Saratoga Springs, New York

Saratoga Performing Arts Center

July 21, 2013

[Schenectady Diamond Dan], [Steve], [Mo Ritz], [K. D.]

Review by Schenectady Diamond Dan

Americanarama rolled through Saratoga on the heels of a week of record 
breaking heat. After six consecutive 90 degree days, the people were 
ready for something cool to blow into town, and Americanarama was the 
remedy. My fashionably late arrival allowed me only a distant glimpse of 
first upper Ryan Bingham. Fortunately, what I could hear of them (he had 
a band) from the parking lot was nice, unfortunately by the time I was 
inside, it was over. Lots of room to move in the lovely Saratoga PAC 
grounds. The 13 dollar beers and $4.50 bottles of water were tempting, 
though I was happy to find several drinking fountains to freely stay 
hydrated. Row M in Section 7 turned out to be a very nice spot to
access the My Morning Jacket show. I had zero experience with them 
prior to this performance. I found them to be entertaining. Lots of guitar, 
and effects, as well as hair on that singer even though he put a black 
towel over his head about every other song, They received a good crowd 
response, than that singer raised a golden pig over his head, and it was 
time for another break. Wilco came on as I was out strolling the rear of 
the grounds where on the other side of things I could see the buses and 
laminated people walking about Americanaramaville. I remember back 
about 10 years ago when I was able to be a pretty heavy Dylan follower, 
Angelina from Brooklyn told me about her second favorite act, Wilco. 
They sounded really good to my ears, but when I heard em say were 
gonna bring out Garth Hudson, I beelined back inside as Long Black Veil 
was coming out strong with Garth on Accordian. Tweedy said something 
after LBV like accordions are dangerous but accordion players are not. 
Garth shedded the Accordian and moved behind a keyboard and wailed 
out the wild intro to CHEST FEVER, Price of admission was returned by the 
end of this one. Tweedy said after it I dont know how were gonna follow 
that. It was a serious contender for highlight of the night no doubt. Fast 
forward through break III to Lights out, Stu's noodle, annnnnnnnnnd ......
there off. Bob was out and kickin ass from the start. I forgot to remember 
who was playing guitar, seriously, it makes no difference at that point. I 
only noticed a change in sound at Beyond here lies nothing, just not as 
aggressive a style as it had been. Pretty much the rest of the songs to 
my ears sounded the same as there is not much use of the guitar as a 
solo instrument for some time now. As the night cooled down The band 
was hotter than a rocket, that big old moon shined like a spoon, and we l
et it no regretting it, Yeah some people left early, but who cares 
Americanaramaville was still there. Thanks Bob!!! And keep on keepin on.

Schenectady Diamond Dan


Review by Steve

We have seen Bob here at every turn since 1988. The four hour trip is
always worth it and tonight was no exception. We arrived late as planned
in time for Wilco. I was only familiar with their work with Billy Bragg
and came away a fan. These guys are really good. Especially enjoyed the
Band covers Long Black Veil and Chest Fever. Bob was on his game tonight.
The music was somewhat subdued, not very loud at all. Vocals were crisp
and clear, the hoarseness, which I'm still convinced he turns on and off
at will, was mostly on off tonight. The only song that fell flat for me
was Hard Rain's Gonna Fall, which sounded like a caricature of the
original and occasionally veered of into parody. A shame really. Was glad
to hear the new arrangement of Watchtower, as that song was sorely in 
need of some new life. Blind Willie McTell keeps getting older and older,
sounding more and more like Louie Armstrong's version of St. James
Infirmary. Well if you're gonna steal, steal from the best. Speaking of
stealing, Duquesne Whistle could use a little more Jelly Roll Morton. Live
it lacks the power of Tempest. One thing I noticed, the overall sound of
the band and music suffers from Dylan's piano playing. The band is sort of
on hiatus when he's at the piano, and let's face it he's no Nicky Hopkins.
Much better when he is front and center. The crowd was somewhat 
sparse to begin with and the early exodus began after Tangled Up In Blue. 
There loss. So how good was it? At the end my wife said  "we're going 
to Hoboken". To get her to go to New Jersey is really something.


