page by Bill Pagel
Review by Carsten Molt
Jillsy and i made the 5 hour drive form Pittsburgh to Solomons,
Maryland for Dylans show at the Washington Gas Pavilion. The show was a
benefit for the Calvert Marine Museum. Solomons is a tiny town in southern
Maryland along the waterfront with a beautiful marina. While taking a walk
earlier in the day, we walked by the Will Call tent and were happy to find
that they were giving away free posters from the previous nights show in
Atlantic city which we graciously accepted. We had seen some local weather
forecasts that predicted thunderstorms and windy conditions. Luckily, the
bad weather bypassed Solomons and by the time the show started, the clouds
had passed and we were treated to beautiful weather.
The Washington Gas Pavilion isn't your average outdoor venue.
It isn't much of a venue at all. It is a large parking lot with a stage at
one end. The show was a 4,500 capacity sell out. There was a diverse crowd
ranging from gradeschool kids with their parents to senior citizens. The
audience and setting gave the show a festival vibe.
The show started promptly at 7:30 with a short but well played set by the
Australian band, the Waifs. They were very good. After a short break of
about 15 minutes, Dylan came out. As soon as he did, most of the crowd
left their reserved seats and started to move closer to the stage. One
security guard briefly told the crowd to move back to their seats but was
ignored. He saw that it wasn't going to work and gave up. By thw way,
Dylan was dressed in his black suit with white boots.
The Show Itself:
1. Maggie's Farm (Bob on piano) The show started loudly and i had to laugh
at the older gentleman next to me who hurried to take out his hearing aid.
Dylans voice was strong and clear from the start.
2. Tell Me That It Isn't True (Bob on piano and harp, Larry on pedal
steel) This was a good performance until he started to play the harmonica.
He blew a few off key notes and then put it down and the song quickly died
out. When Larry was playing his pedal steel guitar, he was so far off to
the side that he was hard to se.
3. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (Bob on piano) This is one of my favorite
songs on "Love and Theft" and it was a decent performance but nothing
4. Lay, Lady, Lay (Bob on piano, Larry on pedal steel) The music slowed
down and Dylan gave a very good performance. When the audience recognized
the tune, it got the biggest cheer of the show.
5. Things Have Changed (Bob on piano) Dylan gave a very clear reading of
the song with a lot of leg wiggling and was very animated during the
instrumental passages. A Very strong performance.
6. The Wicked Messenger (Bob on electric guitar and harp) This was the
only song of the show where Dylan played guitar and he made the most of
it. This was also the first tune where Freddie stepped out and traded some
very nice guitar licks with Dylan. Dylan ended the song with a good
7. Just Like A Woman (Bob on piano and harp, Larry on pedal steel) "JLAW"
started out kind of shakily and Dylan and the band never found a
comfortable groove. Dylan played the harmonica with one hand while playing
piano with his other hand. Probably the low point of the show.
8. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on piano) Dylan totally got into "Highway
61". His vocals were loud and strong and he was doing a lot of leg
wiggling and head bobbing. Tony also started dancing a bit. Tony did this
odd little dance with one foot in front of the other in a way that
reminded me of someone riding a surfboard.
9. High Water (For Charley Patton) (Bob on piano) This kept the energy
level up and rocked quite hard. In the middle of the song, Dylan left the
keyboard and walked around the stage snapping his fingers for a moment or
two. Receli was great all night and especially on "High Water".
10. Watching The River Flow (Bob on piano and harp, Larry on slide guitar)
i am not a fan of this song but Jillsy said it was well played and fun to
11. Saving Grace (Bob on piano) i was hoping to hear this song and it was
great. Bob nailed the vocals and the band were playing excellent back up.
