In the liner notes for this set, Blair Jackson reflects on Philadelphia’s rep for tough sports crowds and exceptional Dead shows. He wonders if, just maybe, the guys were sort of afraid to play a bad show there. And sure enough, they do sound right in the pocket from the get-go on 4/6/82, with a “Cold Rain & Snow” opener boosted by a little Phil/Brent improv here and there.
“Promised Land” maintains the energy but ups the tempo. This Berry cover gets about three times better with Brent’s organ in the mix, imo. The performance peaks in the last verse, between Garcia’s series of cascading runs and the usual and always enjoyable way he pitches in on that last couplet. Too bad about the stadium ending that pulls up lame.
Mama Said …
Coincidental or not, the other distinguishing characteristic of the first set is the “mama suite” in the middle. A good “Brown-Eyed Women” comes this close to having an outright disco feel, not that there’s anything wrong with that, followed by “Mama Tried” (and a “Mexicali Blues” heralded by Bob announcing “Polka time!”).
After a few more minutes of lamenting Mama’s best intentions turned sour in “Big Railroad Blues”, what sounds like Phil was ready for a change of pace, and you can hear him ask Bob to “play something soulful.” The bulk of “Looks Like Rain’s” appeal has been the guitar solos for me, but it’s worth pointing out Weir’s lovely passing chords under “the letters of your name.”
I really like this semi-rare “Jack-A-Roe”, and a “Might As Well” that seems like it’s playing the role of “alternate Deal” is the other highlight before the break.
Sample The Post-Fan Jam
Maybe it’s my ears, but the lower end sounds noticeably muddier as “Shakedown Street” shakes off the intermission. It clears up by the instrumental jam, fortunately. Speaking of the mix, that tough Philly crowd responded well to a little flattery, coming through loud and clear at “I can hear it beat out loud …”.
Not much good or bad to say about the “Sailor > Saint” aside from that it picks up in the transitional solo. The highlight of the 12-minute “Terrapin” is also a transition, just not the one you’d expect. No lengthy excursion out of “Terrapin” and into drums, but the exceptional, hinting-at-jazz jam after “Lady With A Fan” illustrates why they say the best parts of a Dead show are between the songs. I wish the whole thing had been longer.
The exceptional, hinting-at-jazz jam after “Lady With A Fan” illustrates why they say the best parts of a Dead show are between the songs.
Bob’s whistle jerks us out of space and into an economical “Truckin'”. To its credit, it winds up with a snappy and seamless intro into “The Other One”. The mix again seems better here than in some other spots, but the audience gets only the second verse before less of a transition and more of an abrupt swerve into “Morning Dew”.
Baby Blue And Through
The “Dew” is strong if not hall-of-fame, and the night’s last highlight is a typically nice “Baby Blue” to conclude the show on a mellower note. There had to be a little tongue-in-cheek behind this song’s recurring encore placement, as Garcia cautions, “Forget the dead you’ve left / They will not follow you,” getting reality exactly backwards.
Even if you wouldn’t call this Road Trip unforgettable based on sound quality or content, it’s clear enough why some in the crowd would be waking up the next morning and truckin’ up to Syracuse and Rochester.
(Almost forgot, management provides an ample batch of filler from the previous night, rounding out two of the discs. Highlights include a “Deep Elem Blues” that’s a tad slower than a typical acoustic version and works well. It’s not a showstopper, but I’d call it better than most of the main show’s first set. The “Playing > Ship Of Fools > Playing” sandwich looks tantalizing on paper, and indeed, the “Playing” is good and the “Ship” is good. As it turns out, though, the triptych’s last panel is more of a pre-drums jam featuring Bobby and Brent with the drummers than a true “Playing” reprise [in fact, Deadbase doesn’t list anything between “Ships Of Fools” and “Drums”]. A minor letdown due to higher hopes, but hey, it’s filler.)
4/5/82 and 4/6/82 @ The Spectrum
Set 1: cold rain and snow / promised land / candyman / c.c. rider / brown-eyed women / mama tried / mexicali blues / big railroad blues / looks like rain / jack-a-roe / it’s all over now / might as well
Set 2: shakedown street / lost sailor > saint of circumstance / terrapin station > drums > space > truckin’ > the other one > morning dew / sugar magnolia // it’s all over now, baby blue
FILLER – 4/5/82: deep elem blues / althea / man smart, woman smarter / bertha / playing in the band > ship of fools > playing in the band