page by Bill Pagel
Review by Peter Stone Brown
Sometimes magic comes in the strangest of places, and sometimes magic
happens in surprising ways when you least expect it.
Who would have thought that in the somewhat sleepy burg of Fishkill, New
York where Fishkill's finest greeted concert-goers with dope-sniffing
German Shepherds that magic could happen? Then again this is somewhere in
the territory where Heinrich Hudson used to bowl and headless horsemen
roamed the land.
First, Willie Nelson took the stage with an extra band member, classical
and all-around musician David Amram (who a long time ago jammed with Bob
and Allen Ginsberg) who played among other things French horn,
penny-whistle (two at once), flute and an exotic looking drum, and somehow
made it all work. Nelson also shook things up a bit adding "City Of New
Orleans," which found his band unable to keep up with him at the beginning
in a rather grand collapse that I always felt they were capable of..
Willie nonchalantly said, "They'll come around," and eventually they did
when he slowed down the beat after a couple of glances back that probably
said "Get It Together." The best surprise of his set however (by request)
was "Pancho and Lefty."
Bob Dylan took the stage wearing a black suit with red piping and a bright
red shirt. From the minute he walked on he seemed quite animated, and
immediately picked up a harp for "Rainy Day Women." "Tweedle Dee &
Tweedle Dum" followed and for whatever reason worked quite well in the
second spot, picking up the already energetic pace. Looking around, I
noticed for the first time this tour the band was wearing matching light
gray suits (I figured Stu Kimball's tour wardrobe had finally been
created). "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" still in its recent staccato
arrangement came next and Bob was starting to toy with his vocals,
stretching out the last word on key lines, "Look out now, the saints are
marching throuuuuuuuugh," and playing a fairly crazy harp solo that had
brief echoes of 1966.
"Lonesome Day Blues" kicked things even higher, with Dylan growling out
the vocal ("Lawd I never sleped with her even once" and Larry and Stu
flying on guitars.
After a brief conference with Tony, the band kicked into "Memphis Blues
Again" with Larry on acoustic guitar. This is not one of my favorite live
songs - he's never touched the original. But on this version things
started to happen. On one of the choruses, he answered "Can this really
be the end," with his new favorite phrase, "I don't know," but then on
Kimball's guitar solo, which found Larry moving from straight rhythm to
"Blonde On Blonde" style guitar fills, Dylan stood straight up and was
just digging the sound coming from his band. He just looked totally
pleased and the expression on his face seemed to say, "I have one great
band," and he does. The band on this tour has for the most part been
impeccable and it's not mechanical either.
"Lay Lady Lay" came next, and during the song Dylan found a bass piano
riff he really liked and kept repeating it throughout the song, obviously
enjoying himself. But then on the harp solo, something remarkable
happened, something I have never seen at a Dylan concert. He played a
little riff on the harp, looked at Stu and Stu answered him on guitar,
then Bob answered back on harp and Stu answered back. They kept up the
call and response for a couple of measures before Bob took over the harp
solo and ended the song. Not even in the acoustic duets with G.E. Smith
did this ever happen. And considering the song was "Lay Lady Lay," it was
A cool version of "Bye and Bye" came next, Dylan placing emphasis on the
last line "How loyal and true a man can be," which went into a kicking
"Highway 61" with excellent guitar all around, and Larry grinning broadly
at Kimball's lead solo.
Then came the high point of the show, a simply incredible version of "Not
Dark Yet." It was slow, it was soulful, the guitars beautiful and
perfect, with a great harp solo. But it was the vocal, Dylan digging deep
into the lyrics, seeming to find every possible level of meaning all at
once, getting spookier with each verse, each line, using a tight staccato
phrasing almost reminiscent of the Basement Tapes on "Every nerve in my
body is so vacant and numb/I can't even remember what it was I came here
to get away from," and then, you could almost see him deciding how to sing
the next line, and he went for it, from somewhere deep inside came this
soaring voice from long ago: "Don't even hear the murmer of a prayer," and
he held the last word and that note and everyone in the crowd (around me
anyway) was awestruck. It was a completely remarkable, totally moving
"Honest With Me" gave the crowd a chance to recover, but Bob was having
none of it. On the instrumental break he walked that crazy, almost goofy
Dylan walk dance to the front center of the stage, his shirt partially
unbuttoned (it was a hot and humid night) pointing his hands almost like
pistols at the crowd, except he's doing it exactly in time with the drum
beats. It was hysterical and great.
