Well, I used it as an excuse to hook up with a buddy I haven't scene in almost four years. Being impressed with the last Canadian show in Toronto, I hopped on a plane and hung out for the weekend in Vancouver. As we were nearing showtime, I was a little concerned that my buddy would have lost his flame for this type of music but knew that he was going to see a much better band than even he anticipated.
First of all, the Commodore Ballroom has got to be Canada's best concert venue. It only allows 900 people and there is a ton of room to move about and the sound quality is outstanding.
The show was fanatastic and the band never sounded better. Using Phil & Friends as my benchmark for quality, I have to say that this band is exceptional. Of particular note is Mark Karan's guitar work, which really shined for me on Saturday. In fact the band sounds so full that it's awe-inspiring at times. The Jack Straw opener that eventually flowed out of Bertha and into an atmospheric Bird Song was fantastic. The Scarlet Begonias set closer was stellar. It was soaring so high, you had to wonder whether they were going to break into Fire or just how they could take this beast down to close the 1st set. There was so much energy, and the guitar work on this song was absolutely stunning. Kenny Brooks' sax work goes a long way to keeping the music tasty and interesting with some effect works and fades throughout the night. The second set opened with the acoustic component but really got nicely to speed with a solid Estimated that flowed beautifully into the rest of the set. I'm not an Estimated fan, but it was played so well, and the Wheel which followed was also so great I couldn't get enough. As expected... a Saturday Night closer with a nice Brokedown to take us all home. Excellent show and this band just keeps getting better, and it is evident that they are having a really good time.
Adam, Toronto, ON
I would like to say that I was very impressed by Saturdays show. Bob Weir and Ratdog and/or Dead need to come back to Vancouver because Vancouver loves the them. I finally got to see Bob Weir six feet in front of me and it was great, not to mention the fact that blazing BC weed at a Dead concert made the whole thing worth it. I do want to suggest one thing: I was hoping for Morning Dew, but the show was so good it didnít matter.
I'm a newer Dead/Ratdog fan, been into the dead for 7+ years and I've only been to one other show (03 Summer Tour @ The Gorge) and I was very impressed with this show. I knew it would be shorter with fewer jams, but Bobby and gang fit in as many songs as they could. The space jam was fuckin awesome. I love the drum beat; I can't wait until I get my set of CDs, because it will be my new favorite in my CD player. I wish the best and pray you will come back.
Donít forget Canada. Canada has many, many, many, many Deadheads. It's been 16+ years since Bobby has been to Vancouver, and I hope he had a great time/smoked some good BC chron/drank some good beer so heíd tell the Dead to come back.
Brandon Gill, Vancouver, BC
Wow. So glad we made the trip up from Seattle. What a great time this was. The Commodore is easily one of the best venues in which I have seen live music. Plenty of tables, four bars, friendly staff, fantastic sound, and being situated in the heart of one of the coolest cities in the world, Vancouver, make the Commodore an ideal place to see Ratdog. We got in a half hour after the doors opened and still grabbed a great table with perfect sightlines and tons of space. The floor never filled up, and I never had to wait in line to take a leak or get a beer. At one point, I had too many beers to carry at once, a security guard saw me pondering what to do and actually offered to either a) carry a few to my table for me, or b) watch my beers while I dropped off the first bunch at the table. Unbelievable. You just do not get that kind of genuine hospitality in the States.
I had not seen Ratdog since they replaced Wasserman, and I was blown away by how good they sounded. They came out charging with Jack Straw > Bertha with Karan just wailing. That guy is so talented. (I wish he were in The Dead, as he "gets it" way more than Jimmy does.)
Bird Song was great with some cool effects and a good spacey jam, during which the already smoke-filled room got a lot hazier. The set-closing Scarlet had great energy, with Karan and Bobby really feeding off the good BC vibes coming from the crowd. Karan's leads were smoking. The Estimated really took off, with the band really gelling on the jam. Other One kept the momentum going through drums.
Such a great time. The Vancouver crowd was so stoked to have some GD in town, and the band recognized this and put on a ripping show. Looking forward to tonight in Seattle. Hoping for that Sailor > Saint!
Reggie Dunlop, Seattle, WA