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Jerry Garcia concert reviews by Rob Goetz - 8/26/89 - Berkeley, CA - Greek Theatre

Jerry Garcia concert reviews by Rob Goetz

Jerry Garcia Band ~ Berkeley, CA

Jerry Garcia concert reviews by Rob Goetz - 8/26/89 - Berkeley, CA - Greek Theatre

8.26.1989 The Greek Theatre
Berkeley, California
9th JGB Performance of 1989

The main Summer Tour of 1989 complete, Jerry wasted little time before starting a new tour – the JGB Late Summer / Early Fall 1989 Tour. This tour would comprise one west coast concert on 8.26.1989 and starting on 9.1.1989 a 12 show swing through the east coast ending on 9.16.1989. This was to be a very impressive run of shows for Jerry. His playing would continue to improve and pave the way for the legendary Fall 1989 Grateful Dead tour. In many respects, this tour was important for Jerry because it permitted him to shed his Grateful Dead formulaic style and focus more on wide open improvisation. While the Summer Tour of the Grateful Dead was successful in terms of improving upon the 1989 Spring Tour, the Dead were still not playing with a consistently exceptional style (glaring exceptions exist – such as 6.19, 6.21, 7.7 and 8.19.1989). This main gap for the Dead was in many respects Garcia, and this JGB tour would prove to be what he needed to break into the realm of consistently exceptional.

The Dead had just finished their final three concerts at the Greek Theatre. 8.26.1989 – just one week later – was to be the final Jerry performance at the Greek Theatre. Blame it on the scene, I guess.

8.26.1989 started with Cats Down Under The Stars. The band at the start sounded very energetic and happy to be on the stage. This was a striking contrast to the Dead shows just over a week prior to this concert. The Dead Greek shows were relatively flat and uninspired. This Greek Theatre finale for Jerry was to be the complete opposite. The main jam flies with energy and soars. Each progression is unique as Jerry’s signatures flowed with striking complexity. The jam crept with intensity and built to a series of very impressive peaks. This was an incredibly impressive start to this show and this JGB tour. Jerry sounded happy and energetic, but perhaps more so, he sounded direct and edgy.

Next is TLEO. The song flows and drips and is very nicely done. The pacing is slow yet almost creepy. A Seals solo is first, and accomplishes a nice rise in tension. Jerry next confirms what we saw with Cats and delivers a signature filled series of note spatterings switching this version from above average to exceptional.

The pacing is slowed a bit next with Forever Young. There are sweet vocals from Jerry with a twinge of age. The instrumental is purely elegant Garcia as at a slow pace he spins webs of intricacy into a relatively simple song. Each note progression sprung to a unique sound of its own (e.g., quick sprint followed by note bend followed by slow note hold followed by aggressive spattering) – all unique and interesting to the ear. Jerry at times could make even the most mundane of songs spring to life beaming with energy. This is not only one of those versions, but one of those special shows where each version is jaw dropping (such as 12.10.1972 – each song of the first set (even Mexicali) is shockingly impressive).

At this point Jerry introduces the band and launches into Run For The Roses. The listener is treated to another tune where Jerry’s note progressions are dripping with flavor and have no hint whatsoever of typical.

Next is one of the highlights of the show – Mission In The Rain. The highlight is a phenomenal guitar solo. The first run through the chords is careful in its progression but slowly builds to nice pace increase. The 2nd chord run has more complicated in the web spinning but with hint of desperation. A peak is reached nicely leaving tickling of desire. The 3rd theme drops all of the pace at the beginning and with a shrug of phew Jerry again starts an ascent but very carefully. This fourth theme may have been an attempt at a Seals solo. Jerry starts the 5th theme with very rapid notes that stagger between dashses and sprints; each leading to a layered sound that gets very deep and complicated. The finale has Jerry twisting his notes in incredible detail with the band impressively dropping the rhythm off of the sides of his notes. These twistings from Jerry create an exasperated pursuit that culminates beautifully in the return to the final verse. Spectacular is an understatement as this was one of the finest Missions I’ve heard - one that easily rivals the 1976 versions.

