This was one of the few shows that I catch out of state. A friend asked me to come to PA and check out the show, and I had asked another friend to come with me for the ride. Ratdog was to start off my “will you come with me” weekend.
I got to my seat in the first row of the Mezzanine section as “Playin in the Band” started, and then busted into “I need a Miracle” as soon as I heard these two songs, I thought it was going to be a night of repeats, since these were the first two songs of the Maryland show in reverse order. But then I was pleasantly surprised when “Wang Dang Doodle” was Bobby’s next choice. I haven’t heard this song forever, and it seemed to last forever, as the Mezzanine section really got into it. Next was “Matilda Mother>Tomorrow Never Knows>Matilda Mother." This selection always gives me the creeps. "Matilda" is an eerie tune and I dig how the band puts "Tomorrow" in the middle to lighten it up before it goes back into "Matilda". A small jam evolved into “Mission in the Rain,” which is not one of my favorite tunes but is a song for reflection, and I went into a daydream about my past week. The music mood changed, I snapped out, and the band snapped into a fiery “Youngblood,” which got me going again. The whole band was into this song, particularly when they each did the vocal part at the end of each verse. “Loose Lucy” came next, and got everyone shaking their tree in the upper section, but it seemed that the fruit wasn’t ripe down on the floor. After that, a cheesy ”She Says” emerged. This is not one of my favorites either, but Bobby’s signature rhythm comps rang out and made it a worthwhile tune. The closer was an awesome “Liberty.” It reminded me of the 93 St. Patty’s Day show at Landover MD, which was the closer for the first set also. Especially how the keyboard lick was played and how the rest of the instruments built up before the first verse of the song. “Liberty" was done with great zeal and the entire theater sang along and ended with a great roar.
The second set started with some acoustic tunes. “Bobby McGee” was another opener repeat from the MD show, but was played much better and with more passion. Thanks for the makeup, Bobby! “Walkin Blues” was next, and it was a down and dirty one with lots of Bobby slide action. The audience was really into this one, particularly when all the music stopped and Bobby belted the line “from her head down to her toes” there was a big Whooo! from the crowd. “Corrina” was somewhat slow and did not get much participation, and Ratdog’s big band version of “Schoolgirl” was ok. I wish they would go back to the blues version. “Ashes and Glass” was played very well, (but is too much of a nursery rhyme for me), which led into a very interesting drums. As Bobby walked off, the rest of the band gathered around Jay Lane and started beating on the drums with him. Bobby walked back on, grabbed his tambourine, and shook it with the boys. Jay motioned Bobby to take over the drums, the crowd roared, Bobby paused and motioned back to Jay, and received a big laugh from the audience. A spacey jam blended out of drums, and evolved into a beautiful “Uncle John’s Band.” This song was the highlight of the show. It all came together when the "will you come with me" verse hit me. It was played splendidly, with a long, soothing flow and serene jams in between the verses. The crowd sang along during the vocal part of the song and then went wild when the explosive but too obvious “Playin Reprise” came back into the scene. “Standing on the Moon” was next and out of nowhere Bobby hit the switch and turned on “Lovelight.” The place went crazy! Bobby pointed up to us in the mezzanine for audience participation. We all were dancing and shaking our hands up in the air shouting “a little bit higher” until the song finally ended. For the Encore, it was the all-too-frequent “Johnny B. Goode,” which was the closer for the MD show as well but rocked the theater to the last note.
To sum it up, in spite of the selection of tunes in that night’s set list, I’m glad I attended this show. The quality of sound from my seat, the performance of the band, and the energy of the people and friends in the theater made it a great show.
Neil Lewis, Stevensville, MD