By design and with purpose, tonight's second set was blow away, up there for sure with the second buffalo show in contention for numero uno on the tour so far and even so.
The first set tonight was of no import and basically irrelevant in relation to a monumental set that was to follow. It almost seemed that they saved it up and really let it smoke later on, which it did! The Eyes closer was of course amazing, a nice Golden Road to begin, and nothing between that mattered, including a weak Jack Straw. The West LA was not as hot as Westbury, and so on.
The venue was coool, many tiers--4 or 5--going straight up, not back, thus packing in the energy all around, everyone totally dancing and going nuts, as far up as the place went, the energy level at a peak everywhere in the building, which is saying something at this much larger than usual place. The grand NJPAC center somehow captured all the intimacy of Ridgefield's tiny theatre, yet at the same time the much larger numbers of Ratdoggers rocking the house lifted the entire show up a notch or three.
The second set included a awesome new bobby acoustic to open that had him yodeling like he was in the Swiss Alps, a refreshing break from seeing the same song that you've seen so many times before. Like I love Me and My Uncle, but I've seen the ending too many times. Then the Hard Rain just kept peaking--super rendition, powerful. The Even So-Octber Queen-Deep End was played somehow differently and at a level I have never seen this stuff played, and I have seen it quite a few times for sure. Tonight's version of these was simply so smokin that it was unreal, the saxxxx screamin on and on. Please order the show and listen to it; it will amaze, and the appreciation of these songs will come as they deserve to be.
Then, when ya thought things could not get hotter, the show stopper hits NJ. The Terrapin was uplifting, smokin, trippy, jazz infused, tender, and reminiscent all at once, the band never letting go, never ceasing to give this masterpiece its due, literally digging out every ounce of passion the song was ever meant to give.
The stuff led into a sweet Stella with a pretty jam and beautiful singing from the heart by Bobby, and then the dreaded back into Bird Song routine I was sure would come was avoided (thank you lord). Instead, the finish to Terrapin came--At a Siding with the drums firing, two drummers on one set shooting snare drum bullets at us, those shots going through our souls. Makes me want to run to the basement and get out the old vinyl album just to listen to side "B" like the old days (and while we're at it, lets grab that Anthem of the Sun). The At a Siding blew me the f away, and I mean it. Sat night rocked to close, oh did I say rocked!! The Muddy River was special, heartfelt, Jerried, and an encore that didn't just get tossed in to close another show, but was every bit part of the flow of this terrific performance. Kudos, it may not happen every night, but when it does, its pretty amazing. Thanks.
Great show in a great room.... The band was really peaking on all of the first set tunes with some great extended jams (I am still waiting for the Bird Song reprise).... Rooster was great with each solo outdoing the one before it. The Eyes to end the first set was killer.
The second set was as good, if not better.... Loved Hard Rain with the audience chiming in on the chorus. The Terrapin sent chills up my spine with the whole audience screaming "Terrapin!!!!!" building to an awesome crescendo. My personal highlight came next with the beautiful Stella Blue as my wife and I welcomed our little daughter Stella to the world three weeks earlier. Thanks Bob.... It was more than just One More Saturday Night.... See you again soon, I hope....
David, Arlington, VA
Another great Ratdog show!!! From the opening of Golden Road/Jack Straw, it was obvious that the band was on. West LA Fadeaway is always a treat to hear. But it was the set ending Eyes of the World that put me over the top. I love the way they tack on the instrumental piece that The Dead played in '73 and '74.
The second set opened with one that nobody around me at the show knew. It turns out it's an old Jimmie Rodgers tune titled Mule Skinner Blues. The set included another great October Queen and the entire Terrapin Station suite, which is always sweet! The encore was Black Muddy River. I like it better played with instruments, instead of the a capella version.
The only bummer was that NJ Transit was not running back to NYC after the show and it took me two and a half hours to get home to Queens. But I had a smile on my face the whole way!!! Looking forward to the spring tour now.
