It had been since last summer for me seeing Bobby, so I was eagerly anticipating this all week. Scene was kidna weak, but it was also cold, so... ya take what you can get. Got inside alright, had seats on the floor [thanks GDTSTOO!]. Security was fine getting in, but there was "no smoking" in the Paramount Theatre, so there were security guys with flashlights who kept flashing them into the crowd during the show trying to see people smoking... obnoxious....
Opened up with a slick little jam that worked its way into a real nice Truckin' to open, real bluesy, even moreso than Bobby normally does it. Surprisingly, with all of the lyric flubs at this show, Truckin' was dead-on! =c) Smooth, bluesy jam out of Truckin went into Take Me to the River, which was good if a bit unexceptional. This abruptly went into Queen Jane.... Bobby really had the changes orchestrated you could tell. Anyway Queen Jane is always great to hear and of course it didn't fail. Chimenti went for a real quick great run at the end of it, and it slowed its way down to the thick down-home blues of Big Boss Man. WOWZA... the band was smokin' on this number, and the crowd of course responded in kind. Just a hot hot tune to end this real great opening four song jam. Just real bluesy for the first four songs; all of the them got the thick blues treatment. Then Bobby and the rest of 'em switched to acoustic. Played "KC Moan" which isn't one of my favorite songs, but which was done well. This went into "The Winners" which is a song I'm not familiar with at all, and really didn't pay much attention to. "Masterpiece" of course was fantastic--just very soulfully rendered... a real great performance. "It's All Over Now" was a treat... didn't expect it. I don't think Bobby plays it much. My friend had mentioned before the show that he'd like to hear it, I said "not likely." and he got it. The jam in it was real good, again carrying on the thick blues feel that had been going all night. Loose Lucy coming out of it was great. Well great for modern day Loose Lucys anyway... got a nice treatment from Ratdog. I prefer the old '73-'74 Loose Lucy's... real fast and bouncy. Ratdog's versions don't do it as well for me, but it was nice to hear. This wound its way into a real loose jam that circled around into the Truckin theme again. This was a real intense return to the Truckin theme... jammed it real hard. There were some hints of the "Love Supreme Jam," but they didn't go into it for long, mostly just sticking with the Truckin Jam. This jam was totally intense, and had a big meltdown before going into Around and Around. The Truckin' return Jam was truly a highlight of the show. And a very slow and belabored Around ended the set.
The second set wasn't nearly as good as the first. They opened up with Samson which was nice of course, if a bit standard, which dissolved into a little space before Wasserman starting hitting the opening notes of "Even So". I freaked on this one--I'd wanted to see October Queen > Even So, and instead I got it backwards, which was fine with me! Even So was soulful and beautiful... it's interesting in this incarnation; Even So is a bit peppier, not quite as slow in the beginning like it is coming out of October Queen. Even So hit a big peak at the end with a real great jam that got intense and then broke down before Bobby took it into October Queen. Which was amazing... hard heavy jamming over the raunchy New Orleans style jazz of the song. After October Queen however, things got a little stale... the "Deep End" instrumental breakdown led into a brief "Matilda Mother" pass which was a little... uninspired for lack of a better word. This went into TNK, which of course was cool to hear, but again... a bit stale. Back into Matilda Mother, and then there was a few minute jam while Wasserman fixed his bass, which was having all sorts of rig problems. "Watchtower" followed, which was a bit ... again stale and predictable.... I think I've heard too many jams on the three chords of Watchtower for it to do much for me anymore.... Solos followed, with DJ Logic, of course very intense. Dear Prudence came out of that, which was probably the best thing in the 2nd set except for Even So > October Queen. Nice full Dear Prudence... beautiful performance and following jam into GDTRFB which was dull. It was a peppy performance, but just kinda dull. It reached a bit of a peak at the end of course because they were closing the set. But other than that... dull... "Last Time" as an encore was interesting... a bit unexpected... but again as the second set... it fell flat.
