page by Bill Pagel
Review by Peter Stone Brown
Now the last thing I remember I was in some internet café in Times Square
that must've had a couple of hundred computers and I'd just posted a
review of the night before to RMD through Google when all of a sudden the
screen went dark and a couple of hundred people gave out a collective
"whoa" as we realized that not only did the computers go dark but the
lights went out. An alarm went off and everyone headed out to 42nd
Street, but we still weren't sure what was happening. Well there was
nothing to do but walk and we went up to 7th Avenue and realized the
lights were out on every store. Turning the corner on 7th Avenue and
heading south towards 34th Street and the Hammerstein I still wasn't sure
what was going on until I looked down 7th Avenue and realized every red
light was out as far as I could see. A feeling of doom entered my mind.
On the next block someone had a car radio blaring and it became apparent
that New York City had no electricity whatsoever. It was the beginning of
rush hour and buildings were emptying fast. Now anyone who's ever been to
Midtown Manhattan knows there's enough people on the sidewalks to begin
with especially around Times Square, but when every single building
empties out, well that's another story entirely. A sinking feeling
entered my mind about that night's show. Reaching 35th Street, I
suggested to my companion we duck down behind the Hammerstein and see if
anyone was hanging by the busses, and sure enough Larry Campbell and
George Recile were there. We hung out for a few minutes and went around
the front when a friend rushed up to us saying, "This is it, the entire
East Coast" is blacked out, which didn't turn out to be true. So we got
more or less in line, and I was keeping my eye on the Loew's movie theater
sign across the street hoping it would light up.
Someone said there would be an announcement at 6 o'clock. At 6:15 they
announced the show was cancelled and would hopefully happen the next
night. No one was exactly sure what to do, and the cell phone we had
wasn't connecting. My car was way on the other side of town where you can
park all day, and I didn't relish the prospect of driving in Manhattan,
which is the world's largest bumper car game without traffic lights,
especially in rush hour, and I'd heard the tunnels were closed. I
approached a cop, and said, I'm from out of town, can I drive out of here
tonight. He said to take the George Washington Bridge. Fun. You
couldn't get a cab, the busses were more claustrophobic than the
sidewalks. There was nothing to do but walk. So we headed south. I had
family in New York and that's where I was going. On top of all this the
temperature was in the '90s and we don't even wanna talk about the
humidity. We were headed south some 40 blocks to just below Canal Street.
My companion known in some quarters of Dylan land by a moniker from
"Subterranean Homesick Blues" wasn't exactly thrilled, but I said, it's
not all that far, I've walked it tons of times. The main difference was
there weren't a few hundred people on the sidewalk the other times I'd
walked it. At one corner a Fresh Fields was handing out orange juice, ice
cream and fruit. Some people were directing traffic. Finally we reached
the Village. It's not that much further. Finally we reached our
destination and all this time I was worrying because how do you ring a
doorbell on a New York City apartment building when the electricity
doesn't work. Luckily the front door was open and out walked my
sister-in-law, who had just walked from Brooklyn with my brother. Relief!
We went upstairs to get something to drink and to sit down. My brother
was lighting candles and getting out a transistor radio. I called my
roommate in Philly to see if there was power there. Passing the Holland
Tunnel on the way, I couldn't help but notice they were letting cars get
out of the city. I was gearing up for a very long walk to my car which
was on the other side of town, another few miles. It was dark. Very
dark. All of a sudden some lights came on across the river in Jersey
City, but nothing in Manhattan. My brother went on the roof of his
building to check the traffic into the tunnel, which was hideous on our
walk down, Seventh Avenue a virtual parking lot. After about an hour I
said, well I'm going to go get the car and come back. My brother who had
to leave his car in Brooklyn had an idea and called a friend who lived
down the street and borrowed his car. The streets were black. It was
like being in the country. Slowly we made it over to the Lower East Side.
I was at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel in less than ten minutes.
The tunnel was empty and dark. The car in front of me was hesitant about
going in. "Come on," I yelled at him through closed windows, the AC
blasting, "you will never be able to cruise through the Holland Tunnel
like this again," and I want out of this goddamn city. Finally we emerged
into Jersey City. which was still dark, and suddenly a few blocks ahead
there were traffic lights. And onto the Jersey Turnpike which was free.
A true escape from New York.
The next morning we were checking the net, TV, the radio for news of New
York. The power wasn't on yet. Would it be on for the show. We had the
Hammerstein scene scoped out. Knew what was a reasonable time to get
there, where we were going to sit. The news said power was coming on in
New York. All systems appeared to be go, though the news said the
subways wouldn't be running till the next day which made me somewhat
dubious. We got in the car, and looked at each other, asking if we were
insane. The obvious answer was yes. Back into New Jersey and onto the
turnpike and had just passed Exit 5 when the cell phone rang. It was my
friend we were going to meet. No show. Oh well. A day of rest.
