I am a long-time Dead follower who brought along a Danish cousin, who is in America for three weeks as a representative for the EU, and ended up backstage with Mr. Bob Weir and friends. The music was solid, the band didn't miss a beat, and Bob's vocal chords are as strong as ever. All I can say is a big thanks to Ratdog, the 9:30 Club staff, and Mr. Bob Weir. It was an absolutely surreal ending to a special evening, and Bob was extremely gracious. Thanks so much.
Torben Agesen, North Caldwell, NJ
Phew! Wow. The encore was powerful. Thanks for sending a message, Bobby! The boys sound tight and look like they are enjoying themselves.
10sejed, Pittsburgh (Stuck living in DC)
Nothin’ beats an almost-capacity RD show at the 9:30 Club! I must start by handin’ Kenny [sax] his due props for trying to blow his eyes out the whole show.
RD eased in with a nicely-tuned pastoral vacation through Maggie's Farm. The Minglewood seemed to just coast without any extreme ‘bad-guy’ from Bobby. Bobby’s ‘soul-touch’ heated for the night during the sorrowful Queen Jane. The Bucket and Loser were great highlights of the first set.
Second set really touched off with an utterly smoking Speedway. How did others feel about the Other One tease before The Wheel (right?)? A humane message was stoked by the complementary sequencing of The Wheel [“Won't you try just a little bit harder”], Knockin’ [“It's just a feeling, feeling I can't trace”], Dylan’s Masters of War [“I just want you to know; I can see through your masks”], and U.S. Blues [“Son of a gun/better change your act; We're all confused/what's to lose?”]. The pain and outrage in Bobby’s voice during “Masters of War” was unmistakably contemporary; while U.S. Blues sparked a patriotic (flag waving) and peace-filled outpouring from a crowd feeling momentarily co-equaled by the shared task of building a better nation. Undoubtedly influenced by my own perception-filter, I felt a reinforcing tribute to those (in DC or wherever) that are forwarding righteousness through political action. Thanks RD for a different brand of USO stop!
Pedro, Washington, DC
Ratdog's jams often reach levels of passion and intensity that we could only yearn for watching Jerry, to be honest, as he so often plodded thru the material. Having been to five shows on the tour, lack of effort or inspiration is never a problem with the Dog. The songs are almost always played to the highest level. It seems that when in doubt, the incredible horn playing always comes through to turn any tune into something special. I can't help but think, during the show, how well a vibrant horn like ours would have only complimented the DEAD. Ah well, we do still have Bobby and thank the stars for that, for he has become, with his boys, the best that there is left to play his and Jerry's classics. With all respect to Phil and his passionless 40 minute spacejams to OPEN the show, Bobby is fresh, exciting, and after all this time, he deserves an amazing amount of credit and gratitute from us heads. Keep on rockin' Robert, we luv ya!!!
Mike Burgess, Freeport, NY
Absolutely fantastic! Five Dylan tunes, including a raw, loud, angry Masters of War into U.S. Blues. I don't know the roadie's name, but he was waving a giant American flag during U.S. Blues. The show was a rocker & a karmic cleanser for D.C. One way or another this darkness has got to give. Indeed.
I said after Wilkes-Barre that there are shows and then there are SHOWS!!!. Well, there are SHOWS!!!! and then there's what happened last night. Penn's Peak, Recher, Bottle & Cork...some shows have special places in Ratdog history. Add 2nd night at the 9:30 Club 2005 to that list.
Got to the Club around 5:25. MK and Robin out chatting with the fans in line. Gorgeous Spring Day to sit in the sunshine and exchange chatter about nothing with the King of Lotrats himself, LRob.
One down note: The number of people looking for hand outs to non-sold out shows this tour has bummed me out. I even asked one if he knew it wasn't sold out and he said "Yes, but I ain't paying full price." Whatever.....
Anyway, the scene is getting bigger; Ratdog isn't under the radar as much anymore. Don't wait to get your tickets, folks, as a lot of people have found out. I think this one flew a little low because the venue (and tickets.com) took so long to confirm it. And maybe some people didn't come back for the 2nd night after the lackluster performance the night before.
