My first show in July of 1972. Dillon Stadium, Hartford, CT. People where sayin' then that the band used to be "better," back in the day. This has been a constant theme that people have repeated since that day. From then until now the band has kept changing. Paul Simon once wrote, "after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same."
I do have my favorite years (points of time) where I liked the direction and playing more then other time periods, but it has always been and continues to be a special sweet ride. I can nitpick with the best of them, but what purpose does that serve? IMHO, this music and experience has always been positive and special. 40 years later, I look forward to hearing the band play at the Beacon. I understand if people want to get off of the bus. Music appreciation is subjective. If you no longer find value or music that is worth your time, why go? One of the reasons the band has remained so interesting to me (for so long) is the changes and the different ideas brought to the table. Space vs. 3 minute songs, structure vs. improv, one drummer vs. two, piano vs. organ, who sings which songs, what songs are played; all this is a fun discussion. To hold on to one fixed version of how things should be and complain if that is not what you are getting, seems limiting and counter productive. Part of this experience has always been about growth, being open to new and different directions. I remember being on a bus ride home after a show in the mid 80's when one loud and opionated person informed everyone that this was a good band, but that the "space" portion of the show sucked and had to be done away with. This band has always played what they wanted to play and do not play music to meet anyone elses preconcieved notions of what the music should sound like. That is a good thing.