page by Bill Pagel
Review by Kelly McCarthy
Bob Dylan and His Band in rare form this evening at American University's
Bender Arena, my alma mater. After waiting in line for doors at 7 we 6500
quickly assembled for an evening of entertainment...I found a seat stage
right, in direct line site of Bob...anticipating seeing profiles of the
Band. What I did get was a magical bird's eye view of the group in a most
playful and lively manner I've seen them yet!!! I didn't record thoughts
along the way so I'll just share my perceptions and high points. First,
the entire set has definitely tightened up since the Chicago shows (I saw
the last one at Park West) and I'm so very pleased that Bob is actually
moving (nay, dancing?) behind the keyboard and that I could see them
perform and interact. (I am short and couldn't see anything at Park West
except a very still Bob) Great opening three songs and absolute great
harp throughout the show. I have to say I was absolutely blown away by the
guitars tonight...really unbelievable jamming going on. Although Summer
Days has become almost as predictable as Rainy Day Women those boys are
setting the house on fire when they let it go!! On the reverse...Bye and
Bye slowed the crowd down, and quieted those many who don't know it /
recognize it...I'm starting to love it because it showcases Bob's voice
very nicely. Tonight he seemed to be in a crooning mood and offered very
lucid/ crisp annunciation. Thank you to the Band and crew for giving a
great show and great performance and especially for seeking out the
Review by Todd Holden
O.K. so let's clear up the energy level from last nights' show at the 9:30 Club, with the smallest
venue of this trio of D.C. gigs…tonight's show was kickin' with more energy than anything so far
on this tour. Where last night the band took a few to get into gear…tonight was smokin' from the
git go. Been a while since Ballad of A Thin Man made so much sense…and the shift in grinding,
rock guitar…menacing the very singer's venomous insults to journalists of all ilk…halfway through
it, Dylan continued sneering but the band focused on softness and almost a melancholy pall fill the
rifts as though Mr. Jones really doesn't matter any more, he's more to be pitied. Highway 61 can
be put away for a while, cause tonight's was the best ever for this reviewer. A Hard Rain was
nailed, solid and in stone…setting the stage for the fav of late…Summer Days…setting the whole band
loose…by now the drummers had switched…(who ever heard of changing drummers mid set?….Dylan do!)…and
who was Charlie Sexton..???oh yeah, he was great…but Fuzzy has set the stage on fire, a la Jimi…and
taken a load of Bob and Larry Campbell for sure…Fuzzy has added new life blood in many ways…and it's
tight, bright and loaded with spectacle. Two encores…yep…Good sound, great performance…Sort of
're/electrifying' you might say. What's next? Sunday night will prove challenged, at the least…for
tonight's steady power will last only so long.
Review by Jeffrey Johnson
The things we do to see Bob yet still miss Hazel!
My fellow Americans, strident polemics were everywhere in our nation's
capital. But even the testy representatives of "Genital Protection for
Girls AND BOYS!" would concur, He put on another dang good show. (Check
their web site, if you dare.)
Once again, the opening line was back in the "Times," evidently here to stay.
Sound at the free throw line of the Bender basketball court was fine, but
not crystal clear, start to finish.
The heart of the set list started with a well-done Ring Them Bells,
featuring Larry's pedal steel, and continued through Hollis Brown. Even
without His gesturing, Down Along the Cove rocked and near the end, He
added a neck roll and Cheshire grin. Nifty instrumentals featured
Freddy's horn-honking guitar and Larry's response. Later, Larry
ventured cross stage to join hips with Freddie on a jam. Thin Man was
performed meticulously, including a phonics lesson on "charity
organization," then He failed to nail the last line. A run-of-the-mill
Hard Rain gradually built into a blazing finale. Similarly, Standing In
The Doorway grew with intensity, while maintaining tempo.
Before the encores, the reverent Dixie crowd came to life; applause
accompanied by foot stomping become louder than the band had been all
night. There was a sense that the crowd would be rewarded. Later in the
midst of LARS, Bob huddled with Tony, apparently calling an audible,
apparently changing the set list. As it turned out, the reward was a
second encore, Rainy Day Woman.
During the band intros, Bob gave George special recognition for "banging
all over the world," to much delight by all. In both of two tries, He
referred to Freddy as "Fuzzy."
