The Egypt Reviews.

No 17 Vol3. Issue 5.


Ion Will wrote:

        Hi Dark Star, you shoulda been there. it was the best damn Grateful Dead concert(s) I've ever been to. 

       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 the concert... 
         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. 
       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 had 'em. 
          Most people 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 Will 
(Ion is an editor of Fortean Times) 

Dark Star review pt 2.
The Setlists 

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