page by Bill Pagel
Review by Matthew Miller
Wow! What an incredible treat. This was my seventh Dylan show since í97 and I
stand by the fact that every time I see him his voice and stage presence improves.
Iíve never seen Dylan command an audience and lead his band like he did last night
at Darrien Lake (even from the Lawns, you could see the power he had).
He opened with an amazing rendition of "Maggieís Farm" which toook a few bars
before I could recognize it. Next he went into the beautiful
"Live Minus Zero/No Limit." Already I had two tunes which he hadnít been busting
out a lot and felt pretty lucky. His voice was soft and although he stumbled on
the lyrics during the second voice it was lovely. The band sounded great and I
was impressed with Freddy. "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" was very well received
by the audience and it was nice to see them getting into the new stuff. The crowd
in fact was phenomenal throughout as the predominantly "Dead-Head" crowd knew they
were witnessing magic.
I had heard "Mr. Tambourine Man" live before but never sung with as much passion
or verve and it stand out as being the only acoustic number of the set. It was
also the best performance of "Highway 61" Iíve ever seen. "This Wheelís on Fire"
was a great surprise though I was hoping for "Tears of Rage" which had popped up
a few times earlier on the tour. It seemed with Bob on piano he had a lot more
movement and freedom on stage and busted out the harp on more than half the set.
"Cold Irons Bound" began with a sizzling jam intro and took minutes before anyone
could identify the track which was smokiní.
The highlight of Dylanís set was for sure "Positively 4th Street" where all the
pain, hurt and angst he sung this with 37 years ago was still felt. It was solemn
and bitter and even sad. When he broke into "Honest With Me", the crowd really got
into it and when Dylan started dancing, I mean like really shaking a leg like Iíve
never seen before I freaked out. "Summer Days" was a great closer to the set as
that song never resonates more than when you listen to it on a summerís eve in
August. Bob Weir (who sat in for several numbers) was introduced before the tune
as "my friend Bob Weir" by Dylan and he had a rocking guitar solo.
They left the stage to thunderous applause before returning with "Rainy Day Woman"
which got the crowd into a frenzy and rocked very hard.
This set only got me more excited for the Dylan and the Dead session, which did
not disappoint. Dylan came out earlier than usual and busted into THE BEST
"Tangled Up in Blue" I have ever heard. Then he put on a guitar for the first
time all night and worked his way through "It takes a lot to laughÖ" which was
sentimental and wonderful and it was nice to see Dylan rockiní out with Weir and
Lesh and the rest of the gang. After two Dylan tunes Dylan returned to piano for
The Deadís "West LA Fadeaway" where Dylanís voice sparkled before concluding with
a rocking "Alabama Getaway." Dylan hugged his friends goodbye and they thanked
him for being part of the tour before he departed.
I canít wait for 3 nights @ The Hammerstein Ballroom!
Review by Chris Kundl
Bob's engagement at the Darien Lake PAC this past Friday was brief, but
the highlights were high and the "lowlights" were pretty scarce. A few
things I wanted to point out... Bob's singing/phrasing on Mr. Tambourine
Man was weirdly superb, a throaty speak/sing hybrid that reminded me of
recent readings of Don't Think Twice, with more fractured phrasing. I
LOVED it. This Wheel's On Fire was a surprise that came off like Bob & Co.
had been playing it every night for a month. Positively 4th Street was
also fit as a fiddle. But the real treat came with Bob's first number with
the Dead, a monumental Tangled Up In Blue done JGB style with Joan and Bob
Weir on call-and-response backup vocals at the end of each verse. Joan
thought she had the green light to take verse #2, but Bob D. made it
immediately clear that he did not intend to give up command of this tune.
After picking back up a line or two into that verse, Bob proceeded to tear
through the rest of the song as if it were the last time he'd ever have
the chanOne of my biggest pet peeves as a Dylan fan are people who
overestimate shows they've seen, thinking that any average performance
should be hailed as a great one simply because they were in attendance and
being in the same building as Dylan made them a little starry-eyed and
buck-toothed. That said, Bob and the Dead turned in the best TUIB since,
IMHO, the mid-eighties. I'm not sure how it'll come across on tape, but
damn, it was a sight to behold and a spectacle for the ears. It Takes A
Lot To Laugh was also sublime, but by that point, the big payday had
already arrived. See you in Syracuse, Bob!
