page by Bill Pagel
Review by Peter Stone Brown
Bob Dylan's debut at the mammoth First Union Center found him on from the
first note singing "Maggie's Farm" in a shockingly clear voice and rocking
hard. And this arrangement of the numerous arrangements of this song
seemed closest in feel and spirit if not in the actual notes to the guy
who took the stage at Newport in 1965. This was followed by a rather
astounding "In The Summertime," with Larry on harmony (and mandolin) but
the action was all in Dylan's staccato-like vocal and he was having a hell
of a great time singing it, almost charging the melody with the emphasis
on lines and words: STRANGERS they MEDDLED in our affairs. It was an
The charged quality of the vocals kept up for "Tombstone Blues," and then
yet another heartfelt "End of the Innocence," and when he got the verse
"Beautiful for spacious skies," there was no doubt why Dylan was singing
this song. A menacing "Things Have Changed" came next with a fairly crazy
piano solo in the middle and Dylan putting emphasis on the line "Feel like
falling in love with the first woman I MEET" and then the audience rose
for "Brown Sugar."
The show then seemed to lose a little steam on "Positively Fourth Street,
which seemed to drag slightly, with Dylan blowing a line in the second or
third verse and didn't have the intensity of the versions done early in
the tour. A few times during the song Dylan switched from his usual
acoustic lead playing to actually strum a loud, old-style Dylan rhythm as
if attempting to pick up the pace.
This was followed by "It's Alright Ma," on which Dylan sounded downright
nasty and even angry, enunciating each line clearly before changing gears
to the new bluegrassy "Shelter From The Storm" which gets better each time
I hear it. My friend Andrew had pointed out to me that that this
arrangement is very close to the Band song, "The Weight," and that
observation was very true of the Philly performance. Unlike the two
previous versions in New York, Dylan sang the last verse twice instead of
repeating the first verse.
The usual version of "Drifter's Escape" and was followed by "Masters of
War," and this time around George Receli held back on the drums which
seemed lower in the mix then at Madison Square Garden. The sound for the
show was excellent. I had never been to the First Union Center which
dwarfs the Spectrum right next to it and had hear mixed reports about the
sound. But at least where I was sitting, there were no echoes or other
sound quality annoyances of most arena shows.
A good though not overwhelming version of "Don't Think Twice" came next
with Dylan playing search and find guitar, but then things really got back
on track with "Honest With Me," with Dylan's vocal regaining the intensity
it had at the start of the show, on the last verse singing "I still got
their advice ooh, ooooooooozin' out of my ears." "Times They Are
A-Changin'" came next and once again Dylan was singing every word like he
meant it. This intensity stayed through "High Water," and another truly
moving "Mutineer: and then came the night's big surprise, the second live
version ever of "Po' Boy" with Bob on piano. And while it didn't have the
crazy exuberance of the Grand Rapids debut of year before, it was just
perfect, with Dylan lining out each verse in a voice that was as sly as it
As usual "Summer Days" ended the show and this time I was close enough to
see what they were actually doing in guitars, especially when it got to
the trading solos part which happens astoundingly fast but there is no
doubt that Dylan does his part on guitar in making this song sound the way
The show ended with the encore of "Blowin" followed by "Watchtower," with
Dylan singing the final line of the first verse, Any. any of it, any of it
If the show didn't have the playfulness of the song selection and emotion
of Madison Square Garden, what it did have was Dylan singing with amazing
intensity (especially at the beginning) and not only that, but the
confidence to make his voice do what he wanted it to do.
