Review by T. M. Hawley
The Bob Dylan Show was here last night and it was everything I’d hoped
it to be.
About ten thousand people smoothly ranging in age and garb from pre-teens in
eye-logo tees to skinny geezers in tank tops presented a reflection of about
every Dylan persona you could imagine, excepting his current persona, of
course. There was only one person I saw all evening who was wearing a long
The venue, the ballpark of the Red Sox triple-A affiliate, has by now become
traditional for Dylan, for whom 2006 is the third consecutive year of
filling these five-thousand to ten-thousand seat houses. It works for me,
with minor-league parks maintaining a stronger resonance with the small-town
America of the 1950s that Dylan’s recent recordings take me to.
I had my three sons, aged 10 to 15, in tow. The two older boys, with what
passes for enthusiasm at their age, quickly agreed to come along. Ben, the
15-year old, had written a critique of “Tangled Up In Blue” for his English
class last year, and his 13-year old brother Francis has dug “Hurricane”
ever since seeing the movie a few years ago. Louis, the youngest, pretty
much had to be dragged along. We arrived about an hour and a half before the
gates opened—just about perfect timing, as there were only a hundred or so
fans in front of us, and within a half hour the line behind us stretched as
far as we could see. Shortly after we’d arrived, a couple of our friends
with their 10-year old son (and Little League teammate of Louis), spotted us
and said hi. They had been successful in getting early-admittance tickets,
and were kind enough to save us some space 40 or 50 feet back from stage
“Don’t want to get too close, or too close to center, otherwise the stage
monitors will mess up your sound,” friend John thoughtfully explained his
choice of campsite.
Elana James and the Continental Two, a four-person hot jazz/western swing
act opened the show. Their sound reminded me mostly of Dan Hicks, but even
before they ripped into “Orange Blossom Special” I was thinking that fiddler
James must have been separated at birth from Alison Krauss. It was a nice
opener—enthusiastic, fast-paced, and not too long.
The second act was Junior Brown, whose tall frame, white hat, hybrid
electric/steel guitar, and alternately booming-growling bass voice added up
to a fairly commanding stage presence. His excellent sidemen included a
bassist and an elderly drummer who deservedly drew cheers for his
high-energy solo work. Brown’s lyrics to these ears are out of the Commander
Cody school (“… you’re wanted by the po-lice and my wife thinks you’re
dead.”), but the group’s musicianship is more than adequate to avoid being
upstaged by humorous lyrics.
By the end of Brown’s set, all the young lads in our party seemed pretty
bored. “ ’s OK,” was the liveliest response I got after asking how they
liked the show so far. That, however, changed quickly when Jimmie Vaughn and
his band took the stage. But before they tore into their first song, Vaughn
proclaimed that he was happy to be in “Providence, Rhode Island,” and backed
up his sincerity—or was it an unintended irony—with a comment about how he
was sure that he knew just about everybody in the audience. Within the first
few bars of the set, Francis shouted into my ear, “I like this better. It’s
more like rock.” (“It’s blues, Francis. This is blues.” I replied.) In
short, Vaughn’s set took the crowd from a laid-back, fun-loving space to one
that was anticipating a serious, tightly knit set from the greatest rock
troubadour to ever refuse the title of “voice of his generation.” Louis even
got a kick out of Vaughn’s playing-guitar-behind-his-head trick.
The wait between Vaughn’s and Dylan’s set seemed long, but it was mitigated
by such attractions as the unfurling of the eye-logo backdrop (“That’s
cool.” said Francis, I wanna get a tattoo like that!”), the lighting of
sandalwood incense onstage, and the playing of Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for
the Common Man” (“Whoa,” someone a little ways behind me exclaimed, “no one
said that the Boston Pops was gonna be here too!”).
The Main Event
Dylan and his band came onstage to a rather lengthy introduction that was
completely drowned out by cheers from the crowd, and after taking his place
at the keyboard he got directly into “Cat’s in the Well.” The next number,
“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” featured a sweet harp break, and it appeared to
me that Bobby was as engaged with the music, the band, and the audience as I
had hoped for.
