I'll just start out by getting right to the point. I thought the Tuesday night show in Boulder on St Patrick's Day eve was fabulous. The band was great and seemed to be in good spirits. This was my first concert since the Other Ones back in 1998, so I was pretty excited and a bit nervous about going to this show. I took my Dad and it was his first Grateful Dead family experience. Being an old 60s activist, he felt right at home and seemed to enjoy himself. The theater was a nice setting to catch a concert in. It had all the trappings of an old vaudeville theater house with some weird tree murals on the walls. We sat up in the balcony and had an excellent view of the band.
Ratdog opened up the first set with an effervescent Jam that formed "The Music Never Stopped," and it felt like the Grateful Dead. "The Music Never Stopped" flowed into the Robert Johnson classic "Walkin' Blues," and as always, Bob really did it justice. Next came "Mission In the Rain," sending chills up and down my spine. It struck me as a real emotional tribute on Bob's behalf to his old friend and mentor Jerry. It was clear that Bob and Ratdog really put their heart into this one. I couldn't believe it when next up came a rocking "Greatest Story" complete with the audience participation on the line "You can’t close the door when the walls cave in." Then came a great "Althea" and I was blown away. Things mellowed out a bit for a pretty "Shade of Grey" with some nice crescendos which appropriately formed "Hell in Bucket," complete with the lights doing abstract flames against the black curtains behind the band. Quite to my surprise we got reprise of "Music Never Stopped" including part of the chorus and right into "Eyes of the World!" For me, this was probably the best "Eyes" I have heard since the Grateful Dead. We even got a flying base solo from Robin that was enjoyable. This has always been one of my favorite songs. Until tonight in my opinion, neither the Dead, Phil & Friends, or Ratdog have been able to get it right since Jerry left. Perhaps it just needed the right magic for me to work, and Ratdog has got it. Plus Kenny Brooks is a perfect addition for a song like this.
After the first set we got a short stage announcement and break. The band opened up the second set as usual acoustically. They started out with the Dylan classic "Desolation Row." Interestingly, Desolation was the only acoustic song they did. Next up came swirling Ratdog originals "Even So > October Queen > Deep End" full of lots of texture, and crescendos with a dose of psychedelica, which formed "Estimated Prophet." Estimated had lots of great Jams in it with Bob and Mark really getting into it. Wavy Gravy at one point even wondered out onto the stage playing a stuffed fish. Estimated then jammed into the Wheel complete with the classic version followed by a reggae-like chorus. Somewhere in here Jeff’s keyboard bench broke spilling him on the floor where he sat and played for a bit never missing a beat until a new bench arrived. Jeff and Bob wondered off stage for a bit only to come back for a reprise of "The Wheel." Next came a decent rendition of "Knockin on Heavens Door," which reminded me of my first Grateful Dead show back in 80s. Knockin flowed appropriately into "Dark Star" for the second verse. It seemed like in the jam out of Dark Star we were going to get "Foolish Heart" but instead things turned into "China Cat Sunflower." Of course China Cat became a roaring sing-along. With "I know You Rider" following, the crowd went bonkers with the Colorado reference and all. After a short break we got a well-done "Brokedown Palace" for the encore and a group bow.
Overall I would say this was a great show. It was interesting to watch Bob's hand cues, as he seemed to direct the band during some of the jams between songs. My only real criticism of the show was it seemed to me that the sound needed a bit of tweaking on the high end during some of Mark's guitar solos. It was hard for me to pick up some of the notes from the distortion. If you get a chance to get a copy of this show, I would recommend it. I have to say Ratdog has really come a long way since the 90's. I am sure glad I went to see them. What a show!!!
Ted Friesner, Fort Collins, CO
Being that I flew in from Vancouver the morning of the show (for other reasons, the Ratdog show cosmically coinciding) and having lived three years in Boulder, to say I was excited is quite the understatement.... Ratdog is so good right now, and this show was off the charts, keeping me guessing and surprised at most junctures. Mission in the Rain was incredible, as was the 2nd verse Dark Star at the end. Bobby's 'gang sign' hand gestures as to where the brakes and changes are coming are so cool. It's rad to see Bob "as Kingfish Weir at the wheel to steer the bus through never never land".... Anyway, I thought I was gonna melt when Wavy Gravy came out during Estimated with a ceremonial dead fish stuffed with god knows what. The high points that Mark Karan hit at the transition from China Cat into Rider were totally intense. In an effort to keep this review relatively short, I'll close by saying that foregoing the can in an effort to spend the entire second set in row 3 was well worth almost pissing myself.
P.S. This show had Other One, Terrapin, Stella Blue, and Foolish Heart teases. And Mission had me in tears ;) Miss ya Jer, Thanks bob!
morningdew1992, Vancouver, BC