Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour 50th Anniversary: May 24 – London, England

Revisit the historic tour's 20th performance, recorded at the Lyceum Theatre.

By Andy Kahn May 24, 2022 10:54 am PDT

In April 1972, the Grateful Dead embarked on their now-legendary Europe ’72 Tour. The band performed 22 times between April 7 and May 26, resulting in the landmark triple live LP, Europe ’72 that was released in October of that year. To celebrate the legacy of the band’s historic tour abroad, JamBase presents a retrospective look back at each of the Europe 1972 Grateful Dead performances.


Waking up on Wednesday, May 24, 1972, the Grateful Dead had three shows left of their four-night stand at the Lyceum Theatre in London, after opening the run the night before. The Lyceum shows, which included The New Riders Of The Purple Sage opening, were also the final performances of the band’s Europe ‘72 Tour.

According to a recent Dead.net email update:

“During the afternoon of the 24th, there was a party in Sutton-on-Hone, outside London, featuring a Grateful Dead softball game and an acoustic jam in a local chapel.”

The location, about an hour drive from the Lyceum, was not exactly your typical “local chapel.” Also known as St John’s Jerusalem, the site is part of the National Trust, which describes the property as a “tranquil garden and 13th-century chapel.” Additionally, the National Trust’s entry details the long history of the location:

Set in the Darenth Valley, the rare surviving chapel is the only remaining structure of the Preceptory of the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St John of Jerusalem formed in 1113.

The chapel is adjacent to a now privately occupied and much-altered house, dating from the 16th century. The preceptory is thought to have gone out of use by 1338, after which time it was used as a residence.

Among its later occupants were Abraham Hill, a founder of the Royal Society, and the historian Edward Hasted. The chapel and tranquil gardens are surrounded by a moat, one arm of which is the River Darenth.

Residing at the private residence at the time was Tom Salter, who by some accounts would play a notorious role in the band’s tour of Europe two years later.

Photo evidence also survives, albeit blurry, of the acoustic jam in the chapel featuring Grateful Dead guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir and members of the NRPS. One of the NRPS members that participated in the chapel jam was John “Marmaduke” Dawson. In his notes for his biography, Jerry Garcia: An American Life, author Blair Jackson talked to Dawson about the experience.

“Garcia, Weir and I took our guitars and jammed in this amazing 10th-century chapel,” Dawson said. “It was really, really great-sounding. It was kind of eerie, especially thinking about all the people who’d been through there over the centuries the Crusaders, and then us!”

After softball and jamming in an extremely old chapel built by a medieval order of knights, the Dead assembled back at the Lyceum for night two.

Taking the stage after an NRPS set, the Dead started the show with the tour’s second of two appearances of “Cold Rain & Snow,” which had also opened the band’s April 17 performance. Weir then asked for “half a dozen” hits from drummer Bill Kreutzmann to count off “Beat It On Down The Line.” Following “Mr. Charlie,” which was one of five songs led that night be keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Weir dedicated the show to Rev. Gary Davis.

Davis, an influential blues guitarist, had died on May 5, 1972, at the age of 76. Weir and the Dead covered Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” from their earliest days and later added his arrangement of “Samson & Delilah” to their live repertoire, recording a version for their 1977 studio album, Terrapin Station.

In an interview with Alan Paul for his book, Reckoning: Conversations With the Grateful Dead, Weir discussed Davis’ impact on his musician development, recalling:

Jorma [Kaukonen, Jefferson Airplane guitarist] was a big fan of his and he helped me look him up in Queens. I made my way out there whenever I was in New York. I only got three or four sessions with him before he passed from this mortal coil. He was my main guitar influence, really, and if you listen to his stuff you’ll see that he took it all from piano, too — all of his parts are stride piano playing adapted to guitar. It’s amazing stuff. He had a Bachian sense of music, which transcended any common notion of a bluesman.

Fan shouted requests for Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” had been addressed from stage by bassist Phil Lesh earlier in the tour. Lesh led a brief “White Rabbit” tease in the first set after Weir’s “Black Throated Wind.“ Mixing up his usual introduction – perhaps in response to the night prior being called out for repeating himself – Weir noted vocalist Donna Godchaux’s pending accompaniment prior to “Playing In The Band,” telling those at the Lyceum, “You’ll notice Donna walking on stage.”

