April 6, 2013
Review by Larry Fishman
University of Massachusetts in Amherst is the States' largest, state
school located amidst cow pastures and mountains about 2 hours west of
Boston proper. The last time Bob played here, a prankster called
Antonio's, the town's best pizza joint, and ordered 100 pies for the band.
On sympathy I stopped in for a couple of slices (the spicy chicken with
hot peppers and onions was yummy) and quickly discovered the staff were
unaware that Dylan was back playing down the street….umm don't accept any
big call in orders. Anyway, as I drove to the show I pondered that I have
seen about 2% of the 3000 plus shows that js suggested by this site
performed during his career. Not too shabby.
The Crowd: Can we say politely that this show was over booked. We were
an enthusiastic, appreciative audience, but the arena is way way too big
for my 71 year hero. The floor was full, but the risers around the bowl
had a thousand or so and that may be generous. If memory serves, this is
my 4th show in this venue and by far the smallest crowd.
Dawes - opening Act: These California rockers (isn't that an oxymoron)
opened the show promptly at 7:30. I am pretty certain that I saw a couple
of them along with their crew unloading guitars from their cars and
playing frisbee and hackey sack in the parking lot before the show.
Striking me as a cross between Wilco and Jackson Browne, this foursome
played a professional, ernest and forgettable opening set. They weren't
bad, just not catchy enough for my taste.
The Band: The elephant in the room is that Charlie Sexton has been
replaced by Duke Robillard. If I had a quarter for every time I have
overheard someone praising Charlie, I'd be a rich man (And by god, I am a
rich man - see what I mean). I dig Sexton as much as the next guy, but
the last number of times including 2 of the last 3 shows back in the fall,
he was clearly muzzled. I've seen him on fire, I've seen him push Bob
and trade licks but let's be real - that wasn't happening anymore. With
that said, I'm going to give the new guy a solid B tonight. He played
lead all night - I wish he'd turn the knob on his guitar up to 7 from the
5 its on to have him a bit more prominent in the mix. He's a few years
older, and a couple of stone heavier than Sexton, here's hoping Bob trusts
him as he gets acclimated into the band. Regardless, they had time to
order Duke a matching grey suit which he wore along with the customary
black shirt along with the rest of the band. And he knew to bring his
Bob: He simply looked fantastic, rested, comfortable and smiling for the
whole night. Dressed in a black suit, with white stripes up the leg and a
string tie. Bob was an energetic presence all night, if not a full out,
engaging front man.
We got nearly the same songs as the tour's opener in Buffalo with
"Watchtower" replaced "Highway 61." As I did not journey north I was
happy about that, I think it's time for "LARS" to take a breather and I am
thrilled with four Tempest tunes (memo to Bob: how about "Tin Angel") and
interesting to note only three songs from the 1960's from the "voice of
the 60's generation." Okay with me.
The stage was spread out with just 2 mirrors out front to confound the
photographers with flash, 4 large lights hung from the rafters and the
stage was filled with theatrical Light fixtures. No incense brought out,
no limping roadie and no introduction, just Stu Kimball galloping out on
stage riffing a few blues chords as the band assembled and launched into:
1. Things Have Changed. Bob spry on his feet skedaddled to center stage
to launch this show. Nice snappy start to the evening - I think Tony
Garnier got a new bass, this one is smaller and thinner than he's played
previously - had a nice rhythm going. Bob nodded to Duke for his first
short solo of the evening.
2. Love Sick. With Stu Kimball on acoustic leading the band with the
main riff, Bob stayed at center stage rocking back and forth, extending
his arms, smiling, glowing.
3. High Water. Nice to see the banjo brought back on this number and
Bob continues to hold court at center stage, foot tapping, sashaying back
and forth, weaving, nodding, grinning, preening and then at the song's
end, holding on to the empty mic stand, microphone in hand leaning his
whole body into the final words. Magnificent.
4. Soon After Midnight. Time to take a seat, so Bob ambles over to the
piano for a relaxed and rested take on this slow waltz. A sweet precise
treat with a touch of the blues and a quick smile.