"People walk up as if they know me, just because I've written some song
that happens to, uh, bother them in a certain way and they can't get rid
of it, you know, in their mind. Well that's got nothing to do with me,
'cause they still don't know me. And I still don't know them!" --Bob Dylan
e-mail: email@example.com http://www.peterstonebrown.com
Review by Brian Slattery
Well, it's almost six a.m. and I just got in from the Philly show and a trouncing
at Atlantic City afterwards. The former was excellent. The latter left something
to be desired. Tonight's show was a last minute trip and a nice bonus for me. I
saw the two MSG shows, and was in need of another Bob fix, but didn't think I'd
get it until next week, and that's only if I'm able to get to Wilkes-Barre. So,
when things fell into place today, I was quite happy, and after tonight's great
show, despite my whipping at the hands of the poker dealer later in the evening,
I am still in good spirits. After buying tickets tonight at the box office, and
waiting outside for a few minutes, while the p.a. looped the first two verses of
"LARS" over and over, the doors opened, we made our way inside and I made my way
to an ATM. Coming from North Jersey, I didn't expect to see anyone I knew at this
show, but as I waited for the ATM, the young woman in front of me turned around and
said hello. Clare, whom I've known for many years, having worked with her father
and her in my parish when I was younger, was there with her boyfriend, and a couple
other friends, including fellow Dylan enthusiast, Keith Tomson. (Did I spell it
right?) Like me, Keith was at the two MSG shows, and also like me, is a fan of
Warren Zevon. We compared notes for a while on the recent MSG shows, and last
year's amazing outing by Bob and the boys in post 9/11 New York City. I
inadvertently mentioned "Something" which Keith was trying to keep secret. Again,
my apologies. It wasn't played tonight, which was what I had guessed, feeling that
Bob did it as a special tribute in a city that is quite special to him. In any
event, it was nice seeing Clare and meeting these fellow Dylan fans. Sorry I
didn't remember all your names.
After we parted company with Clare, Keith, and friends, we made our way to our seats
and found that the rather inexpensive seats purchased only an hour before were only
ten rows up in the lower section. They were side-stage, but from our vantage point,
there was a direct line of sight to where Bob would be playing, unobstructed by amps,
speakers, or anything else. By this point, it was close to 8 p.m. and there wasn't
long to wait. Around 8:20 p.m. the lights went down, and we could see Bob before
anyone else. He and the boys took the stage and opened the show with "Maggie's
Farm." This was a good opening song, just as "Tweedle" and "Real You" had been.
It was also nice to see that he opened with something different. "In the Summertime"
followed and this was my first time hearing it live. Bob nailed the vocals and the
song worked well in the second spot. "Tombstone Blues," "The End of the Innocence,"
"Things Have Changed," and "Brown Sugar" followed. Bob and the boys did a great job
with each of these. While expertly delivered, and faithfully done in the case of the
covers, there was nothing much different from the past two nights, so if you'd like
to know what I think of them, my comments from the previous nights should cover it.
Next, Bob held sway through an amazing "Positively 4th Street," with some nice guitar
work from Larry, Charlie, and Bob. As incriminating and vitriolic the lyrics to this
one, Bob delivered an almost tender version, due largely in part to the acoustic
arrangement they've developed. "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," "Shelter from
the Storm," "Drifter's Escape," and "Masters of War" followed. Again, all were
well-played, as in the previous two shows at MSG. "Shelter" was moved from its
original place, but that was the only major difference, and "Drifter's" was the first
of two harp solos for the night. "Masters of War" was masterfully done, but there's
just something about me that makes it hard for me to get into this one. I will
strive to understand why I am not moved or enlivened by this, one of Bob's most
political and angry songs.
At this point in the show, following the format of previous shows, I thought Bob
would be going back to the keyboards, but in the dark, I could see him still
standing with the acoustic guitar, and when the lights went up, I saw him move a
harmonica closer to where his mic stand was located. And when they started in
with "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" I figured Bob was planning to raise this
song to another level with a blazing solo at the end, so for the entire song,
which was beautifully played, I was expecting a harp solo. This version of this
classic song didn't drive along at break neck speed as some in the past have done,
rather it was more pensive and plaintive, focusing on the lost love that is the
subject of the song. With anticipation of a harp solo, I was a little let down
when the song ended without one, but then I realized how masterfully it had been
played. A harp solo would have been nice, but in the sense that it would have
added to an already wonderful performance.
"Honest With Me" followed and Bob and the boys were on target on this one as well.
