Sometimes we visit your country...

astoria - note the times!

...and live in your home

Phew! What a night! A night spent in tye-dye heaven during which Ratdog chewed me up, twirled me around, spat me back out and then did it all over again!! I got to the Astoria just as the doors opened and found CJ distributing eurodead flyers to the people in the queue. We went into the venue, grabbed a beer and staked out a place near the front.

Set 1
Jam > Shakedown Street > She belongs to me > jam > Loose Lucy > Matilda Mother > Tomorrow never knows > Matilda Mother > Big Boss Man > Dark Star jam > Easy Answers > Eyes of the World

The band came on and started a loose jam which eventually picked up the riff for Shakedown Street, Bob was wearing a crumpled white t-shirt, shorts and sandals and he was sporting a white almost Jerryesque beard. Standing right down the front I was close enough to see all the band clearly - there was Mark Karan on guitar with Rob Wasserman on stand up bass then Bob with Jay Lane on drums behind him. Then came Kenny Brooks on sax and finally Jeff Chimenti almost hidden behind his keyboards. The sound was a bit strange from where we stood in the middle, the sax was almost inaudible at times but I wouldn't have swapped the intimacy for a better sound.
Next up was a Dylan cover - She belongs to me during which Bob had his first of many vocal lapses. He got to the last verse and went to sing the line, opened his mouth and nothing came out. A huge cheer went up from the crowd!! He tried again, still nothing, he looked around for inspiration and eventually Mark Karan came over and whispered the line in his ear. Bob headed back to the microphone and carried on.

It was at about this point that my brain suddenly went "Hey that's Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead up there", a huge smile spread across my face and I turned to look around. The whole audience were grinning like crazies!! Loose Lucy was next, I saw the Dead play this at my one and only show so that was a nice moment.

It was also about this point that someone standing right at the front just keeled over backwards, straight out blam! We all sort of just looked at him but luckily someone had enough sense to make sure he was all right. They called the bouncers over and he was helped away - poor soul it must have been all too much for him!!

Hey that's Bob Wier
At the end of the song Bob put down the guitar he had been playing, a nice black one with the lighting-bolt hole in it and picked up another one. The band launched into a Pink Floyd Cover Matilda Mother - after 2 verses Bob fitted a capo and the song segued into Tomorrow never knows before returning to finish Matilda. Next up was Big Boss Man before one of the highlights of the first set.
Bob and Kenny The jam that started the next song was wild, I thought for a moment that it was going to turn into Dark Star part 2 - they had played the first verse in Bilston the night before and after the Newcastle / Kirkaldy Other One I was hoping! But no it changed direction and they moved into Easy answers. By this time I was starting to float away into the stratosphere but I was snapped back to earth by my phone vibrating. I pulled it out in case it was the other half but not recognising the number ignored it. Unfortunately the spell was broken and I never really got back to where I'd been.

Well not until the next song anyway - Eyes of the World - bloody hell Eyes I couldn't believe it. I drifted away with the music. Close your eyes and you' d think it was the Dead someone had said to me before the show. I tried and it worked but I could also feel the floor moving so I opened them again!! At the end of eyes Bob did his we'll be back in a bit announcement and off they went.

The general consensus of opinion from around me during the interval was "F*ckin Hell". I thought about the toilet and the bar but didn't move anywhere. We discussed the first set - CJ said that it didn't matter that he kept forgetting the lyrics and it meant we got to see Bob crack a wonderful grin!! I said that my highlights were the jam into Easy answers and Eyes of the world, someone agreed.

Set 2

Blackbird, El Paso, Victim or the Crime > Brown Eyed Women > Good Morning Little Schoolgirl > Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Bass/Drums > Wharf Rat > Piano jam > Two Djinn > Corrina jam > Franklins Tower

Blackbird Victim Mark

Weir came back out for the second set with his acoustic around his neck. It was obvious from the opening notes that it was Blackbird. I had another one of those "Hey that's Bob Weir moments!! At the end of the song the opening notes of the next song signalled El Paso. Bob had to think about one or two of the lyrics but it was a great version.

At the end of the song everyone left the stage except Bob, Rob and Jay, together they played an astounding version of Victim. I know a lot of people don't like this song but I love it. I cheered when Bob sang "Patience runs out on the junkie" but not many others did.

A sing along Brown Eyed Women followed and then a storming version of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl before the opening notes of Help on the way. At this point I wondered if they were going to do the whole Help > Slipknot > Franklins sequence so I did some thing I'd been avoiding doing all night. I glanced down at the set list by Bob's feet. I could see Help and Slipknot and much further down the list Franklins so I knew there was going to be an extended sequence but couldn't see the other songs.

Slipknot! was a wonderful version which took me to the dark side and brought me back up again as it headed back towards the end. At the point where the song would normally change into Franklins the band stopped and off went Jay and Rob with their Bass/drums sequence. And Wow!! This was great Jay and Rob batting riffs back and forth. At one point Rob was using his bow to produce percussive noises from the bass. The band came back and the ensuing jam eventually turned into the familiar Wharf Rat riff.

Bob again

And we bid you Goodnight!! At this point the band played the only Ratdog original of the night Two Djinn. Bob swapped guitars again and the band kicked into a Corrina jam but Bob then swapped back to the black guitar before picking up the riff to Franklins Tower, which brought the night to a suitable climax. The band took a bow and left the stage. We screamed for an encore but the crew came out and started to take mic's away. The house lights came on the venue made announcements asking us to leave. Was there an 11 o'clock curfew??

Looking around everyone was happy but the lack of an encore couldn't help but leave us a little deflated. The setlist that had been lying on the stage didn't list and encore so maybe this was already planned.

We staggered out into the London night hot, stoned and happy!! The Dead cover band - Cosmic Charlies -had arranged an after gig session around the corner so we staggered off to see them. There had been conversations all night about Bob Weir turning up for a jam but alas no. We did however have the pleasure of Kenny Brooks bringing his sax along and jamming with the Charlies' on China > Rider which was well cool.

Hot and happy in the 12 Bar Club During the night I met loads of eurotraders who are just to numerous to remember. It was good to be able to put faces to names after all this time. Even though I later found out I'd been sitting next to someone I'd wanted to meet without knowing it!!

I was also extremely jealous of those who been to more than one show - I wish I could have afforded it. Still this had been an excellent night - one which I won't forget for a while. Let's just hope that bob comes back soon. Or Phil. Or The Other Ones.

I left about 1 am and wandered off to find my car - what a night.

As luck would have it this wasn't to be my only show of the tour and I set off to meet the other Tour Rats in Amsterdam!!

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All photos Chris Jones