First, please excuse my mistakes in your language. I'm a German Ratdog fan, and I'll try my very best to give you an expression of the show in Hamburg, Germany.
The Fabrik is a very fine place for this concert. Thousands of concerts have taken place here since they opened this place many many years ago. Although I'm a regular to the Fabrik, I was very nervous in the days before the show. I was also very excited to see RATDOG here in Germany. I have not seen them before. I saw the Grateful Dead twice (1990 Essen, Germany and 1972 Hamburg, Germany). That's all.
So it was about time to witness this very special music from the family live. And being a father now, I decided to take my daughter with me to the show. Her name is Franziska and she is 17 now. Would she like it?? I told her a short history of the Grateful Dead and what came afterwards.
OK... let the show begin. We were early at the doors and sneaked into the Fabrik very early so we could make sure to find a nice place inside. After an hour, Bob Weir and the band entered the stage; the crowd was very enthusiastic from the beginning. The band started their set with a little jam which led into The Music Never Stopped. I was surprised that they created this very special sound on stage which resembles the Dead from time to time. Mark's guitar sounds very much like Jerry's. But you guys know this, and you know the setlist which you can find elsewhere on these pages.
So what was special about this show? I was surprised by the number of covers. Take Me to the River was awesome... very groovy, very strong. In the middle of the show, Bob Weir had troubles with his equipment. The roadies were not sure what to do. They changed Bob's earphones, changed his guitar-cables twice, and tried to cool the amplifier with a big fan. In the end they changed the amplifier. Nothing helped. Bob's guitar was not working properly. He was very pissed, shook his guitar, shook his head, missed a verse or two. The crowd was aware of the problems, although we couldn't hear much of the problems. The sound was great and the guitar was audible. So what was wrong?? And the crowd was encouraging Bob Weir to carry on. Finally Bob changed guitars to his dobro. And he used this guitar till the end of the show. Rob Wasserman obviously liked this new aspect to the music he knew so well. So he also encouraged Bob. After a triumphant St. Stephen/The Eleven they finished the show and of course we got an encore, a very fine version of Knockin on Heaven's Door.
After the first set I asked my daughter to take some digitals from the band. She gladly agreed and she tried to get as near to the stage as possible. She took some photos but she didn't come back. Being in front row she enjoyed the dancing and the singing of the audience and the spirit created by the band. Maybe she got a little breeze of what (let's say) the west coast feeling is like. After the show she came to me, sweating very hard and she was happy--very happy. She liked very much what she had just experienced. Being 51 now, I was happy that this concert was great for her and for me.
Rob Wasserman showed up at the merchandise stall and signed some CDs. I asked him if Bob Weir would also come and give the fans some autographs. He said, 'No, I don't think so. Bob had a hard night.' After a cold beer, we decided to wait at the tour bus. Maybe we would be lucky there. We got autographs from Kenny, Mark, and Jay. But Bob sneaked into the bus very quickly without signing anything. I mean, he could have done it couldn't he?? Anyway, this didn't bother us too much. We were here for a good show and we got a very good one. What did you guys (I mean you guys who have seen more concerts of Ratdog than me) think of the Hamburg gig, compared to others?? Please e-mail me. Call me Willie!!!!
Wilfried Lilie, Lohheide, Germany
Sorry for the bad translation because my English is not so well.
First, it was naturally a big thing that my heroes came to Europe. And even in my city. Before 8 o'clock the place in front of the Fabrik was filled with predominantly older men and somewhat younger women. In came grey old freaks, 45-year old so-called Normals, businessmen, who switched their jacket for a batik shirt. Also younger ones that probably first got Dead music with their mother's milk. Finally the doors opened; it surprised me that there were still a quantity of tickets available. Hurts the black market dealers. When the concert began at approximately 9:15, the Fabrik was at the most two-thirds full. That was good for the breathing air, but I find it disappointing and somehow insulting to the performing artists. Where were all the Deadheads? Some of them are already dead. The teachers from Hamburg have holidays and spent it in houses in Denmark or Sweden. Okay, let's speak about the music. The band began to play and already after short time they jammed straight on. They played a few of their own things, three Dylan tunes, and naturally, under special rejoicing of the audience, highlights from the G.D. repertoire. A short bass solo by Rob Wasserman received the earned applause. Every player was perfect and they concentrated, and as a team Ratdog is moving along energetically, like The Dead in its best times. The sound was excellent for Fabrik's conditions; I hope we can hear it on the tapes. Unfortunately there was a much too long break. The cause was technical problems with the monitor sound. Also after that approximately 45-minute break, the problems continued. This affected the tendency of Bob Weir noticeably. Nevertheless St. Stephen and The Eleven were totally awesome.
Since it was already very late then, the gig ended with Knockin on Heaven's door. We want to hope that Hamburg is again target of the next journey of RatDog. I'll be there!
Paloma Negro, Hamburg, Germany
Having seen the Dead only once in my lifetime (10/19/90 in Berlin), the Ratdog show last night was a great flashback. Of course there weren't Jerry`s trippy guitar licks and the Phil zone, both to lead you in other spheres of the universe--or behind that? But there were those intensively performed ballads like Mission, Masterpiece, Loser, and Knockin' and so many sing-alongs with a crowd having a real good time. There was the great mastership of all musicians and Dead-like dynamics screwing each song to its mind opening heights. Even though Bobby dealt all night with technical problems with his guitar, it was great show. Best of all: to experience this in a small, filled location with only about 500 Heads. We all hope to see the band more frequently in Europe than the Dead--and the rest of the family too.
Holger Rühle, Berlin, Germany