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The Boys at the Garden

November 21st, 2010 · 7 Comments · Grateful Dead, Music, New York City, Real-life Adventure Tales


I’m just stunned. Speechless. Maybe it was the set-up, cuz i was thinkin early on … this ain’t happening, this is sad, capitalizing on their name and what they’d done.

. . . and then . . . . . . . :-0

they were playing Dylan’s “Infidels” as the warm-up music!!!! The whole album, Union Sundown, Licence to Kill, Man of Peace ….

and Bill Walton was hanging right near us all night. 🙂

and it was so funny cuz … like going home to your birthplace, the Garden looked so much smaller than I remembered it.

They open with Help –> Slip –> Shakedown !!!

Three grate songs, but I was thinking, this is not the shit (to use Keith Richards-speak) and I’m like, “I drove to New York for this??”

then a Jack Straw with the keys rippin’ some Hornsby fills. El Paso. Wharf Rat.  And it was in here that they started to get their groove on.

then into Terrapin. Except after the Lady in the Fan part they always do . . . they actually played the entire suite of Terrapin, which i don’t think the GD ever performed live (I’ve never heard it before). The downloads will bear it out.

For me, it’s still very mixed after the first set, and i really have no expectations for grateness ahead.

They opened the 2nd with The Mountain Song — “Gonna make the mountain be my home….” the David Crosby riff from the If Only I Could Remember My Name sessions, that Phil’s son … Brian ahem developed into a full song. Seriously.

so, they open with Phil singing this, builds to a grate jam … then ba’doom-ba’doom, ba’doom-ba’doom … launches into Dark Star!  Sick, crazy, insane. then he does a little Other One just so you know it’s coming, then full-on jazz Dark Star for hours. it’s Mingus or Charlie Hunter-like in the way that the bass is the central driving instrument. I’m in heaven. this is EXACTLY the kind of music I love . . . jazz-rock … heavy accent on both, please. And this is just SO Phil’s band.

And then he drops a phucking building-shaker long Bomb into the Other One! just stupid-great. Galloping Neal. –> St. Stephen in the Garden, the thunderous Phil & Friends version, –> a fantastically jazzy The Eleven n s’more crazy Coltrane-rock –> a long tripping blues-rock Death Don’t Have No Mercy . . .

it was like that Classic Albums Live thing, except it was “Live Dead” — the live album that started live albums.

Oh, after Death . . . figured it out already? uh-huh, wrapped it with the Franklin’s to complete the show-opening medley.

So, it was basically a Help –> Slip –> Terrapin –> Live Dead –> Frank 🙂

I’ll remember that sweeping suite of a second set forever . . . snapping cracking jazz, followed by thunderous rock.

Dark Star –> the Other One –> St. Stephen –> The Eleven . . . that’s crazy-talk.

I remember thinking during this, “This is EXACTLY the kind of music I like!”  A whole new band — I only heard a couple of these players before — and it was the jazz-rock I hear in my head and long to hear played live.

When the second set climaxed there was as loud an ovation as I ever remember hearing at the Garden. Shades of Beatlemania in that when Phil came out after to do the donar rap, you couldn’t hear him … it was just deafening … again, the tapes should bear this out. It was like the described ovation when Lennon came out to join Elton in this same room.

and THEN after the encore was over, Phil just stayed on the stage behind his amp all the way until the house lights came up … but before they did, i could see him turning around slowly in a circle looking into the bleachers and soaking in the thunder that was coming back at him after the lightning he’d just hit us with.

and get this — before the show, you can pay $25 at the front, and they give you a wrist band, then after the show, they give you the disks of the show . . . so you walk out of the venue with a 2-disk direct recording on CD of the show you just heard. hello!

I’m just sayin’.


“Got to get back to where you belong.”

Well … that was a trip back in Time! And I don’t just mean the Dead playing Viola Lee Blues! 🙂 After a chaotic crazy Saturday night in the Garden that was still more anything-goes than most any other concert experience these daze, Sunday night there were essentially no ushers or security.

It was the same Madison madhouse that I first experienced going to Yes in 1980 on my second night in town and easily weaving right up to the stage — and followed by about 40 Dead shows — back in the day when we could bring in blenders and make our own mixed drinks at the seats!

For one night “the world’s most famous arena” was our house again. And we let our hair down.

In honor of my Road Trip . . . the boys played a show about a road trip . . . of course . . . about finding your own path and following it with brio — opening with Truckin‘ down from Buffalo, into going down to the Cumberland mines, into George Harrison’s “Any Road” will take you there —> Viola‘s “mailing a letter in the air” —> you are the Eyes of the World —> New York to San Francisco, So Many Roads I know —> goin’ down The Road feelin’ bad.

The second set was 90 minutes of jazz ensemble playing on a theme of Time and friends . . . “every time that Wheel turn round, you’re bound to cover just a little more ground,” and Pink Floyd’s powerful “every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the Time,” and Bob’s advice that applies to just about everything — Let It Grow, and Phil’s reminder of the continuum of friendship in an Unbroken Chain, and the beautiful summation from the Palace of “mama mama many worlds I’ve come since I first left home.” Which is both true and the last song the Dead ever played in New York, closing their final-ever Jerry show with this encore in ’95.

The dancing bears were back in the enchanted Garden once again.


= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

For more Adventures in Music — you may want to check out the (Route) 66 Best live performances ever captured on film.

Or take the New Orleans Jazz Fest ride.

Or there’s the night Dylan showed up at Springsteen’s show at Shea Stadium in New York.

Or how The Grateful Dead came to play my 30th birthday.

Or how Jerry showed up on a birthday 20 years later.

Or when Neil Young returned to Massey Hall in Toronto.

Or Paul Simon doing Graceland in Hyde Park in London.

Or when the Dead, Janis, The Band and others took the Festival Express train trip across Canada.

Or the night I was hanging with Dr. John’s band in Toronto.

Or here’s the day I finally “got” Bob Dylan

Or the night we all lost John Lennon


by Brian Hassett

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Allan Robinson // Nov 22, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    Just saw them in Worcester and they were ON.
    A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall was a surprise!! Althea, Brown-eyed Women, Mountains of The Moon … and they ended with a Scarlet-Fire. 😀
    Glad you caught the MSG shows. And glad you ordered the discs. Sure wish we coulda done that back in the day.

  • 2 Terry Derkach // Nov 22, 2010 at 10:00 PM

    Great show! Makes me wish I saw The Dead. Thanks for making it happen, Bruno!

  • 3 Jules Moore // Nov 23, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    So THAT’s what the fuss is all about!!! Good thing Joey warned me! 😉
    What a hoot to share it with you and Walter and 20,000 of my new best friends.
    And nice to catch the George Harrison song.
    Thanks for making New York feel like home.

  • 4 Ralph Stevens // Nov 23, 2010 at 10:54 PM

    Thanks “On The Road” Man. You’re totally right about them capturing the spirit of Jack. It was like a Sal & Dean convention in there.

  • 5 Albert Kaufman // Nov 27, 2010 at 9:27 PM

    Thanks for the report!!
    How many shows did we see together at the Garden?!?! It’s heartening to hear it’s still happening …. and happening so well. Come out to Oregon and wheel do an outdoor show on me. 😉

  • 6 Tom Robinson // Sep 1, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    Grate tale of a Grate night. I was there and they were rockin shows.

  • 7 Dale Topham // Mar 31, 2015 at 10:25 PM

    You got the action, you got the motion, oh yeah the boy can play! Brian, your words about the music make it feel real like I was there listening / watching.
    Thanks for those MSG shows! On to Chicago!

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