So overall... DJ Logic was unobtrusive... He was so low in the mix that you only heard him when you concentrated on trying to hear him. Only during the SOLOS part was he truly loud enough to be heard clearly over the mix. The first set was real great; I've seen Ratdog a bunch of times, but they've never laid the blues on me like the did in the opening four song run. Acoustic songs were nice, and the post-acoustic spot was real cool. The opening of the second set was jamming; Even So > October Queen was totally intense, and then the show fell off after that for the most part--stale and flat from there on. Still you can see the potential for a totally great show in Ratdog's playing--they're definitely tight. Just last night wasn't very... cosmic... =c)
Patrick Donnelly, Wayne, NJ
Unquestionably the worst post-Dead related show I've seen. This band peaked on Dave Ellis's last tour (Fall 99). Kenny Brooks and Mark Karan are lame, uninspired soloists. I know from a 100% reliable source who was working security back stage that Bobby, Jeff, and Jay were all tripping on mushrooms and Bobby was pounding scotch. This proved to me that Bobby should no longer be taking any type of psychedelics on stage. The whole band seemed to be on "auto-pilot"...from the listless "Truckin'" to the run-of-the-mill "Queen Jane," "Masterpiece," and a half dozen other tunes I've heard a million times in far better versions. After seeing Ratdog tear up Hammerstein last year and put on a very good show at PNC over the summer, not to mention good shows in Florida over the past five years, this one was a major disappointment. Maybe Bobby should be spending the Halftime break at the Wharf Rats table instead of pounding shots of scotch. The second set opened with the worst Samson I've ever heard (Bobby on tambourine... could he even play his guitar at that point?). The only positive I can draw from this show was the Even So-October Queen-The Deep End segment. Evening Moods is a tremendous album and this was the only part of the show that Bobby seemed into. With all of the guitarists out there, why Karan is playing with this band is beyond me. I knew a half dozen guitar players in high school who were better. The consensus by most of the people leaving the show was that the performance was awful. Particularly among those fans twenty-five or older who had been around the scene for a while and those not tripping their face off. I've sold my ticket to Hammerstein and decided that thirty-five bucks, a trip to Manhattan, and a packed and sweaty crowd is not worth this type of abuse. Hopefully, this show was just an aberration and Ratdog will return to fine form. Maybe when the memory of this show fades and I go see them again (over the summer?) it will be inspiring and not depressing. I sure hope so.
Jim, Asbury Park, NJ
What a fun show in Asbury Park last night! An almost bizarre setlist with 3 Dylan songs, 2 Beatles songs,and 2 Stones songs. It really was a night of "covers." 1st set was classic Bobby R&B. Highlights were a rollicking Big Boss Man, killer All Over Now, and our old friend Around and Around. Only low point was that Truckin' came out kind of flat, although they made up for it with a ferocious Truckin' Jam before Around and Around. Second set started beautifully with a powerful Samson. Although I love Even So, I thoujght it was a weird spot to put it right after Samson. It kind of deflated the crowd a little bit but October's Queen and the Deep End brought everyone back. My first time seeing Matilda Mother > TNK > Matilda Mother live (I have heard the 12/26 breakout) and I loved it! VERY spacey. I saw many in the crowd with a stunned look when Matilda started, but I think most people dug it. The best part of show began with a really cool jam from Rob, Jay and Logic. Some serious funk was being laid down here and the crowd loved it. What can I say about Dear Prudence except that is was simply gorgeous. Best version by the Dog I have heard, surpassing even the 11/18/00 Hamerstein show. GDTRFB had me dancing my ass off. Then to top it all off, a KILLER Last Time that has left me singing it all day and unable to get out of my head! Bottom line: a hell of a show! This is the first show my wife and I have seen since our daughter was born 7 weeks ago and it was great to get out and let loose a little bit. Thanks Bobby for being the road warrior that you are! Jeff C. was the MVP, besides Bobby of course, and Mark has really stepped up to the plate. I can't wait for the Hammerstein!
Craig Davis, White Plains, NY
We went down to the Boardwalk in the afternoon. One of the buses (looked like Bobby's) had already been there (two buses now). I assume it's Bob and Wasserman on the one with the rest all on the other. The Ratdogies had already found there way around the park like a flock of wild geese. Always a pleasure to see the tour heads land among the ruins in Asbury Park. The temperature was warm inland, but when we first got out of the car the wind was really blowing off the ocean and the air temp was pretty cold. There was a group of tour kids trying to sell some kind of grilled flour tortillas and wraps of some kind.... they said they were on tour but that this was their first night... thought they said they drove in from Virginia and some from New Mexico. Anyway, one girl had a cute puppy. I saw tags from all over the country around the park it's amazing.
We walked around the park and up to the boardwalk, but Connie was too cold so we put Reggie back in the car and went inside the Hotel and read the paper for a while. Phone call to Greggn still found him on the NJ Tpk. We elected to try to find some kind of regular place to eat, finding an authentic Mexican place down in Bradley Beach (forget about any food in Asbury). Buy the time we got back, Greggn had found his way there and we had a nice meeting in the lobby of the Berkley Carterett. We walked with him to the box office where he was to pick up his photography ID. We parted ways at that point--he to the "Ho Jo's" to meet someone and Connie and I went to check out the scene over to the Stone Pony where "Juggling Suns" was jamming. We made our way back close to 6:30 and that line was beginning to form. Not knowing if they would let us in again this time (they have been known to leave everyone standing out side) we got right in line. They started letting everyone in by 6:45, and everyone easily got in on time. Upstairs they had what they called the "beer garden" set up across in the Convention Center. We had to walk along a sort of catwalk that ran outside across the top of the Paramount over to the Convention Center. Great view of the ocean and the decaying boardwalk and folks still sitting around the tables outside that "Ho Jo's" next door. Up in the "beer garden" I found a group of NYPD and FDNY standing around talking to the local (Manasquan?) cops. I had noticed them partying at the benefit at the Beacon Theatre last December.
The lights go down and immediately the place erupts into total chaos!!! Joints lit everywhere……. Aaaaaaaaahh New Jersey Deadheads!!