Review by Dave Kingston
We pulled up to the Darien Center concert grounds at about 2:00 PM, a
couple of hours early after we heard the previous day on the news of
severe gridlock in the area: a Warped tour, as well as the PGA tour, were
in the vicinity same weekend. After hearing about how The Dead fans were
less than welcoming on the early part of the tour, I wasn't quite sure
what to expect......just the perfect mindset for a show where anything can
This was about my tenth time around seeing Bob live, the first was night
two of Rolling Thunder in Toronto back in 1975. The last was August's show
of last year at Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto. It was at that show, when
Bob was introducing the band, that he mentioned that Charlie Sexton would
be leaving in a short while. I remember the feeling as soon as he said
that; I felt that he had finally found the perfectly balanced band, and
now another change was on the horizon. But while losing a player of
Charlie's caliber can only be considered a loss, after seeing this
incarnation of the band, I realized that I really do worry needlessly.
The familiar Aaron Copeland "Rodeo" theme warned us that the show was
about to start, and of course we got the "decade-by-decade" introduction
that got a few laughs from the crowd. All of sudden, the guys walk on,
plug in, and Bob skips stage-left to his keyboard, and the intro to a
rocking "Maggie's Farm" kicks off the show, with the band already in the
groove, no warm-up required. It was after this song that I saw Bob make
one of the absolute drop-dead coolest stage moves I have ever witnessed:
as the crowd was cheering after the ending, he walked downstage from his
piano a step or two. Then, he semi pirouetted back towards the keyboard,
and in mid-spin, smashed the opening chord to "Love Minus Zero / No Limit"
as his foot hit the floor. In case anyone was still in doubt, this song
immediately confirmed that Bob was in fine voice this afternoon. When he
decided to pick up the harp, he walked over to the stool, and snatched it
with a lot of gusto. It was as if someone else was trying to get to it
first, and Bob was telling him that's it's his, and his alone. And man,
his harp playing was electric all day. Sometimes Bob will doodle around a
three or four note theme, or doing a little scale sliding. Today, his
playing was absolutely majestic, rich and melodic with lots of soul. "Mr.
Tambourine Man" featured some very intense vocal phrasing, and the crowd
noisely showed their appreciation. I am going to have to hear it again to
really understand what was going on, it's very hard to describe.
"Tweedle Dee" seemed to ignite the crowd, and Tony's guitar twanged and
squelched out some wonderfully wretched notes.After the song, Bob walked
to the back of the stage, and came back with Bob Weir for a rollicking
"Highway 61". "This Wheels On Fire" was a nice surprise, and the band
nailed it. A trip to the edge and back with a hard "Cold Irons Bound",
with George smashing the drum with a second-line rhythm. Bob Weir returned
for a raving "Honest With Me", and and stayed onstage the rest of the
show. He was contributing some nice sounds, particularly on this song. Bob
disappeared at the bak of the stage again, and came back with Tommy
Morrongiello (his guitar tech) chording along by the back amps. This
version just cooked, four guitars on stage just wailing away, finding that
magic zone, while through the stage backdrop you could see the roller
coasters from the midway. Summer serendipity indeed.
The band froze for the ovation, while Bob took centre stage, with his
hands out in front of him, sort of a cross between a gunslinger, and
Fonzie (from "Happy Days"). A long and loud ovation begged for Bob's
return, and return he did for a racous, slippery and slidey "Rainy Day
Women". The day could have ended, and I would have been blissed out, but
it was from from over.
After The Dead took stage, and shook through "The Music Never Stopped" and
"Casey Jones", Bob came back on stage after the roadie set up his
keyboard, and started pounding the opening chords of "Tangled Up In Blue".
As soon as the crowd recognized it, the place erupted into joyous rapture.
It was ragged, but it was righteous, even with a few miscues and false
endings.....none of that mattered one bit, this was a celebration. "West
LA Fadeaway" rocked, and then Bob walked away from the piano, and a roadie
helped him strap on a Fender Stratocaster. A majestic "It Takes A Lot To
Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry", followed, with Bob squeezing some very
blue notes from his guitar. "Alabama Getaway" jammed on and on, and the
crowd was walking on air. Hugs all around on this last night, you could
tell that the musicians didn't want this one to end....it was almost as if
this was a mission to make amends for the 1987 tour, which didn't go over
too well. Bob put on his white hat, and walked offstage to long, drawn out
rapturous applause. Everyone present, on-stage and off, knew that they had
witnessed something very special. Of all the times I had seen Bob in
concert, I have never seen a crowd so happy to see him, nor has he ever
seemed so happy to be there. Thanks Bob, it was a match made in heaven.
Dave Kingston, Toronto (email@example.com)
page by Bill Pagel
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