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Review by Peter Stone Brown
First off, let's get one thing straight geographically. When Bob Dylan
plays Camden, New Jersey, he's really playing Philadelphia. The E Centre,
an essentially hideous venue for a number of reasons is one river away
from Philadelphia, a quick five-minute ferry ride. And so as fate would
have it, Bob Dylan played Philly just as it was being invaded by its first
political convention in over 50 years. Yes the Republicans were having
their somewhat overblown party in one of the country's staunchest
Democratic cities and Philly's been building to a fever pitch for
practically the entire month of July.
Dylan's appearance was barely mentioned in the press, a stupid sarcastic
pan in one of the alternative weekly, and a decent preview in a major
daily, while the other alternative weekly (which blared a huge "Go Home!"
front page with a cartoon of a sanitation worker sweeping up elephant shit
underneath. The Convention and Visitor's bureau was none too happy about
that. Major streets are closed, flags are everywhere, traffic is
terrible, protestors setting up homeless tent camps on Muslim parking
lots, the national guard and stage police hiding out on local college
campuses and the thing doesn't even start for two days. At the E Centre,
I wasn't allowed to bring the soft pretzel I was eating inside.
And Dylan, compared to every other show on this tour, came out late, at
7:27, and the place was not anywhere near being filled, though it ended up
being full by the end of Dylan's set. The yellow-shirted security guards
were quite present, looking up the aisles of seats for what I'm not sure,
either tapers or dope smokers.
The audience stood up as the band came on stage led by jump=suited roadies
who happened to be women, and Bob blazed into "Duncan and Brady," his
voice strong, confident, the band remarkably sure. And then, "Song To
Woody," but wait, there's no Larry playing and no Charlie playing, and no
bass and no drums, they're all standing there, holding their instruments,
and its is Bob Dylan totally solo, just his voice and guitar for the first
verse, and then they all kick in right on "Hey hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote
you a song," and the girl in front of me starts shimmying and clapping her
hands out of time. And then a rocking "Desolation Row," and even though
this song has been played quite frequently this tour, at this show it was
never more appropriate with the circus being in town, complete with blind
commissioners in a trance, and restless riot squads who need somewhere to
go. And Dylan was spitting out the words, "I know them, they're quite
And then one of the first surprises of an evening fairly fully of them, a
beautiful, intensely gorgeous "Ring Them Bells."
"Ring them bells, ye heathen
>From the city that dreams," and the guys behind me were having a
conversation, and the security guys are still looking up and down the
aisles and people are coming in.
"Oh the lines are long
And the fighting is strong
And they're breaking down the distance
Between right and wrong"
"Oh the lines are long
And the fighting is strong
And they're breaking down the distance
Between right and wrong."
And I'm wondering if anybody but me, and the three heavy-into-Dylan people
I 'm with and the six others I know are there is really listening.
And then it's into "Tangled," and now two other guys are having a big
conversation and they're both twice as big as I am, so I just shoot them
my Michael Corleone stare and don't say anything and try to hear
"Searching For A Soldier's Grave," and wham they're into "Country Pie,"
which is over way too fast, and then it's into "Senor," and again I'm
wondering, why tonight.
"Can you tell me where were headin'?
Lincoln County Road or Armageddon?"
This song is 22 years old, and there is a trainload of fools bogged down
in a magnetic field, and the gypsies with a broken flag were busted last
week by License and Inspections, and this place still don't make sense to
me no more, except it ain't a dream no more, it's the real thing, and
three girls in front of me are eating a Domino's pizza mad talking about
something, but it sure didn't have anything to do with what was happening
on the stage, if they were even aware there was a stage, let alone
musicians on it, not to even factor in who those musicians were.
