Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour 50th Anniversary: May 26 – London, England

Revisit the historic tour's 22nd and final performance, recorded at the Lyceum Theatre.

By Andy Kahn May 26, 2022 10:24 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.


The Grateful Dead completed their Europe ‘72 Tour on May 26 with a fourth and final show at London’s Lyceum Theatre. The band – guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboardists Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and Keith Godchaux, drummer Bill Kreutzmann and vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux – had been in Europe for 55 days, during which time they performed 55 different songs in six different countries while traveling (with an entourage of around 50 friends, family and crew members) some 5,572 miles.

The Friday, May 26, 1972, Lyceum Theatre concert was the Dead’s 22nd performance of the tour. Like the other Lyceum gigs, the New Riders Of The Purple Sage played an opening set.

The show was Pigpen’s second-to-last performance with the band he help co-found in 1965. Upon returning stateside, the Grateful Dead’s next concert, held on June 17, 1972, at the Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl, was Pigpen’s final appearance with the band. A terminal illness would lead to Pigpen’s death on March 8, 1973 at age 27, less than a year after the Europe ‘72 Tour.

Pigpen sang lead four times on May 26, with each being the final Grateful Dead performance of the song. First was his co-write with lyricist Robert Hunter, “Mr. Charlie,” which was played at all 22 Europe ‘72 engagements. Next was a cover of Junior Parker’s “Next Time You See Me,” which featured Pigpen playing harmonica. The first set also saw Pigpen lead the band through his poignant “The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion).” The final song Pigpen sang lead on with the Grateful Dead was another of his original compositions, “Chinatown Shuffle.”

Pigpen was jokingly referred to by Weir prior to the start of the first set.

“Hiya kids, hiya,” Weir said as the band took the Lyceum stage for the final time. “We’re just making sure that everything’s in an unequivocal state of readiness. Will be with you just as soon as Pigpen finishes polishing his organ.”

Weir then led another “The Promised Land” opener, which had opened the first and third nights at the Lyceum as well, and again saw the lyrics trip up Weir. What followed was the longest first set of the tour, finishing two hours later. Part of that was due to the mid-set “Playing In The Band,” which spanned 18 minutes and was the longest of the song’s 23 attempts during the tour.

“This here’s black beauty,” was all Weir said, seemingly referencing Donna’s emergence at the start of “Playing In The Band.” Truly breaking free from the song’s structure, the expansive jam took what had been building inside other “Playing” jams throughout the tour and expanded to new territory not previously explored. All five instruments on stage interacted and reacted to each other during the jam, articulating a familiarity and cohesiveness that had strengthened over the course of the past two months.

The setlist contained many first set selections that were standard for the tour, such as Garcia’s “Sugaree” and “Loser” and Weir’s “Black Throated Wind” and “Jack Straw,” as well as a “China Cat Sunflower” into “I Know You Rider” that spanned 12-minutes. Those appeared alongside lesser-played tunes like Garcia’s “Cumberland Blues” and “Dire Wolf,” each of which was performed four times on the tour. After “Dire Wolf,” Weir apologized for the tuning delays, blaming Keith’s out-of-tune piano.

Often saved for the end of the second set, the Grateful Dead switched it up on the final night of the Lyceum run and ended the first set with “Not Fade Away” into “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad” back into “Not Fade Away,” which was the lone such instance of the tour.

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When Europe ‘72 was released in October of that year, the May 26 Lyceum show was the most represented performance of the tour. All of the songs chosen for the record were performed in the second set, with “One More Saturday Night” ending the album’s first side, “Ramble On Rose” ending the second disc’s first side and “Truckin’” and “Morning Dew” taking up the entire third disc of the triple LP.

One of the seven “Truckin’” second set openers of the tour, at nearly 19 minutes in length, it was easily the longest offering of the tour. On the Europe ‘72 album, “Truckin’” segues into what is labeled “Epilogue,” the name given to the pre-“The Other One” jam that followed. While “The Other One” did not make the live release, the album track titled “Prelude” that leads into “Morning Dew” is the ending of “The Other One.”

