Reviews

Bowie, Maryland
Prince George's Stadium
June 14, 2005


[John Frisch], [Jonathan Katz], [Todd Harvey], [Tim Shorrock], [John William Klein],
[Jim Keil], [Charlie Gardner], [Chris Jenkins], [Michael Martz]

Review by John Frisch



Dylan and his very tight  band stormed into Maryland tonight.  With a
superb set list and sound system to match he delivered a show that was
characterized by terrific energy and careful, passionate singing
throughout the evening.  I have rarely heard him give such a sustained
vocal performance during a show--he was in fine voice the entire
evening.  Highlights included a faithful version of Senor, a heartfelt
Shooting Star, and a rollicking version of Lonesome Day.  In an
unusual twist, he delivered fantastic versions of John Brown and
Masters of War in the same concert, the latter a powerful, direct and
well sung version which came as the first song in the encore (which
was followed by a really great version of Like a Rolling Stone--his
new guitarist is superb).  The evening's real highlight, though, was a
tight and phenomenal version of Chimes of Freedom.  This was the first
time I have heard him perform it live and it alone was worth the price
of admission.   

John Frisch

[TOP]

Review by Jonathan Katz


Traffic into Prince George's Stadium in Bowie, Maryland was
horrendous, and I only made it to a few songs of Willie Nelsons.  Bob came
on about a half an hour after Willie departed and launched into Drifter's
Escape.  I could tell right away this was going to be a good night.  His
voice was strong, he was animated, and the band was cooking from the
starting notes.  Bob's piano was high enough in the mix that it was
distinct, and he put together a very nice harp solo. A good version of
SeŮor followed with another harp solo.  After Lonesome Day Blues he slowed
it down a bit with Shooting Star, but the band was driving forward again
with Highway 61.  The arrangement for This Wheel's On Fire facilitated its
ominous features, and Stuck Inside Of Mobile provided a nice vehicle for
Donnie Herron on pedal steel.  He next supplied banjo for John Brown. 
With the political climate Chimes Of Freedom was chilling, even in the 90
degree heat. After a dynamite Summer Days the political heat was turned up
again for the encore of Masters Of War.  Like A Rolling Stone followed
with the entire stadium singing along.  This was one of the best Dylan
shows I've seen since 1974.  Lots of harmonica, and interesting
arrangements that allowed the new band to show off a different sound.
 

[TOP]

Review by Todd Harvey



We pulled into Bowie late, fearful of the sun and the heat. Both lots already full, we parked in 
the ditch of some winding road a long walk from the ball field. Ah, there was Willie in the 
distance singing "You Are Always on My Mind." This was not a Baysox game. Into the stadium and 
down close, where the second basemen go deep in hole for a hard hit grounder, Margot and I waited 
for Bob. We chatted with the people in the crowd and speculated about what the band's daily 
schedule would be on this grueling summer-long tour. The guys next to us were teachers looking 
forward to the end of the school year.

The lights go down, Bob and the band hit the stage, and the ground shifts. The teachers light up as 
we recognize "Drifter's Escape" and once again I get it. I remember why we all come to see Bob. 
We're at a party in 1967 thinking, "Its good that he's back." Or we're in our dorm room in 1984 
musing, "I wonder who the drifter really is?" Or we're two teachers feelin' fine in Bowie, Maryland, 
involuntarily rolling into that deadhead loping shuffle of a dance. The boys give a cough and a nod 
in my direction. "No thanks, those days have passed for me."

The transformative aspect of the experience is real and true, but I kept asking myself, "What does 
he expect us to get from the performance?" and "What is he experiencing?" The focus is on that 
ragged voice. Melody is minimal-only a few solid pitches left. On most songs he uses them both, 
mixing them up so we don't get tired of one. I know these songs pretty well, but I was catching just 
a few words in each phrase. Mind you, I'm not complaining about the constantly renewed arrangements. 
After it's composition in 1962, he played "John Brown" the same way a few times, but then it had to 
change. "It used to be like that, now it goes like thisÖ" is a consistent statement of philosophy, 
and tonight the song was as interesting and relevant as the day it was written. I have to say, 
though, that the strange little center fielder at the piano, firing songs to us in rapid succession, 
spitting out "I never engaged in this kind of thing before" without giving any indication why today 
he decided to tell us that, is frankly baffling.

I experienced moments of transformation. I marveled at how far the warning about railroad men has 
traveled from Bascom Lamar Lunsford's 1928 recording of "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground" to the 
1966 "Stuck inside of MobileÖ" to its utterance tonight in Bowie. Our mood shifts and we retreat 
from the press of the infield, up into the bleachers, slow dancing for a few minutes and talking 
about the show. We drift outside of the stadium and across the footbridge while he is still singing 
and the sound is bouncing around and we can't even tell what tune it is. I've had my fill. 
Thanks, Bob.