Next came "The Times They Are A-Changin'" which ended with a powerful harp solo,
with even a little knee-bending on Bob's part. Following this song, which had
everybody up on their feet in admiration, we got to hear "High Water" and
"Mutineer." Both were great performances. Then, when most people were probably
expecting "Floater" or "Bye and Bye" Bob surprised the Philly crowd with "Po' Boy,"
which was nice to hear in this penultimate 'Love and Theft' slot.
Then, without band introductions, Bob led the band into swing time with the
rollicking "Summer Days." It seemed a little restrained compared to the two
previous nights, but that was quickly changed, especially during the extended jam.
After leaving the stage for a few minutes, Bob and the boys returned for "Blowin'
in the Wind" and "All Along the Watchtower." Between the two, he introduced the
band, which I believe were his only words of the night, compared to several
comments from the second MSG show. Both encores were performed faithfully and
expertly by these masters of the craft of music. Without technical difficulties,
as was the unfortunate case at MSG on Wednesday, the full strength and power of
these songs were felt. There were definitely many people in the audience
wondering if he'd do his tribute to his buddy George again, but like I said
earlier, it seemed like a one time thing. Whether that will be proven false in
the remaining shows is yet to be seen, however, for tonight, it held true. After
a formation, the lights went down, and Bob, Charlie, George, Larry, and Tony were
off the stage, down the ramp, and out to the awaiting buses. That was the end to
another great night of music.
As we left, I saw people standing outside one of the tour buses, which were
located below where I stood. I tried to see who it was, but couldn't get a close
look, even with my binoculars. Whoever was standing outside finally got in and I
watched as the buses, several cars, and one limo, led by a police escort, headed
out of the First Union Center on to another joint. I hope to catch him one more
time this year. If I don't get the chance, while disappointed, I won't regret the
three shows I was able to see. Bob did not disappoint. All three shows were
excellent, with special moments in each. I am quite blessed to have the chance to
see the master work his trade. If anyone has any comments about my review, or
would just like to talk Dylan, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Brian J. Slattery
Review by Craig S.
THIS PHASE OF THE NEVER-ENDING TOUR JUST CONFIRMS THAT DESPITE WHAT DAN
AQILANTE SAYS, BOB IS GETTING EVEN BETTER. IT IS REVIEWS BY COLUMNISTS
THAT ARE ONLY 20% ON TARGET THAT MAKE YOU WONDER WHO KNOWS WHAT ABOUT
MUSIC. OK, THE PIANO PLAYING IS QUIRKY, BUT THIS HAS BEEN FOR THE GUITAR
PLAYING ALL ALONG. THE MUSICIANSHIP HAS BEEN STEADILY MOVING TO A HIGHER
LEVEL, AS HAS BEEN THE SONG SELECTION AND RE-WRITING. MAGGIES' FARM
STARTED THE EVENING OFF WITH A HEAVY BLUES ADAPTATION, WHICH SET THE TONE
FOR MOST OF THE EVENING. IT DID GO ON A LITTLE LONG AND BOTH CHARLIE AND
LARRY DID NOT HIT THEIR STRIDE YET ON LEADS. IN THE SUMMERTIME WAS GREAT,
WITH THE HARMONIES DRIVING THE CHORUS. TOMBSTONE BLUES WAS QUITE BLUESY
AND JAZZY. BOB DID SAY," THE SUN'S NOT YELLOW, IT'S A CHICKEN". THE END OF
INNOCENCE WAS THE FIRST HIGHLIGHT, NOW THE BAND WAS STARTING TO GET
POWERFUL. BEAUTIFUL, REALLY. THINGS HAVE CHANGED WAS PHRASED BY BOB VERY
MEANINGFULLY. "I'M IN LOVE WITH A WOMAN, SHE DON'T EVEN CAAARE FOR MEEE".
BROWN SUGAR, IS GOOD, I'M NOT REALLY SURE OF THE REASONING, IT'S ROCK BUT
HE MAKES IT LIKE FROM HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, SO OK I GUESS.IT WAS
SURREAL,AND THE DRUMMING WAS NOTEABLE.. I KNOW SOME SAY HE DOES TOO MUCH,
BUT HE SEEMED PERFECT TONIGHT. BOB LIKES THE CHANGE I THINK, AND THIS GUY
CAN PLAY.BOB SAYS "LIKE I KNEW YOU WOULD", TO STAY AWAY FROM THE SLAVE
SHIP INCORRECTNESS.TONY EVEN SINGS ON THE "YEA" PART AT THE END.
