The best part about seeing Bobby at the Fillmore is being up close and personal--we were all of 20 feet from him the whole night. The evening started out with a brass band and costumed bead-tossers getting us in the mood... Mardi Gras after all. The ushers were friendly. Everyone seemed upbeat and behaved, important for those of us over 40 who appreciate the scene being civilized. They opened with a drummy jam that was subdued but oncoming, then into Shakedown for a relatively long roller coaster of choppy guitar work. My impression at this point was they were still warming up and Karan wasn't moving around a lot just yet. Things quickly improved as they tuned the energy and moved into Baby Blue. Again, cleaner, but not quite there yet in terms of flowing. Anyway, they say good things come in threes. The Music Never Stopped opened up and THIS was the ledge I was waiting for. Not the song, per se, but the tightness, the raw energy, the fluidity of all players together. Teally well done, and Karan started to come to life with some nice noodle work. They deposited the song on standby and shifted gears into Youngblood. Nice Bass guitar work from the new guy who was still in a mask and I thought was a woman at first with his long blond locks and svelt body. Then "that" moment occurred, where everyone is rocking, starting to get in the groove, and *boom*, out rolls a song that everyone looks at each other like "what is that?" and it was like a trainwreck--a good delivery musically, but Bombs Away was out of sequence in terms of massaging the crowd's tempo. So things slowed down and reset. It was nice to come out of that one into Lucky Enough; we all knew it was there in the first couple of notes and to get something predictable and familiar was just what we needed at that moment. Things quickly rebounded. Then they went back to collect the Music Never Stopped from where they had parked it and cranked it up for a really strong and clean transition into Eyes (but Norton Buffalo was having some problems getting going on the harp), which of course lifted everyone in the room instantly as one of those soul-quenching standards. Karan really let go on this one, and they all built to a nice rollout at the climax to end the first set.
Intermission saw the usual repositioning of people for better viewing and dancing space, and this is when our location on the side wall on the benches started to fill in with ominous sights like guys holding full beers high over the heads of people as they navigated the crowd. When the house lights dimmed again, the room was thick with pot smoke (normal) and there was an air of expectation. Bobby was strapping on his acoustic and we knew it would open with a cowboy song. Now I'm one of those guys who likes to be bludgeoned with a 2nd set opener. Instead, we got El Paso--nice rhythm guitar from our Lord and Bearded one, but again (in my humble opinion) other than a clean delivery, it seemed efforted. This gave way to my wife's favorite, Masterpiece, which of course by virtue of its melting beauty and just, well, "Bobby energy" made every girl in the house wet and every guy introspective. It was very well played. Half-Step rolled in and frankly not much to say other than it delivered on its usual bouncy notes and chord work. The nice thing about Ratdog is they mix it up just enough to always throw us a life ring. In this case it was as they cranked down, retooled, and came out with Playin' in the Band--okay, I admit bias here--one of my favorites, and really high energy, crunchy guitars, Jeff came in good on keyboards, and the whole band was definitely in synch with the vibe of the song. This rolled into a jammy thing that was almost Dead-like but still unique to the chemistry of the collective musicians before us. Bury me standing... again, sort of a step-down in energy level, but nicely played and almost a carbon copy of the track from the CD in terms of quality. Good musicians are just, well, *good*.
I split the review here. Up to now, it was a good show, but the remaining set was like another show in its excellence and staying power. Out of Bury, into Scarlet and a high-power, knock-em dead full band experience. Noisy, crunchy, hard-driving, and a full 10 in terms of delivery--Ratdog at its best. Not to be outdone, they rolled into an Aiko to frost the cake and then a full score, soulful Lady with a Fan > Terrapin combo. Again, being critical about flow (and I admit I feel guilty about even judging it, but a "review" is a personal expression of the experience after all) they changed gears and rolled out Corrina in a typical strong, "we know this song cold" Ratdog sort of way, and no complaints here. Then, out of sequence but a powerful delivery with unquestionable production, into At a Siding (Bobby tripped up a little but recovered well) and finally they closed with Terrapin Flyer, a closer that was both appropriate and balanced with repetitive chord runs and intermixed drum smashing by Jay to the finish line. After what seemed a very brief period, the encore came back with Brokedown Palace and, well, I almost cried thinking about Jerry. It was like they were playing a memorial it was so full of heart and feeling, and all insignificant slights noted by yours truly on the evening gave way to the reality of what had come to pass this night and how fortunate I was to be there. As always, thank you Ratdog for another moment in time in an otherwise upside-down world. You guys are wonderful.
Brian Hardy, Marin, CA
My perma-smile is still a little sore from Rat Tuesday! That was a wild and wacky show! Since my memory is lacking, I decided to write a review, in hopes I can recollect some of the magic later, but I also wrote to give a different perspective from the first review posted. Words, however, will not give justice to the experience of a lifetime. The whole scene was out of one of Captain Trips' mysterious bag 'o tricks. My senses were overloaded, and I did not want the night to end.