The show was the perfect finale for Cherry Blossom Parade Day.
Jeffrey Johnson, in the Land of Dixie
Review by Rev'd John Wm Klein
I arrived at American University after a drive of one hour from Baltimore
greatly anticipating what was to unfold at Bender Arena. I was not
disappointed; the concert was fabulous! As much as two hours before the
doors opened, one could see large lines forming. I guess that at least
6000 people attended this "general admission" event. I managed to get a
very good seat just to the right of the stage which gave a perfect view of
Bob who was, as is usual lately, to the left center with the Band to our
right. I quickly met a sophisticated and knowledgeable couple, both
serious Dylan fans, from Raleigh, North Carolina who filled me in on the
previous evening's performance at "The 9:30 Club in D.C." In front of us
were coeds who had won free tickets to the event and were really excited
about the prospects. At about ten minutes past eight Bob and the Band came
on stage and immediately performed a great "Maggie's Farm" with an
enthusiastic response from a very appreciative mostly college audience.
From the opening chords of Maggie's Farm right straight through the second
encore the Band was really hot. I mean the energy level was electrifying.
One young university woman immediately in front of me, pulled out her cell
phone, dialed her father who was obviously a Dylan fan and said "Dad
listen to this; guess where I am?" This man, Bob Dylan, and his music cut
across many boundaries including age.
I was struck throughout by really great guitar work from both Larry
Campbell and Fuzzy Freddie Koella especially on "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle
Dum", "Ring Them Bells" where the Band managed superb bell sounds , "Down
Along the Cove", "Ballad of a Thin Man" where Larry was fantastic, and
"Highway 61 Revisited". Tony Garnier was, as always, simply the best! His
bass work on "Standing in the Doorway" was masterful. "Summer Days" was a
genuine crowd pleaser. It was very well performed and much appreciated.
"Dignity", one of Bob's greatest, seemed to have sound difficulties; I'm
not sure something wasn't wrong with the amplification somehow? "All along
the Watchtower" was the conclusion of the 1st encore set. We were all
thrilled with "Rainy Day Women 12 & 35" as a second encore. It really
cooked! Everyone left the Arena pleased and all around me I heard
appreciative fans excited about their "favorite" or what they had "always
hoped to hear". I walked our with two university students who with me
pondered why Bob repeated tonight, as he often does, the first stanza of
All along the Watchtower" at the end of the song. Why? "There must be some
way out of here," said the joker to the thief,"There's too much confusion,
I can't get no relief. Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my
earth, None of them along the line know what any of it is worth." Agreeing
to ponder this issue we went our separate ways. Perhaps, it's just a good
ending? After all we are getting "out of here". Perhaps, more ironically,
we, Bob Dylan and his Fans, who are so appreciative of this music, really
can only guess at the deepest meanings it evokes? Maybe, it's just classic
Dylan irony? It was marvelous in any case.
My favorites were "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" and "A Hard
Rain's a-gonna Fall" both acoustic performances. Both superb. Especially
on "Hollis Brown" Bob's passion and plaintive voice came through with
clarity and power. Equally thrilling to me was "Ring Them Bells" which is
at the top of my list and seldom have I heard Bob sing it. And, sing it he
did in the Nation's Capitol within sight of the National Cathedral Bell
Tower: "Ring them bells, ye heathen, from the city that dreams, ring them
bells from the sanctuaries" ....On the eve of Palm Sunday, "Ring them
bells Sweet Martha, For the poor man's son, Ring them bells so the world
will know That God is one. Oh the shepherd is asleep Where the willows
weep And the mountains are filled With lost sheep." Bob Dylan's words were
clearest at least to me on the last stanza:"Ring them bells St. Catherine
from the top of the room. Ring them from the fortress for the lilies that
bloom. Oh the lines are long, and the fighting is strong, and they're
breaking down the distance between right and wrong." The lilies were
gorgeously in bloom all, around the Arena that night. No doubt, the lines
were long too. One hopes that in Bob Dylan's words many will be given a
vision and hope.
Thank you Bob! A glorious Easter to you!