Next up was “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum,” which for me highlighted the band
’s tightness. You don’t get a sound like that without long, rigorous
rehearsals, and it was gratifying to hear that Dylan’s still working that
hard for his audience. After that he brought the tempo down with “Just Like
a Woman.” The way he phrases the song nowadays is a long way from Blonde on
Blonde, but for a craggy-voiced, chin-saggy 65-year old, he can still bring
it off with all the sincerity he ever could. Donnie Herron on pedal steel
had some nice breaks in “Just Like a Woman.”
I think I liked Bobby’s voice best on “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” which
was next up. It’s amazing what a career on stage can do for a singer when
delivering lines like “…howling at the moon.” and “…just like a ghost.” It
draws you in and down to where meaning is born and becomes ambiguous.
The crowd received “Masters of War” with furious energy, and he repaid them
in kind. Next came “Highway 61 Revisited,” which he seemed to have as good a
time playing as any of the other songs of the evening. It was a terrific
performance that left me wondering how it ever could have been done better.
The next two numbers, “Shelter from the Storm,” and “I’ll Be Your Baby
Tonight,” slowed things down a bit again, but never disappointed. “Baby”
featured a nice, fat bass break by Tony Garnier and a nice, rocking harp
coda. (But alas—or perhaps thank goodness—that I didn’t see any female in
the audience sporting one of the “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” corsets that’s
for sale on www.bobdylan.com.)
The final three songs of the main set were “Tangled up in Blue,” “A Hard
Rain’s a’gonna Fall,” and “Summer Days.” I exchanged a knowing glance with
Ben at the opening chords of “Tangled.” (Is it “…docks that night…” or
“…dark, sad night…”? And what difference does it make?) “Summer Days” was
perfect, a rollicking concert closer.
After about time enough to smoke a cigarette, Bobby and the band came out
for their encores, “Like a Rolling Stone,” and “All Along the Watchtower.”
Both rocked hard. The audience embraced the lighting effects on “Rolling
Stone,” and Herron’s pedal steel work on “Watchtower” conjured you-know-who
After it all, Bob and the band stood together for a minute at the front of
the stage, kinda like soaking in all the love, only Bob wasn't really
standing, he was more like rocking back and forth to whatever music was
still playing inside his head.
Eyes wide and bright, Ben and Francis agreed that it was a great concert,
Francis opining that, “the last two songs were the best.” And even Louis
managed to wax enthusiastic with an, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would
© 2006 by T. M. Hawley
Review by Ernest Gurney
Don't follow leaders, watch your parking meters. Great advice Bob. As
representatives of the Dylan Roundtable (aka BobCats), I and my love, Pam,
were whisked through scrunchy-tight downtown Pawtucket by Betsey, a
friend not only close but local! After winding our way 300 miles south of my
Maine home near the Canadian border, to the home of the PawSox, it was
great to have a driver that knew where we were goin'. McCoy stadium, a
snug ballpark of the olde style, an old weird America setting ready for Dylan
Our group's one tactical error was deciding to arrive "kinda late". We came in
during Jimmie Vaughn's set with LouAnn Barton, missing some great music and
nding up in the bleachers. Still, hey, it's a beautiful park and there are NO bad
seats. We were fine.
Dylan's set started at 9:15 when he cleared his throat growling "Cat's In the
Well". From that point on, Bob was generally in fine voice. Dylan followed with
"You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" where he first demonstrated the innovative phrasing
that he would use to creatively interpret what could have been a night of
lackluster standards. Instead, practically every song was nuanced to reveal a
shimmering cut to the diamond. In "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", it was a hesitant
rock between "easy" and "chair". This song was also the first sample of Bob's
harp for the evening, strong and extended throughout the night.
Third came Childe Robert's sing-song lullaby "Tweedle Dee". Normally one of
my least favorite concerts songs, this take revealed a dark mystery under the
playfulness. Bass and drums oozed up from the supporting depths about
half-way through, breaking the little ditty neatly in half.
"Just Like a Woman" had an extended intro. I'm not sure if that was intended
or whether Dylan missed the initial cue and just let it come round again. In any
case, the song became the clearest example of what was going on that night.
