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Review by Carsten Molt
As the hot afternoon sun beat on the 17,000 plus fans that congregated at the
Coca-Cola Starlake Amphitheater, Paul Simon launched into a very energetic
set of his catalog highlighting his classic albums "Graceland" and "Rhythm of the
Saints". The highlights of his set included "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
and "You Can Call Me, Al." Paul Simon's band was in impeccable form and not
a stray note could be found anywhere.
As the setting sun began to dip below the horizon, Paul Simon introduced
Dylan to the stage. Dylan looked very fit and healthy. He was dressed in his black
cowboy suit with white pinstripes. When the duo launched into "The Sounds of
Silence", the crowd roared their approval as Dylan and Simon actually managed to
sing in fine harmony. Dylan ended the song with a good harp solo as Paul Simon
practically beamed along side of him. After a rocking medley of " That'll be the Day"
and "The Wanderer", They ended their tandem set with an uneven but spirited version
of "Knocking on Heavens Door."
After a change of band equipment came those beautiful words, "Ladies and
gentlemen, please welcome Columbia recording artist, Bob Dylan"
"Somebody Touched Me" (acoustic) started the set off and i was surprised
at how well the bluegrass spiritual sounded in this spot. Dylan's voice was amazing
from the first note and the addition of Charlie Sexton gave this tune a real good
string band feel to the tune.
"Mr. Tambourine Man"(acoustic) was up next and fit perfectly in the #2
position. The moon was rising high in the sky and the stars shone as
Dylan's voice and intensity rose "To dance beneath the diamond sky with
one hand waving free" never seemed more appropriate. Dylan brought the
tune to a riveting climax with a spirited harp solo.
"Masters of War"(acoustic) It is amazing how night after night, tour after tour, Dylan
still manages to fill some tunes with as much conviction and fire as the first time he
sang them. This is one of those tunes. With a slightly slower arrangement than it
had this past February, it brought the recent atrocities in Serbia to the front of my
mind and i am confident that i was not the only one.
"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"(Acoustic) Larry Campbell sat down at the
pedal steel and for the first time, i missed Bucky Baxter. Taking nothing away from
Campbell's playing but it lacked the dynamic playing that colored many Dylan tunes
over the past several years. Dylan assumed lead guitar duties on the song giving
Charlie Sexton his first time to hold the rhythm steady. On past tours, the tunes
have lost some momentum when Dylan would begin a guitar solo. The addition of
Sexton allowed Dylan to take a lead without forsaking any of the song's rhythm.
"Baby Blue" was nicely played and Dylan took a couple of tasty leads during the
"Tangled Up In Blue"(Acoustic) Another of Dylan's chestnuts that has
gone through many changes since it's first airings more than 20 years ago. This
version was not one of it's better ones. The band seemed to be confused after the
verses whether to jam or not. Dylan smiled widely and laid down some very good
bluegrass notes before saving the tune with a harmonica band-aid that
brought the band back into a snaky groove on which they could hang
until Dylan decided to end the tune abruptly. I should mention that we
did get the "She lit a burner on the stove" verse.
"All Along The Watchtower" The electric set began with a ferocious rendering of
the "John Wesley Harding" classic that raged on and on. Dylan ripping off blistering
solo after solo. Dylan played lead on almost all the tunes allowing Sexton to
play rhythm while Larry mostly added color and melody parts to the mix. This was
a great version with Dylan's vocals again clear and up front.
"Simple Twist of Fate" i am pretty burned out on this tune. It received little reception
from the crowd who seemed to take the song as a breather after the "Watchtower"
rocker. It was well-played as usual.
"Silvio" i know that many fans have tired of this song long ago but it seemed to have
gained a new sense of direction and purpose. Dylan really leaned into the vocals and
guitar playing with conviction. Charlie Sexton took his only lead solo of the night and
seemed very unsure of himself at times but he has big shoes to fill so that is to be
expected. i remember how terrified Larry Campbell looked the first time i saw him
with Dylan. "Silvio" went on and on this evening. Every time it seemed to wind down,
the tempo would accelerate to top speed again.