Among the standout performances of the Europe ‘72 Tour was the “Morning Dew” performed on the final night of the Lyceum run. Dennis “Wizard” Leonard, a crew member that was part of the team recording the shows, has spoken at length about the Lyceum “Morning Dew.” One such instance of Wiz detailing his memorable experience can be seen in the Grateful Dead documentary Long Strange Trip, in which he recalls:

It’s the last night on the tour. I’m stuck in the truck. Everybody was high as fuck. No one else could be found. And, there was a problem with a microphone that I talked to [Steve] Parrish out and, it just was like drooping on the stand. And I said, “Can you put a coin in the screw slot and tighten it?”

And you know, Steve was a piece of work back then he said, “Fuck you, come out and fucking do it yourself.” Jeez. So, you know, I look over at the tape machine and I just put an hour and a half load of tape on a machine and OK, I’m going to lock the truck and I’m going inside and no one’s going to be in the truck. Didn’t feel great about that.

Got in. Coin-tightened up the microphone. And as I was walking back to the center of the stage – the steps to go down – the band dropped into “Morning Dew.” I said, “You know what? Fuck this. This is where I am.” And made the decision there that I had to be right there. Sparky came over to me and said, “Are you ok?” I said, “I’m OK.”

Garcia just looked at me and shook his head. And in that instant, I knew that I was busted because no one was in the truck. The raised eyebrow over the eyeglasses, tt was saying, “I know who you are. I know what you’re doing. And it’s OK.” Because no matter what, they really wanted everybody to be there with them. Their relationship with the music is so dependent on the audience’s relationship with music. That was the fuel that made it all work, and recording even was a back burner to the music …

“Morning Dew” is an old folk tune. It’s a post-apocalyptic commentary on the world once people have all died off. “I can’t walk you out in the morning dew. It doesn’t matter anyway.” Sitting right behind Garcia, he did a good part of his solo in that tune with his back to the audience, with tears streaming down his face, because he was right there. He was playing for all of us, for all of humankind. He was the storyteller, the minister, you know, I don’t know what kind of label you want to put on it …

[The band] finished the tune and I went back in the truck, slowly opened the door, and everything was just fine. I finished the tour and went back to the states. My favorite image of Jerry Garcia was bouncing out of the control room where he was mixing Europe ‘72. He looked at me and he said, “Wiz, ‘Morning Dew’ from Lyceum is 100% on the album.” And he looked at me and he said, “When no one was in the truck!”

That was what the band was all about, the tarot card The Fool, just blindly taking the trip off the cliff.

The exceptional “Morning Dew” drifted back into “The Other One” that ushered it in. The rest of the final set of the tour was constructed out of a Garcia-led cover of Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home,” a Weir-led cover of “Me And My Uncle,” the previously mentioned album version of “Ramble On Rose,” rocking renditions of tour staples “Sugar Magnolia” and “Casey Jones” and the album cut of “One More Saturday Night.”

The first voice heard on the Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings box set is tour manager Sam Cutler introducing the band before the tour opening show in Wembley on April 7. Giving the final word on the tour to Cutler, his assessment of the Lyceum was detailed in the box set liner notes, in which he wrote:

The Lyceum dates were amazing and came at the end of a long European tour. London audiences had never experienced the band in the full-on intimacy of a small venue, and they threw themselves into the spirit of the occasion with wild abandon and adored the music. It’s interesting to listen to the Wembley recordings (the first gig of the tour) and then go to the Lyceum discs. This was a band at the peak of its magical and musical powers. The Grateful Dead had mastered the art of playing to both the large, impersonal space of around 10,000 people and the smaller, intimate venue. The subtle differences in musical presentation and the overall “vibe” are here for you, the aficionado, to analyze and enjoy.

I can remember stumbling out of the Lyceum at 5 o’clock in the morning after the last night of the tour. We had been in many countries and played in a startling array of different venues that had been organized with the assistance of the European Promoters Group. They were John Morris and Tony Smith in England, and in mainland Europe: Fritz Rau, Knud Thorbjornsen, Norbet Gamson, Berry Visser, and Claude Nobs. These were the promoters who took a chance on the legendary California band the Grateful Dead, whom they had heard about but never seen. Each and every one of these men was in my mind as I walked through the early morning streets of London, coming to terms with the fact that after two months the European Tour was over.

