A good show overall. A pretty small club/venue. Plenty of breathing room though. I live nearby and it certainly passed the test of 'was it better than staying home watching tv?' Yes it was. 2nd set: Jus' Like Mama Said > Estimated Prophet > The Wheel worked for me. Black Peter is a tough call, but it was handled okay. Casey Jones... oopsed it. Let's do it again tonight.
Thomas, Ridgefield, CT
I must admit, it has been a while since I checked in with Ratdog. With that said, I looked forward to a good fix and hoped not to miss Jerry too much.
The venue was interesting. In many ways, it felt like a space from a different time. While it wasn’t near capacity, it certainly was crowded on the floor. Getting drinks and food [or a breather] was easily accomplished; a big plus. No seating at this venue, aside from balcony and bar area. If you’re not over 5’ 10, you could not see the stage from the floor. I heard many complaints.
The show started out with a nice jam [from bootlegs I’ve heard, the usual – nothing crazy]. PLAYIN’ started the night off on the right foot. The crowd was more than receptive, and the band followed along in good fashion. As we all know, the first night of a two-night run can be spotty soundwise, and this night was no exception [more on this later]. PLAYIN’ was overtaken by a Weir-directed BIG BOSS MAN, a nice choice that allowed all band members to shine in a round-robin solo-fest. I heard NEW SPEEDWAY BOOGIE hints before BOSS MAN and, sure enough, that is what came next. Ratdog’s version is close enough to the original, and the crowd ate it up with ease and joy. Chills.... The lead guitar [as was the case for many of the tunes], however, was not loud enough and didn’t drive the audience as well as it could have [perhaps on-stage volume was better?]. “One way or another” the darkness did give to Dylan’s MEMPHIS BLUES. While the chorus came through okay, the lyrics were muddied and I believe flubbed, at least once. I’m sure we all remember Bobby forgetting lyrics to Truckin’ etc. back in the day. By doing these many Dylan tunes [teleprompter not withstanding] lyrics are sure to be misplaced [Jerry knows that for sure...]. The jam for this song was typical but nonetheless okay. RAMBLE ON ROSE showed Bobby singing and saluting Jerry. This venue dug in and sang along – a great moment in time. LOST SAILOR into SAINT CIRCUMSTANCE was a highlight of the first set. This version sounded just as good as any I’ve heard before [pre-1992]. Again, the chorus of SAINT echoed with power through the venue. This led to a set closing nod to the embattled Gulf coast region: IKO IKO. Bobby [with tambourine in hand] and company did a great job of building this to a fever pitch. Perfect set closer. Each band member was able to shine – a collective soaring.
The set break was long enough. The band returned with a couple of acoustic numbers: DEEP ELUM BLUES, JACK-A-ROE and MASTERS OF WAR. The first two were good enough and flowed well, featuring some good lead picking [again not loud enough – I was stationed in the middle of the room and checked a number of different vantage points, including the balcony]. I think these tunes, however, should remain more acoustic. MASTERS, for example was weak. It is a lyrically charged song [particularly poignant with the third anniversary of the war realized this past Saturday], and the lyrics were washed out. I would prefer to see two acoustics and a standup Bass for these tunes. Give the rest of the guys a needed break and let the crowd here some stripped down roots based playing. As I learned, JUS LIKE MOMMA SAID, was a debut. It was okay, but Bobby certainly seemed to enjoy it [fresh meat I assume]. The remainder of the set was hot. ESTIMATED PROPHET was stellar. I was very impressed with this interpretation. Hints of PLAYIN were overcome by a fluid take on THE WHEEL. Again, high marks. You could close your eyes, let go, and remember when, if only for a moment. While I though that PLAYIN would be reprised on night two of this run, the band gave us the bookend, which was very much appreciated. The STUFF jam was interesting. My wife said it sounded like an R2D2 JAM, and she was right. Aside from at least two hints of a possible spotty DARK STAR jam during the second set, the night was again highlighted by an interesting and moving BLACK PETER – I saw one guy crying. GDTRFB was rocking with all the bells and whistles.
