page by Bill Pagel
Review by Larry Fishman
Reasons # 103 & # 167 for being a Dylan fan are respectively his multi
date residencies and performances in varied sized halls & settings.
Tonight is the first of 3 nights (I can can only catch the first 2) at
Avalon. It's a nondescript nightclub directly adjust to Fenway Park, home
of the Red Sox, and Temple to 85 years of heartbreaking sports
disappointment and anguish.
I arrived early and spotted Peter Wolf, old Zimmy friend, lead singer of
the J Geils Band & Boston Rock Legend, waiting outside another club next
door. Dylan's bus arrived and out came a roadie who shouted that he was
looking for a large piece of plastic to block Bobby from the curious
throng. No sighting or autographs for the faithful on this chilly
Dylan looked thin, rail thin. Biafrian thin. Wearing a cowboy hat, stars
up the leg of his black trousers and a wine colored over coat, he looked
every inch the drifting cowboy that he has become at 62. The voice, after
three days off, showed no sign of relief.
Overally, the band was in crack form - this was a standard, almost mundane
setlist with absolutely no surprises. No "Romance in Durango." No "Yeah
Heavy" Jeez No "Tom Thumb." But what we did get was an energetic,
smiling, happy band who played real well together and were all having,
gasp, fun. I think that the dual drummer thing worked pretty well. They
took turms over the course of the evening and both seemed to have a good
time. Heyard does come from the open mouthed Mick Fleetwood school of
drum performance, but seemed okay. As long as Bob sticks to the no drum
solo rule he can change drummers all he wants.
Alright then, on to the show,
01 Maggie's Farm. With Bob squinting away, shimmering and shaking legs
at the keyboard the night began. Lots of fun and a strong start out of
02 I'll Be Your Baby Tonight. The first country tune of the night as
Larry Campbell played pedal steel a couple of times.
03 Lonesome Day Quite a frothy, boogie/woogie romp Channeling a little
of "Leopard Skin" along with some 12 bar blues and energy.
04 Just Like a Woman. Quite reworked, bass heavy with a slo mo,
hesitation on the chorus. It's that amazing phrasing (reason #35) that is
both impossible to sing along with and thoroughly engrossing. Some nice
harp playing - which Bob reached for a number of times over the evening.
05 Things Have Changed. This song hasn't. I know Bob digs his Oscar -
what's with that plastic one that sits right behind him anyway. Anyway,
another capable version, nothing more.
06 Tell Me That It Isn't True. Snappy and direct with the band back in
Lefty Friezell/Hank Williams mode. I loved it, but this was a night for
full bore rock and roll in a smelly, stanky club, so rock we are to get...
07 Highway 61 Revisited A torrid version with Campbell and Koella
trading guitar solos on 3 different occassions. I think they played a
total of 47 different guitars between them this night. Koella was
absolutely incredible playing an unusual Milk dud colored, square guitar.
One of the highlights of the evening. Superb.
08 Can't Wait. A spooky rearrangement (the third vastly different one to
my counting) sounding sort of like the theme to "The Pink Panther" but I
mean that in a good way. "Lonely Graveyard of my mind" lyric never
sounding so haunting. Good stuff.
09 Stuck Inside of Mobile With Campbell on acoustic guitar, this was a
fabulous version of a song that I usually tire of. Koella again nailed
his solo and the tune with the newly populated rhythm section just flat
out worked. Bob changed harmonicas 10 seconds into his solo giving it a
quizocal look before switching.
10 High Water Bob seemed to recover some of his higher vocal range for
this song - while I LOVED the first live performances of this song with
Campbell on banjo, this one has lots to speak for it.
11 It Ain't Me Babe Totally rearranged with the verses accompanied by a
one note strum from the band. Unrecognizable until the first lyrics, it's
a blast blast blast.
12 Honest with Me With Heyward on Congos, a straight take on this
13 Saving Grace. Back to the country one more time or maybe on to
14 Summer Days. The tune has been played in the past in almost a wedding
band/hava nagila extended get up and dance mode. This time it was played
up, way up. Ramped up to Spinal Tap 11. The boyz were charged and were
having alot of fun noodling around with this one. Come to think of it,
lots of jolly smiles up on stage all evening. In the middle of the song,
Dylan laughed so hard that he missed a couple of lyrics. He had been
making goo goo eyes with a blonde chick in a wifebeater shirt directly at
the center of the stage. She was singing word for word all night long and
doing this rather sexy dance with her hands waving above her head.