London had never seemed more beautiful, and Europe had never appeared so welcoming. The professional rock ‘n’ roll promoters of Europe had never seen anything like the Grateful Dead and had joined themselves to the family with openhearted generosity, and everyone had grown together around some amazing music. Several of the promoters came to London simply for the fun and were in the audience at the Lyceum to get one last taste of this magical band before they returned to America.

The Lyceum shows were the end of that particular stretch of road around Europe, and these recordings, to my mind, represent the band at the highest pinnacles of their art. What can one say about the music? Words fail me, and I am forced to shrug and smile, to remember again that dream of adventures in distant lands with a family of beautiful souls, and to finally, simply say, “There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert.”

Inside the album sleeve of the original Europe ‘72 triple LP was a quote from the Bible. The band shared a passage from the Book of Revelation (20:12), which read:

“And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done.”

50 years later, the 22 performances that made up the Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour can be judged among the most significant in the history of the legendary band’s storied career. The final expedition with one of their co-founders, it served as a memorable farewell to Pigpen, who had been with the group since they were a fledgling jug band and got to play in some of the most beautiful halls the continent had to offer.

The Europe ’72 concerts can be replayed for another 50 years or more, as listeners old and new explore the Dead’s singular songcraft, expert improvisational skills and ability to connect to others with the timeless music they made on an unforgettable adventure overseas.

Here are additional statistics and information regarding the 22nd and final performance of the Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72 Tour:

At-a-Glance

The Show

May 26, 1972

7 p.m.

£2

2,100

The Music

18 songs / 121 minutes

9 songs / 101 minutes

27 Songs / 222 minutes
19 originals / 8 covers

Truckin 18:57

Chinatown Shuffle 2:56

18:01

12 Jerry / 11 Bobby / 4 Pigpen

55


Setlist (via JerryBase)

Set One: Promised Land, Sugaree, Mr. Charlie [1][2], Black Throated Wind, Loser, Next Time You See Me [1], El Paso, Dire Wolf, Two Souls In Communion [1], Playing In The Band, He’s Gone, Cumberland Blues, Jack Straw [3], Chinatown Shuffle [1], China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad > Not Fade Away

Set Two: Truckin’ [2][4] > The Other One [2] > Drums [2] > The Other One [2] > Morning Dew [2][4][5][6] > The Other One > Sing Me Back Home [7], Me And My Uncle, Ramble On Rose [2][4], Sugar Magnolia, Casey Jones

Encore: One More Saturday Night [4]

Notes:

  • [1] Final performance (by GD)
  • [2] released on The Golden Road (1965 – 1973)
  • [3] released on Steppin’ Out with the Grateful Dead: England ’72
  • [4] released on Europe ’72
  • [5] released on Long Strange Trip
  • [6] This is the Morning Dew that Dennis “Wizard” Leonard talks about in the Long Strange Trip documentary. He leaves the recording truck to go fix a mic stand issue, and ends up watching the rest of the show. Luckily for all of us, the tape didn’t run out!
  • [7] released on Europe ’72 Volume 2

Below, stream the official recording of the Grateful Dead’s May 26, 1972 concert at the Lyceum Theatre in London, England, or check out other recordings via Archive.org:

  • Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour 50th Anniversary: May 16 – Luxembourg, Luxembourg

    Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour 50th Anniversary: May 16 – Luxembourg, Luxembourg 

  • Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour 50th Anniversary: May 18 – Munich, West Germany

    Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour 50th Anniversary: May 18 – Munich, West Germany 

  • Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour 50th Anniversary: May 23 – London, England

    Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour 50th Anniversary: May 23 – London, England 

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

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

  • Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour 50th Anniversary: May 25 – London, England

    Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 Tour 50th Anniversary: May 25 – London, England 


[Ed. Note: JamBase would like to thank sources relied on for the Europe ‘72 retrospective series, including JerryBase, Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast, JerryGarcia.com, Grateful Dead Guide, DeadSources, Grateful Dead Reference Site, Bozos And Bolos, Grateful Seconds, Grateful Dead Archive Online, Archive.org (and all the tapers) and DeadBase, among others.]

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