May 17, 2008
Review by Zoo Cain
Waiting in line at 6:15 p.m., bright sun and 58 degees. It was forecast to
be pouring rain, a day or so ago so we got real fortunate. Strong turn-out
for the great Bob Dylan. All reports said that the opening show of the tour in
Worcester, Massachusetts was pretty fantastic. I've never been disapointed
by Mr. Dylan, but i hope tonight is over the top. The man seems to love
Maine. With a lot of returns, the last one seven months ago in
Portland. Twenty minutes till show time, Great couple here be side from
Montreal, Lucas and Melissa. Big music fans, into the likes of Woody
Guthrie, Leadbelly, Wanda Jackson, to name a few and there only in their
mid-twenties. 7:43 they are out and rolling into Watching the River
Flow, while the crowd comes fully alive. All in black and the playing is
already outrageous!!! A whozzy, mellow, strong, beauitiful version of
Lay, Lady, Lay. Complete foot-stomping The Levee's Gonna Break. The men are
rocking out. Bob has smiled several quick ones since the first song, should
be a great night. The bard is fully into Shelter from the Storm. The band
hangs with Bob like no-ones business. Rollin and Tumblin, doing just
that. Lewiston, Maine is blessed tonight. The band is having a blast. The
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll is direct and extremly well done. Tweedle
Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Bush, Cheny classic rocks into space. Mississippi a
very cool tune. The band is impeccable. A magnificant Highway 61
Revisited. Close your eyes and eat the dirt and the glory. A truly
beautiful rendition of Workingman's Blues #2. A haunting
It's Alright,Ma(I'm Only Bleeding). Where else would people,
teenagers, twenties, thirties, forties, fiftie, sixties and beyond, be
rocking together, in such harmony and so naturally? Bob Dylan knits the
generations together. Tap-dancing into Spirit on the Water, a marvel of
the 21st century. Ballad of Hollis Brown brings out the Gunsmoke in this
band and there is plenty of that in this highly magical group. Summer
Days rips into the dark night. The ultimate kick ass song of the night. A
gorgeous lilting Ain"t Talkin. A crystal clear voice,excellent musical
accompaniment. Calls for encore from the crowded house. 9:20 back with
Thunder on the Mountain. Rock and Roll all the way! Introducing this
fine, fine band. Tony Garnier on bass. Donnie Herron playing steel and a
bunch of instruments. George Recile on drums, Stu Kimball, rhythm
guitar, Denny Freeman, lead guitar, Bob Dylan on keyboards all night. A band
for the history books. Going out with Blowin" in the Wind. The whole place
is dancing. What a night.
Review by Howard Weiner
An alarm clock shakes you awake from the thick of strange
dreams at 5:30 AM. You gather what you need for your trip to Lewiston,
Maine and stuff it in a backpack. Manhattan is quiet except for the yellow
taxis rushing the changing traffic lights – you flag one down and tell the
driver that the destination is Penn Station. On a train bound for Boston,
you think about the good times you’ve had in Maine, especially that trip
to Oxford when you were part of an invasion force of 100,000 Deadheads in
town to see a pair of Grateful Dead concerts on Independence Day weekend
in 1988. You blew off the second concert because you found out Dylan was
playing at a Minor League Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach. You convinced
your friend Perry to leave the Dead behind and join you. It was a prudent
decision. With G.E Smith by his side, Dylan rampaged through an eighty
minute set –something was born. You didn’t realize it at the time, but it
was the first leg of Dylan’s Never Ending Tour. The Grateful Dead played
their last show thirteen years ago (Jerry RIP), but Dylan’s still on the
road, sounding better than he did twenty years ago. Dylan will be
performing for you in Lewiston, tonight!
