reCAP :: Bob Weir and Ratdog :: 2014.03.02
The Capitol Theatre has hosted its share of special performances. The level of musicianship that has graced the Cap’s the stage got another notch in its belt with the second night of Bob Weir and Ratdog on March 2, 2014. Coming off a hot start to their first tour since 2009, this new arrangement of the Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist’s project features the usual suspects of Weir, Jay Lane, Jeff Chimenti, and Robin Sylvester, in addition to upright bassist Rob Wasserman and guitarist Steve Kimock, both previous members of the band.
Weir kicked off the night with an acoustic set in one of the stage right suites above a crowd of happily surprised deadheads. The short stint included “Loose Lucy,” “Peggy-O,” and a crowd pleasing “Not Fade Away” before heading backstage prior to the first set. The intimacy of a half filled theater and a musical legend being joined vocally by the crowd really made the 20 minute segment a treat to be thankful for.
The first set opened in typical Ratdog fashion with a jam leading into the opening song of the night, “Samson and Delilah.” Another crowd pleaser, “Ramble On Rose,” led into a Miles Davis original known as “Milestones.” The first set also included the second ever Ratdog performance of “Don’t Let Go,” an answer to the previous night’s “Dark Star,” Jerry Garcia classic “The Wheel,” and one of the more famous Grateful Dead song, “Casey Jones.”
The format of this Ratdog tour has included a few acoustic songs each night, though the Port Chester crowd was given two different chunks of acoustic Bobby. A psychedelic second set began with the traditional number “Stealin,” followed by “Mexicali Blues” and an extended take on “Corrina.” Weir was on top of his game, throwing hand signals and smiles across the stage as they moved into “He’s Gone,” a song about Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart’s Dad. Another Jerry tune followed with “Eyes Of The World,” which pushed the energy through the roof. An absolutely sublime demonstration of guitar playing from Kimock came with “The Eleven.” The precursor of “St. Stephen” dipped into a bass, piano, and drums jam known in the Ratdog world as “Stuff.” Lane paid a tribute to Lou Reed with a jam around “Take a Walk on the Wild Side.”
Following the tribute to birthday boy Lou Reed, Weir and company took a stab at “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” containing an emotional vocal display from the band leader. Closing the second set out strong was “China Cat Sunflower” into an explosive “I Know You Rider.” In typical concert fashion, the band reappeared for an encore of “Brokedown Palace,” yet another Garcia penned tune.
While Ratdog has had its critics, it’s evident that this is the exact vehicle that Weir needs. While it’s true that the music did stop for a few years, there’s always magic to be made when the bus gets started up again.