POSITIVELY 4TH STREET SOUNDS LIKE "I SHALL BE RELEASED IN THE BEGINNING,
ALOT OF INSTUMENTATION AT THE END.BOB DOES A GOOD LEAD, HE IS NOT MISSING
AT ALL THIS NIGHT ON THE GUITAR, BUT IT TAKES 7 SONGS TO FOR HIM TO LEAVE
HIS KEYBOARD, A FUNNY BEIGE COLORED INSTRUMENT.WHEN "IT'S ALRIGHT MA"
STARTED, I THOUGHT IT WAS "BALLAD OF A THIN MAN". THIS VERSION IS VERY
JAZZY, VERY GOOD. PEOPLE CHEERED AT THE OBVIOUS PLACES. I THOUGHT BOB WAS
STARTING A PEACE MOTIF, IT DID SHOW UP LATER. THE 3 PART HARMONY IS
SHELTER FROM THE STORM WAS INCREDIBLE. DRIFTER'S ESCAPE WAS BARELY
RECOGNIZABLE, I WAS NOT SURE OF THE BLUES RENDITION OF THIS ONE. THE DUEL
LEADS WERE VERY STRONG, HOWEVER. CHARLIE PLUCKING AND BOB'S HARMONICA
FINISHED THE SONG.MASTERS OF WAR WAS STRONG, WITH BON AIMING HIS WORDS.
DON'T THINK TWICE WAS VERY GOOD, FINISHED WITH GREAT LEADS BY BOB AND A
SURPRISE BLUES ENDING. BOB ALWAYS LOOKS AT THE DRUMMER TO WARN HIM, BUT I
THINK THIS GUY KNOWS. HONEST WITH ME WAS BLUES AGAIN, LARRY ON SLIDE.
TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING FEATURED VERY INCREDIBLE 3 PART HARMONY,
UNBELIEVABLE REALLY. BEGINNING OF HIGH WATER SOUNDED LIKE COLD IRONS
BOUND, BUT THE BASS AND BASS DRUM SETS THIS VERSION, A GOOD BOB LEAD AT
THE END. MUTINEER WAS STUNNING, HE REALLY MADE THE SONG HIS OWN HERE. PO'
BOY WAS A BIG HIGHLIGHT, KIND OF A RARITY, AND DELIVERED WITH PASSION AND
HONESTY. BOB PLAYED PIANO. SUMMER DAYS REALLY ROCKED, TONY PICKED UP HIS
STAND UP BASS FOR A WHILE, THEY DID IT PERFECTLY. ON THE ENCORES, BLOWIN
IN THE WIND HAD ALSO PHENOMENAL HARMONIES, THE PROOF THAT CHARLIE'S
ADDITION A FEW YEARS AGO WAS NOT JUST FOR HIS GUITAR. WATCHTOWER WAS
STANDARD CROWD PLEASER. PEOPLE HAD HOPE FOR ANOTHER ENCORE, BUT I KNEW
THIS WAS NOT MEANT TO BE. NO MISSISSIPPI THIS NIGHT, AND I ACTUALLY MISSED
TANGLED, BUT WHAT CAN I SAY. DAN AQUILANTE SHOULD HANG IT UP. ALSO MY
FRENCH GIRLFRIEND FROM MONTREAL SAYS THAT LARRY IS A GOOD LOOKING. I SAY
HE IS A GOOD PLAYING. I WILL SAY WHAT I HAVE SAID BEFORE, I AM GOING TO
SEE DYLAN WHENEVER I CAN. FROM CRAIG S.
