Wednesday, June 9, 1976
Boston Music Hall – Boston, MA
Back in the day, this was perhaps the most difficult of the circulating June ‘76 shows to find. I say “of the circulating shows” because a few shows from this month sat in the “holy grail” bucket – ones you saw absolutely nowhere (6/4, and 6/27 among them). I had an admittedly charmed trading life back in the 90s, and one trade in particular brought me 05/07/70, 05/12/74, and 06/09/76 all in one box. I don’t remember the trader’s name, but it was a guy with the classic “everything,” and I went for stuff on his list I had seen nowhere else. I probably sent him my A quality 04/29/71 and the composite of Watkins Glen 07/28/73 that I seeded out for the 25th anniversary. God, that Watkins tape opened any door I wanted back then. More on that when I work up the review.
That 06/09/76 was so hard to come by seems a cruel joke played on this year of Dead shows. As mentioned before, 1976 gets such a bad rap, and it is in no small part due to the fact that most of the best stuff imaginable from that year just never got into wide circulation. Now, not only does this AUD master circulate, but so does the SBD. I’m a firm believer that good AUDs from 1976 give off an energy that was often missing from soundboards from that year. That, and the purely nostalgic feelings I have for this tape lead me to talk about the AUD.
The return of St. Stephen is only one stellar aspect of 06/09/76. The entire second set completely out performs how it looks on paper; and it looks mighty fine on paper:
St. Stephen> Eyes of the World > Let It Grow > Drums > Let It Grow, Brown Eyed Women, Lazy Lightning > Supplication, High Time, Samson, It Must've Been The Roses, Dancin’in the Streets > Wharf Rat > Around, E: Franklin's Tower
The first set is no slouch, looking like a dream set that might have been penned by some fans in the parking lot before the show. Cold Rain opens. It was only played three times in ’73, and once in ’74 on the last night of the farewell stand at Winterland (it was the opener that night too). Cassidy was played only once before, early in 1974. And then we get Scarlet Begonias, Music Never Stopped, and Crazy Fingers, all in a row. Whew! But set two opens with the song that most fans probably didn’t even allow themselves to think about ever hearing again.
The crowd’s reaction to St. Stephen is priceless stuff (equaled again upon its second return in 1983). The song’s jam demonstrates the 1976-typical slowly spinning kaleidoscope of sound right from the first notes. It swirls and swirls going further and further out – Jerry finding one beautiful space after another. They all key back together for the last verse as if they’ve been playing the tune every night since it was last played on 10/31/71. When they shift from “What would be the answer to the answer man?” into Eyes it is dreamy perfection. Is this really happening? You will be in the giddiest of Grateful Dead spaces here.
This Eyes is perfectly described as jubilant. The super up tempo treatment of the song is pure pleasure. Also, it has another new 1976 twist: they build the song backwards with the long exit jam coming before the song itself. This one goes on for 8 minutes before the first verse, and it serves to prolong the giddy zone all the way through. Your dog might even start twirling around the living room to this song, his or her little puppy paws rising and falling like incense smoke overhead.
Not good enough for you? Try refraining from joy as the band eases out of Eyes into a light and dreamlike mist that sounds bound perfectly for Wharf Rat, only to have Bobby magnificently draw out Let It Grow. It fades into view like a ghost out of the fog. Brilliant. The Let It Grow is overflowing with more of the wonderful interlocking spinning wheel glory of 1976. In and out of Drums on a dime. And then there’s this perfect little Brown Eyed Women. The song hardly ever gets a second thought when it comes to “best of” conversations. But, I’ve always found this one somehow a cut above. The quickened tempo has a lot to do with it, I’m sure.
In many ways Supplication seems to define 1976. There was nothing like this happening pre-retirement at all, and it has a groove altogether new to the Dead's repertoire. The band stokes this fire nicely, but they don’t linger. That’s okay. Ounce for ounce, the Lazy Lightning>Supplication scores a 10 all the way through.
Finally, the return of High Time (last played on 07/12/70!) ushers in some space to breath. Gotta love the guy sitting next to the taper bellowing out “Dark Star” in a heavy Bostonian accent before it too.
Disco Dancin’. Many an old deadhead shudders at the thought of anything that happened after 1974. And the return of Dancin’ In The Streets in 1976, with its blatant nod to the disco beat of the times, is generally the first thing pointed to when marking the signs of the apocalypse. However one feels about it, 6/9 contains the third airing of the newly vamped version (debuted six days earlier after being shelved on 12/31/71). Still in its infancy, it’s mostly a group effort with no one taking center stage. This allows for lots of intricate play between the band members who are clearly listening closely to each other. They stumble and catch themselves nicely through the end themes, and Wharf Rat follows nicely, with Around & Around closing the set unsurprisingly, but the sizzling double tempo ending portion adds a welcome flair.
The Franklin’s Tower encore is a good ride. It feels like a pretty standard delivery until Jerry starts exploding in the leads sections. The final solo passage builds to a climatic fervor before settling back down and allowing the song to end. A nice end to a great show.