page by Bill Pagel
Review by Frank Moriarty
Some brief comments from tonight's show follow... This evening's
performance was my second show of the current tour. While I was in Detroit
for a book project a couple of weeks ago I was able to get a ticket to the
last of the three State concerts, and was walloped by the power of the
current band. Tonight only reinforced that impression. I should point out
that I am not the typical Bob fan. Having seen Jimi Hendrix when I was a
13 years old and being well aware of Hendrix's cover of all Along the
Watchtower, I obviously knew who Bob was. But, while respecting him, I was
not a huge fan. In fact, the first Bob albums I bought were Blood on the
Tracks and Desire. Then I did not buy another Dylan album until Time Out
of Mind, an album that moved me deeply. Since that revelation I've seen
Bob perhaps 20 times. The "weird" arrangements that people sometimes
complain about are occasionally my first exposure to a particular song, so
there are times when an arrangement that people have trouble accepting is
just another sonic adventure for me, not tied heavily to memories of past
renditions. I had been a fan of Charlie Sexton before he began playing
with Bob (anyone who has not heard the Charlie Sexton Sextet album Under
the Wishing Tree should do so!) and was disappointed to hear last year
that Charlie had departed. I then saw Bob in Atlantic City at the Hilton
in May, and I have to admit I wasn't impressed with Freddy Koella. And I
also have to say that either I was deaf that night or Freddy has since
fundamentally altered his approach. Regardless, having played guitar
myself for 25 years, I know how difficult it can be to come up with
something original. What Koella is now playing with Bob is stunning in
both its simplicity and its originality - and that is a very difficult
balance to achieve. He's using a standard rock and blues vocabulary, but
he's twisting it in a way that makes it sound vibrant and fresh. The
combination of Koella's odd approach - heard to amazing effect on
Watchtower tonight, when he dug deep into the low strings - and Larry
Campbell's ability to play virtually any style whatsoever results in an
inescapable conclusion: the current iteration of Bob Dylan and His Band is
one of the most potent two-guitar groups I've ever heard. Add in the
wonderful and diverse song selection tonight - ranging from Not Dark Yet
to Masters of War - and you have a show of tremendous depth. It's safe to
say that if you are seeing any show on this tour, you will be hearing an
evening of unforgettable music.
Review by Craig S.
JUST A FEW COMMENTS, THEN JUST A FEW HIGHLIGHTS: I FOUND THE FEW NEGATIVE
REVIEWS TO BE TOTALLY OFF BASE, BOB WAS VERY MUCH ON AND THE BAND PLAYED
INCREDIBLY WELL. FREDDIE'S STACCATO STYLE TO BEGIN EACH LEAD IS VERY
SHOWY, BUT LARRY CAMPBELL'S PLAYING ON HIS PEDAL STEEL AND OPEN STRING
TUNINGS WERE FOR ME THE HIGHLIGHT, AND THE SLIDE PLAYING BY LARRY IS TOP
LEVEL. TONY'S BASS WAS THE USUAL, AND DYLAN MADE HIS JOKE ABOUT THE
DRUMMER BEATING HIS WAY ACROSS THE WORLD.
THE OPENING, A SURPRISE RENDITION OF TOMBSTONE BLUES, HAD A SURPRISE
HARMONICA SOLO, NOT USUAL FOR THAT SONG.FOR A SECOND AT THE END LARRY
PLAYED TRIBUTE TO DYLAN'S LEAD STYLE, STICKING ON THREE NOTES FOR A WHILE,
BUT THEN HE CHANGED BACK.
ON TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN DYLAN USED HIS PHRASING TO MAKE A VERY
DEFINITE POLITICAL STATEMENT ON POLITICS TODAY, I THOUGHT. CERTAIN WORDS
WERE PRONOUNCED VERY CAREFULLY, ALSO IN IT'S ALRIGHT MA ABOUT THE
PRESIDENT, AND LATER IN MASTERS OF WAR, THIS TRIPLE HAD A PURPOSE FOR
SURE, YOU COULD TELL.
