page by Bill Pagel
Review by Rick Pearl
Wow! After being blown away by an incredible set list and terrific vocals
on Friday night, I didn't quite know what to expect for Night Two of
Dylan's three-night stand at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston, April 16. I
was not disappointed, that's for sure!
The Saturday show featured the band more and was harder rockin', but it
still featured some solid singing and two more (on top of FOUR the night
before) songs these ears had never heard live before! There were also
more songs from the latest studio album, "Love & Theft," which made for a
great mix for first-time concert-goers as well as the loyal troops.
After another nice warmup by Merle Haggard and the Strangers, Bob took the
stage at 9:30 dressed in white cowboy hat and black suit. The band wore
matching tan suits and black shirts. They immediately kicked into
"Maggie's Farm" which set the tone for the night. It was Saturday night
and the boys in the band were going to rock! Donnie Herron had a
particularly strong performance, and the crowd applauded him on several
occasions for his violin and banjo playing. Stu Kimball was excellent on
lead guitar, and Denny Freeman even took a few star turns on guitar. The
band really ripped through "Cry A While," "Honest With Me," and "High
Water" but really peaked with a screaming "Highway 61 Revisited" that had
the fans on their feet right through to the encore.
Unlike some performances when Bob lets the band loose, his vocals didn't
get lost in the mix. Although the words might have been a bit
unintelligible to the uninitiated, for most numbers he was still singing
rather than reciting.
For the quieter numbers, BD was just as impressive as the night before.
During the middle of the set he gave us these three treasures in a row:
"Ballad of Hollis Brown," "If You See Her, Say Hello" (a first for me),
and "Lenny Bruce" (a first for me AND a whole lot of other people, I
imagine!). "If You See Her" has always been one of my favorite tracks
from "Blood on the Tracks" and after "Shelter from the Storm" the night
before it really had me convinced that that album is my favorite of all
time. "Lenny Bruce!" What can I say? Even if you'd never heard it
before, you had to be impressed by the lyrics (crystal clear) and the way
it was played.
What I'm also glad to see/hear on this tour is that Bob is mixing up the
encores. As good as the "Like A Rolling Stone"/"Watchtower" combo was,
it's a real bonus to those multi-show fans like me to hear them split up
and paired with different offerings. For this show, LARS was preceeded by
"Blind Willie McTell." Nice touch!
And lest you think this is just another psychophantic review by an old
groupie, let it be known that my youngest daughter accompanied me to the
show tonight and was caught singing along and cheering wildly. (She
really like George Recile on drums, too.)
So it's back to the Orpheum on Sunday to see what the Grand Master can
leave us with until the next time around ... I can hardly wait!
Review by Steve Harding
Well tonight was a night of surprises for me. First where was Elana
Fremerman? After following the reviews posted so far I was looking forward
to her haunting violin solos and her center stage presence. But it was not
to be. Donnie Herron did a decent job especially with the pedal steel.
That's nice to hear again so much. But the set list was exceptional. One
surprise after another for me. Maggie's Farm started out nice and tight
with good clear vocals. Stu Kimball and George Recile have bonded creating
a driving rock beat with George seeming to take the lead on a lot of
songs. He may be the best drummer I've seen playing with Dylan. Tony
Garnier only played the stand up bass on a few songs and it seemed he
enjoyed being able to move around a little more. I didn't notice Tony
giving his usual directions to the other guitarists. They all seemed to
know the songs and were really tight with them. Dylan would just nod to
George and George would begin the end of the song. Don't get me wrong
though, Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell were a lot of fun and gave us
great shows but these guys have come together and have formed a really
tight band for Dylan. A lot of guitar all night long mixed with banjo,
violin and pedal steel. Forever Young was okay with a little upsinging.
