page by Bill Pagel
Review by David Banks
I'm still in shock right now. The entire show from start to finish was
more than I could have ever dreamed of. The best of the three Dylan shows
I have seen. I think this will go down as one of the greatest shows on
the NET or at least the greatest show on this tour.
I got to the venue about 6:30 with my father and we didn't want to go in
right away because once you go in you have to stay in. No reentry. We went
to the other side of Shea's to see the buses. Just as we got there my Dad,
who is a big Merle Haggard fan, noticed Merle's sax player. I think his
name was Doc. We just said hello because the guy was in a rush. After that
we were sitting around on a ledge and watching the scalpers. They were a
scary bunch tonight.
As we were leaving to go back to the front I recognized Merle's fiddle
player. I didn't know his name, but knew hid face from a video of Merle's
concert at Billy Bob's in Texas. He was the nicest guy you could ever
meet. We talked for at least ten minutes. I told him he did some great
playing on "Farmer's Daughter" from the Billy Bob DVD. We shook hands and
exchanged names. His name is Dave, my name is Dave and my dad's name is
He thanked me for praising him and my dad started asking him about some
old people in Merle's band. I asked him if Merle was getting tired on such
a long tour and he said, "Merle goes out and sings like a bird every
night." This guy had toured with Dwight Yokam for a number of years and
found it very boring. He says Merle just goes out there and plays what he
wants every night. The guy knows almost all the greats of country music.
Of course I asked about Johnny Cash and he had known him for a time.
I asked him how Dylan was this tour and he didn't have anything good to
say about him. He said he doesn't talk to anyone. He said he is very
reclusive. I told him that Bob has been doing "Sing Me Back Home" a lot
and he said he had heard that from someone, but hadn't listened to a full
show because Bob doesn't even let Merle and the band stay around to hear
him. They have to leave the building. We let that great man go and went to
start the show.
I got a tour poster and my father got a key-chain from Merle's booth.
Our seats were very good - Row O to the left. What a fucking venue. It was
stunning. As soon as we sat down the lights got dark and Amos started up.
He was a little too loud at first. Overall I thought he was a good act.
That first acoustic song he did was breathtaking. I'm not sure of the
title, but if anyone knows be sure to tell.
Merle came out after a short break and shot out one song after another
like a machine gun. One after another they came with very little time to
even give Merle a standing ovation. A big highlight was "The Way I Am."
I should mention in the middle of this set a women and her two daughters
came and sat next to us. The mother was really stoic and very cool. I
played flirting eyes with the one daughter who had amazing dark eyes. She
was little and I'm pretty sure they were Jewish. They had beautiful noses
and features like Bob. Wonderful. Merle closed his great set with the song
"Jackson." He sang it with his backup singer who up to that point just
stood in the back of the stage looking lonely. A strange thing happened at
the end of the show. Merle almost had to be carried out. I hope he is not
At this point I already felt the price of tickets had been covered. Little
was I to expect Dylan would shock me and throw me to the ground with a
show that can only be called amazing. I'll go song by song.......
The Wicked Messenger - Bob mumbled a bit but knowing it was a tour first.
Something told me this would be a good show. Little was I to known what
She Belongs To Me - Stunning. This one took my breath away. Bob sang it
very well and the crowd was going wild. He ended it with an orgasmic
center stage harp solo. The crowd went crazy. I was ready to have a mental
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - Not bad but nothing special. Bob
messed up a big part of this one and did a very weird thing. He would
mumble something move away from the mic then get close again and mumble a
few more sound. He was lost during that small part. Looking around for
someone to save him. That one part was the only mess up the entire show.
Queen Jane Approximately - After hearing a few chords I thought it was
JLAW, but nooooo. After a boring song I get knocked with this! Bob sang
this with such care. It was just great. We got another wonderful center
stage solo. Bob was almost on the floor - bending his knees. The sweat
smell of incense making the whole thing just seem unreal.