And then into "Memphis Blues Again," the first real why is he doing this
song of the night and he didn't even sing the Senator verse, but it led
into an astonishing rendition of "Dignity" with Kemper doing the drum part
right off the record and then the band is making strange noises and
Dylan's sort of wandering around, and there's almost feedback guitar
happening and I'm wondering just which song it's gonna be and, "I'm
beginning to hear voices" WHAM! "and there's no one around" WHAM!
And it's different and it's strange, and a helluva lot better live than
any CDR, and maybe the original arrangement wasn't quite used up yet, but
tonight on the Camden Waterfront this version is SMOKING.
"Up over my head nothing but clouds of blood."
And then the band intros, this time with some David Kemper joke that I
can't remember, and then "Leopard-Skin Pill-box Hat," and then they just
stand there for a good long time, and my friend, Fielding is watching it
and cracking up hysterically, and they're back and it's hits time, "Like A
Rolling Stone," a sad, slow "Tambourine Man," and I'm not all that
entranced by the way he does it now, except he really *is* singing in that
way that only he can and "To dance beneath the diamond sky" tonight really
is echoing down the foggy ruins of time, except now we're ripping down
"Highway 61," and they're putting bleachers in the sun, and all of a
sudden, we're back where we started, a folksong or one that will surely be
one a hundred years from now, and then we're back on the ferry looking at
the Philly skyline where this night any way there's four-million-and-forty
red white and blue shoestrings.
"Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times." --Bob
Dylan Peter Stone Brown e-mail: email@example.com
Review by Kevin Briggs
Honestly, Camden was not one of my more favorite conerts. It was great,
but was not wholly consistent. Dylan sang well, the band played well, the
crowd was okay, but I was just having a hard time with this one, at least
This was my seventh Dylan concert in six years, my fifth in two years,
it was definetly not one of my favorites. Regardless, he was still great,
and he still proved why he is the greatest.
At 4:00 Tonya and I left West Chester and were Camden bound. We arrived
in Camden at about 5:20 and were immediatly made aware of the parking
difficulties. Once we were in the area of the E-Center, we must have
driven around the block five times before deciding on where to park.
Camdenites were trying to make a buck off of us in their lots, lot
attendants weren't accepting any more cars, and parking officials were
becoming frustrated with the disorganization. Once we decided on a lot,
at about 6:00, we rested for about a half hour, had a couple of beers, and
made our way to the ampitheatre.
Dylan came out at about 7:20. From our seats, I could see Kemper standing
with the roadies at approximately 7:00. I got a little excited and
thought his white cowboy hat was Dylan's for a second. The amphitheater
was mostly filled by the time Dylan came out. We were sitting at the very
back, so our section was not completely filled, but most of the sections
closest to the stage were. As has been previously reported, the Leshes
were overwhelming at times. They assumed the attitude that it was a Lesh
concert and that Dylan is some sour-voiced loser who only deserved some
mild respect because of his past excellence. Many of them didn't even
seem to care if Dylan was playing or if canned bluegrass music was playing
over the loudspeaker. The band walked out and while they were picking up
their instruments Dylan was announced. They opened with:
Duncan and Brady
This was my first hearing of this song. I have been reading other
people's reviews for quite some time, but had never gotten to hear him
sing it before.
It was a great song with very nice harmonies. As has been noted before,
seemed especially significant when Dylan sang the line about being, "on
the job too long." Although his voice was clear and the band was very
tight, he still seemed somewhat flat.
Song To Woody
This was an early highlight. Not only was this the best version I have
ever witnessed live, this was also the best version I have ever heard. It
proved to be just as relevant now as it ever was. When the song was over,
I was convinced that Dylan believed everything he had just sang. It was
moving and his voice was super-clear. Very close to me, two guys were
dancing and really enjoying themselves, but a group of baby-boomers behind
me yelled for them to sit down. This was funny. I just received a copy
of Acoustic Thunder (circa 76) and on a few songs I can make out some
people yelling the same thing. The two guys, rightfully so, stayed
standing (getting their 90$ worth) and some security guy that looked like
Slater from "Saved By The Bell' came over and begged them to sit down.