Jimmy Cliff enters the stage at this point – he was the opening act. After an introduction from Jerry, the band starts Harder They Come. There are numerous flubs as the band and Cliff are not in synch completely, but beyond that this is a very impressive version. Cliff’s voice obviously lends itself incredibly well to the tune that he wrote. Jerry at first struggles with finding a rhythm. But, Cliff’s vocals are matched very well by Gloria and Jaclyn. Cliff extends the vocal finale much longer than Jerry does, and Jerry prematurely entered his guitar solo a few times before finally getting his opportunity. The solo is well layered by Jerry and was truly building to a nice peak when Cliff returned back to singing – cutting Jerry off. Obviously this was not the cleanest version, but not bad.

Jerry ends the first set with Deal. The 1st jam swings with a nicely paced and improvised progression suggesting that the main jam would be exceptional. The 1st theme of the main jam immediately surges and in a sneaky fashion climbs up the fret board. With each marked climb a tumbling is followed. This is classic Jerry styling here. A second theme reaches a very nice high end peak and emits very aggressive signature note spackles and peaks with fanning. The third theme begins with a massive drop in pace, and Jerry guides the jam back into the vocal finale. Despite only 2 real main jam peaks Jerry still sounded superb.

A fantastic first set. Jerry sounded very happy and filled with an edgy and almost irritated style.

The second set starts with How Sweet It Is. This was a very energetic version. The Jerry jam is somewhat typical though as it hits the right spots but doesn’t create a frenzied feeling.

Stop That Train follows, and again there was a nice feel to the song, but the jam is a bit similar to most average versions.


The set returns to an exceptional status next with Waiting For A Miracle. This was the finest version since 1.28.1989 (where someone “lost” it). This version is crisply delivered and the jam soars. Jerry’s main jam is hotly delivered but the signature presentation creates a certain interpretation that yearns with passion and tension. A fantastic version. Also of note was the marked reverb sound – which sounded impressive. All in all the jam literally bursts with energy.

Keeping the momentum afloat, next is Think. This was a ripping version. The Jerry jam starts out like a chainsaw and eventually reaches a sick point where he just fans for about 30 straight seconds. Blistering to say the least. The Seals solo follows this massive display and does a great job of retaining and even furthering the thick sounded blues jam. Jerry’s second stab is more of the first; just thick and heavy bluesy jamming.

Sisters & Brothers slows the tempo, but maintains the exceptional status. This was a very fine version as the rhythm is very bouncy and well sung. It is always great to hear Jerry sing ol’ slave songs.

Jerry gets contemplative next with That Lucky Ol’ Sun. Another impressive soul ballad from Jerry. On this particular version the Jerry guitar solo sizzles more so than most, but with a passionate overall theme. Seals again does a fantastic job with his solo as it literally drops of the earth.

The show ends with Midnight Moonlight (ouch – no Don’t Let Go). But, this was another exceptional gem. Jerry’s solos on this version are nothing short of sizzling as he added the extra flavors in the typical runs to make this main jam filled with tension and excitation. This was superb and a great way to end a very special show.

As such Jerry ended his tenure at the Greek Theatre, but he started one of his finest tours ever. Next the JGB would take a four day rest, swing across the United States, and continue with the tour, and continue with the impressing.

Set 1: 8.135

Set 2: 8.035

Show: 8.08

Cats 8.5


Forever Young 8.15

Run For The Roses 8.15

Mission In The Rain 9.25

Harder They Come 7.15

Deal 7.75


How Sweet 7.4

Stop That Train 7.25

Waiting For A Miracle 8.8

Think 8.5

Sisters & Brothers 8

Lucky Ol’ Sun 8.3

Midnight Moonlight 8

Rob Goetz ©

Jerry Garcia concert reviews by Rob Goetz - 8/26/89 - Berkeley, CA - Greek Theatre


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