Cold Irons Bound - Not bad but nothing special
Desolation Row - By this point there were no L&T boors and I was just
getting almost physically tired by the end of this song. It was just so
damn good I didn't think I could take anymore. Bob actually sang this in a
normal voice (except for one verse with a tiny bit of up-singing). Some
really nice vocal tricks by Bob on this one. I can't wait to hear this one
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again - Great version. Bob
actually sang the chorus with care.
Man In The Long Black Coat - The curtain went red and the star background
slowly started to light during this. It was like a dream. Bob sang good
though he may have repeated a verse. Nice center stage harmonica solo.
Cat's In The Well - I actually wanted to hear this one and loved it. Like
every single song of the night this one got a standing ovation.
Ballad Of Hollis Brown (acoustic) - Bob sang this one in a quiet way and
it was spooky. Most of the song I kept trading glances with the pretty
girl next too me. By the end I didn't even care about her. Bob took this
one to another level tonight. It was so dark and spooky. Bob didn't play
any wheezing games during this one or at all tonight and it just made
everything so much better. It was as if Bob really wanted to get the
message of this song across. The banjo adds a lot.
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere- Okay by now I'm really wondering where the L&T
clunkers are. Bob sang this one well. He actually did a very long
"yeaaaaaaaaaa" during this. The longest I've heard Dylan keep a note in a
Like A Rolling Stone - The glassy eyed doe next to me liked this. People
were dancing. Not bad.
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - WTF???? I was flipping out. One of my
favorites as encore? Bob did not fuck up tonight!
All Along The Watchtower - Great. Drums like shotguns.
This show will go down as a great one. I don't think I ever want to see
another Bob concert after this one because it was the greatest concert
I've ever seen and it would be very hard for him to top this one.
Review by Tom Zubal
Consider the source (me):
I’ve been seeing BD since 1988. I became enamored with his live
performances after the July 1991 show in Cleveland which was a complete
mindblowing affair. After that, I thoroughly enjoyed EVERY live
performance I saw from 1992-1996 (which was somewhere in the 25 show
After Time Out of Mind was released, the band changed (so long JJ, WW &
BB) as did Bob’s approach to live performances. What was once daring,
improvisational and exciting had been reduced to “well rehearsed” and
“professional.” It was about this time that I began to not enjoy the live
experience as much. The crowd began changing as well. (so long heads and
old time freaks…and the wonderful days of people climbing on stage…party
over..). Since 1997, I’ve attended about 10 shows. None of which compared
to the mid-1990s affairs.
Consider the time (today):
Bob’s voice is a ghost of what it was in the 1970s and a pale memory of
what it was in the mid-1990s. Listening to 1995 shows, you can still hear
BD hit the higher range notes with ease and precision. Bob is now 64. The
upper range of his voice is (sorry to say) gone. With rare exception, Bob
is forced to stick to a very limited vocal range these days.
Consider the show:
Merle -> we caught about 5 songs of his set. A little too understated and
comatose for my tastes. I almost fell asleep. Not my bag….
On to Bob:
1. The Wicked Messenger
Unrecognizable to me! Nonetheless, the sound system sounded great. Not too
loud, with all the instruments perfect in the mix. A rather short version.
Then on to:
2. She Belongs To Me
A real nice treat! The band nailed it perfectly. Bob was enjoying
singing this one and the crowd was grateful to hear it. Again, his
voice was strong in the lower register, but forget about any sort of range
3. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
A very cool arrangement. A few times the band lost their place and the
chorus/chord changes took them by surprise when Bob started singing. Still
a nice version. Excellent violin by Elana on this one. In fact, her
playing was fantastic all night long. And she’s a stunningly beautiful
woman to view. She is truly the centerpiece of the band, which is odd to
me since Bob is still off to the side and never looking at the
4. Queen Jane Approximately
This was another minor “rarity” and one of my personal favorites. A
very pretty rendition of this song. Bob tried (and hit!) a few of the high
5. Cold Irons Bound
My favorite of the night! The arrangement was good & spooky! The chorus
was played sort of in a double time regarding the descending chords. Very
well done and crunched out.
