One Touch Of Grey > Wang Dang Doodle ; Peggy-O ; Queen Jane Approximately ; Broken Arrow ; Loose Lucy ; Easy Answers > Don't Ease Me In
Two China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider ; Estimated Prophet > Wave To The Wind > He's Gone > Drums (1) > Space (2) > The Other One (3) > Wharf Rat (3) > Turn On Your Lovelight (3)
Comments (1) with Airto Moreira on percussion. (2) with Airto Moreira on percussion, Flora Purim on vocals, and Ornette Coleman. (3) with Ornette Coleman.
Touch gets the show going in the sense that music finally comes from the stage, albeit with dropped lyrics, mumbled vocals and the band gradually getting in tune. Wang Dang Doodle is better, Jerry wakes up for the first solo, but it has an awkward Vince solo as well. The set continues uneventfully until Loose Lucy injects some energy that is quickly dissipated with Easy Answers. Dough Knees lets the band get the hell out of the short fifty minute set on an up note.
China/Rider is a nice, high energy version, finally the band finally shows up to play to start the second set. A good Estimated builds on this energy and leads into the final Wave to the Wind. This has a fantastic introduction, but even in the simplified arrangement, this song wasn't suited for the band in the 90's. An uninspired He's Gone follows with no jam to speak of. With Drums, and the addition of Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, the show begins to take off. Drums is more atmospheric than usual and sounds almost like a 50's/60's electronic composition, ending with synthesizer washes rather than a beam section. This leads to the meat of the Show.
Space! - Ornette!!
Ornette Coleman was apparantly inspired to record Virgin Beauty (with Garcia appearing on 3 numbers) because of a Dead show he attended with Cecil Taylor at MSG. His reaction to Deadheads was "They could have done anything up there and those people would have screamed,...I thought 'Well, we could be friends here.' Because if these people here could be into this, they could dig what we're doing." (Litweiler, Ornette Coleman A Harmolidic Life
, p 194). Jerry Garcia said of Ornette: "When I hear his playing, I hear something that I always wish would be in mine-a kind of joy and beauty. And it always sounds right." (McNally, A Long Strange Trip
, p 568)
Interaction between Garcia and Ornette is evident from the beginning of Space, this is not at all a noodle fest, with Ornette picking his spots impeccably and the band leaving room. The Other One emerges seamlessly from space, and the energy that had been lacking throughout the night is evident. Healy nicely alters Bob's singing, and the only drawback is the quick end after the second verse. Wharf Rat is a strange choice with a guest, but it has a nice tempo, and Ornette has no trouble blending in, adding to the song unobtrusively, yet is still unmistakably himself. One of the finer late era Lovelights, much higher energy than normal, follows. Ornette plays some riffs that remind us of his Texas R&B roots, which is actually more incongruous and interesting. The Liberty encore is a return to earth, but is a pleasant end to the show.
The Ornette portion of the show easily outshines the rest, saving what was shaping up to be mundane and uneven. The only complaint would be that Ornette was too subtle for an arena rock show, this show is probably better on tape than it was at the time. It is also interesting that the three jazz saxophonist guests were distinctly different in the 90's. Branford Marsalis had a style that blended almost seamlessly with the band. David Murray would drive the band through sheer force. Ornette Coleman, here, pushes the band by picking and choosing the right spots (and presumably by his mere prescence).
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