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Friday, June 13, 2008

1982 March 13 - Reno, NV

Grateful Dead Greek Theatre May 1982

Saturday, March 13, 1982
Centennial Coliseum – Reno, NV
Audience Recording

Here’s a show that absolutely smolders. It is packed with riveting passages all over, and some of the most intensely explosive Garcia solos in song after song. This is one of those shows that teaches you that all shows are not created equal. While the band was damn good in 1982, and the early 80’s in general, it is shows like this one that make many others pale in comparison. Are you worried that you might be stuck in the 70’s? Unable to appreciate the 80’s? Let’s get down to business, my friend.

Jerry Garcia 1982The band sprints out of the starting blocks with Alabama Getaway. There are problems with Jerry’s vocal mic early on, but its hard to care. The Dead’s energetic start infects the crowd, and the whole tape vibrates with that wonderful AUD tape energy despite the sound system working itself out. Alabama segues right into Greatest Story Ever Told beautifully. The hard driving beat of the first song pounds it’s way past the song end. While half the band is understanding the direction to GSET and setting off on that path, Jerry offers up one more Alabama refrain on the guitar that creates a thrilling swirl of one song into another. You hit Greatest Story like an out of the park grand slam. Very satisfying.

Tasty mid-first set tunes follow on the way to a very nice China >Rider set closer. But during the set break the band must have gotten their hands on some serious mojo, because they saunter into the second set and deliver serious sparks.

Feel Like A Stranger is a crafty and sneaky player in the set two opening slot. The band lets the edges fray beautifully and the song pushes at its own edges like an oily skinned soap bubble catching itself in mid burst then pulling itself back to just inside the point where the surface explodes into mist and evaporation. It gets exactly as weird as you wish most all Strangers would. The Franklin’s Tower that follows is full of wild excitement. It throbs with an up tempo vigor. Like solar flares exploding off the sun, Jerry’s solos erupt in a fabulous dance of energy, each one outperforming the last in their ability to twist fire into the air. Somewhere around the third solo passage it becomes clear that this is the sort of playing where Jerry is in his finest form. And the second set has only just gotten started. His last solo will just leave you staring in crazed disbelief. My God, can he get any more up? Yep, apparently he can.

Bob Weir 1982Estimated Prophet finds ways to generate peaks and valleys of energetic play that reward the listener while keeping interest focused. Even the slippery, snaky jam section feels more like a roiling sea on the verge of storm. It brings a nice sense of having to keep your balance while bright coral formations below the water’s surface twist and bend your vision with the roll of the ocean. You've lost the ability to see straight lines and angles. Everything is a gooey pulsation around you. The song segues out and Jerry firmly leads to He’s Gone. But the band takes an alternate path into Eyes Of The World.

Eyes starts softly, with almost nothing more than Jerry playing with a high hat tapping behind him. He delivers “Right outside this lazy summer home” with nothing but this musical background, and then the whole band chimes in on the “Ain’t got time to call your soul a critic, no” line thereafter. It’s almost as if it was rehearsed, and it is a wonderful arrangement to start the song. The Eyes delivers exactly the same blend of extra popping highlights that have been coming before it all set. Jerry sounds completely enthralled as he rolls out lead after expressive lead. Toward the end, the song spirals up to a fabulous twinkling and shimmering interplay between Jerry and Brent that makes an already over the top version of the song even better. It stops me in my tracks every time I hear it. Fantastically psychedelic.

Phil Lesh 1982The show’s Space is a multi verse poem of different landscapes and emotions. Passages appear and disappear, growing into view then receding away. Eventually Other One takes form and it captures the full onslaught of energy that has been brewing over the entire set. Deep in between the verses of the song, an ascent starts that refuses to stop climbing. Like flying up a mountainside at breakneck speed you almost star to worry this will never let up. And then the climactic release of Phil’s booming rumble winds us into the last verse. After this there is an extended Dear Prudence theme. A relative staple in Jerry’s solo act, it’s the only time it appears in a Dead show. Short lived, undeveloped, it coasts into Black Peter instead.

This is not a show to be missed. With breathtaking highlight after highlight, the less than absolutely perfect sound quality simply doesn’t matter. Listen to this show.


  1. whoa. Thanks for the pointer, Noah. I've been listening to Dead shows in some form or another for 15 or so years, and there are still so many mind-melters like this one from the 80's that are completely off my radar. It makes it tougher that almost all show reviews of seemingly everything post-1980 consists of first hand accounts of the *show* rather than the music (from Deadbase through today). Keep 'em coming! My ears owe you a major debt of gratitude.

  2. Hi, Noah;

    thank you for the wonderful, selective drive into the 80s.

    One more question from me, as I am still on the learning curve. I read about a Compendium in which each GD show is analysed by Dead Heads. Is it available on-line? what do you make of it?

    Thank you
    Italian Head

  3. 4 volumes. 1-3 covered the full 30 years, then an Addendum was created to cover the explosion of shows that came on the scene post Dick's death in 1999. I had the pleasure of contributing reviews to that last volume.

    All very hard to come by these days(especially the Addendum). But I have had other readers inquire about them and I've seen the books show up on eBay frequently enough - even the Addendum - in the last couple months.

  4. Thank you for the explanation on the Compendium; strange that it has not yet migrated to the web.

    Italian Head

  5. Well I bit the hook and d/l the 2nd set for listening in the car yesterday. Yep, it's a good one, lots of solid energy and sparky surprises.

    If Road Trips ventures into this part of the early 80's, I could see this Franklins Tower being something to include.

    A good recommend, Noah. Heading back now to some more Summer '73 and LOM '75.

  6. yes, thank you, Noah, for these pointers into lesser known early 80's goodness. It's tough delving sometimes, especially when the majority of show reviews/comments out there seem to focus more on the scene and the show and less on the quality of the music itself. I never would have found a show like this on my own...

    also, to everyone else, don't be tempted by the other aud source (just the 2nd set) at the archive: at first glance, it sounds much cleaner, but is severely lacking in the oomph that this version delivers in spades. yikes! great stuff.

  7. Smokin' show. The funny thing was at the time, most people liked the next night better but I was a big fan of this one myself. Thanks for bringing it up to everyone's attention.

  8. yes, 2nd set first night was a real toe tapper, opening with feel like a stranger, my prog friend who was not into the dead at the time was talked into comming and we dosed him good, since then he plays dead, enjoy and im still on the bus.

  9. I went to the Colliseum concert and it was indoors at night...where did these pictures come from?

  10. Most are from May 83 shows. Pictures in posts are not generally intended to represent the actual show (unless I'm so lucky to have some), but more so the year that the show took place.

  11. I was at the show and Davis the next day. Belushi had just died and I was certain He's Gone would be played. Didn't happen but it was still an excellent concert.


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