Review by Shoe Shine
Okay, well forget the set list…at least for those who were there a song by
song accounting is unnecessary, for those who weren’t, no justice can be
done except by experiencing first hand the man and his band…suffice to
say, the black hat was worn well as Dylan and his road show cohorts ripped
through a set that channeled the kind of spiritual kinship of rock and
roll with riffs and fancies done up with mathematical precision and
highway reckless abandon both rolled into one and blasted into good ole
american u. like an explosion of sound that would have the young bucks
dancing like so many Dylanettes and the oldsters having to stand up and
stretch like a twitch that wouldn’t end.
From the get go, Dylan blasted out of cd’s, books, and vinyl to give you
the real thing with full on throttle and delivered maggie’s farm like it
was written hours ago. Some would say his voice is worn, but I’ll say it’s
just evolved and there were times throughout the evening when right out of
nowhere you heard a voice dead on pitch from 30-some years ago. Still
sings ‘em like he knows his song well and each song was a keeper,
re-electrified as another would say and handled with care.
Can’t say enough about the band – their instrumental acumen, roadhouse
demeanor, and the overall synthesizing effect their individual
contributions had on the songs. They are a tight, playful crew who know
how to bend the pliers a bit to work a song. Doff a hat to Guitar Freddie,
who has taken the spot for ole Charlie and has turned a few different
corners for Bob and The Boys to follow.
All in all, a real pleasure once again to see the masked and anonymous
little fella and I dare say the music that was delivered blasted through
the souls of all who were there and truly, no stone was left unturned and
a bonafide adventure was had by all.
Review by David Hathaway
This was truly a lit-up show, a great screeching jam session of dueling guitars at high volume,
with Dylan as the master of ceremonies. Bob himself was in awesome form. Specifics:
I think what struck me the most about this performance was the intensity of Dylan's engagement
on vocals. I was positioned high enough on Dylan's side of the stage to 'see' exactly what he
was seeing, and had a good view to how he was interacting with both the band and audience
throughout the show. The audience was pumped -- all three generations of it, with a frenetic
group of jangling jumpers in the front row, and die-hard fans all around.
Dylan belted out vocals from his keyboard station at a high, throaty, growling, sandpaper volume,
but with a direct, knowing attitude that was thrilling. Rightly for someone at this stage of his
'career' (though how can you limit Dylan's achievements to a word like 'career'), Dylan's place
was to guide the ferocious intensity of his thundering entourage, leading with his sharp, throaty,
directed, and deliberate vocals. The band backed him up.
In short, Dylan was engaged, a director weaving his words with a thunder clap backdrop, giving
unique life to many old favorites, and providing truly riveting relavance to several, proving
again that Dylan's songs remain important in times of change, and that Dylan himself is thinking
directly about the context in which he is performing.
Dylan and his music are most certainlyalive and well, and we should be thrilled to know it.
- A Washington, D.C. Fan
Review by Jason Polanski
There was a theme that seemed to creep into the songs featured tonight.
Mr. Dylan seemed to be struggling with his ideas, while being completely
confident in his performance. In fact, there was a point midway through
the show where Dylan's words had taken over his vocal techniques and his
At the very end of A HARD RAINS A GONNA FALL, Bob built the song to an
amazing climax, while the melody never strayed. Every word in simple
staccato rythym. The band playing behind him. The walls of the oppressed
society exploding as Dylan snarls "It's Hard!"
I did not go to the show feeling oppressed, and certainly didn't leave
that way. I did however enjoy connecting with these songs amidst a crowd
of mostly college aged kids dancing on the floor. My height sometimes a
factor in my view of the man in black, his cowboy hat making him seem
taller as he ducked and weaved behind the keys.
He opened with MAGGIE'S FARM where he presents himself as someone who does
not want to slave for success. He continues with THE TIMES THEY ARE A
CHANGING as a possible shout out to the neighbors. Then comes the tale of
TWEEDLE DEE AND TWEEDLE DUM. One has a police escort and the other is a
dollar short. The band was rockin'. Then a surprise, a beautiful RING THEM
BELLS. Sang for the poor man's son. A few songs later, they start DIGNITY.
The fat man with a blade of steel and the thin man looking for his last
meal. Of course following BALLAD OF A THIN MAN.
At this point I began to feel that this set was not random. It was a pure
battle of rich and poor. The lines of songs easily connecting with lines
from other songs. Or is that just how Dylan's songs are?
