Jerry Garcia - lead guitar, vocals; "Pigpen" McKernan - vocals, organ, percussion; Bob Weir - guitar, vocals; Phil Lesh - bass, vocals; Bill Kreutzmann - drums
After a few months of recovery from managerial problems and the sudden departure of drummer Mickey Hart, it's back to the original five piece prototype Dead lineup, with friends, The New Riders of the Purple Sage opening. This concert would conclude the Dead and NRPS's final five-night run of concerts at the Fillmore East. The tape mixes on this entire run of shows is spectacular, with the nuances of every instrument and vocal clean and clear. The tone of Garcia's guitar has never sounded sweeter and Lesh's bass comes through strong and punchy.
Due to quality, length and variety of songs, as well as being the last Dead concert ever at the Fillmore East, this is one of the most popular Dead concerts ever recorded. While the previous night has more consistently inspired playing, this show does have a lot of fine moments. Much of this night focused on the wealth of Garcia/Hunter material from Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, as well as newer material from Garcia and Weir's forthcoming solo albums. But this final Fillmore East set is most fascinating for venturing back into their catalogue with the first three Dead albums represented here.
Highlights include one of the most inspired group improvisations of the entire year, directly following the drum solo after "Alligator" midway through this second set. Essentially a jam that develops out of the ether, this builds in intensity to the point of near spontaneous combustion before eventually settling down into "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad." The "China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider" sequence is also a crowd pleaser, and despite being incomplete due to a reel change, this version doesn't disappoint.
Following a rousing encore of "Uncle John's Band," the New York City audience refuses to let the group go. After a heartfelt aknowledgement of the band from Bill Graham, a humorous interaction ensues between Graham and the relentless Fillmore East audience who still want more. Shout's of "More!" and "Why are you closing the Fillmore?" are heard. Clearly tired after a monumental night, the Dead do eventually return to the stage. Lesh is heard to comment "gonna suck the last ounce right out of us, aren't ya" to the relentless audience. They close it out by delivering the last ever performance of "Midnight Hour" with Pigpen on lead vocals; here to become the Dead's swan song to the Fillmore East.