On this date in 1991 the Grateful Dead concluded a series of nine sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Audience-shot video of the entire performance featuring soundboard audio recently surfaced on YouTube just in time for the anniversary.
The band’s lineup at the time featured guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann as well as keyboardists Bruce Hornsby and Vince Welnick. “If I knew what made us popular, I’d bottle it,” Garcia told the New York Times in an interview about the group’s popularity that ran on September 9, 1991. “Whatever it is, it invented us, we didn’t invent it. The audience thinks we’re providing more than music, but we don’t let on what we’re providing, intentionally. We’re elliptical. Someone once wrote that we’re a real cheap vacation to Bermuda, which is kind of right. But insofar as we’re providing a safe context to be together with a lot of people who aren’t afraid of each other, which is real valuable in New York, I’d guess, we’re important.”
Right from the start the Dead had surprises in store for the Garden faithful, as they opened with their first cover of Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour” since New Year’s Eve 1989. “Ramble On Rose” then gave fans a chance to scream when Jerry sang the “just like New York City” line. The first set rolled on with the blues standard “Wang Dang Doodle” followed by an inspired “Candyman” sung by Garcia and Weir belting out Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again.” A rousing “Jack Straw” brought the frame to its conclusion.
The Grateful Dead kicked off the last of 18 1991 sets at MSG with Weir’s “Victim Or The Crime.” Everything the band touched during the second set they turned to gold including a gorgeous “Crazy Fingers” a short-but-sweet “Playing In The Band” and one of the longest versions of “Terrapin Station” of the era. The Dead leave the structure of “Terrapin” for a wild excursion led by Jerry and featuring stellar interplay between Garcia and Hornsby ahead of the evening’s “Drums”/”Space” sequence.
After “Space” the group did not lose steam. Up first is a beautiful “The Wheel” followed by a bold “I Need A Miracle.” The roller coaster ride continued with a tear-jerking “Wharf Rat” featuring more magical give-and-take between Jerry and Bruce. Weir then leads a loose and ragged “Sugar Magnolia” set-closer. As expected, the Grateful Dead closed out the Garden run with a tender “Brokedown Palace” complete with Hornsby on accordion. The whole show is well worth a watch and the crispy soundboard soundtrack doesn’t hurt.
Watch video of the Grateful Dead from this day in 1991 shared by Kevin Tobin:
Grateful Dead at Madison Square Garden
- In the Midnight Hour
- Ramble On Rose
- Wang Dang Doodle
- Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
- Row Jimmy
- Jack Straw
- Victim or the Crime
- Crazy Fingers
- Playing in the Band
- Terrapin Station
- The Wheel
- I Need a Miracle
- Wharf Rat
- Sugar Magnolia
- Brokedown Palace
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