OK, here's my take on the show last night:
Got to the little club in Raleigh about 7:00 - lotsa folks in the lot, a line going in the door, and 2 big tour buses parked right beside the building.
The Disco Rodeo (formerly the Ritz) is a great little venue. You know, the kind of club that is perfect for seeing bands. A big box with the stage to one side, a couple bars in the back corners, and a nice balcony that runs all around 3 sides. There was a dance floor partitioned off right in front of the stage, which covered about 75% of the downstairs. Most of the people were in there - I saw SuperG, Justin, Bird and Dave Rosenberg right up front there near Mark's zone. The tapers were upstairs dead center at the railing. Three guys there, so we should get some good AUDs...... The Sound guys had their mic on about an 8' stand right in front of the board - for the matrix mix OCRS.
By the way - Have You Thanked A Taper Today?
We (me, Mountain King, and Wobie) settled in at the back corner of the balcony, on Mark's side, right in front of the little upstairs bar. There were a few tables upstairs, which helped a lot with beer & setlists!
The tix said 7:00, but that was the time the doors opened. The show was scheduled for 8:00... surprise, surprise, the boys were late tonight! 8:10 they came on stage. Everyone looked good--Bobby was wearing his "Duke blue" (according to MK) t-shirt. His mustache is out-growing his beard.... He's gonna need some wax on that thing soon!
Well, Jay started laying down a beat, and the boys started noodling around.... You could feel the jam work itself into a tune, a little tentative, then there it is! Just as we were about the hear the first beat of Shakedown, they faked us all as Jeff jumped into Feel Like A Stranger. A long crazy night indeed! Good Stranger; Bob forgot the first word to the third verse.... He stepped right up to the mic, then looked at the guys on the floor and smiled.... Then he stepped back, they ran through another measure, and Bob sang it just exactly perfect.
Then a quick segue into Minglewood. Very high energy, as was Stranger. There was a crazy Jeff solo, as he was jamming hard. Then Bobby got the slide going, and his guitar was screaming. On the guitars: I can't tell 'em apart by looking. MK tells me Bob was mainly using his Telecaster. And I'm sure of it now: Mark has a different sound--not so electric and twangy; very fat--full, rich and tonal. Beautiful! Bobby was grinning at times as he played the slide, which I just love to see. Then of course, Bob the Rock Star came out at the end of Minglewood--big screaming Bob! Also, I wanted to point out Bob said "Raleigh girls"; before he had always said "Carolina girls" around here.
Then a cooling off, change-of-tone segue... into Queen Jane. Just beautiful. Mark's guitar work--not just the solo, but all through--is just beautiful. It sounded very much like he was playing a melodic piano part with the guitar. Kenny had a whole sax lead bridge that was awesome. And following a trend this night, the song started easy, then built to a crescendo; at the end, Bob Star was laying down a few HA!'s and singing "C'mon, C'mon and see me!".
Then into a spacey feedback-laden jam, and you get the tone of where it's headed: Matilda Mother > Tomorrow Never Knows > Matilda Mother. Quite enjoyable even with the dark tone of the piece. Mark's guitar was screaming and Kenny was just going nuts with the Alto Sax. Robin was in the groove, and he & Jay were laying it down hard... just everyone was fully primed for this night (even Chucky was glaring more fiercely than usual)..... The closing Matilda was very short--like 30 seconds--then they ease out into a jam and Bob switched guitars; he called over to the side for Guitar #2, which MK says looked like a Gibson. The jam rolled into a very well-played Bury Me Standing that really was hitting on all cylinders.
As the song wrapped, they jumped right into Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, in that happy hoppy style that Bob has always played it. It was quite unexpected. Then Kenny switched to the baritone sax and was blowing sweet. They were really rocking hard then popped right back into a Feel Like A Stranger Reprise. They closed that one down quick, and Kenny blew the band right into Eyes Of The World. Mark had a gigantic solo that really got the crowd worked into a frenzy... they were executing with perfection until the last jam, when there seemed to be a little confusion. Robin got into a killer bass solo; he, Bob, Mark, and Jay were jamming, with Robin leading, and Jeff & Kenny stopped I was wondering if we were going to a bass section or something, but it really seemed like Jeff and Kenny didn't know where they were going... then everyone eased back into Eyes, Jeff and Kenny were back in, and they wrapped it up perfectly. At 9:28, Bob said, "We'll be back in just a little bit."
Just enough time for a beer and a pee break, and a little socializing. And then 10:04, here we go again... wait, it's not just Bob, but the full band. Even Kenny! Bob & Mark have their acoustics... there's a brief moment of tuning and then, the opening riff of Deep Elem Blues! Very cool, very well played, completely unexpected (to me anyway)..... Kenny was blowing hard on the big baritone sax which gave it a real thick, chunky feel. Deep Elem comes to a complete stop, and Jeff and Kenny step off stage left. Bobby strokes a chord or two and says "This song was written over 100 years ago... by the poet Rudyard Kipling."