It was a nice choice but I've heard it a lot. A good surprise next with
Cry A While. Dylan was leaning into it spitting out the lyrics and
bringing a lot of passion to it. The sound was perfectly clear. He would
hold on the last note of every line and twist his body to get the full
effect. A lot of fun to watch and hear. Bye and Bye was next and Dylan's
voice couldn't quite carry it off. He tried to be sincere but his voice
was a little too raspy. Then another surprise with The Ballad of Hollis
Brown. This was where Elana was missed but the song was very haunting and
now Dylan's voice was perfect. The banjo added a lot to this song. If You
See Her Say Hello has a different arrangement since the last time I heard
it. I didn't recognize it immediately but the new band has put together a
great tempo for this song. Then the incredible Lenny Bruce which I
recognized immediately and sat in awe of even hearing it, let alone having
it done so well. A great surprise. Honest With Me had Dylan charging
through the lyrics again as if talking to someone personally and letting
them have it with biting words. Very well done. Next another pleasant
surprise. Hattie Carroll again brought out a somewhat new arrangement from
the band. It was kind of sing-songy until the chorus when George would
take over and the band would follow with just the right power and volume.
A powerful old song brought to life again with this new band really coming
out with NOW is the time for your tears. Dylan is still keeping alive his
roots of protest. High Water was VERY tight with everyone smiling and
enjoying themselves. Tony was able to let loose almost competing with
George for the lead a lot like Charlie and Larry used to. Every Grain Of
Sand was again another surprise more for how well it was sung rather than
just having heard it. Dylan's beautiful voice came through loud and clear
with the band easing off and giving him all the respect to sing this song
so well. A lot like when he does Spanish Boots. Highway 61 again allowed
the band to cut loose with everyone moving around taking turns to shine a
little. It looked like they were having great fun. Then one of my
favorites to start the encore, Blind Willie McTell. This was worth the
price of admission alone. I expected the usual end of the show required
encore but they have put together a great version of this song. Dylan
slowed it down and nailed it perfectly. The show ended with Like A Rolling
Stone, Rolling Stone magazines' number 1 song of all time, at least this
week. How bout that! It was nice to hear and the band still had great
energy for it. Overall a great show! Still I would have liked to have
heard Elana. I was hoping to relive moments from The Rolling Thunder
shows. I think the fact that Dylan did 4 songs from Love And Theft shows
that he is still a great song writer. Mixing in tributes to Charlie Patton
and Blind Willie lets us know that he realizes that he owes a lot to the
early roots music pioneers. A perfect mix of songs with a lot of highs and
very few lows. Dylan always seems to grab the wrong harmonica at least
once every time I see him. But when he finds the right one he prances out
front and makes up for it. A little comical. I didn't miss Summer Days or
Tweedle Dum at all. I'm much happier to have heard Lenny Bruce and Blind
Willie McTell!!!!! The Orpheum Theater has great acoustics. It must or
Dylan wouldn't have played there 21 years in a row. But it's a dump. The
City of Boston or its owners should protect it and refurbish it. Ask for
volunteers. A new carpet and a couple gallons of paint would be a start.
Review by John Sipowicz
The Orpheum…one of the oldest Theatre Treasures in the
country housed Bobby and his “All-new Show” for a
three night stand. Since 1852, the theater has
hosted everything from vaudeville to symphony to
cinema. I had a chance to catch the second night with
three great guys two of them fellow poolers
(Lookin2getsilly, Bosco) and one—almost pooler.
We spent the previous night in Upstate New York
playing with a deck of cards and laying what little
money we had down—all the while listening from various
Bob cuts—from 65 outtakes to 11/17/02—just to prove
that version of “Summertime” is the Baker’s best donut.
Anxious, giddy, and mimicking Dylan’s dance moves
into the wee hours.
Saturday came—we got whiff of the Friday setlist—and
felt like someone delivered a swift kick to the
nuts—why? Why didn’t we get tickets for the Friday
show. Needless to say—I had mixed feelings from the
get-go—Bob had been less than stellar the last few
times I caught him—at least he was no where at the
level he has gotten to. So this –off-the-wall-setlist
from the Boston opener was—gonna make it tough to
We hit the road around 11am…beers, boots, and joints
packed—one of those days that you could drive forever.
El Rey 12/20/97 got us in a great mood the way
in—that “John Brown” makes me feel guilty of
something. In Boston Town--in some
restaurant—actually the Pub Hub—we knew exactly what
we wanted. We first tried the Side Bar but it was
closed—the Pub Hub was a stones throw away—plus, it
was pegged the “Friendliest pub in town.”
We got ID’d and the NY identification logo didn’t sit
right with the bartender---he sarcastically told
us—The Yanks had just left town and chuckled. I must
have caught him off guard when I laughed and exposed
my Bosox T-shirt. Things Changed! Bottom-line—this
place had great digs—I recommend the “Custom House”
the bartender kindly played a few Dylan tracks before
we headed to the Old Stage.
