always steady Phil Lesh on bass, twinkling in the corner of the stage like he wandered in from another group.
Having attended a dozen shows from ’69-’72 and a scant one in the following twenty years, I can report that this was almost as good as the real thing. The Dead, closeup, wandering over their Oriental rugs, amidst the chrome and metal of a wall of amps, in a last stand before the downhill slide, inviting us into their Haight living room one last time.
No sleep til’ Santa Fe….and what a way to kick off 4/20/12…