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Jerry Garcia concert reviews by Rob Goetz - 1/28/89 - San Francisco, CA

Jerry Garcia concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Jerry Garcia Band ~ San Francisco, CA

Jerry Garcia concert reviews by Rob Goetz - 1/28/89 - San Francisco, CA

1.28.1989 The Orpheum Theatre
San Francisco, California
2nd JGB Band Performance of 1989

The first six Grateful Dead concerts of 1989 (2.5,6,7 and 2.10, 11, 12.1989) were not the best Jerry performances. With the exception of 2.10.1989 the band sounded quite awful at times, and at times _really_ bad. Noteworthy within that mini Dead run was that Jerry's guitar playing sounded listless at times, distracted, and bored. But these were not the first performances of the year for Mr. Garcia. Indeed, the JGB performed at the Orpheum in SF on 1.27 and 1.28.1989. Considering how shoddy and flat his guitar playing was during the 2.5 through 2.12.1989 Dead run (just one week from 1.27.1989) it is interesting to see that whatever was affecting him during that week in February 1989 was not affecting him during the final Friday and Saturday of January 1989.

Saturday, January 28, 1989, the second Jerry Band performance of 1989, came off the heals of an above average show the night before. The JGB sounded very tight with each other, the harmonies were especially sweet, and the overall feel was that Jerry was playing well. But, Jerry's guitar solos at times lacked an aggressive edge (e.g., XXX). The overall sound of the show was a bit sedate. On 1.28.1989 Jerry would change that.

The first set to 1.28.1989 is not in circulation. The Jerry Site provides the set list as I'll Take A Melody, TLEO, Mission in the Rain, Twist of Fate, That's What Love Will Make You Do, and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. Considering that the second set source that circulates is a soundboard, hopefully the first set will eventually surface.

The second set begins with Let's Spend The Night Together. The song portion immediately jumps out as being full of energy. Jerry's singing is raw and filled with near screaming, and the harmony provided by the back singers Jaclyn LaBranch and Gloria Jones is pristine. This version really takes off during the first guitar solo. Jerry glides through the chordal structure with numerous licks filled with interesting signature flavors. This first jam reaches numerous mini climaxes and truly is impressive. As this fantastic display returns for the ending of the song, Jerry and the backup singers put forth a beautiful display of singing. Jerry's voice is filled with inflection and is beaming with happiness. As Jerry finishes his last "Now I need you more than ever" one of the back up singers continues with another "Lets spend the night together" and the other backup singer sings "Now I need you more than ever" with a slight giggle. From this Jerry enters the main jam of the song. The first theme is driving in nature and sends the jam well beyond the previous night's version. Jerry's improvisation during this first theme reaches great heights filled with signature note runs and beautifully bent note sounds. The second theme is more rockin' roll as Jerry increases the pace and develops into a blistering solo. Jerry reaches a cyclical series of notes that truly is an amazing peak. As this theme peaks you can hear one of the backup signers scream out "Whoo." Jerry finishes this jam with a great series of notes. As the song ends I immediately am stunned at just how much better this particular jam was in comparison to the previous night as a whole and the entire February Dead shows (while 2.10.1989 was a spectacular show, there certainly were not any open ended jams like this one. The PITB was impressive but at a different pace and style). Bravo to Jerry for this particular version of Let's Spend The Night Together.

Next is Waiting For A Miracle. The song itself is sheer precision. The timing by the band behind Jerry's vocals is flawless, the harmonies by Jaclyn and Gloria is utter beauty, and Jerry's reverb on his guitar sounds almost crunchy. Jerry's vocal delivery is noteworthy as well for his perfection despite his age at delivering the lyrics and is filled with moans as well. Jerry's guitar solo leaps from the song and again filled with very interesting flavorings on the notes and literally soars. This solo is not just a run through the chords, but rather is the type of Jerry solo that is just as meaningful as any of the verses. As the song ends I am left wishing this was a longer version, but that is what the replay button is for.

As the crowd cheers Jerry pleads with the crowd stating, "Hey if any more of you are going to lose it could you wait for in-between the songs? Huh huh, Thanks we'd appreciate that…We're having a reasonably good time here, you know what I mean?" If you turn the volume way up during this you can hear the band members laughing hysterically including Jerry. A great moment (not for the person who "lost" it) but for Jerry as he truly sounded happy.