6. Desolation Row
A classic. Well done. Unfortunately for me, not one of my faves on the
7. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
My good friend predicted this one about 20 minutes before the show. A nice
version. As good as it’s gonna get anymore…
8. Man In The Long Black Coat
Surprise! I love Oh Mercy songs!! This sounded VERY much like the
performance on OM. Another good, spooky song. Could’ve benefited from some
higher register vocals, but oh well…its 2005…
1. Cat's In The Well
Filler. I don’t understand why this song is so often in the rotation.
1. Ballad Of Hollis Brown (acoustic)
Well done. Not one of my personal favorites.
1. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
Here we go! This was another nice surprise. Short & sweet. Bob sang it
with heart & soul.
1. Like A Rolling Stone
Just what the crowd needed. Something more familiar! It was a textbook
version. Nice & up.
1. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
Wow was I happy to hear this as an encore! One of my favorite tunes!
Unfortunately, again, the lack of ability to enter the higher vocal
register seemed to emasculate this song….
1. All Along The Watchtower
The classic ass kicking closer. Mellow and then a bombast of rocknroll.
Consider this question:
With Bob’s current limited vocal range why does he insist on completely
bending over his electric piano to reach the microphone which is sitting
near the top of the piano???
Any singer will tell you that the diaphragm needs to be able to
contract and expand with ease in order to provide the voice with a good
amount of air to sing properly! I think that we would all be much happier
if Bob stood up and sang instead of hunching over all night.
And a final consideration on the band:
Elana is definitely a great player and a visual treat. Exactly why she is
center stage all night (and staring at Bob continuously) is beyond me. Is
Bob afraid to see the crowd head on? Assassination fears?? Post-911
anxiety?? That aside, I enjoyed her playing and hope that one day she can
play on some DESIRE tunes with this band.
Regarding the 2 guitarists, I think one is enough. Their playing is
interchangeable and both play it VERY close to the vest. (Where have you
gone John Jackson!!??) Right now, 2 is overkill. The man playing pedal
steel & violin does a nice job as well. Again, does any band need 2
violinists??? Tony is Tony & God bless him.
This band is DEFINITELY on a short leash, and that may be for the best,
because they are a very polished nashville style bar band, and if they go
out too far or for too long, it could put crowds to sleep.
Again, it was an enjoyable show for 2005. Bob’s making the best of
what’s left of his voice & apparently enjoying it, so that’s all that
Review by Carsten Molt
"Truckin'Up To Buffalo"
Jillsy, John and i left Pittsburgh later than planned and got snarled in a
construction fueled traffic jam near Erie. Because of the delays, we
arrived in Buffalo too late to go to the pre-show gathering of poolers.
"He's getting ready for the show"
The Shea's Performing Arts Center is a old ornate theater with beautiful
architecture. We had center stage seats in the balcony. The seats were
cushioned and comfortable. This is a real advantage over the course of a
"Could you kindly tell me, friend, what time the show begins?"
Amos Lee came out exactly at 7 PM and delivered a decent, short
singer/songwriter set. It was pretty good but i was not blown away.
Merle Haggard was up next and i enjoyed it more than i expected. i didn't
know most of the songs but he was very good, although i worried that his
elderly, overweight drummer was going to have a heart attack at any
moment. i liked his set a lot.
"Once upon a time you dressed so fine"
Dylan was in his white shirt, black jacket and black pants with embroidery
down the sides. He wasn't wearing a tie but his cllar glistened in the
lights several times. If i remember correctly, the entire band was
dressed in black except Elana who wore a red and black dress.
"So let's get on with the show"
1. Wicked Messenger-This was a surprise and it had a new arrangement. It
no longer sounds a lt like "Drifters Escape". It took me a few lines to
recognize it. The sound was a bit muffled at first but improved as the show
2. She Belongs To Me-Surprise #2. i had never heard the song live and it
was fantastic. Dylan sang it with care and ended the song at center stage
with a beautiful harmonica solo. i could have left satisfied at this
point but thankfully, i didn't.
3. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)-This was not very good. Dylan sang
away from the microphone a few times and mumbled most of the lines. It
was easily the worst performance of the song that i've heard.