-Todd Harvey

[TOP]

Review by Tim Shorrock



I've been going to hear Dylan since 1974 and this was one of the finest
performances I've seen. The night was hot - at sunset the temperature was
in the 90s - so Bob and his men in black were already sweating when they
began. The highlights for me were 1) an absolutely rocking version of
Memphis Blues Again, played almost at the same tempo as the original on
Blonde on Blonde with a nice acoustic guitar touch; Bob didn't seem to
want to stop singing and the crowd loved it; 2) two of his greatest
antiwar songs, John Brown and Masters of War, delivered with passion and
anger; this was the first time I'd heard John Brown live and it was
chilling; 3) a beautiful and empassioned Chimes of Freedom, also my first
live experience of this song; when he added this to his antiwar stuff I
began to think that Dylan is very conscious of the fact that the
military-industrial complex responsible for so much death and destruction
is all around us here in the greater DC area; 4) a powerful and emotive
This Wheel's on Fire, another first for me. It was a great and happy
evening. Kids under 12 came in free, so there were lots of children
running around and dancing with their parents. Bob, if you can kick out
the jams like this at age 64 well I can too - you have 10 years on me, so
this was an inspiration. A fantastic night - 31 years after my first show
in February 1974, with The Band at the Santa Monica Civic Center. My hat's
off to you, Bob.

Tim Shorrock

[TOP]

Review by Rev. John William Klein



I rode with my friend Steve to the concert which was at yet one more
outdoor baseball stadium. We quickly met two very enthusiastic Willie
Nelson fans, Tara and Lauren, who with us had staked out a very good
position just a few feet from the stage. The Greencards were a really fun
band and set the tone for a wonderful evening. Willie was, as always, the
consummate showman and by the time he completed his set, the stadium had
nearly filled to capacity. I have no idea how many were present but it had
to have been over 6000. The sun was setting when Bob and his band stepped
onto the stage. By now we had moved even closer to the rail and I was next
to Chris and Allie who were also seeing Dylan live for the first time.
"Drifterís Escape" began the set and it was both predictable and easily
recognized. I had my sailing hat on with the boatís name "Drifterís
Escape" embroidered on it. Several people nodded, and I pointed proudly to
my hat. It was a good feeling. The second song in the set was a surprise
to me and truly a treat: "Senor ( Tales of Yankee Power)" I had never
heard Bob sing. it live before and for me it was really one of the most
sublime moments of the entire concert. The clarity of Bobís voice was
awesome and the lyrics readily recognized. Next he sang "Lonesome Day
Blues" during which the line: "Iím forty miles from the mill -Iím droppiní
it into overdrive" was simply penetrating to me. Those words stuck with me
both through the concert and into the next day. "Shooting Star" was
accompanied by Bobís superb harp performance. During "Highway 61" the band
seemed to be watching Bob intently and he clearly was leading. "This
Wheelís On Fire" had to be one of the evenings finest songs. I would have
gone for this alone. And, again, it was another first for me; it was very
good! Somehow, I missed "Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues
Again" entirely. I just didnít recognize it - all I can remember was the
wonderful drum work by George Recile and the great harp- playing. Both
"Bye and Bye" and "Summer Days" were beautifully performed. But, it was
"Chimes of Freedom " that really made he concert. Another live first for
me, it took me back to the beginning of my "Dylan Odyssey" and I was not
disappointed. I think this is one of the finest pieces of poetry ever
penned by Bob or anyone. Throughout the evening I was struck over and over
again about the magnetic draw of this music. My friend whom I jog with in
the mornings overed this observation; "You know, Dylan just isnít easy
listening music" I think thatís the answer. The fans struggle and they
strain to capture the reinvented tunes and to divine new insights from
lyrics old and new sung in yet one more new context. One might note the
inclusion of "Lonesome Day Blues", "John Brown" and "Masters of War" in
the same concert as a sad commentary on the cost of current conflict. I
heard the plaintiff cry of the poor in "Senor", "Lonesome Day Blues", and
"Chimes of Freedom" ring out loud and clear. 

