C. J. Walsh
Bob Weir/Ratdog - Mohegan Sun 2006
Stage left, mid-way up.
If you knew nothing of Bob Weir’s career, the Mohegan Sun concert suitably displayed his graying roots. So Dylan’s Silvio gets livened up more than its creator could’ve imagined with an arrangement that morphed into the Champs’ Tequila for the choruses. The song was further turned inside out by Blues Traveler’s John Popper and his amphetamine harp runs. With a nod to the Mideast conflagration, the band wrestled Masters of War to the ground, coming off distorted, dissonant and a bit distended.
From The Beatles, there’s a full-out rockin’ Come Together, a soothing acoustic Blackbird and a mind blowing Tomorrow Never Knows; and you’re left with no doubt Weir has viewed the lysergic landscape Lennon had his sights on.
And of course, there’s plenty of Grateful Dead, with a rollicking Truckin’, and good time country shuffles like Friend of the Devil and Tennessee Jed to keep the flame burning. I won’t go into the kids and parents in the crowd in matching tie-dye shirts.
Particular kudos to guitarist Mark Karan, on Sugar Magnolia and others he does a nice job of approximating Jerry Garcia’s meandering, labyrinthine leads (though possessing all his fingers it’s impossible to really play like the Dead’s greatly-missed leader).
As always, this incarnation of Ratdog is filled with fine musicians, with all appearing to be significantly younger than their leader who was always the kid in the Dead. Weir now resembles a somewhat hip grandfather but he does a great job of showing the youngsters how it’s done.
Published in Record Collector Magazine