The Grateful Dead Begin Third Tour Of Duty At Nassau: May 14, 1980

By 1980, the Grateful Dead certainly didn’t feel like a stranger at Nassau Coliseum. The band had played ten shows at this arena already, five in 1973 and another five the previous year in 1979. However, 1980 would only see a single three-show run at Nassau. With the Brent Mydland era now fully initiated and underway, we take a look back at this opening night of the run on its anniversary, aided by a sterling soundboard recording.

The 1980 Nassau run kicks off with an “Alabama Getaway” that does nothing to wane the excitement present in the building. Some lively Brent Mydland harmonies and a few short but spirited guitar solos from Jerry Garcia highlight the opener that never really stops and instead instantly veers into a “Promised Land.” Bob Weir mans the vocals on the Chuck Berry cover and, by now, Mydland’s Hammond organ is fully turned up in the mix in a big way, adding a palpable layer of soul.

After that spirited 1-2 punch to open the show, the Dead then slow things down in a big way with a “Candyman” that hits all the right notes, with the band taking a delightfully patient approach to this live show staple.

Things then liven back up as the band takes a musical trip south of the border, so to speak, with an interesting “Mexicali Blues” and “El Paso” pairing. Bassist Phil Lesh throws down some stellar fills on “El Paso” before the Dead bring things back to the States with a “Tennessee Jed” that gets a roaring endorsement of approval from the Long Island crowd. “Jed” is played to perfection and after some brief deliberation, they jump right into “Let It Grow,” the second part of the esteemed “Weather Report Suite” that made its live debut at Nassau Coliseum nearly seven years ago. This elicits a brief but mesmerizing jam that sees Garica and Mydland fully in synch with one another.

They then take command of the next two songs, as Garcia lays down the opening guitar licks to “Althea” that, like much of the opening set, is played with a comfortably deliberate pace with each note serving a purpose. Lesh shines again on bass here, backing up another typical stirring Garcia guitar solo. Mydland then puts his signature raspy vocals on full display on the “Easy To Love You” that follows alongside some delightful play on the electric piano. The set then comes to a rousing finish thanks to “The Music Never Stopped” and a closing breakneck jam that sees the whole band immersed and engaged on this crowd favorite.

The second set begins with a rather funked out “Feel Like A Stranger,” a new weapon in the Dead’s live arsenal that just made its debut a few months ago at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ. Weir handles the vocals with ease and the song is aided by some droning synthesizer work on Mydland’s end that peppers the song throughout. Instead of its traditional ending, they jam out the ending of “Stranger,” and rightfully so, until Garcia initiates the introduction to “Sugaree.” Garcia and Mydland, on organ now, lock in together once more on a rousing version with a jam that slowly builds in intensity.

This first show of the Nassau run then features another pairing of Dead songs, this time it’s “Lost Sailor” and “Saint Of Circumstance,” with the latter making it another song that made its live debut in New York State. The first “Saint” was played in Glens Falls in August of 1979. To slow things down once more, the Garcia-led ballad “Comes A Time ” then emerges, replete with one more emotion-laden guitar solo.

The harrowing outro jam to “Time” slowly but surely begins to increase in tempo, with Garcia fluttering all around the fretboard, until Phil Lesh rings out the signature bass line that begins “The Other One” and the Dead are off and running once more. A madcap, psychedelic journey ensues between the two main verses on this classic tune that harkens back to the days of San Francisco and “Cowboy” Neal Cassady. Once the second verse is completed, the band almost stops playing instantly and defers to Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart for the “Drums” portion of the evening.

From the ashes of “Space” emerges the always reflective “Black Peter,” with Mydland once again lending a delicate touch thanks to the Hammond. The Dead then close the doors on the second set at Nassau with a couple of traditional rock and roll covers. Weir helms the vocals once more, starting with “Around And Around” and ending with “Johnny B. Goode,” rounding out a trifecta of Berry covers for the night. “Don’t Ease Me In” then served as a fitting encore for this show, with the Dead having laid the ground work for another memorable run of shows at Nassau Coliseum.

Listen to this show below or at Live Music Archive here.

View this show and more Grateful Dead shows from across the years in New York State with our interactive map below

Grateful Dead Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – Uniondale, NY 5/14/80

Set 1: Alabama Getaway > Promised Land, Candyman, Mexicali Blues > El Paso, Tennessee Jed, Let It Grow > Althea, Easy To Love You > The Music Never Stopped

Set 2: Feel Like A Stranger > Sugaree > Lost Sailor > Saint Of Circumstance > Comes A Time > The Other One > Drums > Black Peter > Around And Around > Johnny B. Goode

E: Don’t Ease Me In

Bob Weirbrent mydlandChuck Berrygrateful deadJERRY GARCIANassau ColiseumPhil Lesh