LOVE MINUS HAD LARRY'S OPEN TUNING ON THE WHITE GUITAR, IT GAVE THE SONG A
NEW STRUCTURE, UNDER THE RED SKY HAD SOME GREAT PEDAL STEEL, AND FREDDIE
HAD SOME GREAT MOMENTS THIS NIGHT, BUT NOT ON LARS, LARRY WAS SMILING AS
FREDDIE GOT INTO A MESS THAT HE COULDN'T GET OUT OF, BUT THE SMILE WAS
MOSTLY TO URGE HIM ON. LARRY CAMPBELL MANAGED TO HIT EVERY LEAD PERFECTLY
ON THIS NIGHT.
FINALLY, BOB DYLAN AGAIN PLAYED ONLY KEYBOARD AGAIN, BUT DID NOT MESS UP
ONE WORD OR VERSE, AND WAS PERFECT ON HARMONICA, ALWAYS PLAYING THE KEY OF
THE FIFTH NOTE. HE CHANGED IT TO NEVER LET OTHER PEOPLE GET YOUR KICK FOR
YOU, ON PURPOSE. BUT BOB SANG WITH GREAT FEELING THIS NIGHT ON EACH SONG.
THE CROWD WAS VERY VERY APPRECIATIVE, I THOUGHT WE MIGHT GET A SECOND
ENCORE. WE DIDN'T, BUT MAYBE TOMORROW NIGHT AT THE TROC!
Review by Cary Krosinsky
Okay, so I leave work in Hoboken, NJ at about 5:15, figuring that’s enough
time to boogie down the NJ Turnpike and catch the Bob show in plenty of
time, and I get there at 7PM, so all is well.
Light misty rain on the way down, listening to charlespoet’s wonderful
poetry CD, and his friend Jim Shepard’s amazing 1997 Columbus show – this
punk should-be legend sings and plays like an open book leaving nothing to
the imagination – it’s all there – he should be famous.
Two perfect CDs to artistically prepare and cleanse one for the
proceedings Bob to follow.
Electric Factory is an abandoned building on the North side of Philly’s
Center City – it’s a cool building, very college-y, very 70’s.
As a result, and with all the area colleges, it’s a very young crowd –
much younger than the Thursday show at Boston just past.
Seems like a good, positive crowd too – good vibes in the packed house –
no one pushing around or otherwise causing trouble. Tried standing just
in front of the Board for good sound – and it worked – but I can’t imagine
the sound was too bad anywhere in the reasonably small space that the
The youth of the crowd means simply that they are not well versed in Bob’s
repertoire, not that they weren’t hip enough to ‘get’ what was going on.
Many songs would start with relative quiet from the crowd - but they were
into it, bopping along to songs they didn’t know – but understanding the
quality they were seeing. And of course there were quite a few of us who
knew what was going on from the word go, but it honestly didn’t seem like
Was somewhere about 8:15PM when time stopped and Bob and band came out to
usual elucidations of Al Santos and Aaron Copland.
And they lit right into a fairly hot Tombstone Blues – usually a good
choice as an opener, allows Bob to get his wind successfully, and Larry
and Freddy trade some interesting licks, so they’re now fully warmed up
One interesting change to note is that they only used one drum kit this
evening, even though the stage seemed to have room for two, so George and
Richie took turns throughout the night, but it was mostly George – only
remember Richie on a couple of songs.
One song in, and the show already takes an immediate left turn, and you
know we’re in for a great night, but if you’re paying any attention, and
I’ve surely been, you knew that anyway – Bob’s such a roll these days –
and he starts into Times.
I had the great fortune of seeing the last and only version of this in
2003 at Northampton, which was epic and seemed fitting to the lefty-ish
types in the crowd that day and in that fine Massachusetts area in
Tonight, with the especially young crowd, it seemed as if it were a
message from Bob to these youth, an acknowledgement of sorts, as if he’d
observed the crowd and knew and decided that this was the message that
they required – this was Bob’s convocation – it was beautiful and direct.