The second we walked into this place I begun to
float—if this wasn’t the place to catch Bob—I don’t
know what it—everything about the joint reeked of Bob
and his current vibe.
More drinks—a couple chats with some Dylan fans about
Elana’s vanishing act and theories—Bosco managed to
convert a girl to the pool. Missing Amos Lee—just
because we caught enough of him in Bushkill, PA last
Merle was awesome. The band
tight—relaxed—emotional—Merle’s voice rich and smooth.
He didn’t even play the house favs and the reception
was amazing. I really have never been this impressed
with an opener. Paul Simon was like a computer—no
variation—Natalie Merchant was alright—Willie was a
bit off—Phil and Friends so-so—but Merle gets the tip
of the hat. Did a Song he’s been working on—about
Marijuana—got some laughs—said Bob had played this
joint for 21 straight years—kidding of course—and was
glad to be part of the show.
MAGGIES FARM-visual adjustment. After 20-odd shows
this one was the biggest new-look in terms of Band
make-up. No Elana. Then noticed how strong Bob’s
voice was—and how it fit in between the guitars and
drum breaks. Great start—
FOREVER YOUNG- Not a surprising song—but in a
surprising spot—started to float some more—great Pedal
steel from Donnie. Great in key harp from Bob center
stage. So I’m impressed.
CRY WHILE- Thought this was gonna be the first let
down—and it was far from it—semi-new arrangement. With
that little pause added—great roaring vocal. Now I’m
lost in the music.
*The last couple of shows im going into the show to
watch Bob and if he’s enjoying himself up there or
not—or maybe watching Larry play all those things he
did—but tonight from the get-go—I was watching with my
ears—the music was everywhere—in Bob-In Denny-Donnie-
Stu—it was everywhere—you couldn’t pin it down. And I
think that makes up the Great Dylan shows.
BYE AND BYE-the band made this work—and Bob did a well
above average reading of this crooner. Usually a low
point of a show—wasn’t even in the bottom four.
HOLLIS BROWN- Is what Dylan’s voice is made for now.
Spooky is an understatement—it was perfect. You can’t
replace Larry but Donnie Herron is fuckin’a great
player—The Banjo tickled a dark nerve.
IF YOU SEE HER SAY HELLO- was the first song that
didn’t keep the level up—too fast—good Stu solo—and
Bob helped it out with a pretty good harp solo center
LENNY BRUCE- Believe it or not Lookin2getsilly called
this song Friday night. You figure when Bob plays a
song once in a blue moon it just doesn’t live up to
all the hype and glory—but Lenny was certainly one of
the highlights if not THE highlight. Picture perfect
delivery from Bob and the Pedal steel through me back
to 96. Awesome.
HONEST WITH ME-“Aw…shit” were out of my mouth right
after the first chord. But to tell you the truth it
wasn’t that bad—Stu and Denny (Who is not getting
enough credit on this board) played some nice stuff.
Bob also seemed to pay this a bit more attention—no
rushed/mushed lines. It didn’t bring me down…
LONESOME DEATH- Was the sweetest piece of the
night—Bob fucked up one lyric the whole night (Blind
Willie) and it wasn’t here. Great rendition—in a
HIGHWATER- Has gotten back to its glory. The Banjo
needs to be in the song—and this performance was it.
I could have walked through a wall.
EVERY GRAIN OF SAND-Slight up-singing—but I was lost
in the band—when Bob really wants to sing this—this
song could reduce you to tears—the little guitar
riff—makes you smile each time.
HIGHWAY 61- Blew my mind once in Feb. 99 but this
version was hotter. Stu and Denny really let the
axe’s have it. And it got so loud and powerful you
thought something was gonna give—the force was too
much. Makes “Summer Days” look like a boy throwing a
frizzbee to nobody. The crowd loves
it—formation—nothing our of the ordinary from Bob—but
the theatre wants his blood.
BLIND WILLIE- Never thought of this song as an encore
but---the band certainly made it sound like one.
Harder, nasty, alive.
