Grateful Music"s 30 in 30 Presents the Show in which we go "Through the Transitive Nightfall of Diamonds" for the Last TIme. 3-30-94 The Omni ATL,GA.w/VID of "Dark Star"

 The five-star show rating system has been thrown out of the window by 94'. There is almost no consensus about shows between old, touch, and 90's heads. All I know is I hear more about specific songs in the last years than whole shows. Well, this might be the best of 94' in my opinion, not just because I was there and not just because it was the last "Dark Star". But it felt right and felt like home and to me that's what makes the Grateful Dead special.
 "Call for me and I will be there for the price of a taxi ride" 3-30-94 Atl,GA.
For some reason, the Dead loved Atlanta and Atlanta loved em' right back. Phish might've gotten in the last word at the Omni but it was Jerry's house. They had been playing there since 74' and the crew knew how to make that building rock without being too loud. They had the venue mapped out so that each echo and harmonic wave played off of each other and the echo's in that old building actually helped the music. This might be one of the most psychedelic "Drums>Space" I've ever heard. It was a perfect background for a DMT experience. I mean, you know, for someone who might be into that sort of thing. 
The show started with "Here Comes Sunshine" and I guess because they had some rest and were only about a quarter into the tour, it worked. Although Vince struggled a little to hard, Bobby and Jerry both were on and Phil and the drummers were pretty much always on. Without many mumbles or missed verses, they jumped right into the party starter,"Feel Like a Stranger". It was a good version, if you don't count Vince's wailing. Everyone was there and Vince provided the perfect bed for Bobby's scat-singing and Jerry, although he hung back, was present when he needed to be. Up next, was quite possibly the best "Jack-a-Roe" ever. I hate to say anything is the "best ever" because everything has it's good and bad spots but for 1994, Jerry was playing on point and Bobby was adding his angular rhythms and this love ballad on speed didn't suffer from many vocal miscues and Jerry killed each solo. It's also one of my favorite songs and, well, just listen to it and tell me if it isn't at least top ten. Especially considering it's in 1994. 

They swung from the song of a lovelorn cross-dresser into the Willie Dixon song, "The Same Thing" and it felt like the ghost of Dixon was in the house. The Grateful Dead in these years was always a highwire act ready to fall apart at any minute, well Bobby's slinky blues number kept the pace going even though it's a slower blues number and led right into one of my favorite new songs,"Lazy River Road". I don't know if it was because Jerry's new girl Deb was there or he managed to get "just right" but he nailed this one too. After a solid effort on the acoustic with an "El Paso", the band takes their first big swing of the night and gives "New Speedway Boogie" a shot in the first set. They might not have hit it out of the park but they at least made it a double and I'd call em' into third base if it wasn't for Vince's wailing. I don't mind what he added as a keyboardist, in fact as I've listened to more and more shows for this project, I've started to respect his contributions. That screech though kills me and will knock a star off of any performance. They ended with "The Promised Land", enough said. It was a good first set and the crowd was ready for more.
The second set started with a relatively quick "Scarlet Begonias" that lasted about nine minutes before it went into a monster "Fire on the Mountain" that made the duo clock in at about thirty minutes. This would set a trend that we would see in Seattle and Boston later in the tour. After the band finished this marathon, they dove right into a Playin' that "only" lasted about nine and a half minutes and started to develop some potential and the band explored the song for the full time until "IT" happened. I don't know if it was discussed backstage or someone(Jerry)felt the urge, but the band swung from the spacy back end of a Playin' that was starting to get jazzy and fell down the keys of Vince's board right into the final "Dark Star" ever played. No, it wasn't the greatest ever but it was a good Nineties' era version. It had a lot more of that early action like the Sixties' versions with Tom Constenten that let the song air out and take flight on it's own than the later versions. They were in no rush and Phil and Jerry continued their epic struggle, like two dragons or two snakes following and chasing and intertwining, while Bob and Vince kept the song moving forward. Bobby threw in a couple of slide licks and overall, it was a great way to retire this classic.  As it bled into almost thirty minutes of "Drums>Space" I thought the floor had left and we were all free-floating like astronauts. I think I left some part of me there that night. From "Dark Star" through the Rhythm Devils, my mind was left in a puddle until Bobby pulled out the first notes of Miracle from the madness.
After a solid rendition they slid into "Stella Blue" and Jerry had no trouble singing it like he meant it. This almost touches the version he performed a week earlier in Richfield,OH but that is my favorite version of the 90's but this was no slouch. Jerry came to play in Atlanta and after an upbeat crowd-pleasing Sugar Maggie and a "Liberty" encore, I think everyone went home happy. I know I did because I was going to get to see one more show before they went to Florida and little did I know that I had just seen the end of an era and a little part of history with the last "Dark Star" Jerry ever played. Give this show a spin. I hope all of you Nineties haters are finding something to enjoy about these shows. It's like Jerry said in The Pizza Tapes to Tony Rice, "there were moments of blinding brilliance" of course with an ironic twist and a smile that you could hear through the recording.

Greg Heffelfinger
 Final "Dark Star" 3-30-94

Grateful Dead
The Omni Atl,GA.
3-30-94

Set One:
Here Comes Sunshine, Feel Like A Stranger, Jack A Roe, Lazy River Road, El Paso, The Same Thing, New Speedway Boogie, Promised Land

Set Two:
 Scarlet Begonias-> Fire On The Mountain-> Playin' In The Band-> Dark Star-> Drums-> Space-> I Need A Miracle -> Stella Blue-> Sugar Magnolia, 

Encore:
Liberty



© 2016 Grateful Music LLC

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