They never sat, but they left the section. A few people in front of me
stood up and turned around laughing at Slater, but eventually they sat
This was the same version as I have been hearing on tapes and cd's from
recent concerts. The band was tight and Dylan was singing clearly. I
didn't keep track of the exact verses, but he left a few out. It was a
generally average performance with some nice vocal delivery.
Ring Them Bells
This was a treat indeed. Dylan sang this convincingly and the band was
tight as hell. From where I could see, some people who hadn't been paying
much attention were jolted by this one. Some of the Leshes even
recognized it. By this time the amphitheater was mostly full, and the
entire 100 (front) section remained on their feet.
Tangled Up In Blue
Most people recognized this one, but not nearly as many resonded as I
thought they would, and a few of the Leshes got up and did the arm wiggle
thing they do. It was cool, but I saw them dancing the same way through
the portion of the Lesh-set that I watched. I don't know, it seems like
they don't really dance sometimes, they just move to express different
levels of approval. I mean, why would a Lesh, who apparently dislikes the
meer idea of someone like Dylan (someone who to them sings the same songs
night after night and never changes) really give a crap about Tangled Up
In Blue? I went to the bathroom after a little while. I've heard the
song so many times, and the Leshes were annoying me.
Searching For A Soldiers Grave
One of my favorites of the night. It was the first time I ever heard it,
ever. Dylan seemed to really care about this one. A great song that has
some sweet harmonies.
A rocking but canned version of the song. By canned I mean tightly
packaged and an imitation of something that is really good. As was
customary for the whole night, Dylan's vocals were great! However, the
song did little for me, and I was one of the few who seemed to actually
know and care what it was.
Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)
One of the highlights of the night for the band. I haven't heard the
Drifters Escape that they have been doing, but when I first heard the
guitars slicing through some great grooves, I thought I was finally going
to get to hear it. I even said to Tonya. "It's Drifter's Escape!" I was
It was a great version of Senor that I haven't heard and that a lot of
Leshes even seemed to appreciate - very tight and smooth. I think I
obtained a true understanding of how tight Dylan's band is after hearing
Stuck Inside of Mobile
The same version they've been playing since at least February 1999. The
Leshies loved it, most people were happy about it, some people didn't
care. It was played more slowly than I have heard on some tapes.
At this point in the concert, Dylan had not played anything too up-tempo
and the cowd was really starting to show it. People were warm as always
(even the Leshes), but it was really looking to me like Dylan had lost his
crowd and that the Leshes had smothered the tour. With the next song
Dylan began his reassertion of divinity.
This is one I haven't seen on the set lists recently and hope to see more.
he captured that, "Things have Changed" groove for it. If he would put
out a new album, which I hear he is preparing for, "Dignity" and "Things
Have Changed" would definetly work very well together in their current
Cold Irons Bound
This song was the hammer that pounded down the bolts. From here on out
the concert took on a whole new life. I don't know if it was because it
got darker out and more people started paying attention, or if the Leshes
finally started feeling the effects of their music aids, or if Dylan and
the band decided to kick it into overdrive, but this song smoked! It was
an arrangement I had not heard before, and was definetly a blues based,
storming triumph. This one changed the pace of the concert.
Leopard Skin Pill-Box hat
A great song to follow "Cold Irons" with. By this point, Tonya and I had
given up on the bitchy baby-boomers behind us and headed out to the lawn.
I met a nice fellow named Ted who hadn't seen Dylan since 75 or so. He
was shocked to hear that Charlie used to play with Double Trouble and that
Tony used to play bass for the SNL band. We both watched with big smiles
as Dylan pulled off the best lead guitar I have ever seen or heard him
play. Ted came to see Dylan, so he was enthusiastic about the solo, and
he also persuaded me to go and listen to some John Prine.