John Wm Klein 

[TOP]

Review by Jim Keil



I can only add to what has been noted that Bob looked great in all 
black from toe to hat but that red piping really set everything off. We
took to calling him "Monsignor." He was obviously in a good mood last
night, and at one point turned to playing scales on his piano while the
band got it together. He followed that with some other silly song intro
which I can't remember, but it was something along the lines of "London
Bridge." Bob also played A LOT of harp last night, coming to center stage
many times to conclude a song with a lengthy harp performance. Chimes was
a wonderful surprise and the best performed song of the night. The
performance of Masters of War was very intense but somehow very liberating
as well; he ended by singing "I want you to know I can see thru your mask"
in such a way as to suggest he personally was challenging, "calling out,"
the masters of war, some of whom no doubt were within striking distance of
the stage. And he closed with perhaps the best LARS I've ever heard. I
thought the show was a bit uneven, but it became very strong after
midpoint. (It's a mistake, I think, to put Bye and Bye together with an
acoustic John Brown, but sandwiching them between Wheel's and Chimes
obviated some of the damage.) Not the strongest DC performance I've seen
(Warner Theatre last year was sublime), but this show had some
performances that were the best I've ever heard in person.

[TOP]

Review by Charlie Gardner



Well, the air was so stuffy, I could hardly breathe, and while it was
clearly too hot to sleep, it wasn't quite hot enough to keep me from
driving out to Bowie to see Bob again.  Temperatures in the mid-90s during
the day hadn't subsided very much even by Dylan's appearance a little past
9 p.m., but as the first few chords of "Drifter's Escape" blared out the
heat and the sweat were forgotten and all eyes turned to the frail,
black-garbed man on stage.  The show overall was quite good: the band was
on, and Bob's voice was generally solid throughout, particularly on
"Senor," "Shooting Star," and "Chimes of Freedom," my three favorites from
the evening's setlist.  Bob's harp solos were particularly good, far
better than when I heard him last.  "Summer Days" seems to have lost some
of its punch, but it still got people up and dancing and is a perfect tune
for the time of year and the type of venue.  

I should also note that as I left to take a needed breather during the
encore with a friend of mine, we noticed none other than Jenna Bush
standing right next to us up along the stadium's main concourse,
accompanied by an entourage of friends (and a couple secret service agents
hanging back, in plainclothes but nonetheless easily identifiable).  It
made for an odd but somehow appropriate moment for me - a former Bush
campaign worker - to be there with my friend, a Kerry campaign worker,
both standing next to a Bush daughter as Dylan growled out "Masters of
War" to a cheering audience.  Perhaps Dylan had his Washington audience in
mind on this night, as "John Brown" also made it onto the setlist.  Either
way, Ms. Bush did not seem at all bothered by the song, though one might
doubt that her dad has it on his I-pod playlist.

Finally, as I drove home along route 50, the Washington D.C. skyline came
alight with bolts of lighting, a perfect echo of the the earlier song, as
they indeed seemed to be the chimes of freedom flashing.  Thanks for a
great show as always Bob!

Charlie Gardner

[TOP]

Review by Chris Jenkins



We arrived at the ballpark early in the day, at about 11:30 am.  The wasn't a lot going on in the area, 
so we went and got lunch and hung around town a while.  We finally decided to get in (what there was of 
it).  There were lots of people there to see Willie, which always surprises me somehow.  Anyway, I had 
early entry tickets, so we got a great spot about 7 rows back right at center stage.

The Greencards were good, had a good sound and great personality.  Willie Nelson played ok too.  He 
seemed a bit tired and distant as a went through his greatest hits setlist.  The highlight of his show 
was Pancho & Lefty, even though he gave the last verse to his back-up singer (not sure who he is).  A 
notable part of Willie's band is his son Lucas, who is a fantastic guitarist and even sang on Texas 
Flood.  Then at long last, Willie left and it was time for Bob.

