Fillmore East, 2/11/69
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 1999, Volume 6, #5
Written by John Metzger
On February 11, 1969, the Grateful Dead opened for Janis Joplin's East Coast debut as a solo artist. What a show, indeed! The Fillmore regularly held two shows a night, and while Joplin's sets are not commercially available, the Dead's two fiery, 60-minute sets were recently released on a stunning new collection from Grateful Dead Merchandising. As is customary for the Grateful Dead's various Vault and Dick's Picks releases, the sound quality is superb.
We all know what the Grateful Dead were able to do over the course of a full three-hour, two-set performance. The beauty in the Fillmore East release lies in the monumental journeys they embark upon in each of their two mini-sets.
Right from the start the band channeled their nervous energy straight into a scorching rendition of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl that miraculously only managed to hint at the fireworks still to come. A complete That's It for the Other One dripped with acid-laced intensity, which no doubt fanned the smoldering embers of the audiences' collective psyche. During Turn on Your Lovelight, guitarist Jerry Garcia circumnavigated the globe with a stinging lead that floated effortlessly above the thundering bass of Phil Lesh and the driving, percussive rhythms of Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart.
By the time the band began their opening set for the late show, they had somewhat calmed their nerves. Mountains of the Moon is perhaps the best version of this song that the Grateful Dead ever performed. Organist Tom Constanten created a regal ambience with keyboard chords that wafted over the gentle rhythm guitar of Bob Weir. Garcia delivered the lyrics with sweet and tender vocals that drifted over his easy-going acoustic guitar accompaniment. By the song's conclusion, Garcia had traded his acoustic guitar an electric and proceeded to lead the band into a swirling and beautiful rendition of Dark Star.
It's exactly these magical moments that make the Grateful Dead so special. This two-disc set serves as a serious wake-up call and reminder that there's no better earth-shattering, concert-going experience than a high-quality show from the Grateful Dead. ½
Of Further Interest...
Fillmore East, 2/11/69 is available from iTunes.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box