Grace Slick - vocals, organ; Marty Balin - vocals, percussion; Paul Kantner - vocals, guitar; Jorma Kaukonen - lead guitar; Jack Casady - bass; Spencer Dryden - drums
On this final night of the run, The Jefferson Airplane closed the show, following sets by Sons Of Champlin and the Grateful Dead. The recording begins in progress with "Good Shepherd," Jorma's showcase song on the Volunteers album. That album's material features prominently in this set, as excellent performances of "We Can Be Together," "Wooden Ships" and "Eskimo Blue Day" are all performed.
Early on in the set is the last documented performance of "Wild Thyme," one of the band's more obscure After Bathing at Baxter's tracks, which was not often performed in concert. Also representing that album is a beautiful rendition of Kantner's "Martha" and the set closing "Ballad Of You Me & Pooneil," the latter clocking in at over ten minutes and featuring an astounding bass/drums jam from Casady and Dryden. Grace Slick's sarcastic wit was never more scathing than on "Greasy Heart" and Jorma's squawking guitar compliments her perfectly in a powerful performance. Jorma also performs the classic "Come Back Baby," which would soon become standard fare for Hot Tuna the following year. It's interesting to hear this number in the context of the Airplane.
This night includes two numbers that would shed light on the direction Marty Balin would soon be heading both in and outside the band. First is an embryonic live performance of "Drifting," a song written by Jesse Osbourne. Balin would record this song with Bodacious DF on their self titled album release of 1973, but here it is almost four years earlier. Also of interest is Balin leading the band through the bluesy "You Wear Your Dresses Too Short." This is also notable for being the first time this song was performed in a standalone manner, instead of surfacing within a pre-existing jam. Here Balin really takes charge on the vocals and delivers an impressive performance, much of it improvised. As the energy level increases and the song begins to propel itself into the stratosphere, he wisely backs off and lets the musicians fly.
Two older numbers also surface in the form of "It's No Secret" (the last documented performance of this song, other than during the 1989 Reunion) as well as an extended take on Fred Neil's "The Other Side Of This Life." The latter is a tour-de-force performance with every element of the band synchronizing perfectly; strong vocal blends, tight instrumentation during the verses and then a full tilt blowout jam.
Although the personality conflicts within the band during this era are now legendary, one can't deny that the chemistry they achieved under the right circumstances, created music that was both powerful and highly original. Few bands had such a distinctive instrumental AND vocal sound. Fewer still could reproduce it on stage like the Airplane on a good night. This is certainly one of those good nights!
Written by Alan Bershaw