This was my third Dylan show and what a treat it was.  I have lots of field recordings of recent shows 
and when listening to them, sometimes it is still hard to decipher some of the lyrics, but tonight, I 
could Bob loud and clear.  I have never heard his voice stay so clear through a whole set.  I should 
mention his clothing.  Bob was wearing an all black suit highlighted by red stripes.  He was also 
wearing a great hat that I'd never seen before.  It was not a cowboy hat, but a flat, wide-brimmed hat.  
The band was wearing matching shirts and pants.  From when he stepped on stage, he was obviously 
energetic and happy to be there.  He opened with a driving version of Drifter's Escape.  There were 
some slight sound problems in the beginning (feedback), but other than that, the sound was great.  I 
could hear Bob's keyboard very well and his vocals were perfect.  Next was Senor, I'd never heard this 
live and it was great.  Lonesome day blues was just that, the blues.  I couldn't believe my ears when
I heard Shooting Star.  Wow, Bob really cuts to the core the second time around on this song, crooning 
into his microphone.  Back to rock with Highway 61, and  I could hear Bob with perfect clarity.  I 
wasn't sure, but it seemed like there were some communication problems with the band, though Bob seemed 
to be quite entertained by whatever was going on and the instrumentalists took extended solos.  I should 
also make mention that Bob played some fantastic harmonica solos on almost every song, and sometimes he 
wandered out from behind his keyboard to center stage to grace us with some great harmonica work.  This 
Wheel's on Fire was great, I had only heard this from the Bethlehem, PA concert and didn't have a clue 
about the song, but after I heard it last night, I got it.  Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis 
Blues Again was great, really emphasizing the chorus.  I was surprised at home unchanged some of the 
songs were compared to their original recordings.  John Brown was great, Stu brought out the acoustic
for this one.  Bye and Bye was a grooving, laid-back tune with lots of feel.  Next, Chimes of FreedomÖ.
Wow.  I had hoped that he would play this, and it was fantastic.  I always hate to categorize Bob as a 
"protest" or "ati-war" artist, but he really hit the nail on the head last night (John Brown, Chimes, 
Masters of War).  As usual, Summer Days closed the set with a some great instrumental highlights.

For the encore, Bob played Masters of War, which had an impending vibe to it and Bob spit out the 
lyrics like venom.  Then Like a Rolling Stone ended the show and it sounded great as usual.  

Bob was in great form last night and really showed why he's still a force to be reckoned with.  
I'd never seen him so into the music.  Thanks for another great show, Bob.	

[TOP]

Review by Michael Martz



After reading some of the reviews from Lancaster, I've got to say
a few things about the show I saw in Bowie. I faulted Bob's new
band after the April 1 show in Chicago, even though he was great
that night. I missed Larry Campbell. I thought there was too much
going on, and that the band needed less rather than more. I can't
speak to Lancaster or the other shows on this ballpark tour, but
the band was superb in Bowie. Lovely as she was, Elana's violin
was lost in the mix in Chicago. Denny Freeman is stepping forward
and redefining the band's sound as more swing and less rock. I
think that's why "Summer Days" sounds different -- maybe not
better, but different, as no doubt the master intended in his
quest for constant redefinition. The band was much more cohesive
in Bowie than Chicago. Dylan's keyboards were even apparent,
perhaps because I was close to the stage instead of in the first
row of the balcony at the Auditorium Theatre. His voice was the
best I've heard it in the four shows I've caught in two years.
Expressive, fully engaged, all of the songs clearly apparent and
sung for meaning as well as melody. Two superb harp solos on
"Senor" and "This Wheel's on Fire." A killer version of "Lonesome
Day Blues," a growler from start to finish. A much more
recognizable and compelling spin through "Stuck Inside of Mobile"
than in Chicago. And by far the most powerfully sung "Like A
Rolling Stone" that I've heard, which I welcomed in place of "All
Along the Watchtower" as the final encore. But, as others already
have noted, the songs of war and peace stood out: "John Brown," a
first for me; "Masters of War," a tautly arranged opening encore;
and, best of all, "Chimes of Freedom." I couldn't help but think
of those days in my childhood when the Byrds sang that song,
introducing me to much of Dylan's great material from "Another
Side" and "Bringing It All Back Home." Still, the songs wouldn't
have mattered as much if he had mumbled or talked (up) his way
through them. This night, he sang them all for everything they
were worth, which is everything. Down notes: Willie's a wonderful
man and performer. His band has plenty of talent and is lovably
ragtag. But it's not The Strangers -- truly one of the tightest
bands around -- and his material isn't anywhere near the level of
Merle's. The show is predictable, the medlies unremarkable and
almost perfunctory. In Richmond last year, he threw in some good
covers of Hank Williams' tunes that showed just how good he could
be if he were willing to be less obliging to fans who seem to want
the same old stuff every night. I'd like to see Willie in a
different package, with a different kind of band and some
surprises in the setlist. I felt more excitement in Dylan's
opening number, "Drifter's Escape," than Willie's entire set.
Also, as the Lancastrians noted, these crowds can be downright
uncivil, which has much to do with the prodigious amounts of
alcohol they consume. The more mindless whooping during slow
numbers, the more Dylan seemed to resist the prodding to rock out.
He insisted on taking them places that would require them to
listen. I wonder whether that's why he shortened the set by a
song. Maybe it's time to cut off beer sales by the sixth or
seventh inning. I never thought I'd be naysaying altered states,
but these clowns seem more low than high.

[TOP]

page by Bill Pagel
billp61@execpc.com

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