October 10, 1982: Best Grateful Dead Show of the Early-’80s?

by Peter Wendel
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Dead1980sThe Grateful Dead caught fire again and again on October 10, 1982 – early and often – from the blistering “Minglewood” opener all the way through to the second encore, an earth-moving performance of Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”

The band’s top-notch play was further heightened by the beautiful outdoor, carnival-like setting of Stanford’s campus. It was The Dead’s first run at the Frost Amphitheatre – a venue that became an instant favorite for many Heads. The band would go on to perform there a total of 14 times (May 7, 1989, was the final gig).

Weir in '82

Weir in ’82

Pound for pound – song for song – October 10, 1982, could very well be The Grateful Dead’s best-played show of the early-’80s. There’s no doubt that it needs to be in the conversation when discussing these types of accolades and rankings.

It was the “Bobby Show” as Weir delivered staggering versions of “Little Red Rooster,” “Cassidy” (possibly the best ever), “Lost Sailor” into “Saint Of Circumstance” (considered by many to be the greatest of all time), “Looks Like Rain” (legend has it Weir literally cried during this one) and a top-notch performance of The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” (as the first of two encores).

Jerry rose to occasion as well laying down some precious gems of his own, including a bouncy, uptempo “Sugaree,” a flawless performance of “Tennessee Jed” (possibly the very best ever), “Loser,” a smoking “China Cat> Rider,” the best “Crazy Fingers” of the ’80s, “The Wheel” and as previously mentioned, a massive “Baby Blue.”

Frost Amphitheatre at Stanford

Frost Amphitheatre at Stanford

With highlights stacked one on top of the other, this Sunday show from the Frost rivals the greats from the early-’80s: the epic New Year’s Eve gig in ’81 at the Oakland Auditorium; the “Big One” from April 6, 1982, at the Spectrum in Philadelphia as well as July 31, 1982, at Manor Downs in Austin and August 10, 1982, at the University of Iowa. Those are all five-star shows, but the Frost Amphitheater gig is better (in my humble opinion). It may even beat October, 15, 1983, at the Hartford Civic Center.

THE GRATEUL DEAD
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

Set I: New Minglewood Blues> Sugaree> Little Red Rooster, Tennessee Jed, Cassidy, Loser, Far From Me> Looks Like Rain, China Cat Sunflower> I Know You Rider

Set II: Playing In The Band> Crazy Fingers> Lost Sailor> Saint Of Circumstance> Touch Of Grey> Drums> Space> The Wheel> Throwing Stones> Not Fade Away> Black Peter> Sugar Magnolia E: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction> It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

SMOKERRRR! The boys open the show with this red-hot top-5 “Minglewood” performance. You gotta love it when they come out swinging like this. Fiery interplay between Jerry and Brent, and Bobby does a decent job on the slide. They blast off at 4:28, and they never look back (for the entire show).

SUGAREE
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

Uptempo and bouncy just how we like it. Jerry’s solos are just as sweet as can be. Glorious work from Garcia both vocally and instrumentally.

LITTLE RED ROOSTER
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

Bobby kills it (slide work included)! Brent adds his blues-seared vocals to the mix, and Jerry’s guitar is as sweet and gooey as warm molasses. The crowd goes friggin’ nuts.

TENNESSEE JED
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

Tight and right! Nearly flawless, not-to-be-missed performance. Is this the best-played “Tennessee Jed” of all time? You be the judge.

CASSIDY
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

This is what perfection sounds like! If this version isn’t in your top-5, you’re not paying attention. I can tell by the way you smile, he’s rollin’ back…

LOSER
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

This version kicks some serious ass! I could pay you back with one good hand…

CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

BURNER!! Here’s a seriously underrated version. It steams and snakes out of the gate, spinning like a tie-dyed top. Jerry dances up and down his fretboard with his legendary dexterity, putting on a clinic for guitar players everywhere.

I KNOW YOU RIDER
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

This “Rider” ROCKS! An underrated version that closes out the 1st set set in style.

LOOKS LIKE RAIN
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

This one is HUGE – and as heartfelt as you’ll ever hear. Top-5 material all day long. In fact, Bobby gets so emotional during the performance that he literally cries at one point (3:40). Oh it surely looks like rain…

CRAZY FINGERS
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

Crazy good! This has to be the best version of the ’80s. Jerry’s solos will take you to the edge of the universe and then bring you gently back down to earth in a soft field of cotton. Shine inside…

LOST SAILOR
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

MUST-HEAR VERSION! Best ever Sailor> Saint? I’d say so. Even if it isn’t one of your favorite songs, give this one a try. Goose-bump material.

SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

SICK! If there’s a better version out there, I can’t find it. This must be heaven…

THE WHEEL
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

We’ve all heard “The Wheel” a thousand times but give this one a listen. It rises glistening out of “Drums” like the morning’s first few glorious rays of sunshine. Little bit further than you gone before…

(I CAN’T GET NO) SATISFACTION 
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

WOW! Great effort on this Stones’ cover – a song The Dead performed only a couple dozen times. Jagger would be proud.

IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE
October 10, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA

MASSIVE. One of the best of all time. Jerry’s feelin’ it for sure – from raucous vocal peaks to deep soulful valleys. He makes his guitar weep. Crying like a fire in the sun…

Peter Wendel is a journalist and PR consultant. He's attended hundreds of concerts and festivals, including the Peach, Mountain Jam, the All Good and Lockn'. He's ridden legendary Grateful Dead runs from Ventura County Fairgrounds to Irvine Meadows (CA) from the Nassau Coliseum (NY) to the Boston Garden (MA). Peter is a former U.S. Marine who – after running into trouble with every last one of his commanding officers – received an honorable discharge and a direct order never to return. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, Peter lived in Boston and Joshua Tree (CA) before settling in the nation's capital. Find him on tour at PWendel@SongMango.com.

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