Little jam opener, Kenny Brooks with a smooth solo to start things off into the easily recognizable opening notes of "Truckin." Kenny Brooks kept things going, remaining out front in the mix, the band following through a very bluesy sounding "Truckin." Now I'm totally blown away, Bobby the frigin hounddog, on "Take Me to the River"!!!!!!! Mark Karan playing some sort of natural finish (not really a natural finish not sure what to call it?) hollow body Ibenez… looked like some sort of custom. Mark Karan stretching out a little with some lead on "Take Me to the River." And if that wasn't enough they freakin bust into "Queen Jane"!!! No problem with the song selection thus far.… Mark Karan continues up front singing lead guitar. Chimenti ends up taking it during the break, Kenny Brooks coming in toward the end only to find Weir in typical fashion coming in with the the rest of the rhythm section…. Great!! Now it's "Big Boss Man"; to me it seemed they had picked up on some bad vibes going on with security vainly attempting to clear the aisles (you ain't so big/you just tall that's just about all). Some very twangy sounding guitar--Bob and Mark doing some like call and response clearly headed in the direction of the acoustic numbers. Mark isn't necessarily out front at this point, but the music is definitely guitar driven. Acoustic "K. C. Moan" and then a great acoustic "Winners." Mark played excellent acoustic on these songs with just Jay, Rob, and Bobby. At this point, it's 'can you top this' as far as the song selection with the choice of "When I Paint My Masterpiece." Needless to say, I'm reduced to tears (ancient footprints are everywhere… you could almost think your were seeing double/on a cold dark night on the Spanish stair). What can I say? Chimenti with a sweet solo (I thought it almost could have sounded like Little Feat). "It's All Over Now"--like I said it's can you top this.… Bob still on acoustic and Mark Karan on the Strat with some great sounding rockin power chords. Chimenti once again with the solo, Weir with some problems switching to the Modulus. Bobby pointed to Mark who FINALLY opens it up with with a smoker lead on the break in "It's All Over Now"!! Bobby the hounddog once again into a SLAMMIN ending. The band seems to be getting REALLY warmed up and notice the cutest tour chic with her back stage credentials slither down the aisle down front and don't you think they break into "Loose Lucy"? Weir leads through the changes on rhythm. (Never understand why he does that here?) Mark following on lead??? (round and round and round and round) Bobby kept on looking up into the rafters I don't think anyone knew what he was doing?? (cross my heart and hope to die/I was just hanging out with the other guys……saying thank you/for a real good time). I guess they call this the "Truckin jam"? Into "Love Supreme jam" and on back into "Truckin jam" Chimenti on organ for this part… cool… I love the way they extended the end of the first set… not to be fooled because they never stopped rockin with the first "Around and Around" since '97… too much!!!!!!! Bobstar with some little leaps on the ending.
I suppose "sick" is the way to describe it. I mean utter pandemonium in the Paramount!! It's full regalia with folks dressed in costume--the whole nine, definitely like right out of the '60s. We tried to make our way back out on that balcony outside, but when we got there, it was overcrowded to the point of being dangerous. I heard one girl call it "madness." The scene across the raised stair leading to the outside resembled something out of the "Moulin Rouge."
Don't you know they open the second set with "Samson and Delilah." The band is totally hot and right on now--Bob Weir with his classic slide-like solo, and Mark K. playing off it with an excellent solo. They play "Even So" for the next selection, and I'm sure I'll get some disagreement but I actually thought "Even So" into "October Queen" was one of the highlights of the evening. This was the first time for me that I felt the song had truly begun to come into it's own whereas the lyric seemed to manifest itself and become something in the moment (aaaah Asbury with the three piece Bible belt conventioneers and the drag queens and the strip bars and those hazy purple street lights all steamin up the atmosphere)…. You had to be there (been one hell of a show…. Like the year before and the year before and the year before…and I'll have one more full year to repent…). Anyway, not to be outdone by themselves, they go into the classic Matilda Mother > Tomorrow Never Knows > Matilda … mere words cannot describe…. They got really psychedelic with Kenny Brooks on alto sax, just unbelievable. We saw this one at the Hard Rock and were glad Greggn got to see it performed. DJ Logic came out and Wasserman tried to switch to the stick standup but technical problems caused the change to be less then smooth. "All Along the Watchtower" (outside in the cold distance/ a wild cat did growl/two riders were approaching/ and the wind begins to howl…) space into "Dear Prudence" totally broken down, Wasserman just outrageous with a solo using the bow and giving the whole song the feel of an orchestra. Mark Karan finally solos on the end of "Dear Prudence"…. "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad" got the house rockin again, everyone dancing madly. The band walks off briefly and comes back on to end the show with the Rolling Stones' "Last Time," everyone still rockin. It was cold and the wind was really blowing when we got outside…. Reggie was waiting anxiously in the car…. Me and the Jersey girl drove off quickly into the darkness on the edge of town....
Reggie, Freehold, NJ