Grateful Dead 2017 Meet-Up at the Movies: RFK Stadium, Wash. D.C. – 07/12/89 Review

Hosted by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment at theaters across the country, the seventh annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies presented the band’s performance at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, Washington DC on July 12, 1989, which happened seven days before the Alpine Valley concert shown at the 2015 Meet Up and ten days after the Sullivan Stadium concert shown at the 2016 Meet-Up. Taken from the same Northeast Summer tour as the previous two Meet-Ups, this evening features guitarist Jerry Garcia, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboardist Brent Mydland, and guitarist Bob Weir with Bruce Hornsby joining in for the first two songs of the second set. The setlist repeats two songs from the 2015 Meet-Up and four from 2016.

Crowd goes wild as the band’s biggest hit song, “Touch of Grey”, opens the show. The band sounds in fine form as Garcia delivers solos on the bridge. The closing “We will get by / We will survive” refrain gets a great ovation as the audience, especially long-time Dead Heads, agrees with the sentiment. Weir sings “New Minglewood Blues” getting a hometown cheer when he mentions “DC fillies”. Mydland starts his bridge solo scatting along at the beginning. There’s a brief break before they go into “Mississippi Half Step”. Garcia really makes his guitar sing.

Lesh gets a rare shot taking the lead vocals when he sings Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.” Then Mydland steps up with emotive vocals on “Far From Me.” Things get rather jammy on the “Cassidy” bridge as they seemingly head off in directions, and then they slow things down for “Friend of the Devil”.

The second set opens with Bruce Hornsby’s accordion adding a wonderful, different flourish to “Sugaree” and the band delivers an extended jam before Garcia’s vocals come back around. Audience handclaps ring out and join the accompaniment at the start of the Dead’s take on the calypso number “Man Smart (Women Smarter)”. Hornsby is then thanked for his service.

The waters are calmed with a laid back “Ship of Fools” and then they get into a nice groove with the reggae-tinged “Estimated Prophet”. It’s fitting the song mentions California as Garcia’s guitar tone shines like a golden sun. Weir’s vocals get fittingly ragged as he passionately sings that “might and glory gonna be my name”. The band sounds marvelous together on the first bridge, really in sync as the runs build. Weir’s vocals come back, assuring there’s no need for worry, before the second bridge which finds the band offering a spacey jam that segueing into “Eyes of the World,” which features terrific Garcia solos. The rest of the band create a marvelous musical base that allows his to explore

“Drums” kicks right up and Kreutzmann and Hart perform a number of engaging sequences that should delight percussion fans. “Space” is the usual blend of unusual exploration the band creates. The changing sounds of Mydland’s keys are a standout. They then clear out the cobwebs with the rockin’ “I Need A Miracle”.

Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” is up next, a song with lyrics that seem perfect for the band and the audience, as the narrator requests Mr. Fantasy “sing a song, play guitar,” which Mydland and Garcia, respectively, to great appreciation. Without a warning, the band ended the second set with an rousing version of “Turn on Your Lovelight”. The band returns to encore with the lilting “Black Muddy River”, as their goodbye for now.

Thanks to all involved. It was another enjoyable night seeing the Dead come back to life. Not to appear ungrateful, but it would be nice if the next Meet-Up pulled from a different era or tour, but I’ll be back regardless, and fingers crossed that it will be a show I attended.

First Set:
Touch Of Grey
Minglewood Blues
Mississippi Half Step
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
Far From Me
Friend Of The Devil
Promised Land

Second Set:
Man Smart (Women Are Smarter)*
Ship of Fools
Estimated Prophet
Eyes Of The World
I Need A Miracle
Dear Mr. Fantasy
Black Peter
Turn On Your Love Light

Black Muddy River

* Bruce Hornsby, accordion on “Sugaree” and keyboards on “Man Smart (Women Are Smarter)”

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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