The next morning all seemed cool for Bushkill, an outdoor venue or so we
thought. The minute we got in the car it started to rain, just like it
did the previous weekend for Holmdel. All roads out of Philly in the
direction we wanted to go were jammed. But once we got past the city all
was cool and finally came to Bushkill and stopped for gas. A man
approached me asking for a match. Not really. He wanted to know if I
knew where the Mountain Laurel Center was. I said you can follow me or I
can give you the directions I have. He said, "I'm looking for a blinking
yellow light." I told him you haven't gone far enough. That blinking
yellow light was at least 10 miles up the road and it was another few
miles to finally in the middle of nowhere just west of the Delaware Water
Gap was the Mountain Laurel Center and the Tom Ridge Pavilion. Brand new,
this was the second show there, it seemed like a nice place. For the
first time I wasn't patted down as if I was criminal to go to a concert.
Inside the venue was covered except for the lawn, and even better they had
a little area where you could go smoke.
After some local open act and meeting a whole bunch of people, the show
started with the usual introduction.
"Maggie's Farm" was the opener and Bob seemed in strong voice. The next
song was something of a surprise, "Senor." It turned out to be the
condensed version as Dylan went into the bridge where the second verse
should be. But this also brought on questions of the strangeness of this
summer tour. What happened to all the cool arrangements that had been
happening the past few years? There are two fiddle players in this band.
Why is there no fiddle on this song?
"Tweedle Dee" came next, and then "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere." Now asides
from the lack of harmonies on this song, again Freddie Koella's guitar
solo went nowhere, pretty much the way it did three nights before in New
York where he couldn't decide it he was going to play it rock or play it
country and ended up being neither. Now Koella can play the guitar. He
does have the chops. But this song has a guitar part that was established
long ago that has been played by tons of bands who either like Bob Dylan
or country rock. Was Freddie told, "whatever you do don't play the Byrds'
guitar part"? "Things Have Changed" came next. It was pretty good, but
the guitars just didn't seem loud enough. My friend whose name just
happens to be Dylan went over by the soundboard to see if the sound was
different, and it was. Now this Tom Ridge Pavilion may be brand new, but
looking at it, it didn't seem like whoever designed it gave a single
thought to acoustics. It's one of these summer/winter places and the
ceiling was all these strange pipes and stuff that like of looked like an
Escher painting. The floor was concret. The two walls were concrete.
This is really good for echoes and sound bouncing all over the place but
not much else.
What seems to be the Bob Dylan summer boogie tour continued with "Highway
61 Revisited," which featured some hot playing by Freddie and was one of
the high points of the night. This was followed by the new slow "Can't
Wait." It didn't really work. "What this is," Dylan said to me, "is a
really slowed down "Hit The Road Jack," and I realized he was right on the
Then it was back to boogying again with "Watching The River Flow." Now
this set wasn't all that different in some respects than the first night
at Hammerstein, but the first night at Hammerstein featured Nils Lofgren
who livened things up in such a way that the song selection just didn't
matter because his guitar playing was on fire. A typical "Drifter's
Escape" came next with Ginger Recile flailing away like mad. "Whatever
happened to 'Cold Irons Bound?' " Dylan said to me when it was over.
The intro to "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" started and things improved
dramatically, with Dylan singing almost the entire song. But again when
it came time for the guitar solo, Freddie took it nowhere. Now there's
all kinds of cool guitar things that can be done on this song starting
with what Mike Bloomfield did on the original studio version though it
will be hard to top what Robbie Robertson did on the version from
Liverpool in 1966. But if ever there was a song that was made for a great
powerful guitar solo this is it. And again, Koella appears to have the
chops to do it, but doesn't.
"Honest With Me" came next and well. was "Honest With Me." Now, I like
this song, but whatever happened to "Lonesome Day Blues."
Finally they switched to acoustics for "Mister Tambourine Man." I think
the last good live version of this was in Towson, Maryland. I'm not even
sure if it was a good version but it sure was fun to watch. Dylan
alternated between what is sometimes referred to as the "singsong voice"
where he ends each line by going high and something approaching the New
Orleans "Hard Rain." Now as far as I'm concerned the tempo of this song
has been too slow for at least a decade, and whatever rhythm Dylan sets up
on piano, well it's okay, but the song needs to drive.
Finally near the end of the last verse when he hit the "circus sands" line
he actually started to really sing, but the song was almost over. He
played a half-hearted harp solo, and it was into "Summer Days."
