St. Augustine Amphitheatre
St. Augustine, Florida
July 19, 2009
Bob Weir and Ratdog visited the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine Florida, on a typical Florida Sunday afternoon: thunderstorms cooled the temperature off by ten degrees but raised the humidity by 20%, or so it felt.
The St. Augustine Amphitheatre was built in 1965 and remodels began in 2002. It was reopened to concert goers in 2007 with a capacity of nearly 4500 and on this night, there was almost a sold out crowd to see opener moe. and Ratdog perform.
The band came out and began the show as they nearly always do, with a nice mellow jazzy jam to warm up themselves and get the crowd grooving and anticipating what the opening song would be. During the jam there were many teases and then they broke into it, â€œThe Main Tenâ€, as Mickey Hart labeled it on his Rolling Thunder recording, but known to most Deadheads as â€œPlayinâ€™ In The Band.â€ “Playin'” was first performed at the famous Port Chester, NY run in February 1971 and acted as a vehicle for many extended jams in the early to mid 1970â€™s and this version did not disappoint; it ran for over 18 minutes and gave each member of the band a chance to express themselves.
From there the band moved seamlessly into â€œCold Rain and Snow,â€ which clearly pleased the crowd as a loud roar erupted as they all sang along. Jeff Chimentiâ€™s work on the keys blended perfectly with Mark Karanâ€™s guitar.
Next up was another crowd sing along favorite, â€œSilvio,â€ into The Champs’ â€œTequila,â€ the Grammy-winning tune from the 50s revived years later by Pee Wee Herman.Â From â€œTequilaâ€ back into â€œSilvioâ€ they went with Jeff Chementiâ€™s piano leading the way.
â€œAltheaâ€ and â€œLost Sailorâ€ were next, and the interplay between Kenny Brooks and Mark Karan in â€œAltheaâ€ was a highlight of the song while the effects Bob Weir used on his guitar made it sound like some otherwordly instrument. The â€œLost Sailorâ€ was followed by â€œSaint of Circumstance,â€ apropos given the location of the venue – right next to the sea.
Rain seemed to be a theme of the show: â€œCold Rain and Snowâ€ had already been played, “Saint” with its lyrics full of “rain fallin’ down,” and then came the acoustic â€œA Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.â€ Bobâ€™s voice was simply amazing and suits this song so well. Kenny Brooks’ baritone sax, which seemed almost as big as he is, belted out those lower range notes that shake the insides of your soul.
Next up and keeping to the rain theme was â€œLooks Like Rain.â€ Still keeping the acoustic gear for this one, Bob sometimes struggled to hit those higher notes, but all in all delivered a fine vocal performance on a song that requires lots of vocal range. Once again Mark Karanâ€™s guitar work and Kenny Brooks sax were standouts.
â€œMississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodlelooâ€ followed, with moe. guitarist Chuck Garvey sitting in to add several nice leads, at times going head to head with Mark.
Since this was to be a two hour power set with no set break, the usual â€œStuffâ€ was replaced by a Jay Lane drum solo that really showcased his skills.
The rest of the band joined in towards the end with a nice jam that led into a spacy â€œDear Prudence.â€Â Garvey was still on stage, which once again produced some great dualing solos with Mark Karan.
â€œDear Prudenceâ€ led into the fourth Weir/Barlow tune of the night, â€œThrowing Stones,â€ always a crowd favorite to sing along to with the â€œashes, ashes, all fall downâ€ lyrics.Â Karan played some of his best leads of the night during the number
There would be no encore, primarily due to the 10:30 PM local sound ordinance, so the last song was a rousing, rockin and rolling, â€œJohnny B. Goodeâ€ which had Bob growling out the lyrics.
Ratdog proved to be a tight unit who read each other well under the direction of the maestro, Bob Weir. Bobâ€™s voice, after The Dead’s tour and 11 shows into this Ratdog tour, is holding out superbly and sounded just as great as ever.