15 Cat's in the Well. Performed somewhat as it always has, a little less
bass driven then in the past.
16 Like A Rolling Stone. This has always been performed much the same
way (how can you rework perfection), but this time the chorus was done in
almost a hip hop style. I'm sure the old folkies would hate it, but I dug
17 All Along the Watchtower. Sealing the evening -- its the whammin'
slammin' crowd pleasing favorite.
Review by Nick Pappas
Wow. Just got back from the avalon night one. AWESOME! I was excited from
the begining and guess what...bob was in a good mood.
Maggie's Farm opened the show a little late, but it was evident from the
start that bob was in good spirits. He spit out the lyrics and freddy and
larry were in good form, making their solo's matter from the start.
I'll be your baby was fun, nothing too special, but it was evident bob was
having fun up there, from the start he smiled more than he did in the
first 2 chicago shows combined.
Lonesome day bules was the first real highlight. It was a lot of fun, and
bob really focused on the delivery, adding a spiteful tone playing with
the phrasing. good playin from larry especially on this one.
Just like a woman came next, and i can't say i like the semi-new
arrangement better than when larry was on pedal steel. For this version he
was on the strat, playing a riff that was kind of new to the song. Still,
bob sang the song well and it was well received by the audience.
Things have changed was well done, not the best version of this song,
but still focused and well done given Bob's vocal range. I enjoyed this as
did all the people around me.
Tell me it isn't true is not one of my favorite songs (i think its
too short), but it was done in a pretty good manner. Bob messed up the
first bridge, but recovered quickly, playing some nice harp after Freddy's
Highway 61 was awesome. I've heard this song probably a hundred
times, but nonetheless it was still a lot of fun. I'm not sure freddy on
slide guitar is better than freddy on regular lead, but this particular
version was fun and rockin...bob and the band had a good time on this one.
Huge response from the crowd after this rockin number...I love the stop
and start parts that have been added since last summer.
Can't Wait was a suprise for me, i've only heard this once before...but
it was hauntingly good. I think it was awesome if you knew the lyrics, but
people around me complained that they couldn't understand BOB. But, i
liked this version, he sung it well and was very focused on his delivery.
Stuck inside of mobile, a song I never really cared for live was also
a lot of fun. Bob was smiling and intereacting with some girl in the front
row, laughing before some of the verses. Freedy's solo's on this one were
fantastic, i though he really did a good job on these.
High Water rocked, plain and simple. Great delivery (if you know the
words) by Bob. I like the stop and start instrumentals by Larry and
Freddy. A good version, the crowd was dancing to this one!
It ain't me babe in it's new, masters of war like arrangement came
next. I love this arrangement, especially compared to the previous
acoustic arrangement. last time i saw bob do this was in Chicago, when he
sang the wrong first line, tonight he nailed the lyrics....the crowd loved
this one once the realized what song it was.
Honest with me was Ok...i think it's time for a new song in this
spot, i've heard honest with me too many times. But nonetheless, bob was
smiling and intereacting with someone in the first rows, making it
worthwhile as he was grinning for most of the song. george and tony fed
off this energy and smiled as well.
Saving Grace was great. I really like this song live and i think
given dylan's current vocal constraints he sung it well. Larry was great
on pedal steel and i liked Freddy's solo.
Summer Days was rockin as usual. No matter how many times i hear this
song i think it is a great closer. the instrumental part was great, both
larry and freddy stepped to center stage and took their apropriate places,
playing fun and rockin solo's. Bob then stepped to center stage, giving a
thumb up...SMILING to the crowd, then he was gone.
Cat's in the well was better than previous versions. Instead of
splitting up the solo's half and half, freddy took the first and larry
took the second. I thought this worked much better. Bob was smiling and
still intereacting with someone in the first row. Fun version.
Rolling Stone was next, and i still love the semi-new arrangment with
the stop-and start chorus. the crowd loved this one and I thought freddy's
solo was good.
Watchtower closed out the show as usual, but it was a great finish. I
loved the song, especially Larry's last Solo...no matter how many times
Bob closes with this i still never get sick of it. He sang it well,
singing into the Mike and smiling once again.