Review by Stephen Walter
This is one I'll have to hear on CD to give its due. Great
performance, with stunningly powerful singing--as much as or even more
than MSG--particularly in the first 2/3 of the set: wait until you hear
the mightily impassioned, all-too-brief "In the Summertime," not to
mention the gorgeous "Shelter" and the best "Positively 4th St." I've
heard in years, sped up just enough and lightened by Dylan's acoustic
(almost a late '92 or '93 sound there). By "Po' Boy" he was working hard
to get the vocals across, and though he managed fine on the whole, at
other times the effort showed: it needs a few more run-throughs for him
to ease into it fully, I think (here's hoping), but it was wonderful
Very large crowd at the First Union Center, with even a few of the
upper sections filled: receptive, but not exactly fired-up with
enthusiasm, and typically ill-mannered, as evidenced by the ceaseless
rotation of legs attached to torsos supporting arms attached to beers,
cheese fries, and hoagies, and also supporting heads bearing mouths
emitting loud drunken chatter, up and down the adjacent aisle throughout
the evening up to the very _encores_, I kid not.
If tonight lacked some of the subtlety of the two previous dates and
was geared a little more toward standards like "Don't Think Twice" and
"Times," Dylan's singing easily took up any slack: a powerhouse show, no
question about it. Unfortunately, certain parts of it I was barely able
to listen to at all, what with my finger jammed in my ear like Little Jack
Horner. From where we were seated, on the stage-side of 114 in the loge,
the sound was simply excruciating: incredibly raw and piercing from (a
tremendous) "Maggie's" onward, only worsening towards the end. When even
the acoustic songs jab your eardrum, you know you are in trouble. "Honest
with Me," "Summer Days" and "Watchtower" each in its turn drove me out
into the hallway, howling like a dog kicked in the head.
I haven't had this happen at a Dylan show in a long time now, and
never quite so bad, not that I recall. At least I found it so. The
snacks-and-beer devouring horde seemed reasonably contented, though
perhaps the astonishing frequency of their hunting-and-gathering
forays had some connection to the abysmal conditions back at camp. Oh
well. I'll be on the floor in Hartford close up to the stage; win some,
lose some. Just a shame not to be able to experience that
hell-for-leather singing as it deserved to be experienced.
Review by John Frisch
Dylan gave another in a string of remarkable perfomances last night.
Highlights were a rollicking Maggie's Farm, a great It's Alright Ma, a
stinging Positively 4th Street, a spooky Tombstone Blues, a wonderful
rendition of Shelter from the Storm, a clean reading of Things Have
Changed and a great version of Po' Boy which he rarely plays. Summer
Days and Watchtower rocked ferociously. Dylan's piano arrangments gave
luster and a great new sound to Highwater, Honest with Me and some of the
many songs he performed on it. Dylan was in superb voice, fiercely
growling some his sharpest lyrics; for me the clarity and passion he
infused into Don Henley's End of the Innocence and Dylan's own Masters of
War made those songs real highlights of the show. The band seems to get
tighter and tighter each time I see them and I noticed that with his
emphasis on piano he seemed more willing to let Charlie Sexton really
stretch out and perform more solos--a real plus. Two
disappointments--Brown Sugar seemed, frankly, ridiculous--a reading not
unlike a high school garage band and I thought it disrupted the flow of
the show. I also would have like a third song in the encore, but the
latter is a minor complaint given the otherwise strong performance
Review by Alex Leik
Bob Dylan came to the stage in Philadelphia full of the energy and
dedication that was lacking from the last 2 nights in New York City. Once
again, as in 2001, the Philly crowd out did the NYC crowd (IMHO), and Bob
and the band fed off of this. A traffic accident turned a usually 2-hour
drive from Southern PA into an almost 3.5 hour affair, but I am sure many
who read this encountered that delay. Instead of going solo, or with a
friend, I was with 6 people for this show, including Mom & Dad's 4th show
- they always get good ones (Baltimore '99 & '02, Towson '00). All felt
that it was a magical Bob night, the kind I was worrying may be all but
gone after the MSG shows;-)
Bob and the band took the stage around 8:15P in the same outfits they had
been wearing in NY. But, they wereinto "Maggie's Farm" with an energy that
was missing from NY. Bob was really into it, and the crowd jumped on the
first line, offering their applause before he could get it all the way
out. Bob seemed to almost be singing about the farm as a metaphor for the
music industry - that he had had enough, especially the "They say sing
while you slave and I get bored..." line. Really a great version! "In the
Summertime" was a nice surprise. Although I knew he had played it a few
times, I had yet to hear it. It was done very well, with Larry offering
some nice work on the mando, and he and Charlie offering sweet harmonies.
