Grateful Dead

Madison Square Garden

New York, NY

Mar 9, 1981

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Show Notes

“We’re just now starting to loosen up to the point where we were, say, back in 1970, ’72, where we can start drifting from key to key, from rhythm to rhythm, and in the jams, some interesting stuff has come up. Once again, we’re tending to go new places every night.” - Bob Weir, Rolling Stone, 1980

3/9/81 at Madison Square Garden delivers all that. It's got color and texture and freshness, keyboardist Brent Mydland's Hammond organ painting a new layer for the Dead to dabble on. And dabble they did, from the "shot out of a cannon" opener of "Feel Like A Stranger" to the "fleeting romance of 'Althea,'" to the high-gloss 80s blues of the first set to the second set, both intense ("China>Rider", "Samson And Delilah," "Estimated Prophet") and dramatic ("Ship Of Fools," "Stella Blue) in its ability wrap you up its spirals and accents. It's all undergone Plangent Processes tape restoration and speed correction, with mastering by Jeffrey Norman. Hot, hot, hot!


KatfishJohn 3/21/2024 4:31:30 PM

"This show has long been one of my favorites of the 80s. The band plays like a 110 volt appliance plugged into a 220 volt outlet. At one point in the incendiary Stranger opener, for example, Jerry’s guitar seems to literally be overloading, with the gain turned up so high the distortion overwhelms everything else and produces a clean, compressed sound. The solo is stunning, as is the great Althea that follows and the screaming, tight Bird Song. Yes, Jerry is “on” and the boys are feeling it. The power surge continues in set 2, starting with a funky, pulsating China-Rider-Samson that’s a masterpiece, with a sparkling transition to Rider, flaming solos, and crackling ending notes. So great, as is the rest of the set, highlighted by a searing Estimated-Uncle John’s pairing, and two honey-glazed ballads. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself, just watch out for possible 3d degree burns."

Gonzobiker916 1/6/2024 10:55:13 PM

"The energy at East Coast shows was very different that west coast, and MSG was no exception. I remember being outside one night and watching 2 NYPD cops sitting in their car listening to the simulcast, rocking out to Bertha. Frigging loved MSG shows"

Oshie 8/30/2023 5:08:53 AM

"To open a first set with Stranger/Althea is epic in and of itself"

Brad Freeman 6/9/2023 6:41:04 PM

"Superb, I need more speakers to blast this joy. Giving Jerry a wah pedal is like giving Picasso a new paint brush."

Ghost of Marty Robbins 9/30/2022 3:21:31 PM

"Man that Bob Weir can sing the hell out of El Paso"


Setlist at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY on Mar 9, 1981

Set One

Feel Like a Stranger 547


Althea 472


C.C. Rider 480


Ramble On Rose 461


El Paso 331


Deep Elem Blues 423


Beat It On Down The Line 238


Bird Song 675


New Minglewood Blues 422


Set Two

China Cat Sunflower 573


I Know You Rider 371


Samson And Delilah 452


Ship Of Fools 537


Estimated Prophet 830


Uncle Johns Band 706


Drums 632


Space 450


The Other One 467


Stella Blue 590


Good Lovin' 411



U.S. Blues 332


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