Review of Cosmic Charlies at the Mayday (Dark Star)
Dec 31st, Jan 1st/2nd. By Charlie´s Greg Myles (Drums/vocals)
We arrived at the Mayday on New Years Eve and the place looked unbelievable, covered in tie-dyes and posters with a big stage and some nice equipment for us to use, we knew that this was going to be a great party. The place soon became busy and we took our place on the stage. The first set started around 11pm and I particularly remember an enjoyable ‘Don’t Let Go’ which contained quite an extensive jam. We played over midnight with what else but ‘Midnight Hour’, which was also jammed out, before going outside to enjoy the craziness and fireworks. We started our second set with ‘After Midnight’ which signified the start of the New Year in England, before moving on to ‘Here Comes Sunshine’ and then ‘Dark Star’, the first for around four years as far as I can remember. It was a dissonant, broken version lacking form and resembling ‘Space’. It didn’t perhaps have the beauty of many Dead versions, but that’s the unpredicTABLE nature of the song. Once this had broken down to nothing, we moved into ‘Lay Down Sally’, a seldom played JGB tune which we really enjoy. ‘Bathtub Gin’ was up next and although I have reservations about playing Phish tunes as I think it’s hard to do them justice, this one had a decent jam that included the riff from ‘On Broadway’. The other noTABLE event in this set for me was a version of ‘China Doll’ which as well as being a personal favourite of mine, was also my first ever lead vocal performance. I have a little trouble reaching the highest notes, but still I felt it went well enough for me to try another song the next night. By set three I felt that everyone had begun to get a bit wasted ! We struggled through ‘Ohio’ and ‘Watchtower’ with John on vocals before a long ‘NFA’ with our wonderful hostess Anneliese helping out. The party continued long into the night and we felt that we had played well and enjoyed ourselves a lot, although I was sure that the best was yet to come.1.1.99
Richard had begun to regain his voice for this night giving us a larger range of songs to choose from. The atmosphere in the Mayday was a little lighter and perhaps more fun than the previous night, when I suspect most people were drinking lots of beer (including us). From the outset we had more people dancing and grooving and there was more space for people to do their own thing. The highlights of set one for me were ‘Me and My Uncle > Big River’ which was by far the best and tightest version we have ever played, short and to the point. Also ‘Bird Song’ I remember was quiet and delicate and eventually breaking down to nothing in the jam before returning with the fanfare, which I really enjoyed. The feeling of the band after the first set was that we were definitely playing tighter, quieter and generally better than the previous night and we couldn’t wait to get back on. We kicked off the second set with a steady ‘Samson’. This set also contained ‘Character Zero’ which again wasn’t bad, but the highlight of the set was a long ‘Estimated Prophet > The Other One’ which twisted and turned through a tribal feeling drums based jam which eventually drifted down into ‘Stella Blue’ which marked my second ever lead vocal, and was the ideal way to finish the set. Set three was the most jammed out set of them all, starting with a very strange ‘Uncle John’s Band’ that evolved into a Phish style angular jam which really felt inventive, like we were breaking the mould of our usual style of improvising. This turned into ‘Wharf Rat’, another favourite of mine, and then into ‘Throwing Stones’ which again was stretched out, before breaking into ‘Lovelight’ with a hint of ‘Mountain Jam’. This suite of songs must have lasted for an hour or more and certainly felt good to play, we had really done something with the songs rather than just gone through the motions. After three more straightforward songs we were done, exhausted but completely satisfied. Looking back I consider this show to be perhaps the best, or at least the most enjoyable I have ever played.2.1.99