All in all it was not the greatest dylan show i've been to, but it
was still a lot of fun. Bob was in high spirits and did a very good job
singing/delivering the songs (especially given his vocal constraints)...I
had a good time. All the people around me also were having the times of
their lives, especially this girl in front of me who was going crazy and
at the end told me "I'll never forget this night".
Perhaps a man who gave her some words of wisdom put it best..."in 20
years, you'll be able to tell people that you saw Bob Dylan live, and
they'll just know...he's really a legend and you just saw a part of
Whether that statement was exagerated for this particular show or not
doesn't matter, but the essence of that statement is right. This was show
number 101 for me, and i'm only 20....I hope there can be 100 more! I have
tickets for the next two nights then i'm off to philidelphia...I can't
PS...Happy Birthday to my friends Mom!
Review by Rick Pearl
The Avalon is a dark, catacomb-like nightclub situated on the street
behind Fenway Park's Green Monster. It's a joint that creates an
immediate closeness between the performer and the audience. When the
performer is Bob Dylan, that's a recipe for a memorable evening. The
first of three shows in this small Boston venue did not disappoint.
At about 7:45 pm, the distinctive clarion of Copeland's "Hoedown" from
Rodeo blared over the sound system, and Bob and his band filtered onto the
stage from stage right (probably directly from the tour bus parked in the
alley beside the club) as the by-now-familiar "long" introduction was
For the next hour and 50 minutes, Dylan and company ripped through a
fairly standard (no surprises here) but strongly executed 14-song set and
three-song encore. Bob was in a good mood for Avalon Night One. This
despite the fact that he picked up the wrong harmonica at one point (a
quick replacement and he was as good as new), and sang into a dead mike on
another (first line of "Watchtower" after introducing the band from a
hand-held microphone at center-stage). The band fed off of his mood.
Larry Campbell has always been one of my favorite band members, and last
night was no exception. But the big bonus for me was hearing Freddy
Koella's passioned guitar playing. Bob seemed to be more in synch with
Fred than in previous shows I had seen last summer. And Richie Hayward's
addition as a companion drummer to George Recile ("George has a bad toe,
so we had to get a tow truck," Dylan joked during the introductions)
helped to kick the band into a sixth gear on some songs ("Highway 61").
For the sake of brevity (and the fact that I will be reporting on the next
two Boston shows), I will focus only on a few highlights from the set
list. The top one for me was a new darker version of "It Ain't Me Babe."
This song has never been one of my favorites, but this rendition was
fabulous! Dylan slowed his delivery for the opening canto to a snarling
crawl, before the band eased in a faint hint of the familiar refrain
melody and Bob spit out the final words to the verse. Just a great
Two songs from the "Love and Theft" CD that I hadn't heard since his tour
following its release in the fall of 2001 - "Lonesome Day Blues" and "High
Water (for Charley Patton)" were also exceptional. Dylan's lyrical
presentation was spot-on, and confirmed (again) for me how great a CD his
last studio output was.
"Can't Wait", which was in the eight slot, and "Saving Grace" (number 13)
were the two other songs I will take away from Avalon One as memorable.
Tonight - my birthday - I'm hoping for the same intensity. Perhaps a
rendition of "It's Not Dark Yet" - that would be a nice gift. As my kids
say "whatever." It's all good. They're all gift-wrapped gems. I'll
enjoy myself, and the camaraderie of my fellow Dylan aficionados, in the
tightly-packed confines of the Avalon.
Review by Josh Meisler
Bob Dylan and His Band returned to the Avalon Ballroom
in Boston tonight in high style.
Quite a treat in the small venue of course. heavy
college student presence, i kind of miss the mix of
parents and younger kids that join along in the larger
venues, and to tell the truth, for a tallish person
like me who isn't down for the long wait outside, you
can pretty much get just as close (about 20 rows back)
in any GA venue as in a small club. Anyway, the place
was packed, although tickets seemed pretty easy and I
expect more people on thurs and fri.
This is my first show since Crysler Arena in Ann
Arbor Michigan 11/02, long time...
heres some of what I saw and thought..
Band is a little late coming on, high anticipation
energy in the crowd.
