Grateful Dead

Madison Square Garden

New York, NY

September 15, 1990 - Set 2

First Appeared in The Music Box, March/April 1996, Volume 3, #2

Written by John Metzger


New York City is always a great place to see a show, and what's better than Madison Square Garden right smack in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan? The City just absorbs the parking lot scene, so much so that it's hard to tell the Dead are even in town. But enter any of the great Irish and sports bars located around the Garden and you'll quickly find company.


At the time of this show, the Grateful Dead were returning after Brent's death and were preparing to embark on a European adventure. The warm-up was a brief fall tour of Cleveland, Philadelphia, and New York City. The second of these ended up being the official inauguration of Bruce Hornsby as well as Vince Welnick's seventh show.

The second set was classic and proved that the band was back with a vengeance. The Weight made its first post-Brent Mydland appearance to open set two. The crowd roared as Jerry Garcia struck those familiar opening notes. Hornsby took verse two, delighting the crowd. A space-filled Playin' in the Band ensued as Garcia and Phil Lesh played simultaneous lead. Garcia refused to let things totally disintegrate, and instead, he lead the group into a delicate Crazy Fingers. Uncle John's Band completed the trilogy in fine form. This is a classic pairing of the oft-played trio and is sure to put a smile on anyone's face. Garcia's guitar paints a bright sunny summer day, even if it was mid-September! The jam quickly breaks apart as Mickey Hart and Billy Kreutzmann take over with their tribal dance.

Space erupts in a frightening frenzy of discordant notes as each band member goes off in a different direction. Finally, the splattering of chords begin to fall back in place to form the only post-Brent version of Gimme Some Lovin'. All Along the Watchtower needs a couple of introductions to get rolling, but once it does look out. This is one of the best versions of Watchtower that the Dead have ever pulled off. Garcia is on fire. As the song drifts off, Bobby Weir plays some trippy fills over Hornsby's lofty harp-like chords and Stella Blue appears. This is yet another touching version. Garcia's guitar solo at the close of the song is so full of emotion. The sing-along returns with Throwing Stones. The jam in the middle of this one has Lesh in excellent form, hitting some very sweet harmonic bass as an undertone to Garcia's solo. Not Fade Away closes off this set with Garcia, Hornsby, and Welnick playing off each other's riffs, while once again, Lesh provides a chunky bass.


Set List

Side 1: The Weight, Playin' in the Band, Crazy Fingers,
Uncle John's Band, Drums, Space...

Side 2: Space, Gimme Some Lovin', All Along the Watchtower,
Stella Blue, Throwing Stones, Not Fade Away


Copyright 1996 The Music Box