Review by Mo Ritz

The AmericanaramA Festival charmed me at Saratoga Springs Performimg Arts
Center in Saratoga Springs New York on Sunday evening July 21st.   SPAC
all came about on a whim in February 1961, when a newspaperman Duane Le
Fleche got wind of the New York Philharmonic being enticed to take up its
summer residence in of all places, Vermont.  Mr. Newspaper Man  suggested
the NY Philharmonic stay in New York State and perform in Saratoga
Springs. Thanks to smart minded Locals and bipartisan leaders a consensus
was reached and Saratoga Spa State Park was chosen as the the site for the
summer residence of the NY philharmonic and NY Ballet.     Thank you for
smart minds.  In 1963 Saratoga Performing Arts Center was born.   Cool, as
it has become a decent venue.   ( Harry Belafonte was the
first non-classical performer to perform at SPAC, in 1967.  Would  have
loved to have seen that!  The Doors performed here in 1968... would have
loved to have seen that show too!  ! To put this place on the map  a
tradition of booking top pop and rock acts to the amphitheater (according
to Wikipedia) included Jackson Browne, The Pretenders, Santana, Tina
Turner, Guns N' Roses, Coldplay, Rush, KISS, Dave Matthews Band, Kings of
Leon, Aerosmith, Toby Keith, Train, Maroon 5, Ray LaMontagne, Pearl Jam,
Phish, John Mayer, Tom Petty, The Cars, The B-52's, Def Leppard, Heart,
Journey, John Mellencamp, Elton John, and Grateful Dead (1983 being
considered one of their classics).  I Miss The Grateful Dead more than I
can say...just saying.   However, there is no mention of Bob Dylan or The
AmericanaramA Festival....hmm.  I'm sure I've seen him here before.   SPAC
has gone through many a transformation and if you are lucky enough to
afford a trip to this neck of the woods seats are your best bet especially
if Dylan is on the bill as the lawn leaves you without a view as there
will be no Video screens and the upper balcony seating blocks any
possibility of a stage view from the lawn (in my humble opinion).    That
said, I was blessed to have obtained seats! 

After a 2 hour drive to SPAC I was ready for my third AmericanaramA
Festival and my date's  first.   I hadn't disclosed much about the show
to my date as to not give any preconceived notions of the event and to
allow for their own experience.  My date enjoyed every bit of it!
Ryan Bingham gave a good performance and low and behold my date found the
fiddler bringing on thoughts of Steve Wickham. A little chuckle for me. 
MMJ jammed it up but the sun was glaring down on us and so we took to a
picnic table to listen, even though my date wanted to go back to our
seats, he was a good knight.  MMJ Sounded  hot! Jim James is a natural!!!!
Back to our seats for Wilco.   I first encountered this band as an opener
for Neil Young and have been a fan ever since!  Thank you Neil !   Wilco 
changes guitars as often as the the weather changes in Upstate!   Love
that!  Suddenly there was a white haired man on stage and I turned to my
date and exclaimed:  it's Garth Hudson and then there was the
introduction!  Called it!   Long Black Veil with Garth on Accordion.  The 
highlight was an amazing and unexpected Chest Fever, (my dates favorite
song by The Band, how about that!) A very memorable performance.. .Hotter
than a firecracker on the Fourth of July !   And impossible to follow,
not!  Thank you Wilco!!! 