12. Honest With Me (Bob on piano, Larry on slide guitar) i was tired of
hearing this song after 8 straight shows of hearing it. It was nothing
more than a wall of noise last fall. i am happy to say that this song has
taken on new life. Dylan belted out the lyrics with zest and the band was
tight. Freddie laid down some nice guitar lines and Larry really leaned
into his slide parts. i never thought i'd say this but it was possibly the
highlight of the show.
13. Bye And Bye (Bob on piano, Tony on standup bass) i would much rather
hear "Floater" but it was well played and Freddie gave it a smoky lounge
feel. it had a vibe not unlike 'If Dogs Run Free' at times.
14. Summer Days (Bob on piano, Tony on standup bass) A great set closer if
there ever was one. At times, the band seemed to rush through sections a
little fast and it caused Dylan to hurry to fit the lyrics in. It was
still a lot of fun with Tony clowning around with his bass.
15. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on piano) If 'Honest With me" wasn't the
highlight than this was. This song was all about Freddie. At one point, he
walked to center stage and played a great, searing guitar solo which got a
great cheer from the crowd. Dylan played around with the chorus a little
bit, just enough to make it hard for the crowd to sing along.
16. All Along The Watchtower (Bob on piano) The predictable show closer
was given the usual treatment and it came off pretty well.
The show was not stunning but it was a strong solid performance and Jillsy
and i both had a great time.
i never understood why some people will pay to go to a concert and spend
most of the show with their backs to the stage having conversations about
their job and how much they drank before the show.
In other reviews, i have read about the crazy, flailing dancer with red
hair. i witnessed this myself as he did his "Dancing Fool" act beside me
for several songs.
Dylan didn't play any of the "TOOM" songs that he has recently played or
give us any acoustic tunes but it didn't matter. To steal a quote, "It
isn't what he plays, but the way he plays it." If anyone has a copy of the
show, i'd love to get a copy. In Bob we trust,
Review by Alex Leik
On paper, Sunday had the makings of a wonderful day. My plan was to arrive
in Solomons, MD in time for a bite to eat, a few cold ones and (hopefully)
a Laker victory. Then the evening was to wrap up with another fine Dylan
performance, hopefully in line with the one witnessed in Portsmouth, VA on
Thursday night. Well let's just say that things don't always work out the
way they might appear on paper - oh, and thank goodness for the Lakers!
Mapquest advised me to allow 3.5 hours for the drive, so I left the
Charlottesville, VA area
around noon, 30 min. behind schedule. Yet, as is often the case with
Mapquest, I arrived in
Solomons in about 2.5+ hrs, plenty of time to get a bite to eat and get
situated for the big game. Two things caught my eye as I approached
Solomons - 1) Hollywood, MD was only about 10 miles away, and it was the
first location where I saw "Bob Dylan: Sold Out" signs - Bob was certainly
in Hollywood. 2) Highway 5 (well OK, Rt. 5) was a little before Hollywood,
but no sign of Charles Darwin.
I made it to the open-air venue right around 7:30. There was certainly a
festival feel in the air, with food & drink vendors haphazardly set up in
the entrance area. The Waifs were settling into their standard opening
set, which has yet to lose its luster - these guys are really good, even
after 3 shows of basically the same set list. Bob and His Band were quick
to follow their set and just as I had hoped would NOT be the case, the
ennui of going through all of these things twice, or just the fact of
being tired that it was the 4th consecutive show, had appeared to set in.
Maggie's was very lackluster, and I thought perhaps my seat off to stage
Larry may have had something to do with it, so I moved to the back for a
more complete sound. It still sounded like crap.
Tell me that it Isn't true was a nice call, and I was glad to hear Larry
at the pedal steel early, but still nothing grand was being emitted from
the sound system. TD&TD picked things up slightly, and Lay, Lady, Lay, was
very well received - another great job by Larry, but is it me, or does Bob
sing the same verse over and over on this?? THC was, well, a blueprint of
Portsmouth, so that was kinda nice, until I started thinking that maybe
this is the same EVERY night, and that Portsmouth really wasn't that
great. Then I realized I was being over-analytical, and just needed to
catch my breath.
