Tucson finally got its Bay Area fix last night as Rat Dog entertained the masses at the Rialto Theatre. Bob Weir and company took us on a journey of traditional, modern, and (of course) Grateful Dead magic in the downtown venue. The 8 pm start was the release of the anticipation of the crowd at hand. The band can play the smaller theatre shows with the same ease of the arenas thanks to their compact setup.
Highlights of the evening included Bob at the microphone taking lead singing roles for two of the Grateful Dead's anthems;"He's Gone" and a complete "Terapin Station" were played with the precision and abandon of the originators.
The crowd was definitely in a dancing mood, and Rat Dog did not disappoint them. "Artificial Flowers" was a refreshing surprise and the audience seemed to enjoy the acoustic start of set 2. Weir showed that his songs could be preformed in a range from stadium to coffee house with "Victim Or The Crime." The performance of the Weir/Barlow classic by the bass, drum, and guitar trio paid homage to the creation of music in its simplest form.
The show became a total journey when the band finished the first song performed at the end of the second set. "Cassidy" was the opening song, but the band went into a tangent that allowed for the remainder of the show to be performed. The return to "Cassidy" at the end was welcome by the audience in full.
This mini-tour was just what Tucson needed to get its fix of good-time music. Quoting the late great Bill Graham would cover the entire evening best: "They are not the best at what they do, they are the only ones that do what they do!"
Jerry Diaz, Tucson, AZ
What can I say? What a show. From interweaving Bird Song throughout most of the first set to the complete Terrapin, Bobby continues to impress and delight. Compared to Phoenix, the Tucson crowd was less frenetic, and the venue was far less crowded. The band walked on at 8:05 and began a nice jam that teased Playing in the Band but then moved into Cassidy. Then the Bird Song melody began that drifted throughout the first set. Easy To Slip was a wonderful surprise form the highly underrated Heaven Help the Fool. The band is still a little raw, with the transitions showing the new (temporary?) bassist and the effects of a layoff, but the jams are wonderful, very jazzy, and open, and Bobby's voice is right on tune. An interesting component of both the Phoenix and Tucson shows was the inclusion of a very non-acoustic tune in the acoustic portion of the second set. In Phoenix it was Corrina, and in Tucson Victim Or the Crime. Both were spectacular and a testament to Bobby's continued reworking of the familiar.
Mikel, Phoenix, AZ