I could only go to this one show, but most of my friends did all five and said that Ratdog was playing really well on this NYC run. This show definitely confirmed that for me. Very strong indeed! Even some of my Bobby bashing friends felt that the Dog was playing hot at these shows. It seemed there were no complaints from anyone this time around. Even my buddy Tommy, the toughest Weir critic, enjoyed. I just can't fathom why some of these people complain about Bobby for years, but still go see him five nights in a row? Well they were lucky they did this time, and I wish I could have been there for all of them. I am still grateful I made it to this one. It was a most enjoyable night with great company before and during the show. The often barefooted Bob Weir and Ratdog were in prime form.
I made my way in and grabbed a drink and found my perch in the first row of the Loge, right center, as the lights went out. Perfect spot. No one in front of me, perfect view, drink in hand, and room to dance. What more can you ask for? The set started off with a short Jam into a strong Casey Jones, which Ratdog does a smooth double increase in tempo at the end on. This really set the groove for the first set. High Energy Man! Then they went right into a great Jack Straw which Mark Karan really tore up on the guitar into Cassidy into the blues standard Little Red Rooster into an intense Dark Star Jam which led to Lazy River Road stopping briefly then playing the Ratdog original She Says into Jerry's Liberty into an apropos Bertha - "Ran in to a rain storm, ducked right in to a bar door. All night pourin', but not a drop om me" - to end the set on a high note.
The second set brought a sweet surprise! After the customary Ratdog acoustic segment at the beginning of the set, which consisted of Mexicalli Blues > Friend Of The Devil and Black Throated Wind, Bobby brought out The Persuasions, who sang It Must Have Been The Roses a capella. Ratdog stayed onstage, reduced to spectators like the audience, witnessing the beautiful harmonies that these five master singers brewed. The band was then joined by The Persuasions on He's Gone, singing the "Oooh, oooh, Nothing's gonna bring him back" part, and adding a great gospel dimension to the Grateful Dead classic. They were really appreciated by the Deadhead audience, which erupted into cheers which shook the Beacon. The Persuasions left the stage and Ratdog resumed with the remainder of a powerful second set; The Other One > Jam without Weir (Ratdog fans like to call this often Jazz inspired segment "Stuff") into a great Morning Dew > Dark Star > Cassidy Reprise > One More Saturday Night to end the set. The Persuasions then joined Ratdog for the first encore of Ripple which was very sweet, followed by U.S. Blues - during which Hippie Bill waved a Grateful Dead Flag and Yankees flag on stage while Weir seemed to be oblivious to him.
Bob Weir is a trip! Hanging out on stage in what looked like pajamas, barefooted or sandaled, on his Grateful Dead trademark Persian Rugs, he makes the stage his home. And why shouldn't he? The stage is where he spends so much of his time; constantly touring with his different bands. Whether it's with Ratdog, The Dead, the new Furthur configuration, or the revisited Scaring The Children trio with old friend Rob Wasserman and Ratdog drummer Jay Lane, Bob Weir is always busy. He's got to be one of the hardest working guys in Rock and Roll today. Right up there with Warren Haynes and Bob Dylan. And I think doing the other projects Weir is involved in keeps Ratdog fresh when they do play. This last night at the Beacon Theatre had electricity. The music fit the band like a glove. And, like I used to always think, Ratdog just gets better and better every time I see them. They're a great band in their own rite. I look forward to seeing them again next time Bob Weir brings them to New York to make more magic for us. I may be going to Hell In a Bucket, but at least I'm enjoyin' the ride!
Once again I'd like to thank Joe Beacon for taping these shows and uploading them to bt.etree.org. You are a modern day hero! Download the shows here.