Larry went back to acoustic for an intense "Masters of War," venomously
spitting out the lyrics: "I hope that you DIE" and then repeating the
first first stretching out the line "see through your mask," except on
mask, it wasn't one note, he went up and down the scale so it came out
kind of like "ma-ah-ah-ah-ask," and it was nasty too.
The rest of the show stayed on the same level with "Tambourine Man"
leading off the usual encores. This was easily the best Dylan concert
I've seen in at least two years. It made the three hour ride home, after
six days on the road totally enjoyable.
Review by Charlie Gardner
Having seen Bob give a knockout performance just three days earlier in New
Haven, I made my way up to Fishkill, NY with high expectations, and was
not disappointed. Though Dylan's vocal delivery was perhaps not quite as
strong and clear as it had been at Yale Field, the band rocked, Bob was
clearly enjoying the evening, and the crowd couldn't seem to get enough of
Dutchess Stadium was certainly a nice enough venue: though it lacked the
old-time charm of Yale Field, the green surroundings provided a perfect
summertime backdrop to the show. With the exception of Dylan, who looked
somewhat disheveled in a partially-buttoned black suit, the band came out
clad all-around in beige suits that seemed to match the color of the
enormous eye staring out from behind the stage. Dylan himself was
downright energetic, pounding the keyboard, spastically bobbing his head
on the drumbeats on Highway 61 and coming out to center stage to perform
an strange, unsteady dance during a guitar jam later in the show. The
sold-out crowd was lively but by and large well-behaved, despite the vast
amount of beer and reefer present throughout the stadium.
A solid, crowd-pleasing Rainy Day Women kicked off the show, while nearly
all other songs were very well-performed. A particular highlight was
"Masters of War," which Bob sung with spellbinding conviction. The only
slow point in the evening, in my opinion, was Lay Lady Lay, an overrated
song somewhat sloppily performed that nonetheless served to engage the
crowd. The total lack of any material from the years 1970-1996 again
surprised me, but I can only assume this is a deliberate move on Dylan's
part. The contrast of his better-known songs from the 1960s with those
off Love and Theft and Time Out Of Mind does not at all detract from the
value of the later material, but in fact seems to enhance it by
illuminating thematic and musical similarities (the hard-rocking blues of
Lonesome Day Blues and Highway 61, for example, or the slow-paced regret
of It's All Over Now Baby Blue and Not Dark Yet).
Whatever the reasoning behind the choices for the setlist, the concert was
a wonderful experience: Dylan and his band have really hit their stride
since their summer kickoff in New Hampshire back in June, and I can
imagine no better way to spend a warm August evening. If you're wondering
whether or not Bob is still worth seeing on this tour, don't think twice.
Comments by Steve Goldberg
What a difference a show makes. Gone (well almost) was
that annoying "up at the end of the line" thing. The set list rocked much
harder than Cooperstown. .Rainy Day Women was played straight, great
slide guitar. Twiddle Dee was the usual, nothing special, Baby Blue was a
new arrangement that my wife didn't care for at all. Lonesome Day Blues
was a very muscular song. All powerful. If it was an indoors place the
roof would have blown off. Other highlights were Not Dark Yet, done very
delicately, true to the album version. Masters of War was very intense.
Had a bluesy feel to it and an incessant drum beat, felt like doom
approaching. The crowd was spell bound. New arrangement for Mr. T left a
lot to be desired. And he still can't sing Lay Lady Lay, but the lap top
steel guitar was gorgeous. Half way thru the set the bleachers had emptied
out. It' still amazes me how a Dylan concert seperates the wheat from the
chaff. Oh yeah, at Fishkill Stu apparantly got a glove for his wife.
Still a bad trade.
Review by Michael Perlin
Until last night, I last had seen Bob on August 13, 2003 in NYC (one of my
top 5 shows of all time). I thus just narrowly avoided a Bobless year
(that's always been my Mendoza line), by shlepping up to Wappinger
Falls, NY, last night, to see Bob for the umpteenth time and Willie for
the first. It certainly wasn't the best Bob concert of my life, but
there were excellent moments, some new and inventive reworking of old
chestnuts, and, I am very glad that I made the call to go. And it was
wonderful seeing Willie.
