November 29, 2021
Review by Mike Hermes
The Met, Philadelphia was my second stop on this tour...after the Hershey
Theatre. I drove up from the Eastern Shore of Maryland... through
Delaware... listening to a new 5 hour playlist on the Swedish Programmable
Wireless Radio featuring the early recordings of THE NEW LOST CITY
RAMBLERS. I heard someone’s last request: FLY AROUND MY PRETTY LITTLE
MISS. First I found the LYRE from my accidental seat. My original seat
was in a high traffic zone. I wandered up some stairs and was
mysteriously given a new place to lay my hat. It was like an empty bar.
Then two lovers took their seats near me. I stood up and then two other
lovers stole my seat...so I found a place to stand and started feeling
just fine about my 50th show. I looked back at the LYRE just to make
sure it was still there. I stared up at the giant dandelion that “hangs
suspended.” On stage a beautiful set of green drums. I looked back
at the wishing weed and then back at the LYRE one last time before the
house turned dim and the stage floor took on light. Everyone was dressed
in black last night. We start off sitting on a bank of sand - Watching
The River Flow...and we end up musing on Every Grain Of Sand. In between
we were treated to a series of pulp points of view both heartfelt and
gory. We heard “THE WIND” mentioned as well as “THE ROLLING
STONES.” The band seemed to find some succinct ways to work around
Bob’s vocals. And during a few instrumental moments I found some of the
call and response work to be both intricate and simple all at once. The
band played together and reacted well to sharp changes and Bob’s phrased
moods. Some long instrumental openings that I really enjoyed, and some
piano shuffle play outs to end some of the long lyrical numbers. Doug
Lancio’s electric guitar really shined a bit on When I Paint My
Masterpiece. The first song of the night to feature an acoustic
guitar...played by Bob Britt. Bob walked out from behind the piano a few
times and seemed strong in stance. He made some fine gestures during False
Prophet. He didn’t rely on any gimmicks or tricks. He never played the
harmonica, but found some fine lines on the piano. In some ways the band
seemed to be all together gimmick free. The lead guitar lines hidden from
our view al la Robert Johnson. Nothing flashy. Tony Garnier bowed the bass
to great effect and Charley Drayton found fills to suit each song. Even
the light show was serene and atmospheric, rather than loud on the eyes.
The songs, though, told story after story about travelers who love and
brag and carry swords and find themselves on borderlines or somewhere near
the horizon line. The lyrics echo ancient Greek life and the beginnings
of the Roman Empire. Some people follow their muse, and some people brag
about the size of their cock. Early Roman Kings is still being played
along with these new creations and it fits well within the framework.
Tonight it didn’t have the same old one chord blues stomp, but instead
featured softer edges and a new way of getting the song across. Maybe
someday Bob will be ready to cross the Rubicon. I think it’s cool that
Bob features two songs that were originally produced by LEON RUSSELL. He
also name checks him during MY OWN VERSION OF YOU. Ten years ago they
toured together. Today one still graces the stage, while the other can
only be recalled through praise. I enjoyed the grooves on the older
songs. Bob clearly enjoys certain songs from his back catalog that some
people like to call trite. I’m still impressed with the rewrite of TO BE
ALONE WITH YOU. Ever since Shadow Kingdom I have been humming that one to
myself. He adds in a possible murder and ends with a claim of mortal
bliss. Bob has always been an interpreter. Before he wrote songs he
interpreted them. He found ways to bridge the gaps between genres. Then he
wrote many songs and found himself interpreting his own songs. In his last
attempt to challenge himself he interpreted a whole bunch of American
Songbook numbers. Was he also learning Sanskrit and Arabic at the same
time? He played one number from that foray last night...Melancholy
Mood..and it suited him and the band well. He played that after a song
that is sure to be somebody’s wedding song. If I ever find myself in the
throes of matrimony it’s going to be my pick for the first dance. That
song being I’VE MADE UP MY MIND TO GIVE MYSELF TO YOU. He really sings
that one out and It connects. The lovers who seemed to surround me in my
otherwise empty section all cuddled up during that one. Prior to that
two of the couples found some kind of accordion agreement between their
respective parties. The men made wild gyrations while their wives laughed.
