November 3, 2007

Compare and Contrast


I spent the past week going to shows performed by two of the alumni of that august institution known as the Grateful Dead.

Bob Weir's Ratdog performed on Halloween and the following night I saw Phil Lesh & Friends. Having seen a ridiculous amount of Dead shows in my time as well as virtually all incarnations of the band since the death of Jerry, I was surprised by the performances this time around.

Lesh was always the avant garde, jazzy and spacey influence in the Dead, while Bobby was the four on the floor rockin' cowboy.

Well campers, things have changed. Ratdog, having the benefit of a tried and true veteran line-up who have been with him for many years was the jam band and Phil & Friends were the more conventional bar band.

Will wonders never cease. Ratdog played several extended pieces, including Weather Report Suite and the St Stephen/William Tell/Eleven troika and stretched out nicely on several other tunes. Additionally, the band played four (count em, four!) Bob Dylan songs. Weir is in bad need of some facial grooming (that long ass beard makes him look like August West) but the band is terrific.

The Lesh show was more concise, many of the songs were stripped down (especially during the first set). The second set brought a bit more development with some jam's intersperesed in China Cat Sunflower, Cumberland Blues and the Help On The Way>Slipknot>Franklin's Tower set-ender. The band's focal point seems to be guitar player/vocalist Jackie Greene, who looks to be about 15 years old. Lesh seems to be having a great time; but I miss the band when Warren Haynes was around.

And of course, both bands are sorely lacking a certain guitar player, who could cut through the haze with a plaintive guitar lick.

You can find (for purcha$e) a ton of Ratdog live shows here, and a boatload of Phil & Friends shows here.
Oh, and for those on a budget, you can find lots of shows for free here and here and here and here and here.

So, with all that being said,

Toonage:
Phil & Friends - The Weight (2-18-06 NYC)
Phil & Friends - Wharf Rat (7-16-05 Red Rocks (w/ Ryan Adams)
Ratdog - The Other One (3-8-07)
Ratdog - Jack Straw - 8-19-06 (New York)
Grateful Dead - St. Stephen (5-8-77 Cornell)
Grateful Dead - Terrapin Station (3-18-77 Winterland)

1 comment:

Mrow said...

You can tell a true DEAD lifer (that's you, my friend) by the way segues between songs are indicated - i.e. Help On The Way>Slipknot>Franklin's Tower. Ha! I love it.