I got there early and Bobby started late, so I curled up in a ball on the grass after mingling with the Heads, became a turtle. I was seriously sleep deprived, a graduate student, but the crowd was generous, the weather cool, the security respectful.
Bobby opened with Help on the Way / Slipknot, but I didn't get turned on until Minglewood Blues, and when he broke into She Belongs to Me I remembered why I love him so much and I wanted to sit in his lap. I abandoned my group and wiggled my way down front. This is my season of heartbreak, and every song sounds different. She Belongs to Me made me feel so good and so bad, like only loud, live music in an intimate crowd of strangers can do.
Just Like Mama Said sounded a lot like Tennessee Jed, and I am growing fond of Bobby tunes after years of loving RatDog; in fact, if I go to one live concert a year, it is RatDog, and when his band kicked into Tomorrow Never Knows I reveled--yes, the old Beatlemaniac in me flipped out. The rest of the Bobby tunes were fine, and I could live my life without hearing Jerry’s song, Liberty, but uneven is what I am used to with Weir, and his band is tops. He does what he wants when he wants to and I love him for it. I have to go to the library, make some more coffee, the lawn service is weed-whacking at the neighbors. It is Florida winter here, in the fifties last night, the forties tonight. I had my jacket on at the Mizner show; Bobby was wearing shorts and sandals.
During the break, I found a shallow step to sit on to rest my bones and unlace and remove the ankle braces; they were giving me blisters. Then I canvassed the crowd to get my setlist right, talked to the soundboard, taper, FM radio-streamer dudes about the Jannus Landing show, oh my. RatDog returned to the stage, acoustic, and Lazy River Road is a bathroom song, so I was finding my way there with my best friend when I heard Victim or the Crime and I think acoustic? But somehow Bob does the impossible and it was strong and the acoustic pick-ups are like LOUD.
I was back up front, finally found a good spot, right to the left of the stage, when the band twisted into Friend of the Devil, oh, oh, oh, and then I knew, there is a Void in me that only this kind of tune can fill and a Need that only this sub-culture can supply, and maybe I’ll chuck it in and follow the music from state to state. Theres people in this crowd who complement me perfectly. But then Bobby started St. Stephen which I didn't want to hear, not only because Bobby's voice is shot, this being the last show of the tour, and not only because I can't dance to it, but because Stephen, a guru from San Francisco, was my spiritual teacher, and I grew up in his intentional community, and now I am not liking any of the tunes until Dear Prudence which was perfect. How does Bobby do that? He takes me where I don't want to go, puts me down on the ground sometimes, covering my ears, and then he pleases me with so much style and energy and perfect surprise, like a lover who always has a place in my bed, no matter how many times he’s made me cry. An out-of-sync Slipknot / Franklin's Tower proceeded into a kick-ass .One More Saturday Night and I threw my head back and sang to the starry sky, danced under Orion's belt and said, "Thank you, Bob, you’re all I've got."
This is something that only live music can do performed for people who know the tunes, sing the lyrics when the band leader forgets them; a forgiving audience in concert with each other, who like it loud, loud enough to clear the mechanism, erase what hurts, deadheads who love to move, dance, sing, remember and share the last time they heard this song.
Diane Larson, Cooper City, FL
I knew this shows setlist would make it less than well reviewed, but I'm a bit surprised at just how much folks disliked it.
And I am amazed at complaints about the sound quality, though is suspect it must have to do with where one was situated. With the very wide stage area, I'm guessing the sound up front may have suffered. Once you're 20 deep or so, however, I can't think of a venue with better sound. It dawned on me as I was getting every last nuance of Jeff's new grand that I realized one reason I love this venue so much is that the sound is so damn good.
As for the show itself, the setlist was a bit eclectic for most tastes. Simply put, it didn't really rock out. But for folks who love the more quiet, quirky stuff, it was an excellent show. For my money it was worth the trip just to hear Bobby and Kenny going back and forth on the take-out of Even So. Haven't heard Bob wail so much on the end of that one in ages. And Just Like Mama Said was a real treat. Second set was a little faster and was graced by a wonderful Eleven in all it's cacophonous glory.
I can't wait to get a copy of this one.
jon c., Tallahassee, FL