page by Bill Pagel
Review by Roland Pabst
It cannot get better. A wonderful summer evening in a small minor league
baseball stadium, stars and the blinking lights of airplanes above. Dylan
and his band on stage and a crowd of old and young, moving to the music or
dancing with a happy face.
The reason why I write today is simply because I was bragging. The couple
next to me with their colleague did not no the expectingrain web page. The
same to my neighbor on the other side. I told them look into it tomorrow
and you will find the set-list and some concert reviews. Just look for
expectingrain.com and Pabst-Blue Ribbon beer.
Driving out to Montclair was not that easy. I picked up my friend Chris in
Manhattan. To cross-town from Grand Central Station to the Lincoln Tunnel
took us more than 90 minutes. You can easily walk this in 20-25 minutes.
There was enough time to watch the busy people and whenever there was
somebody in no rush it was a tourist who enjoyed inhaling the atmosphere
of New York City.
We arrived too late for the Greencards. Willie Nelson just started his
set. The sound was great. Relaxing country music to enjoy a cheeseburger
and a beer. We made it down to the field and Willie Nelson sung his last
songs and waved to the cheering crowd.
Dylan and his band started soon after. On this warm evening Dylan's band
showed up in white shirts, while Dylan wore a three layer outfit. Black
t-Shirt under a white shirt and a country style jacket over it. After the
usual intro, he started with To Be Alone With You. Everybody knows that
the first song is already a good indication if the concert will be good or
He moved his body and went with the music - it will be an extraordinary
concert. Great Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You. Tweedle Dee &
Tweedle Dum. That was the moment when two pretty girls left. I said
"already?". They looked at me with big eyes and said. "Oh, nooo, but there
is no place to dance in the front - we want to dance". I really start to
like this song. The guy in front of me enjoyed the concert his way. He
smoked a joint of a size I never saw before. The sweet smell in the air
wasn't too bad. In my opinion it was the best live performance I ever
heard. Then Dylan started a wonderful version of Just Like The Woman. He
finished the song with a great harp-solo. Chris and I agreed that this
song already was worth to come here. A strong Cold Iron Bound followed by
one of my all-time favorites Desolation Row. What a great Hawaiian groove
that song had. I just like the way the band jams in between the verses.
The ones who heard last night's Highway 61 will agree that that song came
to new life. Absolutely the best. There was no time to "relax" because he
started a spooky great Not Dark Yet. His voice was strong thruout the
concert. Memphis Blues - great. Make You Feel My Love was not my favorite.
Then he started with the piano and did a great intro into New Morning. An
other great performance. Summer Days and a smiling Dylan left. About
smiling, Dylan smiled a lot, most of the time when he looked at his band.
The encore with It Ain't Me, Babe. Extraordinary. I liked the delay in his
refrain. But it ain't me .. people sang the words while the band was
playing and then Dylan would sing the refrain. A mother had a maybe
10-year-old girl on her shoulder. The girl clapped and moved her body to
the music. During his middle stage harp-solo, Dylan pointed directly to
her and it seemed like that, he played the harp for her. Talking about
harp playing. He played the harp a lot. From tender to soft to accusing.
He finished with a Like A Rolling Stone. A hot steamy last song.
The band, Dylan stood there on stage. It seemed to me that Dylan had a
hard time not to smile, to laugh and not to wave to a cheering crowd. A
cheering crowd not only in the front. Way back they were clapping and
screaming. The moment he turned around and left, he laughed at the band
members. They must have enjoyed this evening too. It is amazing how great
the band is. I mean he had a few changes in the last couple of years.
