Grateful Dead live at Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen – 14 April 1972

Europe 72. Arguably The Grateful Dead’s finest tour. An argument evidenced by the fact that the whole tour was released as a box set and as individual concerts. 22 gigs and less than a handful that slips down into the “average” category (Lyceum, London springs to mind as being a bit flat) and rather bizarrely 21 performances of Mr Charlie. Having spent the best part of 18 months playing the wealth of new material available to them and getting comfortable with it this was the year that they got round to jamming them out.

Having said all that about jamming, the only song that gets a decent workout during a very solid first set is Playing in the Band which visits The Grateful Dead Grateful Dead live at Tivoli Concert Hallpsychedelic era during the jam. Despite his failing health Pigpen is in excellent voice on his three songs and there is a very fine early (ish) Black Throated Wind with Bobby singing the lyrics rather than barking them out as he did in later years. The downside on my copy of the concert is one of the channels cutting out during Bobby McGee and Cumberland Blues but if I was to choose a time for this to happen it would be then, so every cloud ….

The second set starts off with Truckin and Jerry and Keith really rip into it during the mid-song jam. Then it’s time to slow down for a while with It Hurts Me Too with Jerry soloing on slide guitar, a fine Brown Eyed Women and Looks Like Rain (the Deads only love song) featuring Jerry playing the most maudlin pedal steel you’re ever likely to hear. For the next 80 minutes, we are treated to the best of early Grateful Dead. Kicking off with the best Dark Star of the tour – a series of brief jams separated by briefer spells of Space with both guitars screaming at times (in a nice way). Bobby and Phil start the riff to a Feeling Groovy jam towards the end, Jerry seems reluctant to follow but what follows is one of the best I’ve heard. This leads into the last Space section and Bobby starts the riff to Sugar Magnolia and the way Jerry comes down from the wailing of Space into the song is just wonderful. The Good Lovin that follows is one of my favourites and has one of the longest and least repetitive Pigpen raps and it’s only a little bit sexist. As the guitars play around Pigpens vocals and drop in and out of the mix the constant is Billy on drums who gives something of a masterclass and it begs the question ‘what did Mickey Hart bring to the party that wasn’t already there in spades?’. Just think, we would have been spared the excesses of Drums, Drumz and Rhythm Devils. A shortish Caution follows, split by a single verse of Who Do You Love. A Good Lovin reprise and the band take a breather.

Next up is a bit of a pig in a poke. A very good version of Ramble on Rose but after what has gone on before and what is to come it is a case of wrong place wrong time. The set winds up with an energetic NFA – GDTRFB – NFA. There is a lovely China Cat tease leading into GDTRFB but unfortunately, Donna is off key with her backing vocals. Saturday Night encores close what has been a superb set.

Matters Arising.

Looks Like Rain  –  the last time Jerry played pedal steel with the Grateful Dead although he did play when they supported Dylan.

Who Do You Love  –  the first of only two occasions this was played. Although the bar had been set pretty high by The Doors and Juicy Lucy – it would have been nice to know where they would have gone with this.

I read a quote by Jerry that said that the Dead were Pigpen’s band. Listening to Good Lovin you can see where he was coming from.

One of the things I really like about the Dead is that they don’t introduce the songs. In 1977 when they started playing (overplaying?) Terrapin Station prior to the album being released, most Deadheads knew the song as Inspiration. Here, both You Win Again and Ramble On Rose get a name check. I’m sure there have been occasions but I can’t remember another song being introduced, never mind two.

More Information.

The Set List – Grateful Dead live at Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen – 14 April 1972

Casey Jones (Live at Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark 4/14/1972)

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