Had seen four shows (Philly 1, Montclair and the two Wesbury's) and to my ears had heard flashes of brilliance (most notably Philly 1 Set 1 and Montclair though marred by the hideous ground buzz emanating from one of Bob's guitar) but I don't think that any of the previously seen/heard shows had prepared me for last night's monstrous tour-de-force, opening with a fire-most Samson and ending with a rock-our-souls Breakdown. The 1st set felt like a 2nd set, complete with an instrumental 2nd verse Dark Star but before that a Milestones (in an extraordinarily early 1st set 3rd song slot) that frankly speaking I thought this band was incapable of playing this well. Add the NYC (and very enthusiastically received) Ramble On Rose that preceded it, the Don't Let Go that followed it (f'ing killer version) and The Wheel>Casey Jones to end the set and it is easily a contender for best Ratdog 1st set of the year. Or possibly eternity. Let your ears be the judge.
2nd Set was not much different in execution: Stealin positively rocked and rolled, Mexcali was definitely one of the better versions I've ever witnessed by anyone, Corrina was both virtually flawless and had the joint jumpin', a He's Gone for you-know-who and countless others and an Eyes that had everybody smilin' wide plus really jammed out well. The Eleven was a 2014 bust out and played with a freshness that reflected that then Bob walks off and lets Jay (killing the skins all night long) direct the band on a shout-out to Lou Reed's birthday via a largely instrumental Walk On The Wild Side. Bob walks back on and directs a soulful DDHNM that at times you could have heard a pin drop, the audience hanging onto every dripping note of emotion played. Then tops it off with one of the deepest China/Riders that I've had the privilege of witnessing live.
I can't express enough love for either this show or the peeps that either made it happen for me or that i hung out with by the rail Stage Left (yeah, I was that Dominican Dancing Pogo-Sticking Dude, LOL!) . I honestly had thought that maybe this lineup wasn't capable of the dizzying heights that I saw/heard reached in '07>'09. Tonight I was proven wrong. And better off for it. Hope that the folks that catch the rest of the tour receive anything close to what I got to my ears last night. Because if so, those folks will probably be walking out with the cat-eat-the-canary grin like I did. And they will be better off for it. Because the world, at least for a night, is a better place when it has a healthy and hungry Bob like the one that I witnessed last night, playing guitar with a both a reckless abandon yet a precision that only experience can teach you how to do and singing that was garnering ovations just for itself on many songs. This is the type of Ratdog that I know and love, one that can take a setlist (especially the 2nd Set) that I personally might not have cared for and played it so well that I could not have helped dancing to it as if my life depended on it if I tried. Last night everything was Just Exactly Perfect, musically-wise, just like Bob likes itů:-wink/smile!
Alex, Sunnyside, Queens, NY
I arrived early to the show, checked out "Shakedown", not much going on, under aged drinking, the usual. Went inside about 7pm. I am soo glad I did!! Early arrive-rs were treated to a three song acoustic set by Mr. Weir from the balcony. Just Bobby and his guitar!! Afrigginmazing!! Not only was the sound great and wonderfully sang, but what a great surprise. I am continuously amazed at the creativity of Bobby and his line up.If you remember the Beacon shows Ratdog did some years back. There was a three night run when they played a different version of Stagger Lee each night!! That's why I keep coming back, I am always happily surprised at every show i attend. Either it's the first time hearing Ratdog doing, "Don't let go" or hearing a "Stealin" that I haven't heard since the dueling W's! Whatever song brings back a happy memory or a pleasant time in my life. There has always been a Dead song that goes right along with it. Small example: In college I bought a tee shirt of a skeleton riding a mt. bike(from Relix mag) with "Bound to cover just a little more ground" on the front. And a big wheel on the back with "The Wheel"....so every time I hear that song I remember back to the early 80's and going to shows in Philly at the Spectrum.
I take it all into consideration.The set list, sound quality(let's not talk about the Wellmont) lighting, crowd, the overall vibe of the venue. To make your musical experience enjoyable, you've got to be in the right state of mind. If some drunk guy is bumping into you on the floor....move around...get a different vantage point. If some guy is talking/yelling to his buddy during the most beautiful part of the song....politely ask him to please keep it down.Remember, we're all in this together, young or old, guy or girl, using or not using, straight or gay, tie dyed or button down.It's ALL about the music !!
See you on tour, be kind to each other.
Pauly-p, Bernardsville, NJ
was a fabulous show from beginning to the end ,So much energy everybody was on the money as usual I haven't seen a show since 2007,and bobby's like a fine wine he just's gets better with age It was not surprising , it was one of the best shows for me .I couldn't ask for anything more!!!!! looking forward to the vibes this year.
John e babes, carmel n.y.
I Am proud and honored to review this show. (I know that sounds over the top). I was very impressed with Bobby's stamina, voice, and general execution of the show. Kimmok was impressive and I thought he nailed Jerry on Dark Star. The band played an old school version of Dark Star which seemed inspired by the venue itself. Eyes and Milestones were all over the place between Jeff , Steve and the band.
Branford Marsalis seems like the only person who should play a horn to Grateful Dead tunes. Overall, I don't think it works so was fine without the sax. The music was more focused on raw Dead without it.
Loved the Lou Reed nods during set break. The album being played was mostly called Lou Reed New York which was an appropriate call. Wasserman's bass grooved nicely on the walk on the wild side rage segment. He must be sad to have lost his band mate. I was actually surprised how quickly he joined up with Bob again after Lou Reed died.
If you have never been to the Capital Theater, it has fast become a landmark in the genre of Grateful Dead haunts. If you are a Dead head and are in NY from anywhere you should have a beer at Garcia's and check out all of the artwork and great, rare photos that adorn the place. What's even cooler, is that Bobby usually plays a late night set at a nice restaurant around the corner after the show. I have not seen one yet, but maybe one of these days....
Lastly, I think this Ratdog line up is a big act that can handle center stage at big festivals. I started seeing Ratdoog in 2001 and this is quite different. I started seeing GD in '87 and of all the Dark Stars I have seen post Jerry, I think this one in Portchester most resembled what I identified with in the GD years.
Thanks and have fun.
Sean, Madison, CT
I caught 2 shows on this tour and just received the soundboard and have given it a few listens...Very impressive overall and more musically convincing then some of the early shows of the tour. I feel both 1st and 2nd sets are equally strong with Bobby and the band bringing great energy. Really a great show from start to finish with only this night's version of He's Gone being somewhat weak vocally/musically. Casey Jones to close the 1st set was surprisingly very good and the Brokedown Palace closer was performed beautifully! I would love to see Milestones become more mature & fully developed by this band as they are on to something real good here. Bobby, how about about Milestones>Eternity!!!????
Long Live bobby!
Stevie J, Edwards, CO