It’s hard to believe, but 43 years ago tonight, the Grateful Dead packed their gear and hit the road for the start of another tour with an opening night at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, NC. What made this show so unique is that it marked the start of their first stretch with keyboardist Brent Mydland, who had just officially joined the Dead for his first show just a few weeks prior on April 22nd.
The performance that night began with Bob Weir tearing into “The Promised Land” before continuing with live Dead favorites “Brown Eyed Women” and “Me And My Uncle”. Although he’d be considered “the new guy” throughout his decade-long stint with the band, Brent sounded right at home with his voice shining through the speakers during the choral vocal section of “Row Jimmy” alongside Weir and Jerry Garcia. The first set would continue with “It’s All Over Now” and “Deal”.
The band returned to start the second half of the show with “Samson and Delilah” and “Tennessee Jed” before tearing into a 12-minute “Terrapin Station” and right into an 18-minute “Playing In The Band”. Following the two lengthy performances, the guitarists and Mydland left the stage to let Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart do their traditional “Drums” > “Space” portion of the show before returning for “Black Peter”. The set wrapped with “Not Fade Away” before returning to seven more minutes of “Playing In The Band”. The one song-encore consisted of “U.S. Blues”, and just like that, the Dead were off and running on another spring tour with their new keyboardist in hand. Fans can revisit the band’s performance that night via the audio below.
Grateful Dead – Charlotte Coliseum – 5/3/1979
[Video: Matthew Vernon]
Mydland would go on to spend the remainder of the decade as the band’s keyboardist before playing his last show on July 3rd, 1990. While Mydland, or the Grateful Dead for that matter, are both no longer with us fans can still catch Dead offshoot acts like Dead & Company playing in stadiums and amphitheaters across the country this summer.
Setlist: Grateful Dead | Charlotte Coliseum | Charlotte, NC | 5/3/1979
Set One: The Promised Land, Brown Eyed Women, Me And My Uncle > Big River, Stagger Lee, Looks Like Rain, Row Jimmy, It’s All Over Now, Deal
Set Two: Samson And Delilah, Tennessee Jed, Terrapin Station > Playing In The Band > Drums > Space > Black Peter > Not Fade Away > Playing In The Band
Encore: U.S. Blues
[Originally published 5/3/19]