Just got back. Awesome Looks Like Rain and Bury Me Standing. Those were my two personal highlights. Easy to Slip was dreamy and really nice going from the Bertha openning with Bruce. The only thing is that someone needs to teach Bobby how to play slide guitar, especially when he solos. Weak as hell when he puts the slide on his finger. Other than that, the band was totally tight. I think Hornsby's prescence made Jeff play at an even higher level than normal. He was all over the place. He played absolutely brilliantly. On another note, Mark Karan this past year has been playing better than I've ever seen him play. Up until this year I've really thought his playing with Ratdog had been spotty at best, sometimes soloing out of key with the rest of the band. Tough role, and it seems like he's really hit his stride in the band, possibly due to Robin Sylvester, who is the Daddy Mac on bass. The rhythm section has never sounded better and has really made this band tighter than they've ever been. I alway thought Jay and MK had trouble playing with Wasserman's style. This band has never sounded better. I really wish and hope that at some point we actually here some brand new original music from this killer group of musicians. The old Dead breakouts are great but to keep the music from becoming stale and non-nostalgic, you need to keep moving forward with new tunes. Great show. The venue was good. Thank God I was up in the balcony, the floor looked like a bunch tightly packed sardines.
Steve, Pennsuken, NJ
Another night with Bobby & the Boys. Another great night of swaying, swinging, and singing. From the classic Dead opener "Bertha" through the set ender "GDTRFB" it was a solid show. My favorites were the acoustic "Looks Like Rain" and "Iko" and a beautiful "Ship Of Fools." The encore "Brokedown Palace" is one of my very favorite songs, so it was a great capper to a very fun night.... "Going home, going home, by the waterside I will lay my bones; Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul."
Don Richardson, Sunray Beach, NJ
Well, the House of Blues is not the acoustic mecca that one would have hoped that it would be. Sound in the balcony was definitely better than down on the floor. Putting all that aside, this show was a Deadhead's dream. Eleven (count 'em) Dead songs, five of them Jerry numbers. Bertha with Bruce was a little slower than I would have liked. The Bird Song reprise at the end was an unexpected bonus, but for me the high point of the show was Goin Down the Road. Then the encore - Palace, not one of my all time faves - was soulful beyond belief. Best show I've seen from the boys in years.
andyo, Harrisburg, PA
The House of Blues is amazing in Atlantic City. A fabulous venue. Top notch comraderie, accessibility, and then, once inside, a visual and structural feast. Lots of artwork on the walls. Nice big stage with ornate--a la neo-bluesy--designs and insignia all over: top, center, and around. The gambling aura and excitement made for a fiesty crowd. A few show notes.
Hornsby's set started jazzy and followed that theme through the end. Though I can't pinpoint the exact name of the number, about halfway through his set the band took a good dive into alternative fugues and chord vamps with a very loose knit approach. Splashes of the jazz aesthetic abound. The highlight(s) of his set was the fun "Comfortably Numb" that was sandwiched in a "Mandolin Rain" (I think I've got that right). Mr. Weir came on for "Black Muddy River," which was more fun than nostalgic--Hornsby had to coax Bob for verse 3, which elicited laughs onstage and off, before they ended the song in a disharmonic route that nearly gave way to an "Other One"... but didn't. The band would play "Gonna Be Some Changes Made," and at the end, Hornsby made an obvious comment about "selling out" (to Loews) and then alluded to Gene Hackman which didn't make sense--I obviously missed the punchline. Hornsby and company ended their set with "Rainbow's Cadillac" and "King of the Hill"--two stellar crowd pleasers that gave the room an extra burst of energy heading into the break.
Then the Dog. Not much to comment on this set. I think Hornsby took the cake this show, though the obvious presence of Bob et al always makes the crowd squimish like a schoolgirl. Hornsby joined in for the "Bertha" opener and didn't contribute too much. Highlight had to be the "L.L. Rain," which was awsome--Bob on acoustic and screaming at the end. A few surprises at the set's end kept us cool. "Greatest Story" was fun (okay, it wasn't that big a surprise, it was Sunday after all), and "West L.A." was a thrifty selection. Good bang for the buck. "Fools" was well played, and surprising and the "GDTRFB" was performed with as much as energy as I've seen this band bust before. Nice!!! "Brokedown" was bittersweet for many. For this guy, it was the last encore he saw the boys play in '95 (RFK) and, I guess, a 10-year anniversary of sorts for me. Weird, sweet, lovable. A memorable end to an average show.
