Wow. Help on the Way was smooth and nasty. This was one of those nights where the boys were just on. Bela Fleck opening was great, and I think Ratdog fed off of the energy they brought. This was the first time I heard Silvio, and I thought it was great. Bob really looked like he was having a great time. Mark Karan's guitar work was psychedelic and raunchy all night. Way to go Mark. Robin is a great bass player and really thumped all night as well. If I had one complaint, it was Maggie's Farm. I don't really dig the new arrangement and find it is better suited as just a good old country rocker instead of the new slower and dragged out version. I was glad they double encored and made up for it with a smoking Touch of Grey. Happy St Patricks Day indeed!!!! Can't wait to see them again. Come to Wilmington!!!!
Mark Mathers, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Blues for Allah songs rhythmically opened the show and eased into a nice rendition of the long standing cover It's All Over Now. By the time the band was midway into She Says, you could feel the momentum building in the crowd. Once Liberty was in full swing, the crowd responded enthusiastically by singing the chorus and other lines verbatim, and the show kicked up a few notches. Liberty was a definite crowd pleaser. Bobby sings his heart and soul into this song. You can clearly feel the personal meaning the lyrics have for him.
Breaking quickly into a fantastic acoustic trio of FOTD (Bela joining on banjo), LLR, and BMS, the crowd responded kindly. Fly Away preceded the best Silvio>Tequila combo I have ever heard. Somehow this combo ended and it felt like at the time it would go on forever. Althea followed with a perfect fit easing the tone just a bit. Bobby and Mark took a break while Jay, Robin, Kenny, and Jeff took their jazz improvisational Stuff to new places. Sugaree signaled the return of Bobby to a well-received uproar from the crowd with Jeff Coffin playing a sax duo with Kenny. Two Djinn's classic tale weaved a perfect place for returning to Blues for Allah. Franklin's Tower presented the entire combination of Bela and the Flecktones and RatDog onstage together. RatDog finished their show with the entire combination doing an encore of two songs. Maggie's Farm and Touch of Grey left the crowd asking for more, though stunned at how great the last three songs were. The two bands seemed to fit perfectly together. Two basses, a banjo, two saxes and Futureman's percussion adding to RatDog’s depth. Jeff Coffin went over the edge with his sax playing, with Kenny grooving on the sound and giving his horn a rest while Jeff got to solo. This show is the best RatDog show I have ever seen. I thought I had witnessed the best in 2005. You just don't know where the music is heading with this band. Though one thing is for certain--they will give you a performance that you'll always remember. On this note, thanks to RatDog for their artistry.
John Sullivan, Raleigh, NC
Happened to be in town celebrating St. Patty's Day with my wife, who was attending her first Ratdog show, and a friend from work who was also celebrating a first. Quite clearly, this is my favorite live band, and I hate to ever say anything negtative so I will be as kind as possible.
The band was on I think, but for me the setlist was lackluster. It may be that any disappointment was due to a simple lack of enough tunes played. Another set would surely have brought forth more favorites, as this was my first time seeing Ratdog with a warm-up act. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones were awesome, by the way, and I had never seen them before. In fact, I think many folks were taken aback by this band, their music, and their energy.
Anyway, somehow, somewhere the chemistry was off on this particular night (probably for me and not the band). Thanks once again to Bob and band for what they are doing. I hope to have many more opportunities to see the best live act around for years to come.
Fred Stellato, Gastonia, NC