Isn't this how all great tales begin?

Ratdog

Well they kept their promise about coming back to Europe in 2003. After last year the band had said they'd come back, Dennis McNally had said they'd come back and finally dates started to be rumoured.

Things had changed in the Grateful Dead organisation in the last year - The Other Ones had changed their name to The Dead and now contained all (well except Vince) the remaining members of the final line up of the band. Grateful Dead productions had closed down putting most of the staff including McNally out of work. The Dead were touring in the US and there didn't seem to be any time for a European Ratdog jaunt. .

It had already been a great year for Euro-heads with visits by String Cheese Incident in June and Yonder Mountain String Band in July so the Ratdog tour was the icing on the cake. Slowly the dates emerged - the Astoria again, Canterbury Fayre, Manchester, Milton Keynes and finally a return visit to the Robin 2 in Bilston.

After missing most of the UK shows last year because I was at Glastonbury I bought tickets for all of them except Bilston - it was a hard choice between going to Bilston and spending the Saturday at Canterbury. If I went to Bilston I'd see the whole tour but the Incredible String Band, Roy Harper and Robert Plant were on at Canterbury on the Saturday night.

It was only several weeks later that it dawned on me that the Astoria gig was on my Daughter's birthday, but in order to get myself out of a tricky situation I took the day off work and spent it with her. So it was with a relatively clear conscience that I set off to catch the train to London

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Bob Weir photo Chris Jones

Ratdog Flyer scan kindly provided by Bill Pannifer