To Wrap Up 30-ish Shows in 30 Days, Grateful Music goes back to it's roots and revisits Memphis,TN 4-1-95

  Memphis, Tennessee. The Bluff City. The home of the blues and Elvis' hometown. The Grateful Dead reunites with the Pyramid on the final spring tour. The Dead always were more lively during Spring and this evening was no different.
 I Come in from Memphis, where I learned to talk the jive-4-1-95 Memphis,TN
Jerry in Memphis, 4-1-95
These shows were the first time that the Dead had been to Memphis since 72'. There are no recorded setlists or recordings of that show but the skinny is that the band was hassled so bad by the cops they swore they would never come back. Well, after what felt like an eternity of driving and sleeping in hotel rooms, I was finally going to get to see the Dead and then drive home without a map and sleep in my own bed! I was dating a girl whose dad worked on the board at the Pyramid, so I knew I was in for both nights. The first night, we had tickets in the mayor's booth, which is not where you want to be with a pocket full of smelly nuggets and a headful of LSD. So we quickly abandoned those seats but not before we filled our pockets with all the food we could and passed it out to hungry heads' for free, as opposed to the taxed venue food. I know for sure how much the Dead loved their fans because I heard from my girlfriend's dad that their rider was huge and most of it had to do with the fact that thousands of gypsies were about to show up on Memphis' doorstep. Little known fact, they were in discussions to play in Memphis in 96' for five-to-seven nights because the shows went off so well. Even though some dickheads tried to crash the Pyramid gates at the start of the show on the first night. I was already in the venue but they had to be traveling heads' because no one who had been to the pyramid would try to rush the doors. It's a GODDAMN PYRAMID! it's almost a fortress. There are ways to sneak in but no one who was dumb enough to brute force the Pyramid would have the brain power to try any other ways.
On to the music, Atlanta was fairly hot and I loved the Visions from the night before but there was no way to match the atmosphere and anticipation for the first shows in Memphis in twenty-three years. The cops stayed mellow and the scene blossomed and everyone was cool and it was the most blissful scene I had been to in a long,long time. With the river in the background, we had no idea that the band felt the same way. It also showed on the stage. I still have trouble deciding which night I liked better. The first night, the energy was unmistakeable. The "Hell in a Bucket" opener was a great opener and then a note-perfect,"Candyman" almost made me cry with pride. Jerry just nailed it. This was 1995 and everyone remembers the "tour from hell" in the summer but the spring tour was wonderful. After a wonderful "Candyman", the band broke out the very first "Take Me to the River", the Al Green classic, that Bobby does a great job of delivering and the band tacked on a nice little jam to the end. 
Jerry then countered with a wonderful rendition of "Lazy River Road", also sounding as good as he could in 95' and that was still pretty damn good. Check out the JGB shows from 95' if you think Jerry had completely blown his voice. After a nice Masterpiece, Phil surprised us with a well-sung "Childhood's End" which I happen to really like and the band was already firing on all cylinders. The set concluded with a "Deal" that wasn't the hottest one I've ever heard but was a smoking version for the tour. 
We took the time during the break to go back to the Mayor's booth and while most of them were watching the news or whatever, we reloaded up on food and passed out free food courtesy of the City of Memphis. So if you're one of those people that got one of those warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies, you're welcome and I hope you had a great show. Once the band came back after a "short break" they blew our collective minds with one of the best versions of "Foolish Heart" that the band ever played. After that came "Way to Go Home", one of my favorite Vince songs. Granted, that's the top of a very short list but this version rocked the house. Vince sang his ass off and the band was completely behind him, with great Jerry-ism's that flowed through the whole song. "Saint of Circumstance" got the call next and Bobby must have caught the ball from Vince and wasn't going to be out-shined. They drove a smoking Saint into "Eyes of the World" that was played at a breakneck tempo. It wasn't bad but I preferred the slower, more relaxed versions and this one seemed like it was almost a race to the end. It was a hot version but most of the heat came from the fact that it was at a fast tempo not that anything special was happening on stage. After a twenty five minute "Drums>Space" that sounded like the band was trying to levitate the Pyramid. They didn't know but just the fact that they were there already had the building shake, rattling, and rolling. 
After an interesting little journey the band rolled into one of my favorite ways out of space, "The Wheel". Once again, this was a high-energy, fast tempo version that was solid but not overwhelming. It was still good but the band was pushing the tempo instead of letting it build organically like the song did in earlier years. After "The Wheel" was rolling it snuck into another song that generally came out of space, "All Along the Watchtower". This is the one time that the fast tempo of the second set made sense and Bobby sang and played like it was a life or death situation and Jerry kept right up with him with smoking fills and a scorching solo that grabbed my attention because he was so obviously waiting to jump on it and once he grabbed it he rode it out and owned it. The song that came next was the one that sealed the deal. "Standing on the Moon" came up next and in a ten and a half minute version, Jerry laid it all out. He hit all the vocals and the cracks in his voice still give me goosebumps just thinking about it. I've heard people say that it doesn't belong in that spot. That's a Dew or "Days Between", etc. spot and SOTM doesn't have the weight to match up against a "Stella Blue" but on this one night in Memphis, it seared my brain and the crowd loved it. We all were waiting for an April Fool's Day surprise, the surprise was that ended the show. It didn't take much of a Head' to call the encore and Bobby poured all his weight into the "One More Saturday Night" that came up. 

This first night was just a taste and to know that there was one more show before the band was packed and gone made leaving the venue special. We had to be made to leave because the lights were up and the cops weren't all that concerned about making the parking lots empty, so we stuck around and had a blast in the parking lot. Does anyone else remember the guy rolling down the street in front of the Pyramid on a motorcycle, popping a wheelie, and then eating it about thirty yards down the street and getting cheers and then completely wiping out? He jumped up and screamed,"Hell Yeah" and the crowd went nuts. This weekend still stands out in my mind like a diamond and I wish it was the last shows I saw, instead of going on Summer Tour and seeing the trainwreck happen. Actually, that's a lie, I had a blast at every show I saw. Hope you enjoy the show and if you don't like 95' give this one a shot.

Greg Heffelfinger
"Take Me to the River" 4-1-95

Grateful Dead
The Pyramid Memphis,TN
4/1/95

Set One:
Hell In A Bucket 
Candyman 
Take Me To The River 
Lazy River Road 
When I Paint My Masterpiece 
Childhood's End 
Deal 

Set Two:
Foolish Heart 
Way To Go Home 
Saint Of Circumstance ->
Eyes Of The World ->
Drums ->
Space ->
The Wheel ->
All Along The Watchtower ->
Standing On The Moon 

Encore
One More Sat. Night
  

© 2016 Grateful Music LLC

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