page by Bill Pagel
Review by Alex Leik
This is the way to watch a Dylan show. Beer in hand, no one around, and a
8.5 x 11 notepad to take notes. Thought I’d share my thoughts, because in
50 years (I am always thinking ahead), I’ll be dead, and some kid will be
wondering what we all saw on this fabulous night.
First off, Bob’s coif was recently trimmed, maybe because he knew he’d be
in front of the world this evening. The audience was very subdued, seated
all night, as if this was 1964 Philharmonic. They seemed a bit shocked
that our hero a) had a full band & 2) played the keys. And he played them
well, with good finger movement that made me think the arthritis may not
be that bad, and the guitar is not entirely out of the picture.
While amazon.com did a great job with audio & visual, their full frame
shot did not capture Donnie on the pedal steel, ala Bucky during the John
Cash tribute. Hope that is not a foreshadowing (Bucky was dismissed not
long after the J. Cash tribute.)
I think the line “They say sing while I slave and I get bored” best sums
up this song. No energy, and Bob looked like he was waiting for someone to
walk on stage and give him his check for amazon.com album & book sales.
I have heard rumors, all over town, that you’ve sold out, for the I-net
and a cappuccino. But if you are going to play this fine a version, thanks
in large part to Donnie Herron, then it is indeed true, you have still got
it. And shit, give those folks in the 1st few row the “glare” to get them
out of their seats. Harp solo in front.
I’ll be your Baby…
Just name the price, and I’ll be your baby tonight. But you are going to
have to put up with my band and their rollicking version of this classic.
Donnie drives it, Bob gives him a nice solo, and then Denny follows up
beautifully. Harp @ the keys.
One song where I think, and always have thought, the so-called “upsinging”
works well. One chorus was messed up, Bob & band were not on the same
page, but overall a nice version. Some nice smiles w/ Stu, then the rest
of the band.
U go yer Way…
So, the band has been playing this one a lot, and it shows. Very nice
piano work from our hero, and everyone seems very comfortable with this. I
saw this 2 times on the recent tour, and as much as I am not a fan of the
song, it was a highlight both times – and tonight as well (get out of yer
The reaction from the crowd at first seemed to be “This ain’t on any album
I know!”. But it was a fine version, and Bob takes advantage of the huge
audience (live & webcast) to tell us about corruptible seed, and I thought
this was great. Everyone gets on Bob for no longer writing protest songs,
or talking to the press. Well, we got it all right here. There are,
unfortunately, many hopeless situations in the world, where power, greed &
corruptible seed, seems to be all that there is. Stu had a nice solo on
this, and when he finished, he gave a look to his boss as if to say “Did
you catch that!!??” Denny took the second lead & did a fine job, and
Donnie drove it home on banjo. Perhaps the breadwinner of the show. One
thing I noticed during this song was amazon.com had this angle where you
could really get a good look at just how close Bobby’s acoustic stands to
him, which is both encouraging & discouraging at the same time.
Watching the River…
Time for the white Stetson. Keys all of the sudden seem very high in the
mix. Funny because earlier tonight, I was in this all night café, wishing
I was back in the city with my true love & daughter so close at hand.
Donnie is just on the ball, and I may be going out on a limb here, but I
think he gives Bob Dylan’s songs the Hank Williams sound better than any
backing musician Bob has ever had. Harp center stage as has been standard
with this song on this tour.
So, from high to low, Bob’s keys seem to be out of tune. But, it is a
great choice, because if you are sitting in the audience as an amazon.com
employee, then there is indeed some thing happening here (and I love the
way he says “HERE” in this version), and you don’t know what it is. Harp @
Hello Nora (aka, I Shall be Released)
Nora Jones is sexy, period (I just hope she does not become Bob’s violin
player for the next tour). She clearly enjoys herself on this duet, and,
while not coming close in quality, it does remind me of the great duets
Bob & Elvis have done with this gem. She does, however, need to brush up
on her lyrics (it is not “bound to the east”). But then again, this is Bob
Dylan, always reinventing his songs, and singing whatever lyric he chooses
at that moment. A very brief, but stand out solo from Donnie closes this
number, and the show. And why not? As I have said with my Salem &
Greensboro reviews, he is the driving force behind this band. I can only
hope he is still on board for our friends in the UK & Europe this fall.
A much deserved standing ovation from the amazon.com crowd. I found this
to be a fine performance. I should make clear that I was not at this show.
These are just my observations. I applied for a job with amazon.com as
soon as this show was announced. I was hired, but informed I would NOT be
one of the 2500 guests invited to the 10th anniversary party, so I quit.
Take it for what it’s worth.
Review by Howard Weiner
Maggie’s Farm was an energetic standard Saturday Night opener for
Bob. That must have been a strange crowd for Bob to play for, just a
bunch of Amazon.com employees sitting in their seats politely
clapping after every song. The man who forced folk into bed with
rock went on a three song Nashville Skyline tear with Tell Me It
Isn’t True, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, and Lay Lady Lay. I know Baby
Tonight wasn’t on Nashville Skyline, but it was recorded around the
same time with the same sound. Lay Lady was the standout from that
trio. On songs two and three Bob treated us to some nice harmonica
as he shuffled to center stage. Does anyone notice he doesn’t walk
anymore? He just shuffles along.
I’ve seen the band do better versions of Most Likely You Go Your
Way on this tour. The band sounded tight, but never really
extended their jams and improvised. However, Bob was sounding as
good as his worn down vocals allowed him and his keyboard work was
tremendous. Blind Willie McTell was a gem as usual. Dylan was
creating a timeless show with songs all rooted with a Nashville-
Mississippi Delta kind of feeling. Blind Willie was his first and
only song from the 1980’s. Every other song performed tonight came
from the years 1965-1970. With a captive internet audience
watching, he chose not to play anything from his latest recording
Love & Theft.
Watching the River Flow kept the peaceful mood of the show going. Some
of the employees in attendance were befuddled by the unusual journey
Bob was taking them on; so Bob served up a Ballad of a Thin Man just
for them. Bob called Norah Jones out to join him for a duet and let
out a hilarious growl. Norah was obviously a little nervous being in
the presence of the great one. Bob was smiling seductively at her,
trying to get her to relax. Anyway, they actually sounded really good
together; it was the vocal equivalent of beauty and the beast.
And then like a cold hard slap in the face it was over. Obviously
this was due to an allotted time commitment, but I was flying high
and it was the last thing I expected. What a great nine song show!
Luckily I was in my apartment with some friends. I had a fridge
stocked with Hoegaardens, 5.1 surround sound, and a vast arsenal of
live Dylan at my disposal. The party raged on for a couple of
hours. When Bob goes to Europe he should make the shows available
on a pay per view basis on the internet. I’ll drop $20 per concert
for that luxury.
If you examine the set list some really startling things jump out.
When’s the last time at one show he didn’t perform one of the
following: Like a Rolling Stone/ Highway 61 Revisited/ All Along the
Watchtower/ songs from Love and Theft? Compilations aside, he only
played songs from his five albums from 1965-69. This presentation
was a unique and timeless creation.
I think Bob’s performances are more inspired at indoor venues. Bob’s
at home when he has the red curtains and night sky background. I’ve
had enough of these Willie Nelson Minor League Ballpark Tours. Bob’s
not as focused when he’s playing for the locals and the crowd is not
as attentive. You got people shuffling in and out all night and
families bringing their young kids in for free. This is not suitable
material for family viewing. Bob’s at his best when he knows he has
his fans focused on him like he did tonight via the internet or when
he’s playing a small venue in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles.
page by Bill Pagel
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