This was only my third RatDog show. After seeing the Dead 20 times between 91 and 95, I fell out of the scene for a while after Jerry died. Man what a mistake. This show started a little late. But when it did start, boy did it ever! The boys started out with a sweet little jam that burst into a great "Help on the Way > Slipknot!" I was right up front between Bobby and Kenny. Kenny is alot of fun to watch play. He puts his whole heart and soul into every note he plays. I remembered that last year at this venue, they did this song as the encore and we had come full circle. But the dew was not to be rolled away yet as the band eased into a blues groove and Bobby looked around for his shoes. "Walkin' Blues" segues into "Loser" which reminded me of Jerry. He sang this the last time I saw the Dead, and I'm pretty sure it was the last time he ever sang it. Bob sings it well too. After this, it was time for the acoustic set. "Blackbird" was beautiful. You can tell Bob and Rob have been playing this together for a long time. Unfortunately for me, Bob was facing Rob so I couldn't pick up some of his licks! This was the only "trio" song as the full band came back for "Black-Throated Wind" and "Bombs Away." Both sounded good, maybe not great. But then Jeff did a great prelude to "Lucky Enough." Then they rocked out the end of the set with "West L.A. Fadeaway > Aiko Aiko." I love the way RatDog does these combos that the Dead never did. This was great way to end the first set. What a blast!
We went and got some OJ and I thought about the set. This was my first DJ Logic show and so far I was very impressed. And I thought overall the band is getting tighter. I was amused at Bob's relentless conducting. Maybe I'll bring him a conducter's baton one of these shows.
We worked our way down front, refreshed and ready for more. And boy did we get it. The boys opened the set with a huge 45 minute "New Speedway Boogie > The Other One > He's Gone. This was my first "Other One" and I was not disappointed. It rocked, with the occasional hints of "Easy Answers." I like the way Bob extended the verse, singing one line, then waiting 4 repeats of the riff to come back in with the next line. Bob did make a minor vocal flub, not getting up to the mike in time for "The bus." I mean there's no way he could have forgotten this. I suspect this is what happens frequently rather than him forgetting. So after this huge, huge jam, the bass/drums/DJ thing starts. DJ L is blowing my fragile little mind when I look up to see Jay holding out his sticks to Bobby. Bobby tries not to take them but Jay insists. Bob stumbled a bit at first but ended up laying down a cool litle groove with Jay's help. This was really cool to see, especially from our up close and personal vantage point. The jam went into "The Wheel" which was great to hear again. I don't have any live Dog so I hadn't heard "She Says" yet. I think it's a great song! This went into "Throwing Stones." This has never been one of my favorite songs. I like RatDog's version more than I like the Dead's. Then we closed the circle with "Franklin's Tower." Aroooooo! What a night! The boys came out for a rockin' "U.S. Blues" which I had called. I know Bob is politically aware and the news had broke that A.M. that we now have a "shadow government" set up in case of emergency. I want to stop terrorism as much as anyone but the people who are doing the stopping are almost as scary as the terrorists. "U.S. Blues" indeed!
One thing that made me sad about this show--the first time I saw RatDog I was really struck by the absence of Jerry. This time, sure I thought about him, I always do, but musically I didn't really miss him. It's great to see Mark evolve. He's playing much more melodically than last year. I just feel a little guilty about not missing the Big Guy as much.
AA Steve, Ann Arbor, MI
I thought that it was a nice show--a REAL nice time--always is at these hometown, post Jerry; Dead-related gigs!
I felt "The Wheel" and "Throwing Stones" especially strong in set two. Was impressed with "Bombs Away," a tune I really couldn't care less about. In fact, I'd always considered--if I thought about it at all--"Bombs Away" a forgettable Bobby and the Midnites tune. Really stood out tonight though. I also enjoyed "Lucky Enough." Seems like the first time I heard Ratdog perform that tune, or the first time it stood out at least. Karan's playing on "Blackbird" and "Franklin's Tower" was impressive. He is getting better IMO.
Jeff Chimenti was splendid all night. He was the MVP at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. His work shined from start to finish. Weir was his usual brillant self . . . Thoroughly enjoyed watching/listening to Bob working his truly unique, one of a kind, guitar playing style--always have since 1982. Not as edgy, raw, "blink-blink" as the last few times I heard him play, but decent enough. How long has he been playing that hollow body? Not sure if I like . . . Came home and put on Hartford 83 (only time I saw the Dead play Stephen) and smiled thinking about Bob playing that Stratocaster between Phil and Jerry . . . Anyways, missed the "Weather Report Suite", again ) : Been chasing that tune since Ratdog pulled it out. Never fails that they play it either the night before or night after I catch them . . .
Take care and enjoy the evening ( : PEACE
Todd E. Campbell, Detroit, MI