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Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR 6/30/18 (Live) Digital

Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR 6/30/18 (Live) Digital

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Summary

For the entire span of the Grateful Dead’s touring career, the State of Oregon was invariably known to extend the warmest of welcomes to the Dead and their fans. Indeed, the Beaver State was the destination for the Dead’s very first road trip as a band outside their natural habitat of Northern California, venturing up to Portland to be part of one of the Merry Pranksters’ Acid Tests in January of 1966, just weeks after they had changed their name from The Warlocks to Grateful Dead. From then on, the Dead returned to Oregon regularly, playing numerous shows in various parts of the state that Dead Heads still remember fondly, and at least one that became the stuff of legend: the benefit for the Springfield Creamery (a dairy owned by the family of Prankster patriarch Ken Kesey) at the Old Renaissance Faire Grounds in Veneta on August 27th, 1972. That performance, immortalized in the film “Sunshine Daydream,” can be found in the higher reaches of many rankings of the best Dead shows ever.

The great bond between the Dead, Dead Heads and Oregon has continued on through many more years and many more shows by the still-active band members in varying configurations, and was in clear evidence in the Summer of 2018, when Dead & Company returned to the state to play at Eugene’s Autzen Stadium, home to the University of Oregon’s football team, the Ducks. Autzen was a frequent stop during the Grateful Dead’s peak years of popularity, and they always seemed to rise to the occasion, playing some of the more memorable shows of their stadium era. The synergy of band, fans and venue was fully intact for Dead & Company’s Autzen debut, which many have rated as one of the very best of an especially strong Summer tour.  They came to the party with an all-killer/no-filler setlist, providing the opportunity to cover the whole stylistic spectrum from flat-out rockers to poignant ballads to open-ended jamming vehicles. A hard-driving “Deal” sets the table perfectly, followed by a “Me And My Uncle” that reminds us just how good even the most basic and familiar tunes can be when the band really digs into them. Next up is “Here Comes Sunshine,” opened up in a way that recalls some of the great extended versions that were common circa 1973-74. After that thrill ride, things calm down a bit (but not too much) with fine renditions of “Black Throated Wind,” “Cold Rain and Snow” and “Peggy-O.” Things then heat up again with a characteristically soulful “Sugaree,” and then a quintessentially rockin’ (with a hint of swing) “One More Saturday Night” to close out the first set on a very high note.

After the break, liftoff is achieved immediately with the unmistakable opening notes of “Dark Star” presaging a second set overflowing with fearless exploration of the great beyond – but not without the occasional return to the home planet to refuel – as is the case when the band, deep into that “Dark Star,” suddenly transports us from some uncharted galaxy straight to that old familiar West Texas town of Marty Robbins’ cowboy classic, “El Paso” (perhaps a commemorative nod to the pairing of those two songs that happened at the fabled ’72 show in Veneta). After that last kiss with wicked Felina, it’s right back to the cosmos to finish “Dark Star” and then segue straight into its old friends “St. Stephen” and “The Eleven” (complete with the “William Tell Bridge” linking them). The momentum carries us into a primal Drums and Space sequence, resolving in that majestic opening chord heralding a powerful “Morning Dew,” which would have been more than enough of a climax to a great show. But not on this night, as the band summons the spirits of Bobby Blue Bland and Pigpen with “Turn On Your Lovelight” to close out the set.  And then, the always moving “Brokedown Palace” as an encore.

Details

FLAC is High Def 48/24

Track Listing

Track Listing:

  1. Deal

  2. Me & My Uncle

  3. Here Comes Sunshine

  4. Black Throated Wind

  5. Cold Rain And Snow

  6. Peggy-O

  7. Sugaree

  8. One More Saturday Night

  9. Dark Star

  10. El Paso

  11. Dark Star

  12. St. Stephen

  13. William Tell Bridge

  14. The Eleven

  15. Drums

  16. Space

  17. Morning Dew

  18. Turn On Your Lovelight

  19. Brokedown Palace