It’s about time I finally got to see this show! Had my tickets on hold since October! What a beautiful drive to this venue. With the new growth, fresh air, and sun shining in your face. I had no expectations on what I was to hear, just wanted it to happen.
Got down to my 3rd row seat just in time for “Here Comes Sunshine”. A first timer for me and a rockin way to start out the show! Then came “The Music Never Stopped,” and by the way Bobby was playing so far, I hope it wouldn’t. “Queen Jane Approximately” was the choice of the Dylan tune that Bobby throws in during the second or third song and switched into a really funky “Walkin Blues” This one was done really wild! The musical arrangement sounded like a “Loose Lucy” rhythm with “Walkin Blues” lyrics. “Big Boss Man” was next and the crowd “won't let Bobby stop” as they played the band into “Tennessee Jed.” A good one, because the words were messed up. “It’s All Over Now” was much needed, and rockin’ with its new arrangement and Bobby’s vocal scatting. “She Says” came and went while “The Music Never Stopped” kept going for the last verse. I thought this was the closer of the first set, but out of nowhere Ratdog played “Eyes of the World” into the “Stronger than Dirt” jam back into the “Eyes of the World” to close the first set. Very Impressive.
The second set opened up with an acoustic “Desolation Row”, another first timer. It was played similar to the 1993 Grateful Dead style. It turned into an exciting “Corrina” with weird feedback from Bob’s acoustic. “The Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion” got the crowd moving, then the band put a spin on things as they busted into “Estimated Prophet.” The highlight of the evening. It happened so fast and took everyone by surprise. Lots of cheers and positive energy, very intense. This got things turning as “The Wheel” kept the crowd in gear for the instrumental jam without Bob. The bass and organ instruments were prominent in this blues groove. Bob came back into the jam that became “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and a supercharged but steady “Sugar Magnolia” closed out the second set. “Touch of Grey,” had been polished up quite a bit and was worthy again for the encore.
This show had the longest first set I have ever seen, and also 3 Dylan covers! The arrangement of the songs, the precision of the changes, plus the element of surprise, was well worth the wait and the ride.
Neil Lewis, Stevensville, MD
Similar to the gentleman that has already posted a review for this show I as well could not wait for it to happen! Headed out I-70 from Baltimore (~ hour and a half from the homestead). The weather was absolutely beautiful. Listened to 4/9/05 to get a hilariously recent take on the band. Downtown Frederick is a nice area - kind of Georgetown-esque with its rows of turn-of-the-20th-Century townhomes. The venue was real nice and had that "antique" scent that gave a nice atmosphere.
As far as the show was concerned, a general observation: I thought Bobby was more alive and into the music then he has been in some time. His guitar seemed to me more visable than past shows and I thought his playing was truly inspired.
No warm-up jam necessary as Bob started off with an oade to the day with a nice H.C. Sunshine, including a nice jam at the end. This sugued into Music (cool... I think we are on to something here). The Walkin'Blues > Big Boss Man was a real treat, as I think these guys really get off on old blues tunes, Big Boss Man especially--maybe the highlight of the first set! Towards the end of the set I figured we were going to get a Music reprise along the way. Well, we did but after Jeff bounced into Eyes, Bob quickly got his attention and redirected everyone into a brief Music ("never stopped, never stopped, oh no!") before the eventual return to Eyes. Music reprise was complete w/ Bob moving to some minor fanning accompanied by some inspirational lunges that we all have come to love--to me an indication that oats are being felt.
Second Set--Deolation Row was played to perfection. To this day it is amazing that Bob can recall every word to this verbal epic but has issues w/tunes that have been in his repertoire for 30 + years. Corrina was nice w/Bob staying on the acoustic....
-- At some time during the show, I recall Bob have some personal hygiene issues. Looked to be a hangnail (I am not kidding) on his right pinky finger. After some deliberation Bob meandered off stage, was given a set of nail clippers, donned the spectacle,s and took care of the problem -- never saw that one before.
-- Here is another first timer for me (saw my first GD show in '89). What song it was I can't recall but Bob approached the mic to sing a verse and promptly coughed!!! Jeff and Mark were laughing their asses off, but Bob, being the consummate professional that he his, calmly raised his right index finger as to say ("hold on here, I know what I'm doing...?) and sang the proper verse.
Well I could go forever here, but the remainder of the second set was highlighted with an unexpected (the best kind) Golden Road and capped with in my opinion a monumental Sugar Mags.