So we head on in. I forgo my usual spot on Jeff's side of the rail because I like the balcony perch so much. I chose the MK side for this show to spare my left ear a bit heading into the weekend after such a long tour...plus I just wanted a different perspective. The front corner of the balcony at the 9:30 Club, except for the smoke, is one of the great unknown (until this post maybe...LOL) vantage points to see a show. Always lots of dancing room, great spot for pictures, great sound, you get to watch the entire crowd. It's just veryveryvery fun.
DtB takes the stage right at 7:30. Another excellent set. Better than Tuesday. They seemed much more relaxed and just having fun. One weird thing about their music is the extremely abrupt ends to so many of their tunes, but that's a pretty minor nitpick. Footstompin' cajun fun.
Ratdog onstage at 9:05.
Jam - Started off as a tuning exercise with Jay keeping a loose beat until everyone was ready to feel things out, then took on a "Stranger" feel...but it wasn't a "Stranger" night at all. Really couldn't sense where they wanted to go. I was hoping for a "Liberty" or "US Blues" opener to get things cranking, but when they turned into "Maggies," I was very happy. Totally unexpected and a great choice to set the tone for a political type of evening.
I like what they're doing with "Maggie's" now. It's a new arrangement with Jeff really driving the rhythym thru the Hammond. Kinda funked up a bit and super danceable. It works a little better in a second or third song slot than as an opener (see Northampton), but it was a good way to come out rocking and get the crowd out of the Bird Song doldrums of the night before.
Kicking up the intensity at the end of it, they move deftly into "Minglewood." I generally prefer versions with Jeff on Hammond (surprise surprise....anyone who knows me knows how much I love that B3), but this one was dynamic with him tinkling the keys and adding some percussive drive. When Bobby's slide works for me like it did last night, you know it's a good version. BIGBIG crowd response for this one getting everyone connecting to that elusive groupmind.
Queen Jane - Not one of my faves, but great versions are always welcome and last night's was one. MK and Kenny weaving a tapestry over some tinkly keywork.
Much needed fullstop lead to catch breath leading into the only somewhat musical downer I had all night. "Shade" just doesn't work as well for me when it's not attached to "This Time." It's like PB without J. Good alone, but together they're perfect. But when it's such a pretty "Shade," it eases the disappointment. I love the way the tune goes from pretty to headbanging and back and back again and then builds to a crescendo for the segue to...
Bucket - Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I've been enjoying the ride very much! Thanks so much for such a great tour, guys. Took FULL advantage of the extra room on my perch and the non-sold out show to cut loose and dance like this one deserved. See groupmind...it was connected firmly at this point. I love watching the crowd.
Loser - One of the slow Jer tunes that Bobby has made into his own. Consistently knocking this one outta the park as of late and this was no exception whatsoever. Voice worries at the end of a long tour? Not even close. He sounds like he's had the last 4 weeks off rather than being on the road.
TMTTR - Once again, they briefly tripped me up with the Loose Lucyesque intro with those thick hammond smears painting a sleazy picture, but the bass rumbled up early and it became obvious right away where it was going. Take me to the RIVER....brought back good memories of early tour and staying on the Deleware. Rocked out and thoroughly enjoyable and leading into an amorphous Jam that took on a "Jack Straw" feel before turning into "Cassidy." Similar to the Beacon Night 2 when the opening Jam had "Jack Straw" sprinkled all over it before going to "Fly Away->Cassidy." That should mean the JS is coming Friday, putting the "Shakedown" in its proper spot in Philly, and hopefully a "Stranger" (need the Fantasy points) for Johnson City.
Anyway, I digress...
Cassidy - The only way this would have been better is if Mari had been there with me. (Her favorite song) It was bittersweet to hear it with her not there. Took the jam waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out, then ended things leaving me knowing that a true firebreathing Reprise was heading our way later in the night.