Not as crazy as I expected after hearing all of the hype, but definetly
notable. Dylan and the band stood facing the crowd as if they were
saying, "take yourselves a long look, people." Some rumors are
circulating that this is Dylans final tour. I don't know if they are
true, and I hope and expect that they aren't, but this formation thing
would certainly make sense if it were. Larry was the first to break it
up; Dylan lifted his Gibson with his right hand and Larry just folded into
the middle of the stage and they all walked off. Tony seemed to be the
last one to break.
Things Have Changed
My first full length hearing of this song. It was very cool.
Surprisingly, many people in the crowd seemed to recognize it. Ted said
he hadn't heard it yet, and he proceeded to tell me that he enjoys Dylan
more now than he ever did in the 70's. He also remarked that Dylan was
the reason that he started playing guitar when he was a kid. Ted is
probably the coolest fan I have met at a Dylan concert.
Like A Rolling Stone
A cool version, very similar to the Stuggart, Germany version I have
heard. In fact, it was so similar that I decided to go to the bathroom.
While it rocked, Dylan was obviously patronizing us.
Mr. Tambourine Man
This is a song that I love hearing Dylan sing so much that I always enjoy
It was a great version, and Dylan only flubbed one line I think. Every
he sings, "And take me disappearing," that's all i need to hear. His
voice was impecable(sp?).
Blowin' In The Wind
This was very moving. It's a song that i never downplay just because he
never considered it one of his own favorites. The harmonies were so
powerful. It was a great way to end the concert. Whenever they sang,
"wind," the band held the last, "i" extra long. Tonya was crying after
the first chorus.
After Blowin', the band stood for a short time in what looked like a
second formation. They were definetly doing something. After about 20
minutes of 10 seconds of this they left and did not return, despite the
To sum up, the concert proved to be better than it started out. The
E-Center is a beautiful place, although the parking sucks and the lawn is
half dried mud. The Leshes were tolerable, but they were also a bit more
snooty than I remember them being last November. Both times I went to the
bathroom I overheard more than one person complaining that they couldn't
understand what Dylan was singing. At least once on the lawn I caught a
person shrugging his shoulders and laughing when Dylan was playing what I
know to be a standard. Strangely, I knew all of the songs that I heard
Maybe Dylan fans are more accpeting to other musicians. I mean, we joy in
Dylan just coming out and delivering the songs in the way that he feels.
We don't demand a certain something from him. Then again, I guess we all
have our specific expectations. Leshes want some Dead spinoffs and Dylan
fans want Dylan to at least be into it. It's all the same, just
As a final note, I hope this isn't Dylan's last tour. I've heard a few
rumors on rec.music.dylan, but i certainly hope he will give us more. It
must be hard for him though. If he doesn't care, he has to act like he
does for every concert. If he cares, he has to find a way to let us know
in a convincing way each time. Most of us like to think that we, and
Dylan, don't give a crap about what others think; only in our case, not
Dylan's, it may not matter either way.
Review by Josh
I was up in Scranton Tuesday and I had no complaints with that
one, but his enthusiasm beaming throughout each verse of every
song during a fantastic set was more than could have been expected.
I was in the third row and before the show started we met a few
cats behind me from West Chester, PA who were as excited as I was to
be in his presence. They too were up in Scranton, as well as Jones Beach,
New York and have ambitions to be in Columbia, Maryland and Stanhope.
Unfortunately I leave for Detroit tomorrow and will miss the final two
shows. At any rate there was a certain electricity in the air, an anxious
but calm grace over the crowd (which was far more impressive than
Scranton). The grace was delayed by Bob taking an unusual amount of time
to appear, but at approximately 26 after seven down went the lights and
out came the man led in with the members from the band. Right away he
began with Duncan and Brady, an obvious opening, yet he was so meticulous
with the words and had so much energy in the delivery. I knew he was on
from the start. And then one which I was hoping so badly for...Song to
Woody. As by happenstance on Tuesday in Scranton the security guards were
tougher on gate crashers than I expected and I had to be clever to make my
way into the venue and eventually down to the front and in doing so could
not gear my concentration to Dylan's first two songs which coincidentally
were the same as the opening two tonight. So thankfully the karma was
with me and I was in full concentration for this beautiful tribute to
Woody Guthrie. Desolation Row was third and over the many occasions I
have heard this performed live no time was better than this.
