11/13/2003 Setlist, Photos, and Reviews


Thursday, November 13, 2003
Val Air Ballroom
West Des Moines, IA


I personalized my Ratdog stats, which you should do for kicks if you haven't yet, and found out that last night was my 20th Ratdog concert.... The train kept a rollin.

Very refreshing lot scene before the show. We went in about twenty minutes before show time to an almost empty house. We found our spot on the floor and ended up being three rows back on Mark's side. The lights went down and out came the boys. There may have only been 500 people, so plenty of room to dance.

Good ole Bobby was wearing the same damn shirt and shorts he was wearing a couple of weeks ago in Chicago. At least he doesn't waste his time on the bus in the morning figuring out what to wear. It was great to spend the evening with him after seeing the 60 Minutes segment.

The warm-up led into Truckin with a really tight jam at the end that seemed to last a good ten minutes. Baby Blue provided a chance to catch the breath and then a very solid Loser. I think the band does a great job with this one and provides Karan with a great chance to show off his guitar work, while Jeff warms up the Hammond.

Big Boss Man may have been the highlight of the first set for me. It was great just to watch them play. I don't know what it was about this tune for the band, but Bobby was grinning and smiling ear to ear through out the whole song. Again Karan had a couple of opportunities to shine and did not dissapoint.

Matilda Mother > Tomorrow Never Knows > Matilda Mother and a great Ramble On Rose were overshadowed by a rippin' Wrong Way Feeling, a good rocking tune for Bobby. His acoustic was brought out and had me fearing we were going to skip a set break, but instead we got the Weather Report Suite > Let It Grow. Awesome! Should have known though.... I guess that is what you get for living in Iowa.... Bobby plays Let It Grow whenever he can, which ain't necessarily a bad thing. First set ended with Odessa. They are really jamming this tune and it is getting better with age.
     I think the band spent themselves in the first set. They were really amazing and full of energy. It was really loud in the venue and the sound was right on. A very short break brought them back out for Blackbird. =) A sing-along of Friend of the Devil was very welcome. Anyone caught Black-Throated Wind on this tour? Wow! They are showing their prowess with this one. Just really tearing into it in the end. May have been the pinnacle of the evening.
     Well I hate to say it, but things started getting a little blurry for me at this point. Deep Elem was fun and Ashes and Glass gave us all a chance to shake them bones. One of my favorites off of Evening Moods! Teach them froggies how to dance. They started playing around with the Terrapin Flyer but unfortunately just teased us with it. I was bummed because the Flyer I caught in Chicago was unreal.
     So Many Roads was gracefully presented with Bobby singing Jerry style in the end. I can only imagine he feels his presence when doing this one. China>Rider left us wanting more as the lights came up. My 2003 Ratdog run came to a great end with a Brokedown Palace encore. Fare thee well Bobby, I love you more than words can tell.
     A big thank you to Ratdog for stopping by for the night!

burcho, Des Moines, IA
Saw the show last night, and it was fantastic! Bobby was in great form and didn't even screw up "Truckin'." "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" took me by suprise, but what a great suprise it was. It was a good-sized crowd, although I have seen Ratdog at the Val Air before and this was the smallest crowd yet. Both sets were intense, but when they pulled out "China Cat," well, the place went nuts, spinning and dancing, what a trip! Come back soon guys!