The usual encores of "Like A Rolling Stone" and "All Along The Watchtower"
followed and well, the Mountain Laurel parking lot looked like it would be
a real mess to get out of.
"I'm having a hard time believin' some people were ever alive" -Bob Dylan
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.peterstonebrown.com
Review by Trevor Hinson
Just got back a while ago from seeing Bob in Bushkill. This was
my 23rd Bob concert, my 3rd time seeing him on this tour. I saw
the 2nd night in Holmdel and the 2nd night at Hammerstein, but I
figured everyone else's reviews of those shows would suffice.
Tonight Bob was close to my home turf, so now it's my turn.
It was a rainy drive to Bushkill, thank God it only took an hour
to get there from my home in Allentown, PA. It was a nice night,
however, not a drop of rain during the show. The Tom Ridge pavillion is
brand-spanking new, and you could tell because there was not one blade of
grass in the parking lot, rather lots of dirt. I thought since it was in
fact the "Tom Ridge Pavillion," and since the former Pennsylvania governor
is now the chief of homeland security, that the security at this show
would be tight. I was expecting all bags to be checked thoroughly, and a
total frisking and prostate exam upon entry. I was wrong - no one got
frisked and there was a fair amount of marijuana smoke during the concert,
and no one from my vantage point got busted for anything. It was ironic
to be seated next to fellow Bobcat Mitch, who owns Positively Records in
Levittown, near Philadelphia. It's a great record store with lots of Bob
collectibles! Check it out if you're in the area. Anyway...onto the
I completely missed the opening act, and since it wasn't the Waifs,
I really didn't care. I got into my 10th row seats in a nick of time. Bob
took the stage a little before 9, same intro used since that night in
Buffalo last summer (I was there), and it's just amusing as the first time
I heard it. Bob and the band broke right into...
MAGGIES FARM - It was a good opening number, but sorry folks, I'm getting
a little weary of this being the opening song. Maybe if he opened with it
like he did in the winter of 97 it would be better, but hey it's his
warmup song, so what.
SENOR - First treat for the night, was not expecting this but was
pleasantly suprised. Bob was already in the zone, and it was a joy to
hear this one.
TWEEDLE DEE - is the #3 song on this tour. I don't know what more needs
to be said about it.
YOU AIN'T GOIN NOWHERE - Loved it. I miss the harmonies on it, especially
the way they played in in 97/98 where they had an accapella ending. But
nonetheless I could listen to Bob play this every night and wouldn't grow
tired of it. Great song to boogie to.
THINGS HAVE CHANGED - Pretty good version of it, I've heard better
of it, I've heard worse. The jam at the end was really awesome. They
broke it down and picked it back up and it got the crowd going.
HIGHWAY 61 - I've heard this song countless times, and although I'd prefer
he choose something else, he plays it so damn good that I enjoy it every
CAN'T WAIT - Second real treat for the night, nice slowed down, funked up
version of it. The bridge section really got the song cooking, Bob
absolutely nailed the words to it. If I remember correctly, there was no
instrumental break to it. He just sang it the whole way through and it was
done. It was really nice to hear it, especially considering I don't think
I've heard it live since shortly after TOOM was released.
RIVER FLOW - I recognized it immediately, eventhough the music is a very
simple 12 bar blues. Bob was playing with this one, delivering the lines
a couple seconds after you thought he would. Excellent jam at the end,
with Larry on the slide guitar.
DRIFTERS - I am in the same boat as most RMD'ers, and that is that Bob
should bury this one, and put Wicked Messenger in the same grave. It
definately got some of the crowd on their feet just 'cause it's such an
in-your-face rocker, maybe he plays this one for the non-Dylan fans,
'cause I don't know many hardcore Bobcats who enjoy hearing these JWH
folk-turned-hardrock songs, with the exception, ofcourse, being
TOM THUMBS BLUES - Third real treat for the night, totally unexpected, and
I absolutely LOVED it. When Bob did the New York City line, the crowd
errupted. Yes, he most definately IS going back to New York City, he has
had enough. Rumor has it he'll do the final stand at Hammerstein this
coming Wednesday, we'll have to stay tuned...
MOONLIGHT - Everyone sat down for this, but I remained standing and and
loved it. Easily one of my favorite songs from Love and Theft, and
tonight's performance of it did the song justice.
HONEST WITH ME - Pretty standard fare version, what I like about this song
is it's the only one where we're guaranteed to have Bob come out from
behind the piano to "lead the band." He does his Bob shuffle and scurries
back the keyboards, and it's always fun to watch.
