All advised, the Grateful Useless performed over 2,000 concert events throughout their 30-year profession. Throughout that point, the Nineteen Eighties represented a significant shift in the best way that the Useless operated. Between 1980 and 1987, the Useless didn’t launch a single studio album, as an alternative selecting to pay attention their focus solely on reside performances. The band shaped a brand new identification, bolstered by new keyboardist Brent Mydland, that noticed new materials filter in with each new 12 months. That new materials generally got here on the expense of older and beloved classics from the band’s discography.
Within the pantheon of legendary Useless songs, few tracks are as iconic as ‘Darkish Star’. Though the unique single model of the music clocked in at below three minutes, the composition was much less of a conventional music and extra of a constantly-evolving car for the band’s exploratory jamming. It wasn’t unusual to listen to variations of ‘Darkish Star’ attain 20-plus minutes, or for different songs to filter out and in of the music’s sequence earlier than the band returned to the shape.
After the music’s prolonged look on 1969’s Dwell/Useless, followers clamoured to listen to ‘Darkish Star’ in all its prolonged glory. It’s not sure what number of occasions the band performed ‘Darkish Star’, with numbers starting from round 230 to 250 throughout three a long time. It will have been extra, however ‘Darkish Star’ skilled lengthy stretches of dormancy and rumoured retirement all through the Useless’s reside profession.
The longest stretch with out ‘Darkish Star’ got here within the Nineteen Eighties. Throughout ten years, the Useless solely performed the music six occasions. From 1980 to 1989, the music was solely performed twice. Listed here are all six performances of the monitor from that decade and the context round when and why ‘Darkish Star’ was performed at these explicit reveals.
December thirty first, 1981 – Oakland, California
The Useless had been at all times ones to have fun the tip of a 12 months in model. This explicit New Yr’s present featured a visitor set with Joan Baez, sit-ins from the likes of Matt Kelly and John Cipollina, the ultimate efficiency of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’, and creator Ken Kesey ranting and raving in between units on mic. All in all, a really memorable evening for the Useless.
However what followers didn’t know on the time was that the encore efficiency of ‘Darkish Star’, the primary in over two years, would even be the ultimate efficiency of the monitor for one more three years. The ’80s represented a time of change for the Useless, and ‘Darkish Star’ simply didn’t have a correct place within the constantly-changing setlists.
July thirteenth, 1984 – Berkeley, California
The lore that surrounds this explicit efficiency of ‘Darkish Star’ is as legendary because the music itself. Was it true that the band and the viewers noticed a taking pictures star that evening, prompting the band to mud off the primary ‘Darkish Star’ in practically three years? Did the nefarious vitality of the date falling on Friday the thirteenth have something to do with it?
What is thought for positive is that the group goes completely bananas when the Useless arrive again on stage for his or her encore and drop into ‘Darkish Star’. The joy and jubilation helps masks what’s a comparatively meandering model of the music, however at this level, any model of ‘Darkish Star’ is welcome. What adopted was one other 5 years of wilderness for ‘Darkish Star’.
October ninth, 1989 – Hampton, Virginia
1989 represented a rebirth of the Useless. Having achieved a brand new degree of business success because of 1987’s In The Darkish, the Useless had been additionally now one of many largest live performance attracts on the earth. Having achieved one in all their most elusive targets, the band felt a newfound freedom to embrace their previous and make Grateful Useless reveals consultant of the band’s whole profession.
A part of that meant bringing again ‘Darkish Star’, however now in a extra frequent capability. Between 1974 and 1988, ‘Darkish Star’ was carried out simply 5 occasions in complete. From 1989 to 1994, the music could be performed one other 32 occasions earlier than lastly being retired on March thirtieth, 1994. This present additionally noticed the primary ‘Attics of My Life’ since 1972, proving the Useless had been beginning to lean into their beloved earlier songs an increasing number of.
October sixteenth, 1989 – East Rutherford, New Jersey
Because the bust out of ‘Darkish Star’ per week earlier in Hampton had gone over so nicely, the Useless opted to rapidly deliver again the music once they pulled into East Rutherford for the final of a five-night stand on the Brendan Byrne Enviornment. Devoted Deadheads who caught all 5 reveals got a significant reward when ‘Darkish Star’ kicked off the primary set.
This explicit model of ‘Darkish Star’ technically lasted near an hour, however that’s solely as a result of the band kicked off the set with the primary verse earlier than steering into ‘Enjoying within the Band’, ‘Uncle John’s Band’, ‘Drums/House’, ‘I Will Take You Dwelling’ and ‘I Want a Miracle’ after which lastly crashing again into the second verse of ‘Darkish Star’. The Useless additionally ended the present with an early-years encore favorite, ‘And We Bid You Goodnight’, making it a potent celebration for Deadheads previous and new.
October twenty sixth, 1989 – Miami, Florida
Simply ten days after the earlier ‘Darkish Star’, the Useless trotted out one other model of the basic monitor in Miami. By this level, phrase had unfold amongst Deadheads that ‘Darkish Star’ was again completely. That type of expended look might need diminished the band’s spirits a bit, contemplating how this model of ‘Darkish Star’ was extra discordant and aggressive than earlier ones.
Suggestions was at all times a vital sonic factor to the Grateful Useless’s psychedelic sound, but it surely turned much less and fewer distinguished because the band members grew older. This ‘Darkish Star’ brings again the screeching tones that made up the late ’60s variations of the music, together with new MIDI sound results and wild drum passages. It’s an particularly darkish ‘Darkish Star’, if that’s your type of factor.
December thirty first, 1989 – Oakland, California
Simply because it had began, ‘Darkish Star’ ended its ’80s run on the band’s annual New Yr’s Eve present. On the identical venue the place the band stunned followers with the primary ’80s model of the music, the viewers was greeted with one other ‘Darkish Star’ to shut out the last decade.
This model of ‘Darkish Star’ confirmed how unpredictable the music might actually be. Solely the primary verse of the monitor is sung at this present, and the band don’t revisit the shape in any respect for the remainder of the live performance. ‘Darkish Star’ would see many revisits through the Nineteen Nineties, however the Useless go away the ’80s with one in all their most iconic tracks now as soon as once more firmly of their setlists.