On the 7th April 1972, the Grateful Dead began the epic and (now) well-documented tour of Europe. I was fortunate enough to see the guys at Newcastle City Hall on 11th April, and it will remain one of the best nights of my life. Parts of the tour were released on the famous “Ice Cream Cone Kid” Europe ’72 double album, and tapes of the whole tour have been circulating for a long long time. My enjoyment of the show has been made all the better by the recent releases of every date of the tour in an assortment of formats. I replaced my cassette version of the Newcastle show with the new CD version (I’m not rich enough to afford the whole box set that was issued!) and it is simply stunning. There’s an assortment of tracks from the tour for you to stream above.
I remember well that my friends and I had taken the train from our home town of Hartlepool with no real idea of what to expect, or how we were going to get home. We knew that The Dead played long sets. We also knew that the last train to Hartlepool left at around 10pm and was a 10 minute gallop from Newcastle City Hall. But we didn’t care, this was a legendary US band and we were going to have fun.
And fun we did have! I’ve got a whole diary entry somewhere about the gig, but I have misplaced it. Things I remember (in no particular order):
They were playing Garcia’s first solo album and NRPS first album before the band came on. I had just bought both of them and they were fast becoming favourites of our proto-hippy get togethers in Hartlepool.
Donna Jean – was she really that good looking? And was there a “thing” between her and Bobby?
Bobby’s ponytail – we only dreamed of having hair that long!
And of course, Garcia!!!!!
As expected, the long first set left us in no doubt that we were going to miss the train, but that didn’t matter at all. And as we had hoped before we got to the gig, we got totally lost in the second set jam!
After that we spent the first part of the night in the Wimpy bar opposite Newcastle Central Station, then spent the rest of the night trying to avoid the Transport Police on the station itself. We eventually caught a train home at around 6am, and headed off into the sunrise. What a night!!
I’ll be playing the re-released CD of this show on the 40th anniversary of the gig Thursday night and trying to relive some of the memories – but mainly enjoying the superb music. There isn’t a bad gig from this whole tour, and Newcastle is high up there with the best of them.
Before the end of next week I hope to have some exclusive vinyl & CD items to give away – I’ll try and catch you out with some Dead trivia!
You can find out much more about the tour and the products available by clicking the image in the right hand sidebar —> over there!