The work's been in the cultural library for 40 years now, sung and re-sung to
death. I was not amused to hear it coming, dreading a standard beaten to mealy
pulp. Leave it to Bob. He held back the phrase "just like a woman" for a full
measure, then came back in with it, every time with a new leaning. It revealed
a thin distinction between bitterness and sadness. Instead of a dismissive kiss-off
or a taunting "don't be such a child", Dylan showed a slowly realized regret. The
subject is now a fragile ex-lover, whose naivete' has been disguised by an outward
maturity. "I didn't mean to hurt you, I thought you could take what was
happening". An extended harp solo deepened the lack of vindictiveness and the
attempt to reach into the sorrow.
Briefly, "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" came next, with another excellent sustained
solo on harp. The lilting carny flavor of the band gave the song a taste of a drunken
stroll down Desolation Row. It was fun and desperate at the same time.
"Masters of War" was the next majestic interpetation. Dylan's voice and diction
superb throughout, the band's insistent da-Dah-du-dum stalked Dylan's quarry into
the grave richly deserved. An excellent reading.
Number 7 was out on Highway 61, so far a consistent set-piece in the repertoire.
A damn good song played by a damn good band, sung by a damn good writer of
The next good surprise came. "Shelter From the Storm", paced in a tender, upright
way. Dylan showed fine nuance and control of his voice again and lifted what could
have been lazy into something quite lovely
The rollicking joy of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" (like "You Ain't Goin Nowhere")
shows that a simple song is now always that simple. Dylan broke and constructed and
re-broke the title phrase into everything from a brag to a hesitant plea to a sly
one-nighter. Again, unbelievable extended harp solos, specifically a full verse of the
song..you'd swear that harp could talk!
From the opening harmonics of the strumming guitars, the crowd immediately
applauded "Tangled Up in Blue". This take heeled pretty close to the original version
yet kept with Dylan's habit of slipping in a few new rhymes. Again Dylan's diction was
clear and the meandering story related deftly. His only throaty growl wrapped around
"glowed like burning coal", and that felt right.
It's all in the delivery and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" was an interpretive masterpiece.
The original song with it's ascending series of "it's a hard" is an evermore insistent
warning of things to come. Tonight, Dylan descended each following series into a s
orrowful, pained expression of inevitability. The prophet sees the future so clearly it's
as if it already happened, the sorrow is already in him. Like Munch's "The Scream", the
horror is on the horizon and it can't be avoided. Then comes the refrain "and what'll
you do now, my blue-eyed son" and Dylan rises from this hopeless vision of what's to
come with a rising and rousing list of "things I'm gonna do til then". For those who
wonder "why bother", Dylan retorts we're here for a reason so GET BUSY!
As if to signal the coming autumn, Dylan sang of "Summer Days" come and gone. One
of Dylan's headier celebrations of life, it was a perfect counterpoint to "Hard Rain". Like
a New Orleans funeral, it kicked sorrow's ass. This finished the set and left the
audience raving for an encore. Dylan and crew obliged after a few minutes with the
requisite LARS. If there was one song tonight that suffered in energy, it was this one.
Kinda like a person who travels the same long road every night, I got the impression
that everyone in the band kinda knew where they were, but nobody was really paying
attention to how they got there. It lacked the attentiveness that marked the majority
of this evening's work. Having said that, it was still good and clearly the crowd's "must
hear" song of the night.
Upcoming was song number 14 and I was on edge. I didn't want to hear "Rainy Day
Women", which Dylan had closed the previous night. Providence was in Pawtucket and
Dylan finished the night singing my favorite song, "All Along the Watchtower". With rich
singular guitar solos, snake-like bass and drum, and Dylan's unusually strong vocals, the
night ended with Dylan's howling observation that "no one knows what any of it's
Oh, but we do, Bob. High up in the bleachers a voice piped up "thank you, Bob", and
then another whispered and another spoke it and pretty soon the whole section had
individually thanked you. You may not have heard it in the crowd.
Thank you, Bob
Review by Patricia Hogan-Casey
News from the front: Bob Dylan and his band played a strong bluesy show at
McCoy Stadium, the Home to the Boston Red Sox Triple-A Farm team, the
Pawsox. In fact the Red Sox would be delighted if they were playing as well
as this band. I don't put too much stock in reviews here that called this show
or that show the greatest ever. But I've seen Zimm well more than 30 times--
this show should stand out.