It was such a bold statement tonight that I felt the condemnation Bob
upon certain beings when he originally wrote the song and I think Bob felt
that condemnation tonight as well. He was not just re-singing the
song...he was making his declaration of stance and ensuring it was still
strong and true. The fourth song of the evening, the first of many
delightful surprises. Ring Them Bells...performed only once before on
this tour was delivered with such compassion and peace...it was mellow and
gracious. A real treat for those who can appreciate its beauty. Tangled
Up in Blue came as no surprise yet it still will never be overplayed. Bob
did his customary realignment of the verses as the shadows towered in the
background, nonetheless it brought the E-Center crowd to their feet and
brought Bob to the top of his toes. Searching for a Soldiers Grave was
the last acoustic song in the set before turning electric for a while.
Country Pie was jammin' and throughout this song as with all the rest Mr.
Dylan displayed pure energy and tireless emotion...he was having a blast
man, he was having a grand ol' time. Next came the next treat. Señor
(Tales of Yankee Power). This was so unexpected and so well recepted.
Each cry of Señ-or was striking and potent and again he had a great time
performing this Street Legal classic. However, he was not finished with
the magic in his bag. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues
Again was electric and the crowd loved bellowing the chorus along with Bob
who actually cracked a few smiles while he was jammin between vocals. And
then he unveiled what I thought was the highlight of the evening.
Dignity, not heard before on this summer tour, rang through our ears like
a Psalm. Those who dug the MTV Unplugged version would have adored this
version. Bob totally played off the crowd tonight and if they were not as
enlightened as they were I am not certain he would have played all these
gems. And if the crowd was not really in to it and he played them anyway
they would not have been delivered with the same passion that we all saw
tonight. Cold Irons Bound, a slow methodical studio recording on Time Out
of Mind was transformed tonight into a type of grand rock ballad. He was
magnetic and inspired and truly at enjoyment with himself and his band
members during this as well as Leapord-Skin Pill-Box Hat with which he
closed the set. After he and the band assembled for their expected
"formation" the Camden, New Jersey crowd was on their feet at maximum
capacity screaming at the top of their lungs for more. In Scranton, PA
they were there for Phil. Here in Camden, this was Bob's night. He came
back out for an encore blasting right in to Things Have Changed. And then
on to the anthem, which can never be heard too many times or respected
enough...Like A Rolling Stone.
It was magnificent and unforgettable...again. And what I considered the
last of the dust in the magic bag, Mr. Dylan broke into the most eloquent
of self-portrayals. Mr. Tambourine Man which could not have come at a
more perfect time was cast upon my ears in a manner that was undeniably
perfect. And if that was not enough, the electric harp was unveiled for
the only time all evening for a nice 3 minute run. It was awesome. Going
back for one more electric run, Highway 61 was fantastic and the crowd's
reaction was the only energy that came close in comparison. And finally
to bring this extravagant evening to a close Blowing in the Wind was so
smooth and true to those who were seeing Bob for the first, second or
100th time. I felt a hint of relief when the first words were echoed for
this was the first opportunity I had to bring my harp along. I was
blowing softly while Bob sang, and bending the hell out of it while he
strummed. It was quiet redemption for me who can now say "I played with
Bob Dylan"...whether he knew it or not. But you know...I like to think he
might have seen me. At any rate...hope you get to either of the next two
shows. Look forward to reading the reviews. Talk to you later. -josh
Review by John Pruski
Hey Y'all: Great Show, Great Formation, Great Encores, Great Reformation.