Either way, this poor vs. rich struggle seemed to end with an amazing
version of BALLAD OF HOLLIS BROWN. Dylan repeating the line "somewhere's
in the distance there's seven new people born". The absolute highlight of
One other theme to note and it may be better answered by the people near
the stage, but towards the end of the show, Bob seemed to be hanging
around his guitars on the side of the stage. I love the keyboard playing
but I certainly miss Dylan's always brilliant guitar playing. Dylan
himself seemed to tease the idea during STANDING IN THE DOORWAY when he
reached the line "I'm strumming on my gay guitar" he followed with the
lyric change, "I'm wondering where you are". Makes us all wonder.
One final note, Freddie and Larry have a great two guitar assault going.
(i.e. HONEST WITH ME, ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER, SUMMER DAYS). Pure music.
Pure sound. Dylan renaming Freddie as "Fuzzy".
This show was special. It was not a loose show. It was determined. Dylan
was determined. I have come away from this tour, (35 shows in 10 years)
thinking that Dylan has never indulged in his music like this. Nor has the
band. I've always enjoyed Dylan, but now I am simply amazed. The comments
you hear in the crowd seem to reflect that. Enjoy the tapes!
Review by Don Mitchell
As I have a calm moment before heading down to tonight's Warner Theater show, I wanted to share some
impressions of my last two nights on the rail with my family at the 9:30 Club on Friday and at Bender
Arena last night. The scenes outside the venues and the two shows themselves were very different, and
I'll try to convey some of that here.
The 9:30 Club line started forming early Friday morning in the rain, and was about 8 people long when
I got there. It rained all day in a difficult part of town, and together with being a work day, the
line stayed fairly short until about 4:00 and was well managed with no cutters. We were finally
admitted just about 7:00 - after the venue allowed a few actually (and six or eight mythically) disabled
people, and a few people with "VIP" connections to go in first. The 9:30 Club holds about 900-1,000
people, about 650 on the floor and another few hundred in a wrap-around balcony. It's a dark club, all
painted black with the lighting kept low, with some neon painted colors around the bars brightening it
up a little. It's a stripped-down rock n' roll club, perfect for a show like this. And the show, in a
jam-packed space with a small tight stage - so small Bob had to be careful not to trip on his piano legs
as came out from behind it to confer with Tony or Freddie - with a highly excited audience of older fans
who knew they had scored special tickets on short notice, felt like it reflected that dark ambience. I
was on the rail just left of center, and my wife and daughter were on the rail at the right, in front of
The set list shows a heavy bluesy emphasis, from Drifter's to Tweedle Dee to Love Sick to Not Dark Yet.
The guitar players were on fire, and because of the size of the venue the chords were blisteringly loud.
The band was very tight, hitting virtually every song dead on. Freddy, the subject of so many questions
on the Dylan discussion boards, was excellent - confident and creative. The change in his playing and
his confidence level from the last time I saw him in May 2003 was astonishing, like a different guitar
player. From my point of view, Freddy - "Fuzzy," as Bob has taken to calling him - adds a lot to the
band. He has tremendous creative power with the blues and with jazz stylings, and he takes risks; his
solos are frequently improvisational and frequently brilliant. He just not a simple straight-ahead rock
guitarist endlessly replaying Chuck Berry's riff. Anybody who takes risks will sometimes fail, but his
risk-taking also yields great successes. I think Bob is happy with him.
This tour is about the blues and the 9:30 show really emphasized that aspect of the show, both with the
set list and with an almost swamp-rock feel to the presentations. Bob was in a growling, snarly blues-
loaded mien, biting off lines and spitting out lines to It's Alright Ma and Honest With Me.
