Jerry Sunday: The Grateful Dead at MSG, September 20, 1982

By 1982, The Grateful Dead’s relationship with the State of New York had been firmly established. It began with a free show at Tompkins Square Park in 1967. Now, the band had graduated to regular gigs at Madison Square Garden, The World’s Most Famous Arena. Monday, September 20, 1982 would be part of their third run at The Garden, after playing there initially in 1979 and a brief two-show stay in 1981. The Brent Mydland era was now in full swing and this show from 38 years ago sees the band relaxed and fully cohesive as the Grateful Dead at MSG deliver another knockout New York performance.

A spunky “Shakedown Street” gets things started off on the right foot. The band wastes no time getting into a nice groove and Mydland’s backing vocals spice this one up nicely.

Guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir take turns leading the way on vocals through pristine versions of “Candyman” and “El Paso,” respectively, with the rest of the band sounding fully engaged. Afterwards, the recent revival of “Dupree’s Diamond Blues” continued. A month earlier, the Dead dusted off this oldie but goodie after a four-year layoff. Garcia’s vocals seem to have an almost echo-y feel to them on this one before he nails the corresponding guitar solos.

Mydland’s signature raspy vocals accompany more beautiful Garcia-supplied guitar licks on the bluesy “Never Trust A Woman” that follows. The first set later ends with a couple of new tunes. Weir quickly mentions something about “remembering all the words this time” before they launch into “Throwin’ Stones.” This would be only the third one ever played after making its debut earlier in the fall tour. It’s an aggressive rendition as Weir certainly remembers the words and then some. But instead of the traditional outro jam the Dead would later develop for it, they pivot immediately to a rousing “Keep Your Day Job” that closes the set.

Grateful Dead at MSG

Things rev back up immediately with the “Scarlet Begonias” that opens up the second set. It features some delightful interplay between Garcia and Mydland on keys. With a pounding rhythm generated from bassist Phil Lesh, the jam eventually meanders a little bit before the familiar tones of “Fire On The Mountain” come through.

The mid-set “Terrapin Station” that later follows has a very mellow feel to it early on. The composed section drifts off into near silence before eventually picking back up. Later in the set, emerging from the confines of “Space,” is another Dead specialty – the “Spanish Jam.” It’s a brief but infectious instrumental section that’s influenced by the theme to Miles Davis’ “Solea” from his Sketches Of Spain album. This more than aptly serves as the bridge to “Truckin’.”

There would be no “Truckin'” jam tonight though. Instead, the band does another collective pivot of sorts and hurls into “The Other One.” It’s a quick but powerful version that sees Weir almost toying with the lyrics.

After a customary joyous run through of “Sugar Magnolia” to close out the second set, the Dead decide to end things with yet another new number. This is also only the third ever performance of “Touch Of Grey,” a song that would later become synonymous with the band and their lone commercial “hit.” One more show at The Garden would follow the next evening as the Dead continue to make their presence felt in The Empire State.

Grateful Dead at MSG

Grateful Dead – Madison Square Garden 9/20/82

Set 1: Shakedown Street > New Minglewood Blues, Candyman > El Paso, Dupree’s Diamond Blues, It’s All Over Now, Never Trust A Woman, Row Jimmy, Throwing Stones > Keep Your Day Job

Set 2: Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain, Women Are Smarter, Terrapin Station > Drums > Space > Spanish Jam > Truckin’ > The Other One > Stella Blue > Sugar Magnolia

Encore: Touch Of Grey

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