This was quite a feat. Having been to many of those shows I'd say you were quite fortunate. I think '82 was a better year, but '83 had some pretty darn good ones, plus some memorable break outs (Help>Slip> Franklins-Tempe and St. Stephen MSG)
83 was very erratic and Jerry visibly deteriorated quite a bit that year (he was so bloated at the end of the year New Years shows he was almost round). I think its a very underrated year, however. There were some very trippy, jammed out shows in there.
My 'peak' years were from 79-90 and every year had it's highlights. 82 had some really fun shows like Hartford with Phil's earthquake space and the unusual Scarlet-Fire at the Scope, but I would go with 83 over 82.
This is of course all very subjective, but I don't think any tour in '83 had four shows as memorable as my four favorites from summer '82...Austin, KC, 1st night Alpine and Iowa City.
One might counter this by saying spring '83 had Hampton, both nights Brendon Byrne and Burlington or either night Spectrum.
Summer had Park West (not so much for the show but the ambience), 1st night RR and both Santa Fe, and the fall tour was full of goodies.
Again, it's all subjective.
It is indeed very subjective. It's also hard if you haven't seen every show yourself. 83 may stand out because I saw such a high percentage of the shows (I saw a lot in 82 also but not nearly the same percentage of shows). I really liked Portland, Seattle and the two Sante Fe's in summer 83. But I didn't see 82 Austin, KC, 1st night Alpine and Iowa City so it's hard for me to compare.
83 had this trippy quality I loved, probably because Jerry was so drugged out.
Billy, I realize you weren't denigrating 83, just offering an opinion, but listening to tapes is a very different form of judging. There were shows I thought amazing that weren't as impressive when I went back and listened. And vice versa. My comments were specific to opinions of show as I was there.
You're so right! I think it's safe to say that being there vs. listening to the show is so different. However, I've had people send
me boots of shows I was at that they weren't and rave about how good they were as a testament to how good the shows were
drove home the idea how good the show actually was.
A great example of this was the last show Furthur played (last night at Broomfield) Anyone who was there talks about wetting their pants how much it meant to them, and any of us who've heard it know it's the bench mark by which we can measure this band.
Tape wise, I would argue even the tape itself can make a difference. Portland, ME 79. I thought the show was amazing. I have two different tapes, clearly recorded from different locations. One, which I would assume was up recorded up front such that it got the amps versus the PA, confirms what my assessment. Tape two, also good but more PA'ish, sounds lackluster. Like they were totally different shows. You don't get the same sense of energy from the two versions.
Broomfield is probably a good example. I would not be as convinced as you from the tapes themselves. I was not there. I listened to the TaperRob stream, which was excellent. I thought the first set was awesome, by far the best of the three, as good as most second sets. Lost Sailor-Saint was decent but lower in energy. Then it it picked up again. DarkStar was a little too spacey at points but had all these interesting jams and they were clearly into it, very similar to Phila from summer. The Unbroken was excellent and the days between with Jason was amazing. And yet, when I listen to the sound board, it's all decent but not as nearly inspiring as when I listened to the stream; the UC and DB still stand out but I also notice the flaws more - like the Dark Star slows to a crawl at points where it's not that interesting. So even listening to the live stream (in the 'moment') was totally different than going back and listening to the recording. I don't doubt it was amazing if you were there, I thought that came through from afar at the time.