I've lived here for 18 years but never felt really at home until last night. Finally the Dead (post Dead) have been here! It was a lovely experience. The show started at 9:00 with a local band that played until 10:00. Three Italian friends and I came and we all had tickets. Outside we met my wife who had brought our kids (Shannon, 10, and Nathan, 5, and a friend of Shannon's). We tried to convince the people at the gate to let the kids in free if my wife paid for her ticket. They said OK. I was at a Deadish show with both my kids in our hometown! Far Fucking Out!!!!!! After the local group finished, a few people who had come to see only them left and we were left with at most about 200 people in the place which could have held at least three or four thousand. Bobby came on and started with a Jam, then Shakedown Street. My daughter and her friend were left to wander around on their own. It was so mellow. My son (5 years old) started dancing and running back and forth. He and I raced around all night. It was one of the finest moments in my life. My friends, who knew of the Dead but had never seen them, were stupified by the quality of the music. I think that for me the highlights were Uncle John's Band and Wharf Rat. Lots of the people were American and quite a few were from other parts of Europe. Italians have never been big Deadheads. This actually made it better. They played till midnight and then Bobby said they had a time limit and they left. I was a little sorry; it was just one hour and forty minutes. Non-stop music to be sure, but I feel another 30 or 40 minutes would have been nice. Also, it was hard to hear the vocals; the mix wasn't quite right, but the music! Wow! Of course they did Masterpiaece, starting with the verse, "The streets of Rome........" Going to Pistoia on Sunday. It's no longer true thet there is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert. This was close. Thank-you Bobby and everyone else for a great time for me and for my kids.
Greg Clay, Rome, Italy
I traveled to the show as a birthday present from my wife; I won't mention which birthday. The setting was Villa Bourgese Park with beautiful ancient stairs and a huge Roman fountain. It couldn't have been a more spectacular setting. I got there at the end of soundcheck in the afternoon when the band was burning through a blistering Terrapin Station. There were two kids at the backstage door that had traveled all the way from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to see the show. To see the look in their eyes of having just listened to the soundcheck, you knew from the sparkle that it was all they had hoped it to be, and the concert hadn't even started.
Having gotten backstage, I was fortunate enough to spend some intimate time with the band. The guys of RatDog, including the managers and roadies are some of the nicest most genuine quality humans on the planet. Even after a 23-hour bus trip they were jovial and loose. You can see how their personal chemistries translate into powerful music. They truly honor the memory of Jerry Garcia in that they are true to the music, but more importantly, true to the spirit, without which the music would be meaningless. There was not one ounce of spoiled rockstar in any of them, especially Bobby.
Part of the birthday present included the possibility of making a request (When I Paint My Masterpiece) and maybe even sitting in on guitar. When meeting Bobby and the boys backstage, it was not even a discussion and they were more then happy to make my whole hallucination a reality, which they had done once before by letting me sit it on and select the encore at House of Blues in Orlando. Before the show, Bobby decieded he wanted to take a jog. My daughter and I accompanied him on a monster uphill two-mile jog that nearly killed me but definitely killed my daugter. I can tell you firsthand that he is in killer condition.
The first band went on at 9:00. A local Italian band who ran 30 minutes over schedule. While other bands might have been completely pissed off and have it affect their music, the RatDog boys took it all in stride. They hit the stage for Shakedown Street. My three children were dancing there butts off and so were the wife and I. When you closed your eyes--and I know this is dangerous to say--you would think it was the Grateful Dead on one of their strongest nights. Then a beautiful version of Queen Jane into a spooky Easy Answers w/ Rob Waserman playing an ass kicking bass line. Then came Masterpiece.
I assumed it was to be played the same as the Grateful Dead always played it. Bob started the tempo that way and then, before the first verse, spontaneously decided to change to an acoustic guitar and took the pace to a slowness worthy of the ancient streets of Rome, savoring each of the words. Then after the second verse, Bobby spontaneously again (I think even surprising the band) added a bridge that I never heard on any Dead version. "When we left Rome and landed in Brussels." The beat was sizzling and the crowd loved it, and I was so high from the experience that if I didn't have it on video tape, I wouldn't be able to tell you anymore.
If you're reading this you have probably already seen the setlist, so I dont need to go song by song. But I will tell you, these guys are certainly worthy of admiration and all of our continued support is well founded. I say let's get a petition going so some promoter gives them an arena tour.
Billy Procida, Englewood Cliffs, NJ