When Bobby, Jeff, Jay, Kenny, Mark, and Robin emerged for the encore, they took it up a notch with a strong CASEY JONES outing. Hard not to walk out with a smile…
Will Ratdog return to this venue? Not sure. It is in a great location [tri-state]. Easy access and the parking is cheap [$3]. To see a legend like Weir supported by an outstanding band in a venue this small is refreshing. I would take of advantage of it again next time around. The ticket price [$109 for two] was WAY too expensive though....
WBK, Westchester, NY
Although I do believe that last April's shows represent a peak period for the band, sort of like a '77 Dead-type of run, the shows lately are still quite hot at times. The band seems to be having as much fun as ever, as does the crowd, and that's what its all about.
Loved the cruddy little venue in Danbury; small, unpretentious, just mosey up to the stage and stand 15 feet from the boys, right in yer face. Also love the reverse positioning of the band, like watchin the show thru a mirror. I will say that the music can be a bit uneven and at times even forced. The first set was hot, highlighted by a rip' roaring New Speedway. Always a treat to see the ol' Sailor-Saint. The second set had the amazing Masters of War, and the sweet new Bob tune about someone's mama, great to hear a fresh new song rather than some boring old, been there-done that tune. Speaking of which, the Peter was a real snooozer last night, not nearly as hot as the one cranked out in Westbury a few months back. Out of estimated, how about not doing a Wheel and surprising us a bit. It's getting a little predictable there, a bit obvious.
Overall, a decent show; nothing amazing. But nothing amazing is fine, be back tonight always hoping for something incredible, as we all do. Watching Bobby last night, I thought back to the days of yore, and during the nice Estimated jam realized how amazing it is to be seeing and loving these songs and shows so many years removed. Want a sure thing people? Go see a Broadway musical where they are like robots, night after night, or see almost every other band do the same damn show night after night. Even Coldplay wouldn't dare mix it up. Where's the intrigue, the excitement? It's in Danbury tonight!!!
Well to be honest, I really haven't been into the scene since Jerry passed, so needless to say I wasn't sure what I was getting into. It was clear from the opening notes of Playing that it was going to be fun. The crowd was a mix of all ages, and there seemed to be a relaxed and happy vibe in the room. We were all treated to fine renditions of some old rare tunes. I was really psyched to hear a Big Boss Man and a tight pairing of Lost Salior > Saint of Circumstance. I still wonder why they dropped Sailor. Why did you Bob?
Anyway, Iko closed the first set, which really got the crowd ready for more. Bob picked up the acoustic for a second set opener. A fun Jack-A-Roe and an always welcome Estimated Prophet got us moving but, it was the Going Down The Road Feeling Bad that really brought it all back for me. The crowd was so into it, and I think the band was really having some fun by this point. But as all things good must end, the set closed.
Well I know that we all wanted more, and we got it in the form of Casey Jones. And what a smoking version it was. I found myself still singing it to myself on the way home. Bottom line--Bobby still has it and it was well worth the trip.
Jeffrey Poirier, New Milford, CT
This show was so well played. Very enjoyable show! Estimated was such a blast, and Sailor-Saint in set one was just like it should be--meandering a bit but focused with wispery licks and jams.
Second set got better and better, and the Casey Jones encore was nice! They sounded like they got tighter as the night went on, and the song selection and transitions were very cool. I called that Casey encore, and that dude behind me owes me 50 bucks!
Right on, Bob! see ya at the Beacon! Great show for Ratdog in my book.
Brendan McAuley, Guilford, CT
I was extremely disappointed in this show after seeing an unbelievable Ratdog show at the Mann Center in Philly this past summer and another great one at NJPAC Spring '04. This, to me, was one of those lackluster, going through the motion shows. Bobby didn't seem into much, though I did think the Deep Elum and Jack-A-Roe were nice. I left during The Wheel; sorry to have missed the Casey Jones encore, but after driving 2.5 hours from S. Jersey for this bog, I was eager to get home. I love Sylvester on bass and hadn't seen a bad one since he joined until this clunker. Still love Bobby and the Dog though!
Jim Grande, New Jersey