I’m not sure what they were going on about...perhaps nothing that a
bachelor can grasp. Mother of Muses sounded out a beautiful, historical
and immortal call. Bob really could have been some kind of a history
teacher...and in so many ways he is...but instead of lecturing he is
singing...and he brings us back to the river...that same old river that
you can’t step in the same way twice… One more romp...a goodbye....
And he talk sings the last verse...like a talkin’ blues: G-d be with
you, brother dearIf you don’t mind me asking, what brings you here?Oh,
nothing much, I’m just looking for the manI came to see where he’s
lying in this lost landGoodbye Jimmy Reed and with everything within
yaCan’t you hear me calling from down in Virginia Jovial Bob takes a
break from the drama and the journey to talk to the crowd. He mentions The
Liberty Bell, Freedom, The Rocky Statue, cheese steaks and Frankie Avalon.
He has fun introducing the band. We were left with one final prayer. Every
Grain of Sand may be one of his best final songs ever. It ends an album
and it’s the perfect song to end his show. It’s a beautiful and
haunting song that finds the narrator on a higher plane...the end result
after taking the time to watch the river flow. (I’ll be at the show
again tonight and I may find a different way to review the results) This
was my third time at The Met...and this show was the best of the three.
Review by Laurette Maillet
I did the mistake of traveling the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The bus is one
hour and a half late. My friend Olivia has to get me downtown Philadelphia.
We drive to Morton. I take a shower and have a nice sleep in my bedroom,
in a house that is my second home. My third being in Ezuz.
I work in the garden , collecting the Automne leaves. The weather is pleasant.
By 5pm Olivia drives me to the suburban train station and I walk the half hour
to the MET. I've been here before. It did not change. There is an empty lot
next to the theater and the BD bus is parked there. Bob inside until 8pm,
I present copies of my paintings to attract the Fans. Trying to sale or to
exchange. I met my good friends/ fans from Australia. They are the ones who
travel the farest for that show! Meet other fans who know me.
A Lady and a young boy approach me. She has an extra ticket on her phone.
She wants me to give all my copies to her son in exchange. Weird but fine.
She's a bit rough. I talk to Liam, who is an Artist. So I understand better.
I walk inside with them and take my seat on the lodge , far up.
By 7.55pm a lot of seats are empty and will stay empty around me.
Bob is on time. All dressed in black. So are the boys. The stage is barren and dark.
Hard to see Bob.
I focus on the music.
Bob hops from the piano to center stage and back but he's holding on the mikes
and piano. His voice is as clear as it could be.
Some fans are enthusiastic around me and I ignore the ones moving back and
forth in the middle of a song. I enjoy myself as if Bob would be playing for me in
my living room. I wish I could zoom on the stage!:). I should buy binoculars :).
"Serve somebody" and "Goodbye Jimmy Reed" make the public react.
Bob mentions the Liberty Bell, Birthplace of Freedom, the birthplace of Frankie
Avalon, the Philly cheesesteak ("can't forget those!"), and the Statue of Rocky!
Before introducing the Band.
It was a good show. I had a nice day and a great evening.
As I walk out I bump into Jack Fate who will give me a ride to the train station.
Olivia waits for me with some food and a warm bed :)
Life is beautiful.
Thanks to all my good friends.
Thank you Bobby. The Band.
The technicians and crew people.
I haven't see Bobby off stage for a while but...
This is the way HE wants it to be.
Good night Bobby in Philadelphia. Have a small cheese-steak and a good night sleep.
See you tomorrow, same place, same time!
Review by Nicholas Roseto
Monday, November 29 and Tuesday, November 30, 2021
‘What’s the matter with me. I don’t have much to say’. I have
been wanting to find some time to gather my thoughts about the nights of
Monday, November 29th and Tuesday, November 30th. Two nights in a row we
didn’t get a chance to hear those particular lines due to either sound
issues or Bob Dylan not ready to deliver them when it was time.
