On Friday, September 2, 1983, the Grateful Dead played a show at the Boise State University Pavilion in Idaho.
The BSU Pavilion opened in 1982 as a multi-purpose venue for college sports, community events, and concerts. A year later, it hosted the Dead’s only visit to the Gem State.
In keeping with that nickname, the Dead of the Day blog called 9/2/83 “an overlooked gem.” ECM concurs. He dubbed this “one of the better shows of 1983,” and used the New Minglewood Blues > Big Railroad Blues in his 2016 31 Days of Dead project.
Bassist Phil Lesh opens the show by announcing, “Citizens of Boise, SUBMIT for you are a Conquered People.” The music backs him up. According to Ed, “the pace is frantic, and the playing is reckless. Like most shows from this era, Jerry Garcia’s voice is pretty rough, but his solos burn. His energy is contagious, and the band follows his lead. I asked Ed to break down the show. Here’s the play-by-play.
Phil’s Intro – Fantastic! Very rare for Phil to speak, especially during this period.Wang Dang Doodle* – Second version ever (first version was on 8/26/83), and a very good performance. At 6+ minutes, it is pretty jammed out.Jack Straw* – A little on the speedy side, which threatens to derail it at any moment, but Jerry’s solo after the “keep us on the run” verse is high intensity stuff.They Love Each Other – The band’s attempt to slow things down. Brent and Jerry shine on their solos. Check out Jerry’s solo before the last verse is burning.Mama Tried > Big River – Speedy and high energy. Smokin!Brown Eyed Women – Another song taken at high speed and energy. Jerry’s solo just keeps going. Every time you think he is wrapping it up, he takes it around another time.
Minglewood Blues* > The pace is frantic. The playing is reckless. Bobby’s slide solo is loud, confident, and nasty. It may just be his finest moment on slide ever. The energy sends a jolt of of electricity into Jerry, who proceeds to lay waste to everything in sight, when the solo is passed to him.
Big Railroad Blues* -Do the boys rest? Hell no! Pausing only to reload, there is much more conquering to be done. Jerry begins picking the notes to BRB, and they are off once again. This hyper-speedy version is ridiculous. Jerry’s playing is relentless. He can’t stop. It’s one amazing guitar run after another. Just when you think he is finished, he just keeps going. It will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. The song gets stretched out about as far it can conceivably go.
Looks Like Rain – Average.
Deal* – Just like Jack Straw, this has a nervous, frenetic energy that could derail it into disaster at any moment. And once again, Jerry’s solo is burning. At 9+ minutes, this is a long version.
Help On The Way > Slipknot!* > Jerry struggles with the words a bit in Help, and there is some sloppiness with the composed portion of Slipknot, but by the time the band gets to the jam we finally have lift-off. The speedy, distorted, and intricate jam is nothing less than mesmerizing. Jerry is at his shreddy best.
Franklin’s Tower – The palate cleanser for what preceded it. Anthem-like with sublime leads by Jerry.
Estimated Prophet > The energy from Help/Slip/Frank carries over into Estimated. The California jam is huge, and the outro jam is fluid and bouncy.
Eyes Of The World* > Very nice guitar runs by Jerry.
Jam > Mostly Brent, Bobby, and the drummers. Pretty cool, actually. Whether or not you like Brent’s sound, everybody can agree that the guy had incredible chops, which this jam showcases nicely.
Throwing Stones > The jam leading into Throwing Stones is interesting. The song was still in its infancy and developing, but this is a solid version. The melodic jam following the “on our own” verse had not evolved yet. Instead, the band was experimenting with a distorted jam that resembled the jam in Cassidy. This one is pretty powerful.
Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad > The vibe here picks up where Big Railroad Blues left off. A speedy, driving version with great guitar runs that just keep going.
Black Peter > Doesn’t work as well. Ballads are better when they are not rushed, and when Jerry’s voice is cleaner and more emotive. The outro jam is less than two minutes and ends before it has time to develop.
Sugar Magnolia – Hard driving version, if not a little sloppy, with a long jam that seems to build. Then there is a missed cue and things fall apart into Sunshine Daydream.
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue** – Stunning version.
As you may have guessed from the header image, this show is no longer an overlooked
gem. It’s a full-on official release – Dave’s Picks #27. You can’t get it on Spotify (yet), but you can transport to the Hunter Seamons/Rob Bertrando matrix recording on the Live Music Archive HERE
, and a soundboard recording on the LMA HERE