Fantastic show! These guys are good, to borrow a phrase from the PGA. From the moment they took the stage until the last notes of Lovelight, Ratdog proved again that they are a band beyond description. In complete control of their instruments, each bandmember played with verve and enthusiasm, combining to create a whole much greater than the sum of its parts. The music lives and breathes. The Jam leading into The Music Never Stopped really cooked, and when the band launched into Stopped, a pulse went through the theatre like I've never felt before! A real surge of energy that set the stage for more highlights to come. Me and My Uncle, Looks Like Rain, Liberty, Mississippi Half-Step, Weather Report Suite, Let It Grow, Mission in the Rain, and China Cat, among others were performed masterfully with technical skill in addition to the obvious rythmic ululations. Like everyone else, I have my favorite songs that I like to hear them play. However, what sticks with me the strongest and longest is when the band is jamming, really going all out, and then they hit a crescendo... time seems to stand still and the entire theatre is hanging... no one knows what tune will follow... it's like the band could go absolutely anywhere at that point... then they dive into an absolutely mind-bending version of some fantastic song. I recall reading liner notes from one of The Band's live albums (probably Rock of Ages) that basically said you could hear the essence of all of American music in the first notes of a fiddle about to jump into Rag Mama Rag. If that liner note writer is still around, I'd like to invite him to see Ratdog sometime soon. Their music, and the way they are playing it now, gets at the essence of all of American music. Everything and everyone is included. Come on out and enjoy the show!
Matt Weaver, East Lansing, MI
After fifteen years of traveling to shows, I finally met Bobby. He was on his way out to the bus before the show. We shook hands and I told him my friend, Frank, was unable to attend due to an illness. He graciously signd a photo with wishes of good health. A miracle indeed! On with the show... front row accomodations of course... anticipation was high as they broke into Music, nicely done. Predictably meandering into Easy Answers, the transition was smooth. Not my favorite tune, but I accepted it graciously. Nothing predictable about the rest of the night. Long time sice I had heard Twilight Time... sweet. Always did love My Uncle and L.L. Rain was very tasteful. The theater semed so peaceful. Jeff seemed to really get off during Schoolgirl. Liberty to wrap up the first set.. crowd went wild... this song has more appeal these days.
Second set Other One tease into a surprise 1/2 Step. First time I'd heard the Dog break this out. Juicy! I had been singing Miracle since I woke up that day, it was right on time. Then, low and behold, Weather Report! Oh my...history in the making. I was pretty skeptical about having a DJ in the mix and could not see the logic in it. Rob seemed to play into it though during the solos and he did liven up the jam a bit. Far better than Alpine last summer. I'll roll with the changes, but I am from the old school, so give me time! A new fangeled China > Rider brought then house down. Fat ass Lovelight encore sent me out with a big smile on my face.... All in all, the best of the 20 or so Ratdog shows I have seen. Hope to catch Memphis in a couple weeks... enjoy!
Kyle, from northwest michigan, e-mail me soon for the pictures...
I have hesitated writing this review since the time of the show, mainly because I have always followed the theory, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Another reason being I spent the 2 weeks after the show in Costa Rica. I was super pumped going down to the show. This would be my 15th Ratdog show, and about my 40th time seeing Bobby altogether. I've seen some great moments with Ratdog over the years, but unfortunately, this one did not fall into this category. The band opened with Music, which came off great and got me up on my feet quickly, happy to be back in the presence of such a great group of musicians, and also just seeing Bobby always makes me feel good to know that he is still out there doing what he loves to do. They quickly dropped into my least favorite Weir tune of all time, Easy Answers. Ever since he incorporated this song into the lineup even during the Dead days, it was always a sour note to my ears. I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and see if it could grow on me, and while I must say the playing of it was tight and well done, it did anything but captivate me. The drop into She Belongs to Me was welcome but faded quickly back into Easy Answers. Zzzzz. The acoustic part of the show was appreciated as DJ Logic was not present during this. I'm sure he is talented at what he does and all, but this art form I don't feel belongs in the band. LL Rain, a favorite of mine for the last 10 years was well done, but the end of the first set just didn't carry out with the Liberty, and again the drop back into Music. With as many songs as they have in their bank, it would be nice to hear a separate closer from the opener.
The second set had one great moment for me, the Weather Report Suite, which I'd been waiting to hear for years. Thanks for this one guys. The rest of it, well, let's just say I was waiting for the show to end so I could drive over to Detroit and be on my way to Costa Rica. Nothing seemed to grab me and take me in. I've seen better shows at local bars than this one, and for me to say this really hurts. I have had some incredible moments of my life with Bobby onstage, and the fact this was to be the sendoff for a great trip really ended up lackluster. I really hope the band makes some changes back to where they've been in the past, for if I were to catch another show as boring as this, I'd have to say farewell Bobby and Co. It's been a great ride. Here is hoping I don't say this the next time.
Glen, Grand Rapids, MI