"Tombstone was no different than the NYC versions, but the crowd response
was, which ultimately gave it more energy. Bob is convinced (and
convincing) that the son is chicken! "The End of the Innocence" was worlds
better than the version the first night in NYC, much more emotion. For a
minute, I had my concerns that we were going to get the same thing as NY -
too much emphasis / emotion given to the covers. But, THC changed that. I
said all the bad things I could say about this song after the 2nd MSG
show, and Bob simply delivered it tonight. A GREAT version that had people
up and moving. THC started and I thought "Damn, here we go again!". But by
the end, I knew this show was going to be better.
"Brown Sugar" was as expected. Can't really get tired of this yet because
I enjoy the crowd reaction in each city, and they still simply "ROCK!" on
it. "4th Street was a great surprise, and the acoustic solo played by Bob
was another sign that he was paying more attention to his originals this
night. WOW!! Very well done, perhaps the best I have heard of this song.
"It's Alright Ma..." differed little from the NYC shows, but I really like
the arrangement a little more each time I hear it. Interesting - I
mentioned to my brother before the show that it was a 12-bar blues
arrangement and he was skeptical at best. But, he was won over. "Shelter"
was slightly sloppier than NYC, but Bob appeared to be singing it to
someone in the first few rows and may have lost his place, so he repeated
the last verse, one right after the other. That I do not recall in NYC.
But, the band was much tighter on than in NY. Still, I am not at all
impressed by this arrangement, but a clear sign that Bob was more into it
Charlie was allowed to go on "Drifter's Escape", and he did. A blistering
version, and I think tonight, I was actually able to distinguish it from
"Wicked Messenger" through means other than listening to the lyrics ;-)
"Master of War", again, had more emotion that MSG night # 1. I was unsure
about George's drums in this after MSG but am now convinced they make the
song better by reminding us of the impending doom we are all facing in
today's world. Maybe he'll play it loud enough for W. to hear in Fairfax.
A GREAT version! "Don't Think Twice..." always receives a nice response in
Philly. You can hear a pin drop as Bob sings the verses, and the crowd
eruption after he whines "It's awwwwwlraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaht" is well worth
the price of admission. I remember thinking that he should have played
this at MSG in place of one of the covers. Well, he did it tonight in
place of "Old Man", I believe. I thought it added much more to the BOB
DYLAN concert (already enough covers), but there were some with me who
felt otherwise. Maybe if I had yet to hear "Old Man", I would have felt
The final portion of the main set was performed in a pristine manner by
the hardest working band in the business. "Honest with Me" & "Highwater"
received their usual arrangements. However, the latter seemed to have a
bit more "umph!", and while I am still not impressed by the current
arrangement of it, I did not feel the need to look at my watch! "Mutineer"
has been the highlight for me these past few days in NYC, and this was no
exception. Best cover song I have ever heard him do. I have said enough
about it in the NYC reviews. It all still rings true. "Po' Boy" was a
shock. I was pretty sure this was a one and done - that it would never be
played again. But, it was, and what a fine version. Bob did not get all of
the verses, and didn't even try to sing them in order to the best of my
memory, but it was a great version with which the band had fun. Very
different feel than the only other time they played it in 2001, due in
large part to the piano, and no acoustic guitars in Philly if my memory
serves me well. "Summer Days" was a fitting conclusion and while the
'extended jam' seems to be the same each night, even down to the cheesy
movements, it still works. The band is unreal, and Bob gives them several
minutes at the end of each night to prove it.
The encores were the same as the last night in NYC, but this time I was in
my seat until every last soul had left the building. Unfortunately, I was
not rewarded. You learn the hard way with Bob, which is why I am glad I
finally purchased my Fairfax ticket today. After the 2 MSG shows, I had my
doubts and seriously considered sitting that VA one out. But, Philly (and
missing "Something" @ MSG night # 2) changed my mind. I don't think I
could look at that set list if I stayed home that night. Incidentally, my
brother, who swore he'd never see another show after David Kemper left,
was pleasantly surprised by George (his first time seeing him).