4. Queen Jane Approximately- i didn't recognize it right away, i thought
it might be "Just Like A Woman" and then it sounded a bit like "Standing
In The Doorway" but as soon as Dylan sang "When your mother sends back
all your invitations", i was on cloud #9 and it was a stellar rendition.
Dylan ended the song with another harmonica solo at center stage and he
really gave the solo everything he had.
5. Cold Irons Bound-The intro was longer than usual and it was a really
blazing performance. The power threatened to rip the paint right off the
walls of the the theater.
6. Desolation Row-At this point, i thought Dylan was getting ready to bore
me with another rendition of "Tweedle Dee & Twedle Dum" but he surprised
me again with beautiul performance. Dylan sang it softly and pretty
standard at first but as the song progressed, he added several nice
nuances to his vocals.
7. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again-As usual, Dylan
didn't sing all the verses but the ones he did sing were handled with
conviction and with zest. It was kind of sloppy at a couple of points but
was still above average.
8. Man In The Long Black Coat- The stage backdrop became a starfilled
background and we received another treat. Dylan sang it tenderly but his
voice was a bit gruff on the first verse. As the song continued, his
voice improved and he was projecting the lyrics well. He capped the song
off with another excellent center stage harmonica solo.
9. Cat's In The Well-At first, Jillsy thought it was "Everything Is
Broken"and i thought it was "Down Along the Cove". We were both wrong. It
was a hard driving version with the band blazing away and Dylan roaring
10. Ballad Of Hollis Brown (acoustic)-This was very spooky and Dylan was
singing it with a lot of emotion and conviction. The banjo took the song
to a new level.
11. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere-i was thrilled to hear this. It was a lot of
fun and while it broke no new ground, it is always a joy to hear.
12. Like A Rolling Stone- A song i'm tired of hearing but most of the
crowd loved it with lots of dancing and cheering. Stu played a sloppy
guitar solo that went absolutely no place.
13. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues- i was hoping for "Mississippi" but if
Dylan wasn't going to play that, this was a good alternative. Dylan really
nailed this song. The pedal steel sustain was a bit overdone but it
didn't detract from a great performance.
14. All Along The Watchtower-Bang! The predictable song but the
performance was anything but predictable. It rocked very hard and built
to a great climax. A great wat to end a great show.
A. The new band members had big shoes to fill with the departure of Larry
Campbell. Elana Fremerman, besides being easy on the eyes, played quite a
bit of nice violin. Donnie Herron is also a nice addition. His bano
playing on "Hollis Brown" was especially good. Denny Freeman did little
for me. He mostly just strummed his guitar in the background. He played a
couple of decent solos but never really stood out in any meaningful way.
B. The remaining band members were all good. Stu Kimball seems comfortable
with his role as lead guitarist and his botched solo on "Like A Rolling
Stone" aside, played very well all evening. Tony Garnier was moving
around more than he has in a couple of years. He played his upright bass
with a bow which added nice texture to his sound. George Recile is a very
energetic drummer. His playing was loud but never overpowering.
C. Dylan was singing well for most of the show. His piano was a bit low in
the mix but his harmonica playing was superb.
D. The crowd was very well behaved. They were attentive during the slower
tunes and appreciative during the rockers. Each song received loud
All in all, it was a great evening of music. It was not the best show i've
seen but it was right near the top. i'd love to get a copy of the show...
Of course, these are just my opinions and i apologize for typos and the
length but i tend to ramble, Any feedback or corrections are welcome.
In Bob we trust,
Review by Michael Mann
I never made the effort to write up a review before but after experiencing
last night's masterpiece I feel like tossing in my two cents. First of
all the venue was amazing ... I felt like I was attending an opera or a
broadway show. The ceiling was extemely high and the sound was perfect
... not to mention the seats were nice and comfy!
Amos was outstanding. I saw him open for Bob at the Bushkill show two
summers ago and Amos has come a long way IMO. Very solid band with a
rockin' bluesy sound.
I really enjoyed Merle's set. I was hoping for a Mama Tried and didn't
get it but everything was very well played and very well received.
