Grace Slick - vocals, organ; Marty Balin - vocals, percussion; Paul Kantner - vocals, guitar; Jorma Kaukonen - lead guitar; Jack Casady - bass; Spencer Dryden - drums
On this Saturday night, the second night of the run, the Jefferson Airplane performs between Sons of Champlin and the Grateful Dead.
The show begins with Grace Slick chatting a bit before launching the band into "Somebody To Love" to kick things off. Everything on this memorable night is performed with passionate intensity, but several things stand out during the first hour. They perform a lovely version of "Wooden Ships," now featuring the "Go Ride The Music" coda. Quite a bit of their most experimental album, After Bathing At Baxter's, is also performed, including "Young Girl Sunday Blues," "Won't You Try Saturday Afternoon," "Martha," and, notably, "The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooniel," here in an expansive ten-minute rendition, complete with a pummeling bass solo from Casady.
Jorma Kaukonen is in exceptionally great form during this set, and his "Uncle Sam Blues," as well as his explorations during a lengthy "Fat Angel," are nothing short of extraordinary. The last half hour is also notable for containing the earliest documented live performance of "Eskimo Blue Day" to feature only the prototype Airplane members. It was performed a month earlier at Woodstock, but the band had been augmented by keyboardist Nicky Hopkins.
The biggest surprise here, however, is an early live rendition of Kantner's Blows Against the Empire track "Mau Mau (Amerikon)." This rarely-performed track is considerably different from its studio counterpart recorded a year later. This version features alternate sequencing of the verses and extensive jamming, some of which is totally unique to this performance. It's also a delight to hear the original Airplane members tackle this piece. Kaukonen and Casady take it to places it never went in later years.
This entire set is fascinating, not only for its experimental nature, but also for hearing the 1969 Airplane, which was a much more aggressive band, tackle earlier material. Much like the Bless Its Pointed Little Head album, which revealed the band in a much heavier light than the studio albums, this set also displays the sheer power and intensity they were capable of as the end of the decade approached.
Written by Alan Bershaw