TAMBOURINE MAN - Fourth real treat for the night. Pretty shaky start, but
by the last verse Bob got REALLY into it and it gave me chills. It was
the only acoustic song played the entire night, we got excellent solos
from Larry and Freddie, and it was definately one of the highlights of the
SUMMER DAYS - Pretty boring version of this one. Freddie's solo for it
sucked. It never picked up off the ground. The only saving grace for this
one was George. He pounded the shit out of the drums which got people on
their feet, but no one stepped up to the plate to send this song into
outer space. I do not understand Freddie Koella one bit. His solos are
sometimes really good and mesh into the song, other times he plays wrong
notes, other times his solos just don't go anywhere. This was a moment
where I really missed Charlie.
LARS and AATW - Standard encores played really well. Bob has been
omitting one verse from LARS lately, and I don't know why. Both of these
songs seemed really short.
And there you have it. Tonight was a good night, but not exceptional.
Certainly not as good at the 2nd night at Hammerstein, but it's
understandable, Bob's probably upset about missing the 3rd night in NYC,
and for all we know, on Thursday he coulda been stranded in the city that
never sleeps. If this was the only show I caught this tour I suppose I
would have been disappointed, but I got New Hampshire, Syracuse, and
Niagra Falls next week, so I'm not really all that worried about it.
That's my two cents, folks.
Long live Bob!!!
Review by Willy Gissen
Wow! I don't know what it was. Maybe it was two days off. Maybe it was the
cool, invigorating breeze running through the semi-enclosed arena. Maybe
it was the release of pressure after New York City.
Bob Dylan was absolutely amazing tonight. His singing was urgent and
driving. His song selection was superb. His effort was 110 percent, and
his message was riveting. He worked a kind of magic that transcended an
arena in Bush Kill, PA.
I had been disappointed with Bob's performances in the Hammerstein
Ballroom in New York City on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday's
concert--which would have probably been his best as it was closing
night--was a victim of the blackout. You can't play electric guitar
without any electricity.
Perhaps the extra day off was just what the doctor ordered. Bob started
relatively early after a poor warm-up band. What happened to the Waifs???
The warm-up band leader even admitted that he was more used to playing
hotel bars. But it was only a minor inconvenience. Bob started early,
about 8:50 PM; it was a good sign that he was eager to begin.
The concert began with a driving version of "Maggie's Farm." Okay, good,
Bob usually starts out his concerts well on the first song whether it be
"Silvio," "Maggie's Farm" or "Tombstone Blues." But then came an excellent
selection for a second songâ€¦"Senor." Instead of a letdown, and a slower
pace with the usual second song, "If You See Her, Say Hello," "Senor" with
its messianic overtones kept the audience on the edge of their seats. I
don't remember the exact song order, but "Things Have Changed," "Drifter's
Escape," "Highway 61" and "Watch the River Flow" followed rapidly, with a
minimum of time spent in Dylan's usual consultation with the band about
what to play next. The playing was crisp, and the improvisations were
tightly woven around the main melodies. Then, when the audience was keyed
up to the maximum, Dylan played "In the Moonlight," to release the
The following song made the concert. "Mr. Tambourine Man" was played to
one of the most beautiful arrangements I've ever heard. It was sweet and
melodic with a hint of the original melody. In addition, the new version
did not feature rushed lyrics or lyrics ended with a "question mark tone"
which Dylan often relies on when he's trying to change a song around. The
emphasis was different, yes, but it fit into the new arrangement
perfectly. The song was so beautiful that it had a pied-piper quality to
it, matching its message to a tee. The audience was in a frenzy of delight
when he concluded.
Dylan's harmonica solos were also excellent tonight. They was very melodic
rather than just breathing in and out in time to the music which I noticed
had occurred sometimes in the past.
Perhaps, the audience fueled Dylan's effort. The crowd was enthusiastic
and would yell out suggestions in between songs.
Even "Summer Days" was played in an original manner. It had more of a
minor chord sound to it than just the cheerful syncopated melody. Yes, the
syncopation was still there, but the song was played with more subtlety
Of course, the encore of "Like a Rolling Stone," and "All Along the
Watchtower" was the icing on the cake. For the second time this tour, I
heard Dylan play a harmonica solo on "All Along the Watchtower," a nice
I think Dylan knew what he had done when the concert ended. Perhaps it was
my imagination, but I thought he looked satisfied when he did his
traditional walk off the stage into the darkness to conclude the event. #
Review by Kevin Abernethy
In over 15 years and at least 20 Dylan concerts, this was probably the
worst performance of his I've seen.. Dylan needs to pick up a guitar and
take center stage again, instead of givng it to guitarist Freddy Koella,
who overpowered Dylan's vocals on every song. Dylan struggled to get
through the set list, which once again included no surprises for the Dylan
faithful. Please, Bob, no more Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, Drifter's
Escape, Summer Days, and Honest With Me. A lot of the crowd in the
midsection of the arena were exiting before the end of the concert.