However, every time the band seems to be even better. Thinking that the
three Beacon Theatre concerts in April were the best? This one is at least
Review by Peter Murano
After seeing Bob Dylan and his Band three times at the Beacon Theatre at
the end of April, I wondered if Bob could top what I saw. With this
show, Bob has maintained perfecton. Animated, eneregetic, looking into
the crowd, smiling. Not to mention playing and singing like the devil
himself. There was no stopping Bob tonite, folks. Great performance
after great performance from To Be Alone With You all the way through to
Like a Rolling Stone. The Greencards were pretty good although no one
really seemed to care about them very much and Willie Nelson was
stunning. His voice, guitar playing and band were on point. Lucas Nelson
tore up a blues number, singing and playing guitar. Wow! But Bob was so
on point tonite, he could tell we were having a great time and we could
tell he was having a great time. The setlist was amazing; Desolation
Row(!!!), Just Like a Woman, Make You Feel My Love, a very uplifting New
Morning, a haunting Not Dark Yet, It Ain't Me, Babe, Tonight I'll Be
Staying Here With You. Bob must have played harmonica (very well) about
5 times tonight. My skeptical girlfriend attended her first Bob Dylan
show tonite and left impressed, in awe and telling me it clearly exceeded
her expectations. This was my seventh Bob Dylan show and I left more
impressed than her! I would like to apologize and give my heartfelt
thanks to Matt and his mother for driving us all the way to the Bronx and
going so far out of their way. I owe you bigtime, friend. Plus a
heartfelt thanks to Bob Dylan for putting on such a towering, enormously
entertaining concert. Keep showing 'em how it's done, Bobby. 'Til next
Review by Kyle Colona
Rather than give a song by song account, let me say it
was worth the trip from Long Island through rush hour
NY City traffic, to see these two elder statesmen -
rumors of their demise (which have been circulating
for 40 years now), continue to be exaggerated. Nothing
earth shattering, but a very enjoyable evening of REAL
Willie Nelson was in good form both playing and
singing wise. He's become a country gentlemen in some
weird way, and paid homage to his contemporaries,
Kristofferson, Haggard, and Waylon Jennings. Angel
Flyin Too Close to the Ground has always been a
personal fave, and his other hits, "Baby's BE
Cowboys", "Me and Paul", "On the Road Again", "Always
on My MInd", brought back many fond memories of what
Country music used to be before Nashville became a big
B.S. Business....a new tune about "too many pain
killers and smokin too much weed" (possibly called
"I'm No Superman"???) was hilarious, quite tongue in
As for Dylan, I've been seeing him since 1985, so I am
obviously biased, but it was a solid set, nothing
close to the Beacon shows last April, as far as
intensity or song selection, but a great performance
by Bob and the band. Highlights included JLAW, Cold
Irons Bound, Desolation Row, Memphis Blues, the new
version of Too Make You feel My Love, and on New
Morning, he delivered the line "I'm Happy to Be Alive"
with tremendous conviction. Can't speak for him of
course, but I think he meant it - he really is happy
to be playing and that joy carries over to his
consistently good performances these days. Summer Days
was a fitting closing number (no surprise), and the
first encore "It Aint ME Babe" with its new Honky Tonk
arrangement worked surprsingly well. And of Course,
LARS, no matter how many times he plays it, is still
always great to hear. His keyboard was much more
prominent in the mix from my vantage point in "the
bowl", and his harp playing was top notch all night -
he's moved away from the open note style to more of a
blues harp - with excellent results.
Finally a word to all those "reviewers" who nit pick
about his "singing style" or song selection: This is
his show, and his approach has ALWAYS been roughhewn.
He's always been an acquired taste, but for those that
have ears let them hear. Zimmy has no intention of
stopping, and any chance you get to see him, go! A Bob
Dylan show, beats any of the new "rock" artists with
their whiney falsetto voices and syrupy slobbering
lyrics. IMHO, contemproary "rock-n-roll" is in sad
shape and should take a cue from the Rap and Hip Hop
community, have some guts. In the meantime, long may
Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson run....
Review by Frank Minaudo
For the first time ever I left a Dylan show early.
These comments could be subtitled The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly .
As James Taylor once sang : "Damn, that traffic jam - how I hate to be
Leaving NYC at 4 PM, and getting into the park at 8 PM was such a
mindblowing experience, the thought of bucking more traffic at the end
was too much to bear! For non-New Yorkers, Montclair, NJ is maybe thirty
five miles away from New York City.
We found ourselves enmeshed in a solid steel overheated crawl from Canal
Street in Lower Manhattan through the polluted Jersey horizon - all under
a brutal orange sun. The image of post industrial America committing
suicide as it burns its gasoline needlessly and at great cost. Imagine a
small electric hybrid engine on all these stalled cars right now. We're
burning a hole for ourselves straight to hell .
Of course Dylan has written about it all,long ago :
All that foreign oil controlling American soil,
Look around you, it's just bound to make you embarrassed.