Ratdog IMHO is better than ever, and it struck me that they seem a little rejuvinated. I hope they keep it up for as long as they want, 'cause I'll be here hoping they do!
Matt, Bel Air, MD
Great show! Easily one of the best I've seen from the 'Doggies. Frederick was my 30th RatDog show - and I'd say this one would definitely rank in my Top 3. I came in too late to catch "Here Comes Sunshine", so we'll join the show in progress:
"Music Never Stopped" was rippin' from start to finish - a great vibe to walk in on. I feel that "Queen Jane" was a bit of a lull in the action, but a funkier-than-normal "Walkin' Blues" picked things right back up. Bob was feeling playful with the showmanship during this one.
At this point, I gotta give props to RatDog for upping the ante on production value. They now have a giant video screen on tour with them (!), complete with trippy, themed visuals for each song. During "Big Boss Man", Bobby let the crowd have the "sure get stoned at night!" line, and during the ensuing solos, on the screen behind the band were pictures of numerous pot plants in action. Like grow-room footage...it was hilarious! Kenny jumped up and down with delight during this footage. "Tennessee Jed" and "All Over Now" were quite welcome selections, and had the crowd rockin'.
I really like "She Says" - melody, lyrics, chord changes and jam are all good, imo. This version was very nice. Someone in the band teased "Eyes" (perhaps inadvertantly) before a short "Music Never Stopped Reprise", then came "Eyes" proper. I'm usually not into RatDog's version of this tune, but they really had it together for this one, and Mark's solo was very poignant.
Nice, long, rolling first set. The only part that was a bit of a drag was "Queen Jane", imo. Everything else cooked.
They opened the second set with an acoustic "Desolation Row". Nice song choice, but Bobby's voice was sounding really withered on this one, and he never really sang in the higher register - just kinda talked his way through the lyrics. Not bad, though.
Jay Lane gets my vote this year for The Prettiest Man In Rock. He was looking like a young Linda Carter back there last night. And I swear he had make-up and earrings on, too. I gotta say, though despite being undeniably pretty, he looked completely bored out of his mind during "Corrina". He just had his head hung down for minutes at a time, looking like he was practically falling asleep. So much so that he missed a cue to go back into the chorus during the "Corrina" jam. Bob even jumped up to give the cue, but there was no cymbal crash. I bet Jay got reamed for that one ;-)
Next up: my favorite part of the show!
The "Estimated Prophet" was, by far, the best I've ever heard from RatDog. Thank God Robin plays Phil's bass line on this one. There are just certain riffs in the Dead lexicon that need to be played - not so much copying off of them, just doing what's right to serve the music - and Phil's original bass line in "Estimated" is an integral part of the syncopation, and it's a big part of what makes that riff work to begin with. Wasserman never played this riff, and I never like their versions with him playing on it.
Bobby was in full command of his powers on this one. A slightly new arrangement found him singing the first line, "My time comin' any day...", then waiting a full cycle through the riff again to sing the next line. He does this on a few classic songs nowadays, and it usually sounds awkward, but when he did this in "Estimated", I was actually thinking it may have been an improvement on the original. That's certainly debatable, but I felt it fit the song perfectly. And the scat at the end was PURE BOBBY! HHHAAAAAAHH!
Then came a truly tasty jam into "The Wheel". They did a little reggae breakdown at the end of the tune with a sing-along part. Almost reminded me of "For The Longest Time" by Billy Joel, but in a good way.
Bobby and Mark then left the stage, but the SICKEST jam of the night was what came next, imo. Jeff, Kenny, Robin and Jay are REALLY starting to get the hang of the SPACE jamming-thing. This may have been the best post-Jerry SPACE jam I've heard (with the possible exception of the 6/27/98 "Dark Star"). These guys seriously took it deep! I know it sounds hard to belive, but you're just gonna have to hear it for yourself.
After "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (which, like "Queen Jane", didn't do a whole lot for me), the boys ended the night in true rip-roarin' fashion with a "Sugar Magnolia" that blew the roof off the place! The "Touch of Grey" encore was also quite a nice selection at the time.
I swear, replace "Queen Jane" and "Knockin'" with a "Sailor > Saint" or perhaps a "Weather Report Suite" and this is one Ultimate Cream Dream of a show. Even still, it was a great one.
BT Rhea, Mt. Pleasant, PA