One of the previously mentioned songs fronted by Pigpen that evening was “Hurts Me Too.” This performance was selected for the original Europe ‘72 live album. It was also the final time the Grateful Dead played the song, with Pigpen playing only one more concert with the band upon their stateside return. The Elmore James song had been covered by the band dating back to 1966.

The first set Garcia-led cover of Hank Williams’ “You Win Again” was also chosen for the Europe ‘72 live LP. It was the fifth and final time it was played during the Europe ‘72 Tour. The common first set selection of “Casey Jones” closed the first set for the penultimate time on the run.

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“Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” which was covered for the first time the night before, opened the second set for the first and only time. The Dead would play the song popularized by Huey “Piano” Smith in 1957 just two additional times in 1972 before dropping it from their repertoire (see the May 23 entry for additional performances by members of the Dead).

Weir delivered another dedication ahead of “Mexicali Blues.”

“This next one’s dedicated to all you sots back there at the bar,” Bobby said. “I want you to think it over.”

The mournful “Black Peter” was played for the first time that year. The final tour debut marked the 55th different song played on the Europe ‘72 run. After the tour’s only “Black Peter,” the band tuned up for “Truckin’” with a bit of “Mexican Hat Dance.” The subsequent “Truckin’” delved into several minutes of inspired improvisation. A Kreutzmann solo provided the pathway to Lesh dropping into the roaring opening of “The Other One.”

Clocking in just shy of 30 minutes, the Lyceum “The Other One” opened up – apparently like the building’s retractable roof – into the night’s most explosive and exploratory jamming. Keyboardist Keith Godchaux came through particularly strong as the musicians regrouped from free-form improvisation into a heavily jazz-based motif.

Garcia handed in a tender “Sing Me Back Home,” with Donna joining, followed by Bobby (ignoring several shouted requests from the audience) firing up “Sugar Magnolia.” The rest of the set was then placed in Pigpen’s leadership.

“Turn On Your Lovelight,” perhaps the quintessential Pigpen song, was performed for the third and final time in Europe. First played by the Dead in 1967, it was also the final time the band performed it with Pigpen. A vehicle for intense jams and equally invigorating and improvised raps, “Turn On Your Lovelight” made around 200 setlists with Pigpen at the helm. The song was shelved after Europe ‘72 but reignited after 587 shows when the Dead played it on October 16, 1981. Weir sang lead that night, just has he would an additional +170 times.

The tour’s lone instance of Pigpen leading “The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)” to close a second set brought an emotional end to the set. Weir had one additional dedication left before the encore, letting everyone know the subsequent “One More Saturday Night” was dedicated to the “key of C.”

Here are additional statistics and information regarding the 20th performance of the Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72 tour:

At-a-Glance

The Show

May 24, 1972

7 p.m.

£2

2,100

The Music

15 songs / 82 minutes

10 songs / 106 minutes

25 Songs / 188 minutes
16 originals / 9 covers / 1 tour debuts

The Other One 29:45

Chinatown Shuffle 2:47

12:15

10 Jerry / 10 Bobby / 5 Pigpen

6

55


Setlist (via JerryBase)

Set One: Cold Rain And Snow [1], Beat It On Down The Line, Mr. Charlie, Deal, Me And My Uncle, Hurts Me Too [2][3][4], Dire Wolf, Black Throated Wind, Chinatown Shuffle [1], China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Playing In The Band [5], You Win Again [3][4], Jack Straw [1], Casey Jones

Set Two: Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu [1], Mexicali Blues [1], Black Peter [1], Truckin’ [6] > Drums > The Other One > Sing Me Back Home, Sugar Magnolia > Turn On Your Lovelight [7][8] > Two Souls In Communion [7]

Encore: One More Saturday Night [4]

Notes:

  • [1] released on Steppin’ Out with the Grateful Dead: England ’72
  • [2] Final performance (by GD)
  • [3] released on Europe ’72
  • [4] released on The Golden Road (1965 – 1973)
  • [5] released on Europe ’72 Volume 2
  • [6] Includes Mexican Hat Dance tuning before
  • [7] released on Rockin’ the Rhein with the Grateful Dead
  • [8] Final Pigpen Turn On You Love Light

Below, stream the official recording of the Grateful Dead’s May 24, 1972 concert at the Lyceum Theatre in London, England, or check out other recordings via Archive.org:

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