Spring 90 is synonymous with many things to many people, but in the Grateful Dead world, it was perhaps one of the most vital tours in the beloved band’s history: everything was clickin’. Over the next few weeks, Glide will be revisiting Grateful Dead’s Spring ’90 tour in honor of its 30th anniversary, with recaps and video highlights. For those stuck at home during these bizarre times, there’s no better time than now to go back 30 years and couch up this run…
March 15, 1990 – The Capital Centre, Landover, MD:
Night two of the three-day tour opening stop outside of the nation’s capital saw the band pick up right where they left off the previous evening, with a scorching first set that featured a surprise pair of well-played bust-outs – “Easy to Love You” and the Beatles’ “Revolution” – as well as a breathtakingly beautiful take on the Garcia/Hunter gem “Althea” that was included on the live double-album “Without a Net” released later that year. The entire show itself was released in 1997 as a special double album Terrapin Limited.
Celebrating Phil Lesh’s 50th birthday on this evening, the band was seemingly in a great mood and it absolutely comes through in their playing. With Garcia occasionally sprinkling in “Happy Birthday” teases in between songs, the band tore through an awe-inspiring second set which features a set-opening “China->Rider” that is oozing with energy in addition to a “must-hear” version of “Terrapin Station.”
“Easy to Love You”: Debuted in 1979, this tender love song was the first original composition from then-rookie keyboardist Brent Mydland to be performed by the Dead. It quickly became a first-set regular, with nearly 40 live performances before it was suddenly dropped from the group’s repertoire a little more than a year later. This version, the first since September, 1980, was a welcome surprise during the first set. Obviously well-rehearsed, this take is anchored by a punchy piano solo from Mydland that gracefully slides into some equally bouncy – albeit brief – leads from Garcia. The band was clearly pleased with the results of this bust-out, as “Easy to Love You” immediately resumed its role as a common opening set breather until Brent’s death later that year.
“Althea”: This prized Garcia/Hunter composition instantly became a band & fan-favorite alike after it’s 1979 debut, with over 270 total performances through 1995. This pillowy version, easily among the band’s best ever, flows with the beauty and grace of a gentle summer breeze. Garcia is simply brilliant throughout, executing every single note with precision & purpose while delivering powerfully emotional vocals.
“Terrapin Station”: While the late ’70s are oft-considered the prime years for this Garcia/Hunter masterpiece, this particular performance can proudly go toe-to-toe with the best from any era. Propelled by the dynamic ouroboros-like drumming of Bill Kreutzmann & Mickey Hart, the band is locked-in and hits every change en route to a stunning MIDI-inspired jam that was lovingly entitled “Mock Turtle Jam” on the 1997 limited edition live release “Terrapin Limited.”
“Revolution”: One of a handful of Beatles songs the Dead covered throughout their career, this entertaining cover was a welcome – and surprising choice with its poignant lyrics and catchy hook. Often utilized as an encore, as it was tonight, this song was the evening’s second bust-out – the previous performance was November, 1985 – though the Dead only played it once more a few weeks later before retiring it for good.
Previous Spring ’90 Tour Revisits