Maggies and Baby Tonight get the train rolling, one
Lonesome Day and suddenly Dylan comes to life, every
word enunciated and he begins to look out in the
crowd. I hear several older fans around me asking
"what is this?" as Dylan 'shows up' for this one.
new arrangement on Just Like a Woman for me. i like
the little chromatic run on lead guitar, and Freddy's
super heavy reverb sounds almost dissonant. i hear
these effects as adding to the irony of this 'love'
standard delivery on Things Have Changed.
Tell Me That it Isn't True, i always love to hear and
this version didn't disappoint.
I like the new placement for hwy 61, earlier in the
set but still delivered with maximum energy. As the
setlist would suggest, tonight was all about the blues
its' interesting to watch the evolution of the band
as members rotate in and out... a few years ago, it
was really Larry Campell time, super high energy solos
on almost every tune, enthusiastic background vocals,
and big grins every night. now i see Freddy K
stepping up, injecting his very different style into
most of the solo slots. I like them both a lot, but
especially enjoying the different feel of FK's kind of
inside out style on lead, a lot of work around the
middle of the register, and not so eager to gently
resolve every musical comment for the listener as LC
is often. LC also seemed a little detached for most
of the night, until about the Honest With Me stage
where he started to smile and look at his band mates.
i will spare you any speculation re: illness etc...
I really liked the new (to me) take on Cant Wait.
the crowd got a little restless around me after the
HWY 61 hoedown, but got to rock out more on Memphis
Blues, very tight version and great delivery by Dylan.
Highlight of the night might well have been High
Water. Dylan virtually spitting the lyrics, and great
feeling too. everyone on stage seemed happiest
playing the 'new' tunes, except drummers who were
pretty blissed out all night to look at them, and who
were recipients of most big grins and nods from Dylan
throughout the evening.
new arrangement for It Aint Me Babe seems a bit of a
throw back to Rolling Thunder arrangements, with the
watchtower style change. this may not be a keeper,
but i always enjoy the ways Dylan keeps the classics
fresh for himself and us, and he seemed to have fun
Honest With Me has lost no intensity through heavy
play, at least to my ear. what a great, great, blues
then to church with Saving Grace. lovely. very
subtle arrangement, country blues with a hint of
gospel. Dylan delivers this out towards the audience
as much as any tune tonight, head cocked. very
beautiful, and unlike the more 'challenging' slow
tunes earlier in the evening, the crowd seems to be
right with him now.
Summer Days, LC on the hollow body really steps out
for the first (only?) time of the evening to my ears.
Encores held no surprises, just very hard rocking and
tight deliveries. I liked the segue from Cats to
LIRS, and the arena rock drum breaks on the chorus of
Rolling Stone, the big sing along of the night.
then Watchtower, and back out into the streets of
Final thoughts: I agree with the contributer(s?) who
commented on the lack of dynamics in this years set.
the music was pretty uniform in terms of volume, and
arrangement- start hard and full, play loud and full,
end loud and full- on almost every tune. we've seen
these guys do much more with it...again let me spare
the speculation except this indulgence: i expect more
changes...hard to bet against, eh?
its great to hear so much Harmonica this time around
from Dylan. i remember legs of the tour when we were
lucky to hear him pick it up at all. He must have
played on almost half of the tunes, though i wont
pretend to remember each one. also, cool to hear him
taking harp solos in the middle of tunes as well as on
the out take.. Dylan's harp work has only gotten
better over time and to my ear he sure does sing with
if tonight is the base line as a standard good not
great show, Bob Dylan and His Band continue to be one
of the hardest working, best american music
experiences around. the range of music, from rock to
blues to country to gospel and back that they offer,
all presented expertly, is a great pleasure to behold.
i left with that old feeling of 'how many more of
these shows can i get to', and then the ritual of the
visit to Bill P's site to review the schedule for the
umpteenth time to see where i can get some more of
thanks always to Mr. Dylan!
thanks also to Bill for all his work :)
Review by Tom O.
Time to weigh in re: Dylan's Wed. night show at the Avalon. Made the trip
up from NYC to Beantown; happy the show was in close proximity to Fenway
Park, if only to hex the hapless Bosox. (But what a great looking
ballpark). The Avalon was a cozy room. This boded well. This is my
first show of the double-barrelled drummers. So let's start with a
question: Why? Richie Heyward doesn't seem to add much to the rhythm
sec.--he doesn't seem to play off Recile, but to ape him, which is, I'd
guess, an opportunity squandered. I spent a lot of time watching Heyward
& Recile almost mirror each other like Lucy & Harpo way back when. This
concept seems underthunk on Dylan's part. What next? Another bassist?