Review by S.D. Walter
No time for an full review, as we're leaving soon for Wallingford, but a
few brief observations. First of all, I'd expected something rather
elegant from the venue's self-descriptions, sort of a mini-Tanglewood.
Instead it looked like a machinist's shop writ large. We had seats five
rows back along the side, with an obstructed view of the guitarists but a
perfect one of Dylan and Mad Dog in glory.
If I'd expected Hammerstein 2 to represent a sort of transformation in the
overall dynamic onstage, was I ever wrong. Things started to unravel
almost immediately last night; more specifically, Dylan started to unravel
... the strangest behavior I've witnessed from him in ages, some of it not
just eccentric but downright worrisome.
First of all, who is it that hides Dylan's harmonicas from him? It's like
he's on an egg hunt up there. After blowing what he seemed to think was
the wrong one mid-set, and turning to Tommy with a look of revulsion, the
harp situation seemed to confuse and torment him up right up until the
final song. "Watchtower" was only the most extreme instance of this; he
picked up at least two or three before finding one apparently hidden in
some dark corner, which he then proceeded to slap down on his keyboard in
disgust. Leaving the stage afterward, after a respectable solo, he grabbed
it and slapped it down yet again, for emphasis.
Twice he sat on the risers between songs, looking completely deflated,
almost as if unable to stand. During songs, too, there were times he
seemed painfully lethargic, slowly and aimlessly wandering the stage,
often right in the guitarists' stoic faces; then all of a sudden he would
snap back into form and his delivery would come into razor-sharp focus --
not song to song, mind you, I'm talking verse to verse, even line to line.
Before "Moonlight," he disappeared from the stage altogether, and for a
long moment I wondered if he'd return: he did, for a very weak rendition
of the song in which it seemed the life had been all but drained away from
him, but somehow the spark reignited for parts of "Honest with Me" and an
astonishing "Tambourine Man" that, after the first verse, walked a
tightrope over parody before arriving, via a gorgeously-modulated harp
excursion, at a stunning conclusion where irony was relinquished and he
sang from the deep heart's core.
By no means was this a washout like Holmdel last Sunday, then; there were
authentically powerful moments throughout: a finely-chiseled, menacing
"Senor," a dirgelike "Can't Wait," a poignant "Tom Thumb's" that built
slowly but inexorably to its last sad cry of pity, at which the crowd, no
doubt many Hammerstein refugees among them, let out a cathartic roar.
Yet it was also maddeningly, almost frighteningly erratic. I lost count of
the opening cues that Dylan missed completely, shuffling around the stage
in search of harps or medical attention while the band forged bravely
onward. Well-placed chords on the piano followed long stretches of
desultory playing, or no playing at all, when the keyboard seemed merely a
prop for him to lean on. Lines completely lost or swallowed came hard on
the heels of the bursts of thin wild mercury. As the show progressed,
Garnier edged closer and closer to Dylan, perhaps in hopes of easing, or
at least putting some kind of lid on, his totally wigged-out situation,
but nothing seemed to help.
After one of the longest waits for an encore I've seen -- at one point I
was convinced it wouldn't happen -- the band lit into "Rolling Stone" with
Dylan still lingering behind the stage; at the last moment (or beyond it)
he ran up to his keyboard with a dazed, almost panicky expression -- only
to botch the second chorus (I think) egregiously, falling so far behind
the music that it's a wonder he ever caught up. You've got to hear that
one to believe it.
During the aforementioned harp-questing "Watchtower," he was continually
looking over his shoulder, I believe in search of Tommy M., who had gone
to change his clothes and get back to his day job: someone must have gone
for him, because he ran out in a tizzy, but I guess it was too late for
whatever Dylan had wanted from him, and he sheepishly returned to work,
opening up Dylan's keyboard case in the back. It's like he's functioning
as some kind of a crutch.
A blood-red half moon hung over the Poconos as we exited, bewildered. It
was a wild night, deeply unsettling. Dylan performed very well at times,
but at many others struck me as either demented, intoxicated, or ill. Hope
none of that's true, of course. Something very strange about this tour,
though. Not sure what's going on.
Review by Kevin Briggs
This is quite a different Bob Dylan band than the Bob Dylan band from a
I think an analysis of the line-up is in order. I'll progress via
1.. Bob Dylan - As capable as ever. Mostly up, rarely down, and worthy
of his status as a patriarch. 2.. Tony Ganier - Holding down the fort.
Flawless, booming bass. 3.. Larry Campbell - Guitar eloquence with
note-perfect precision. Really, I mean Larry is quite simply the man.