News & Notes: Zimm's voice isn't getting any better. But he's working it now
within his very limited range. The result is that the his nearly shot voice is s
upported by the swampy blues stomp of the music. There was no dreaded
up-singing. None. Not even a hint. The Band was clearly ready to work after a
day or two off.
The Opener was a hard charging 'Cats' In the Well'. Zimm behind the
keyboard---staged now on the right side of the band---as you look at him. Take
note of that chnage from stage left-to-right if you'll be on the rail or the grass.
The band seemed tight. In fact this Band appeared to have improved
substantially since the Spring. Thursday night in P'tuvcket, they sounded
confident and in charge.If this is the sound on Modern Times, we're in luck
boys and girls, definitely in luck. If the band sounds as they did on tour in the
spring---earnest but not always on the mark...well, then we'll see in a week,
"You Aint going Nowhere Followed the Cat. I hear this a lot in NE when I'm up
here. It's a bouncy tune, close to the melody. There would be a lot of that this
evening.Obviously Zimm just didn't peel it of the tape, but this was a
performance, like others on this swing, where the enunciation of the lyrics by
Dylan and the musicality (Sp?) of the band and arrangements were strong thru
out the show. That's what to take away from P'tuvcket, Dylan enunciated the
lyrics clearly thru out the night and the band was beter than I've heard in the
You can check the set list for the full song order. Veteran RMDer's herein P'tucket
were pleased to hear 'Cat' open the show rather than 'Maggie' because it did
mean a shuffling around of Mr. Setlist.
The Hi-light for me was a VERY strong Tom Thumb. Again, this band came
thru...the arrangement was strong and true.An-on- the--mark effort.
"Masters" has the same ominous arrangement of recent shows, but it did not
have the same low level from-the-apron-lighting that helps set the tone for this
"Shelter"---when I saw this in the set lists I was looking forward to it. Now, not
so much. Shelter has been slowed in tempo and in my opinion some of it's life force
has been removed. Dylan sang it in what my notes say is a "crooning" voice. It's
sounded like the old group "the Leterman" knocking out the last song at the High
School Dance dance. It was the weak spot of the night.
But he rebounds with a bouncy country stomp on "I'll Be Your Baby..."when he
nails this song---and he did last night---it remains one of his better little love songs.
Zimm's---Let's Get Drunk and Screw...
As I mentioned, Zimm was carefully pronouncing the lyrics... so many felt compelled
to sing along with 'Tangled", which Zimm & the band played at a pace that certainly
allowed it, if not encouraged it...it was a sign he had a good grasp on a appreciative
This was a very accessible show for the casual fans. Sure you could still hear a few
"I can't hear the words"....but that was coming from the folks you expected to hear
that from. By and large P'tucket gave Zimm a big crowd---8-thou in my
mind...scattered not just down on the outfield but many staying the back by the
infield (that's sounds strange to stay).
This was good, confident and bluesy show...it was almost too polished---(sorry I
know that pisses people off)...but they was no 'Art' to work for here..it was all laid
out there for the taking. Which is great, but sometimes the hunt is fun ,too.
BTW---this version of the NET has a real revue feel to it. The opening acts are very
strong, Elana and the Contential Trio, solid inventive Bluegrass. Junior Brown has a
road-house country stomp thing going on with a duel necked guitar that's worth
watching. Jimmie Vaughan Blues band is a nice table setter for Zimm. And not
surprisingly, Denny continues to be the guts of a Zimm band that sounds like it's
come together Special thanks to Hackensack Sid for his friendship. See Ya in
Review by Ernie Pancsofar
One Too Many Evenings and a Hundred Miles - - - - BEHIND! *
A Retrospective Summary After Attending my Fifth Dylan Concert
In Pawtucket, Rhode Island, on a cool Thursday night
McCoy Baseball stadium came into sight.
At approximately 5:00, give or take a few minutes
We stood among people with BOB printed on their tickets.
The line inched forward, one slow step at a time
Enough that by coincidence I picked up a dime.
"This could only mean one thing, my inner voice did speak.
Tonight, Dylan's performance will be quite unique."
Elana James and the Continental Duo
Temporarily morphed into a smooth-playing trio.
And in her set - a little past the middle
She let it rip on the country fiddle
With The Orange Blossom Special - a delight to hear
Got the crowd to its feet with some shouts and a cheer.