Sheiks walkin' around like kings, wearing fancy jewels and nose rings,
Deciding America's future from Amsterdam and to Paris And there's a slow,
slow train comin' up around the bend.
This Eastern Corridor is a bitch...
We also paid $ 5.00 for parking that didn't exist - driving around that
"old folks home at the college" for a spot that didn't exist. So
unfortunately, I missed the two best of the night- New Morning, and Stuck
Inside...Oh well - I still have memories of the Thursday night Beacon show
to get me through.
We left during Highway 61 - can you believe that ?
My lady friend had an exam this morning, and the thought of having to
buck ANOTHER horrendous jam was unthinkable.
Willie was Willie - this master songwriter seems to be content with very
laid back sets of greatest hits these days - so be it.
Also, it seems like many in these crowds can't hold down their beer -
several highly noticeable incidents of projectile vomiting ocurred before
our eyes. One of which was so dramatically lurid that the entire
paramedic squad was unleashed to sanitize and calm the crowd. A woman
was down on one knee spewing some sort of rust colored bilge all about
her - and here were others, believe me. Perhaps it was a case of Mad
Cow. Another lady was trembling and white knuckling a fence earlier in
the night - exorcising the last dregs of a party gone wrong. Last eve it
seems like Mr. Jones blew through - and nobody knew but the losers.
Wearing a light, disposable protective outer layer, a bib, could be in
order for these shows - especially since the official beer and tailgate
season is just beginning. Nothing like a warm soothing coat of ooze all
over you and your significant other on a hot summer night, eh?
Much like Lakewood the week before Dylan started out very well, then kind
of stalled. The early section of his current sets scale heights, with a
mix of hard Americana and Dylan's smaltzy, swaggering harmonica burlesque.
Lately Dylan has been a quarter horse, not built for distance.
At Lakewood Dylan gets down on the harp, yet manages to lead the band
with myriad hand signals while offering the crowd various classic lounge
Was that Bobby Dylan or Bobby Darin I see up there now?
This was Sinatra on the harp! Perhaps Dylan realizes here his unconcious
desire to be the handsome matinee idol crooner - swiveling hips resulting
in women throwing their "panties overboard. "It all somehow worked, even
with Dylan dressed as an orthodox cowboy Jew at Lakewood - all black hats,
beards and suits !
Dylan manages to make harmonica playing sexy here - and it's a lot of fun
to watch and interact with. At Lakewood Dylan smiled and gestured to the
crowd as they sung along in several stretches.
At Montclair, Just Like A Woman was very good, as well as the first two.
Tweedly Dee usually starts the stall, and this night was no different.
Although I must add that Dylan synchopated the lyrics toward the end of
this tune making it a bit more interesting. He did sort of a delay on
several lines, and the band, especially Mr. Freeman responded with jazz .
Last week at Lakewood there was a unusual jazzy interlude on Highway 61.
Perhaps this is a clue as to some of Dylan's musical future. He was
well received when he played with some jazz greats last year.
One future possibility for Dylan is to adopt more jazz arrangements for
his songs. A sultry jazz mix could be a more suitable for Dylan's unusual
voice-worn yet tender with experience. Classic tunes like Desolation Row,
which didn't really work tonight, could possibly be reworked through
jazz, as well as many lesser heard tunes which will bring some freshness
for the veteran Dylanologists .
I doubt however that Dylan and the boys have much time to rework much at
this point, and who knows if Bobby needs to work that hard on his live
show at this time in his career. If I could choose whether I need more
varied setlists, or new material - I'd HAVE to choose the latter.
It's high time another Dylan album - no doubt. Or perhaps his truth is
better not heard at this time? Only his muse knows for sure. One wonders
what the effects of being a prisoner of The Road , like Dylan is, has on
his writing process. In a recent interview he remarked how he needs to
be constantly moving to create new material.
Last night Tonight I'll Be Stayin' had the classic Nashville Skyline
sound - one which I heartily enjoy. Desolation Row was average due to
chronic up-singing. Gone are the Vincent Price-like renditions of this
master work from the 2000 era tour. But it's unfair to compare different
eras with Dylan- at least for me. Desolation Row seems to be a difficult
song to create and maintain musical and lyrical tension even on the best
of nights and venues.
I imagine surreal and abstract art is difficult to perform on a nightly
basis in searing, beer soaked minor league ball fields, so I can't fault
Dylan for at least offering a rendering here.
