Ratdog graced the Hilton on a cold December night, but things would quickly heat up with the Feel Like a Stranger opener. The Hilton Theater boasts one of the biggest stages in the country, complete with a twinkly light show behind Jay Lane, who looked utterly stoney on his perch all night long. This show had the feel of a holiday treat with plenty of Bobby's chestnuts roasting in the band's fire. A swinging Big River was a great choice along with Dylan's Queen Jane with full fledged vocal reprising by Ace himself, who was in a singing groove adding a stellar Mission in the Rain and a This Time Forever and a Shade of Grey that truly rocked. The Walkin Blues was one of the highlights of my tour and a smooth if not over the top Bucket ended the set.
In the second set, we were treated to an acoustic Corrina and Black-Throated Wind. Bobby really got into the lyrics on BTW absolutely, killing the reprise for the hometown Nevada-Nor Cal crowd. Weather Report segued into a pyschedelic Let it Grow with MK wrangling with Kenny B. Then a repeat for me, The Wheel, which was played in LA. I love this song and Bobby did it right leading the crowd in the chorus, "bound to cover just a little more ground."
Space was cool with Kenny and Jay dueling before the band minus Bobby came on for the Astronime Domaine. Awesome. Then a deep Black Peter exploded into an intricate China Cat Sunflower > Rider. The jam was explosive with Bobby, Robin, and Mark clustered together. It was pure Ratdog bliss with a Ripple bonus to end the night. Epic.
Tim Grossman, Truckee, CA