The Grateful Dead are the grand old men of the psychedelic musical movement which first flowered in San Francisco in 1967. Sadly, the musicians are beginning to show their age. Their show at the Capital Centre last night was a creaky affair with stodgy vocals and long-winded instruments which plodded along like Saturday night dance music at Sun City.
A major feature of the Dead's music has been the energetic guitar solos of Jerry Garcia. But Garcia seems to be slowing down -- his riffs sounded weary and uninspired, and the group has slowed down to match his retiring style. The result was a series of excruciating, extended guitar breaks which droned away indefinitely (one song lasted 30 minutes).
The rest of the group has not fared any better than Garcia. The rhythms were shaky at times, and there were several harmonic sections which simply failed to materialize. Throughout the show, the musicians sauntered about the stage, playing their instruments absentmindedly, as if they were about to nod off.
At one time, the Grateful Dead were lively exponents of popular music and culture. While the hippies, Haight-Ashbury and love-ins have come and gone, however, the Grateful Dead keep going on and on . . . and on.