The concert was in Duchess County Stadium, home of the minor league Hudson
Valley Renegades (a Tampa Devil Rays' farm team). I have been a fan of
my (hometown) Trenton Thunder for years, and have made a minor hobby out
of visiting minor league parks whenever I can. This one was very much like
most of the post-Field of Dreams parks that I've been in; homey and
warm, and an ideal place for a mom and dad to take their 7 year old for
their first baseball experience (truth time: we took our kids for the
first time when they were 4 and 1, but I figure others might think that
would be rushing it a tad...). The stage was set up at the center field
fence (couldn't see the sign, but I figure it was 400-410 from home
plate). My friend Michael and I were on the outfield grass, next to the
soundboard, about 120 feet from the bandstand (we could have had space
much nearer but that would have been way to the left of the stage (Bob's
side) and we thought a dead-on center view was better. The crowd was laid
back, the mood was pastoral, and I was thinking that this was a HELL of a
lot better than Holmdel or Camden or like that...
First act was the Hot Club of Cowtown, an Austin-based violin-acoustic
guitar-stand-up bass trio, obviously thrilled out of their minds to open
for Willie and Bob (as noted in an earlier tour review, they called this
their "22 days of Christmas" tour). Songs were a mix of c&w, rearranged
show tunes and standards, a bit of bluegrass and like that. It was lots of
fun, and definitely a worthwhile half hour.
Willie came on with an 8 piece band and played, by my count, 24 songs in
70 minutes. It was certainly Greatest Hits-focused, from Crazy and Ain't
It Funny How Time Slips Away to Georgia on my Mind and Me and Bobby McGee
(not to mention, of course, On the Road Again, Nothing But Blue Skies, and
Help Me Make It Thru The Nite). My favorites were City of New Orleans and
his final song, Pancho and Lefty (which I had been hoping-against-hope to
hear him duet with Bob). There was a Texas flag on the back screen of the
stage, and it was as much of an Americana experience as one can have. His
band, by the way, featured, in addition to one of his sons and his sister,
Merle Haggard's son and, this astonished me, David Amran on recorder,
pennywhistle, French horn and percussion. Go figure! Friends who
had seen earlier shows on this tour had warned me that, b/c of his carpal
tunnel, he'd be playing almost no guitar, but he gamely played on most
numbers and even took a few modest solos. There is something ineffably sad
about seeing Willie (near 70, I guess) and wondering
how-many-more-years-can-he-do-this. I am so grateful that I got to see him
in good voice and in wonderful spirit.
Now to the main show. This was my first Stu Kimball show and I had
absolutely no idea what to expect (I am one of those that still fondly
misses Bucky Baxter...). Freddie knocked me out with his guitar bravura (and
there were moments of brilliance (am thinking of a Dignity and a Things
Have Changed that I saw them do), but I sometimes felt like he and Larry
were falling over each other doing the leads, and that the band was
suffering (can u say, the 2003-04 Lakers?). Stu was much more willing to
be the 2d guitar, and in that environment, Larry exploded. I have been
watching him since 97, and he has never sounded to me as good as he did
last night's propulsive and original solos, teasing new sounds from his
instruments (I scribbled on my setlist after Highway 61 the word
"astonishing!" to describe his guitar playing, And it was. Stu was mostly
excellent in his supportive role (I thought I saw Bob chide him twice,
perhaps for not sensing that Bob was going to take another harmonica
chorus, but these are still reasonable growing pains); the band meshed
well all night (memories of the last Holmdel disaster still resonated in
my head), and continue to be the perfect back-up vehicle for Bob.
Who alas, ignored the acoustic guitar that was sitting next to the piano.
And I have now come to realize that the May 03 Atlantic City concert
(electric guitar on Drifter's and acoustic on DTT, IAR) may be the last
guitar playing I ever see Bob do in person. Reality check. We have to face
it. It is not the same when he plays piano all night. I had said to my son
Alex that it was sorta akin to Mays or Mantle becoming a DH, and he said,
"No, Dad, more like Mays or Mantle playing first base," and I think Alex
was right. And I am wondering if Bob does have rheumatoid arthritis,
as hinted by many, whether the constant pounding on the keyboards will
eventually get too much for him as well (though I do not want to go
there). There is a loss of feeling tone (especially on the acoustic
numbers), and it makes me very sad...
