Day 172: Bertha, 4/14/72

This first Denmark show is probably my favorite show of the entire Europe 72 tour. There’s so much going right on that tour that it’s hard to pick a favorite, but every time I put on a E72 show I end up comparing it to 4/14. It’s not hard to hear why this show is my comparison baseline when you experience the sonic bombast of Bertha to kick off the show.

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Some Dead songs ease you in (excuse the pun) and others kick you in the teeth. This Bertha is one of the latter. You can hear that the band are pumped and excited to play. This was their first show in mainland Europe after opening the tour with three shows in England. Maybe it was that Continental setting that got them extra jazzed for the show. Of course, a full two day break from the previous show in Newcastle probably helped keep the band fresh for what would be a whirlwind tour.

In re-listening to this song for this post I get the impression that it will become the version by which I measure all other Berthas. Even as the song’s arrangement gained additional nuances over the years this straight up rocker sets the bar pretty high in my opinion. Your mileage may vary, but feel free to drop your suggestions in the comments.

[Speaking of Europe 72 – If anyone missed it there is a video on YouTube of the 4/21/72 performance. You can find a copy of it here.]

Jerry and Bob kick things off here, but if you don’t immediately notice Phil you’re not doing it right. He is playing like a beast; he’s all over the place and man is it awesome. Billy keeps up with him nicely, and Keith offers a nice run into the first chorus. By the second verse Keith is contributing more. Pigpen provides some organ sustain during the chorus sections, but man no one is even close to touching Phil here. Keith plays some really nice runs during the third verse, and at the start of that one there’s some nice guitar work, although I admit I don’t know who is playing it. I suspect Jerry, but I don’t know if he could play like that and sing at the same time. Jerry’s solo is an attempt to do an impression of Phil, and Mr. Garcia does an admirable job. As the band works their way toward the end of the song Phil keeps up his bass onslaught. It’s easy to see why this entire so is so good if this is how they start things off!

Complete Setlist 4/14/72

Previous Bertha DFAY Selections

  • Day 59
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3 comments to “Day 172: Bertha, 4/14/72”
  1. This is definitely a great version of Bertha. I only have a handful of the Europe 72 shows (counting the two mainstream releases). Judging solely by the cover art, I assumed that the Bertha from 5-10 would have been the “best” of the tour so I’m curious how you, or anyone else who has both shows, think those two Berthas compare.
    I recently picked up a couple shows from this tour and had a tough time deciding which two to buy. They’re all so good. I read through the Deadheads Taping Compendium and that just made it tougher; almost every show sounds like a must have.

  2. Without apparent introduction, the band strokes the opening and is off to the races. Lord, listen to Jerry’s voice soar. This is not just a momentary thing – he sings the whole song as if he would never get to again. The band hears this and responds with their best. I’ve never heard anything quite like it. Turn it up! When it’s time for the solo, the emoting transfers perfectly from human voice to guitar voice, where the melody is fully subverted in favor of psychedelic renderings. Aw, it’s just some country licks, ain’t it? No! It’s pure magic. Just a few repeats of “anymore” get us to the end and a quiet “thank you” from Weir. Phil explains that the band plays “all kinds of music” and Pigpen repeats it.

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