As a Grateful Dead fan, I can attest that it is no easy feat to narrow down the countless live shows and performances to just a select few. Yet, after hours upon hours of listening and re-listening to some of the most remarkable concerts out there, I have finally compiled a list of my most listened to Grateful Dead shows in 2023.
My most listened to Grateful Dead show of the year 2023 was undoubtedly April 8, 1972 in London, England. This particular concert, famously referred to as “The Wembley ’72,” is widely regarded as one of the band’s greatest performances to date. From the early numbers like “Bertha” and “Me and My Uncle” to the stunning “Dark Star>Sugar Mags>Caution” the Wembley ’72 show sees the Dead at their absolute peak. The setlist alone is enough to keep any Deadhead glued to their headphones, but it was the intricacies of the band’s jam and energy that truly makes this one stand out.
My second most played Grateful Dead show for 2023 was April 26, 1972 in Frankfurt, Germany. This concert took place just two weeks after the Wembley show, and it’s clear that the energy and momentum from their London performance carried over. Featuring classics like “Truckin” and “Playing in the Band,” as well as the absolutely incredible “The Other One” this show has an undeniable magic energy that has kept me coming back time and time again.
The third show on my most-played list is the May 26, 1973 concert which took place in San Francisco. What set this particular performance apart for me is the China Cat>Rider, Big River, Bertha, Around & Around, Half Step cluster. This show has big time energy.
The November 11, 1973 gig follows closely behind as my fourth most played Grateful Dead show of 2023. The show is notable for its never-ending “Dark Star” and the ecstatic “Eyes of the World”.
Fifth on my most listened to list is May 19, 1974, Portland, Oregon. The show is full of surprises, including a beautiful “Weather Report Suite” and a transcendental “Truckin>Jam>Mind Left Body Jam>Not Fade Away>Going Down The Road, ending with One More Saturday Night. Ending the night with a hot encore US Blues. Another high energy show featuring electrifying, euphoric jams that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of 1974.
Last but certainly not least is January 22, 1978 in Eugene, Oregon. This show serves as a testament to the ever-shifting, ever-evolving sound of the Dead. While the band has changed a lot since their early days, they still have the ability to conjure up something truly magical. Highlights include a killer version of “The Other One” leading into St Stephen>Not Fade Away>Around & Around. I love this show.
In sum, the Grateful Dead has had an enormous impact on the world of music, from their endless touring to their legendarily intricate jams. Despite the passage of time, these timeless tunes keep us coming back for more, and these concerts from the early years remain some of the band’s most beloved. To truly experience these shows is to embark on a journey through space, sound, and time, all tied together by the inimitable spirit of the Grateful Dead.