5. Early Roman Kings. Time for some blues. Just love George Recile's
drum arrangement on this one, really gives the song it's oomph. Our Ding
Dong Daddy gave a crisp, low key and grooved take that would do Muddy
6. Tangled Up in Blue. I've got good news to report, we've got a fresh
arrangement and it's about time. I think the last time I truly liked
hearing this song live John "JJ" Jackson was in the band - that was the
mid 90's. The song had become a messy slog at times, albeit always a
crowd pleaser. This version was toned down just enough to bring back some
of it's nooks and crannies. It's still performed as a rocker, but the
vocal arrangement is different and slower (the first line came of the gate
fast almost as if Bob remembered to ease off the gas). At times the Band
played softly and quietly really allowing the vocals to guide on that
incredible journey. And as always you get a rewritten line or two which
is always half the fun. Hopefully we'll get a bootleg to check, but
instead of a poet from the 15th century, I think we got "a crook from
7. Pay In Blood. Performed a bit slower than the album and the the band
playing softly behind Bob's amazing words. One of many gems on the night.
My god, these lyrics as well as the entire Tempest album just
effortlessly flows. Bob didn't need to haul his rhyming dictionary off
the shelf as these words just ring and flow so perfectly. While a
ballad, this tune is as edgy, nasty and cutting as anything The Sex
Pistols ever thought about recording.
8. Visions Of Johanna. He should be playing this one every night, doncha
think? Nice, straight take, he must have thrown 10 different voices into
the song by the time it was through. Seated at the Piano, with a nice
deep, rhythmic version.
9. Spirit in the Water. And before I forget, we got a lot of harp
tonight and he was downright John Popper like on this one. Really getting
into the harp and not those old one noters, but a fully mouthed huzzah.
He knew he was hitting it and gave a nice 2nd harp solo right at the
10. Beyond Here Lies Nothin' Another great ballad and it should be said
that overall this was a mellow night and put me into the camp that
believes that this is where he needs to stay. I don't need Bob to scream
and hollar above the band, at this stage I think he sounds better at the
lower volumes. This vocal was a sweet and clear, all the cobwebs out of
the throat. I think the couple of months off showed - he sounded great,
man. And yes, another energetic harp solo which really brought the crowd
to it's feat. He let loose.
11. Blind Willie McTell. Some more banjo - the only times I notice
Donnie Herron is when he play some banjo (otherwise he seemed tucked
behind Dylan, hatless and out of place). Anyway, this was a wondrous take
and my new Dylan friend, Barbara, sitting next to me exploded with glee as
her favorite song got another airing. The dude to the other side, told me
he thought it the best of the night and the first time he heard his
favorite song live. Jeez, it's everybody's favorite song - certainly the
best song Dylan wrote in the 1980's and it was sensational. Bob at center
stage, was moving and grooving and even did a little march as he was a
bundle of energy.
12. What Good Am I?. Whoa. A beautiful, slow mournful take that had the
crowd softly clapping in beat to this highlight. Superb. I may be
running out of superlatives because this was a good night - note for note,
song for song. Sure there was some holes here or there, but nearly a
13. Thunder on the Mountain. The pot smoke was over taking me - I told
you it may not have been a big crowd, but it was a good crowd. I'm in the
let Bob do whatever he wants to do team except for traditional christmas
albums and this frickin' song. I know it gets the crowd up and the blood
flowing, but it's charms evade me.
14. Scarlet Town. Thank you. A gorgeous take on this intriguing and
masterful song. You can't come up with a better example of the continued
vitality of Robert Zimmerman in the later stages of his long career better
than this tune. Stunning.
15. All Along The Watchtower. The one set change from Buffalo elicited
surprise from everyone around me and a little relief as well. I'll be
finding out shortly in Kingston and Lowell what kind of set list changes
await. Anyway, it's always a pleasure to hear this chugga chugga classic,
brought to a near stop in the middle only to blast off before the end.