By the third night I think we were beginning to feel a little tired, there is only so much partying you can do before you need to take a break ! The first set didn’t contain anything really unusual, although ‘Shakedown’ had an interesting funk style jam that Andy and I had been working on. Set two included the most jamming, with the unusual combination of ‘Help/Slip/Foolish Heart’, which came across pretty well. Then followed a long piece of music that started with ‘New Speedway Boogie’ and ended with ‘Playing in the Band’. The ‘Terrapin Station’ which appeared amongst all this was not bad, but I remember the ‘Playin’ jam to be the best part, which returned perfectly back into the reprise. We had a few requests (as usual !) for St Stephen, so we started set three with it. I remember it being a bit of a struggle and ‘The Eleven’ also could have been better. ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ though was better, a good new addition to our repertoire. Our attempt at ‘Runaway Jim’ proved abortive, confirming my suspicions that some material is best left to the original artist. We managed to put in one last effort to finish the last show well, with an anthemic ‘Dear Mr Fantasy’ which eventually drifted into a ‘Hey Jude’ refrain and finally ‘And We Bid You Goodnight’ which gave us an emotional and fitting end to what was a fantastically enjoyable three nights of music. The audience had been receptive and enthusiastic and this had translated itself into our music. It had been a great honour to be there and I really can’t wait for the opportunity to do it all again. Once in a while you can get shown the light………
New Years Eve 1998
1.Bertha/Good Lovin, Don´t Let Go, Picasso Moon, Sugaree, Dancin, Midnight Hour [**Outside For Firework Extravaganza**]
2.After Midnight (ie, Midnight In UK), Here Comes Sunshine, Dark Star>Lay Down Sally, Bathtub Gin>On Broadway, Gimme Some Lovin, Scarlet>Eyes, China Doll (Greg, voc), Loose Lucy 3: Ohio (John M, voc–For Walter), Watchtower (John voc), NFA (Anneliese & Scoff, voc)>Jam
1st Jan 1999 1.Stranger, Me & Big R, Smokestack (Rich, voc), TLEO(Scoff, voc), Bird Song, P Land(Rich, voc) 2.Samson, Easy Wind, Character Zero, Big Railroad Blues(Scoff, voc), Estimated>Other One (Rich, voc), Stella (Greg, voc) 3. UJB>Out There Jam>Wharf Rat>Throwing Stones>L Lite>Mountain Jam>L Lite, Catfish (Scoff,voc), Peggy-O, Mr Charlie.
2nd Jan 1999
1:China Rider, Tom Thumbs (Rich, voc), Half Step, Shakedown, LL Rain 2: Bucket (Rich, voc), Help>Slip>Foolish, Speedway>Truckin (Rich voc)>Spanish jam>Terrapin>Playin (Rich, voc) 3:Stephen>The 11>Rolling Stone(Rich, voc), Prudence, Runaway Jim, Sat Nite, Fantasy>Hey Jude >Bid You Goodnight
New Year in Charlieland,
by Michael Fleming
You ever notice how events when they arrive never seem to measure up to how you thought they´d be? Me too, but this New Year´s in Hamburg proved to be a noTABLE exception, all the more so for being stretched out over three nights without noticeable signs of strain except for Richard being a little bit ill. Must´ve been the vodka.
The setting couldn´t have been more relaxed. A little-ish bar called Mayday renamed Dark Star for the occasion, a packed house each night of Deadheads from all over Germany, Denmark and England. Tiedyes all over the walls, candles everywhere. Balloons, streamers plus an inclusive and very reasonable admission which included an all-night free bar and food, and none of the stroppy in-your-face nonsense you take for granted in any English pub. The locals couldn´t have been friendlier. A big thank you to Arne, Anneliese and everyone else who helped put it all together.
But the biggest thank you must surely go to the star attraction our very own and deeply appreciated, though not by nearly enough of you lot out there, >the Cosmic Charlies. In a word they were magnificent, and in my humble opinion to play for a total of 15 hours without repeating a song is no mean feat. Well done, all of you.
Kickoff each night was around 10pm and it continued till around 3am with the odd short break in between for everyone to catch their breath. The delighted smile and beaming expression on Andy´s face as the audience wildly cheerd each number was worth the ticket price alone.
Being as stoned as everyone else I of course didn´t note each setlist but some memorable highlights included a beautiful Catfish John, a Dark Star that just flowed out of the speakers all on its own, an epic mountain jam, an Estimated with just the right ingredients, a Saint Stephen>The Eleven that had the walls throbbing, plus too many more to mention here. With Texas John at the controls the sound was superb and I can´t recall ever seeing the band play with such confidence and assurance as they displayed here on all 3 nights. A wonderful start to 99 and I´m really pleased I went along.