WATCH…NO. I MEAN…
LARS- The weakest song of the night IMO. Nice solo in
In conclusion—I thoroughly enjoyed the show more than
I have any show since Albany 97. Bob really caught me
off guard with this band and set. You can never doubt
Bob. There is always magic in the bag. He just can’t
reach it sometimes. After listening to four or five
shows from earlier this tour I’ve come about
this---It’s like Bananas and Boomerangs. Donnie has
played his ass off since the get go—he knew his
role…but the rest of the band was trying their
legs…now they—have ran a few miles—and are up on that
level that Donnie’s playing at…it all fits—thus, the
feeling of floating the audience can succumb to.
I got one more show…FINAL NIGHT BEACON…second row…I
might just wet myself if he surpasses the Saturday
show in Boston.
Thanks to all Dylanpoolers for attending and making it
a great bowl of cereal.
Review by Jay Clark
I thought both bands, Merle's and Bob's, were in great form last night.
I really like Dylan's new lineup [and yes, Elana is missing in action,
at least for this run.]
My issues with both performances tonight were the setlists. Neither Merle
nor Bob did much for the casual fan, out on the town on a Saturday night
(perhaps in town for Monday's marathon) and looking for a reason to get
out of their seats.
From Merle, no touchstones or songs with the Dead/ElvisC connections,
though a few came close (Big City, Honky Tonk Mightime Man > Old Man from
the Mountain, Fugitive, That's the Way Love Goes, If I Could Only Fly).
From Bob, excellent inclusions for the Dylanophile -- Lenny Bruce!!!!,
Every Grain of Sand, Blind Willie McTell -- but I'm willing to bet that
the majority of the Saturday night pre-marathon crowd didn't recognize any
of 9 songs between "Forever Young" and "Highway 61 Revisited". (Also, to
echo a review from earlier in the tour -- 4 songs from Love & Theft seems
excessive, even though they were among the best-performed of the night.)
These were the right bands, at the right place, at the right time -- but
to paraphrase a drinker of reknown, Tonight the Setlists Let Them Down.
At the same time, I love that both Merle and Bob mix up the song
selection nightly, and I'd see either and both of these great bands
again in a heartbeat.
Btw, I don't suppose I can get any help with last night's Haggard
Intro/outro theme (instrumental, Bucket's Got a Hole-esque)
[can't read my writing - Old ...?]
Old Country Singer
That's the News
Always Will Be
Honky Tonk Nighttime Man > Old Man from the Mountain
Mary Jane ("2nd song" about marijuana)
That's the Way Love Goes
["new song on the way into town" - title?]
If I Could Only Fly
Exit theme (instrumental Okie from Muskogee)
[ http://home.earthlink.net/~j-clark ]
Review by Patrick Boyle
Naturally, I was already excited for Part 2 of my Dylan weekend, so
imagine how I felt when we got to the pick up window and found out where
our tickets actually were (we didn't know ahead of time). Orchestra
Seating, three feet from the stage, middle section. I couldn't believe it.
Only my third time seeing Bob, I didn't think I'd luck out so early.
Part of me wishes it had been last night's show that I'd had those tickets
for, because this one wasn't as good. It was a good show, to be sure, but
it just didn't contain the highs of a Shelter from the Storm, or a Mr.
Tambourine Man, or a Chimes of Freedom. Song by song...
Maggie's Farm -- As I said, I've seen Bob play three times, and this is
the best choice for an opener that I've heard (the others being To Be
Alone With You and Tombstone Blues). Bob was really lively on this one and
had a lot of fun with it, and the crowd did too.
Forever Young -- Struck me as a strange choice for the second song, as
this has a distinct encore feel to it. But I was glad he played it,
vocally one of the best of the night. Very clear and passionate. Quite
Cry a While -- A big surprise, not in terms of song selection, but in how
much I found myself really enjoying this one. If I had seen the set list
in advance, I would have groaned at this inclusion. But it brought the
house down! Great start-stop touch during the verses, blistering solos.
Bye and Bye -- Yawn. I was particularly disappointed having this
immediately follow another Love and Theft song. One of the band members
really needs to tell Bob, "Listen, this is a pretty little song and it
works well on the album, but do you see how people get up to go to get
another beer when you play it?" You know? Maybe Stu could do it.