I've been excited all summer about getting off today from work and going
north to Philadelphia/Camden to see Bob Dylan. And what a totally great
(and rainless) show it was that we've just seen. Bob bouncing around,
the first East Coast Dignity in years, Charlie was burning it up tonight
.. Better yet, I'm going tonight to see Bob at MWP in nearby Maryland.
Today I feel like the luckiest man on God's green earth!
My day started uneventfully enough. I met my buddy Matt (from my late
1970's LSU daze in Baton Rouge) at our local record store at 11am and
drove the 3 hours to downtown Philadelphia where we played tourist and
saw the Liberty Bell et al. We headed across the Delaware River at
4:30 getting to the E Center in Camden at 5:15. This gave us time to
bum around the parking lot vendor tents before heading to the gates,
which opened just about 6 PM. Once inside I had a great time relaxing
and meeting Lisa and Alex and looking out across the river at the
Matt and I made it to our seats before 7pm for the show that started about
7:20. I've not seen Bob since Delaware (20 Nov 1999), his last show of
that truly great November tour, so I was way excited to end my Dylan
drought. Of course, we've all seen and studied the earlier June / July
2000 set lists, so I was really hyped about the prospect of (what's
becoming usual) our impending super show. The pretty full E Center
crowd was not disappointed.
Bob and his great band opened with Duncan, Woody, and Desolation Row.
These were not surprises but were all really great, and Duncan live in
person was new to me, as were several other songs tonight. Bells
(performed only once previously this tour) in the fourth slot was the
least-commonly performed acoustic song and was a real treat. No comment
after Bells, as opposed to the Baltimore 8 Nov 99 performance (also in
the fourth slot) of Bells. Then a great TUIB was followed by a superb
and mellow Soldiers Grave. The only time all night a large part of the
otherwise way enthusiastic crowd sat for a breather was for the few
minutes of Soldiers Grave.
The electric set was totally great and had truly super surprises and great
performances of both Señor and Dignity. Señor saw its second outing on
this tour and Dignity was a tour-debut. Actually tonight's Dignity was the
first East Coast performance of Dignity in years, and again was just
fantastic. The new stop-time arrangement of Cold Irons Bound is just so
jamming, I just love this new arrangement. The band was great as always,
but what really struck me tonight was that Charlie was simply burning it
up, he was just freaking fantastic tonight. And the post-show formation
and post encore reformation by the band is way too cute! The audience was
simply going nuts tonight, and with good reason.
After a completely fantastic show filled with rarities by our hero and
idol Bob Dylan, we played it safe (travel-wise) and split for DC before
Phil Lesh came on. Getting home well after midnight seemed early, even
though all-in-all it was a very long day.
And, I liked having Bob open. To me it was sorta like the 1970's when
Professor Longhair would play the first few shows of the night at
Tipitina's and then turn the night over to the younger crowd and another
band to carry on all night. I guess Lesh's show, that we did not stay
for, was great in it's own right. In any event, I'm really looking
forward to tomorrow's show, and this time I'll stay for Phil too. But
of course, I really only going out of my way for Bob. I'm glad he's
going way out of his way for us! Thanks again Bob and Band!
Souvenir-wise, the 14 X 20 inch Right Upside Your Head!! posters were
again $10. The bulk were colored bronze and purple, but I was lucky
enough to get one of the very few cooler-yet pink and yellow posters.
Of course tonight's show was in Camden, NJ at 7pm, albeit given on the
poster as Philadelphia, PA at 8pm. The Dylan Integrity T- were also
completely far out.
Tomorrow night I'm hoping for a performance of one of : Delia, Long
Black Veil, Lucky Old Sun, or The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest
and then I'd be blown away by the pipe dream encores of either House Of
The Rising Sun and She's About A Mover … but I'd be more than happy with
anything close to tonight's truly superb Camden show.
John Pruski, Arlington VA, 28 July 2000
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