Talk as fans
met up at the various watering holes and hotels of Bilston was of
the gridlocked traffic and appalling weather conditions which made
for a nightmare drive for everybody to tonight's gig. It was a shame
weren't in the best of moods, as this looks like a great venue.
There was a dance floor at the front of the auditorium for those
who like to boogie on down, and a seating area for aged hippies
No, actually, I was videotaping the whole thing and had a great
vantage point from which to do it.
act, Derrin Nauendorf (catchy name!), didn't do much for me. OK,
he was a fine acoustic guitarist and to attempt Voodoo Child segueing
into Are You Experienced? takes some bottle, but it seemed to be
too much thrash and not a lot of finesse for my liking.
were further frayed when the DJ announced that the band would be
on at 9.10pm, and the band didn't actually start until about 9.30.
Finally all the anxiety was over as the band launched into a stirring
version of 'Have You
Seen The Saucers?' The usual opener on other dates, 'St Charles'
This number is from a later period than their psychedelic heyday,
but is one of the high points, at least of the more straightforward
rock songs. Marty obviously enjoys the "little old country
toon" 'Count On Me' judging by the number of times it has been
featured on the tour. One less featured number was 'Darkly Smiling'
which actually goes back to the Great Society days of 1966. Then
it was 'Teaching The Computers To Dream' the new song getting its
debut on this tour, followed by the show-stopping 'Silver Spoon.'
This song, from the Kantner-Slick Sunfighter album was an epic I
never expected to see performed live, and Diana Mangano far exceeds
expectations with her performance on this. She actually outdoes
Grace Slick; hard to imagine, but just ask anyone who was there.
then took the limelight with 'Miracles,' 'Hearts' and 'Only One
You' (in response to a request from the highly knowledgeable Graham
Shanks, one of the all-time great supporters of all things Jeffersonian).
Then things got a
bit psychedelic with 'Have You Seen The Stars Tonight->Starship'
and 'Across The Board' We were then subjected to a bit of humour
as Prairie's monitor broke down. Prairie (lighheartedly) threatened
to quit, the sound man, Michael Eisenstein said he couldn't fix
it, and Paul moaned that he had to do everything.
Paul filled in the time rapping about alcoholics, winding up Jack
Casady and going to the bathroom, not necessarily in that order.
Things finally got back on track with 'JPP McStep B Blues' a very
early Airplane song that only made it onto the 'Early Flights' collection
of rarities years after it was originally recorded. The set proper
was rounded off by 'Ride The Tiger' and 'She Has Funny Cars,' but
they were soon back on for Marty's solo spot 'Coming Back To Me'
then everyone for 'Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil' (with the brief
reprise of Teaching the Computers To Dream, that has featured on
this song on several dates), followed by 'White Rabbit' and 'Volunteers.'
has been the instrumental workout of the tour, with Slick Aguilar
usually getting a namecheck if a suitably quiet point occurs during
The whole band seems to have gone up a gear on this tour and Slick
displays greater confidence, prowling across the stage, as opposed
to his more static performance in 2000. He has a massive task on
his hands as he has to sound at times like Kaukonen, others like
Garcia, and yet others like Craig Chaquico.
That's a tall order and he carries it off supremely well and even
asserts some of his own individuality as well.
to Jelly for providing the set list and a few other memory joggers
in this article.
Words - Doctor
Dark - November 2002