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Dead of the Day: April 26, 1972

Jahrhunderthalle
Frankfurt, Germany
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There are a lot of outstanding shows on April 26, but we head back to the Europe ’72 tour for our Dead of the Day. The show gets off to a fine start with a ripping Bertha, but really starts coming into its own with the stellar early – just the third played – He’s Gone. The China> Rider is also stupendous. Jerry’s guitar work on China Cat is so bright and lively, and Phil strings out some cascading bombs. The Rider follows with stunning runs that suddenly take flight and soar. Other first set highlights include the Black Throated Wind, Jack Straw, and Dire Wolf, though the music is really wonderful throughout. The second half bests the first, beginning with a hot Truckin’ that races off, crashing and rambling in the latter parts into Drums, which itself leads into a show-stopping, unreal Other One (note that the track listing in the recording here is wrong, starting with the missing Drums and throwing everything afterwards off). In that tune, the jam before the first verse is, dare we say, absolutely perfect. Every lick, every drumbeat seems to have been engineered for years in advance, which is, in a way, exactly what happened, the previous eight years of the Dead all leading to that moment. And, truth be told, the perfection continues over the entire thirty-six minutes – 36 minutes! – of the song, though the tune does head off into very spacey territory, far removed from the pure jam of the earlier portion. Undoubtedly, the Other One provides the centerpiece of the entire show, but the rest of the set is so solid, especially a bluesy, emotional Two Souls in Communion and a ripping Lovelight.

The Dead only performed Two Souls in Communion during the European tour and the Academy of Music run that led up to it. Pig wrote the words and music to the song and, obviously, sang lead. The lyrics are incredibly heartbreaking as they plead, lament, and wonder about not just the narrator’s lack of a true love, but also the very absence of, it seems, his ability to even fathom any part of such a connection. But, the narrator does understand just enough about true love to realize that he is missing out on something extraordinary. The song is definitely in the blues tradition, and, at least for me, seems right in line with the best of Johnny Cash’s oeuvre. You can check out the lyrics here, and read David Dodd’s take on the song here.

Most of this show was released on the two-disc Hundred Year Hall.

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