8/23/2003 Setlist, Photos, and Reviews


Saturday, August 23, 2003
The Robin 2
Bilston, England


They missed out Cardiff this year so we traipsed up the M5 in expectation. Robin is a great little venue with a good friendly crowd to cheer the band on. Very tight 1st set was just a taster for a blinding second set. Long jam on Dark Star was just beautiful. Ramble On Rose great to hear again. Opened second set with Weather Report Suite with Bob on acoustic. The band really started serious cooking on Estimated>Uncle Johns with the ghost of Dark Star hovering over the set. There were moments when they were so "on the one." Jazz. Encored with a kicking, blistering China>Rider and off to the curry house (when in Rome e.t.c). Back to the hotel bar, bump into Bob and the band, say thanks for a great evening of music. Bob was a top bloke coming over to shake our hands when he left. Smuggled my own Ratdog (Wilbur) through hotel window to round the night off.

Colin Stobart, Cardiff, England
Saw Ratdog at the same venue last year; previous to this it was two Grateful Dead gigs at the Rainbow in 1981, and I just remember an incredible Terrapin Station that nearly took me to the first Jhana!
Anyhow, I found this gig for the most part excellent. Shakedown Street was a bright novel opener. Queen Jane Approximately was also good. The highlights of the first set for me were Weather Report Suite & Dark Star, which the band performed at Bilston last year as well (must suit Bilston!). These were totally absorbing with impeccable immaculate tight freeform jamming.
     The second set was a total treat. Blackbird was well done with feeling, I noticed this is a favourite on the band's playlist. El Paso was a real contrast, evoking an irresistable Spanish touch and crowd chorus singalong. New Speedway is a favourite of mine, but I didn't feel the band got it right as I'd have wished. I thought it could have been punchier with better timing.
     Uncle John's Band & Ramble On Rose were superb; keep playing the Dead's favourites well, Bob, and I'll be ecstatic. 'Estimated Prophet,' although a favourite of mine, again fell into the same malaise as NS Boogie. I didn't rate the jam at the end too highly. Revisiting Dark Star was again a high point. But again with the encore, although sounding perfect on paper, China Cat then jam into I Know You Rider I found only 0K; they didn't do it for me, lacking panache and energy. They could have been so good though. It's great to see Bob still playing really well and feel Ratdog have the capability to excel. So highlights to me were Weather Report Suite, Dark Star, El Paso, Ramble On Rose and Uncle John's Band. Good friendly venue and great gig, especially in places. Catch you at Manchester.

Paul T, Gatley, Manchester