Grateful Dead – 9/18/74 Dijon, France (30 Trips box)

The Dead rolled into Dijon with three days off after the 9/14 Munich show. Afterward, it would be on to Paris for two nights to close the European tour.

Sounds like someone hit “Record” just in time, as we join the proceedings with no fade in, just a second before Uncle John’s Band gets things off on the right foot. It’s the last first-set Uncle John’s Band of the ’70s (hats off to Deadlists’ search engine). I also thought I saw someone say this is the one and only UJB opener, but don’t hold me to it.

The sound is a nice soundboard, Phil is a little forward both instrumentally and vocally. It’s a crisp performance, and good thing Phil was up in the mix, because instrumentally he was ready to go.

His bass moves around in the stereo field between the very end of UJB and the quite nice Jack Straw that follows. Weird. Anyway, it eventually settled right back down in the middle, possibly even a little louder than before.

Uncle Dijon’s Band

Friend Of The Devil is relaxed but still closer to the original than later era tempos. Deadlists reports this is the 1974 debut and one of only four on the year. It does sound a little casual, but Weir taking a “lead” turn is a nice surprise.

After Black-Throated Wind, Scarlet Begonias kicks in, and it’s noticeable how the occasional minor drawbacks of Wall Of Sound-era recordings are not present here. It doesn’t sound mids-heavy, Weir’s guitar enjoys a little extra definition to my ears, and everything sounds like you’re right up close to it.

As the guitars hold down the main riff in the interlude before the jam, listen to Phil’s bass dance and peck all around the theme.

Eventually, Jerry doesn’t so much displace Phil’s prominence as stop playing the riff in favor of doing his own thing. Keith moves from chords to single notes to add his own color in the right channel.

It’s an interesting version because nobody tries to light it on fire in the second half. They are content to maintain a really nice medium-intensity space for the duration.

13th In 5 Years For …

An unremarkable Mexicali sets up a nice, cool Row Jimmy. Keith’s accents and some especially nice vocal moments from Jerry and Donna raise this performance.

Phil responds to the briefly rowdy French crowd with a French phrase I don’t know (and he’s not sure he’s pronouncing it right, either). Then it’s on to a three-song, 12-minute tour of uptempo first set material. Jerry steals BIODTL with a brassy solo that Keith is not totally ready to follow.

The Deal sounds positively lackadaisical compared to latter-era set-closing versions, but it’s fine, as is the cover of The Race Is On.

1974 was the fifth year since To Lay Me Down made its live debut, but this evening marked only its 13th performance. After Dijon, it would show up once at the Winterland shows and then take another not-quite-six years off before a serious comeback in 1980.

It’s a sweet song and a rare expression of both calm and wistfulness, but 8 minutes can still seem a little long. Garcia’s playing and tone on the solo help.

Jerry’s ‘Sly’ Reference

Phil’s mix prominence once again matches his assertiveness as the band launches into tonight’s 23-minute Playing In The Band.

It’s really Grateful Dead, the way Jerry moves from hot country lap-steel type supporting chords in the last verse to spacey, twirling lead notes in the jam within about 15 seconds of each other.

A strong primary jam transitions to a more unusual, still quick, ride-cymbal driven jam around 8 minutes in. It borders on too busy but then falls apart after two minutes. Garcia swiftly tries on another few ideas like they’re hats, but by 12 minutes, we’re back to the second jam again.

Garcia breaks that, repeating a close cousin to the riff of Sly Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” for a minute. Call it an omen: Garcia and Sly Stone would both contribute to Oh, What A Mighty Time, the 1975 album by New Riders Of The Purple Sage.

Back in Dijon, nothing substantive takes form until Bill starts tapping the snare rim around 17:40 to turn attention toward reentry. As is often the case, everyone likes to take a minute to work in a couple of other thoughts before they get it together. I’d call the opening jam and the reprise the highlights of this PITB outing.

Ned and Phil do their Seastones mini-set. I listened to the back half to make sure there wasn’t something I wanted to say about it. Here’s something to say: the last couple of minutes on the track are a surprise. Seastones ends, followed by a halfhearted, scrapped Loose Lucy intro and a brief “Stars & Stripes Forever”-based tuning.