4.. George Receli - By George, I think he's starting to listen to the
other instruments on stage! 5.. Freddie Koella - Ouch. Dylan should call
up one of the guitar players from the RMD Does Dylan, or the Pool CD
Projects. Koella should go take some lessons and report back in about
That's a harsh assessment of Koella, but it was ugly last night. The core
of the band, which I think consists of Ganier, Campbell, and Receli, was
fabulous. Koella is living a guitar player's dream. He is in an
experienced, road-proven band that seems to share the same heart-beat. He
simply has to step in and play solos, which seems to be his role since
Tommy the guitar technician has been commissioned to discreetly play
rhythm guitar, probably to cover up Koella's mistakes.
I bet Koella's a really nice guy. I bet he's experienced and knows Dylan's
catalogue up and down. I bet he works very hard too. However, as a school
teacher, would it be okay if I was nice, knew a bunch of stuff, and worked
really hard, yet didn't know how to teach to a room-full of kids (like
most school-teachers)? The obvious answer is no.
I hope Freddie leads a happy life, just like I hope everybody does, but I
also hope he is replaced in Dylan's band. Maybe I've been spoiled by the
Charlie/Larry team, which was so great. I still maintain my position that
Freddie is not working out.
Here's a song by song analysis:
Maggie's Farm - Nice job, mostly because Bob was singin' and jiggin'
along. It seemed as if the two-day break did him well. The voice sounded
great, none of this low-gutteral stuff people whine about.
Senor - This had potential, but Bob's misdirection and Freddie's "Playing
the Guitar" beginner's solo buried it. It's a shame, because the
foundation of the song was really solid.
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum - Standard fair. Dylan's really trying to inject
this into the so-called "upper-canon" of Dylan songs.
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere - It's hard to say anything bad about this one,
other than I miss Charlie's harmony, and Freddie's playing blew chunks.
Otherwise, Bob was great and the band played with what seemed like
Things Have Changed - Inspired version. Rocking and rolling, really
booming in spots. The turn-arounds/transitions were super-strong. Freddie
should study the dynamic and make up and unimprovised solo. Listening to
that solo over and over would suck, but it would be better than listening
to his improv all night.
Highway 61 Revisited - Rocking. I like this song almost just as much as I
did a hundred versions ago. Freddie needs to have a smoke break and let
Larry and Tommy jam.
Can't Wait - I like the slow arrangement. I have a hard time getting into
the lyrics, as it's not one my favorite TOOM songs, but overall it was
dang good. I can't eemember what Freddie did on this one. Dylan's phrasing
was sweet. I think Tommy was a doing a version of the robot, which may
Dylan laugh. It's good to see that stuff.
Watching the River Flow - Started in a disjointed way. It was hard to hear
the music clearly, due to too much bass, a general overall loudness, and
the bad acoustics PSB identified.
Drifter's Escape - I thought it rocked. I prefer the more contemplative
stuff, like Visions, Mississippi, Not Dark Yet, etc., but for being
nothing but a rocker, it was good. Nice little funky harp jam at the end.
I brought my binoculars, so I could see Dylan leading the band, etc.
Tom Thumb - Cool change of pace. Freddie...man. Just sit there and let
Moonlight - Not my favorite. It was delivered well, but it made me a
Honest With Me - Pretty cool version. Not many people sitting in section
203 knew what this was. I had to keep letting the people next to us out
for beer and bathroom breaks.
Tambourine Man - Bob tried this rapping-like thing towards the middle
which worked, but a bunch of people ahead of us shook their heads as if
saying, "why can't he just sing it the way he did on Bringing It All Back
Home." Hey folks, you go sing it for 40 years the exact same way. The
standard climax at the end was delivered well. Bob is the master at
starting his songs with nothing to write home about, only to increase
volume and emphasis at the end. Then we all say, "that was awesome."
Summer Days - Nice job by most players. Even Freddie found a few licks to
repeat over and over again, ala the Dylan guitar solo. This song reminded
me that school starts in a week and a half.
LARS - Not bad. It was a good crowd pleaser. Freddie played some good
stuff at points, only to trail off.
Watchtower - Good job by Bob delivering this with interest. Freddie did
not deliver on his solos.
So there's my thoughts. I hope I didn't rip Freddie too big of a new one.
But, I needed to write at least something about him. I mean, is he the
only guitar player for hire who is willing to tour and make some decent
money playing for Dylan?
By the way, I agree with PSB about the acoustics. They were poor. I was
just about right in front of the stage, in the back part of the pavilion,
and it was muffled and jumbled at points.
