Jerry Garcia - lead guitar, vocals; "Pigpen" McKernan - vocals, organ, percussion; Bob Weir - guitar, vocals; Phil Lesh - bass, vocals; Bill Kreutzmann - drums
The Grateful Dead's last show at the Fillmore West was inherently a legendary event, and despite the fact that the group often failed to deliver their best performances at major events, on this night they did rise to the occasion. This is also one of the last shows featuring the original five-piece, prototypical Dead lineup. Pigpen would become deathly ill a few days later, and Keith Godchaux began rehearsing with the band a few weeks later; but Pigpen is in remarkably strong form here, and Garcia seems to have boundless energy on this night, as he also played on every song by The Rowan Brothers and the New Riders prior to this lengthy Dead set.
This is the Dead's second set of the night, which they kick off with the always lovely "Sugar Magnolia" and continue with crowd pleasers "Sing Me Back Home" and a cover of Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried." The highlight of this entire performance is unquestionably "The Other One." Prior to the "Cryptical" sequence that prefaces this extended jam, Phil Lesh announces that their old soundman and legendary "Acid King," Owsley, had been released after serving a lengthy prison term and they dedicate this particular version to him. It's a truly monumental performance with everyone in the band playing in a very exploratory manner. It takes approximately ten minutes of jamming before they peak, but with Garcia and Lesh leading the way, this version of "The Other One" remains interesting the entire time. This is also an excellent example of Bill Kreutzmann's fluid and creative drumming; it's his remarkably sensitive feel that keeps the music flowing and prevents everything from falling apart. There are moments in the last 5 minutes or so, when they literally sound on the verge of spontaneous combustion and are certainly tapped into another realm, something that didn't often happen in 1971. There's no question this is one of the hottest jams of the year and to many, it's one of the best versions they ever played. This version is also unique in that it is one of few that stand alone, without being sandwiched between other songs. Instead of transitioning into another song when they reach the end of the second verse, they spontaneously develop a lovely little coda that brings the piece to a complete close at the end. This was rarely ever done prior to this show and was never done again.
This version of "Casey Jones" and the "Johnny B. Goode" encore were both featured in the Fillmore movie and album release.