16. Ballad of a Thin Man. Time for an encore and no introductions for
the band as Bob didn't utter a word to the crowd the entire night. He
doesn't need to with performances like he gave us this evening.
Review by Jason Polanski
Bob Dylan played a familiar venue, the Mullins Center, at the University
Of Massachusetts to a diverse crowd. Let's face it, Bob is 71 years old
(and still rockin'). Now a days, his crowd includes grandparents (some
still rockin'), and just about every age group under them. This concert
was also my first "Tempest" show as I skipped the fall tour due to
overpriced tickets in ridiculously large NBA arenas.
Just a quick note about the opening act, Dawes. I like them. IGreat
roots/rock sound and very talented and they have potential. I bet their
next album will be their "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot".
And on to Bob's performance. Lights went down at 8:30, Stu came out
strumming chords on the acoustic guitar until hitting a sort of
county/minor key riff that turned into THINGS HAVE CHANGED. I always
thought that when Bob played this as the third song, it was the point
where the concerts really took off, so why not make it first! It also
became the first of three songs to open the set with Bob at the center
stage mic with no guitar. On LOVE SICK, Bob played a dramatic and
understated harp solo. This was the show's turning point. After that he
started digging into the lyrics. After that everything was at a higher
level. The third song at center stage was HIGH WATER. The song is now back
to a heavy acoustic rhythm, led by Stu and Donnie.
The version of HIGH WATER was the point where we started talking about
this bands "new" sound. It was not the charging acoustic version from a
couple years ago I saw at the Riviera Theater. Not even the electric grind
of the Capital Theater show last year. It had a funky acoustic movement
that rolled just enough to its balance, like a tight rope walker or a man
on stilts. At this point, the crowd was standing, and it became a great
song to groove to, to move your body to. But again, for Bob, a softer more
acoustic tone, back to the 2001/2002 shows that had acoustic sets opening
After that, Bob moved to the piano. He played it mostly standing up at the
keys, however, this was the part of the concert where the audience sat
down, so instead of dancing, I studied. He played two Tempest songs at
this point, SOON AFTER MIDNIGHT and EARLY ROMAN KINGS. "Midnight" was
good, not too slow, nice extended solo with Duke Robillard and Bob trading
licks. "Kings" was great blues, Bob belting out the line, "my bell still
rings". Extended outro with Bob developing a descending riff on keys,
Donnie copying it on pedal steel, and Duke getting a lesson in Bob 101.
Now the next two songs, well, strange would be the best word. Maybe they
required a direct hit of whatever was in the air, instead of the
ineffective second hand smoking that most of us were doing. TANGLED UP IN
BLUE actually seemed like they screwed up the chord changed but went with
it anyway. Sometimes, Bob pulls this off to great effect, but this version
never took off, save for a great Duke guitar solo. Then there was PAY IN
BLOOD. New version of a song he's only ever played live a couple times.
Very weird in that the minor key parts were softer and more spacey then
the album, but at times, the song would go back to the harder riffs of the
album version. I feel like Bob is actually developing something great
here, just not there yet.
Two more piano songs, SPRIRIT ON THE WATER and VISIONS OF JOHANNA. Yeah,
both spot on performances, just a little slow. "Spirit" with cool harp
playing and "Visions" with a soft and smooth vocal delivery. It was
probably time for more dancing and Bob gave us that opportunity next.
BEYOND HERE LIES NOTHING was the highlight of the night. The crowd stood
up after Bob's first of three extended harp solos. As Bob started digging
into the riffs, Duke followed and the two old bluesmen created musical
magic. It was loud and heavy, the first and one of only few departures
from this bands more mellow acoustic sound. BLIND WILLIE MCTELL followed
with the same passionate harp playing and an "every word matters" vocal
Bob then slowed it down again, sitting at the piano, performed the nights
other highlight, WHAT GOOD AM I? This is the type of performance when Bob
drops the whole idea of singing from the gut and actually sings from the
heart. No funny phrasing or weird keyboard riffs. This was just pure
THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN brought back the energy this time with Bob leading
the solos on piano, rocking back and forth, urging the band to go faster
and harder. Duke really getting Bob 101 at this point. SCARLET TOWN
followed, better live then on the album, Bob talking about junkie whore's
is always cool.