"Not Dark Yet" Dylan played the only "Time Out of Mind" song of the evening. I was
hoping for "Highlands" but it was not to be.(Sorry, Anders)We were treated to a
slow burning rendition of "Not Dark Yet" that allowed Dylan to dig deep into his bag
of nuances and give every word it's own feeling of light and shadow.
"It's too hot to sleep" seemed like appropriate words for the night.
This was probably the highlight of the show for me.
"Highway 61 Revisited" Another smoking version of the warhorse got the crowd on
it's collective feet again. Dylan roared the lyrics out with amazing phrasing without over
singing or slurring any of the words. He laid out blazing lead guitar lines while the
band raged on behind him. After several smoking lead solos from Dylan, he ended the
tune with a wave to Kemper which stopped the band on a dime.
"Like a Rolling Stone" was the first encore and was well played. Larry Campbell and
Charlie Sexton sang strong harmony on the chorus. The crowd was very into the tune
and while i enjoyed it, Bucky Baxter emotional pedal steel playing was truly missed
‘It Ain't Me, Babe"(acoustic) i was not looking forward to this but it was nicely played
and brought a great ovation from the crowd. Dylan put his guitar on his amp and
put on a nice display of harmonica playing. He played the crowd excellently during the
harp solos feeding on their cheers. Dylan was very animated during the solos and i
finally saw the similarities that people make between him and Charlie Chaplin.
"Not Fade away" The house lights came up and Dylan brought the house down wailing
simultaneously on guitar and vocals sending waves of cheering through the crowd.
A great rendition of a great song.
The houselights stayed up and the video monitors were turned off but as we turned to
leave, Dylan and co. came back on stage again. Dylan was now wearing his white
Stetson and slowly the houselights dimmed again.
"Blowing in the Wind"(acoustic) While not on my lists that i longed to hear, it was
well played and the crowd went nuts, of course. Again the harmony singing was
great and Dylan seemed to make a point to sing with Sexton and Campbell and to
not drown them out. A song ending bow and a broad smile and Dylan left to a
Overall, Probably the best Dylan show I've seen. His vocals were strong and true
throughout the show and his guitar playing has never sounded better. Instead of
blasting out soaring leads on his harmonica, Dylan seems to play more to color
the songs than propel them along as he seemed to do at times in the past.. He
seemed in great spirits and was smiling broadly throughout the show. Dylan just
seems to get better and better. If you get the chance to see him, you'll understand
what i mean.
Sorry for the length but when it comes to Dylan, i tend to go on and on.
Review by David Berry
With the stage almost dark, Dylan and band erupted with the lights to
Somebody Touched Me and than immediately afterwards clearer than a
nights sky a, "thaaaaank you veeeeeery much ladies and gentlemen".
I was knocked out. I had not seen Dylan on this current tour but after
seeing him in Nashville earlier this year I couldn't imagine how he and his
band could give a better concert. I would have to say, thaaaaank you
veeeeeery much Mr. Dylan.
Earlier in the evening Dylan had joined Simon on stage to The Sounds
of Silence. With both playing acoustic and a pace that was haunting
and almost cat and mouse they eerily wove through the song with their
voices. Dylan waiting almost too long to join in on the words, the interplay
of their two distinct voices. The two icons of the 60's stretching their
trademarks into the turn of the century. So there on a hill in the middle
of rural farmlands those guys those guys belting out those tunes that
helped shape a different generation. Very coooool!
Like kids at a school play Dylan and Simon had more fun than I could
have imagined as they hammed it up on That'll Be The Day/The Wanderer.
Than the two off them finished Simon's set with the raggaeish version of
Knockin'. I thought it was pure fun for a summer's night in mid July.
Back to Dylan's set. As Dylan and band headed into Tambourine it
occurred to me that I had never heard his voice sound sooooo gooood
and clear. As he reached for his harp and played he looked like I
remembered him years ago. Mr. Dylan was himself in blowing that harp,
his other hand extended towards the audience as if gesturing to both
the music and the audience. So ' Dylanesque. Yet so engaging. As
his voice shaped the evening I had the sense that this was more than
just another concert on the never-ending tour. As opposed to just
playing he was performing. His voice on Baby Blue, Twist of Fate and
Not Dark Yet was absolutely without a doubt the beat I have ever heard.
Clearly he seemed to be enjoying the audiences adulation as he said,
"You all are sooooo very kiiiiiiind".