M. Naumann, Ottumwa, IA
I am so happy all the four founding members of the Grateful Dead have gotten back together! More so as friends who have reunited their lives be with each other again, than just as musicians to play for lucky souls like us. They all seem so happy together again, great for them. We are thrilled to welcome them back.
     I'm so happy whoever got all Four Brothers into the room together years ago did so and did not try to wait any longer. Its obvious their love for each other was just silently simmering, waiting for them be ready to return to it. Because you can pretty much trace the straight line assent from NYE 2001/02 all the through to Alpine Valley's Terrapin Station GD Family Reunion weekend in August 2002. It just goes to show you it is never to late for anything, life is eternal.
     I nearly started crying when Bob dropped the first So Many Roads to my ears of any GD-Family Band. He screamed "So many roads to ease my soul" so emotionally. Oh wow, there is no body else like Bob Weir! that goes for the other three founding GD members and Hunter too. Hunter's heart just bleeds out such peace and love on that huge ballads lyrics, safe to say Bob and Ratdog were reflecting and amplifying the energy on that one (it meant a lot to me having lost my last grandparent left earlier this year).
     And also I feel so fortunate be able to see these guys playing the music they love again. The band having grown through their sticking points of a few years ago to triumphantly return and playing with such pure joy and love for each other, the band, the music, the vast community its become. Thanks for playing So Many Roads RatDog. And thanks for trying so hard on the lyrics sheet on the floor Bob, it could not have been easy. It seemed I was not the only one who appreciated that surprising bust out.
     Smiles and laughs all around, crowd and RatDog members. I'm also ecstatic the vitality that has even been raised even higher since the reunion of The Dead with Joan, and Other Ones before that, it seems to have translated easily into the frenzied playing harder of the side bands like Ratdog, Phil and Friends, and the others.
     Having been there to see the three wizards come out on the spinning carousel, it felt like the culmination of years of rebuilding and reunion was the San Francisco NYE 2001/2002 Magic Crusader Rabbit Stealth Band set that featuring Hart, Kruetzmann, and Weir all sitting in with the Phil Lesh and Friends band at Midnight of New Year's, the 2nd of their 4 set Dec. 31st night.
     Back to the RatDog set: Hour and a half first set almost. About hour and 45 min. second set (rough estimate). It felt early in the first set that it seemed like a second set already, and they were eager to get off the ground and played with high energy and seemingly could hardly play a "wrong" note. Come back any time Ratdog!
     2nd Set: Up until Ashes and Glass, Bob on acoustic which is the @symbol, and first three songs set II Karan on acoustic and new bassist Robin Sylvester on upright bass. Really high energy jam out of Matilda Mother, bobby cut this kinda short it seemed, by cutting off the ready to bust out flow of the music and energy right straight into Ramble On Rose. Only my impression of course. Another very high energy and lengthy jam out of or in the middle of Weather Report Suite Part I >Let It Grow. Crowd was emotionally singing along on a lot of the tunes, especially Friend of the Devil, Ramble On Rose, Loser. Piece on 60 Min. II Wed. night was great by the way on The Dead's reunion). This performance, Bobby was just great, the whole band was. I have to say that Mark is pretty phenomenal on the strat. He plays with such great patience and has huge ears.
     Small crowd yet gladly was a lot of noise from the local fans. Even security very chill and lenient, though they were bored and spoke to a few I saw, but thankfully no hassles just warnings. Nice long, patient show from Bob's band which sounds relaxed, in a groove of remarkable creativity.
     I love the energy and interplay the new bassist brings to the group, Jay Lane is still a whore on drums as well. I am not huge on overanalyzing the music and how its performed, once its done, its gone. I love Rob Wasserman, but I gotta say I dig the new guy Robin Sylvester so much! The guy is a finger-picking whore on the bass. He nearly reminds me of phil, sometimes he sets up the bombs by going higher in the register. This band was hot, very good sound as you'd expect.
     There were probably 400-500 people, predictable for a Thursday in Des Moines, somewhat unfortunately. Big storied old dance hall holding 1985 capacity allowed lots of room to dance, or sit; place has hosted big bands like Ellington and Basie back in the day.
     Suggestion to band: next time, book the 850 capacity-Hoyt Sherman Auditorium in Sherman Hills district like you did 4/16/01 in Des Moines. Great vibes and acoustics: a lot cosier confines with the balcony right on top of the stage, more of a ballroom like Warfield or Beacon, and fans even closer to the band the the few hun-erd were last night.
     Thanks to all for coming out and supporting live music in your community, its important to support the arts and community unifying events and causes in any form. So much great music out there right now, go catch some like this. It will Light you up. Namaste.

Crike, Ames, IA