One point of interest is that Tommy played the entire set, minus the
encores. He seems to really get into the music, and Dylan likes to joke
with him while the concert is going on. That's cool. Maybe we can look
forward to Tommy playing rhythm and Larry handling the lead. Why won't
Larry play lead? It's always as if another guitar player is coming in to
relieve him of his lead duties. Charlie eventually did it, and Freddie
hogged almost all of the solos last night.
Anyway, I look forward to seeing Bob again, soon. I only go once or twice
a year, but every time I do it's simply great. Thanks Bob.
Review by William Suling
I am not the type to say anything when there is nothing good to say. In
this case, I felt compelled to speak up.
The Mountain Laurel Center concert was a 4 out of a 10 for me. And I
think I am being quite generous. Several reasons brought me to this
For starters, this newest guitarist, Freddy Koella, was drowning out
things almost all night. And he seemed to like being center-stage way too
much. Only problem is, he was there for support, not to put on a show of
his own. I am certain Dylan reminded him of that each of the 3 times he
staggered over to him and whispered in his ear during the performance.
Freddy Koella seems to have some talent, but many of the solos he did were
way too far outside the confines of the songs. You may say, "But Dylan
does it." Yeah, he does. But they are HIS SONGS at HIS CONCERT!
Butthead. Charlie Sexton was missed deeply.
Second - Dylan's voice wasn't the best I'd ever heard him. Actually, I
barely made out anything in Miss-tuh-tam-buh-reen-mahn. I thought he was
gonna need oxygen. Maybe that is where he kept wandering off to.
Third - What is with the piano? Every song? Can Dylan still hold a
guitar? I am sure that most people would agree with me when I say Dylan's
real talent is much more noticable during the acoustic sets. I would
really like to see him add at least one acoustic solo into his shows.
And finally - His set-list needs a little help. Senor, and You Ain't
Going Nowhere were nice, almost unique additions. But he needs to
subtract a few that he seems to play a little too often. Like which
one(s)? How about Tweedley Dum & Tweedley Dee. I honestly don't know
what he likes about that song. Moonlight? Please. Makes me wanna take a
Good points? Sure, there were some of those too. I really enjoyed the
songs, You Ain't Going Nowhere, Things Have Changed, and Like A Rolling
Stone. Like A Rolling Stone was about the only song where Freddy Koella
could have fooled anyone into thinking that he could actually play.
Larry Campbell has continued to be staple in Dylan's band. If I was at
the mixing board last night, I would have certainly upped Larry up a few
notches, and let Freddy know what it is like to drowned out.
Tony Ganier is a rock steady bassist. He wouldn't be there so long if he
wasn't. Only thing is....does he have any other outfits to wear?
Am I sorry I went? No, not at all. Without a concert like last nights,
you have nothing to use as an example of what a bad concert can be.
William C. Suling
Review by Carsten Molt
Before leaving for the Bushkill show, i wanted to make sure that the show
was going to go on as scheduled. i assumed it would as the blackouts were
over and all but i wanted to make sure, just in case. i called the venue
and the info line said that the Dylan show was scheduled for September
16th, instead of August 16th. i made a few calls and finally got through
to a live woman at the venue and she said that the show was on Aug. 16th
and that they had quite a few concerned fans calling after hearing the
misinformation on the info. line. It would have been nice if they had
fixed the error. Anyways, Jillsy and i got to Bushkill in the early
afternoon and visited the tourist traps and had a bite to heat. We got to
the brand spanking new Tom Ridge Pavillion as the doors were opening and
lo and behold, we ended up parking right behind Marcel and Cecelia. We
exited the car to find Zepat standing right beside us. A good omen, if
there ever was one.
The Tom Ridge Pavillion had a nice mellow vibe and no security to speak
of. We spent the time before the show started milling around and Jillsy
made some purchases at the merchandise stand and i met a pooler by the
name of bobmobile who was very cool. i asked a usher if there was an
opening act and he said it was a 8 member local band which was totally
wrong. It was a four piece band fronted by a guy named Amos Lee. They
were o.k. but i would have prefered the Waifs.
On to the reason we were there:
1. "Maggies Farm" opened the show and as we rose to cheer, the people
around us all sat down and after a few seconds started yelling "Sit Down"
and the entire section sat down for the whole show. Dylan was in fine
voice and the band sounded good from the first notes.
2. "Senor" was a nice surprise and Jillsy and i moved down to some
unoccupied seats closer to the front. We felt a little out of place so we
returned to our reserved seats at the end of the tune.
3. "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum' sounded as good as always, nothing less,
4. "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" was very good although i miss the harmony
singing but Dylan seemed pretty inspired but Freddies guitar playing was
kind of strange, not good or bad, just weird. Dylan delivered a nice
harmonica solo which is always a treat.
