So I decided to go right ahead and review the last five shows all in one go because they were all in New York, I kinda didn't have anything fascinating to say about the two Grand Ballroom shows on their own, and who the hell wants to read three essays on RatDog anyway.
There were more inter-song jams throughout the tour: 10.19 between Truckin and Ramble On, between Revolution and Ashes and Glass; 10.22 between Milestones and Terrapin; 10.23 between Estimated and Might as Well; 10.24 between Casey Jones and Jack Straw.
Also, they did do some more reprises (not the Cassidy/ Bird Song type, more like tags). We got one after Johnny B Goode at the Grand Ballroom on the 20th, one after GDTRFB on the 22nd, and one after the US blues tour closer (and there was confusion as to which line to sing, like in August)
A word about words:
Weir has been making subtle changes to certain lyrics in a way I find quite thought-provoking. On the 24th, for instance, the line in FOTD became "didn't get to sleep last night/ cause the morning come around" (rather than 'till the morning") It's small but it changes the imagery: instead of getting to bed very late, I imagine a guy who has walked long and hard all night and, at dawn decides that, since it's daylight, he just has to keep going.
In Queen Jane, it's "and your father, to your sister, he complains" (instead of explains) Again, the image changes a bit; the mother sends back all Jane's letters and her father bitches to her sister about her.
Going back a bit further, there was a change in Ship Of Fools in Idaho in August: "the bottles stand as empty as they were filled before." The fact that there are now a bunch of empty bottles makes the narrator seem that much more down.
Show of the tour for this guy was Beacon, night 1. Set one was up and rocking the whole way through, and Odessa got a facelift. It's a straight rocker, lots of fun, but it always lacked something. The solo section was a one-chord vamp, it was a bit slow, it got repetitive. A while back they started doing verse-chord changes over the solo, which was nice. This time around, they took it noticeably faster than usual; then they added some hits in the jam, reminiscent of the ones in Saturday Night. There was a stop-time segment, and they ended it with a long reggae-groove outro into Dark Star jam, into a stunning Let it Grow, maybe the best I've heard.
Set two, also great; rare Milestones, killer Hell In A Bucket despite the infuriating flubs in timing that plague that tune. Wonderful Knockin.
Also good: really fun Mule Skinner (first since NJ PAC 11.11.06, saw that one!) on 10.19, and She Says on 10.24.
Bad: Might as Well. I love the song, but it's out of Weir's range; vocals on Picasso Moon were mediocre as well. I wasn't nuts about Grand Ballroom night 2 or Beacon #2 set 1. Since Weir does so much leading with his voice, the whole band falls flat when he's straining.
Grand Ballroom #2 was the tie-die empire state night; Weir told everyone to go check it out. Also, a balloon popped right next to his mic that night during Desolation Row and he jumped: "He tried to kill me, you saw that."
The Beacon was host to the usual NYC guest crew, Dred Scott and the boys from Alphabet Soup / Band of Brotherz came out for some fun Stuff at Beacon #2; that guy Chris Burger raps pretty good. Also Kenny's sax buddies, George Garzone and Doug Yates
Finally, the Persuasions! Two solo a-capella tunes from them on the last night: Must've Been The Roses and Ripple, plus vocals on the vocal jam at the end of He's Gone. What fun.
The Beacon is always a fun place to see RatDog. Remember the three Franklins two years back (one of which was Band of Brotherz' River Song) and the three Stagger Lee/Stagolees the year before that.
Anyway, good tour; only a few repeats, lots of new stuff to pay attention to. They're taking more risks, Mark Karan sounds great, as does Robin Sylvester. Keep it up, fellas. Can't wait for Jamaica.
Next up; GD Philly '86