Drifting in and out of sleep, Hank Williams is yodeling in
your headphones as you honky-tonk past Providence. After hopping on a
Greyhound headed for Lewiston, you know three things happened there: 1) On
May 25, 1965, Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in the first round of the
weirdest Heavyweight Championship boxing match in history; 2) The Grateful
Dead played at the State Fairgrounds on September 6, 1980, unleashing a
thirteen song first set featuring a blazing “Sugaree;” 3) Your favorite
periodical, The Farmer’s Almanac, gets published there. As the bus turns
into the quaint main drag of Lewiston, you notice there’s a store called
Zimmie’s, and a few feet down the road there’s a bar called She Doesn’t
Like Guthries. Enjoying the pleasant spring weather and sipping
iced-coffee at the Bon Bon Café while in the company of attractive hippie
girls, you remember why you’re drawn to arcane Maine.
At Chick-A-Dee’s, a twin lobster feast with two Shipyard Export Ales and a
Glenlivet on the rocks only costs $47.95. Feeling omnipotent, you make a
donation to the Lewiston Little League team, dropping three dollars in the
collection bucket. A taxi takes you to the see Dylan at the Androscoggin
Bank Colisee which was formally known as the Central Maine Civic Center.
When Ali delivered his “Phantom Punch,” this venue was simply known as St.
Dominick’s. Whatever you call it, it’s nothing more than a banal high
school hockey rink with limited seating, exactly the type of place you
love seeing Dylan at. The beer lines are long, you feel obliged to grab
Leaning up against the corner of the stage, on the
extreme far left side, Dylan’s looking at you as he surprises by opening
with “Watching the River Flow.” You can only see Dylan; the black
equipment cases in front of you block out the Cowboy Band. Perched behind
his organ, Dylan’s a sheet of black from his top hat to shoes. He’s really
digging deep and growling viscerally during “Lay Lady Lay.” Sweet looking
ladies surround you, apparently this is where the groupies hang, vying to
get into Dylan’s big brass bed. Between two romping blues remakes, Dylan
delivers a delectable “Shelter From the Storm,” that’s unlike anything
you’ve heard before, complete with a harp solo that flutters. The Cowboy
Band sounds tight as they shine the light on the maestro.
It’s masterpiece theatre - Dylan breaks into “The Lonesome Death of Hattie
Carroll.” The musical backing is sparse and spooky as the words ricochet
off the brick walls and low-lying rafters dangling overhead. This is
incredible. Looking at the centrally located soundboard, you wonder if
that’s where Ali took out Liston with that short choppy right in round
one. Imagine the intensity in this building that night. Malcom X had been
assassinated three months earlier; there were death threats to both
fighters. The year was 1965; Ali and Dylan were two young men
changing American society with their creative powers.
The hard charging beat of “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” emerges.
Dylan zaps you into the 21st century with the opening number from
Love & Theft, the CD you bought at the Nobody Beats The Wiz in the
Garment District, on the morning of 9/11. The place is reeling and
rocking, but Dylan suddenly motions for the band to abort the song
halfway through. Alright, it’s time for track two of L&T, “Mississippi.”
Is this really happening? It’s a mysterious dream. Dylan’s a howlin’ and
growlin’ one of his modern day masterpieces, plucking ring tones on
his keys. It’s a funky, shuffling arrangement with a distinct country &
western twang. You’re ecstatic, you last saw “Mississippi” at the
Beacon Theatre on Friday, April 28, 2005.
“Highway 61 Revisited” roars by, full throttle, as the band rattles this
dinky rink in the middle of nowhere. You’re seduced by the serene and
hypnotic beginning to “Workingman’s Blues #2.” Dylan sings, it’s poignant,
yet the words sound like they are being barked out by a motivational
speaker. It works. The eleventh song of the evening is another 1965
classic, “It’s Alright Ma,” in a new spot in the rotation. Disorientation
sets in. You go score a brew, and leave a few brews in the urinal. “Spirit
on the Water” follows, so you decide to get some chicken fingers and
strike-up clever conversation with the girl who sold them to you before
returning to the ceremony. The thirteenth song is “Ballad of Hollis
Brown.” Everything is beautifully out of whack and surreal.
