rave reviews

If any readers are anywhere near Manchester tonight, they should rush off to Ratdog. I had no very high hopes of them last night, but they were lovely: slick, imaginative, and interested in their work. They played a set consisting of about half the stuff that people wanted to hear (pre-1976 Dead tunes, preferably not sung by Weir originally) and half newer and very pleasant material. Sax, keyboards, lead guitar, all thoughtful and making space for each other. Very fine rhythm section. Mr Weir, in a full beard and yet fuller moustache, looking extremely bizarre, “like a crazed Victorian Ghillie”, said John Gillow, who popped up in the seat next to us. Well, yes, except that crazed Victorian ghillies aren’t usually wearing sawn-off denim short, and don’t have the melancholy glittering eyes of a beagle that’s spent its whole life smoking the wrong cigarettes. Quite without ego, though: his guitar was mixed right down and there were no special spots on him or anything. One of the nicest, friendliest, and most fun concerts I have ever seen, and about as different in atmosphere from a modern Dead show as you could imagine — except, of course, that almost all the audience were Deadheads.

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