After a short walk around we were back to our seats for the legendary 
Bob Dylan.  Three times a charm !   Whose to say what makes an evening 
listening to a band play the same songs you just heard within the last 4 weeks?   
The weather, the venue, the alignment of the stars and the shape of the 
moon, fate, I don't know.  But tonight Mr. Dylan and his cowboy band 
offered up a good jam, with a new addition, guitar player:    Colin Linden.  
Bob Dylan is too sexy for a hat...and thank you for that!   If ever I could 
wish a music lover an evening of music I would wish for them:  Bob Dylan 
blowing his harmonica.   How does he do it? Sweet!   Mr. Dylan obviously, 
truly loves what he does and it was truly charming.   My favorites tonight 
were:  Things Have Changed, High Water For Charlie Patton, and Bind Willie 
McTell.  Thank you  Foot stopping Ryan Bingham, Jamming MMJ, Delightful 
Rockin' Wilco, and Charming  Song and Dance Man:  Bob Dylan (and your 
Cowboy Band! )  Thank you as well, to Mr. Le Flèch, The Rockefeller Bros. 
and all that had the insight to create this venue.  AmericanaramA Festival:  
Three times a charm! See you again for another venture of The 
AmericanaramA Festival, until then:  HAPPY TRAILS!  (now that 
would be an awesome closer, wink, wink.) 

Mo Ritz ;)


Review by K. D.

Since I was fortunate to find myself having to be in upstate New York over
the weekend that Dylan was playing in Saratoga, I of course made it my
business to ensure that I caught Bob.  Having been to the West Palm show
that kicked off the tour I knew pretty much the schedule of events and
arrived in time to Wilco.  As was the case in WPB, they did not
disappoint.  The highlight was of course Garth Hudson coming out on stage
and playing a few The Band numbers with Wilco.  This was truly
electrifyingly spectacular.  Of course running through my head was the
hope that Bob would do the same and jam with his old friend for a song or
two during his set - but I knew better - and it turns out no such thing
occurred.   The boys from Wilco were truly thrilled to be playing with
Garth and the crowd loved it and the crowd was buzzing by the end of the
Wilco set.

Dylan came out without any announcement as seems to be the new SOP - no
more sarcastic speech about being the voice of a generation - no more
Columbia Recording Artist Bob Dylan - just a little noodling and then into
Things Have Changed.  From the get go the voice was in good from and the
show opened strong.  Love Sick was next - as in WPB - a true highlight of
the show.  If one were make a bootleg of this tour it would surely be
named the Love Sick tour.  Great song and great performance.  High Water
was its usual self - have heard better versions - but still very good. 
Soon After Midnight was a nice change of pace - well sung in good voice. 
Early Roman Kings, also from Tempest, was a nice swampy blues jam. 
Duquesne Whistle was up next - enjoyed this tune in WPB but tonight it
seemed to be the weak link in the show.  Tangled followed - like the
version - Bob played with the lyrics and it was fun - crowd of course
liked it.  She Belongs To Me - truly love this song.  In the 10 slot was
Hard Rain, which was magnificent and cannot recall having seen live in the
past 10 years or more so I was happy to hear.   I do admit that I was
hoping for Desolation Row in this slot as Bob pulled it out a night or two
before.  Blind Willie McTell and Simple Twist were also sung in fine voice
- particularly happy to hear Blind Willie as it is another song I have not
seen live in quite some time.  Show wrapped with Summer Days, a song which
is hit or miss and this night was a miss but hey at least it wasn't
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum!  Up next was Watchtower, which was a crowd
pleaser. As the encore Dylan gave us Blowin' in the Wind, which like Blind
Willie and Hard Rain - I was so happy to hear live again after not having
heard for many years.

I would say the long and short of it is that Bob's voice is in very good
form - this despite the usual commercial critics falling back on the cheap
 and lazy"Dylan's voice" critiques.  The thought Colin Linden fit in well
with band and in fact may mesh better than Duke.  Bob had some nice piano
work as well.  I think of the two shows I have seen in this tour this was
the stronger show.  2 show - 19 songs with Saratoga featuring 5 different
songs from the West Palm show.  Go and see Dylan - and like I have had to
do on many occasions go to him if he doesn't come to you.



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