Junior Brown was next - with a snare drummer and bass player
He stepped it up a notch as a solid entertainer.
And his deep voice resounds much like Ernest Tubb
As he plays his guit-steel at the Continental Club.
If you break the law, you'll hear from me, I know.
I'm workin' for the state, I'm the Highway Patrol.
Jimmie Vaughan rounded out the initial group of musicians
With Lou Ann Barton with a few guest contributions
Boom-Bapa-Boom and Telephone Man
Were two strong choices for the occasional fan
He has also performed selections from his famous brother
The incredible SRV played guitar like no other.
Now on with the show!
I bet you'd like to know
What the set list was for this evening of delight
This cool, dark evening on a late August night.
Cat's in the Well was a surprise first slot pick
Many thought Maggie's Farm would do the trick
And Bob looked a little stiff as he rocked back and forth
But the crowd cheered loudly for what it was worth.
Two bare heads and four hats donned
Dylan and his band were rockin'on.
For song number two
We wondered what he'd do.
When Clouds so swift - Rain won't lift echoed in the air
We realized quite quickly for pick number two
It was You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
From Love and Theft and his #3 selection
Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum was up for consideration
Not especially a strong favorite of many a Dylan fan
But you do not protest the decision of the man
Who allows us to observe his improvisation
As he plays some of his songs for the 500th occasion.
The crowd was in the mood to sing along with a roar
As they heard the beginning of set list number four.
Just Like a Woman echoed throughout the stands
And Dylan seemed impressed as he motioned with his hands.
I wasn't sure this "sing-a-long" was part of his plan
But it created a stir, excitement for the fan.
Saint Annie and Sweet Melinda were part of song #5
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - loudly came alive.
We've all been lost somewhere along the road
And sometimes directions needed to be told
And challenges mount - we feel quite defeated
Get out of that rut and go where you're needed.
One of my favorites was now in the mix
For Dylan's choice for set list # 6.
Masters of War - statements of hypocrisy
Need heeding from the current developers of democracy
Leaders take heed when you send young people off to war
There's no winners only losers - you can't even the score.
Sometimes we need to go back and see things again
Be it a place or a person or a road or a glen
Highway 61 seems to be such a place
Where spectators look on and take up space
To see the attractions from the bleachers on the side
Of exploits from a prophet, kings and gamblers in stride.
While we awaited to hear Dylan's selection # eight
The hour yet was not getting late
For there had been a dire forecast of rains from heaven
So Shelter from the Storm seemed the choice after seven.
Hopeful, serene with a slow, steady cadence
Appeared well received by those in attendance
The choice and selection for set list #9
Originated from Nashville Skyline
We had been talking about Norman Blake earlier in the day
He helped record this song with his most extraordinary play
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight was the choice by Mister Dylan
As the set winds down - three songs yet to be fillin'
From Blood on the Tracks in 1975
The next song in the set did derive
Tangled Up in Blue filled in well in slot ten
I never tire of hearing this one again.
I especially like the version performed by the Dead
But it's better hearing it live, in person, instead.
The lyrics of the next song in my head are still ringing:
I'll know my song well before I start singing
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall is from the pen of the wise
As Ginsberg recalls with tears in his eyes
For a colleague's admiration in commentary.
Captured in the Don't Look Back documentary
Summer Days now concludes this night's set
But we know Bob's not quite done with us yet.
The yells for "encore" erupt in great earnest
From the mouths of the young and the sounds of the eldest.
He typically ends with a 12-song selection
And plays two more, at least that's his convention.
Not to disappoint he comes back on stage
Like a Rolling Stone - it never seems to age
Then he introduces the members of his band
Followed by All Along the Watchtower - He's now played his hand.
But then, from the darkness, the lights once more appear
As Dylan acknowledges the ovations he hears.
His hat in his hand - he waves to the crowd
The lights then dim - after the band has bowed.
Dylan's not to be idolized
Dylan helps me question why
He has enriched my life - I can't begin to explain how
I hope I have expressed my appreciation for him now
It's on to Pittsfield tomorrow night
To see what else I may choose to write.
* Written after being in the presence of three extraordinarily
knowledgeable appreciators of the art and wisdom of Bob Dylan:
John Nicoll-Senft, Bob Russell and Christopher Boorman
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