The surprise of the night was the already much-discussed unveiling of Hazel. You heard the opening, you
processed the information properly, your mind said 'it's Hazel,' and then your mind said 'it can't be
Hazel, Bob doesn't play Hazel - but it is!' And what a totally beautiful version it was; I can't wait
for a really good boot. Dogs Run Free was another shocker - starting with Tony's standup bass and
sounding like it was going to be Bye and Bye, but it wasn't. Other highlights were great versions of
Just Like A Woman and Positively 4th Street, and Not Dark Yet - first time I'd seen NDY, which is one
of favorite Bob songs, live. (I've got to admit, I didn't like the current arrangement of 4th Street
when I first heard it in 2002, but I liked it a lot on Friday.) Most Likely You Go Your Way was
another great version - Larry just nailed it, carrying that bouncing guitar line through the whole
The Bender show was completely different, different crowd, different feel, different song choices. It
was a much younger crowd, more high school and college kids, parents with their children, passing Bob
on to the next generation - I had my 12-year old son with me at the rail for his first Dylan show, and
my 14-year old daughter there too, for her third Dylan show at the rail, with my oldest daughter back
for another night. The lines were massive - over a quarter mile long by 6:00 - and throughout the day
various infiltrators were weeded out. The weather continued its cold gray cast, but our blaster kept
everyone warm with boots from several recent shows and the new authorized Halloween 1964 show. When
we finally got it in - they opened the doors at about 6:30, a half hour early - we found that Bender
is a college basketball gym, and was bright and airy like one, with a massive stage and a longer rail,
not the small dark cramped intimate 9:30 Club feel at all. The floor was packed and the seats were
filled with happy unstressed Saturday concert-goers, and we were on the rail, directly in front of Bob.
Musically, the Bender show was amazing. Bob was in full voice, the best Bob voice I've heard live in
several years and better than any Bob voice I've heard on the 8 or 10 2004 shows I've listened to.
The sound quality was also great where we were, Bob's voice dropping on our head from the double-stack
hanging over the left, the guitars screaming from the stage amps and monitors. The vocals were crystal
clear, down to the closing "t" on the words. If the boots are as good as what I heard we are in for a
I'm a big Maggie's Farm fan - so is my daughter Adrienne, who got Maggie's for the opening song for
the third straight time at her three shows - so we were delighted to hear an excellent version for the
opener. (I'm even happier not to have had to listen to Drifter's Escape or Wicked Messenger in that
opening spot, since the two songs are both indistinguishable and, to my ears, not very good in their
current Hendrix arrangement. Drifter's was probably the lowlight of the 9:30 show.) Then it was on
to a very-well sung Times They Are A-Changin', which really got my budding guitar player son's
attention. He also really liked Tweedle Dee, one of only two songs in the first eleven that was
repeated from the 9:30 show (Highway 61 was the other). And proving that my 12-year old has the idea,
he asked me this morning to get the boot for Tweedle Dee.
Ring Them Bells was a wonderful surprise, and Down Along the Cove really got the crowd going, a happy
contrast to the prior night's tougher songs. Thin Man replaced It's Alright Ma, and then a double dip
of rarities - a new arrangement of Dignity and then a surprising Hollis Brown. After a workmanlike
Highway 61 - this song is getting too predictable - Bob spat out Hard Rain with none of the up-signing
we've heard on nights when his voice was not as powerful as it was at Bender. The last highlight for
me - not counting Bob's return for a second encore, was the TOOM song Standing In The Doorway, which
was so well done, a real tear jerker, with even more emotion than the wonderful version on the Masked
and Anonymous dvd outtakes. Bob can flat-out sing the broken-heart blues.
When Bob came back for the first encore he was all smiles, and you could sense that he was in a great
mood. I had felt it from the beginning, a happiness in him that seemed to arise from the recognition
that he had total control of his most important instrument, his voice. During Summer Days and
Watchtower he left the stage at the beginning of each song, leaving the band to heat up the joint
before coming back to rip into the vocals. And when he came back for the second encore, he was
chatting with the guitar tech behind him and had his hand on the neck of an electric guitar located
near his Oscar. My waiting-all-day-in-line-mate Ruth, my son and I were all calling to him "Pick it
up, pick it up," but it was, of course, not to be. But Rainy Day Women was a great rollicking crowd
pleaser, and left everyone filing out of Bender in a happy mood, knowing they had seen a great Bob
Two totally different environments. Two totally different feeling shows. And two shows that will long
be talked about, perhaps for different reasons. The first regular concert appearance of Hazel ever
will be the story for the dark blues of the 9:30 Club, but Bob's great voice and popular song list may
make the Bender boot more popular.
And now off to Warner.
page by Bill Pagel
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