You relocate. You’re dancing and shuffling in Ali’s footsteps, in the
center of the ring as the Cowboy Band explodes on “Summer Days.” Dylan
boasts, “You can't repeat the past. I say, You can't? What do you mean,
you can't? Of course you can.” Garnier and Recile grin and smirk
confidently as they manipulate the tempo. Dylan’s jabs at his keys
offbeat, hitting the wrong notes at the right time, just like a jazz
master. Freemen and Herron are plucking leads; Stu’s doing his thing. It’s
old-time swing music in a dance hall – Looney Tunes with cat and mouse
professionalism. You howl in disbelief when you realize “Ain’t Talkin” is
the final statement of the set – a dark apocalyptic epic for the finale.
The preacher sounds incredible; acquire the tape, you must.
The Dylan eye logo banner drops, everybody gets up and prances around to
“Thunder on the Mountain.” You’re awed by Dylan’s new classics and how
well they stand up along side his 60’s anthems. “The answer my friend is
blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind,” he sings;
there’s a harp solo; the lights go out; he remerges in front of the stage
with his Cowboy band; briefly accepts applause, and then Dylan disappears
into the darkness.
Review by Ernest Gurney
"The last outpost at the road's end" falls from Dylan's voice as he closes the
formal part of Lewiston's concert, before the inevitable encores. Well, for Bob,
not exactly in this case. The road is just beginning for this jaunt, the "Maine to
Spain" leg of his Never-Ending Tour. There's a few more places between
Maine and Canada, but Lewiston has one of the clearest genetic links, with a
rich heritage of Canadian and Acadian ties.
Dylan's concert at the Colisee was warmly received by a good, but not sell-out
crowd, especially the hardy ones who stood at the foot of the stage and pretty
much rocked through the whole set, lasting a touch over 90 minutes. The floor
dancers were definitely enjoying the wide space in the rear (especially during
the rockabilly numbers sprinkled throughout). The crowd was the usual unusual
mix of generations that one expects to find at a Dylan concert. Everybody
thirsty for music was there. But at 6o dollars a ticket, and gas sniffing toward 4
dollars a gallon, this is an expensive night. Especially in hard-hit parts of Maine
away from the coast. Dylan showing up this close to the sticks is like Elvis in
Hibbing. Ya gotta go, but it's gonna hurt. Dylan honored this gesture on the
part of the audience by giving an excellent show and a solid performance
throughout. It's just persnickety enough of Bob to say "not sold out? Then I'll
give a hell of a show" and he did. He moved and grooved, grinned and kicked.
Did he talk to the audience? All night long, yes indeed. But not a word of
patter passed his lips.
The concert started promptly at 7:45 with "Watching the River Flow" and Bob
was already in great voice. I usually grant him a song or two to get his throat
back but his vocals last night were strong and articulate right from the get-go.
Dylan followed the flow with "Lay Lady Lay", not one of my favorite all-time
songs but quite appealing when re-arranged and interesting in its new clothes.
Thankfully the vocal arrangements of the next song were completely revisited
as well. I have never cared for the whiny repetitive sing-song of the recorded
version of "The Levee's Gonna Break". Last night's live take was miles beyond
and so much better. I ended up really liking a song I had previously dismissed.
In fact, if there's a telling characteristic of last night's concert, it's Dylan's
innovative experiments in timing, phrasing and arrangements. It went on all
night long. The song would be sped up a half-beat or slowed into waltz time.
And Dylan, who never seems able to repeat himself, scans the lyrics in his mind,
then pushes this word and not that one, stretches a phrase, dismisses the
next. It made all the songs new again.
In the bird-watching world they have "life-lists", birds they have seen for the
very first time in their neat little bird-lives. It's getting that way with me and
Dylan songs. I'll remember Lewiston for "Hollis Brown" and "Mississippi", live first
timers for these old ears and both so haunting. "Hollis Brown" especially drew
the crowd completely in, silencing everyone as Dylan's vocals followed the
desperation and hopelessness and mourned the inevitable.
