Sunday, November 02, 2008

Review: Deadheads get Halloween weekend treat from Bob Weir and Ratdog

Sunday, November 02, 2008
By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It was only fitting on Halloween weekend that the Deadheads assembled at the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead got to join in unison to sing, "steal your face right off your head."
The most skull-centric piece of Grateful Dead lyricism was delivered by Bob Weir and Ratdog deep in the second set of a show that spanned nearly four hours.
The Dead's co-frontman sports a bushy gray beard these days to go along with dropping as many beloved Jerry Garcia songs into the set as his own. In addition to the aforementioned "He's Gone," Weir even reached into the Garcia solo catalog for "Mission in the Rain," a song he doesn't sing with the tenderness Jerry did but was effective nonetheless.
Ratdog was a pretty slow-moving creature last night, exploring the psychedelic colors, textures and loose funk grooves Deadheads know and love, complete with a saxophonist adding an an almost "Saturday Night Live" band New York feel.
The sets seemed even more unpredictable than usual, what with a truncated "Dark Star" ending the first and an acoustic "Blackbird" opening the second. The show favored jazzy improvisation over midtempo grooves rather the Dead's punchier, more rockin' material, with the exceptions of an early "Big River" and a set-closing "One More Saturday Night."
Everyone is going to have their favorites -- "Cassidy" was a highlight for me, even if the build wasn't as climactic as usual -- but most of the people twirling in the aisles will probably agree that Ratdog caught the most fire on a euphoric "Eyes of the World" and a transcendent "Standing on the Moon."
Speaking of astral travel, during "Stuff," they replicated the sounds of aliens landing in Munhall and creating their own cosmic orchestra -- a treat for the folks who opted for something stronger than beer.

First published on November 2, 2008 at 1:54 am