Post show was equally weird. Not much of a party going on. Kenny, Robbin, and, briefly, Jeff came to hang with us in a "ballroom" backstage. It was like a billiard hall without the tables--really awkward and not many of us there. Think 30 people on a football field. Felt like terds in a punch bowl. Then again we all did. This was not a big party night for the Dog. The slots sing the siren song to everyone after all....
James Houck, Naptown, MD
The long drive up Route 13 was highlighted by three (count 'em--three) roadblocks: two in Maryland and one in Delaware. Needless to say I was on my best behavior on the drive to A.C. The same, however, cannot be said of the crowd at the House of Blues. People, save your conversations for setbreak. And what was with all the pushing and shoving to get to the front. Relax people. Enough of the small talk on to the music.
Bruce Hornsby: Nice set by Bruce. The 'Dove's Cry' cover was just great and now I can't get that song out of my head. The less than attentive crowd perked up when Bruce played Comfortably Numb.
Bobby came out and Bruce went into a short That Would be Something into Black Muddy River. Bob's guitar and mic were turned way down. Bruce sang the first two verses of Black Muddy, then turned to Bob and said, "Hey Bob, do you think you might know the next verse?" The sold out crowd laughed it up big time, and Bobby had a good chuckle himself. As fun as their collaborations have been, Bob seems a little off playing with Bruce's band. I went to Philly as well, and let's just say Bob's not breaking any new musical ground in his sit-ins with Hornsby's band.
Ratdog: Bertha's one of my favorite songs and Bruce sat in for the up-tempo opener. His piano leads took the place of MK's solo, but this song felt a bit like a warm-up. I've always been a fan of Easy to Slip, but that Supplication jam in the middle just makes me miss Lazy Lightning! Odessa was FAST and fun. The band really seems to enjoy playing this song. Time now for the old acoustic portion of the evening, and the boys did not dissapoint. Looks Like Rain with vintage Bob Weir screams and shrieks that had the Jersey crowd wanting more. Bury Me Standing gave us the usual Mark Karan freak out session and I loved it. Greatest Story, always a favorite, had more MK jamming. The West LA that followed was thumping with the crowd singing along and smiles abound. As if that wasn't enough, before the Jam break, Iko Iko literally shook the joint. Bob was in fine form by this point and he sounded better than he has all year long. A Jeff- and Jay-dominated jam led way to a decent Ship of Fools. Bird Song verse two was nice, but I was hoping they wouldn't end the set with it and my wish was granted. What followed was one hell of a rocking, crank it out, and let's give it all we got GDTRFB. And damn if they did't trick us and give us that false ending! WOW. this version is absolutley fantastic. Brokedown encore was a treat.
This was a great show. Bobby and the boys have reached a point where it's all come together. I saw five shows in the last month, and every show had a little something for everyone. Can't wait for the Fall Tour!
Bubbachuck, Norfolk, VA
Wow! This was a hot performance by the boys at the House of Blues. My brother Cliff called it earlier in the day when he said that he expected a lot of blues tunes. Maybe not the song selection I was hoping for, but when Bobby and the boys are playing this hot, it doesn't matter what they play! It's all good, just go down the list; great MK on Easy to Slip, smokin' Rooster, unbelievable Bird Song, maybe the best RD renditions of LL Rain and Bury Me Standing (this BMS is certainly up there with 12/31/01 & 3/4/02), nice Greatest Story surprise, and crazy show-stealing keyboards from Jeff on West LA, Iko, and GDTRFB!!! Forget about Phil Lesh and Friends, RatDog is where the spirit is REALLY at these days. Thank you Bobby!
Tyler Ainley, Royersford, PA