Written by / 8/03/2014 / No comments / , ,

GRATEFUL DEAD 2014 MEET UP FROM 1972

1972 & 2014 rating: ***1/2
Once again, Fathom Events has brought The Grateful Dead to the big screen. People can sit, munch popcorn, and have workaday conversations louder than the music, like before. But thankfully, during this particular experience, the theater had the music pumping louder than the last venture, SUNSHINE DAYDREAM, and the distractions were minimal…

Unless you don’t count THE OTHER ONE… not the improvisational "Cowboy Neal" inspired adventure that ends this 1972 German sound check jam at The Beat Club with finesse, but the short film centering on the worst track of a pretty good live album. That being 1990’s tribute to the, at that time, recently-departed keyboardist Brent Mydland. The album is titled WITHOUT A NET, and this brief, pointless prelude centered on Branford Marsalis as a guest performer on the epic track EYES OF THE WORLD. His contribution marks the one song worth deleting from the NET album, where his glossy saxophone turns The Grateful Dead into The Stepford Dead, or something you’d hear on an elevator. If the annoyingly repetitive short centering on an Oregon creamery precluding the DAYDREAM Fathom Event wasn’t annoying enough, this takes the cake. Thankfully, the Branford short was just that… short.

Bill drumming eternally
Leading to the Dead’s hour long jam at The Beat club where the boys, standing on a cozy stage with flaming tie-dye behind them, warmed up for the now famous Europe 72 tour, and sounded downright incredible. The only negative was background screecher Donna Godcheaux, the Yoko Ono of the band, married to keyboardist Keith, who played saloon style piano riffs as a thin and sickly Pig Pen stroked a few organ chords, or sang lead on the funky shuffle MR. CHARLIE.

TRUCKIN’ is a fun ride, and once again rhythm guitarist and co-vocalist Bob Weir forgot the lyrics – right from the start, in fact, causing the band to start over again after musically crash landing in a hilarious fashion. Other humorous moments had Phil’s "I've got a secret" expressions aimed right at the camera, at one point lusting over the aesthetically pleasing Donna. And the ready-to-laugh-at-anything theater audience mistook furry lead guitar wizard Jerry Garcia as joking around while he gave the band subtle orders on getting the tunes just right. Garcia was obviously a perfectionist, given the sublime live sound the band would keep for most of their career. Let's face facts: "Jerry Bear" probably wasn't the easiest boss to work with. But the payoffs were the live performances, which no other band could possibly equal, in this or any lifetime. 

Especially during the track PLAYING IN THE BAND, allowing the band go venture into uncharted cosmic territories, and finally, THE OTHER ONE. Watching Jerry’s fingers stroll the long neck of his Stratocaster while the band zeroed in on his every note, taking him into spirals and gusts of lovely oblivion, made up for the abrupt ending, and the fact Jerry hardly soloed on Bertha, and on Sugaree he didn’t solo at all. But hey, you can't have everything, not even from a band that provides everything (and beyond) in spades.  
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