The Wicked Messenger was, well, I don't know. Bob picked up a guitar, but
appeared to pull an Elvis. Were there even any strings on it?? This, along
with Drifter's Escape (you know, the same song, but with different lyric),
have had their run, IMHO. JLAW was an "on" performance, and I got caught
around a bunch of college kids who insisted on screaming the chorus as it
sounds on the album, then acted surprised when Bob was just getting out
the words "Justlikeawoman" after they were done! Great stuff! Highway may
have been the highlight for me. A rollicking version that came close to
LARS as one of the "I-don't-know-how-many-times-I-have-heard-this-but-if-
he-keeps-playing-it-like-this-I'll-keep-listening" songs. Highwater &
Honest w/ Me could be put in this category as well - some very fine
There was a point during Summer Days where things seemed to get jumbled
together. Doug mentions that the band was palying too fast, and this may
be exactly what it was, I'm not sure. Somehow, they came out of it in one
piece (5 pieces, actually). LARS, as I mentioned, was dead- on, a GREAT
performance. AATW was nothing special. I was almost run-over by the buses
on my way out - so that is as close as I go to them this night. I think I
was lost in thought over why I could not hear hardly any piano on most of
the songs. Saving Grace, Bye & Bye - the songs where it was "needed" it
could be heard. But then it seems like it was turned way down in the mix
for other songs. Didn't they used to do that with Bob's guitar in the
beginning of the NET?
I'd like to think that the drive home may very well be what has left such
a bad taste in my mouth. Sitting motionless for almost 1 hour while 4500
people tried to cross a single lane bridge that would take them off of the
island and home to bed. I didn't make it home until almost 3AM and yes, I
know that is the price you pay for going through all of these things
twice. But, I've had to deal with worse for better shows. That is the
thing - an energized performance can make the drive home, no matter how
bad, that much better - huh?? Bob just didn't have it tonight - turn the
piano up in the mix, don't put on the guitar if you're not going to play
it. Don't have acoustic guitars on the stage if you are not going to use
them ;-) Don't yell at a roadie when you blow a harp and the wrong note
comes out - he didn't make that sound, and don't dare say he put the wrong
harp out where you just simply reach over and grab it and hope it is the
Irregardless, he is still Bob, and we thank him for that!
Review by Trevor Hinson
Bob Dylan on Mother's Day - what an interesting combination.
It took precisely 4 hours from my home in Allentown, PA to
Solomons Island, Maryland. It was a quick and easy drive,
especially when I've got Bob blasting through the speakers.
Solomons is a cool little place, very small and quaint. It seemed
like the Calvert Marine Museum was the only thing going on in
Solomons, that and a strip mall. Maybe there was more to the
town but I didn't see it. My buddy and I had a meal near the
venue, then immediately got in line. The line was LONG but it
moved by pretty quick. Once we were inside there was the
festival kind of feeling. The weather was pretty nice, especially
considering rain was in the forecast. Our seats weren't bad but
weren't good either, but we didn't stay in them long, more on that
The Waifs played a great seat. My favorite song was actually when
the two female singers took a break and the guitar player sang a
song about being on the road, with the line "Been a long time since
I been around" being the chorus. Very Dylanesque. I loved it!
The highlight of the evening was not the Bob concert, but before. I made
my way to the left of the stage, where two big black buses were parked.
And there they are - Bob's band walking around, on and off the bus. I got
to shake hands with Larry Campbell, said hi to Tony (it was the second
time I met him, I also met Tony in '97 in Philly after the Trocadero
show), and also did say hi to George and Freddie. So that was awesome!
The concert was very good, the ultimate way for me to sum it up
in one sentence was that it was Bob being Bob. The only other
show that I had been to on this tour was in Louisville, and it's not
really fair to compare the two. I was 10 feet from the stage in
Louisville, and was much further away for this show. I wasn't
satisfied with my seats, and I had noticed that people were
making their way to the left away from the seats where you could
stand and dance. So after the 5th song or so we went there,
and I did get a chance to get much closer to the stage.
