page by Bill Pagel
Review by Rick Pearl
After the third and final show of Bob Dylan's stand at Boston's Orpheum
Theatre, April 17, all I can say to folks in the Tri-State area is: if
there are any tickets available to shows in NJ, CT and NY in the next two
weeks GO GET THEM! Dylan's wrapup concert in Boston was the culmination
of one of the finest and most inspired set of shows I have seen in a
number of years.
One need only look at the set lists from these three shows and compare
them to earlier sets from this North American tour to realize that Bob has
taken his show to a whole 'nother level. In three dates, he sang 38
different songs (unofficially), with the only two repeats (twice each)
being "Highway 61 Revisited" and "All Along The Watchtower." There were
approximately 10 songs that he had not played previously this year,
including one for Sunday's finale - "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" - that
quick research would indicate he hasn't performed in at least five years.
Perhaps it's the new band members, perhaps it's the realization that for
these multi-night shows in small venues there are going to be more of the
hard-core fans in attendance - whatever it is, Dylan appears to be mixing
things up more than he has in a few years. And did I mention that the
music behind the lyrics sounds great too?
The Sunday show began with the familiar "Drifter's Escape," which is
always a high-energy song to open with. But any thoughts that this would
be a standard set list were quickly dispelled. A great, C&W version of
"Love Minus Zero/No Limit" followed and hushed the crowd. Donnie Herron,
who has replaced Larry Campbell - one of my favorite band members of
recent years - gave the first of several fine performances on pedal steel.
Next came a charged-up version of "God Knows," which, although not from
one of the Holy Trinity of Dylan's Born-Again albums, served as (one of)
his Sunday specials. I believe this was the first time I have heard this
performed live and it was terrific. Bob then settled into a groove where
he alternated ballads with rockers. "Ring Them Bells" preceeded a rousing
"Leapord-Skin Pill-Box Hat" which was followed by "Tryin' To Get To
The regular set ended with an incredible trio of songs that underscored
just how deep Dylan's repertoire of songs truly is. First, the previously
mentioned "St. Augustine" from the "John Wesley Harding" album. As a
veteran Dylan concert goer, it's not often that I get stumped on what song
he's singing. But as I stood there trying to figure it out, I remember
thinking that this was a great piece of music. When I finally figured it
out, I was bowled over! Not only was this great, but it was pretty rare.
How many other artists can pull off something like that? Most are lucky
just to get through a standard repertoire of the same songs night after
night. Dylan sang over three dozen unique songs in three nights! As my
brother noted, the band deserves a lot of credit for their part in that
flexibility, as well. Next was "Ballad of Thin Man" - always a fan
favorite. Then, the highlight of the night - a mesmerizing, head-shaking,
how-the-hell-does-he-do-it rendition of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" that
sent shock waves through the house.
For the encore, in keeping with this tour's habit of changing things up,
Bob opened with "Lot to Laugh/Train to Cry" - what a song! - before
sending the crowd home buzzing with another great version of "Watchtower."
An incredible three nights in Boston. I envy those who have a chance to
see Bob and the boys in the next few weeks.
Review by Bill Routhier
I saw Saturday night too, good show, but Sunday was something special.
During the Saturday show, the band was maybe a little tighter, and moments
in Forever Young and If You See Her were more slowly lyrical and genuinely
But songwise, I was being knocked out right and left Sunday night. When
Love Minus Zero came out second, I got these chills that, yeah, this'll be
a good set night.
Ring Them Bells was stunning... slow, elegiac, apocalyptic, ushering in
the downfall of things as we know them, standing stoically at the gate is
our Bob, waiting as the bells ring in the air above... when he got to the
final line, 'breakin' ...down the... distance... between... right... and
wrong...' kind of spitting each word, it was just pure ore of prophetic
gold... like seein' john the baptist or something, homey... Down Along
Cove was this long jam, really cooked... he threw in a couple of new
lines, maybe improvising, hard to tell... 'down along cove, the jack is
standing with the queen, saying lord have mercy, mama, I'll give you the
biggest bone you ever seen...' at least that's how I heard it... I guess
it could have been any number of other words, 'throne' would make sense
...but I heard bone...