Now onto the man the myth the legend. The opening Wicked Messenger was
totally re-worked version ... maybe this has been covered from previous
reviews. Not sure how to describe but Bob song it in a sticcato (sp?)
style ... I wasn't overly crazy about this take but I appreciated the
creativity. She Belongs To Me was a real treat and sounded great. It's
Alright Ma was enhanced and sounded great with the dueling violins. Queen
Jane ... second gem of the night and it smoked! Cold Irons Bound was
pretty much the usual fare and sounded good. Then my personal highlight
Desolation Row ... always wanted to hear this live and really enjoyed this
really well played version. I am partial to the hard-driving acoustic
versions with Sexton but this one rocked too. Not much to say about Stuck
Inside, Man In The Long Black Coat and Cat's In The Well ... they all
sounded good and tight. Happy to get my second Hollis Brown ... I really
enjoy the rhythm section on this one. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere was a real
treat for me and sounded perfect. Rolling Stone smoked as usual and the
crowd ate it up. Was praying for a Mississippi for the first encore but
settled for a very well palyed Tom Thumb. The closing Watchtower was
titantic as usual but I've heard it a little too much to get too excited
It was nice to have the free form set without Tweedle , Honest and Summer
Days. This band is really tight. Elana really impressed me as did
Donnie. Stu really threw in some good licks without going overboard.
Also, I was surprised how many times Bob took center stage for harmonica
solos ... I didn't keep count but it was probably close to half a dozen.
I think bob is re-energized with this newest NET lineup ... I know I would
be if I was playing with Elana ; ) If you're on the fence about going
to a show ... get the heck off and go to as many as possible! I started
going to Bob shows in '02 and this was my ninth and easily my fave with
American Univ. close behind.
Review by Paul McGarry
WE had great weather for the trip down to Shea's Buffalo, and with a stop
at the World Famous Anchor Bar for some wings and things we were set for
an evening of fine entertainment. Shea's Theatre is a fantastic venue for
such legendary acts, with the various balcony’s and columns you'd think
you were in time machine from the forty's. The place place was loaded with
friendly old ushers (mostly women) taking you down to you seats with their
tiny flashlights, that along with $4 a glass champagne got people in a
very festive mood. The crowd was still sparse when opening act Amos Lee
took to the stage, they played a short set, but when Lee's voice filled
the theatre with a cool vibe, it was pretty obvious this man is a star in
Next up was Honky Tonk Royalty himself Merle Haggard, he and his band
started off with a bang and didn't stop. His solo on "Workin Man's Blues"
was worth the price of admission, he is a true professional. Merle and his
white haired sidemen were what old style country is all about.....'give
the people what they want" and he did! Merle and the Strangers deserved
more than 45 mins. At this point I felt I had already had my money's
worth. Dylan came on at 9:00 sharpe with an unrecognizable "Wicked
Messenger" then he hit his mark with "She Belongs To Me" I was optimistic
after "Queen Jane" (my first) and eager to hear more....Until "Cold Iron
Bounds" a song I have heard on numerous occasions played with power and
passion. The version that unfolded tonight showed me that it was lacking a
Larry Campbell power chord or even a Freddy Koella quack or honk.
Desolation Row was next, a song that I thought was cluttered with too
much instrumentation...less is more, I prefer the double acoustic version.
Highlights for me were "Man In The Long Black Coat" and Hollis Brown” and
I thought the violin and pedal steel were perfect for "Ain't Goin
Nowhere". The set list was first rate, No songs from "Love And Theft" were
present which was kind of nice, but the 2 violin thing just doesn't cut it
for me, I know I have been spoiled in the past with Dylan's Guitar Army of
Charlie and Larry and Elana and Donnie are fantastic musicians, especially
Donnie but the band in general seemed very tentative. Denny Freeman seemed
to be hiding in the corner all night and Stu Kimbell a man who has the
tools refused to step on Dylan’s blueprint for mediocrity. Unlike other
shows my toe was not tapping as often as I would have liked, it's always
an honour to see "The Man" an I understand he is looking for a "Rootsy"
sound with this bunch, but the songs in general are sounding less unique
than they have in the past....oh how I long for the fall of 2000!!