His electric was just as powerful as his acoustic tunes. The man clearly
likes to play electric. As they concluded Highway 61, Dylan and band with
their guitars were lined up like a chorus line just belting out that tune for
all they were worse. Dylan at his veeeery electric finest.
Then the unexpected. At the end of the 3-song encore they walked off the
stage after Fade Away. The lights went down and the audience urged him
back. To my surprise Dylan and his band came back out. As they have
usually finished with Fade Away I thought the show was over. With white
cowboy hat on and Blowin' In The Wind floating in the air it was a very
fiiiine way to end the evening.
Review by Mark Rothfuss
This was my third Bob show at Star Lake in the last 4 years, and it was also
the best of the 3. Worth the 7 hour drive up, and then some. Actually as I
was sitting there watching "the master," it could have very well been my all
time favorite. The acoustics were nice, the weather was perfect, the crowd
was pumped and Bob was in a great mood. In fact, he's been so consistently
excellent lately that every new show I am lucky enough to see, seems a
little better than the one before. Which is always surprising especially
after Cincinnati last week. I thought any big outdoor show would be a slight
let down from the intimacy of Bogart's...but NO SIR! Bob and company were
in top form.
Let me begin with a few notes on Paul Simon's performance. I'm not a big
Paul Simon fan, but I've always acknowledged that he was a good performer.
And he is. It was quite pleasant to see him open for Bob. I really enjoyedthe rearranged versions of Diamonds, Call me Al, Me and Julio, and Bridge
over troubled waters. And their duets were, contrary to what i've read,
quite nice. I did not realize how small a guy Paul is until Bob stood next
to him. I kept thinking Bob was on stage with a little kid. Paul's t-shirt
and ball cap didn't help this feeling much either. Anyway, Sounds of Silence
was really tight, well-timed, and in-sync in comparison to many of the tapes
i've heard. Perhaps, it was my favorite performance of the night. Bob was
much clearer in the mix than Paul, for a change, and he really nailed all
the verses and the harp solo. In my opinion, it was Bob's song on this
particular night. On the medley, though, Bob sorta lost it and just mumbled
along as Paul sung the songs. But Bob regained control in time for the funky
new KOHD. I got a big kick out of the free versing at the end...the whole
"but you cant come in" thing. After it was all said and done, Paul sort of
bumped into Bob, and Bob ripped off his guitar and motioned as though he was
gonna hit Paul. Of course, it was all in jest! They seem to be getting
Now on to the main event! Mr. Dylan and band appeared on stage after what
seemed like only a few minutes and lit in to a rollicking and fun "Somebody
Touched Me." Bob was dressed in a black suit and a skinny black tie with a
white silk shirt. I really, really love these gospel openers. Bob was clear,
crisp and articulate and the band was on fire. In addition, the sound system
at Star Lake was state of the art which accentuated the brilliance of his
performance. Next we got a relatively upbeat version of Mr. Tambourine Man.
Bob was already deep down in the groove and played a phenomenal harp solo at
the end. The vocals were a little rough but the crowd went nuts! Masters of
War, on the other hand, was sung beautifully! Hell, PERFECTLY!! I mean very
delicate and very articulate. The menacingly stark style of this tune
provided sharp contrast to the lovely, and lighthearted MR. T. Man. "Its all
over now baby blue" was okay...kind of a low point. I've heard better
versions, but then again i've heard worse. It was very, very slow though and
sung with a moderate amount of focus. Ok, now for the zillionth time...TUIB.
But a little different. We got the "mind was slippin' away" verse and a
really intense closing harp solo. He was really singing out on the
verses...you could hear his voice standing way out in front of the music. So
as long as you want to play it Bob, I am very happy to hear it.
