Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Matera 9/27/72 Opus

Once again, here's a re-post of my memories of one of
my very favorite Dead shows, and in effect, a review of Dick's Picks 11.

Phil Matera

Thirty-four years ago today 9/27/72 was The Stanley Theatre show in Jersey City, New Jersey.
What can I say about a show that has Playin’ in the Band, Bird Song,China Cat/Rider and a Morning Dew? Well for one thing, if you knowthat those were only the *first* set songs, then I bet you might be able to understand how, to this day, I still laugh out loud when I
think of that show. To think that the show *opened* with Morning Dew...well are you getting chills? I know I do!

These days I can relive that amazement. Thanks to Mr. Latvala (bless you, buddy!), I have Dick's Picks 11 (my favorite number - how *do*they know!) Stanley Theatre September 27, 1972. I still think that there is something to that 2772 *reflection*.

But first, the story. (and for those of you who just want the facts: check out the 9/27/72 set list below) I often thought back to The Stanley Theatre and remembered it as just
about the most amazing Dead show I had ever caught and how lucky I was to get to go.

I was short on cash, but my friend Gail talked me into taking her to Jersey City, so that she could hitch to Delaware from there to meet up with a Dead Head boyfriend, Ed, that she had met a few months before. I took her to Jersey City and she gave me some money for tickets in
return. I got money from some friends so that I could get them tickets while I was there. I got the tickets and on the night of the show we found that they were located in the next to last row - *but* we were in!

The year before, I saw the Dead three times. After my first show I grabbed a bunch of friends, (now known as Dead Heads) for theGaelic Park show in the Bronx. On March 28, ’72 we tried our damnedest to get into the Academy of Music. Gail ran into Phil, Pig and Weir on the streets of Manhattan, who were surrounded by a bunch of other Dead Heads. The entourage made its way through the outsidestage door. I can almost never forgive Gail for this), but she
said she was too stunned to go in and she thought I’d worry about her,if I couldn’t find her. I guess she was right. But damn! She could have gone in with Weir, Phil and Pig! Oh, well. Me and a bunch of other Dead Freaks caught the entire show from that same stage door. And it was *great*!

In July, we were off to Dillon Stadium for another wacked out show. That’s the one where the Allman Brothers showed up and *everyone* was on stage at one time wailing away. Most of this bunch of friends got together for The Stanley. There was
Dennis, Lori and Gail. I think it was Andrea’s first show. It was definitely Ira’s first show, too, and I was sitting next to him. That
was the start of his demise. I had this Sucrets box (a popular throat lozenge in the 60’s and 70’s). It was a metal box, with a snap lid. It was the *perfect* size for holding about a dozen doobs. And it did. Ira never indulged before, but tonight he was fated. I explained to Ira: "Man! If they do Dark Star or something, you *have* to be ready!". So we waited...but not for long. We were yapping and playing around. Gail and Lori were on my left. Ira to my right. Dennis and Andrea had balcony seats.

The stage was dark when all we heard was this resounding WHAM!
Then a long enough silence for me to laugh and say: "Is this a Grand Funk spoof?" and then it happened! The lights came on, there was the band: Phil, Bobby, Bill and with Keith on stage right. And there was Jerry,standing there, with guitar in hand, and smiling his wonderful smile at the rest of the band and then they did it: they eased into a chillingly beautiful Morning Dew. I remember looking at The Boys and at Phil in particular. ,The passion that emanated from the stage brought tears to my eyes. As I looked to Lori and Gail, I saw that I wasn’t alone. Gail looked to me and just cried. Now that I can listen to that Morning Dew again, I can understand why I was so captivated by Phil just then. His playing is *wonderful*. The music gently swirls and dances creating images within images, themes within themes, emotions within emotions. Once again, listening to the show, it brings tears to my eyes. Well, I couldn’t wait for Dark Star (that would come later!). I started giving out joints to everyone like a father giving out cigars to celebrate a new birth. I was aglow and I wanted everyone else to glow along with me. I handed doobies to Heads behind me, and of course, I made sure that poor Ira was well supplied. What a way to start a show! The stage was set, and The Boys were on fire! The playing was classic Grateful Dead, but in overdrive!

