I took in the bulk of the 2nd set jam while cooking dinner, and then again just now. The sbd is just dandy, but this great aud tape is the way to go:
(it's even better than the Jerry Moore sourced tapes, imho, although either this tape must be from the same source, or the taper must have been set up right near him?)
- Slipknot! Oh Slipknot! This is masterful. After about 9 minutes, it seems like everyone else is ready to wrap things up and move on -- but Jerry waits, defers, then slowly spreads his tendrils off in another new direction. This is a beautiful moment of Grateful Dead communication. The nudge from the drummers and Phil's little slide at 11:40 cues the walk-up into the ending very nicely.
- 11 minutes of Franklin's Tower is just enough. I'm sorry, but this feels, you got it, just exactly perfect. Not an all-timer, not blowing the roof off, not just cruising either; just the right amount of bounce and Jerry heats it up just when he needs to. I am happy.
- They didn't really have the whole disco Dancin' thing down until 1977, and a lot of the earlier 76 ones feel more clunky than funky to my ears. This one has found its groove, though it doesn't have the same git down as it did in 77-79. Jerry uses his wahwah pedal to great effect here, giving the jam a more smeary, psychedelic feel than the cleaner wompwompwomp of his trademark Mutron. Again, it's short and sweet, but not too short: a hair below 8 minutes total before they break the jam off for Drums.
- After 5 minutes of the Wheel, everyone is clearly rarin' to get back into Dancin', but Jerry ignores it and wanders off the path. The next 3 minutes are yet another of those low-key, only in '76 kind of jams: everyone is game to just see what happens, and Jerry's in no hurry to get them anywhere in particular. And what happens is quite lovely -- shades of Crazy Fingers in spots, but really just another one of those funny '76 corners, like finding a room in your house that you didn't know was there. Jerry lands it right in Ship of Fools, not a tune that I typically get excited about. But after that trip, it's a welcome arrival. It ends, and after some uncertain splashing about, Jerry guides them all back into the Dancin' reprise. Kinda messy in spots, but hey man, they're just making this up as they go along.
- But it's not quite over. Why not slide a little bonus GDTRFB in there just for good measure? Why yes, thank you, I will. All of it is great, but I find myself rewinding to 7:14 when Phil does that great tumble down into the AWBYGN riff and they're all playing everything all at once. They even finagle a slick little transition into the closing Saturday Night, something they definitely did not have to do. But they did stuff like that in 1976.
I do like 1976.
PS: This was the first of three times that they played at the Market Square Arena. Each show was very good, and there is fantastic aud tape of each one. How 'bout that.