8/24/2003 Setlist, Photos, and Reviews

Canterbury Fayre

Sunday, August 24, 2003
Mount Ephraim Gardens
Hernhill, England


Bob and the boys really pulled out a strange one this time. Perhaps it was the proximity to druidic ley lines, but there was something hard to pin down about the setlist and the style of playing. For all reports the previous days show was energetic and amazing, perhaps tired, perhaps searching for a suitable vibe for 4pm in the afternoon, whatever - the set was exceptionally chilled out! Hard rocking it wasn't.
     It started out beautifully with a subtle and intricate jam into Jack Straw and negotiated into a fairly spacey Bird Song. Maybe it's me, but wow you can hear the space that Jerry left in that song (sorry Mark). It was heartfelt and had the audience a little down in their cups, but poured like the finest summer wine into Cassidy, a favourite of many, showing that Bobby still has the voice and the prescence to really OWN a show.... Then Sluuuuuump into the most dreadful dirge-like Little Red Rooster I have ever heard. I don't think I need to elaborate more on this except to sum up and say that suddenly the dust was a little more choking, my feet were sore, and I could feel the minutes of my life tick away as the band pursued the outer limits of crap for a good ten minutes. Bobby seemed disinterested, perhaps the audience was too baked by the sun, hangovers (it was the final day of a three day festival), strong acid, and hash muffins, to really react and get the vibe rocking enough to feed that band some love. Whatever... it sucked, let's move on (puh-leese).
     Next was Two Djinn, on which I wish not to speak. However, Two Djinn came after some truly sublime jamming. Jamming that showcased exactly how tight Ratdog is and as master craftspeople that they are that they can really find the notes and convey spacey emotion like its no one's business. I guess many people were watching the new bass player; Wasserman was such a presence for Ratdog, capable of Lesh-like bombs, and some extremely tasteful bass licks. What can I say? I liked the guy. He seemed comfortable, casual, and capable, perhaps lacking a little attitude and flair in his studio perfect style, but hey he was precise, playing WITH the band, nurturing the sound and the uber-stoned vibe that characterised the show.
     Jumping ahead a couple of songs was the Terrapin epic... a personal favourite, and a real crowd pleaser. I feel that this song is pretty much trapped by precendent. The late 70s and 80s incendiary performances of this classic set the mark very high indeed. That is to say, while it was good version, it wasn't great! It was nostalgia and not immediate; we all have classic version in our minds. This would not be considered in that league, but it warmed many a heart and brought an ecstatic smile nonetheless.
     Karan was having a bad day! What should have been a brilliant celestial soaring showcase for his talent (of which I have yet to be completely convinced) was a wincing walk through. Pulling out basic blues licks from beginner guitar books ain't all he's capable of, but you wouldn't have guessed it from this show. I hate to say it but the guy is almost TOO nice to play the guitar. When he was given space he humbly ducked out; when he was booted into the foreground he slipped out some lacklustre riffage 101 and sat back and enjoyed the sun (which was in the band's eyes throughout the show). In fairness, I thought the sound was bad throughout the show. Perhaps in the fall back the simple lines he played had power and emotion but in the audience snooore and why oh why is Bob's inventive and innovative guitar always so damned low in the mix. I was really straining to hear anything he was doing let alone FEEL it.
     Chimenti rocked, and rocked hard. His keyboard playing has really come on since last i saw Ratdog in 2002, and his leads are exceptional.
     Dear Prudence was really nice and delighted everyone as the singalong proved. The encore, Touch of Grey, was great and made up for what was by and large a lacklustre show. There was a moment there when Bob seemed to have given Jerry a thought and looked a little choked and sad, which made the song so much sweeter (emotional parasites that us fans are! having a bad day? translate that into great music = gold!), and the band drifted off into the beautiful Canterbury hills. The audience was left soothed but not satiated... ah well next time, next time.
     I would like to hear the set again; perhaps I missed some of the finer points within it, who can say? It's just my opinion and in the end i would rate this show a 5/10--solid but sinking.

Fayrehead, London, England