Wasn't much for conversation at setbreak and my apologies to those around me if I was less than engaging. I need a night of SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP, so I just leaned back and sorted through pix and enjoyed the glow of everyone around me.
Lights down and they come back out. Everyone but Kenny....hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm............some hints of BT Wind........No.............
Desolation!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Couldn't have been any better. I LOVE this tune and I needed it to be played again for one of the final Fantasy hurdles. Deadsolidperfect reading of the tune with one reggae style verse and one stop/restart that may have been a mistake, but I thought added wonderfully to the pace of the tune; a long one like that needs a little shakeup in the middle. Does anyone have a better acoustic tone that Mark Karan? That guitar of his just has the most rich sound...
Mexicali - Hadn't heard this tune live since TD 03, I think, and way longer than that for Ratdog unless my Rainman powers are failing me. Did I mention dance space earlier? Two people near me went to the floor after setbreak, so I had even MORE room to boogie and on an "Everybody polka!" version, well, you need that type of room. Great Jeff/Bobby interplay.
Almost a full stop, but Bobby wouldn't let the sound fade and kept hitting chords until Robin and MK were switched over to their electrics and MK had taken the reins of the jam before Bobby went for the Modulus and kicked things up a notch for a POWERFUL "New Speedway" featuring Robin absolutely pounding us senseless. Throw some huge bass, swirliing hammond, and spitting Bobby together, put them in DC and play this tune and you've got a barely restrained monster on your hands that's chomping at the bit. Beautiful ending vocal jam with crowd interaction.
Even So - See Loser.....his voice sounds SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good. Kenny, Kenny, and more Kenny made this for me as well.
OQ - You either love it or hate it and I love it. Bud says to me afterwards "I saw you up there just getting down like crazy to something weird...I think it was October Queen." Yes it was! Give me this tune at almost any show, please, and it fit in especially well on a Dylan night with Bobby in storyteller mode. Really built up the end before just exploding into a "Deep End" that sent the place reeling......it built up and up and up and then teased in and out of TOO with just hints of OQ still sprinkled over top (mostly Kenny there - everyone else was pretty much rolling with TOO). INTENSEINTENSEINTENSE. I can somewhat understand not liking OQ, but people who don't like "Deep End" just confuse me.
Wheel - Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.............breath of fresh air to hear this song. No letting down the intensity, but adding the pretty. Bobby making rolling wheel hand gestures to accentuate the lyrics.
At the end, Bobby leaves and Jeff and Jay continue the Wheel lyrics until Jay sets down the sticks and starts the beatbox. Oldschool stuff...can't remember the last time I saw a good long beatbox session from Jay! Loving it as they continue the Wheel theme over top of it. BIG grins on everyone's faces, as there were all night. This is a band that's at the top of their game and having SO much fun right now.
Jay grabs everyone's attention and his sticks and there's the briefest almost pause as MK and Jeff nod at Jay from the wings and he explodes into the thunderous drum intro to "Astronomy Domine." MAJOR treat for me as I love Barrett-era Floyd and I had yet to see them perform this one. They went for it briefly at the Beacon Night 1, but moved to a TOO theme instead. No holding back tonight...Jay was POUNDING the skins and took them into it. 3way vocals with Jay, Jeff, and MK. WOWWOWWOW....this alone would have made it a nightto remember for me even without all the great stuff before it and what was yet to come!
Bobby walks back out with a HUGE grin on his face and Domine dissolves into some assorted weirdness/Space before the piano rings out "Knockin'." Only that or SOTM would have fit that slot, but the build up on SOTM may have been a bit much. It was time for quiet and the crowd respected that and a hush came over the place. Knockin' was a true TREAT last night, rather than a placeholder. See Even So and Loser....Bobby's voice is making me
Things pick up out the backside of Knockin' and fairly quickly take shape into "Cassidy." I warned you this was gonna be firebreathing! Thinking back to Vegas with Dennis pounding on Jeff's Leslie in glee during that Reprise...this was even more poundworthy! The monster grabbed the bit and broke free from the restraints and just ran wild and knocked everyone in the building for a loop.