So, how would I rate the concert? Ambiance, a straight A. Setlist, a C+
(sigh). Musically, given the limitations of a guitarless Bob, probably
B+/A- (for those who don't know me, I'm a professor in my day job
[perhaps too serious to fool...]). As I said in the intro para., not the
best of my life, but certainly far from the worst. An aside: standing next
to us was a man of about my age who was telling his 22 year old son (at
his first Dylan performance) about the time he saw Dylan in Greenwich
Village and what happened when Alan Ginsberg fell off a chair. And behind
us was a woman in her late 40's, explaining to her teenage daughter how
none of the music she (the daughter) listened to or the culture of our age
would have been as it was had it not been for Bob. During his set, Willie
had sung May the Circle Be Unbroken. The audience was living that
On to the set list>>
1. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35: Argh. Could there be a less appetizing
opening? My life will be fine if I never hear this again, and it was not
the way I wanted the evening to begin. But, having said that, the band
sizzled (as it rarely does during the opening number), with Larry
producing a "wa wa" effect that I had never previously heard. Given what
the song was, a very good rendition. And it was clear that Bob's voice
was clearer than it had been on the tapes I had heard from the March-April
European tour, and much stronger. That was a good thing. And Bob played
the harmonica (which he would return to many more times)
2. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum: Argh plus. WHY does he insist on playing
this third rate song every expletive deleted concert? Why? I don't know.
The band was still rocking, but I was getting antsy.
3. It's All over Now, Baby Blue: From the opening instrumental intro, I
had no idea what this was going to be until after maybe 32 or 48 bars. A
new arrangement, with the first four lines of each stanza being
articulated (pun intentional; you could understand every word) in a
declamatory way, with almost no chromatic variation (the last two lines on
the other hand, were as they always had been). He repeated the first
stanza to conclude, and I don't know if this was a one-off or whether
that's part of the new style. I last saw this in 1994 at Roseland. (I
think I first saw it at the un-listed Rutgers concert of April 65, but am
not 100% sure about that). One of the evening's five high points.
4. Lonesome Day Blues: This is only the second time I've heard this, and
I was very happy to listen to it here. A great vehicle for the band;
hard-driving, dramatic guitars (and bass (thank you, Tony!), and a bravura
beat laid down by George on drums. And somehow, as often as I play Love
and Theft, I don't think I ever quite heard the last verse until this
Well the leaves are rustlin' in the wood - things are fallin' off of the
shelf Leaves are rustlin' in the wood - things are fallin' off the shelf
You gonna need my help, sweetheart You can't make love all by yourself
Yow! A highlight.
5. Stuck Inside of Mobile: Oy. Again? Why? Have I ever been to a concert
that didn't include this or Maggie's (rhetorical question; of course,
I have, but yet...). It's a great song but the 20th live listening
doesn't add that much. Though I enjoyed his rephrasing on the "Oh Mama"
line. Once, it was
Oh Mama Can this/really be the end. Another time it was Oh Mama/ Can this
can this really be the end. And once Oh Mama/Can this r-e-a-lly be the
end. Good tension to be sure (and a Bob concert isn't a Bob concert
unless you can feel the tightness of the tension as the evening
progresses). But again, there are so many other choices he could have
6. Lay Lady Lay. Again, this was only my 2d live performance of this,
perhaps the most erotic of all Dylan songs (the other being the memorable
Le Zenith concert in Paris from 1998). It was the first time that Bob's
voice showed an emotional tone other than the contempt and anger that we
heard in Tweedle Dee and Lonesome Day or the retro-mysticism of Baby Blue.
He was gentle, sweet, and approached the notes with a swooping style that
was almost (I don't expect anyone to believe this) like a cabaret
singer. I loved it.
7. Bye and Bye: Finally, Tony on standup bass. A wistful, sad,
8. Highway 61: My notes here are: "Astonishing LC solo" and "SK solo very
confident." Again, as with Stuck Inside, this was my 500th or so hearing
of this song, and really, I wouldn't mind if it were my last. It's
clearly a vehicle for guitar wizardry, but there are so many other choices
I would have preferred. Sigh.
9. Not Dark Yet: Wow. What a song. What a rendition. What a chill. Talk
about "Nearer My Gd to Thee." Bobby looks into the abyss, does a hand
check, and continues on his path of art and creativity. Brilliant.
10. Honest With Me: Time to kvetch again. Why in the world do this and
Highway 61on the same set? The musical differences are minuscule, and it
almost felt as if Not Dark Yet was this weirdly-positioned intermezzo
between parts A & B of the same song. Great guitar work (as per usual),
but enough. For the second time this evening, Bob got up from the piano,
came to the center of the stage, did a kind of sonambulistic dance step,
whorled a few times and returned. I thought this was kinda weird when I
first saw him do this a couple of years ago, and it's just a weird now.
