The first Grateful Dead concert of 1973 was held on February 9th at Stanford University’s Roscoe Maples Pavilion, marking their first performance in Palo Alto, California since 1966. The home state show was filled with a number of first-time played originals as the band presented the audience with a total of seven new songs written by guitarist Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter.
Opening night also marked the first time the band played in front of the initial soundsystem that would be revamped in 1974 by sound engineer Owsley “Bear” Stanley to become the infamous Wall Of Sound. Guitarist Bob Weir led the group through a first set opening take on Chuck Berry’s “The Promised Land.” Garcia then led Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, drummer Bill Kreutzmann, keyboardist Keith Godchaux and vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux through the debut of “Row Jimmy.” Set one that evening also saw Bobby fronting the group on “Black Throated Wind,” “Looks Like Rain” and “Mexicali Blues,” which he wrote with John Perry Barlow, who passed away this week at the age of 70. The first set also saw the first performances of the Garcia/Hunter originals “Loose Lucy” and “Here Comes Sunshine,” and an extensively jammed “Playing In The Band” closer.
Political activist Wavy Gravy addressed the audience prior to the start of set two, which began with a tight “China Cat Sunflower” into “I Know You Rider.” Following “Jack Straw,” the Dead offered their debut rendition of “They Love Each Other.” The tender new tune was trailed by a take on “Truckin.’” The biographical road anthem eventually segued into “Eyes Of The World,” and 18-minutes later the first performance of the now-classic song transitioned into the Dead’s first live presentation of the gentle ballad “China Doll.”
A Weir-led cover of Johnny Cash’s “Big River,” Garcia’s “Ramble On Rose” and Lesh leading “Box Of Rain” filled out the second half of the second set. One more debut, “Wave That Flag,” was in store for those at Roscoe Maples Pavilion. The patriotic rocker was played a total of 15 times before being slightly reworked as “U.S. Blues.” A romp through “Sugar Magnolia” followed by “Uncle John’s Band” kept the set going. Just as set one began, set two ended with Weir leading the band through a Chuck Berry cover, this time in the form of “Around & Around.” Garcia and the band then came back for loping “Casey Jones” encore. Stream the full show below:
Stream the full show below: