page by Bill Pagel
Review by Larry Fishman
Well once again I shlepp off north to New Hampshire to catch a show. A
state known for its right wing politics, state run liquor stores and lack
of zoning. The venue itself, a man made amphitheatre carved out in the
woods is okay though somewhat nondescript, it's just traveling through the
Texas of New England that's a drag.
I guess the big news is the arrival of new guitarist, Stu Kimball. He
certainly looks like a Dylan band member with a pork pie hat, dark suit
and goatee beard. I'll be generous and give him an incomplete grade. His
volume was clearly turned down in the mix and frankly just seemed to be
outshined - perhaps even overmatched at times. Certainly he gave a
capable performance but he'll need time to find his place and confidence.
I just didn't really hear or see any real style or personality in his
playing. The rest of the band was solid as always with Recelli & Garnier
as the crack rhythm section. Larry Campbell has stepped up and was really
front and center all night long. He's the band leader and predominant
solois -- fully up to the task of the increased workload. Tonight, he
played alot of pedal steel with a rock 'n roll vibe - there's not much
country left in this band.
Bob was attired in his usual white cowboy hat and dark Western suit. His
voice was that sweet ole, beautiful growl. He looked in charge and
focused from my 7th row seat. On to the show:
1. Drifter's Escape. Standard opening of a very standard setlist.
Certainly a nice beginning.
2. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight. The harp intro started sweetly, but lost
its way as he dragged on about 20 seconds too long - though returning
later in the song for one of those great, hysterical one note solos.
3. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. Well played, subdued version - it was
about this time that I realized that there was a whole lot of pot smoke in
4. Just Like A Woman. Somewhat turned into a power ballad, this was a
nice slow version but with all the country pie removed. The cob webs in
his throat started to clear out and he nailed one of his better harp solos
of the evening as well. This was also the tune were you could hear Bob's
keyboards most clearly. Often it kinda got lost in the middle of the
5. Most Likely You Go Your Way Snappy, sung in his amiable growl with
the new guy getting a nod from Bob for a half decent guitar solo.
6. Positively 4th Street Shot out of a barrell -- this was a funky
groove with the middle aged couple beside me inspired to dry hump each
other wildly during the tune. Not quite Bob's most romantic lyrics, eh?
7. Highway 61 Revisited Upon the intro, my new buddy Randy declared this
it was time for the new guy to sink or swim. Well, he kind of doggy
paddled. Bob was nailing the vocal and the song was taught and well
rehearsed, our new axeman capablely held down his solos.
8. Love Sick. A great vocal ("...distant cry!!!!...") in a slow, swampy
and meloncholy arrangement. Loved Campbell's solo as well, but as I said
earlier I loved his playing all night.
9. Stuck Inside of Mobile. The tune was really run through Campbell's
pedal steel guitar with his solos and flourishes just right on target, so
10. It Ain't Me, Babe. Really like this rearrangement with its toxic mix
of passion and emotion. Bob sang it beautifully.
11 Floater. Again Campbell shined playing violin and taking a front &
center turn with a great, nearly footstomping solo at mid song.
12. Honest With Me. I'll admit to being bored out of my mind with this
song, but hot damn if George Recelli didn't make me stand up and take
notice -- he has become the best drummer since Levon Helm for my money.
13. I Believe in You. My own personal hightlight and the one setlist
twist, albeit a slight one. I left out a huge whoop after he absolutely
nailed the high singing parts - not in a 1995 kind of way, but in a 2004
I'm gonna try and make my voice do everyting it can kind of of way.
14. Summer Days Somewhere on the way to Bonaroo this has become a crowd
favorite. Man, he's got those old hippies and accountants twisting and
shimmering to this one. Arranged still somewhat in the Chuck Berry ramped
up way but with not quite as much caffeine as the last few takes that I
15. Cat's in the Well. After band introductions, we're on to the encores
with Campbell sitting in on pedal steel for all three. Nice solo work all
around - perhaps I've been listening to too many recent bootlegs, but I
vote to give this one a rest too.
16. Like A Rolling Stone. Bob just sung the hell out of this song.
Think this was a real nice rock and roll version - upbeat and cool.
17. All Along the Watchtower. Oh the night ends once again with two
riders approaching. All in all - I had fun on this good night's
performance. Not the best I've seen, but I cherish each one.
Review by Rick Pearl
The kickoff to Bob's 2004 summer tour began in a location where he gave a
truly inspired performance in August of 2003, the new shed in the woods,
Meadowbrook Farm in Guilford, NH. After listening to a boot of the 2003
show (thanks Steve!), it was interesting to note how little the set list
had changed (nine of 17 songs in common) from one show to the other. But
this show was decidedly different ... and not necessarily in a bad way.
For starters, the new guitarist, Stu Kimball, imbued the performance with
a more even-keeled sound than that provided by the recently departed
Freddie Koella - who I always thought to be a fine rocker but perhaps a
bit too harsh and manic (at times) for Dylan's song repertoire. How to
say this? I found Kimball to be a complement to the other players, rather
than a soloist working hard to restrain himself within a band format. The
result was a smoother effort with less intensity, perhaps, but one that
allowed the other performers to make a more obvious contribution to
George Recile was back on drums (Richie Hayward has returned to the Little
Feet fold), and he and Tony Garnier on bass provided their usually
outstanding efforts. With lead guitar played down in the mix, Garnier's
talents were on full display. And what can I say about Larry Campbell
that hasn't already been said? The consummate musician, he received
acknowledgement from the crowd for his performance, particularly during
his violin solo on "Floater."
As for the show itself, the set list was, as expected for a first show,
pretty standard. I'll admit that there are a handful of songs I'm hoping
that Bob will cycle off as the summer season rolls along, including his
encore mix (has it changed in two years?). But Bob's voice was strong,
his band sounded crisp, and the result was a very good show in front of an
opening night crowd at Meadowbrook (it was the venue's first act of the
season) that was a bit smaller and more subdued than the one at the August
Meadowbrook 2004 didn't have any true highlights or surprises for me, but
there were some memorable moments. I absolutely love Bob's vocals on the
latest iteration of "It Ain't Me Babe." This is a song which I had sworn
off on after hearing June Carter Cash butcher it in the 30th Anniversary
Concert, but the new delivery is excellent. To a backbeat that is almost
funereal, Bob punches out the words ominously. Then, just as he nears the
refrain, the music softens and the melodic undertones carry his vocals
through the verse. Real, real nice!
"Just Like A Woman" was also nice to hear, since it has always been one of
my favorites. He was very careful (almost nurturing) with his
pronunciation and the band stepped it back a notch to let him punch the
"Floater" is one of the songs from "Love and Theft" which I have not heard
Bob perform too often since the CD was released (twice before maybe, the
last time at the 3/25 Avalon show in Boston), and I thought he nailed it
this time. As mentioned previously, Larry's fiddle work was terrific.
"I Believe In You" was a song I nearly fell over backwards for when I
heard it at the Avalon Ballroom earlier this year (3/26), so I was not as
wowed as I might have been by another tenderly crafted performance. This
is a song that I, for one, would not mind hearing on a regular basis from
"Love Sick" reminded me of just how much I love the "Time Out Of Mind" CD.
Man, the way Bob bites into these lyrics it sends shivers down the spine.
I am looking forward to hearing a few more tracks from his epic work in
some of his upcoming shows this summer.
All in all, a nice, solid kickoff to the summer season for Bobby D and the
boys. I look forward to catching up with them in a few weeks at Stormont
Castle in Belfast.
Review by Carl Hokanson
After losing any chance of offing my extra ticket ( B row 9) to any
old friends , I googled down Apolilipse Kurt and called , Luckily he
was more than willing to go and became my bus driver to NH. I having
been there was able to get us there with the directions of a tour guide and
the ride north was very pleasant .
I happen to love the NH site with it's country accoutrements, Easy
parking with copious, courteous and friendly parking attendants pointing
out the way. The security at the gate let people breeze through the
gates and soon we were on the ground after we had a beverage at the car.