After 5 acoustic tunes, Bob strapped on his electric axe for a thunder
cracking, lightning bolt version of "Watchtower." Charlie remained acoustic
and opened the song with the easily recognized riff. Bob actually let out a
quick howl on the "wind began to howl" verse. The great new arrangement
makes me glad to see it back in the set list. However, Silvio could have
stayed on the retired list for a little longer. Nothing new, just the same
old barn-burning-crowd-pleaser. Wedged in between the two rockers was a
sweet and pensive rendition of "Simple Twist." What can I say? It was just
sublime. Very well done! Next, we were blessed with the best live version
of "Not Dark Yet" this boy has ever heard. I've read a number of reviews
that say it has been done similar to the album. But at Star Lake it was even
better than the album version. Bob was delivering some of the best vocals
ever. He would also do little knee lunges between lines to add a little more
drama to the song. Within a matter of seconds Bob moved from the gentle and
stately beauty of NDY to a blistering and heart pounding HWY 61. He was
growling and showing his top teeth like a ravenous wolf! My ears are still
After the cheers died down I heard the opening lick to "LARS." Ive never
been very impressed with the loose and unfocused live versions ive heard,
but tonight's was tight! Way more focused than the Bogart's rendering. It
was loud and in your face. But very sly and carefully phrased. Bob would
scream one "How does it feel" then whisper the subsequent one. He was also
doing a lot of that trademark "catch-up" stuff. He'd start slow then quickly
fire out the remainder of the verse in a stream of sharp,single syllables.
The bright stage lights on the chorus also provided an extra degree of
intensity. The crowd went from standing (which most did for the entire show)
to floating 10 feet off the ground after this song. The next encore was "It
aint me, babe." Lovely verses, rambling chorus! As I saw him turn around, I
knew it could only mean one thing...harp solo! Oh, and what a beautiful solo
it was. He was hamming it up big time. So for anybody who thinks he forgot
how to play harmonica, get a tape...this song alone should "change your way
of thinking." Without leaving the stage, Bob switches guitars and launches
in to another rocking "Not Fade Away." SOLID!! This song put the audience in
the clouds! Now, Bob leaves for an unusually long break...so long in fact
that a number of people began filing out to their cars. However, I had faith
that he would be back and back he was. This time sporting his white stetson
hat. He said goodbye to the thousands of adoring fans with a soft and
touching "BITW." A lot of Petroleum distillate (lighter fluid) was burned
up during this song...I gazed back at the packed lawn of Star Lake and it
looked like ...errr, a "lake of stars." What was supposed to be a "quick fix
show", after Bogart's, turned into a very memorable evening. My brother and
I stayed up the whole 7+ hours home reflecting upon the raw brilliance of
Mr. Bob. And I will probably continue to reflect for weeks to come. Bob is
showing no signs of slowing down, which means we are all very lucky! I only
wish I could better explain how phenomenal last nights show was, but there
just aren't words.
Review by David Davis
Like always I will describe the venue, sights and scenes, the music speaks
for itself, and I am not a critic.
Although I have implemented a lifetime ban on attending concerts at venues
like Starlake, we had to provide an exemption due to Paul Simon. Carol said
we had to go to see her fav Paul to make up for all the stuff I have drug
her to over the years that she had no interest in seeing or hearing so....
Starlake is a outside, man-made commercial amphitheater, like Blossom, and
Polaris, and Riverbend and I suppose 50 or 60 other anonymous cookie cuter
venues. You pay a whole bunch for a ticket, then $7 to park, then get
treated like a criminal going in, strip searched, can't take in anything,
and have to buy their stuff. They do have great $5 french fries.
We were planning on buying lawn tickets at the window, but were treated to a
random act of kindness, and bought 2, $75 dollar face tickets in section 6
beside the soundboard for $40 each. Thanks to the freak lady from
Morgantown, who said she was a rainbow.
First let me say that the Paul Simon set was just amazing, Paul had a 9
piece band including a 4 person percussion (with our old buddy Steve Gadd)
section and horns. He had it all and it sounded like it. I don't know the
names of all the songs but it seemed like the usual stuff from the posted
setlists. Paul held a guitar, but did not play much. He had on a baseball
hat with Chinese stuff on it, the previous posters have mentioned the
bizarre hand movements, and he had them all tonight. I read in Acoustic
Guitar magazine that he has had some trouble with carpal tunnel and can't
make barre cords? Who knows? I will say this, the band was so amazing that
anyone who could karoke could have been a star. The percussion was beyond
language. The only other thing I will mention is that Paul went on at 7:45,
15 minutes early, and I think lots of folks were caught out. Down in our
$75 seats there were a lot of folks who looked like they hadn't been to a
live show for sometime, and they were either amazed, amused or appalled by
the large deadhead snake dancing/tripping/whirling dervish crowd. Lots of
people were bitching to event staff about paying a hundred dollars and
having people standing up dancing in front of them. Some bailed, most hung,
and it was fun to watch the interactions. Bob came out for the duo in his
normal black suit, but no tie, had on a checked shirt open at the collar,
cowboy boots with white trim.
