The Recher Theatre! Man, this was totally sick!!!!! The acoustics were slamming and Bobby was jamming! Super small venue, and just the right amount of people for a rockin show. I did not know what to expect from the band since it was the first night back in the USA after their tour in Europe, and man, what a show! Shakedown Street openers are a clue that it will a rocker! I had never heard them do a Matilda Mother or Tomorrow Never Knows. This was certainly a delight. The Bury Me Standing was at full force, with an extended mean jam, then Bobby grabbed the tambourine, and it was a "hey now" sing along into Aiko Aiko for the closer. I really liked the line "see that girl all dressed in green, Aiko Aiko a nay, she'll do you good but she'll do you clean!"
The second set opened with a great KC Moan into Friend of the Devil (another sing-along), that then snapped into an acoustic Corrina, a classic Monday tune. Seems like more people should have been into this one a little bit more, but I was all about it, it was rippin! Then came Brown-Eyed Women, which was all jazzed up. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this tune; I didn't expect it which gave me a extra spark of excitement. Then came Looks Like Rain; the ladies in the house sure liked this one. At the end of the song when Bobby was screaming "can't stand the rain," the band had replaced the standard licks that go along with the song with the St. Stephen lick!!!!! This was the highlight of he show! I couldn't believe what I was hearing! The crowd went wild--super wild!!!!! It was like a teaser right in another song! It was amazing! Good Morning Little Schoolgirl popped out next into a rhythmic Help on the Way/Slipknot that got everyone into a nasty dance groove, then the bass/drums just got everyone moving even more. Bobby dropped the bomb into St. Stephen (which I knew would be coming) straight into The Eleven. The band switched direction and went into Franklin's Tower, which was separated from Help/Slip. Bobby had added a scat-rap to this song which was sort of funny; everyone wend wild and laughed along with him as he tried his best to do it hip hop style. Trying something new never hurts, especially if it's fresh cheese! The encore was White Lightning and Johnny B. Goode, which ended the show in an upbeat note. What a great way to start off a week and a summer tour. See you in Wisconson Bobby!
Neil Lewis, Stevensville, MD
Well, it definitely turned out to be one hell of an (INTERESTING) evening! Got to the Recher just about twenty minutes before showtime, due to the traffic delays on 695 trying to get around Balti-snore. After standing in line for a bit, I finally got into the Theatre, and immediately I was amazed at the tiny size of the venue. My girlfriend and I went straight to the bar in the back for refreshments, then slithered our way to the front of the Theatre, and ended up about thirty feet from the stage, almost dead center. The stage was extremely small, as small of a stage as I have ever seen the 'Dog occupy. Jeff was kinda stuck over in the corner and Jay and his kit were positioned up on a riser behind Bobby.
The band took the stage promptly at 8:00 pm and went right into a very tight and powerful jam with solid contributions from everyone. The jam found its way into a rousing "Shakedown," a fitting welcome home song from the band who just returned from their overseas romp through Europe. It was huge crowd pleaser, and it definitely set the tone for the evening. They jammed out "Shakedown" for what seemed to be a very long time, complete with the "Shake it down, shake it down, shake it down down" chant bringing the song back around and around. "She Belongs to Me" was next and featured some great vocals from Bobby. "Loser" followed and was absolutely HUGE! Bobby really nailed the vocals on this one. MK showed off some of his Garcia-esque licks, with his own twist of course, and it was very sweet. During the jam in "Loser", Rob laid down some (dare I say!) BOMBS, and it felt like an eruption was brewing in the bowels of the Recher. The "Matilda Mother > Tomorrow Never Knows > Matilda Mother" was up next and was very well-played. I have seen RatDog perform this psychedelic sandwich at three of my last four shows and have enjoyed it every time. I also find this combo to be a point of separation in the audience,meaning it is very easy during "MM>TNK>MM" to tell who the pure "RATDOG ONLY" fans are because they are the ones who are obviously familiar with the material and are usually shaking their bones the hardest. I always find a lot of quizzical looks on the faces of those who are old Heads, those who came for the party and the scene, and those who are just too stoned to understand what is going on. A big "Big Boss Man" rocked the house, complete with Bobby singing the "But you sure don't let Bobby stop" and "Sure get stoned at night" lines with added fervor. A very rare electric "Artificial Flowers" followed and was a real treat to hear, as I am one of the song's admirers (although I believe I am in the minority on this one!). Bobby then broke out the dobro for a super-sized "Bury Me Standing", which has over time become my favorite RatDog tune off the Evening Moods CD. Every time I hear this song, Kenny really shines on the sax, and this version was no different. Huge jams from everyone, and it was very well received by the crowd. "Bury Me Standing" wound down into an earth-shattering "Aiko Aiko." I have never heard that song performed SO LOUD and with such a POUNDING rhythm. The dancing in the Theatre reached a feverish level at this point, and I could clearly feel the floor trembling beneath my feet. Smiles were found on everyone's faces. Solid first set.
