Garcia Live Volume Eight delivers a complete Jerry Garcia Band concert, recorded live on November 23, 1991 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The band was firing on all cylinders during their Fall ’91 tour and this new release is a beautiful example of their power and grace during this era. The song selection, vocal harmonies, and instrumental mastery on display are vintage Jerry Garcia Band.
The fans who braved the snowstorm to get to this concert were rewarded with a performance for the ages. The band comes out of the gate with two original Hunter / Garcia songs. “Cats Under The Stars” is a great opener to get the crowd moving and it sets the stage for a masterful rendition of “They Love Each Other.” Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” serves as the first cover, and is followed by The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” delivered with the passion and emotion of a Civil War general. Melvin Seals’ organ work is especially moving here too. The epic “Reuben and Cherise” accelerates the pace once again, as Jerry absolutely nails the lyrics, adding some smile-inducing vocal inflections, before ripping into three minutes of blissful calypso-inspired jamming. The rest of the first set is adequate. “Money Honey” is better than expected thanks to fantastic vocal harmonies and Jerry’s filthy solos. “Sisters and Brothers” is abbreviated due to some vocal flubs, but nonetheless is a message we can all use more of these days. “Deal” to close the first set is always smoking.
Set two is magical. Van Morrison’s “Bright Side of the Road” is a nice treat although it sounds a little bit like a warm-up here. “Waiting For A Miracle” is the quintessential 1990’s-era Jerry Band song. The lyrics are delivered straight from the heart and they connect with all of us, including the guy delivering them from the stage. I think I even shed a tear while listening to this one. Next we get “Think” just so Jerry can shred the shit out of the solos. That’s followed by another fan-favorite, The Manhattans’ “Shining Star.” We love this band for their authentic and diverse cover song selection, and this is a prime example of how they took these songs and made them their own. “Ain’t No Bread In The Breadbox” delivers my personal highlight from the show with high energy and imaginative solos. “That Lucky Old Sun” provides a few minutes for reflection before Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” sends the crowd home on a high note.
Garcia Live Volume Eight is one of the best Jerry Garcia Band shows I’ve heard in my life. The exquisite playing and palpable buzz of the crowd on the tapes have been giving me goosebumps for the past two weeks. It’s currently available to purchase or stream and is a wonderful example of the range and brilliance of Jerry Garcia and his band during the legendary Fall 1991 tour. My only advice is to listen to this release at the highest possible volume.