11. Masters of War: When you're in Wappinger Falls and have to get to
the Beacon train station to get the train to Grand Central, and then get
to Penn Station and then get to Hamilton Tonwship, and the drive home, you
don't get to see the full concert. The price we pay. So, as the opening
chords began, we started our journey out of the stadium, hoping to find a
cruising cab (actually we did, but this was purely dumb luck). As it turns
out, by the time we got to the gate, we heard all of this and half of the
next number, so it wasn't all that bad. Masters was the first acoustic
song of the night, and again, I so acutely missed the acoustic guitar.
And, having said that, it was perfect. Perfect instrumentation. Perfect
vocals. Line after line being spit out (albeit reservedly) with rueful
venom. What could be more perfect as an intro to the 2004 election season
(and, given our President, the irony of the "Even Jesus would
never/forgive what you do" would have been otherwise unscriptable).
12. Summer Days and Summer Nights: See my earlier comments about Tweedle
And that's all we saw. Missed an acoustic Mr Tambourine Man, and the
nightly final encores (Like a Rolling Stone and All Along the Watchtower).
I regret not hearing them, but as it is, I got home at 2:15. Had I missed
the train, that would have meant 3:30. After 41 years of going to see Bob
concerts, that was a bit too late.
So, to some extent a mixed bag, but almost all the negatives were setlist
related (this was the 2d show that I have seen since 1963 that did not
include a first-time ever for me, and that's not too shabby). But the
spirit, the sensibility, the rush, the joy: it was no other musical
experience ever is for me. As always, Bob enriches my life and enriches
the world. And we all should be grateful. Thank you, Bob.
Review by Stephen Walsh
"Yes I think it can be very easily done ? we'll just put some bleachers
out in the sun!"
In truth, a dead-stop traffic jam made getting to the Bob Dylan/Willie
Nelson show at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill NY not-so-easily done, and by
the time Dylan took the stage, the bleachers were in darkness. But of the
seven or so Dylan shows I've seen (including the legendary 1999 Tramps
club show in NYC), this rocked the hardest.
Willie's set included all the usual favorites and set a very festive tone
for an evening of hot dogs, burgers, blankets and brew. Sadly, his recent
bout with carpal-tunnel syndrome kept his legendarily nimble guitar
playing to a minimum. He & the Family delivered the goods nevertheless.
Then the sun went down. There was plenty of room on the field to walk
around and a friendly crowd, which meant my brother and I got pretty close
to the stage with minimal effort.
Bob opened with "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," never one of my favorites, but
a true crowd-pleaser and nice way to set the blues-heavy tone for the
evening. Dylan's enthusiasm was remarkable right from the start as he
banged away at his piano on the left-field side of the stage.
While it would have been nice to see Bob play a little guitar, it was only
missed in the visual sense. That's because the combination of Larry
Campbell and Stu Kimball was more than enough axe for anyone.
Besides, Bob's unique piano stylings added some nice textures,
particularly on the slower numbers: "Lay, Lady Lay," "Bye and Bye," "Not
Dark Yet" and especially "Masters of War," which, slowed down, intense and
piano-driven, recalled the original version of "Ballad of a Thin Man." A
woman behind me said "Is this a new song?" and I replied "no, it's 41
The highlights of the evening, however, were when the band flat-out
rocked. I have never seen them play quite this explosively. The first
indication that this show was going to rock particularly hard was during
"Lonesome Day Blues" when the intensity built with each verse, until Bob
could barely contain himself behind his tiny keyboard. They red-lined
again on "Highway 61 Revisited" and during the obligatory encores of "Like
a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower." After hearing them on
record and live so many times, I never thought I would be able to enjoy
these songs quite as much as I did on this beautiful summer night. But
that's what Bob does again and again in so many different ways: confounds
your expectations and assumptions.
I assumed after seeing the co-headlining tour with Paul Simon, that a duet
on "Pancho & Lefty" or "Funny How Time Slips Away" would be inevitable,
but unfortunately it didn't happen. But what did happen made this my most
memorable Dylan show in a coon's age. 'Twas a field of dreams, and
thankfully, Kevin Costner was nowhere in sight.
page by Bill Pagel
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