Ranger Rich, Kew Gardens, NY
Okay, so Bobby, if you are reading this, please LISTEN! Jack Straw is one of the greatest songs ever written, hands down, and one of my favorite tunes of all time. When I heard the slow jam coming out of Golden Road, I immediately pegged Mr. Straw and was delighted. You were all playing well, then Mark busts into the high-octane jam towards the end of the song - and I mean, he is going 100 mph and rocking hard. Then, out of nowhere and for no apparent reason, YOU SLAMMED ON THE BRAKES, and played some effed-up reggae jam for five minutes? What was that? I can understand and respect that as a musician you are always looking to explore new avenues, and that is what I've always loved about your music and the Grateful Dead. But way off in the timing here Mr. Weir. You took a perfect song - and at the peak of the song - the best part of the song - and SHOT IT IN THE HEAD like it was a wounded animal. This makes absolutely no sense, because, as we all know, Jack Straw is not a wounded animal!!!!
Please, I emplore you, on behalf of all that were subjected to this, and the lucky ones that weren't -- DON'T EVER DO THAT AGAIN!
On another note, NJPAC - wonderful venue with terrific acoustics, look forward to seeing you play there again.
Scott, New York, NY
Golden Road opener was good. Jack Straw was good, though I thought they stretched it out just a tad with the reggae, but they built it up nicely. Mark's solos were just good, not great. Bird Song sucked. Didn't go anywhere. They tried a couple of things but just couldn't turn the corner. Rooster was okay but very slow. Weir had a decent solo. West LA was sick. Melodic solo by Mark was very nice and Jeff had a nice synth solo. Weir was spot-on vocally. Best Maggie's I have seen or heard. Sick, sick, sick. Weir was belting it out big time. Very tight bottom end. Robin and Jay were piledriving it home. They really jammed it out. Into Eyes. This is an automatic killer. Great groove. Great drumming by Jay. Karan's solo was huge. He is constantly destroying us night in and night out. But no matter how good Mark's solo is, Kenny's solo is always devastating and this time was no different. Robin's solo was amazing. Very nice patterns. Very nice Milking.
Missed the Mule Skinner (goddamn cigarettes). Hard Rain was huge. The end was vicious. Weir was on a mission from God tonight. I did not like the way Jay was drumming on it. He should stick to the toms on Hard Rain. But an amazing swirl and buildup to finish the song. Into Even So. Weir was serious on this. He was belting it out with attitude and throwing extras in there. The Midnight Rodeo at the end of Even So was crazy. Weir was repeating it with gusto. As far as Kenny goes on this song, he is out of control. Sick long solo. Monster Even So. Into October Queen. This is the best one I've heard live. Crunchy, if you can believe that. Jay and Robin were holding it down big time. Weir's delivery was again right on the money his voice was so strong. Amazing. Deep End was slick but still powerful. The buildup at the end was insane. Karan is a sick individual. Into Terrapin. RatDog's version of Terrapin is in a league by itself. The guitar breaks were crushed. Just beautiful melodic playing from Mark. Nice jam at the end. Great version. Stuff with Tom Pope was hot. There was this sick little jam that they went into when Weir got back. The jams are going to places they've never been. Totally unpredictable. Stella Blue was nailed big time by Weir. His voice was just so strong. Great solo by Mark. At a Siding>Terrapin Flyer was some sick twisted music. Excellent musicianship in this band. Into a hot OMSN with an animated Weir. Black Muddy River encore was haunting.
The sound was awesome at the venue. Very full sound. RatDog is really sick right now. They are super tight but just have to keep from falling apart. Weir's voice is clear and powerful with tons of emotion. Mark Karan just went from great guitarist to amazing guitarist. His tone and voice are so there. Kenny continues to be sick with long searing solos. Robin was incredible, as he has been the whole tour. Jeff had some good work. His sound was very nice on the keys, grand, and B3. Jay was perfect. Weir was just a teacher edifying his pupils. He is the consummate front man. He has released the reins more on these guys and it has paid off. The jams are fresh and crispy. Ill have to compare the tapes, but for me this show is right up there with 4/8/06. RatDog or STFU!!
David, New York, NY
I taped from the 12th row center that nite. Not only an amazing show - best Ratdog show I have ever seen - but amazing acoustics. I also taped last nite 11/12/08 if anyone wants that amazing recording as well.
The 2006 show features unreal verisons of Eyes of The World (18 minutes!) with the 8 jam included, and a flawless version of Even So>October Quen. Great Terrapin suite as well. Not a weak note to this show. A must have. And you have to hear my recordings to believe it!
Jon Pasternak, Tenafly, NJ