Jefferson Airplane - Aerie (Gang of Eagles)

Winterland (San Francisco, CA), 09/22/1972

Music Audio Jefferson Airplane
Share Tweet Submit Pin

This final performance of the original Jefferson Airplane is not only a great show, but is the only known Airplane concert to include so much material from their last two albums, Bark and Long John Sliver. Additionally, the group performs rare material from Papa John Creach's early solo albums, as well as a track from Grace and Paul's first album, Sunfighter.

At this point in time, there were two distinct creative factions operating within the band: Slick and Kantner's collaborative material comprising the one, and Kaukonen and Casady's making up the other. Listening to this concert, one can clearly hear where the two factions were headed.

The show begins with another classic Bill Graham introduction of the band members and they launch directly into a rip-roaring version of "Somebody To Love" to get things going. A new song by Kantner, "Twilight Double Leader," follows, and the high energy level is quite apparent.

A beautiful - and sadly the last - version of the classic "Wooden Ships" to feature Kaukonen's searing guitar and Casady's thunderous bass is up next, followed by Grace and Papa John's collaboration on "Milk Train." The audience then gets a real treat, as the band performs an extremely rare live version of "Blind John," the captivating song that Kantner, Slick and Freiberg contributed to Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's first solo album.

Next, the band essentially morphs into electric Hot Tuna for a smoking blues version of "Come Back Baby." More new material surfaces in the next three songs, including the rarely performed title track to their final album and the only known live performance of Slick's "Son Of Jesus." Fans of early electric Hot Tuna will be delighted by the next 25 minutes of the show, beginning with "Papa John's Downhome Blues," a track from Creach's self-titled debut album, followed by an incredible version of "Eat Starch Mom." This song began as a searing jam for Kaukonen and Casady. Grace later added lyrics for the version recorded by the Airplane, and here we get a rare taste of what early electric Hot Tuna might have sounded like with Slick on vocals. The infectious instrumental "John's Other," followed by "Trial By Fire," is more classic Hot Tuna (in spite of the latter being released on the Airplane's Long John Silver), and both songs would become staples of that band for the next few years. This section of the show has all the charm and power of the first Hot Tuna studio album, which was recorded during this time.

The group returns to more characteristic Airplane form on the next three numbers, including rare live versions of "Law Man" and "Aerie" in addition to "Have You Seen The Saucers." This song in particular clearly demonstrated Kantner's ongoing fascination with science fiction and is right in line with the material he'd begin composing for Blows Against the Empire.

Kaukonen and Casady once again take over for a funky jam session on "Feel So Good," followed by the classic Airplane tune "Crown Of Creation." As the show winds to a close, they pull out another highly unusual number, "Walkin' the Tou Tou." This rarity was a track Kaukonen and Casady had recorded for Papa John's second solo album and is another great electric Hot Tuna instrumental, sadly dropped forever following this show. The show ends with a brief version of "Diana," a track from Slick and Kantner's Sunfighter , which segues into the band's call to arms, "Volunteers," to end the set.

They return for an encore, with Airplane founder, Marty Balin, in tow. With Balin leading the band for the first time since his exit two years prior, they improvise on a lengthy jam of "You Wear Your Dresses Too Short" to end the night. This concert was definitely filled with remarkable performances and great diversity. It's unknown whether the band knew this would be their last performance, but this final flight was a certainly a soaring conclusion to a legendary band.

Written by Alan Bershaw

More from Jefferson Airplane