Overall, Bob et al dove deep into the catalog and delivered as good as a performance as this guy can remember ('97 Capital Ballroom was comparable fun). Everyone knew we were either going to get a "Bucket" or "Throwin"--the latter was obliged. But who would have guessed "Josephine," "The Winners," or "Easy to Slip"? The entire "Weather Report > Let it Grow" was stupendous, with super high peak coda jams to end the 1st. "Easy > Supplication > Easy" was profound, combining sincerity and plenty 'o jamming! Peak energy of the show had to be "Stephen > Wiliam Tell > Eleven" for obvious reasons, but the "He's Gone" was most interesting. It could have been a typical choice for 8/9/05's Ocean City performance but no. They decide to play it one day later, perhaps, because it was "easier" to play, the previous day's emotions getting the better of Bob. And Barry Sless's pedal work was a rich complement.
In any event, it was a superb experience, highly entertaining, and hardly a flub. Post-show party was a blast! Robin made for a nice chat as he was very excited, Jeff was hamming it up with the ladies, and Jay was, er... "rolling along." The Dark Star Orchestra guys were there having fun as audience members for a change, and Dennis McNally was cruising the PR questions with ease, though busily! He's a great guy. Mr. Weir graced us with his presence for brief moment and was in very good spirits. He knew that tonight was a good one.
Schuyler Gray, Annapolis, MD
The Rams Head. Hmmm. a nice venue, very small, similar to the 9:30 Club. The sound is great if you are directly in front of the stage. If you are not, then the music is drowned out by people talking. But overall, a nice room.
They came on to a tremendous roar and wasted no time in going from a sweet and heavily bass laden jam to Feel Like a Stranger. Every time I hear this song it gets stuck in my head for like a week. But then they busted into an odd version of Big River, definitely slowed down with different time signature, but it was neat to hear that way and came out okay. Senor > Josephine--Nice slow songs. Josephine was long and had heavy juju in the later stages of the song; Mark ripped here. Then came the highlight of my show... the nasty trasty fasty sickest Brown-Eyed Women ever! Holy crap it was so sick. Mark Karan proved to me on this very song that he could play with the big boys (not that we didn't already know that), but I mean he was just making me cringe throughout his entire 5-6 min solo. The guy was hitting notes that I didnt even know existed, over and over again. When he was done I was left shaking--heart pounding and with a grin plastered to my face. I will never forget that moment in my life. Then Lucky Enough--a song with great lyrics and a nice pace. Haven't heard this one since I last listend to Evening Moods, a nice treat. Then Let it Grow came and the place woke back up. Well done.
Set II. As they set up the pedal steel and brought out the upright I knew it was on. El Paso was quiet at first but they found it and it worked out. I was standing stage right and watching this young kid who was doing the visuals on the screen. he threw up these old western clips, like the lone ranger; it was neat. Easy to Slip makes me sad. Odessa was cool. He's Gone was drawn out and included a four-minute segment of Bobby singing "he's gone" over and over with the crowd. Then a tasty jam ensued and I was drifting, only to be awakened by the all too familiar "buh - buh" that starts St. Stephen. I was thinking I wanted to hear this song on the way down. Then The Eleven and a slightly botched Throwing Stones. The encore was cool and left me with a smile.
Eric W., Newark, DE
First time I've been back in years. Made it to a few after August '95 (Phil and Friends, The Other Ones), but not many and none since '97 or so. Felt the loss too deeply I guess and needed time to re-adjust the mind-set. Barely made it last night; no ticket before arriving, but found one, or rather one found me :) thanks the greater power named as you will that connects us all!! Bobby is back but has also grown and gratefully appears to be sharing his tremendous experience with the younger guys on board. Though a bit rough around the edges at times and briefly seeming close to lost in some of the jams, they pulled it back from the brink and into the groove again.
St. Stephen > William Tell > The Eleven highlighted the show for me with ascending jams and pure emotion that opened the heavens. Or maybe the heartfelt He's Gone served as the apex. Either way, so glad to be back!! Perhaps the beauty that was previously manifested as The Dead will live forever though the names and faces may change.
Thank you for still believing and sharing Bobby. Thank you to the rest of the band for not letting the fear of failing to fill awfully big shoes hide what you have to share. Thank you to the rest of the kind folks who helped to create the magic. Kudos to all who remember that egos have no place in creating that magic.
Can you answer?? Yes I can!!
JayMo, Baltimore...errr..Portland...errr Baltimore
I thought this show was incredible. I first saw Ratdog in 1995 in DC, but I've only seen them a few times since and not at all in the past five years. I was blown away by how good they are now. Rams Head was a great place to see them because it only holds 1600, so it's pretty intimate. The band seemed to be having a great time and the music reflected it. The song list speaks for itself, but I was extremely happy to hear St Stephen>The Eleven. BE Women, WRS>Let It Grow, Easy>Supp>Easy, He's Gone, Throwin Stones were all great. Senor and White Lightning were also highlights. They're both rarely played (11 and 10 times, respectively) and totally caught me off guard. It was an absolutely awesome show.
Ben, Ellicott City, MD
This was our first trip to the Baltimore Rams Head Concert Hall (we frequent the more intimate Rams Head in Old Town Annapolis). The show was sold out with wall-to-wall listemers ranging in age from 17 to 70. After having a good meal and the Rams Head Fordham home brew named Copperhead something, we headed for the main floor only to find it was sardines. No way to get to the stage unless we were rude. We went up the first flight of stairs and found the bleacher seating to be packed also, so we found a spot on the railing looking down upon the pedal steel space on stage (right of center). We attempted to go up one more flight of stairs but were told that that area was reserved for the radio and media people.... Okey-dokey, our rail spot was good. This was our first Ratdog show. Saw the Other Ones in Albany, NY years ago (awesome). My wife began her Dead tour back in the 70's (100 plus shows).
Anyway, the show began a little after 9:00 pm and the band found their groove almost immediately. It was apparent from the beginning that Bob and his band were well prepared to play tight and right. They were having fun and exploring new territory while playing songs familiar to even this Ratdog novice. With Big River, Weather Report Suite, and Let it Grow amongst many others in the first set, the sold-out crowd was in the grip of great music.
The second set opened with a fine acoustic El Paso followed by The Winners, Easy to Slip, Supplication jam back to Easy to Slip, and Barry Sless on the steel guitar assisting in an amazing Odessa. A few more gems led to St. Stephen, which enveloped the crowd and sent all into a frenzy of dancing, singing, spinning, and dreaming. The encore for the night began with a birthday tribute to A. J. Santella (road manager?) who actually sang a countrified White Lightnin', and then the show erupted with a Johnny B. Goode that was loud, swinging, and rockin'. The final arm-in-arm bow to the audience by the talented band members led by Bob Weir signaled it was time to wish for a second show (1:00AM... nah, too late for this old guy). Many commented this is the best Ratdog band to date. I can attest to the fact that their performance was as good as it gets. They were havin fun and stroking those that love them & their music.
Michael Schwarz, Severna Park, MD