Next up in the ongoing GarciaLive series is Volume 8 a full concert remastered from a soundboard recording of the Jerry Garcia Band at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI from November 23, 1991. The show features a lineup of the group that was its most enduring and, perhaps, best suited for the role of backing the Grateful Dead guitarist. Within the two sets, there are both the familiar and the nuggets, sonically sounding as warm and crisp as the officially issued Jerry Garcia Band live album that was in stores at the time.
Some of the repertoire from that official live album, recorded in the spring of 1990, is repeated here, but as any Garcia fan knows, really, there are no repeats. Even what had become standards of a Garcia Band performance- “Waiting on a Miracle,” “Tangled Up in Blue”- were given to variances in style and substance depending on the momentum of the evening. To that, the momentum here is a bit restrained, with an opening “Cats Under the Stars” that garners immediate applause for the inclusion of a Garcia solo catalog original, as does, later in the set, its companion, “Reuben and Cherise.”
Overall, it’s an opening half that moves rather nimbly, shuffling through Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally,” and “Money Honey” with restful ease. Melvin Seal’s muscular organ, very much a catalyst throughout, spices up a funkier run at the Dead’s “They Love Each Other,” and draws the tears on a powerful break in The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Seal often punctuates the rhythm with chordal stabs, as well as dropping synth accents into a closing “Deal,” as Garcia ramps up a ringing solo, climbing to a first-set summit.
The second set offers a few surprises, opening with Garcia pushing his vocal range to its highest on Van Morrison’s “Bright Side of the Road.” He’s in fine voice on this night, his tone carrying a rich, knowing patina that even when challenged retains its strength. Still, it’s the guitar in his hands, on an slowed-down version of the Manhattan’s R&B classic “Shining Star,” that is pure Jerry. Paced patiently and economically, it’s as gracious and moving a solo as anything Captain Trips has ever put down. It does require a final “Tangled Up in Blue” to rally the energy back up, following the ballad “That Lucky Old Sun,” and finish off another stellar and magnificently recorded night of Jerry Garcia Band bliss.