HUGE grins walking off for the encore and Kenny raising the roof. Crowd is anxious...what's it gonna be? No Throwin' Stones tonight and I'm thinking to myself "Hmm...TS as an encore? Ok...."
Jam that isn't taking form for me....hammond and bass THUNDERING. Bobby to the mic....HOLY SHIT! It's DC...and fuck Throwing Stones, this was the one to play! I've NEVER, EVER seen Bobby so snarling, nasty, angry. Take the most intense and nasty TS you've ever seen and multiple it to the Nth. Best comparison would be a frothing at the mouth Brent....but x10! This was THE most intense thing I've ever seen Bob Weir perform. Just thunderous swirls of sound from Jeff, Kenny, and Robin and MK snarling and spitting right back at Bobby through his guitar. GET THE DISCS FOR THIS ALONE IF NOTHING ELSE!!! I may over use "raging" sometimes, but "raging" doesn't do this justice. I need a different word that I can't find to describe this intensity.
After such an angry tune, there had to be something else and US Blues was the perfect ending. "I love this country but I hate what's happening right now" was the message of the double encore. Wave that flag, wave it wide and high! One last chance to bounce around in all that dancing room and share the glowing energy of an alltime great show with a thousand other lucky souls.
Thank you Ratdog!!!
Chez, Northern VA
The first set was amazing with Queen Jane and Minglewood being my highlights. I didn't think they could top that until the acoustic Desolation Row; I don't think I've ever smiled so big in my life. Bob could have left after that I would not have been disappointed. Instead came an awesome Mexicali followed by a New Speedway that brought the place to its knees. Encore was amazing as well. This was one of my favorite Ratdog shows I've seen so far; I can't wait untill the Norva tonight. Thanks Bob for all the years.
Kemper Colbert, Williamsburg, VA
This could be the best show of the whole tour. Unless you were there, I doubt you can imagine how good it was. It wasn't just the setlist (which was great), but the fact that every song was on point. The band was on fire. Both sets were great, but the Masters of War/U.S. Blues encore was nuts. Beats out the first night in DC by far. Spoke with several people that agree with my thinking.... Get this CD.
Black Peter, Bluemont, VA
Powerful and passionate evening for each member. Five Dylan tunes in all, the most exquisite of which was the much talked about "Desolation Row." I don't believe Bob missed one verse in the entire reading of the song, save for a mental blank on the opening word to verse 7 (?), before remembing that launchpoint and it's completion. Very strong.
The 1st Set was overwhelmingly satisfying as the band was in that "Can't Miss" mood when transitioning between "Can't Miss" tunes. "Shade of Grey" was the set's gem, complemented by sparkling jamming that really extended itself thoroughly. Very provacative. The late set "Bucket" was, perhaps, the best I've seen Bob perform in a very, very long time--replete with soaring high-pitched yelping at the song's end. Extremely energetic.
In Set 2--only two acoustic tunes (the before mentioned "Desolation") and a raucous-great "Mexicali" that saw Bob thrashing his country-love vocals about. Trading acoustics for electrics, Bob and company visited "New Speedway Boogie" with authority, belting out the chorus over and over, before letting the jam-mindset take over. This song was taken to heights I never believed possible--I'm a believer now.
Everything thereafter was savvy and enjoyable. And yes, despite the groan-inducing first notes of "Even So," the band pulled it off remarkably well, enough so, that the crowd remained fairly upbeat. "The Wheel" that followed was pure bliss, giving way the "Astronomy Domine" jam (sans Bob) which turned heads (very cool). "Knockin" was "Knockin" as was "US Blues"--"Master of War" was solid as a bust-out. BUT, the three strung together (as set closer and encores) made for a powerful statement to the D.C. politicos, in house or not.
A Top 3 Dog Show for this reviewer, whose been in the Dog pound since '96. Bravo Bob and company!
James Houck, Naptown, MD