I actually have so much to say. So much to think about. So much to
process. I had been listening to Rough and Rowdy Ways and enjoyed it.
But it was more atmospheric when I listened at home. After the shows, I
don’t want to listen to it. I want to remember how I heard it those
nights. Early in the tour I read some reviews. I may go back and find
one that had me crying, tearing up. It coincided with a video I had seen
of Dylan maneuvering from center stage’ish to back behind the piano and
how he appeared to need the mic stand and the piano to help him. The
reviewer was describing how this is a goodbye, both the album and the
shows. The visuals of that video went through my head.
As the shows neared I waned myself off of reading most reviews. I
didn’t watch any videos besides that first one and one of the early
introductions and chatter.
So I was glad to see a stronger Dylan than I expected but there were still
elements of needing the piano or sitting on the bench between songs.
Now to those two nights in Philly. A town, as Dylan noted, ‘The
birthplace of freedom! Oh yeah!’ which was so great to hear. But that
freedom was founded through turbulent times. Now going to these shows
were under the shadow of horrendous incidents taking place a few short
blocks away. The day prior to the show, a Temple University student was
shot and killed in the street by his car as he returned back to school
after Thanksgiving break. With that in mind, and similar other recent
incidents all in the neighborhood just north of The Met, it was with light
heart and trepidation making the trip. In fact, Monday night driving
home, just a few blocks from venue, we drove right to a crime scene with
yellow tape and all the fixings. Had to back down the street to find an
alternate route from a city filled with murder most foul. I wouldn’t
dare miss it (the show) but wish things would change for such a great
Lucky for me, I was attending each of the shows with two of the main loves
in my life. Night one with my longtime girlfriend. Night two with my
daughter, who I have to worry about at that murder most foul university
mentioned above and just up the street.
Both nights were great but yet different. Monday was more relaxed, laid
back. Tuesday was more exuberant. Even The Met staff seeming to be more
wound up or high strung the 2nd night. A much kinder, friendly and more
relaxed staff the first night. All the Met staff that were attendants
getting people to seats and in the building were great both nights. Just
there were more security guards the 2nd night with yucky vibes. Both
nights had a Live Nation employee patrolling up and down the aisles
looking for cell phone use. This person I think travels with the tour. I
love no cell phones, but this guy was a huge distraction from such great
shows. More distraction than a cell phone. I even think the sensitivity
of the metal detectors were turned up on Tuesday. I went through the same
one both nights wearing and carrying the same general items. Tuesday
night my belt set off the detector while Monday did not. During the band
introductions and chatter on the 2nd night, more staff and security
started taking positions on the floor. It started during Goodbye Jimmy
Reed. One staff member took up position in the middle of the aisle
blocking my daughter’s view. For some reason, these unnecessary ramped
up maneuvers lasted the last two songs and band intros.
So Monday had a little bit later start in heading to show due to work
obligations. So I packed some sandwiches and snacks to have after we
parked. My best idea was a little bourbon in a water bottle we drank on
the walk to venue. We went to check out the tour bus scene, which for me
is always part of the event of a Dylan show. Unlike the last time at The
Met, where the staff shooed us away off a public street, tonight the
street had police closing one end and barricades and a guard at the other.
Had a nice chat with one of the venue employees sitting at the fence to
the bus rubble parking lot. It’s not just the streets of Rome filled
Night two was with my daughter. Skipped the bourbon with her. Instead,
met her at school, got a bite to eat and then went parked closer to venue.
Again, hung outside venue, checked out the bus the best we could. There
were a lot more bootleg t-shirt vendors outside the venue. The whole
scene seemed a little more bustling. Said ‘Hi’ to Laurette who I saw
looking for a ticket. She had no idea who I was but she has been part of
the story of this tour. Saw many taking their last long drags on their
vape pens before heading into venue.