The Winners! One of my all-time favorite Bob tunes.... It was well-played, with Bob giving a little snarl to the lyrics, and it was different than any Winners I'd ever heard. Normally a quiet song with a haunting, low-key feeling, they played the shit out if this one! The bridge was LONG--longest I'd ever heard--and BRJM were absolutely cranking it! Fantastic!
Then, Mark grabbed his electric, and Jeff and Kenny came back... straight into Black Throated Wind. Again, starting slow, kinda quiet, they brought the tune to a huge crescendo, Jay playing his ass off, Mark just totally on it; Robin deep in the groove, Kenny and Jeff fulfilling the melodies... and the BOBSTAR at center stage. How do I say this without using a ton a clichés? The whole night was excellent and we saw it over and over.... They really brought the house down. The crowd was pouring enormous energy onto the stage, and it was rolling back to us in this beautiful musical expression.... Where could we possibly go next?
Well, Bob went for the Telecaster again.... The boys start playing and the Chief gives us a little reggae feel... and oh no, they couldn't.... They could; they did in spring.... Could it BE? "Sitting here in limbo, but I know it won't be long; sitting here in limbo, like a bird without a song; Well they're putting up resistance, but I know that my faith will lead me on......" I had to just sit down by the railing and watch. Beautifully poignant, so touching. Bob was downright REVERENT. Besides being a wonderful song by Jimmy Cliff, I can't think of a more perfect way to remember Jerry. It was the highlight of the evening for me.
And after Limbo, while the band was jamming a little, the strangest thing happened. Chucky and the crew brought out a huge silver tarp, which they then draped over the drum kit, with Jay still sitting there. WTF is all we could think.... After a minute they took it away.... Anyone know what went on there?
Then the whole band eased into West LA Fadeaway. My personal opinion: this was the weakest song of the night. I've never been a fan of it, but I think the 'Dog does it better than the GD did. Either way, it was well-played and gave me a few minutes to hit the head. After that, Bob grabbed the tambourine... then Kenny... then Jeff... and Jay was hitting my favorite rhythm... Aiko Aiko! A really fun, happy Aiko, everyone on stage smiling and having a good time, and Bobby dug into the lyric sheet for a few lines I hadn't heard him sing before: See that girl all dressed in Red / Black / Blue / Tan / Orange... lotsa fun! Then Bob, Mark, Robin, and Kenny strolled off and Jeff & Jay had a great piano & drums jam. Again, that was fun and quite enjoyable.
One note here: it must be known that Jay is the hardest working man in this band. It is shocking how much energy he puts into a show, and then still hits it perfectly through the second set!
The boys came back on stage and those first couple notes hit; Mark was playing that gentle rolling riff that opens Lady With A Fan. We eased in, gently listening to the Chief.... He wasn't singing to us or playing at us, but gently drawing us in as we wove a story that with our dancing an expressiveness, we became a part of... slowly rising, climbing working our way up, until we burst into TERRAPIN STATION! In the valley of the moon, Terrapin Station! (yes, Bob sang "valley") A killer Terrapin brought us in, spun us aroundm made you FEEL the music to the bottom of your feet. As they had done all night, it started low and slow then whipped us into a frenzy!
They laid out the final jam to Terrapin, and they gave it the huge everyone-on-stage, slamming-their-guitars, closing CRUNCH! Then Bob, Kenny, and Jay stopped, and Mark brought out that long slow segue note--doooooo-do; doooo-do--that I have only ever heard before on Side 2 of Terrapin Station. The crowd just melted into At A Siding.... "You're back in Terrapin, for good or ill again; for good or ill again......" then into Terrapin Flyer--so high energy, just screaming, everyone was on, Jay was beating the skins like BOTH of the Rhythm Devils as they jammed into a space I've never heard, even those immense, beautiful, only-in-the-studio runs down the guitar that Jerry did were there; Mark pulled it out almost flawlessly. And when they came back into Terrapin Reprise, and closed it even bigger this time, we were done. Spent. Pick us up off the floor.
There's only one word for it: The Terrapin Suite tonight was EPIC.
After a brief pause, the boys came back, and all we could do was get together in the big communal hug that is Brokedown Palace. Once everyone was warm and fuzzy, with a few tears in the eyes, Ratdog came to the stage as one and took a bow. At 11:26, they left the stage, and we slowly filtered out, trying to digest what we had just seen, heard, and experienced. I haven't felt like this at a concert since at least 93... maybe earlier.... I think the closest parallel was how I felt after 10-9-89. just wandering around in the lot afterward, thinking "Wow, what a night."
Damn, I love this band!.
ZHB, Charlotte, NC