Overall, the band sounds excellent. Mr. Freeman sounds better very time
I hear him, and I like Tony on the regular electric bass as opposed to
Freeman's licks are getting tastier and tastier, like tender ribs on a
low flame. Herron's playing is also 100 proof Americana - the High
Lonesome meeting Southeast heat and soul. Last night I also appreciated
a certain fine musicality in Recile's playing usually overpowered by his
pounding. The sound from homeplate was excellent.
Commercially, Dylan has found a winning business model. They packed the
place last night, with people saying that 10,000 tics had been sold -
with the summer tailgate season just beginning. There were no seats to be
had, and the field was packed. For the occasional Dylan tourist these
shows will work just fine - the band is excellent, and Dylan is attentive
to it and mostly engaged in the process.
For the hardcore Dylan people out there, things seem to be wearing a bit
thin as far as setlists - and I'm ever the Dylan supporter. There are
many lesser heard tunes which can be reworked into funky jam sets with
this superlative group of musicians. Since he's playing to outdoor party
crowds, a more danceable, funkified mix would work. Little Feat and the
Neville Brothers meeting up with McDougal Street.
Hey Bob, how 'bout a funky New Orleans version of Everything Is Broken ?
But listen to me - engaging in that pastime of fantasy. Something tells
me that Mr. Dylan has done just fine with his set of musical choices. A
solid new album would be a cure for any perceived doldrums - maybe this
This will probably be my last show of '05- saw four since April with the
Beacon show standing out. I was tempted to book a mini vacation to
Nashville and Memphis, but I don't hear anything in the set which would
cause me to take make the time and effort. My bet is this is the format
for the remainder of the summer. It is fun.
There is still a little bit for everyone in these shows with the
occasional tourist perhaps being more thrilled with Summertime Bob than
the veteran Dylan watchers.
The best news of all is that Mr. Dylan's flame still burns brightly -
even in the harsh summer sun.
Bob - thanks for the memories.
Review by Willy Gissen
In an Out-of-the-Way Spot in New Jersey
I didn't write any reviews about the five nights at the Beacon Theater when Dylan at long last
returned to New York. The shows were typical ones since Dylan's revival around 1998. They were
very good, and I expected that. It was also fun sharing them with friends who, unlike me, were
unwilling to drive to an out-of-the-way spot.
But I can't restrain myself from telling everyone about last night's concert in Little Falls,
New Jersey, at Montclair State University.
The day did not have an auspicious start. I run a public relations and editing firm from my
co-op in Westchester County and was unable to leave early for the concert as intended. There
was work to be completed for a new client, and another long-time customer forwarded a
Usually, Dylan concerts with general admission tickets allow you to get right up next to the
stage if you only arrive about two hours ahead of time. So my late departure looked like it
might have significant ramifications.
When I finally got to Montclair, and after a 15-minute walk to the "Yogi Berra" stadium, I
headed through the stands to the field only to be stopped by an usher who seemed to be very
much into his own authority. Apparently, this concert had special field tickets, and I was
stuck in the stands. So, it was just as well that I was conscientious and finished my work
The Greencards were just finishing as I arrived, and I had heard Willie Nelson on a previous
tour. He was okay, but most of the crowd wasn't really into it (except for the people behind
me, big Willie Nelson fans, one who thought that Willie should play last and threatened to
leave after his set. I quickly put him in his place and was able to talk to his friends about
Dylan's merits), and it was kind of hot. Then, as I had predicted from previous events, Dylan
came on at nightfall. The stadium had cooled down, and there was a nice breeze swirling
Now, for the reason I wrote this review. Dylan outdid himself last night, but, for me, it was
all worthwhile because of one song. Dylan had re-worked Highway 61 and employed his usual
staccato technique to make the song unique in concert (another technique is to raise his voice
to a high note at the end of each verse). However, this time he did not overdo the staccato
but combined it with a very mellifluous melody that overcame the jerkiness of the staccato
version. It worked. The song was one of the most amazing I had ever heard. Dylan must have
realized it too because the band went into overdrive, and the song seemed to last forever.