I won't do a song-by-song analysis, but I will say that the highlights for
me were Saving Grace and Just Like a Woman. Saving Grace was so
eloquently sung, Bob really got into the words and gave a wonderful
reading of an inspirational song. Just Like a Woman was the biggest crowd
pleaser. You couldn't hear the first line of the song, apparently because
one of the sound guys turned Bob's mic off, but the mic came back on at
"tonight as I stand here..."
Bob's performance was very solid, but my only complaint was the
setlist, very pedestrian, nothing really stood out. But...it was my
20th time seeing The Man and His Band, so you won't hear me
complain. The best part of the show for me was during "Honest
With Me," Bob came out from behind his piano to the middle of
the stage and directed the band. I put on my binoculars to get
a better view- and I saw him scurry back to his piano. He held
his left hand very close to his chest, almost like his left hand
was in pain - maybe that's why he's not playing guitar much
anymore? When he shuffled back to the piano, I don't know
how or why, but he reminded me of a little boy in his playroom.
Bob's mannerisms were that of a toddler at play, and that
was very sweet and special to me.
So - after seeing him for the 20th time on Sunday night, I can tell
you this. Out of all of them, the best show I ever saw was
Fairfax, Virginia, November 22, 2002, it was Charlie Sexton's
last show with Bob and it was smoking. If you can get a CDR
copy of Fairfax, you will be pleasantly suprised! There was some
talk on the internet about how Bob's performance of "Highwater"
in Atlantic City was the best, I listened to the mp3, and I gotta say that
Bob's reading of that song in Fairfax is better. The next best show would
be my first time seeing him, Wayne, NJ, April 13 1997. The other 18 shows
I've seen were all very good, Bob's never let me down, but those two
really stand out in my mind.
Bob closed with his usual Watchtower and was off into the windy night.
Thank you Bob, you played a good show and I hope to see you at least
another 20 times!!!
Review by Don Mitchell
Bob Dylan's wry look presided over a beautiful evening at Solomons Island,
Maryland, Sunday, leading his still-evolving band through classic Dylan
favorites and five songs from LOVE AND THEFT before a seated outdoor audience
of 4,500 beside a lighthouse at the edge of the Chesapeake Bay.
I shared the night and my love of Bob's art with my daughter Adrienne on
her 14th birthday, standing at the rail right at the front of the stage just
beneath Bob, a mere ten feet away. It was her second Dylan show; I've lost
count of mine. Dressed in a black western-style suit with white piping and
a white scarf, wearing white boots with black tips, Bob presided from stage
right on electric piano with his Oscar statuette right behind him.
I was almost wary of this show after the stupendous performance at Fairfax,
Virginia, last November 22, the final Charlie Sexton show, and easily, by far,
the best Dylan show I had ever seen. It had been Adrienne's first Dylan show
and she, too, had been blown away. The new band works though, and Freddie is
already looking like he fits in. Bob sometimes looks like he's still training
this band, though, trying to make sure Freddie feels comfortable. In typical
fashion, but now in a place where he can see everyone, he looked over to the
band after almost the last verse of almost every song and give what my daughter
called "the look," a knowing, almost commanding, nod that meant "I'm done, next
time through let's wrap this one up." And then, with the lights out after each
song, they'd meet back by Freddie's monitor to the left of the drums, seemingly
to agree on the next song.