Oh yeah, and for the setlist followers, the nights only "surprise", ALL
ALONG THE WATCHTOWER. Another moment where Duke got to show his skills,
and he's just as good at psychedelic Hendrix style guitar as he can be at
the blues. BALLAD OF A THIN MAN on encore with very cool lighting effects
and to the buses.
So basically he played the same set as Buffalo. Maybe it was so good that
they wanted to try it again, or maybe Duke and the boys are still
rehearsing all the songs, but certainly a good setlist to see. Great song
choices. An obviously more acoustic tone to the show. This happens to be
the 69th time I've seen Bob. Tuesday will be show number 70. The reason
why that many I suppose is because he still is changing his sound, and
that's a good thing.
Review by Martin Abela
I left my apartment at 6:30am to catch the Greyhound bus to Buffalo on
the day of the concert. My trip to Buffalo was uneventful. As usual on
the Greyhound, it took about 45 minutes to pass through U.S. Customs,
since all passengers must get off the bus and speak to Customs Officers
individually. I had no problems.
After a filling breakfast at a restaurant in the Niagara Frontier Bus
Station, I made my way into Buffalo. I walked to the Church Street
Metro-Rail station to catch the rail transit. It operates on a Proof
of Payment system, meaning you buy a ticket from a machine, and carry it
with you as you ride in case an inspector asks to see it.
I had a bit of trouble with the machine. I was trying to stuff a U.S. $5 note
into the machine. Noticing my confusion, a Buffalo native came to my aid.
He helped me, pointing out that I had to push buttons to select my type
of ticket first, and soon I had my ticket and I was on my way.
I rode the Metro-Rail to the last station, University, which is on the South
Campus of SUNY-Buffalo. Unfortunately, the concert was on the North
Campus! I rode a local bus to the North Campus, and then wandered the
campus looking for the venue, which was Alumni Arena, a multi-use facility
(basketball, tennis, swimming etc.) for student and faculty use.
There were only a few people in line when I arrived. There were two
lines, one for students (who got in free with their ID) and the general
public, who needed tickets. The lines were divided by a barrier.
Over the front of the lines there were large banners explaining all
They had a lot of rules! No bottles, no cans, no umbrellas, no guns, no
knives, nothing deemed by “us” as inappropriate or dangerous.
The signage also explained that we would have to pass through metal
detectors before the show, and would have to remove all metal from
our bodies before entering the metal detectors. I put my keys, coins and
phone into my knapsack and stashed it in a friend's car. A young woman
in front of us (first in line!) was wearing lots of metal jewelery –
necklaces, belts, bracelets, rings, etc. She took them all off and put
them in a plastic bag before the show, and put them back on inside the
I was happy to see my old friend Chris show up around 1pm. He didn't
have a ticket, but that was a minor detail at that point. I assured him he
would get in to the show. He did. He is from Buffalo, and I met him at a
Bob show in Buffalo on February 23, 1999, when I gave him his first
concert bootlegs. They were on cassette tapes in those days! He and his
girlfriend Steph were regulars at Bob-shows and gatherings in Buffalo and
Toronto. She wasn't present, so I feared the worst. However, Chris soon
gave me the good news. They had recently been married! I gave my hearty
congratulations. Chris and Steph had stayed with me and Beth at my place
in Toronto when they came up for a Bob-gathering in the mid-2000s.
It is funny how these queues go. It seems like a small group show up
between noon-1pm, and then no one else arrives until 5pm! That was
the case on this day. More Canadians I knew showed up later –
Jayne from Southern Ontario, Sue from Ottawa, Steve and his brother
from Ontario, and others I may have overlooked. Apologies all 'round, if I
We found that there was a “digital art show” going on in a nearby
College building. We were using their facilities, but there was also free
coffee and sandwiches available, which we enjoyed. Every venue should do
that for queuing Dylan fans!