Again both shows were great. Monday seemed a little more relaxed, Tuesday
more exuberance from the crowd right from the start and, I think as a
result, a little bit more from Bob. He did seem to have more energy for
the songs but more tired in between. Monday he was behind the piano more
and had one arm and hand draped to the front center of piano. Tuesday he
spent all of ‘I Contain Multitudes’ center’ish stage and part of
‘False Prophet’. I was worried he over did it and he did seem to sit
in between songs gathering himself. Maybe he did that Monday too and I
didn’t notice it. But Tuesday he did come out a bit more.
So most of the night I would just hear these lines. Like there they were.
Kind of like flying by. Places. People. Lots of people. Events.
Almost the way Dylan describes himself as the vessel just capturing these
creations that are in front of him. Most were from the Rough and Rowdy
Ways songs. Here he is storytelling in the tradition he always did. What
he set out to do. Passing history on so it carries on. So it isn’t
lost. And in that, he included himself. Both nights I would hear these
lines or words or phrases pop in here and there, but each night it was
mostly different ones that were being picked up by me. I would hear an
affirmative chuckle from someone near me, or to the side of me, as though
that line spoke to them, or they totally were in the same place with where
Bob was coming from.
It was after the 2nd show and having time to process a bit with a closer
look at some lyrics that the magnitude of it all starts hitting me. Like
that review I read early in the tour and what we are being left with. We
are so lucky. I have seen Bob Dylan many times. Yes, I miss set list
surprises. Yes, I miss the guitar. I miss the harmonica. The guitar
repetitive two, three note solos that build, or the harmonica, expressing
the moment from Bob through the songs. They added unique take of songs on
that particular night. Now it’s the vocals. The delivery. And it’s
with such care. It’s serious. It’s handled with care. The piano is
fine. I feel the piano playing was more refined in 2019, maybe because of
the baby grand. I like the tink, tink, tink, TINK, TINK, TINK and how the
band, mostly Doug or Donnie, will play off the piano, but this is about
the vocals here. But then there was some nice piano like repetitive
stanzas to end songs or for some effect here and there. Plus it certainly
sends signals to the band and tells them what to do.
False Prophet was fired up both nights, especially the vocals. How about
the acknowledgment that pierces off the stage and just tears away, ‘I
opened my heart to the world and the world came in!’ That stands out.
HELLO MARY LOU! HELLO MISS PEARL! I love that.
Tuesday we could hear some chuckles from Dylan in between songs and after
or before a line or two here or there.
Key West seemed to be an audience favorite both nights. Monday night it
was the first song where I didn’t seem to be the only one standing up
applauding at the end of a song. Tuesday night people stood up at the
beginning of the show and were pretty charged up in between most songs and
during a few.
In the 2nd row on the left side of stage (stage right if on stage) there
was beautiful lady with a young soul on Tuesday night who was up dancing a
lot, waving her handkerchief during ‘Early Roman Kings’ and you could
tell she lived her life accompanied by Bob Dylan. This lady was what
it’s all about. My daughter said someone in our section across the
aisle from this lady kicked her to get her to sit down. In the row in
front of me and to the left was a man, again with a young soul, who
attends shows with his middle aged kids. It sounded like from the
daughter that each take their turn, or rotation, in taking dad to see Bob
Dylan, almost as if a chore. I would find myself looking at the lady in
the 2nd row and this man near me throughout the night wondering about how
Dylan’s music filled their life. Or how their life unfolded with Bob
Dylan filling it with texture. Their history. Their soundtrack. Their
life. I want that movie of their life with the Dylan soundtrack taking us
through their years. And here we have Bob saying here’s my
retrospective on all that and, believe or not, I thank you for sharing
That brings me to I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You. A song
for us? Or with us? Or we’re a part of. The touring. But somewhere
along the way him during pandemic times with him writing, working coming
to the realization and saying, ‘No, I got more to do before I’m
through’, and possibly with the fear that COVID put an end to it, so was
going to take it to the world the first chance he could. Thank goodness
he did. Then right at the end of, ‘My eyes like a shooting star’ he
does some definitive motion off his lapel and then points like don’t
miss this, ‘It looks at nothing here or there, looks at nothing near of
far’. Kind of like Dark Eyes in a way. Are we the ‘It’? Then
‘Lots of people gone.’ For Dylan when writing, it’s probably more
about his acquaintances to John Prine. Made me think of all those who
didn’t make it to see these shows. One being, Philadelphia’s
Dylanologist, and singer songwriter, Peter Stone Brown, who shared his
eloquent thoughts on shows with us for years. I believe for the 2019
Philadelphia Met show there was an empty seat for him in the audience as
it was shortly after he left us. These two shows had more empty seats for
more people gone, more than we knew.
