Liberty Hall is a beautiful venue, small enough that every seat is good with great acoustics. The energy in the hall last night was amazing. The concert was an odd mix of classic "Go To Heaven" era Dead and Dylan covers with a few surprises thrown in. Four Dylan songs in one concert, Baby Blue, Memphis Blues, Masterpiece, and Knockin', each given respect and latitude by Bob same as ever. Feel Like A Stranger, Lost Sailor, and Saint of Circumstance were all delivered with power and authority. The big surprises were the bifurcated Dark Star, opening in set 1, finishing in set 2, Scarlet without Fire, and the reggae rimshot Sitting Here In Limbo following Man Smart, Woman Smarter. Odessa and Two Djinn as well as the jams showed a band both tight and inventive enjoying the interplay within their own compositions. The culmination this evening was the hands down best rendition of Corrina I have heard yet. This one really smoked and left versions by the Dead and the Other Ones in the dust. The crowd was up and singing, taking the roof off the joint. I doubt anyone missed a Sugar Mag or Saturday Night with the full throttle treatment Bobby & company have given this gem of a song. There is magic in that name. US Blues was the perfect frosting for this cake and the Peace Flag was a winning touch.
Jeff Miller, Kansas City, KS
My wife and I had a wonderful dinner at Teller's restaurant in Lawrence, and I commented to the server that we would be going to the Ratdog concert and how our relatively calm and elegant evening was soon to be transformed. We walked the two blocks to Liberty Hall and entered the Land of the Dead. There was a man selling rocks out of a box that someone kicked as he walked by, not bothering to apologize. There were two sisters walking down the road sharing and selling some kind of vegetarian whatever and a few folks walked around and around with one finger in the air. "Testing the wind?" I wondered.
The doors opened and we were either banded or branded depending upon our choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. I chose the former while my wife took the magic marker brand stating that the fine bottle of California Merlot was enough for her. I had just read the Bob Weir interview in the KC Star and I told myself that if there was any chance to see Jerry appear next to Bob that I was going to be close enough to witness it. After all, I have been to enough Dead concerts where my seat was so far back that even through binoculars the Dead looked miniscule. I took up my place on a small riser at center stage and told my wife we would use our T'ai Chi rooting to anchor ourselves against the onslaught that was sure to come. I estimated that I was a mere 20 feet from Bob's microphone as the twirling crowd began to gather. A vision of Dylan danced in my head and I said a brief prayer for his recovery from viral laryngitis. We spoke to a couple from Liberty, Missouri who appeared to be about our age and a man on the other side of us who had brought his young son to his first Dead family concert. It was pleasant to trade stories of old concerts and experiences. Our daughter would soon arrive with her friends and we relished in second generation family tradition. Just like Thanksgiving and Christmans. Others in our family couldn't be there in body but were there in spirit, just like Jerry.
At 8:10 sharp, the band came out and launched into a night of wonderful music. You know the set list, you read the earlier review, it was great. I must comment, however, not on the music per se but on the crowd and a few comments on Bob and the band. I knew going in that we would be body-to-body standing up for four plus hours so I had mentally prepared my 54-year-old body for this. You could have buried me standing up, and I held my ground against the youngsters who soon engulfed us. One lad puffed a little to hard on the old pipe and sat down on my wife's Doc Marten's which put him in a precarious position. I used chi energy to raise him from the dead so he could be back with the Dead, and slowly but surely he rose, not due to my actions but in response to "Corrreeeennnna" and the driving beat of that gem of a song. A curious phenomenon of sing-along has developed at concerts and I have to admit that I joined right in on most of them even though I think the band and recording industry might frown on such. As for Bob, he was great and I wondered if the four Dylan songs were somehow transmitted to Ireland for the Dylan faithful who had missed out on their concert. He fluffed the lyrics twice on Stuck Inside Of Mobile, but you try to sing twenty verses of dynamic poetry while playing guitar and dodging a frickin beachball that some idiot brought to the concert. At the break I went to the bar, "Two gin, please," I told the bartender but she didn't get it. I went back and reclaimed my cosmic spot for the second half. I would have to say that KC Moan was my favorite of the night. Oh I like all of the old Dead numbers and I thought I might have seen an apparition of Jerry during This Must Be Heaven. (Yes, I know, the songs are out of order, but you know I really didn't keep track all that much.) I just stood there and watched the sax man scratch his arms and nose and blow some really cool notes. The apparition leaned over the lead guitar player and plucked the dusty strings for him. Oh yeah, that cool looking California dude playing bass. Now I don't know much about bass playing, but it just kind of appeared to me that he had a fairly basic repertoire of licks and only became inspired a couple of times. That goes for the drummer, too. But all in all it was a great time. US Blues was okay for an encore, and the old hippie relic waving the peace flag only added to the ambience of the evening. I suppose it was because I inhaled a bit of the magic smoke from the two young'uns in front of me. Peace.
Stephen Darjeeling, Louisburg, KS
RatDog and Liberty Hall go great together. I can't think of a bettter place to see them. Interesting thing about Liberty Hall is they show movies during concerts there, and there were times during the show when the whole place was thundering that it seemed like that would disturb a movie, or the extremely loud yelling after the concert in the lobby. The crowd was great... a lot of old heads to keep the crowd in order. The show was amazing to say the least... some of the best versions of songs I've ever heard or at least felt. There seemed to be a lot of anticipation in the air; a guy to my left had a (at the time) convincing theory of why Phil Lesh was going to show up. Dark Star>Odessa was a perfect ending to a powerful first set. Acoustic guitar and bass began the second set as "Bobby sang the Blues." The whole place started bouncing by a high energy Women are Smarter and a super high energy Scarlet Begonias. Corrina sent everyone into the nagual. I'll say no more about that one. A beautiful night.
Shawn Minsky, Lawrence, KS
I just want to thank Bob and the boys for an outstanding show as always. For those who have never been to the Liberty Hall, it is a wonderful small venue with loads of "Dead atmosphere." The old-time balcony has every other row of seats taken out for room to shake your bones, a great oatmeal stout, and trippy paintings everywhere. I'm a floor person, and it is so fine to see my hero Bob up close. Sorry I'm so wild, Bob.
Now for the Super show. All the guys were in great form that night. The teases with songs kept everyone guessing, which is half the fun. Fun was had by all--band and fans. I just now got my voice back. I won't go through the set but it was grand. My favorites were his Dylan covers. Bob's new Tele has just the right tone for the slinky rhythms we love him for. The Second set was uproarious; we danced and clapped.... It was the communion we all needed.
Just want to say that Robin did great job, and he was hanging out front with the people. Thanks again for the great show, Ratdog; we really missed you last fall. Let's try for a two night run next time. Can't get enough of ya'll.
Scott T for texas Bishop, Lee's Summit, MO