The music rocked my soul, some of the best Dog I have heard. But, there was extra feeling, more emotion, more positive energy. A spell was cast. Perhaps it was the little fairy on stage that gave it that boost of magic, or maybe it was the dancing joint that came out with the kick-ass marching band. It was a combo of all that, plus the smiles and kindness from the many veteran Deadheads that created a party somewhere between time and space, where crickets and cicadas sing. As you can tell, I am still out there.
Kenny Blows! But he didn't do his earth-shattering solo in "Eyes," kinda a bummer, but the harmonica player made Kenny jump up and down with a huge grin on his face and in his eyes. Mark made me feel like hooting and hollering, which I did. I could not hold it back. Mark just downright rocked. Jeff made me feel like I needed a cigarette after. Ouch! Jay wore a rubber skeleton suit all night, it looked hot as hell, and during the first set he threw off the mask, and sweat came pouring off his face. Then he wore a pretty pink visor the rest of the night; it was beyond words. He was on a different drum set than usual, and he beat those skins so hard I thought he might explode! He hurt me, bad. Jay did his best act when he stepped out for the final bow, thanks Jay!!! The mysterious bass player looked like he was having a great time. He kept watching all of us Boneheads in awe, or maybe he was a little weirded out. Either way, the rest of the boys seemed to like him and he did add some jolt to the whole show. Bobby was intense. He was the prophet on the burning shore, outfitted with the proper attire. Same pants, too :) Bobby went beyond--well beyond--and gave us everything he had. Just wish he hadn't given us Corrina in the middle of the Terrapin Suite, but he did that for Norman. (Go vote for Norman!!!) The Flyer took the crowd to the outer limits. They brought me to a hightened state of ecstacy.... I am changed forever.
Price of show, $28.
Price of extra curriculars, $20
To see Bobby trip over his fairy in Bombs Away... priceless
I must also add that the Bombs Away was a great treat and perfectly placed, as always. Rock on Bone Heads! See you in April!
Heather, Cincinnati, OH
This was the first show I have ever attended at the Fillmor.... It was UNBELIEVABLE!!! The positive vibes in the building already had everyone in a fantastic mood even before the Mardi Gras beads and the marching band.... It was a once in a lifetime experience to hear "Uncle John's Band" played by a marching band with a festive steely tuba!!!! Bobby was as wonderful as ever.... The whole band was on point, energetic and happy to be there!! This was one of the best shows I have ever seen, and I met some amazing and beautiful people. Guys... thank you so much for a kick ass show!!! Everyone was so hospitable and kind!! You made my existence a better place to be!! Thanks again!! By the way.... Thanks for the poster too!!!
"Just keep on dancin'......"
Monica, Newport News, VA
I was "Lucky Enough" to have been in house for Mardi Gras in true San Francisco psychedelic fashion. As usual, the Fillmore remains the best place to experience a small show; they really know how to handle these events (unlike the Warfield). First off, the new bass player was insane; to say he fits in would be way underspoken here. SHAKEDOWN was a fitting opener and really set the stage for some real powerful musical adventures. I like the new "Shake it down, shake it down now!" verse. The set really started flying during MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. It really seemed like the music was playing the band. One peculiar thing was the little ballerina girl with blonde wig standing next to Dad on stage. (Was that Bob's Daughter??) She added a magnificient stage presence to an allready powerful aura that was glowing around the stage. In no particular order, I must say that "YOUNGBLOOD" and "BOMBS AWAY" were the real highlight songs of the first set, but "LUCKY ENOUGH" was insane!! Mark Karan was carrying the load and really lit it up on this song. The set ended with an EYES OF THE WORLD which absolutely took me off into "never never land.." Sweet saxophone playing throughout.
2ND SET: Ok, now it gets a little blurry..... Starting with EL PASO, which is still my favorite gunfighter ballads. It seems Bobby always finds a way to forget a verse or 2 of this song and the crowd never misses a word. I guess that comes with age and having played a song over a thousand times, go figure. PLAYING IN THE BAND had some amazing jams that led me into a serious flashback of how much I have enjoyed the Grateful Dead experience over the last 20 years. Somewhere in the midst of this Norton Buffalo appears on stage adding to the ever growing aura of musical energy taking place. I think they also did 1/2 STEP together. This was the coolest build up, release, type song of the night. Once we crossed the Rio Grandio, everything was pretty much coasting. Then comes TERRAPIN, and I don't mean a cheap short version either!! They somehow busted out the whole darn thing and Inspiration was moving me brightly. Don't remember too much more, it's allays hard to be in the Here and Now and wake up the next day to remember fine details like some nostalgic-minded individuals might be able to do.
One last thing I do Remember..... BROKEDOWN PALACE. What more can I say... Rock On Bobby. Caus', "When the goin gets weird, WEIR gets off!!"
Thats my story and I'm stickin to it....
Forrest Bro, Kelseyville, CA