The doors were set to open at 6:30. By 6pm the lines were very long. The
excitement mounted as we were allowed to enter the building. The metal
detectors and cattle-line barriers made it seem like airport security.
However, since we had prepared and were at the front we got through
quickly. We got through the seating area, scurried safely down the stairs
and on to the floor.
When we finally ended up at our spot I was front and centre on the rail,
right in front of the microphone Bob would sing into so much during
tonight's show. I was standing with a bunch of Canadian friends like
Jayne, Paul, Sue, Steve and his brother, all of us leaning on the rail,
soon to be before Bob. We had to wait for the Dawes first. It was an
anxious, one hour wait. The wait seems to drag on so long! At least when
the Dawes came out we had some entertainment. I enjoyed their music. I'd
call it soft rock, I guess. They reminded me of Jackson Brown. The lead
singer referred a couple of times to how honoured he felt to be playing on
that stage, although he didn't mention Bob by name.
No slight to the Dawes (their music was enjoyable), but looking forward
to Bob as I was, I was glad when their set was finished. We only had to
watch Bob's crew set-up first, and then Our Man would take to the stage!
During set-up, there was one surprise, a woman (part of the crew, I think)
came out and made an announcement about the importance of not taking
photos or videos during the show. She said something like (not an
exact quote by any means) “The Bob Dylan Touring Company would like to
ask you not to take photos or videos during the show. Besides your arms
blocking others' view of the stage, the lights are also distracting to
others. The Bob Dylan Touring Company will take some photos during the
show and they will be available for viewing or download on the official
website”. I checked http://www.bobdylan.com and there were no sign of
This made me understand the purpose of the mirrors, which were again
set up facing the audience low on the stage. Any flash photograph taken
from the audience would be spoiled by the reflected flash from the
Another wait...less anxious this time. The sense of positive expectation
is heightened by watching the roadies set up the band's instruments.
Gradually the number of crew members dwindles down to two and then
only one. Finally he completes his all important task, and, like The
Wizard of Oz, disappears behind the curtain.
The lights dim, gradually - no sudden cut-off. No introduction for Bob -
the band just walks out to our applause and takes its places. In the near
darkness, Bob walks out to centre stage and takes his spot behind his
microphone right in front of those of us lucky enough to be front and
centre, on the rail. Bob would stand there singing for the first three
songs, and for five of the sixteen songs of the evening.
The first song was THINGS HAVE CHANGED. Bob sang it well, although his
voice seemed a bit rough after his months off. I enjoyed it and let
myself loosen-up and dance a bit, a huge relief since I'd been
standing for over eight hours between being in line and at the show. Bob
did the same, stepping back a bit and doing a little dance in between
verses. While he may not have looked too dignified doing so, without a
piano in front of him, or a guitar or harp in hand, he had to do
Bob got better with the second song, LOVE SICK. A fine performance,
and quite moving, as many of the songs were tonight. So they should
be. Isn't that why we come out to see Bob so often – the emotional
power of his songs and his performances? His voice was better too.
As always when I see it live, the song reminded me of the great
performance on the Grammy Awards. The final, poignant, punch line of
“I’d give anything to be with you “ was delivered perfectly.
The third song with Bob at centre stage was HIGH
WATER (FOR CHARLEY PATTON). Bob seemed to give a little bit of
“upsinging” finishing some of the lines at a higher note, but
only slightly. I couldn't see Donnie when he was playing the pedal
steel or electric mandolin, but when he played the banjo on this
song, he seemed to be standing up, and visible to me. His banjo
playing was fine, and entertaining.
Bob moved away from centre stage at this point, and sat at the grand
piano. The next song that got me excited was what used to be a
concert mainstay in the 1990s, TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Bob played this
seated at the piano. He seemed to sing it a little gentler than he
has in recent years. The best think about this song was Duke
Robillard guitar solo. His lead was fresh and exciting. He brought
something new to the song – something we haven't heard in a long
time. I enjoyed it more than most songs of the evening.