Again, the minstrel, the folk tradition, the song and dance man, passing
on so much. Honestly, could we even keep track. Some completist probably
has. Anne Frank. The Rolling Stones. Shakespeare with ‘to be or not
to be’. Edgar Allen Poe. Liberace. City of God. Rome. St. John
the Apostle. Salt Lake City to Birmingham. Beethoven. Chopin.
Ginsberg, Corso and Kerouac. Honestly it could go on and on. That’s
not even 10% of who we were reminded of or places we’ve been during
these shows. It’s like, ‘I’m worried. Please don’t forget.’
Is that also ‘Goodbye Jimmy Reed’?
I have loved each band I have seen which for me starts with the JJ
Jackson, Bucky Baxter, Winston Watson, and of course, Tony. I read in
some reviews it was hard to tell what Doug Lancio was doing as he is
easily hidden behind the piano. He does some really nice sounds. Like
Charlie Sexton layers but more specific or apparent, if that makes sense.
And Bob Britt was great handling the heavy lifting. He also had a heavy
metal looking V guitar for a few songs. Charley Drayton is something
else. I’m a drummer and have grown attached to each one from Winston to
David Kemper to George Recile and appreciated and looked forward to seeing
more of Matt Chamberlain after 2019. Charley is just so right for this
sound. He made me want to run out and get a bunch of drumming
accouchements I didn’t even know existed. His drums looks so cool. He
looks so cool. His posture and movements in that silhouette almost make
him like a cartoon character. A cool drummer cartoon character. He plays
with space and beats.
The older, non-Rough and Rowdy Ways songs were all great to hear. They
showcase the band playing together. Each night, for me, different songs
stood out. When I Paint My Masterpiece was really good the fist night but
the second night they all seemed to be in their own world during it a bit.
Those earlier songs from his catalog stood out with different jams or
sequences or changes in each of them.
I was aware that the show most likely ended with Every Grain of Sand. I
was so looking forward to it as it sounded like a special version. Even
though I’ve heard it at shows in the past, something about these shows
ending with a tender version had me feeling like the dog barking version.
That version reminds me so many things come and go in our lives. Fill our
lives with everything for a little bit and then you’re forced to move on
to another phase. I was looking forward to it and Monday’s version was
a bit of a letdown. It just felt a little rushed. Tuesday was more in
the place I liked and where I thought it would be based on some earlier
descriptions. Just the security scuttle and their defcon mode took a bit
off of the full impact.
I could go on and on. I have loved many shows. I know which ones
standout to me. Not sure I even think of these ones like a ranking. It
was more like life, and life only, and everything in between, and
surrounding it, along with all we know about history and culture in 1 hour
and 40 minutes. Then after we hear ‘Like every sparrow falling, like
every grain of sand’, the lights are up and we need to go back out there
and make sense of it all. And that’s it. We’re back on our own. At
least we have the soundtrack of life to go along with us.
‘Home of the Philly, what’s it called? The Philly cheesesteak? Oh
yeah. Let me tell ya, those are yummy. (laughs) You eat one of them,
you don’t have to eat the rest of the year.’ Bob Dylan - The Met,
Philadelphia, PA 11/30/2021
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