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.
I have thought quite a bit about the live vs. tape thing, and have experienced just what you said where I thought a show I saw was decent but others raved about it later and vice versa. One example is 3-14-81 Hartford, I thought the show live was OK, not a bad show, but certainly not as good as a few nights earlier at MSG, but when I recently went to DL the show from archive.org the user comments on 3-14-81 were raving about how good it was.
A show live can also have it's own barriers to judging the music. There may be noisy or annoying people around you, there may be distractions both good and bad, there may be alcohol or other substances clouding your perception. There could be a beautiful scene, and other's enjoyment of the music/scene around you can also alter your perception of how good the show is, etc etc. On tape you can play it at your convenience, you can truly focus on the music without any distractions, you can listen to it over to fully digest a song or phrase - a recording has it's advantages.
I have found that the two things that are always
better live than on tape are the Drums segment and the Space segment. The Drum-space part of the show rarely translates to the actual event. Something about being there while the drum solo/duet was happening, and something about the quietness during Space, when the whole venue was mellow and waiting to see what they were going to do next, it was much better live than on recordings.