Ion Will wrote:
Hi Dark Star, you shoulda
been there. it was the best damn Grateful Dead concert(s) I've ever
The whole thing went like clockwork.
I went out to the site on Friday afternoon, having arrived in Cairo
on Friday morning and looned around watching the tuning-up of the sound
system - I gather there was a buzz/ hiss in the Thursday concert - anyway,
they tracked it down. The recording truck and a lot of the roadie scene
was provided by the lads from The Manor - forgot to ask if an album
will be released, but I'm sure it will be.
By sunset I was sitting
on a rock writing some facts into a notebook, when Garcia and Mountain
Girl and a few others came over. Garcia kinda recognised me from backstage
at The Lyceum mad-rap session of a few years ago and I at once gave
him seven copies of Fortean Times, ish No.26 and a pile of blurbs and
one copy of Phenomena. General freak-out as the Dead, and especially
Garcia and their top equipment honcho, Steve Parish, are totally into
paraFortean manifestations, and we had a nice 'Have you heard this weirdness?'
chat for a half-hour or so and several numbers. I was gently propelled
on to the stage and given into the care of S. Parish. I mentioned that
I'd got my guest pass through DARK STAR and they naturally knew of it.
I was introduced to many people - Kesey, who on Saturday night was in
fancy dress, a complete sheikh kit and head-dress, and calling himself
'Baba Bhaksheesh' - Paul Krassner, of Realist and Yippie fame - Bill
Graham of well-known fame - and all of the band. Many were impressed
by the cosmic appropriateness of it all - some had weird' personal UFO/coincidence
tales to tell - Garcia (and others) are big "Illuminatus" fans and 'Cosmic
Trigger' addicts, so we had a nice complicated conspiratorial connection.
Steve Parish gave me one of the special T-shirts - owow! - so that I
could come and go with no problems. They insisted I stay on stage for
What was humourous
was that the site is the 'Son Et Lumiere" place and before each concert,
vast gangs of middle-aged Belgian (?) tourists turned up for it. They
floodlight the pyramids and Sphinx and portentous voices boom out cliches,
and travelogue music roars out of vast speakers - weird contrast to
The concerts started off with
Hamza El-Din solo on oud, then a group of local lads all in white with
turbans and tambourines I shuffled on stage, nice vibe started
up and very delicately the Dead took up the beat and wriggled into the
music. Can't remember any order. but there was an amazing "Sugar Magnolia"
at the end of the Friday concert. Saturday they played (natch) "One
More Saturday Night'.
There was stuff
from 'Terrapin', "Ramble On Rose"; no "Dark Star', no "Morning Dew".
It was all in tight beautiful performances, Garcia playing each one
as if for the first time, impeccable beat and timing. On stage was great
- there were huge plastic bins full of ice and beer, and bottled mineral
water was big this year; everyone, wives, children and entourage all
at one time or another wore Arab head-dress and all went to the village
and bought kefiehs -long cotton kaftan gear, the everyday Egyptian costume.
The Egyptian backstage crew were far out, especially Abdul and 'Little
Crazy' - the English roadies were very clannish and didn't seem to mix
much, trying to show how cool they were.
The audience was mixed - a few wandering freaks. locals and tourists,
but everyone bopped, the local people right in there with the beat.
One guy juggled
green luminous balls. Bats and owls flew about. The sky was clear and
the eclipsed moon passed dead overhead, amazing -
Sirius also blazed, especially at 2300 hours.
After the Saturday night show, Bill Graham paid for 40/50 camels and/or
horses and a ragged cavalcade moved off in the moonlight, the
whole band and friends,ending up at a shanty night-club in the desert,
called Sahara City. Grub was served and we watched the sun come up,
pyramids in the distance over the sand; much galloping around on Arab
steeds - Mickey Hart observed that he had always wanted to order '50
more beers for my friends.' and did so, several times. I rode back on
a camel, so did Garcia and Mountain Girl. Goodbyes were said and I split.
Hopefully the Dead,'Fortean Times and Dark Star will form a Grand Alliance
and destroy reality.
(Ion is an editor of Fortean Times)