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Review by Larry Fishman
First some general comments.
Paul Simon. Much has been made of the differing musical styles of the
two performers and their approaches to music. Balderdash! Simon has
written some incredible songs too and Graceland is one of the great
albums of the 80's. While Simon's idea of performing is to stretch his
arms out by his sides (he ain't gonna be confused with Springsteen) and
stare doe eyed at the audience, his flawless execution of these great
songs is exhilarating.
How'd Dylan look. He had his familiar dark suit, stripes up the legs
and arms, white shirt, dark tie. No cowboy hat, thankfully. He was as
animated as I have ever seen, bouncing about, and clearly having a good
The voice. He sounded fantastic. He clearly enunciated all the words,
singing, and varying his tone and voice to the song. Lots of depth and
The band. I have always dug Charlie Sexton and its nice to see him
albeit just on Rhythm guitar. I remember "Beats So Lonely" and wasn't
he billed as the next...well anyway...he looked comfortable though Larry
Campbell still takes center stage with lead guitar and other
instruments. Dylan played more lead throughout the night than in
memory. He does have two great axemen with him, but it was great seeing
him getting into a real groove and jamming.
Sound system. The Tweeter Center is a large, soulless amphitheater and
the mix was good not great. On the electric numbers there was a little
distortion at some of the highs.
Disappointments. If I had to quibble, a shorter than usual set, only
12 songs before the duets. My two compatriots complained that they
could have used 2 or 3 more songs. He stuck to his 60's material with
just 2 exceptions. Love that stuff, but wouldn't mind hearing a cut off
of Desire, Oh Mercy, Slow Train etc as well. No set list surprises
this night. And hey, where was my joke? He told no joke this night as
he has been doing virtually every night on this tour.
On to the show which had Dylan opening::
1. Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie. (Acoustic) Dylan opened the night with a
delightful, light version. I noticed a number of people singing along
which is kind of cool since it's not yet on an official record. I
groove on these old spiritual songs that he covers and think it's a nice
way to ease into the set.
2. My Back Pages (Acoustic) Beautiful version and can I say here that
the Byrd's version of this song really sucks. Dylan brings so much
meaning and light and I WAS so much older then I am younger than that
3. Masters of War. (Acoustic) Lucky always consistently delivers this
song in a memorable and powerful way. Seems to be a highlight for me
each show. A punk song for the mind.
4. Tangled Up in Blue (Acoustic) A little earlier than I expected,
done with acoustic guitars. The last half dozen shows I have caught had
Campbell cranking away on the mandolin, revving the story through the
song. The first harp solo of the night made my heart beat He lurched
forward, blowing - and I mean blowing - into that harp with one hand and
holding his guitar slung around his back. Dylan is still such an
inspired and emotional performer..
5. Girl of the North Country (Acoustic) A mesmerizing and beautiful
version of one of his great anti-love love song. Was a big hit with my
two friend who weren't familiar with the tune.
6. All Along the Watchtower. An outrageous, rocking electric version
that Jimi would love (I think I heard him singing along), with 2 quick,
scorching guitar solos by Campbell. Glad to see Bob brought the song
back into his set - a shorter, faster, leaner version than past takes..
7. Positively Fourth Street. A Slower, countrified Gram Parsons like
version with pedal steel guitar provided by Campbell Got a little
distortion on some of the musical breaks, but the words just scream out
pain and anger. He must have been really pissed off when he wrote it,
8. Maggie's Farm Another one of my highlights, this was a peppy
rocking, riffing version with some additional or slightly changed lyrics
towards the end, I think. Fast and smokin'
9. Not Dark Yet His first post 1960's song of the night was right
there. A tad slower and sadder sounding than on TOOM. Beautiful
10. Silvio Zimmy always makes those lost ol' deadheads happy with
this one Goota disagree with the lyric "seen better days but who has
not,." Dylan sounds so confident and in control. And its hard to
believe all of the positive press he has received on this tour. The
local paper here gave this show a long positive rave as well.
11. Like A Rolling Stone (encore) Slowed down just a tad, this is
always a real crowd pleaser.
12. It Ain't Me Babe. (Acoustic) Really cool slow version with the
only the chorus speeded up. So good. He even threw in a 2 minute harp
solo to seal it.
13. Sounds of Silence (With Paul Simon). I thought that it was the
best of the three duets, a quiet version with a short haunting harp
solo. Out comes Simon looking like an Umpa Lumpa standing next to Bob.
He is real, real short. A tiny man.
14. That'll be The Day/The Wanderer (With Paul Simon). The crowd dug
it, but it seemed a little confused and sloppy particularly on the
15. Knockin' on Heaven's Door. From past notices I was expecting a
reggae version, but perhaps that is when Dylan joins Simon's band. Got
more of a standard version that never really caught fire. Not nearly as
transcendent as the duet I caught on the tour with Van Morrison.
All in all, an excellent evening.
Review by Joe McMullen
Concert report card: Bob Dylan A+, Paul Simon B, audience D
It was a fine night in Mansfield, and I was thrilled when I got to my seat -
finally after five years of seeing Bob I had a really decent seat, and the
performance by Bob and his band made it worth every cent. Bob was in
fine form, from the acoustic classics "My Back Pages," "Girl from the North
Country," and "It Ain't Me Babe," to the sizzling country-rocker treatment of
The problem was in the starting lineup. On this Thursday night, it was Bob's
turn to open the show. At 7:40, when the familiar annoucement "Would you
please welcome Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan" was made and Bob
kicked off with "Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie," over half the seats in the pavilion
were still empty. It seemed that most of the crowd regarded Dylan as just
the opening act, and they were quite willing to stroll in casually and chat
with each other until Paul Simon's set. For crying out loud, Bob was well
into an hour into his set, and people were still drifting in! And what's the
deal with people paying over a hundred bucks for a ticket just so that they
can talk through the whole concert, and constantly get up to buy another
flat $5.50 budweiser?
Oh well, so much for the complaining. Those people who wever actually there
to see Bob were treated to a fantastic show. If you get the opportunity, see
Bob Dylan in concert. He is amazing.
And yes, all the observations made by the newspaper reviews are accurate.
Dylan and Simon's shows are a study in contrasts. If you've seen any of the
Neverending Tour shows, you know that Bob and his band come off as loose
and slighly unrehearsed. Bob worn and often raspy voice gives added impact
when he sings lyrics like "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob, Larry,
and Charlie trade licks and jam until Bob gives the nod over to Tony and David
and eventually end up more or less together. Then they seemingly stumble
into the next song.
On the obligatory duet, Bob was content to let Paul try to hold together the
"That'll Be the Day/The Wanderer" medley. It seemed that Bob either didn't
know the lyrics, or didn't give a damn about singing them right. However,
when Bob and Paul closed their duet with "Knockin on Heaven's Door," Bob
sang with conviction, and his harmonies with Simon were magical.
By contrast, Paul's show is a perfectly synchronized big band show, featuring
three percussionists, horn players, accordians, keyboards, fancy light shows,
and Paul's sweet voice. Don't get me wrong, I love Paul Simon. He put on a
great show. But having him on the same stage as Bob Dylan was mighty
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