Other stellar pieces of the set were "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"
(although nothing can beat the Rolling Thunder version) and an awesome
"Shelter From The Storm", with Bob's vocals and harmonica achingly beautiful
in both. Really excellent versions.
"Rollin' and Tumblin'" and "Summer Days" are sparkplugs of the set, almost
always in there somewhere and giving the band great opportunities for slick
playing and stretch time. Bob and crew are doing "something" with
"Highway 61" and I don't know how to explain it. It's under construction
(or de-construction) and is really interesting to listen to with all it's weird
off-ramps, pot-holes and straightaways. It's not the warhorse it's been the
past few years. They're playing with it a lot.
Highlights of the evening were Denny Freeman's great work on slide guitar,
some amazing chops would bust out and your head would just snap over to
Freeman, who was already humbly moving the lick back into the rhythm of
the piece like nothing ever happened. Multi-instrumentalist Donnie Herron
would pop from lapsteel to banjo to violin, moving us through Americana of
two centuries. Hints of Stephen Foster, a dash of Appalachia, a little early
country, maybe some Texas Swing.
Dylan's bandmates get a lot of credit, all deserved. But especially their
abilities to summon the music of particular eras, styles and times is amazing.
This leaves Dylan free to move his works back and forth along these
timelines and eras. A song from the 60's like "It's Allright Ma', when lifted
into Appalachia by the banjo takes on a whole new texture and meaning.
Dylan and crew did this repeatedly, pegging up, re-stringing, slowing it
down, moving songs from delta blues to Appalachia 1907, or rockabilly
1956. Dylan's lyrics are timeless and his ability to move arrangements, and
his band's ability to time-warp the songs support that eternal feel.
Last night at the Colisee was a remarkable concert, given by an exceptional
artist. There's something going on with Dylan, it's like the troubadours of
old, who went from village to village, spreading the news and picking up the
latest, re-wording the word. It's happening to you, it's happened before,
it'll happen again. Whether "it" is happy or sad, tragic, heroic "it's life and
Review by "So I ran"
Just back from Lewiston 2008 - ideal for a GA show. When I was at bob's
Lewiston show in 2000, the parking lot was all dirt and all free - now it's
paved and costs $5. Maybe bob's soft spot for Lewiston dates back to the
Cassius Clay vs Sonny Liston fight held in the same arena, maybe he saw
Clay KO Liston in the first - Anyways, Lewiston is one of those wacko locales
where you wonder what the locals do with their lives. Us early line-uppers
met one local, Cap, the self-proclaimed Republican Dylan fan, 3 sheets to
the wind, swigging liberally from a devil water concoction with his necktie,
not around his neck, but around his anti-hippy head as he informed us all
that despite having no trouble picking up women he hadn't been laid in
7 years…bob's get laid/get lucky ditty came early with Lay Lady Lay after
a tradesman-like opener, 'Watching the River Flow' …on the third song
bob & the band got serious - a sensational 'levee's gonna break' - best I
ever did hear. After the usual fights with the midgits who weasel their way
up front, as near to the rail as possible (and still can't see), I let bob work
his magic…it's a real gift the NET tour, don't any of you dingbats dare miss
it…On this fab night we got the gob-smacking titanic trilogy of 'mississipi',
'working man's blues' & 'ain't talking', not too mention hollis & hattie & a
staggeringly beautiful shelter from the storm, all thrown in for good
Better yet, the encore double was worth the price of admission alone -
bob sucking the milk out of a 1,000 cows with a thundering version of
TOTM promptly followed by a sublime blowin' in the wind, cranked up to
yet another notch, if that's even possible.
Then the stand-off with bob empyting his six-shooters into the mob.
Then the walk-off with Denny Freeman lingering just a tad (rightly so,
he deserved the extra accolades as the standout band member on a
great night)…Maritimers, you're in for a treat.
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