I thought after looking at the setlist from Vegas the night before I was in for a bit of a letdown. Boy, was I wrong. I could not believe how tight yet improvisational the show at The Wiltern was. Okay, so no St. Stephen or Born Cross-Eyed or Dark Star. Ratdog must have had Jerry on their minds 'cause if you look at the setlist it looks like a list of songs we used to see THE GRATEFUL DEAD play all the time, only they were Jerry tunes. Help on the Way, Liberty, Bird Song, West LA, Standing on the Moon, He's Gone, Eyes of the World, Franklin's. And the Bobby songs were played very tight as well.... Loved the Bobby McGee, Lazy Lightning, killer Cassidy. No top shelf songs at this show. The setlist looks ordinary, but the show was anything but that. It was SMOKING!!!!!!
Mark, San Diego, CA
The Wiltern is such a great venue, kinda like LA's version of the Warfield—a beautiful old palace recently renovated to a high shine. For rock shows, they remove the seats on the main floor, but there are two balconies for folks who ain't into standing up all night. Waitresses circulate taking drink orders; it's all very classy and a worthy setting for the great music that happened on 5-17.
You can see from the setlist that there were almost no Ratdog originals in this show, which was a bit of a disappointment for me. I was hoping for Even So, Ashes & Glass, and a good rockin' Odessa, but what we got was stellar. Hilights for me were FOTD, Eyes, and the Cassidy reprise, along with a gorgeous Standing on the Moon (despite Bobby's memory loss) and the spooky version of West LA Fadeaway with its jam into She Says. There's a particular landscape in the Zone where only Ratdog goes (I think of it as Rat Space), and it's one of my favorite destinations. They didn't go there much this night, so the jam between WLA & She Says was extremely welcome.
The last couple shows in the LA area have been light on the more adventurous explorations these guys can do, and I confess I miss it. They sounded like they were heading there a few times, but Bobby cut 'em short and headed into the next tune too quickly. Hoping next time around they'll feel more like cutting all the ropes that anchor them to the shore and just head out towards the unknown horizon—and over the edge of the world.
It was a trip to have a big ol' Sousaphone appear and join in on a couple songs. I couldn't catch the name of the player -- anyone get that?
The most exciting thing about the show for me was the phenomenal level of musicianship. I've never been more impressed with Jay's drumming; Mark cranked out two of my favorite Karan solos so far (FOTD, Eyes); Jeff blew us all away all night; and Kenny is just pure gold all the time. Bobby? Bobby will go down in history as one of the most original, inventive, surprising, and brilliant guitar players ever. Which makes it all the more puzzling that, after all these years, he still can't play slide!
MWCowboy, Los Angeles, CA
Overall, a good evening all things considered. I enjoyed hearing three plus hours of familiar and well-played music even though the setting was mediocre.
I had to make it a solo mission because my show "partner" was busy that night. Thankfully, I was able to crash at another buddy's house in LA afterward. Otherwise I would have been burning the midnight oil alone and driving back down to the San Diego area.
The set was comprised of mostly Dead tunes, and was well-played. Highlights for me included Robin Slyvester banging out some excellent licks on Slipknot, some kicking jams on Cassidy, and a stellar acoustic set that included a powerful Victim. It was clear that Bobby still enjoys himself on stage after all these years. He is truly an inspiration in that regard.
The venue was okay. The security was excessive and the drinks expensive. The sound on the floor was crappy compared to the balcony. I also found many of the show-goers to be inconsiderate and rude. In fact, one of the tapers started mouthing off to me for standing to close to him!
I'm glad I was able to catch the last show on the tour even with the minor irritations. Can't wait for the next round here in So Cal!
Joe, San Diego, CA