Grateful Dead Spotlight:: 8 October 1989 Hampton Night 1

This is part 2 of what could be an endless series on The Grateful Dead and its legion of historic moments. I am in no way the foremost expert on this stuff, but I am a huge fan and am pretty familiar with both the story and their music.

On October 8th and 9th of 1989 Formerly The Warlocks aka The Grateful Dead made their faithful return to the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia. They were billed as the Warlocks as a way around their prior ban from the venue as a result of the parking lot circus that followed them from town to town. Hampton Coliseum was called “the spaceship” by the Dead, because of its’ odd looking design, and as a result it was one of their favorite places to play. On a special Sunday and Monday night in the fall of 1989, fans were treated to a couple of epic shows with the band full of spirit and surprises. Yes sir, these shows go down in Dead history as by far two of the best of the modern era. Many would liken them to the magical feel of shows from the early eighties and even before. Magic was in the air Grateful Dead style. Today we will be focusing on October 8th, night one of two amazing shows. The boys were on fire. Garcia kicks it off with a nice Foolish Heart and his voice sounds great. The Queen Jane Approximately is just stellar, and the Bird Song is just badass, but then they really get everyone going by breaking into the hometown crowd’s anthem -“Promised Land” I left my home in Norfolk Virginia, California on my mind.Straddled that Greyhound, it rode me past Raleigh, and on across Caroline……Los Angeles give me Norfolk Virginia, Tidewater four ten on nine.

Actually, the first set was only really good. The greatness that would characterize the next two nights commences in the second set. As soon as Help>Slipknot>Franklin’s starts everything is in full gear and the journey begins. Brent’s keyboards are really tight and spacey sounding, which adds even more to the night’s atmosphere. The Slipknot is intense and spectacular, sounding one part Arabian, two parts tribal, and two parts futuristic. It is by far one of the longest Slipknots they ever played and many believe it is one of the best. Of course, by the time we transition to Franklin’s Tower everyone is super high and this assembly of the world’s worst dancers is on full display with glee and smiles abounding. Then the dust settles with Jerry and his midi setup and Brent and his keyboards combining to give Victim or the Crime one its most bizarre and interesting treatments. Bobby must have been inspired too because his Bobby vocals are in perfect dramatic form giving one of the best performance ever of this usually average Dead tune. Everything seems to be perfectly paced as they keep the fun groove going with the intro chords to Eyes of the World. The magic of the night is not over as the boys break out into The Wheel>Gimme Some Lovin’ into an absolutely magnificent Morning Dew. The night ends with We Bid You Goodnight, and the promise that Monday nights show is going to be the stuff of legend.

Here is Joby talking about her experience at these shows:
The boys came out for set two and we were blown away early. Playin was funky and amazing, the Uncle John’s perfect with sweet harmonies slipping quickly into psychedelic scary jamming back into the Playin reprise. When those opening notes of Dark Star thundered out, I started jumping up and down like a pogo stick. I literally jumped out of my shoes. My buddy Mike had his hands on my shoulders behind me, and if he hadn’t held me down I probably would have shot right out the roof of the arena like a rocket ship. Drums and Space were perfectly appropriate, and the Death Don’t brought down the explosive energy in a haunting and profound manner. Fantasy->Jude, Throwin Stones, Good Lovin’ brought us back to the standard set closers of this era with nice energy and a crowd pleasing finish. The encore was as beautiful an experience as I think I’ve ever had. I can’t find the words to express what a moment it was for me. It’s such a gorgeous, meaningful song, Hunter/Garcia at their poetic, melodic best. And the boys nailed it tonight. Overall, a fantastic night that belongs in any dead heads collection. In fact the only thing that puts a damper on Sunday the 8th, is Monday the 9th transcendent show. In the next episode the breakout of the ultimate Dead spiritual – DARK STAR.

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Here is Bird Song from the first set, and the Help>Slip>Franklin’s from the second set (courtesy of archive.org). I recommend you go and listen to the whole show. Oh yeah, if you’re complaining about it taking a couple of minutes to download, let me remind you that this isn’t The Archies or some other two and a half minute song kind of band. These songs are for manly men.
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