All in all, a much better experience than my MSG shows. The covers were
done just as well as in MSG, but they did not overshadow the Dylan
originals. That is ultimately all I was asking for. 3 down, 1 to go. Back
to work for a few days, then onward to Fairfax...
Review by Willy Gissen
Philadelphia, PA, September 15 and Boston, MA, September 16-It's 2 AM, and
I'm thankfully home in my apartment after concerts four and five of my
eight-concert extravaganza. It's the first time I've seen Bob Dylan on two
consecutive days, and the accomplishment was a measure of my devotion as a
fan. From my home in Westchester County just north of New York City, I
drove about 125 miles down to Philadelphia, listened to the concert and
then drove 125 miles back (who can afford hotels.not this unemployed
ex-campaign staffer). After about six hours of sleep, I drove 200 miles to
Boston the next morning, visited the ex-wife of an old friend (it's a long
story which I won't get into here), listened to Mr. Dylan in the evening,
then drove back 200 miles through the torrential rain of a Nor'Easter.
I'm starting to learn a little more as I become a more experienced
tour-goer. I'm getting a feel for Dylan's song selection; it's really an
art in itself how he varies the tempo and works in the standard songs and
those that are special to each event. And each concert seems to have these
special nuggets.In Philadelphia, one was "In the Summertime," in Boston,
"Every Grain of Sand," and "A Simple Twist of Fate." "Every Grain of Sand"
was important to me (even though it was played sans the great harmonica
solo on the album) because of the influence Dylan has had on my religious
beliefs and my becoming a born-again Christian. "A Simple Twist of Fate"
also hit home because of an almost-girlfriend I had on the campaign. I
remembered Dylan's comment about its album, Blood on the Tracks, that he
didn't see how anybody could get pleasure from songs that came from that
much pain. The song moved me deeply, but because of Dylan's comment, I
didn't applaud after it.
In addition to individual songs, the overall audience reaction varied from
each concert as well. In Philadelphia, one fan protested Dylan's new habit
of playing some songs by other artists. She screamed, "Play more Dylan,
Play more Dylan." In Boston, for the first time in the concerts I've been
going to, the audience was really attentive to the lyrics, almost silent
at times as they strained to understand every word. Perhaps, that's why
Dylan rewarded us by playing "Every Grain of Sand," one of his now more
private religious selections.
One great thing about going to Dylan concerts is that it's easy to make
friends by talking Dylanese. I went to the Philadelphia concert solo and
had a friend cancel out in Boston, but at each event, I got into long
conversations and became on a first-name basis with my neighbors. We
compared opinions about the latest Dylan developments and the finer points
of the concert as it unfolded. You'd be surprised how many of the audience
are familiar with the recent set lists, are going to more than one concert
per tour, and, of course, know the songs forward and backward. It's much
better than the outside world where you often have to start from scratch,
like talking to a child.
Some additional observations. Dylan seemed more relaxed in both
Philadelphia and Boston than he was in Madison Square Garden. It's like
Bob Dylan in Madison Square Garden raises such high expectations that even
Dylan gets caught up in it and feels more pressure to excel. In Boston, he
started joking to the crowd, "I always thought that pop critics should
criticize other pop critics, at least, that's what Van Morrison says." In
Philadelphia, I thought that he forgot to introduce the band, which he
usually does before playing the last song, "Summer Days." This let the
audience really enjoy the jamming on the song without the sadness of
thinking that the concert was almost over. Or maybe Dylan just forgot.
Anyway, he introduced the band afterwards. As I said in a previous essay,
you can never be totally sure with Dylan.