Dylan squaring off against another piano? Is the dreaded Dylan/Billy Joel
tour coming? Will there one day be 15 guys on stage backing him?
So the 2 drummers seems indicative of another, deeper schizophrenia in
this show. This night was very up & down, hit or miss. I attribute this
to Dylan's voice, which veered between extremes. "Maggie's Farm" had
Dylan in fine voice--strong, clear upper register, no stumbling out of the
block; then an unfocused, almost risible voice on "Baby Tonight" which
was saved by Larry's splendid pedal steel. I like Dylan's ragged voice,
usually--I still think the "Hard Rain" from NOLA last year was one of the
greatest performances I've heard live. But this swift change from
empowered to weak & straining distracted me tonight. On the slower cuts,
Dylan's mannered voice, to my ears, seems to manufacture or fake
sincerity--or else, they're just far out of his vocal range, and the
strain of pushing himself falls flat. Maybe I've just heard them too much
before--or heard better performances. But Dylan's vocals see-sawed like
this for me all night, from intensity & focus to something less uh, sweet
& engaging. And it's hard to understand how he can sound so great on
"Things Have Changed" and so weak on "Tell Me That It Isn't True." I
know, the ravages of touring non-stop and 40 mil. cigarettes, but it seems
odd that his voice fluctuates so drastically.
Still, he--and the band--sounded great on "Lonesome Days" & "Hwy 61",
good "Honest W/ Me" and "Summer Days", "Things Have Changed". Inneresting
"Just Like A Woman" arrangement with meandering guitar part dominating,
weird "It Ain't Me, Babe" that again, seemed indecisive, or of 2
minds--edgy verses, rousing choruses, but not quite meshing. Now for the
superlatives--this incarnation of the band played the stew out of "High
Water" last night--one of the finer performances of the Koella-band I've
heard--Dylan chewing the lyrics, swinging his singing--this was a sublime,
exciting performance that was the clear highlight for me. I'd love to
hear them attack "Serve Somebody" with this type of groove & intensity.
Powerful stuff. The band played, as you'd expect, superbly--I like
Koella's idiosyncratic style--think Marc Ribot's playing with Tom
Waits--jagged, flying off in unexpected directions.
And they continue to breathe life into songs that can't be exciting to play
night after night--"Honest With Me" & "Summer Days" are always delights,
and once again, I lost myself in the snarling "Watchtower". Plus they lay
down one deep, sinewy groove on "Can't Wait" . Smoldering.
But I feel like I've seen this show before--nothing too
unexpected--no "Man in the Long Black Coat" which I haven't heard in 10 yrs.
No "Down Along the Cove" which I've never heard live. Nor the latest
arrangement for "Baby Blue" nor the overhauling of "Moonlight"--the
curveballs that keep me coming back to Dylan concerts relentlessly. And
for all Dylan-geeks, no trotting out of "Romance in Durango" or "Jokerman"
like he did in England last fall--what a tease. But I'll take a tender
"Saving Grace" and keep hoping for the nuggets to emerge.
Another point: Once again, all slow songs were marred by incessant
audience chatter and last night--a first, for me--the obnoxious behavior
of drunk kids and adults, who apparently need to black out to prove they
had a good time. One goon fell directly into my girlfriend and had to be
carried out of the club. But this behavior seems de rigeur at these club
And lastly & apparently a standard feature of Dylan's shows remains his
singular inability to choose the right harmonica from his harp arsenal.
Tommy M., isn't there a way to fix this--I see him loading stacks of
guitars on and off the stage that are never used, but apparently Dylan's
harps are thrown into a dark bucket. But we got the "tow truck" joke
again, and he's still calling Koella "Fuzzy Koala." The Oscar is still
onstage. Clearly he and the band have a good time and Dylan was in,
what's become standard these days, smiling, laughing behavior--he makes a
good ham. And a nifty maroon Manuel jacket with white piping--very slick.
Peter Wolf was in attendance--he's in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall, isn't he?
Can we expect Dylan and Wolf to duet on "Centerfold" or "Love Stinks"
before the Boston stand ends? I'll keep my fingers crossed and look for
page by Bill Pagel
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