Show time came soon after and I barely finished the pizza before
Dylan's intro was being played. The row 9 seats had us front and center
and despite some vision problems created by some BIG doofs standing in
front, The show was a site to see.
We were sightly confused by the new member, He looked similar to
Freddy K. but being new lacked some of Freddy's Hendrix inspired
styling. BUT no gripes. The BEST instrument on stage was Dylan's voice, it was
forever young, what a month's rest can do, Dylan was on!!! Singing like
the young man he is, his voice forceful as a Frieghtliner and boy did he
deliver the goods. He looked so revived , so rested and oh so sexy as he
strutted his stuff after frequent pow wows with the Band.
Larry was really wailing as his performance carried the load as the
new member Stu finds his role in the well oiled Band. It was odd to hear
what i thought was lead guitar , only to glance over and see the pedal
steel doing the job. I think even the band was enjoying hearing the
Boss's singing finding new ranges and clearly defining each poignant
As always ( at least in NH) Dylan's harp was as sweet as
hummingbird's nectar, flowing in and out of the mix, as he took leads
with it and used it frequently to add it's dimension to the timeless
music he performs.
Honest with me had Stu and Larry standing toe to toe center stage
trading punches as they duked out their licks. Both men seemed to enjoy
the lime light and really took this classic up a knotch or two. Tony as
always was superb and played the stand up bass on a few songs. Floater
being very memorable as bass and violin lended it self well to each
other on the well lighted stage. And it was a pleasure to be able to see the
Band with the warm ambient lighting that cascaded as if from heaven it
self. George was drumming hard as nickeled steel, tempering the tone
with his magic wands.
There were lots of new takes on the performances, that keeps things
fresh and young. The encore was lively and up beat. My first time
hearing "Cat's in the Well" was a treat and as always left me wanting more.
As the band stood together as they received their ovation, Dylan "s
hands dropped to his side as he stood and received what he had just given, The
crowd roared their approval and Dylan had once more proven that the Jack
of Hearts had more than one trump card up his sleeve. Perhaps best of
all , that card came from his voice, It certainly stunned me, To hear the
youth in his voice , it had me leave the table , filled and satisfied,
and ready to cash out, but as always wanting more. Dylan knows how to
cook, and tonite's performance was a buffet of excellence served up to a
crowd that ate it up.
The smiles from the crowd as the lights turned up left no doubt as to
the superb hand we were just dealt, begging the question?? What can be
a Royal Straight Flush?.................. " A single Jack of Hearts! "
Review by Ken Norton
Over the past 4 decades of having seen Dylan at various times, I've seen
enough to know the difference between a real blonde and a fake. I'd not
seen him in almost 18 mos and was looking forward to seeing him on
piano. What a dissapointment! If this show is any indicator he clearly
is rapidly becoming a worn out star.... Such a huge change since the
Sexton/Cambell shows of a few years ago when energy and enthusiasm was
so contagious that even Bob would be smiling and shakin' his legs.
Larry still carried on to be sure, and he and Tony were doing their best
to hold things together, and to be gracious it was Stu's first show so
maybe I should just leave it at that. Suffice it to say I think I only
saw Larry smile twice and Tony never...Dylan's keyboard's were inaudible
the whole night despite the fact that I was dead center about 30 feet in
front of the soundboard. Friends closer said his hands appeared
arthritic (is this why he never picked a guitar even once) and it didn't
look like he was playing verses chopping. His keyboard was sideways to
the audience so unless you were seated way over on the right, you never
saw more than half his face, another dissapointment. Added to that was
his mic stand being way to low so he had to bend over every time he sang
a verse, it seemed like that only added to the grrrrrowl factor. It's
not that it was all bad, it just made me appreciate that 4 year run when
the band was so tight both acoustic and electric. I told everyone I
knew to go see him, I wouldn't do that now. The songs are already
accurately reviewed in the previous review and I concur that "I believe
in you" was my high point of the show.
page by Bill Pagel
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