5/23/2002 Setlist, Photos, and Reviews

Great American Rib Cookout Festival

Thursday, May 23, 2002
Tower City Amphitheatre
Cleveland, OH


What a wonderful night right on the Cuyahoga to see one hot band! Wow! This was the best RatDog performance I have ever seen! By the way the band was hot, but failed to ignite the once flaming Cuyahoga River....

The opening of the show heading into Shakedown was soooo cool. You knew that these guys were 'on' from the beginning. I think Bobby was really having fun too! Bobby showed some skin wearing shorts, and I think towards the end of the show he was not wearing any shoes....

What I thought was so cool was that it was a Rib Festival, and I don't think the folks that put it on had any idea of who was going to attend this show. You could see it on the faces of the folks who worked there. It said it all... lots of twirling and dancing and 'doobage' going on.... I loved it!!

Loose Lucy/Easy Answers was as good as any Dead show I have ever seen, and then the crowd went nuts for 'Brown-Eyed Women.' By the way, Bobby does a great Jerry! That ended the first set with great anticipation to what they were going to open Set II with. I will blow my own horn here and say I called the show opener, Set II opener (El Paso) and the encore (US Blues). I should of played the lottery last night. Anyhow El Paso was great with Bobby and Rob starting out, heading into a cool version of Corrina--flawless. When the boys headed into Uncle John's Band and Bobby sang "Come here Uncle John's band, by the river side," the place went bonkers!!! I even get chills writing this thinking about how good the whole thing was. Dear Prudence was the first time I had heard them do this Beatles/Lennon classic--nice version--into Sugar Mag, then a great encore of US Blues.

It was such a good time last night, the weather was awesome, and got to see a lot of old friends from the summer tours of the 90's. Thanks boys... ya done good!!!

Mark Tennant, Cleveland, OH
Well this show was the beginning of what turned out to be a VERY long VERY strange trip. After the eight-hour drive out of Jersey [and no, I wasn't travelling all the way to Ohio just to see Bobby... Hookahville was the 3 days following this show] we got to the brand-spankin' new Tower City Amphitheatre. If there was ever a strange show for Bobby to play this was it--the Great American Rib Cookout. OK... well we ate some damn fine ribs and hung out for a while and then whoosh... Bobby came on.

Now I saw 3 shows off of Bobby's first spring tour in March, none of which overly impressed me. I've seen Ratdog... christ, like 13 or 15 times now, and I was kinda distressed by the poor showing in March. But this show changes all of that... redeemed them in my eyes if you will... what a show! Also, possibly not coincidentally, this was the first RD show I've seen this year sans DJ Logic. Not to say that the show was so great *because* DJ Logic wasn't there, but nonetheless, the point remains...

The first set opened with a funky if abbreviated Shakedown that got the place rockin'. Walkin' Blues was nice, ok, nothing special, and She Belongs To Me was more of the same. Then Minglewood which just balls out rocked, with some FINE soloing from Mark Karan. Loser was FANTASTIC, and I think Ratdog's version is every bit as good as the Dead's. Youngblood > Loose Lucy is a great combination; I'm not sure if it has been used before, but it's just a great combo with a nice transition jam between the two. And Easy Answers > BEW to close it was very nice.... Easy Answers is always a treat; I think RD's version blows the Dead's out of the water [the horn is a necessity] and this was a great reading. And then BEW which is nice, if not the best when done by RD.

But the second set... whew! I missed the opening El Paso and Corrina due to pressing matters we had to attend to in my car [the venue was a less than ideal place for taking part in certain activities] but got back in just as Corrina ended, and the opening riff to Truckin began. And wow... what a powerful rendition of Truckin! I saw it at some point earlier this year [Asbury maybe?] and it was a very bluesy version, but this was a very rocking, powerful, straight ahead version of Truckin. The closing jam was fantastic and furious and reached a huge peak before dissolving into the bassline for Even So. October Queen > Even So or its inversion seem to follow me around wherever I go; I think I've seen them like 8 or 9 times out of the RD shows I've seen. =c) Anyway I kinda dig the inversion of the combo, the Even So > October Queen. It seems to fit itself better into the second set, because the end of October Queen can be quite open ended. After a soulful Even So, and a raunchy and exquisite October Queen, the band meandered their way into Uncle John's Band. While this is a classic Dead song, it's live performances sometimes get tedious for me. This version did not hold true to that... complex and intricate jams laced around the basic melodic structure held my interest and were very well done. UJB went into the SOLOS section of the show, of course with Wasserman showing off his prowess as usual. This went into a nice jam which found it's way into Dear Prudence. RD's version of this has been blossoming from the short quick ditty it was a few years back to a truly monumental performance that features extended jamming and soulful playing and singing. A true highlight of the show. This was followed by Sugar Mags, which is always fun to bop around to if unexceptional. The US Blues encore was punchy and energized, if a bit repetitive, and a lot of fun to end the show.

Overall: just rockin'. Every song kicked some ass in its own way. Great show all around.

Afterwards: Wandering around central Ohio trying to find an elusive State Campground which we did ultimately find at 2 in the AM. Camped for 4 hours, set off for Hookahville. Made it with some exciting excursions getting beer and provisions and mingling with the locals [Ohio people are interesting...]. Hookahville was a blast, despite the searing temperatures during the day, and the piss-ass miserable rainstorms that tried to spoil our fun. They didn't, just made it a muddier affair than it would have been. Hookah played some amazing shows both nights, including a post-rainstorm jam with Bela Fleck, guys from Bruce's band, guys from Railroad Earth, and maybe a MMW member or two, which reached its pinnacle in a cover of TNT by AC/DC and a bunch of fireworks and fun. A great time was had by all.

My apologies for the horrid grammar and sentence construction in this post-- My head's still a little muddy from the weekend.

Patrick Donnelly, Wayne, NJ