Comments by Christopher Smith
straight to the point.brilliant show.he did it again!on my 32 show at
shea's performing arts center bob and his newly arranged band gave his
fans a night to remamber! minus a few slip ups in the beginning,the band
rip-roared through what was a technically amazing performance.rather than
focusing on highlights the attention should be focused on bob's abilty to
command this new class act into delivering what his fans have always
wanted.they are fresh,crisp and smooth. unlike so many other bands bob
continues to keep with the times and give us what we came to see....a
wonderfully talented musician giving it his best and giving us a night to
cherish.thanks again bob for yet another great memory!
Review by March Birchard
Love and Theft Minus Zero
Carload of five rolled up to the Homeland Security Officer, who
interrogates from behind the shades.
Where are you from and where are you going?
To a Bob Dylan concert.
Never heard of him.
He’s a great singer.
Never heard of him, does he dance too?
The driver is distracted: No.
Drive, he said.
And our designated one muttered something underneath his breath.
Wonder if “See you at the show!” would have got us searched?
Amos Lee the ‘rising star’ has the locks to unlock the door. With rare
humility he was willing to sign CD’s in the lobby. Amos ends with the
Dylan inspired Sam Cooke “A Change is Gonna Come’. Full Circle Merle rides
the mount, Big City the second song tells us what to do with our
so-called social security. His swag bandana reads “Love this country or
leave it” an open invitation to come back and join us in Canada! Turn me
loose, set me free indeed! Haggard tells the audience, “Don’t worry about
George Bush, tonight you’re here with me and Bob Dylan.” Just an ol’
country singer, a working man, but this is Buffalo, a pawn to
globalization, since Bethlehem Steel’s demise, the working man here is
underemployed. Exiting with sour grapes in his mouth, “We’ve been here for
a short time and we gotta go for Bob Dylan”, and the curtain came down.
Gotta serve someone and the Hag’s proppin up the status quo. bobdylan.com
is going to have to treat the fans better, we are sitting at the back of
the hall, having purchased the tickets online at 10:10 on presale day.
Shame. Shea’s is an ornate theatre. C-shaped, carved columns, well
preserved with excellent acoustics. Every seat is sweet.
The curtain comes up on funked up Wicked Messenger, no Rodeo Suite or
Fanfare for the Common Man – that was Merle – only Buffalo’s own Jeff
Miers intro. Elana the fiddling female is on display – the boys are
literally now the back-up band. The creedo of the evangelist” If you
can’t bring good news then don’t bring any.”
She Belongs To Me starts slowly - the fiddler is back, shades of
Bob’s in black, seems short are the high heels hard on the back?
Elana cuts a striking shapely sihouette, when she turns to tune in her
tight-fitting backless dark-patterned dress. Having viewed Dylan’s book
Drawing Blank earlier in the day I know know those lines are not lost on
The red curtain backdrop exudes passion, Bob prances out to play his harp
primping in Elana’s space, proud as a peacock.
On It’s Alright Ma, Bob bends down low to sing into his mike, with a harp
solo and two fiddles – the shifting pace brings Budokan to mind. This one
was nicely overdone.
Off comes Geroge’s jacket, the upright bass is hauled off, a fool such as
I rushes in to declare it’s all over now Baby Blue but it’s Queen Jane
Approximately. Swaying mournfully – the piano is being heard in more
places with the new band. The smell of the roses may not remain, but the
Nag Chompa has wafted all the way to the back rows. That enigmatic
biblical allusion, “You want someone you can turn the other cheek to,”
leads to the rhetorical: Won’t you come see me? Put that in you’re pipe
Mr. Customs Man – ‘song and dance man indeed! Bob does the Buffalo shuffle
back into Elana’s space a second time for a harp rendering. Ever the
professional their eyes don’t meet at the end as Bob makes his way back to
The colours change, to silvery-grey, Cold Irons Bound – prison bars,
hearing voices / a mental institution, riding the rails, the band adds new
sounds cuz beauty decays, and the songs must have their faces rearranged.
There is a confab with the band, Bob trips on a wire and does the
fandango on Desolation Row. These are Lyrics/Words with power. The pace is
slow tonight on Desolation Row.