Bob opened the show with a rocking version of Maggie's Farm, one of my
daughter's favorite Dylan songs and a much better way to open the show than
Tweedle Dee, which had held down the opening spot on most of the earlier shows
on this tour. Larry's guitar lead set the pace on a song the band was clearly
comfortable with. A slower Tell Me It Isn't True, reminiscent of its NASHVILLE
SKYLINE glory, followed; Bob teased the audience with his harp, but played only
a bar toward the end of the song. After a well-performed Tweedle Dee - not my
favorite LOVE & THEFT song, but it works as a third song - it was back to
NASHVILLE SKYLINE, with Larry on pedal steel, for Lay Lady Lay, which I hadn't
heard Bob do in years. Somehow, its sad for me to hear Bob do that song now,
the melody going up the scale as a seeming accommodation to Bob's voice as the
lady lays "across my big brass bed," as I think wistfully of that strong
NASHVILLE voice, lost to the ravages of time and never the same, it see
ms, after his 1997 brush with death.
A very confident version of Things Have Changed followed; its become one of
my favorite Dylan live songs. And then, just when I was starting to think this
was going to be a top shelf great show, a difficult version of The Wicked
Messenger. Bob came out from behind the piano and played electric guitar, but
the lyrics were almost lost, indiscernible against the heavy beat and three
electric guitars; a nice harp solo partially revived the song, but I haven't
thought either Wicked Messenger or Drifter's Escape (played when I saw Bob last)
have worked in these arrangements as hard rock n' roll songs. I wonder if it's
a coincidence that they're both from JOHN WESLEY HARDING? The recovery was
swift though, with a tender thoughtful, harp-accompanied version of Just Like a
Woman to the rescue, my daughter singing along to a song I didn't know she knew.
One of the show's high points came next, a very tight rockin' Highway 61.
That song, my notes say, "cooks!" Larry and Freddie had it together as Bob "put
some bleachers out in the sun and had it on Highway 61." The energy continued
with High Water and Watchin' the River Flow - the latter one of Freddie's high
points as he walked the song through its melody with Larry on slide guitar - and
I couldn't help but wonder if Bob's song selection had been affected by the River
and the Chesapeake Bay meeting only a hundred feet from the stage, and whether
we might next hear Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, and its tale of William
Zantzinger, "who at twenty-four years owns a tobacco farm of six hundred acres,
with rich wealthy parents who provide and protect him, and high office relations
in the politics of Maryland," as we listened to Bob in rural tobacco-farming
sea-going Calvert County, Maryland.
But it was not to be - we haven't heard Hattie Carroll yet on this tour, and,
damn, isn't that a stunning version on the new ROLLING THUNDER album! - and
instead it was an excellent Saving Grace. I'm not sure, though, that I'll ever
get used to the songs from that period, Every Grain of Sand excepted.
From here the show was predictable, three straight from LOVE AND THEFT -
Honest With Me, with a kicking middle section, Bye and Bye and Summertime.
Bye and Bye was really well done, and for the first time all night you could
really hear Bob's piano as an integral instrument. Summertime has become the
show stopper - no one who was at the November 22, 2002 Fairfax finale to the
last American tour will ever forget Tony lying on his back, Bob and Charlie
and Larry on their knees during its amphetamine-driven race to exhaustion - and
it was again, finally getting much of the seated audience behind the second row
to their feet as Bob looked directly at my daughter, smiling right at her, and
then at a few other of the younger people at the front of the stage, one of his
few conscious plays to the crowd.
The encore finally got the whole crowd up - Like a Rolling Stone breaking
through in its timelessness, a new spin on the song, no longer a sneering
I-told-you-so, now the aged irony of an experienced traveler. An almost
perfunctory Watchtower closed the show, or maybe I feel that way because it's
At the end, Bob donned his gray-silver jacket and white western hat and
stood with his band, his hands moving at the wrist, gun-slinger cool. Looking
over the audience with a knowing smile, almost permitting it to thank him - not
just for this show but for his career - Bob was a confident man, seemingly
knowing that the crowd wanted just to look at him for a final few seconds. We
clapped 'til our hands hurt and cheered 'til our throats were raw.
Now if only he'll come east with the Dead this summer.
page by Bill Pagel
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