Somerville MA - 23 October 1996

Well, I forgot to bring my setlist in today... I can post it if somebody's interested. Here are some thoughts after the second Somerville show.

* No, he didn't change the setlist (much). He basically stuck "Easy There" and "Hide it Away" at the beginning of the set and pushed everything down. This made the flow of the show a little more "natural" (starting off quiet, building up), but nothing could top the adrenalin rush of opening the set with "Razor", "Bank Vault", "Bright Lights" and "Put it There Pal".

* Fortunately, even with almost all the same songs, the second concert was well worth attending (this is the first time I've seen RT two nights in a row). Some of the jokes were the same, but most were new, and several of the solos were markedly different from the night before. Wednesday night, I remember thinking that RT's electric soloing lacked a little in the way of dynamics. He proved me wrong last night, sticking pretty, quiet improvs into a couple of songs before he really cut loose.

* He's not really doing anything to discourage people shouting out requests. Weds night I thought he was getting less enthusiastic about engaging/humoring the shouters, but we still got the "Free Bird" snippet (which we were spared last night). Last night, however, somebody requested "Mustang Sally"(!) which resulted in a minute or two of schtick about being an English teenager and trying to figure out what Wilson Pickett was saying on those old records ("Bought the record, played it, none the wiser").... this also resulted in a Pickett-esque "Sing it for me one time" during "Jimmy Shands". At the beginning of the solo segment, he said something like "Time for some really depressing songs". Somebody shouted "How I Wanted To" to which our man replied "Not that depressing!" He did however, sing and play the first couple of lines of that song (said it was one of his faves) before admitting that he didn't remember the words. Later, somebody requested "The Times They Are a-Changing"(!!) and RT managed almost a full verse before -- yes -- forgetting the words. I think I know now why his setlists don't change much from night to night... Somebody also requested "Aqualung" at one point, to which RT replied "That's a low blow!"

* Danny got in a great dig right before "Hamlet"... the standard schtick is, RT holds up the plastic skull and says "Former band member... a bass player .... he asked for a raise!" Last night however, after he got to "Bass player" (and paused for effect), Danny shouted out "He's better off now!" to the great amusement of the audience. This also inspired the guy sitting next to me to shout "Same haircut", which cracked the band up, although I'm not sure how much of the audience heard it.

* Hamlet is still f*cking hilarious!

* The bass still wasn't loud enough on some of the electric songs. I wonder if Danny plays violin or viola... they could have Pete play electric bass on some of the rock songs if they wanted, and Danny play melody lines (even on the string bass, with a bow)... that would be a nice change, but of course they didn't ask for my advice.

* Finally, on both nights, RT really seemed to be enjoying himself a lot. Not that he's dour when he performs acoustically, but he *really* seems to enjoy himself with the band. Plus the fact that his Ferrington looks like a well-loved axe (it's got to be *the* ugliest instrument I've seen a "major" rock star play, yet lovingly customized, and the fretboard is well-worn). RT really seems to take a lot of pleasure out of playing loud rock music, and it makes me wonder why he doesn't take the RTB on the road once a year, instead of only when he has an album to flog.

That's it for now... I'm outta here!

Art Cohen