Mic-Adjacent Vox

The full Loose Lucy sounds great instrumentally across the board, but Jerry and Donna sound like the only microphone catching their vocals was Phil’s or Bob’s.

Guess it wasn’t Bob’s, because Big River has the same problem. (You gotta figure Phil’s was out if theirs were all out, so the mystery becomes what was picking up the faint vocals that we do hear? Related to the two-mic setup for the year?)

As with the Loose Lucy, Big River stays listenable because the band cooks.

Phil mentions moisture in the microphones and an imminent fix, and sure enough, Jerry is perfectly clear as he gently begins the tale of Peggy-O. The Dead played the song once a month from May through August as the band criss-crossed the U.S., but then it got to see more of Europe in September with outings in London, Dijon, and Paris.

This Eyes Doesn’t Quite Have It

Eyes Of The World’s Phil-phorward intro sounds like it might’ve gone on a little longer than someone intended, but still, it’s more Eyes.

As they approach the solo around the 5-minute mark, Garcia bangs a couple of chords like “ok, get ready” and Keith responds with a percussive few seconds as if to say “bring it,” and off they go.

Later, after Phil and Jerry trade 16’s and keys for a while as usual, Bill gets unusually quiet, but they all flow smoothly into The Riff of ’74 versions. They really do cut this unusually short, decelerating into China Doll. (And unlike many versions, they slow all the way down before the vocals, avoiding an awkward downshift later.)

Listen to Bob’s careful playing in the second half leading up to the major-key “chorus.” Maybe don’t listen to how the band manages to get out of sync right after that.

Still better than most music, of course, but this Eyes>China Doll isn’t making any best-of lists. Maybe they bounce back with a good He’s Gone > Truckin’?

Post-Pig Caution Sighting

No miscues on the He’s Gone, even if it lacks that quiet swing of certain performances. The guys do get busier in general behind Garcia around halfway through, like they’re ready to get going a little harder after a China Doll / He’s Gone pairing.

They get their way a few minutes later. Listen to Jerry’s fills behind Weir’s verse starting around 2:40. Keith ups his own game to complement Garcia more strongly starting with the verse after that.

Once they get past the verses, Weir feeds Garcia a nice couple of back-and-forth lead-ins, like Stockton to Malone. Three or four minutes of jam leads to a drums that Phil joins to add some attitude.

Once they get past the verses, Weir feeds Garcia a nice couple of back-and-forth lead-ins, like Stockton to Malone.

Jerry makes an appearance toward the end, and bam, then we are into a fast MLB jam. Bob dispatches the key chord progression while both Jerry and Keith riff furiously.

However, Phil has Caution on his mind as he walks swiftly through this passage, and eventually the whole thing tilts into the theme. The several-minute jam represents the song’s first performance since 5/11/72 Rotterdam, when a mammoth 15 minutes popped up in a second-set jam bridging Sugar Magnolia and Truckin’.

Most significantly, of course, it’s the first appearance of Caution in any form without Pigpen. It hurtles along, eventually backs off, and pivots to Ship Of Fools. Phil and Jerry register one missed chord each, but the version works due in large part to Jerry’s lead vocal.

Shuffling Off To Paris

Time to put away the ballads and excursions. On either side of the Atlantic, the people want to boogie. Johnny B. Goode gets it rolling. The crowd chants, then quiets, then (I assume) continues with the boogie as the Dead serve up U.S. Blues to close the show.

Phil slips in a nifty fill before Garcia rolls out that beautiful tone one more time after the 3-minute mark. They cruise to the ending, punctuated by a saucy “chord” and a good-night from Phil in French. Maybe more like Phrench.

Grateful Dead
9/18/74 Dijon, France
30 Trips box set
CD1: uncle john’s band / jack straw / friend of the devil / black-throated wind / scarlet begonias / Mexicali blues / row jimmy / beat it on down the line / deal / the race is on / to lay me down
CD2: playing in the band / seastones / loose lucy / big river / peggy-o / me & my uncle
CD3: eyes of the world > china doll / he’s gone > truckin’ > drums > caution jam > ship of fools / johnny b. goode // u.s. blues

Check in at the Grateful Dead 1974 Project main page.

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