When I got home at 2 AM this morning, my Dad had faxed me a review of
Wednesday's MSG performance in the New York Times, titled, "Dylan's
After-Hours Side." Despite the hour, I, of course, read it. Here's an
excerpt: "Meanwhile, he and his band knocked around the songs with
confidence that the tunes could survive countless transformations, sending
them back to blues, western swing, rockabilly and mountain gospel.His
concerts always mix the masterly and the arbitrary, the pointed and the
Well, it's getting a little sad now as I realize that my odyssey is now
more than half over, but I still have a third consecutive day in Hartford
tomorrow (technically today since it's past midnight) and then Kingston,
Rhode Island on Wednesday and Wilkes Barre, PA on Thursday.
(to be continued)
Review by Jerry Donahue
For an anniversary present my wife purchased two tickets to the Bob Dylan
and His Band concert at the Fisrt Union Center. In addition, we booked a
hotel in center city Philly and took off early for some afternoon
refreshements. As we drove into the city, we blasted songs from the Harry
Smith anthology. People gawked as we disturbed their sidewalk shuffle
daydream with " Little Moses". We laughed, taxis beeped, and two men
with tattooed faces gave us two thumbs up. As we checked into our hotel,
the busboy described a nineteen thirties show tune that just happened to
have my wifes name in it. Then he sang " Lady Lady Lay" as he took our
bags to the room...Philly was very gay and joyful today.
Sitting at a cafe priming for the show. We drank some german wheat beer
and mused about the upcoming event. Women passed by wearing Burberry's of
London clothing in unison, Doormen snapped up dollar bills, and the hip
cafe played Coltranes " Giant Steps" . We witness John Timiny the Ex
commisioner of the Philadelphia Police and now talkshow talking head walk
his dogs. As they relieved themselves, I said to myself if dogs run free
than why not me....Anyway onto the show...
Catching a Taxi to the show the cab driver like our hotel captain was
impressed with Bob. We met up with some friends who are consumate Dylan
fans. We discussed Richard Farina's book, the harshness of the christian
right, and of course stories about Bob and his band. We also met
legendary Disc Jockey Ed Shocky. He was a bit elite and short with
us...Almost insulting. Then we thought after all he only plays records.
Now onto the show
The lights were turned low and " Maggies Farm" was introduced...Nothing
specatacular except Bob was on the elcetric piano. Animated as ever, the
band dressed in grey sounded better then ever. Summertime was next and
some fine harmonies. Tombstone Blues, great arrangement...the band still
warming up it seemed. The End of the Innocents sang with purpose, there
is meaning here. Things of changed indeed as Bob pounded out some great
piano notes. At this point i must say, I had an annoying women talking,
after making several gutteral sounds to quell this beast, I turned around
and threatened her husband soundly. It worked!
Brown Sugar, If I may say so....played better than any Rolling Stones
version or concert, I ever heard. Bob's band is where its at! Then an
amazing Positively Fourth Street. All those that have bashed Bob's guitar
playing should have heard this version. It was jamming,Bob led the band,
and Charley shook his head and smiled... Arguably, the highlight of the
Its alright Ma....sounds like Ballad of a Thin Man....Must say like the
guitar version better. Shelter From the Storm, another highlight....The
harmonies were angelic as they repeated the last verse. Drifters escape
rocking and unrecognizable to the Dylan virgins...Master of War
poignant...Don't Think Twice...a crowd favorite, another outstanding
guitar solo....Willie Nelson watchout...Honest with me...Bob sent a
message to his drummer during this one...lets just say a verbal warning.
Like a riddle, the Times are a changin' is timeless song. Highwater..."
The cukoo is a pretty bird She warbles as she flies"....Mutineer great....We
will float, We will Float We will Float....Po' Boy...Outstanding...Tom Waits
Summer Days....Rock and Roll....Bob is it...and once again his band is the
best around. Blowin in the Wind and Watchtower....Predicatble but sung
with heart and soul. Especially, in my opinion, WHEN there are alot of
cold hearts and lost SOULS
As my wife an I lay in bed on our anniversay....I whispered in her ear.
The answer my friend is blowin in the wind....I went to bed with a smile.
Thanks to My wife and Thanks to our modern day Hank " Elvis" Shakespeare
Bob Dylan and Thanks to his Band...You go Tony!!!!!!!
page by Bill Pagel
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