Ballad of Hollis Brown -- Not one of my favorite songs. The arrangement is
nice, but something I could do without hearing. Just a personal preference
If You See Her, Say Hello -- Kind of the opposite of Cry a While in the
sense that, if I had seen it on the setlist in advance, I would really
anticipate it. But everything about it was simply "meh." The arrangement
doesn't really work (this should be an acoustic number), the vocals were
lazy. Not the worst of the night, but disappointing considering how much I
love the song. I did have fun hearing the lyrical changes, though.
Lenny Bruce -- Well, this is embarrassing to admit considering how much I
love Dylan, but I am just really not familiar with this song. It's on Shot
of Love, right? I don't own that one. (I know, I know!) So I recognized it
only when I heard the name "Lenny Bruce." I remember thinking "Oh, wow, I
bet he hasn't played that in a while" but I'd be lying if I said I was
thrilled it came up. It sounded like a good song, from what I can hear. I
should download it. Legally, of course.
Honest With Me -- I really couldn't even hide my disappointment when he
played this. I would have taken Mississippi over it, even though I had
heard it the night before. Sugar Baby would have been nice, or Po' Boy.
Hell, I would have rather heard Cry a While again!
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll -- A welcome surprise, and one of the
better performances of the night. Maybe THE best, vocally. Just a really
great job there. Really great sound, especially at the chorus.
High Water -- When I heard the first few chords, my reaction was "No more
Love and Theft, my God!"But to be honest, this was a pretty great
performance, one of the better of the night's more rocking numbers.
Every Grain of Sand -- Before the show, I told myself I really wanted to
hear two songs more than anything: this one, and Blind Willie McTell. I
don't think I'm spoiling this little story for anyone by telling you he
played both, which I was thrilled about. This was, bar none, the best song
of the evening. It was what I expected it to be: intimate and gorgeous.
Highway 61 Revisited -- My least favorite song last night, so when he
started again I was almost glad, as it gave him a chance to redeem
himself. He did, it rocked. The band did a very interesting kind of drum
heavy, start-stop-stop march thing with the final verse. Incidentally, the
only song I've heard him do each time I've seen him.
Blind Willie McTell -- As I said, it was this and Every Grain of Sand that
I really wanted to hear. The latter did not disappoint. This one did,
vaguely. I'm glad he played it and I wouldn't have substituted it for
Watchtower or Rainy Day Women or Cats in the Well (heh) but I didn't like
the kind of twisty, jazz sound to it. It's unreasonable for me to want
this one to sound exactly like the Bootleg Series version, but is really
too much to ask for it to be just Bob on keyboards and Stun on acoustic
guitar? It is? Okay. Oh, and interesting side note: I don't know how long
he's been doing this, but the refrain now goes "I'll tell you one thing
[pause] No one can sing [pause] The blues like Blind Willie McTell." I
think it's cool.
Like a Rolling Stone -- In my review for last night I said I was sick of
this song. I must have been drunk. It's as powerful and fresh as it's ever
been. Great, great performance.
I figure after seeing the setlist and reading the feedback on tomorrow's
show that this one will be viewed as the weakest. But I'm obviously still
glad I went. Of course now I'll be having nightmares that tomorrow night's
show will be legendary, and will feature his first ever performance of
"Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" or "Sad Eyed Lady" or something.
Comments by Peter MacIntosh
I travelled to Beantown from Nova Scotia for the show. This was my lucky
13th time seeing the master at work and play, dating back to the late 80s
when he performed in Hamilton, Ontario. As always, he was fresh and fun.
I note a few omissions in the other reviews for the Saturday Boston show.
Bob clearly had either a cold or allergies that evening, as he would
frequently repair after songs to a small table at the back of the stage
where a box of Kleenex was strategically placed. Given Dylan's "unique"
vocals at this stage of his career, the cold or allergies had no
discernible impact on his singing.
I also thought the sequence of events near the end of Hattie Carroll were
hilarious. After completing the lyrics, Bob scooted to another side-stage
table and sought out a particular harmonica. It was evident using my
binculars in the mezzanine that he was having little success in finding
the harp in the key he desired. Eventually he hastily grabbed one and
returned to centre stage for the solo. After a few notes it was painfully
evident that the instrument indeed was in the wrong key. Not to be foiled,
Bob stopped himself mid-solo, rushed to the table of harps, eventually
found the right one, and returned to centre stage to lay down what turned
out to be a smokin' solo. All in a day's work!
Oh yeah, it was a great show, as usual.
page by Bill Pagel
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