They were working their equipment like I never heard before or since. That beautiful swirling color of sound that usually comes into being in a Playin’ or Dark Star was present on the likes of Beat It On Down the Line! - the second song of the night. I guess I count myself as one of the lucky Dead Heads. At my first and sixth show (counting my own personal outdoor show at the Academy) I was treated to that classic up-tempo version of Friend of the Devil. Jerry sings Devil warmly. Bobby’s rhythms sound like they were picked right off of America Beauty, and he essentially has the "lead" on this one. Phil’s country bass lines clocks things right along. Keith has a lot of great work on these tracks, too, but once again, I think his best stuff is too low in the mix.

But on with the show. Tennesse Jed has that honky tonk feel. Bird Song lilts and swirls. Jerry plays a note and takes me away with it. The quick little numbers like Big River and Mexicali Blues are terrifac. We were treated to an El Paso, with Weir and Phil forming
a rhythmic nucleus, and Jerry, Billy and Keith swirling around that nucleus, El Paso sounded (and still sounds) like a musical atom. (or
maybe ya just had to be there) There was a sweet first set Brokedown Palace. China Cat/Rider were right there with most of the
other music of the evening. Easy, pretty and intertwining. Then the Dead pulled out the stops on a real jazzy Playing in the Band to
finish the set.

As I mentioned, gang, that was just the *first* set! The Second Set opened with a psychedelic blooming of music. To this
day, I can still imagine giant musical flowers. I was in love. That song, that I did not know the name for, I would finally hear on some bootleg somewhere. It’s then that I found out it was "He’s Gone". Deal and Ramble On Rose transported me to a speak easy on the other side of the galaxy, complete with slowly changing blue, red, and white spotlights shining down on Jerry as he sang. The Greatet Story Ever Told (I knew it from "Ace") was dissonant and freaky.

Then a short break.

The band stood on stage. There were green spot lights covering all of them. Cover is a good word for it, too. They all appeared to be
covered, in what I can only describe as a "Green Glowing Gloom". They stood there long enough for us to be fascinated by The Grateful Dead looking like green, flourescent ghosts. Then the first notes of Dark Star, and then "we all smoked and were happy". The Dark Star is pretty and jazzy itself but what follows it, was even more magical, imho. Quiety, in the far corner of stage right, Phil trickled in with the intro to Cumberland Blues, his bass line then zooooms to center stage, some jamming ensues and *whoosh* Cumberland is off and running. It’s a rhythmic masterpiece. I’m searching the music right now for this part where the band sounds like a tiny music box: a music box that plays Cumberland Blues. After Cumberland, another rare treat for the night: Attics of My Life!
(And apparently the last one played until 1989) Maybe the Dead wanted to make sure that us back rowers could hear, so
they decided to play a lot of jams and pretty tunes. When they played Promised Land, and later Around and Around as an encore, the clappingto the music was so *loud*, that I could barely make out the music.

For an unusual end, to an unusual Dead show, instead of Not Fade -> Going Down the Road that was so common around that time,
for the second to last song, the Dead played a real nice Uncle John’s Band, which true to the rest of the night, had a trippy
first jam (it sounded like the guitars were coming at us in *waves*) and (what later became common for UJB) a spacey end jam. The second set closed with, of all things, Casey Jones. The encore being that Around and Around that I couldn’t hear. (But it *looked* exciting!) I left The Stanley Theatre laughing and absolutely *convinced* that The Grateful Dead could not *possibly* be from this planet! I hope you guys enjoyed my synopsis of the show. The set list is below.

September 27, 1972
The Stanley Theatre, Jersey City, New Jersey
1st Set
Morning Dew! (winding, intertwining, tearful)
Beat It On Down the Line
Friend of the Devil!
Black Throated Wind! (this was super, too!)
Tennessee Jed
Mexicali Blues (hoppin’!)
Bird Song (gorgeous!)
Big River (a cooker)
Brokedown Palace (what more can I say :-)
El Paso (atomic!)
China Cat/Rider (dreamy, picturesque)
Playing in the Band (Jazzy!)
2nd Set
He’s Gone (It’s dem psychedelic flowers, Momma!)
Me and My Uncle (really clocking on tape)
Deal (sipping gin and tonics at a galactic speak-easy)
Greatest Story Ever Told (fun and funny)
Ramble On Rose (back at the night club with Mr. Jerry Garcia)
Dark Star (jazzy and pretty) ->
Cumberland Blues (a rhythmic masterpiece)
Attic of My Life (whoa!)
Promised Land
Uncle John’s Band (trippy, spacey, pretty)
Casey Jones (quite an understatement to end an incredible show,
but great none-the-less)
Around and Around (who could hear *anything* at that point???)