The place seemed full, and at 9:50......" LAGPWCRABD"
Bob was dressed in a black suit, with white stripe down leg, white silk
shirt, and black tie, white belt, jacket open, having changed shirts from
the Simon duet. David had on a huge white cowboy hat, pulled way down on his
head like he was going to ride a bull.
No surprises in the setlist, lots of harp tonight. It takes some big balls
to follow the Simon show, but Bob was unaffected, got some harp on Mr..
On MOW the new guy played a Dobro. He is a big young guy, and looks like
Clark Kent used to look in the comics. I had not heard this treatment of
Baby Blue, very slow, with Larry on pedal steel.
On TUIB we missed Buckys mandolin, but got a harp solo where Bob sounded
like Stevie Wonder.
Got Watchtower, then Simple Twist with Larry back on Pedal, then Silvio.
Charlie and Larry traded lead lines, and it was good, Charlie brings some
strong vocals, and I liked them. We had Not Dark Yet, some intros, no joke,
them Highway 61. Again we got some wild leads by Charlie, and some call and
response action from Larry who was playing slide.
For an encore we got Rolling Stone, and a visit from a great looking water
girl, who made her rounds with cold water for all on stage. It Ain't Me
featured a long harp solo, and Bob was mugging and carrying on. Finished up
with NFA, with the crowd beating out the rhythm on the chairs, Bob grabbed
up a Stetson hat while leaving the stage, and wore it during Blowin. The
band is different without BB, but Charlies guitar sounds good and he can
Good show, go see Paul Simon.
Review by Matt
Last night I witnessed something truly amazing. The Concert Began approx.
7:45 with Paul Simon Coming out to Bridge over troubled water. People were
still filtering to their seats which seemed distracting but nonetheless he
was powerful. My friends and I had Pavilion seats, which was great but
several people around us wanted to do nothing but sit and complain about
those who stood. I was nervous that this attitude would carry over to Bob's
set. I couldn't have been more wrong. When Bob hit the stage to play with
Paul, The place came unglued. From that point on Bob played a inspired set .
He started with Somebody touched Me and continued the whole night, to play
the classics wonderfully arranged. Bob was really enjoying the crowd and the
atmosphere. He danced the whole night, and played the harmonica better than I
have ever heard him play it before. His voice was clear and it felt like
every song he was singing personally for you. I feel Like Bob has been
reborn, his music is sharper and more potent than I think it ever was.
On a personal note, a story of something that happened last night that I
feel proves Bob Dylan's spirituality and aura. We had the wonderful pleasure
of running into 3 Beautiful young ladies from our hometown. We tailgated with
them a talked about Dylan for a hour or so before the show. These ladie's
Father had passed away unexpectedly 2 weeks previously. He was a policeman
and a Giant Dylan fan. Dylan was actually playing at his funeral. They were
using His tickets. Well somehow we made it down front to the V.I.P section
where the ladies met gentleman who somehow got these ladies backstage.
The youngest, an 18 year old sweetheart, suddenly was onstage pouring water
for Bob and the Band, My buddies and I were amazed and awe struck. At the
conclusion of the concert.The girls came out from behind the stage and told us
what had happened. One of the roadies let them fill the water and watch the
rest of the set form the side of the stage, where Bob had blown a kiss and
winked a the 3 gorgeous girls. At the end of the show he came over covered in
sweat and hugged them all and said "thank you for coming to my show" and
mentioned he needed support from people like them. For these young ladies
to have worked their way from lawn seats to pavilion to V.I.P to meeting
Bob Dylan was a miracle. You have a better chance of finding a needle in a
haystack as you did getting backstage last night. We all believed that their
father was looking down on them almost guiding it to happen. It was almost
like it was Bob's way of thanking him for being a fan without every knowing
him or that he has passed away. Well, Maybe Bob Dylan is linked up with a
higher power, or maybe old Bob is really immortal.
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