Lonesome Day Blues followed – happy times for me as I hadn’t seen done
live before – Bob was right on the lyrics with force and quality of voice,
and it was a perfect choice for this rockin’/garage blues-y venue. He’s
well schooled and he’s skilled alright.
Then it was Name That Tune time – a newly style rendition of If Not For
You, sort of in the same mode as the new arrangement of It Ain’t Me Babe,
but perhaps snappier, and very well done – not at all tentative – as if
they’ve been playing this version for years – extremely impressive.
Gotta love the New Morning stuff.
And the show was just getting started!
It’s Alright Ma followed, with great gusto and pace, every word lucid and
poignant – “Obscenity, who really cares” – “It Ain’t He or She or Them or
It that you belong to” - did he really write this so many years ago? Has
it ever been more relevant? Larry’s Bouzouki lead playing it’s usual key
role – Larry was really smoking tonight and Freddy was as usual,
brilliantly inventive – you need to see Freddy play the same song twice to
understand how great he is – truly a creative artist, no question why Bob
And the show kept rising notches – as the band started so quietly and
eloquently into a perfectly placed and rendered Love Minus Zero – another
great version to add to that great long version early in the tour (was it
St. Louis March 3)?
Cold Irons Bound was solid – perhaps the low-est point of the show –
meaning it was merely good as opposed to great, which almost everything
else surely was this evening.
The Under The Red Sky that followed was bang on – perhaps the best version
he’s done since the song returned in Casper last year. Bob emoting and
playing with his intonations – extending the Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuumpty Bump
and another of other successful vocal improvisational twists.
A quick word on Bob’s vocals this evening. In addition to being sharply
focused, there was a fairly interesting mix of the “growl” and smooth
vocals – he would “growl” a little at times, but quickly segue into a
smoother delivery, often in the same sentence – as if he could turn this
new found vocal edginess on and off at will. As if this was a new trick
in his bag and not the dying embers of a great flame.
With the blind horse done and dusted and back in his stable, Highway 61
ensued – all the rockers were really good and fit the venue and we’re well
received. Fascinating to see 2 recent versions of this as I have now also
last Thursday in Boston – the guitar play was so different – Larry really
focused here to good effect – and the different guitar play really worked
well each time and you can see why Bob keeps trotting this one out.
Then into the stratosphere we went – with – at this point – the show’s
finest moment – the quiet, mellow Not Dark Yet – this was a return to the
album version, or close to it.
I’ve to the bottom of a world full of lies – I ain’t seein’ nothin’ in
anyone’s eyes – inflections down at the end of each verse – this was Bob
at his finest – brilliant, poignant, touching. Awe inspiring stuff.
Bye and Bye then was quite solid and featured a very nice lead by Freddy –
song seemed crisper than Boston and was a very nice change of pace. “I
ain’t even acquainted with my own desires” sounded like a message to
anyone who doesn’t see what enormous levels Bob is achieving in concert
these days. But this too was merely a taster for what would soon follow.
MASTERS OF WAR – sorry but that needed all caps. Words will probably fail
to convey how good this was. Bob was crooning this out as if standing on
Pennsylvania Avenue banging on the house of what should have been Al
Gore’s door. Have the words ever been so fitting? And the band was right
on this – Larry and Freddy playing a fascinating lead interplay. Bob can
see through their masks and all of ours too.
So many highs this night – none higher than this.
The crowd was going duly nuts at song end.
And each of the 4 songs at end was driven, powerful, and wildly
Summer Days was excellent – Bob’s vocals sharp throughout, song driven and
focused, Larry and Freddy interchanging leads perfectly.
Cats In The Well – sharp.
Rolling Stone – driving – how does this song keep seeming new every time
you hear it?
Watchtower – powerful and focused – Freddy’s lead on these last 3 bang on.