I Believe in You was good, but just kind of ok good, by that I mean,
heartfelt... he goes off into the driving rain and doesn't care etc, all
about independence of vision and belief in what he knows to be true,
'...keep me set apart' ... he was earnest and right-on but his singing was
calm, he didn't try for any of the high notes that sung demands, if you're
gonna reach up to god... but still good... god heard...
Augustine, we're in prickly skin territory again... when he puts his
fingers against the glass, I'm just stunned... the crowd stood and clapped
a long time for it, a show from knowledgable Bobheads acknowledging the
rarity of the performance of the song...
oh, I forgot Tryin' to Get to Heaven... beautiful, and on the chorus he
strung it out - 'trying.... to get to heaven... before they ...close the
door...' and the encore of Watchtower nicely begun by 'It Takes a Lot to
Laugh...' another rare one...
But it was Hard Rain that was the killer. I can't parse it, I can't put
down what it was that made it transcendant, but it was the prophetic voice
again... those are the moments for me, why I go, why I drop an obscene
eighty bucks, twice ... you're watching a prophet up there, a gen-u-wine,
bonified truthsayer, and the whole skin of the world, the reality of the
'concert' peels back and there for a moment is a crack in the universe,
like in the old Rosicrusian ads in the back of comic books, and time goes
into its actual mode - it's not slowed down or sped up, it's not 'eternity
in a second' or one of those things we say to try to describe it, but it
is like floating in water, with no separation between you and the
immutable truths streaming by and the scrawny bent-over little guy up
there who's pulling open the portal so they can come through so you all
Billy Zoom (aka W. Routhier)
Review by Link Montana
Tonight I got to take my son Sam to his first Dylan concert.
to be blessed with a 16 year old son who not only likes it,
but gets it, is truly sublime. We motored North from Cape Cod
on this supremely fine day and slid into a parking space on
Beacon Steet. Outside the Orpheum we ran into my Dylan
mentor "Salvador Scottie" and Sam got to meet Frederica(?)
who he was totally intrigued by. We only caught the last song of Amos
and it was a shame because he sounded freakin' great.
Band looked and sounded cool. I was wonderin' how my wingman would feel
about Merle as an avowed non lover of C&W. I think Merle summed it up; "If
you're not havin' fun, somethin's wrong with you...We're thinkin' about
givin' the money back." I can't imagine how anybody on the planet could
not have enjoyed Merle and his band . These boys are so on the money and
Merle's singing and demeanor were superb. Talk about a relaxed performer!
There were these almost mini versions of gems like "White Line Fever" and
"Swingin' Doors". It was basically a primer of what is good about county
music and no one in Merle's band missed a downbeat all night. No jaded,
bored with it ennui on this stage. And it wasn't like it was a big deal to
them. They were just playin' another gig and being really good. Absolutely
no slop and when missus came down and sang "Jackson", on the same mike no
less, I was dyin'. Not anywhere near enough has been said in these here
parts about what a treasure Merle and his boys are .
GO SEE THIS TOUR!
Well it wasn't like the old days up on the rail, but we had a good
enough view and of course things kicked of with "Drifter's" 'cuz
It always does. It was a little rough seein' Scott in row 1 again.
(How does he do it?) ("Dad, next concert can we go with Scott?")
Sorry that I've got absolutely nothin' to complain about, but I like
this band. There were plenty of musicians on stage tonight and
the Don & Denny show gets my vote. Jr was totally diggin' Stu.
By the way: whoever is doin' the lighting and stage design is really
getting it right. Low points: LSPBH: it didn't seem to end soon enough.
TDTD: Why Bob why?? High points: EVERYTHING ELSE! Imagine hearin' "Where
have you been my blue eyed son?" over and over again, with your very own
blue eyed son? A memory I shan't forget. It was just good. BOATM ruled.
I loved the huge ovation after SA. Bob played a couple of really good harp
solos tonight and I could hear way more piano. I saw Bob at the Orpheum
almost 10 years ago exactly on another Sunday night and it's such a
bigger deal now and deservedly so. He has pulled his game up so much. In
this world gone wrong it's a beautiful thing that Bob hasn't "Gone Elvis"
on us. And because of that, tonight I got to show my son alot about where
I come from....... and he dug it.
orleans 2:40 AM
page by Bill Pagel
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