I loved the three more emotional songs of the evening. VISIONS OF
JOHANNA; BLIND WILLIE MCTELL; and WHAT GOOD AM I evoked feelings
and brought back memories that I had not experienced in years. I'll keep
going to see Bob (and so should you) as long as he keeps singing these
songs and playing them like this. All three of these brought tears to my
The songs from TEMPEST brought some real fire to the show. It says a
lot about Bob as a recording artist that his most recent album
contributed some of the best songs to this show. It is a shame that
much of the audience will not understand this. I could hear someone in a
video with excerpts of this show that is circulating on Facebook say -
near the end – that he did not know any of the songs. TANGLED UP IN
BLUE? THINGS HAVE CHANGED - which got radio airplay and was played
on the Oscar broadcast? But does this matter? If you are hearing a musical
legend playing some of his most recent music, isn't that a good time to
stand up and pay attention, to hear what this man has to say?
I know some of the dark, powerful lyrics from TEMPEST struck me to the
core Friday night, even though I have not listened to the album very
often (I will now!).
Listen to these excerpts of lyrics from TEMPEST songs Bob and his band
played at the Buffalo Friday night:
"They lie and they dine in their blood
Two timing slim
Who's ever heard of him?
I'll drag his corpse through the mud"
"They buy and they sell
They destroyed your city
They'll destroy you as well
They're lecherous and treacherous"
"I could stone you to death for the wrongs that you done
Sooner or later you make a mistake,
I'll put you in a chain that you never will break
Legs and arms and body and bone
I pay in blood, but not my own."
"Set 'em Joe, play "Walkin' the Floor"
Play it for my flat-chested junkie whore
I'm staying up late, I'm making amends
While we smile, all heaven descends
If love is a sin, then beauty is a crime
All things are beautiful in their time"
When Bob Dylan sings lyrics like that I stand up straight, look him in the
eye, and listen carefully, whether I recognize the song or not!
Tempest Songs==>(2012) 4
Modern Times(2006)==> 2
Oscar-winning songs(2000)==> 1
60s songs==> 3
70s songs==> 1
80s songs==> 2
90s songs==> 2
00s songs==> 4
10s songs==> 4
After the show, some of us – mostly Canadians – went to a bar for
post-show drinks and conversation. Our group included Tom and
Heather from Ottawa, Jayne from Ontario, Paul from Toronto Sue from
Ottawa, Steve and his brother from Ontario, Ross from California (he
had blown his transmission driving coast to coast for the tour!),
Hank from somewhere in the U.S. - Buffalo area I think.
Thank you to Tom Gillmore of Ottawa for giving me the setlist at the
bar after the show so I could begin working on this review that night.
Any errors in this review are mine.
-Martin Abela (a.k.a. AberdeenWatersFlow)
April 7, 2013
Today would have been Billie Holiday's 98thbirthday
Review by Steinar Daler
It's good to be back on tour again. Bob is in good shape, smiling and on
some songs he proves that he still can sing. Yes, I really mean SING. I
saw him last time in october in California. Good shows but of course I
missed some Tempest songs. Last night I got four. "Soon after midnight"
and "Pay in blood" was good but I think I liked the album versions better.
"Early Roman Kings", the weakest track on the album, was better live than
I had expected, but the real treat were "Scarlet Town" Bob was 100% into
it, an it was one of 3 highlights. The second one was "Visions of
Johanna". Amazing. The third higlight and maybe the very best one was
"What good am I?" Beautiful! The melody was almost new and reminded me a
lot of "Not dark yet". I know the concert have been recorded by some of
the best tapers so if you know what I'm talking about when I'm saying
DIME, you will get a chance to listen and hear those excellent
performanses. Listen to the ending of "Watchtower" as well. Good in a
special way too. I have seen Bob in Amherst once before (fall 2004) and
the only song he played both times were "Watchtower". Nice to meet a lot
of old and new friends at a pub after the concert. I'm looking foreward to
the next to concerts.Then I will hopefully be able to see Duke Robillard
too. In Amherst one of those crazy mirrors on stage blocked all of him
except for his hat from where I was sitting.
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