There was a consensus among Dead Heads that there was a distinct difference between east coast “Dead Shows” when compared to West Coast “Dead Shows”.  Their West Coast concerts were usually smoother and more refrained, while the craziness of the “Big Apple” pushed their prowess beyond the usual high level of musicality into over-drive, rarely ever seen anywhere else other than the “Big City”.  High expectations were always placed on the band, and the “Dead” would not disappoint. Bob Weir was quoted as saying this about playing at M.S.G. “This place was both horrifying and titillating with an audience that was discerning but ravenous. We had to rise to the occasion every time.”

Ever since the band’s inaugural concert in New York City on June 1, 1967 (a free show in Tompkins Square Park on the Lower East Side), to their last run of six sold-out nights in October 1994 at Madison Square Garden. I was at those last six shows at “The Garden”, they were awe-inspiring.  

We crammed into the Penta Hotel room, situated steps away from Madison Square Garden.  This made the occasion affordable and extremely convenient.  We partied glossy-eyed into the wee morning hours and stumbled out of bed just intime for the next night’s extravaganza.  I still harken back to those awesome times enjoyed at “The Garden”. The high energy of the New York City crowd always propelled the band into uncharted stratospheres, and this is evident on this superb new 3-disc CD set which captures the complete September 3rd, 1981, concert, including all 21 cuts.  The playing is tight and robust, the sound is crisp and clean.  

Disc 1

“Feel Like A Stranger”


“C.C. Rider”

“Ramble On Rose”>

“El Paso”

“Deep Elem Blues”

“Beat It On Down The Line”

“Bird Song”

“New Minglewood Blues”

Disc 2

“China Cat Sunflower”>

“I Know You Rider”>

“Samson And Delilah”

“Ship Of Fools”

Disk 3

“Estimated Prophet”>

“Uncle John’s Band”>    



“The Other One”>

“Stella Blue”>

“Good Lovin’”

“U.S. Blues”