Grateful Dead

Nightfall of Diamonds

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This double-disc release highlights the Grateful Dead's final performance of a five show run at the Meadowlands Arena. Deadheads unanimously herald October 16, 1989 -- guitarist/vocalist Bob Weir's 42nd birthday -- as one of the best shows not only of the band's fall tour, or even of the year, but of the decade. Nightfall of Diamonds presents this landmark concert replete with one of the most accurate soundstages of any Grateful Dead vintage release. If you couldn't get a floor seat then, you can now. The Dead's fall tour of 1989 coincided with the release of Built to Last -- their 13th studio release. The loosely structured and perpetually evolving set lists allowed for the integration of newer tunes such as "Picasso Moon" -- the up-tempo rocker that opens this set -- with more established works from their 200-plus song canon. "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleoo," coupled here with the funky "Feel Like a Stranger," reveals some excellent ensemble playing. Jerry Garcia's lead guitar lines are precise and well developed as he maneuvers the band into territories considered unattainable in the late '80s by skeptical enthusiasts. Another first set highlight is the overtly bluesy "Never Trust a Woman" -- featuring the first of two lead vocals from the Dead's '80s keyboardist, Brent Mydland. The pairing of "Let It Grow" to an exceptionally engaging performance of "Deal" conclude the first set with the same high energy with which it began. Set two/disc two continues to exhibit the Dead's imposing strength. From the opening strains of the psychedelically acquiescent "Dark Star" -- which envelopes a majority of the second set -- to the a cappella encore "We Bid You Goodnight," the Dead morph their entire quarter-century history into the space of less than 80 minutes. Every genre and stylistic approach is uncovered, including nearly half an hour of premier instrumentation which links "Uncle John's Band" to the second Brent Mydland vocal, "I Will Take You Home." Nightfall of Diamonds disengages the misnomer that the Grateful Dead were outmoded and strung out in their final years of performance. Additionally, the set is offered as the quintessence of everything musically addictive to Deadheads during this era.

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