During the setbreak, Courtney and I tried to find a little breathing room as fresh air became a premium due to the "sweatbox" atmosphere of the Theatre. The show was obviously sold out, but I have to believe it was OVERSOLDOUT. Not really any room to find anywhere. Almost a little TOO packed for my taste. That said, the acoustics in the Theatre were outstanding and every instrument could be heard crystal clear. Bobby's vocals were high in the mix, which is something I definitely enjoy, because you simply can't find another vocalist out there today who sings like Bobby. Emotive, passionate, soulful, just simply amazing stuff. His on-stage persona and his demeanor as a bandleader are also second-to-none. All night long, he really seemed to be enjoying himself, with lots of smiles, hand signals, and body movements. Definitely, a "Bobby-Rock-Star" night.
Since there was no way that we could possibly get to the primo location we had for the first set, we decided to hang back in the middle of Theatre, but that space also became a little crowded for our liking. So, we ended up hanging by the bar on the right side of the Theatre. We still had pretty good sightlines and the sound remained excellent as set two opened with an acoustic "KC Moan" from Bobby, Rob, and Mark. I have to admit, I love Bobby, but this song absolutely bores me to death. "Friend of the Devil" followed and was a group "sing-along." Since we were now hanging closer to the bar, I could tell a noticeable difference in the intoxication level of the crowd for set two, with everyone howling and yelping during "FOTD." Pretty amusing at times, but the constant noise definitely distracted me from the action on the stage. "Corrina" was up next and was excellent. Jams all over the place. It was during "Corrina" that my girlfriend began to feel a little uncomfortable and overheated. After "Corrina" we retreated further back in the Theatre but it wasn't much better. I found it odd that as the show went along it just kept getting more and more crowded everywhere. We both really wished we could have kept our space up close for the second set, but there was not much we could do. "Brown-Eyed Women" followed "Corrina" and once again MK displayed why he is the perfect guitarist for RatDog: HE'S GOT THE CHOPS! AND THE BALLS! An absolutely lovely version of "Looks Like Rain" (for the bradman!) soothed the crowd, and featured an usual rhythm and beat during the middle portion of the song. "Schoolgirl" rocked the crowd hard and fast before finding its way into "Help on the Way." The band was locked and loaded on this one, and they did it much justice. If Rob Barraco sings this song for the new version of The Other Ones instead of Bobby, I am gonna BURN THE TAPES in the name of all that is sacred and holy in Deadland. Bobby nails this tune and Jerry would be proud! During the "Slipknot!" I look over to Courtney to find that she had a look of complete hopeless desperation on her face. The poor girl was so overheated that she had reached her breaking point. We bolted outside for some fresh air. She felt better after a while but was still light-headed and pretty nauseous. I decided to cut my losses and we grabbed some bottled water and headed to the Blazer. She kept telling me how sorry she was for feeling rotten, and I could tell how genuine and sincere she was because knows how much I love this band.
So as we were headed back to Annapolis in the truck, the 'Dog was ripping off a "St. Stephen > The Eleven > Franklin's Tower" with a "White Lightning > Johnny B. Goode" encore at the Recher. Oh, well. There will be more shows.
All in all, a very interesting evening. The first set was HUGE, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The second set was extremely tight also, but with all of the distractions, it was a little difficult to take in completely. I hope CDs start circulating soon! Gotta get my paws on this one.
Patrick Letton, Annapolis, MD