On this day in 1989, the Dead headlined an AIDS benefit at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Stadium that also featured Tower of Power, Joe Satriani, Los Lobos, Tracy Chapman and John Fogerty.
I first discovered this show because Jerry and Bob played guitar for the John Fogerty set along with future American Idol judge Randy Jackson on bass, Steve Jordan on drums and Clarence Clemons on sax for Susie Q and Long Tall Sally. Although the Dead members just play backup for Fogerty, he’s in great voice and everyone is having a really good time.
The Dead’s show, which is actually two full sets, is a little bit of a comedown, energy wise, but what wouldn’t be compared to Fogerty? Clarence Clemons joins the band for a significant portion of this show, and while it’s interesting stuff, Clemons doesn’t come close to what Branford Marsalis pulled off the following year. Still, as a long-time Springsteen fan, it’s awesome to hear, and this collaboration is made all the better since Bill Kreutzmann revealed that Jerry, Bob and Clemons considered buying a place together around this time. To be a fly on the wall . . .
The second set of the show is made notable by a Fire on the Mountain sans Scarlet Begonias, a good version of I Will Take You Home and a sentimental Brokedown Palace encore. Listening to the band here, you get the feeling that they are getting ready to explode, but they’re not quite there yet. It will come soon enough as spring turns to summer.
UPDATE: I was distracted the first time through the end of this show, so here are some additional thoughts upon further review. The Wharf Rat, while sloppy, is a forceful version with the whole band really getting after it prior to the final verse. It’s a pretty cool take on the song. In addition, the Lovelight with Clarence is fun too, and his solo in place of Jerry on Brokedown Palace adds another layer of emotion to the song.
You can hear the Dead’s complete show here: https://archive.org/details/gd1989-05-27.sbd.walker-scotton.miller.87604.sbeok.flac16