Then, as the song approached the end, Dylan did something else new. He and the Band started to
play with the volume of the song as if they were going to do a fadeout. The audience strained
to hear every word. Then, just as the song was sweetly coming to an end, at a very low volume,
the band kicked it into high gear again for a rocking conclusion. I hope Dylan expands both
the smooth staccato (a seeming contradiction, but what else is new about Dylan events) and the
volume manipulation to other performances and songs.
The band was really on tonight, and the continuing breeze seemed to revitalize the audience as
well. Another unique moment was an extended version of Desolation Row. I think Dylan may have
sung every verse in the fifteen-minute song. Since I know that Dylan limits his concerts by
the number of songs instead of time, I was very pleased to sit back and enjoy it. Also, New
Morning had the same smooth sound as Highway 61, and I had never heard it before in concert.
However, that was nothing new. Almost every Dylan concert these days, he plays something that
he has never done live before. With over 500 songs to choose from, he has a deep reservoir for
Anyway, the encore ended with It Ain't Me Babe and Like a Rolling Stone (instead of All Along
the Watchtower). It was fitting because the pleasant evening and Dylan's masterful performance
seemed to demand finishing the event on an optimistic note.
Comments by Tom D'Ambrisi
Not something I usually do but after seeing the Montclair show I felt I
needed to add something to the already well stated reviews.
Memphis blues again (which didn't feel like oh no! not again) needs to be
ponder on. A Great, Great, great, performance with a twist of a line or
two (my eyeballs)---(eyelids)...............
And you must respect the youth in New Morning.....and I thought about this
as soon as the song ended, Dylan dared us to follow him and his band
through an extended set list cap of Summer Days.
Nothing written over and re-worked but just a quick feel of a compact
and smooth Friday performance
Real quick---the traffic (you hate everything in the world when your in
it) but the moment you hit the cement at the concert and your about to see
bob-- forget it..............
Review by Danielle Dudzic
What an outstanding night! Who else better to see during the summer
nights than two incredible legends. After a 4 hour ride (meant to be 1
hour and 40 minutes), and contemplating whether or not Bob Dylan and
Willie Nelson could possibly top or even equal their Camden, NJ
performance only a week prior, we reached the parking lot of Montclair
University. Camden's show could only be named "unforgettable", how could
this performance be better. People were lining the gates trying to
purchase tickets even moments after the performance began. My party and I
inched our way up to a spot just under 3 feet of the stage that Willie
Nelson, accompanied by his band and son, Lucas Nelson, would be stepping
out onto just minutes later. The show began at a roaring start. To my
surprise, just as amazing at Camden's, if not better! Willie sang the
wondrous classics such as "Crazy" and "You were always on my mind", and
the superb new songs like "Beer for my Horses" and the newest single,
"Superman". Willie Nelson finished his concert as he waved and laughed.
Bob Dylan was then announced. "To Be Alone With You" was a great way to
start the concert. It turned out my heart was going to drop to my feet.
Bob Dylan was as good as Camden. The music was clear and precise. Bob
Dylan seemed to be in good humor. The crowd was a good group who was
ecstatic to be in the presence of Mr. Bobby Zimmerman. Bob Dylan is
still able to work his magic on viewers, sounding as he did over 40 years
ago in his prime. Bob Dylan proved on this night that being true to the
audience is just as well as lip-sinking as so many current performers are
doing. As for the songs Dylan played, "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum"
was the only song that was overplayed. As for the rest, perfect.
"Just Like a Woman" was played to a tee. Bob mastered every note and key.
"New Morning" was literally draw dropping. "Highway 61 Revisited"
helped everyone relive Dylan's earlier years. For every song, Bob
Dylan's dedication was shown through his harmonica playing and through
the sweat the dropped upon his keyboard. Bob Dylan showed himself as a
friend to the band laughing at hardly noticeable glitches. Although, the
audience somewhat is used to the idea of Bob Dylan's piano playing,
every person still yearns for Dylan to pick up a guitar and play as he
did in the beginning. As the performance drew to a close, one man
screamed "Thank you, Dylan!" and I think I can testify that Bob Dylan
gave a glance in his direction. As for me, I hope to attend many more
Dylan concerts. I am 15 years old and I went to 3 different concerts
with my friend throughout this year. All of the different friends were
skeptical of this old timer, but, with the help of Bobby, I think I
finally got through to them. Bob Dylan's unique perfection with words
makes him the true wordsmith of our time.
page by Bill Pagel
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