This was the first Ratdog show I have been to since my wife died in December. I wasn't sure how it would be but 2 of my sons were there which helped. This was a phenomenal show. The first set alone was 1hr & 45 min. Incredible jamming. I was also surprised but glad that the show was moved a couple of blocks away from the Music Hall to the very intimate La Zona Rosa. It didn't appear to be much more than 300 people there. But we were witnesses to an intensity that I had not seen before. Hey and didn't Bobby look great with a beard? We were leaning against the stage for the entire show right in front of Bobby and Kenny, no more than 5-6 feet from them. The most touching moment for me was the encore of Brokedown Palace, which was played at my wife's funeral service and the lines "Fare you well, Fare you well, I love you more than words can tell" are carved in our headstone. Other nice moments were She Belongs To Me, Easy to Slip, and Standing on the Moon. The band just really clicked on every song and the improvisation was special, and I really enjoyed watching the antics of Kenny and Jeff. And I was able to take some incredible pictures being up so close, and utilizing a Nikon 5000. Am looking forward to a free show in Houston on Thursday and to more great times at the Jazzfest this weekend. The only thing that could have made this any better would be to have had Sandi with me, and at times I'm not so sure she wasn't. Peace to all and here's to more great music!!!!! Thanks to Ratdog for coming back to Texas!!!!!!!!
Randy Gardner, Hemphill, TX
As usual, the Austin crowd took their sweet-ass time getting to the show. However Bobby was a man with a beard and on a mission, and at 8:00pm the show started in front of a half filled room. Too bad for the fashionably late. An opening sweet little jam fell into a warm "The Music Never Stopped". What a treat after not having Bobby here in too many years and the Dead not even play Texas since 10/88. Here was a real live Dead tune, a little on the thin side and missing Jerry's little hic-up lick but it was a Dead tune just the same and it was beautiful! This rolled into "Easy Answers." Not one of the great numbers but performed cleanly and nicely set up a roll into Dylan's "She Belongs To Me." This was beautiful. By now the late arrivals had shown up and noisely wanted to know "What'd I miss?"
As the tune started to wind down Bobby reached for his brass slide, a gesture which in years passed would have made us all cringe. We were all heading to "Minglewood" and Bobby was at the wheel. This led to "Little Red Rooster" and I must say that the only disappointment was the inability to clearly hear Bobby's slide work. Now came the first real gem of the evening--"Easy To Slip." This is a wonderfully written piece best performed by Bob Weir. Moving along into Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" was a pleasant surprise; two Dylan tunes in one show isn't too shabby. Bob's attempt at putting his stamp on an American classic by singing the lyrics with a full bar spacing fell short. I guess the only guy who can really pull that off is another guy named Bob. The segue out of "Watchtower" into "Odessa" was a real clunker, but hey, it's the first show so we'll give ya that one. "Odessa" into "Bury Me Standing" into a sweet reprise of "The Music Never Stopped." Holy shit, we're almost an hour and a half into the show without a break. What's next? "Eyes of the World." I was back on the bus! After waiting so many years and shedding so many tears I was back where it all began. Ever since that dark, dark August day in 1995 when it all seemed too real to bear, I'd longed for this moment. Thanks Bobby. The first set ended at one hour and forty-three minutes. It'd been a long time.
Bobby came out with the acoustic to start the second set and tore right into "Me and My Uncle." This was the start of an outstanding second set "Uncle" rolled into "Friend of the Devil" and Bobby had us where he wanted us. We wound into "Black-Throated Wind" and my neighbor turned to me and "I went to see Ratdog and a Grateful Dead show broke out." Oh yeah! Next came "Lost Sailor" a nice Bobby tune hidden on "Go To Heaven" out of that and into a rousing "Saint of Circumstance." The crowd is really starting to move as one now and here we go! We're "COMIN', COMIN', COMIN" AROUND"!! "The Other One" is kicking names and taking ass. God how I love this!! The guys go off into a jam and I get to catch my breath. I'm going to need it 'cause "The Other One" is "Comin' Round" AGAIN! finally Bass/Drums. I wonder what's next?? Oh my God, it's another "Music" reprise. Very nice indeed. Now comes the tear jerker of the evening--the sweet lament of a second set Jerry ballad. "Standing on The Moon." What a lovely view of heaven, of days and nights long gone, when this was the safest place to be and we had no other cares. If only for a moment... WAKE UP!!! It's "Sugar Magnolia"!!! She can make happy any man alive!! Bobby remembered every word. Good Bobby. The set ends on a note of the highest order. What will the encore be. "Brokedown Palace" may be the single most sweetest song every penned by Hunter. The melancholy, the longing, the love. When I die, play this for me.
I saw my first Grateful Dead show on 6/9/73 at RFK. I've been to over a hundred since. I've seen us up and I've seen us down. I remember well the jazzy years of 77-79. The "you woundn't understand" years of the 80s before "Touch of Grey," the "Who the fuck are all these kids and what are you doing to my Dead show" years that followed top ten success. I will always hold dear to my heart a youth spent dancing to the strains of "Jehovah's favorite choir." I am and will always be forever Dead. Thank you for coming to Austin Bobby. "Fare thee well"
Jimmy O'Brien, Austin, TX