If I am picking overall highlights, Victim and the entire Help > Slip > TOO sequence were clear standouts. Victim went pretty deep, with some nice dark textures. Kimock was doing some very nice things in Slip > TOO. But the night belonged to Sugaree, which Bob/Jeff/Steve just flat out owned. Someone mentioned here how it is not the same without Jerry - can\'t disagree, but this was by far the best single performance I have heard of this song in the post-GD years. It went places - it went \"there\". Me and everyone else around me were floored. The Liberty was also a real nice treat, and had some nice jams to up the energy. I love this song, and as I was walking toward the back of the venue, it pulled me back in. (I was expecting, and at the time hoping for, a toss-off encore so I could get on the road - but it was well worth sticking around)
As I suspected in listening to the stream last Thursday night (sorry for the drunken posts btw…rare weeknight happy hour that went too long), this band is just on a different level than previous Ratdog incarnations that I have seen live. A lot of that really has to do with Steve Kimock.
I have always been a fan of Kimock, but outside of his own vehicles, notably in Deadland, I always felt like he was holding back, disinterested or some combination of the two. Last night was the first time I have seem him fully engaged in playing this music. He did some things in those songs that were simply unexpected, turning known melodies inside out to the point where they were still recognizable but clearly a twist of his own. His creativity was off the charts. His presence really elevates this band. Of course, Bob was present, engaging and in command - and Jeff was the always-reliable Jeff - but Steve just makes a difference. I hope he sticks around for future tours. One thing that is kind of interesting is how different the dynamics of the band are stage left and stage right. They all function as a unit, but it was interesting to watch why Jeff and Steve were doing on one side and the dual-bass and drums combo was doing on the other side. I would say that Wasserman\'s role in the band seems a little limited, mostly adding color and texture and filling in the gaps a bit. But his presence was noticeable, particularly in TOO > Stuff.
I would also say that I\'ve run hot and cold with most of the post-GD bands…I really liked TOO 98 and some of the P&F lineups, but nothing really turned me on until Furthur. I would put last night\'s show up there maybe just a register lower than the Furthur shows I have seen in terms of musical quality and the experience. I\'m going to miss Furthur, but I would absolutely see this band again.