THE FISH, GRATEFUL DEAD IN SHRINE ROCK CONCERT
In a Shrine Exposition Hall almost cold enough to form icicles on the amps, Country Joe and the Fish, Spirit, and the Grateful Dead headlined Scenic Sound's pre-Christmas week-end pair of rock concerts.
Scheduled as an "extra added attraction," the flu-ridden Sir Douglas Quintet was inadequately replaced by both the Comfortable Chair and the Mint Tattoo.
Produced by Doors duo Krieger and Densmore, the six men in the Comfortable Chair displayed no particular individual brilliance nor any cohesive group identity.
The Mint Tattoo unwisely offered lengthy over-ambitious improvisations, and this quasi-blues trio seemed bland and diffuse in the Shrine's vast chilly reaches.
On Friday, the Grateful Dead was plagued by sound system deficiencies on the main stage that particularly weakened vocal contributions. Nevertheless, the Dead's "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and "Turn On Your Lovelight" - the latter a particularly effective example of tightly-organized ensemble playing - produced the evening's first real excitement.
Back on the better-sounding sidestage, Spirit earned the concert's most enthusiastic response with their instrumental variety, creative use of feedback, and sheer performance power.
Less an actual unit than a showcase for individual members, Spirit's only weakness is its rather flat vocals.
Rather remote in his one-man center-stage set, percussionist "Pulse" showed the impressive ability to operate his own blacklight and sound effects equipment while executing a complex series of sonic maneuvers on the congas and bongos. With more careful pacing, his act should really develop into something astounding.
The evening ended with a long set by Country Joe and the Fish, not the most reliable of performers, but here in exceptional good form.
With a negligible amount of their frequently emphasized protest material and a concentration on instrumentals (given the present sound system, a good idea) Country Joe provided extended variations on such material as "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine," "Here I Go Again," and "So Nice to Have Love," the last a surprisingly commercial-sounding pop ditty handled with evident sensitivity.
(by Lewis Segal, from the Los Angeles Times, Dec 24 1968)
Thanks to snow & rain at the Transitive Axis forum.