Stuck Inside of Memphis is code orange, with is cast of conspiratorial
characters. The band begins bouncing down the highway although they claim
to be stuck, don’t believe it. Ain’t nothing stuck on this song. Elana is
still visibly front and center even when she has disappeared from the
A shift in the spirit is apparent the curtain is raised – a red
apocalypse as the devil joins the show, wearing a Long Black Coat. The
band basks in an impervious purple glow. Stars come out on stage. The
preacher speaks to the internal torment of the soul.
Dylan “makes no mistakes in life” as a performer he calls us, inspires us,
to achieve, be it in the pulpit Sunday after Sunday, or the artist on
each canvas or poet on the blank page, any who after hearing our hero wake
up each day to excel in a vocation. Dylan drops a new verse: “She went
down to the river, and she just missed the boat, she’s gone with the man .
. . For the third time he shuffles to centre stage although the somber
notes of this song keeps him out of Elana’s space. The extended harp solo
is the final stoke on the night’s masterpiece.
Cats in the Well – the obligatory anti-war anthem, is the second dark
song in the third act, it’s a tight rocker with two fiddles and at this
point we want to declare Bob’s new band a success. The Ballad of Hollis
Brown with banjo supplied by Donnie is played to the colour purple, The
last line a loud emphatic “THERE’S SEVEN”, then a softly sliding out “new
people born.” This one of Dylan’s surprisingly early songs – a statement
of sublime suffering in the cycles of life. The sacred number seven, the
Hebrew number of fullness, takes this microcosm to a macro message.
You Ain’t Going Nowhere has the tabernacle / tent pitched in YHWH”s
world. No one can put this sixty-three year old in a Lazy-boy. The song
find itself in a delightful dub exit.
The poet laureate shuts her down with his epistle to the sixties –
reappearing on set list to coincide with Griel Marcus’s text. Sir, by this
time everybody is up dancing!
The logo the troubador’s trinity – holy dove, inner eye and burning
bush, comes down and the band is back for Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues. The
doctors might be unwilling to tell us what it is we got, but Doctor Dylan
is diagnosing the North American malaise, night after night. This is the
furthest west I’ve ever seen Bob, even though its still NY State. Bob’s
game to go back to New York City and suddenly the western get-up suddenly
make sense, this is a reverse mythology the unschooled lad from the wests
goes east and conquers the civilization. Blessed be the myth-busters.
We are led to the Watchtower and the curtain comes down.
Bob delivered ‘good news’ to believers, albeit bereft of Love and
Theft. The 20th Century show overflows out onto the streets of Buffalo.
Reverend Jamie Gripton examines the connection between Bob Dylan and the
Word, on “Buckets of Bob”every Sunday at 5 EST at www.mta.ca/chma
Comments by Chuck Owen
My friends Paul & Marsh from Toronto ON, Bill from Ottawa ON and Jamie
from Sackville New Brunswick attended this concert and it was unanimous,
we all agreed that the Never-Ending Tour is alive and well. The fans that
will be attending the rest of the tour are in for a real treat. Dylan is
in fine form and is really enjoying himself. Stu is fantastic and Elana
will knock you out, what a great sound. Dylan always seems to re-invent
himself and each concert is better then the last. " What a great solid
performance." We'll see you in Verona NY on my birthday. My thanks goes
out to the entire cast "What a great show."
25 Virginia St.,
Welland ON Canada
Review by Bill White
As Dr. Gripton has so eloquently noted (he sent his review in on March
Birchard’s e-mail account y’all), the Dylan set was something else.
I must say that the Shea Theatre is a real treasure of not just American,
but global architecture. Simply put, they don’t build them like this
anymore and it was a treat to take advantage of the hard work many people
put into restoring this wondrous auditorium. The acoustics – way back on
the ground floor – were simply superb. And out of sheer curiosity, after
the show I wandered up to the front with Marsh to look back at the whole
place from the vantage point of the front row – it was even more
compelling, so Bob and co. must have been similarly impressed.