Jerry next chooses to slow down the pace of the show with "Like a Road." This version is not the typical version because Jerry's signing again is more than impressive and mournful. Once again the harmonies created around Jerry's voice the sound is truly beautiful. Jerry's guitar solo again is filled with signature runs of peaks and valleys that adds credence to the song portion. This was the third exceptional version in a row for this second set.

Don't Let Go is next and the song portion is equally as impressive as the previous songs. The jam portion gets extremely deep and is filled with very impressive jamming. This is in contrast to the 1.27.1989 version which didn't really didn't take off. This version is over 17 minutes long and the jam is about 11 minutes of it. Jerry starts the main jam out with a bluesy impression that opens the jam up and slowly increases its pace. The second theme provides Jerry reaching a very spacey region. He hits some very high notes and waffles back and forth in this space. Seals starts the third theme by adding some psychedelic runs. Jerry pounces on this and drives the jam deeper but in a manner that increases the pace. Eventually he begins fanning some notes and the jam at this point could only be labeled as exceptional. Jerry leaps out of this and starts the fourth theme that is driving in nature. He sends the jam driving into the ground with fast note runs and occasional note blasts. The fifth theme starts with Jerry emerging from the psychedelic aftermath. He starts a very interesting note dance that slowly returns the jam to a more structured sound. It is almost happy in sound but laced with a sense of uncertainty - Garcia at his best. Jerry reaches his desired sound and enters the sixth theme that is a complicated series of notes blending from the structure he had just created to a more tense and angry sound. The jam reaches some amazing note runs from Jerry here. Jerry climaxes this theme with a step wise strumming that builds the intensity and pace to a brilliant peak. He ends this with more note fanning that is mind blowing. As this ends Jerry returns the band for the final verse of Don't Let Go. This transition is flawless and makes you wonder if the band even left the song in the first place.

Out of this mind numbing jam, Jerry next starts Hope It Won't Be This Way, Always. Jerry's signing is nearly sarcastic and is filled with nice moans. Again the harmony from Jaclyn and Gloria is spectacular. The mixture of their harmony and Jerry's vocals is the finest I've heard (despite really liking Donna at times, she just doesn't compare in my opinion to Jaclyn and Gloria). For the jam portion Jerry provides a very nice series of notes that retains the near sarcasm followed by a very nice flowing run from Seals. Another exceptional version for this amazing second set from the JGB.

The show ends with a blistering Tangled Up In Blue. Jerry's guitar solos are pure rock'n'roll. As with the preceding songs, the song portion of this version are flawless and extremely well delivered. The first guitar solo has very interesting flavorings from Jerry and is matched by a very boppy rhythm. The second solo gets a bit deeper and provides several zeniths. The band was truly cooking at this point. Jerry's runs through the chords climaxed at the perfect times. The final jam gets even deeper is scalding to say the least. This final jam is more extended and gives Jerry a chance to show off. The jam reaches numerous peaks and must be heard.

As the show ends I am truly impressed. The February and Spring Tour Grateful Dead shows were very average for the most part (sans 2.10, 4.3, and 4.28.1989). On this particular night Jerry's jamming was profound. Each song from this second set is exceptional and shows that Jerry's abilities were not in question. For many years I was of the opinion that Garcia just couldn't cook in the late 80s through the 90s. On this particular night, 1.28.1989, Jerry provided all the evidence I need to throw that opinion straight out the window. On 1.28.1989 Jerry delivered one of his finest performances ever. I can't wait to hear the first set - whenever it is released. But, even if it isn't as scalding as this amazing second set, this particular night will always be immortalized in my memory (remember, there were amazing Dead shows that had flat sets and amazing sets --- see 9.17.1982). Bravo to Jerry for this truly special performance.

Set 2: 8.92

Lets Spend The Night 9.25
Waiting For a Miracle 9
Like a Road 8.75
Don't Let Go 9
Hope It Won't Be This Way 8.25
Tangled Up In Blue 9.25

Rob Goetz ©

Jerry Garcia concert reviews by Rob Goetz - 1/28/89 - San Francisco, CA


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