The last powerful notes serve as a closing of a book, this book, this epic
show for the ages, one which needs be heard and needed to be seen.
Band stands for the acknowledgement – Bob peering out confidently and
receives his duly earned props.
No Bob could be played on the 3 hour ride home – this needed to sink in –
and did listen to Johnny Cash’s reading of Gibran’s Eye of the Prophet –
such a fitting, spiritual end to a day of enormously high, lofty art.
Review by Willy Gissen
You know sometimes us Dylan aficionados become jaded. We're so familiar with the songs and the
minutia of each performance that we forget to listen. I must plead guilty to the same.
Well, Mr. Dylan snapped me out of it tonight even though it didn't happen until the middle of the
concert. Dylan played "Masters of War."
Nothing could speak so succinctly to the U.S. situation in Iraq, and Bob performed it in an eerie
manner but with a haunting gusto. He ended the song by repeating the first verse, that he could
see through their [the Masters of War's] masks. The place exploded in a way that I've rarely seen.
Bob Dylan is best when we listen to the meaning of his lyrics and what he's trying to tell us
instead of either dancing or singing along, even though we know every word in a habitual manner.
For the rest of the concert, I listened to what Dylan was saying in his lyrics and heard some
things that I never noticed before, or was too inexperienced to recognize in the past. I'm not
going to go through specific details other than to say that the night was an epiphany for me.
Mr. Dylan is also infusing his set with more and more gems that he never played in concert before.
He did the same thing last night. For anyone who has been going to his concerts for the past few
years, I implore you, don't stop now.
The Bible talks about people who have ears but do not hear. For the inveterate Dylan fan, don't
fall into the trap I did. Dylan's songs are not to be recited by rote, but to be listened to again
and again for the wisdom they impart.
Here's hoping that Mr. Dylan comes to my neck of the woods in New York City soon, so I can share
my revelation with other friends.
Thank you, Bob, for waking me up.
Review by Jeffrey Johnson
Come gather 'round people for, after His booming Tombstone Blues vocals,
the first line of "The Times" was reinstated into the song! What a
"Times" it was: great enunciation, articulation and vocal volume that
drowned out the band.
Powered by the band's efforts to respond to His booming vocals, Lonesome
Day Blues got the double shuffle into overdrive.
Larry's lightning started It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), followed
by Bob and eventually the rest of the band surrounded them. Sound was
mixed to perfection. Everything was clear and seemed up in the mix; the
tempo was driving. The booming vocals stepped aside, but clarity
remained. This was a treasure.
Tonight's mystery tune was If Not For You; Love Minus Zero gave some a
moment of pause. The pause allowed us to notice the Maestro's
Rhinestone Cowboy outfit: shimmering necklace, black hat and blue suit,
trimmed in red. Everyone but sensible Larry wore a hat.
We were all warehousemen tonight in the concrete bunker of the Electric
Factory. Happily, rumors of poor acoustics were not confirmed.
The drummer erupted on a rousing version of Cold Irons Bound, which segued
nicely into Under the Red Sky. Votes cast at that point went to Red Sky
for best of show.
"Bye And Bye, I could do without," was spoken by a true intellectual. The
show did seem to be lapsing into complacency.
Then, Bob and Larry again shared the spotlight on Masters of War and the
band again grew around them. Bob's fantastic vocals continued and, just
as he paused, then delivered "NAKED!" he delivered:
"and I'll stand over your grave 'til I'm sure that your
It was an inspirational moment in many respects.
The same old encores were somewhat of a let down with LARS strangely
lacking its usual power and clarity. Bob squandered the vibe by band
intros (and mumbling) that quashed that drum-queued, breakneck-speed
transition into Watchtower. Perhaps consequently, domestic mayhem and a
slugfest broke out in the food court.
It seems, He's eclipsed His four Chicago shows with tonight's
Jeffrey Johnson, working the Northeast Corridor
page by Bill Pagel
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