Michaelangelo would have spent decades decorating the ceiling…
Whether it was these amazing confines or the spirit of that particular
night, who knows, but every act seemed to have its own delight in
Amos Lee was terrific: the poster ain’t kidding, Mr. Lee is a Rising Star.
Haggard was another deal altogether. He delivered a Classic country set,
but I have to question his female accompaniment. Unfortunately, with all
due respect, I thought the poor woman, resigned for the most part to a
very minimal role as a backup singer (and cheerleader when one of the boys
ripped out a decent solo), embarrassed herself and the aforementioned Star
when she was called on for a duet at center stage for “Jackson.” Sorry,
but like me, she can’t sing. Reminded me of another similar travesty
wrought on 30,000 people by James Brown at Bluesfest in Ottawa a few years
back. And Steve Earle of late, come to think of it, but never mind. Ahem.
Bob’s new band takes the show up another notch IMHO. The clothes, the
attitude, the talent; everything breathes one word and that word is Class.
Stu Kimball was deft all night long – looks and sounds like he’s been
standing behind Bob for years -- not weeks. He seemed to eschew the guitar
swapping of his many predecessors, sticking mainly with a Fender Strat
with a very cool gold front for the duration of the gig. I didn’t hear a
bad note from him at all. By contrast, Denny Freeman is way off on the
other side of the stage; he blew at least one lead line, but otherwise was
content in a rhythm role. Donnie’s great and his playing added a really
Big Nashville dimension to the soundscape. But the star among the players
for me was Alana Fremerman. She sure is stunning in her elegant light
brown dress with embroidery spiraling around her, but what really struck
me was the fact that she had this expression of joy, pride and confidence
(all rolled into one) to be on that stage. And her playing seemed to gel
perfectly with Bob’s piano, which was this time a lot higher in the mix.
The notes from Bob and Alana just seem to coalesce and not just
occasionally, but all the time. These two are definitely on the same
Highlights: amazing version of Its Alright Ma, which absolutely rocks.
Queen Jane was immediately and joyously apparent to Marsh and I… Cold
Irons Bound was a bit disjointed and cut short for whatever reason,
although it should be noted that Bob made a point of walking over in front
of the drum kit afterwards to pay homage George Recile’s a fine assault –
Marsh noted that this tune really demands a lot of the guy with the sticks
and he’s right, although I prefer the bass line and the guitar figure from
the LP – which was the case during Bob’s last-ever show at Maple Leaf
Bob’s preponderance for harmonica solos from the gitgo was a real treat
and somehow foreshadowed the inclusion of The Man in the Long Black Coat.
Mind you, expecting him to top the harp playing of the version on Oh Mercy
is always expecting too much. Suffice to say that I got an earful of
pheenom live harp solos from the man last year at the Phoenix in Toronto.
Mobile was mercifully not the tragically long-winded exercise in killing
time that it was when G.E. Smith waved the umpteenth guitar in yore face,
Cats in the Well was fun to hear for the first time, Ballad of Hollis
Brown was amazing, thanks to the Nashville arrangement and You Ain’t Goin’
Nowhere was just about what you want it to be – as close to seeing
Nashville Skyline live as one would want.
In deference to those who eschew another reading of Like a Rolling Stone,
let me say that this was a perfect set closer, especially given the number
of Merle Haggard fans in the crowd – this is a song everyone knows and
loves. And it tells even the neophyte that the show’s just about done.
Hearing LARS again also gave me a hankering to get my paws on the latest
Greil Marcus tome as soon as possible. I picked the book up the next
morning, jumped on a bus to Ottawa and read the entire thing in five
hours. It is a phenomenal piece of investigative journalism, folks, and
with a resounding “yes”, answers the question: “Can an entire book be
written about a pop song?”
Hats off to Chuck for his directions to the Anchor (and the parking lot
near the Shea) before the show and back to the border (!!), and for taking
a picture of us Four Horsemen in front of the Shea; and to Paul for
securing the tickets for us all and driving us down from Toronto. Also a
special personal thanks to Paul for that great trip to Seattle for the
Dylan 55-65 exhibit at EMP…!!!
Like Chuck said, every Dylan concert is better than the last one. He’s
page by Bill Pagel
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