5. "Things Have Changed" is a song i've heard enough over the last couple
years but it had a little more energy than some of the other times i've
6. "Highway 61 Revisited" was played next and it had some very good guitar
work by Freddie but the crowd around me seemed almost bored. i wanted to
dance or at least stand and regretfully left Jillsy at our seats and
ventured out to the concourse between the lawn and the pavillion to find
the sound much clearer and filled with lots of people standing and many
dancing. i also found that i could see the entire band from there so i
spent the rest of the show dancing there without blocking anyones view.
7. "Can't Wait" is one of my favorite songs and this was the first time
i've heard it live since 1998. i really enjoy the new slow arrangement of
it even though i think Dylan stumbled on a word or two towards the
beginning. It was one of the highlights of the night for me.
8. "Watching The River Flow" came next and it is one of my least favorite
tunes in the current rotation but i enjoyed it quite a bit. It had a nice
jam at the end with Larry playing a guitar that i hadn't seen before. It
was kind of like a slide guitar but had a different sound than his usual
9. "Drifters Escape" was played well as usual. i know many fans tire of
this song but i'd rather hear this than the "Crash, Thud, Bang" of "Cold
irons Bound" any day. It had a pretty good harmonica solo as well.
10. "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" is one of my favorite songs and this was
a rocking version. The line about "going back to New York City" got a loud
cheer from the crowd. This was very energetically played and Dylan was
nailing every line with zest.
11. "Moonlight" was done well and i liked it more than i usually do, which
isn't saying much.
12. "Honest With Me" was played pretty well and Dylan took one of his
little strolls around the stage and whispered something to Tony before
hurrying back to the heyboard just in time for the last verse. Larry
played his slide guitar as usual on this tune but it wasn't as loud as
usual but Recile made up for it by beating the heck out of his drum kit.
13. "Mr. Tambourine Man" was next up and i was surprised to hear it. It
was the only acoustic song of the night. Dylan wasn't sure how he wanted
to phrase it at first but recovered and it turned out to be the highlight
of the night for me. It also had some very sweet harmonica playing.
The band introductions followed "Mr. Tambourine Man" and i felt badly for
the guitar tech/guitarist Tommy who played guitar on the entire set but
was not mentioned in the intros.
14. "Summer Days" was the usual set closer. It doesn't take off the way
the versions of last fall did and Dylan still seems to have trouble
singing at the same time as the music but it had a lot of dancing in the
concourse but most of the audience in the pavillion just sat there.
For the encores, i joined Jillsy in our seats as i was getting kind of
tired by this point.
15. "Like A Rolling Stone" was notable for Freddies guitar solo which
started well but he seemed to not to know what to do with it after a few
bars and it kind of fizzled out. i think Dylan skipped a verse as well.
16. "All ALong the Watchtower" was strange. Dylan was looking behind him
several times, i assume, for the right harmonica. The song started and
started and started as Dylan walked over to the drum riser and picked up a
harmonica but evidently, it was not the one he was looking for.
Eventually, he sang the song and it sounded pretty good and he played a
decent harmonica solo before repeating the first verse. The band gave us a
short formation while Dylan walked from side to side acknowledging the
crowd before leaving the stage. As he was leaving the stage, Dylan made a
slight wave gesture and that was the end of the show.
A. The Tom Ridge Pavillion is a very nice, relaxed pavillion and the event
staff was very courteous and mellow. The parking lot was very nicely
handled. It was a breeze getting in and out of the lot which was a nice
B. We had the good fortune to met up with fellow poolers, Marcel, cecelia,
Zepat, Dancin', JS, bobmobile, i hope i didn't skip anyone. If i did, it
is not intentional.
C. i was quite puzzled by the crowd. The crowd at the front of the venue
seemed to be having a great time but the rest of the pavillion sat in
their seats and seemed bored or at least acted like it. They never stood
up and even stayed seated during the encores and didn't stand until the
show was over. It was very strange. i don't like overly boisterous, rowdy
crowds but this crowd was laid back to the point of seeming almost
disinterested. Of course, that is just my opinion.
D. Larry was great as usual as was Tony who semed to be having a great
time. i thought George Receli was excellent. i like his style of playing
but i know that some others don't. If you like Georges drumming, you would
have enjoyed his playing tonight. If you don't, it wouldn't have changed
your mind. i can not decide how i feel about Freddie. He certainly has the
chops but i don't think he fits in with the band all that well. Tommy sat
in during the whole show minus the encores. i wonder if he may do a Cesar
Diaz and join the band. His guitar seemed to be a little more audible than
it was at Columbus 10 days ago. Only time will tell. Of course, these are
just my opinions, feel free to e-mail me and correct me, agree or diagree
with me or better yet offer me a copy of the show. In Bob we trust,
page by Bill Pagel
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