July 27, 2007
Review by James Coffey
There is a Highway out West, California 46, Where ghost come to brood
and mourn. They call it "Blood Alley" because of all the lives it has taken
in the blinding sunlight, and the haze of an early morning fog. The start
of this Hwy. heading East from Paso is just beyond the Stage at the Mid
State Fairgrounds, and it is where about 23 miles outside of town that
James Dean came to his ultimate demise. And when Bob Dylan walked
on that Stage Tonight the Ghost of James Dean was right beside him.
From my front row seat on a beautiful summers Eve, the Magic of Bob
inspired by That Spirit was a moment in time that doesn't pass by that
often. Bob was moved to the top of his game tonight, sounding
stronger than he has in years. And when he closed with Watchtower
and stood in formation, He waved and smiled knowing that he had
given his best, and also knowing that restless spirit would be there
to greet him again.
Peace, from San Luis.
Review by Jeff Beresford-Howe
After an uninspired start -- the first five songs weren't bad, but there
wasn't anything to recommend them, either -- Dylan and the band both
locked into "Workingman's Blues #2" and from that point on, the show was
one of the best Bob outings I've ever seen. It reminded me of a really
good Jerry Garcia Band show, a little heavier on the lyrics, a little
lighter on the guitar, but still: soulful, very tight while still
exploratory and without sacrificing being in the moment.
A note about Paso Robles: it's typically about as drunk a crowd as
you'll see at a Dylan show, but in a fairly mellow, California way.
it's a great place to see him.
Review by David Link
Those readers looking for a quick review of only the music may want
to skip this review.... Reading the set list, it may seem this was a
run-of-the-mill concert. Far from it! This was a fantastic show. First
After a long drive from the cool beach on the Pacific Ocean to the hot
dusty interior of Central California, we got to Paso Robles, where it was
about 98 degrees at 4:00. The California Mid-State Fair, the site of the
concert, had literally thousands of people who were there with no
intention of seeing Bob Dylan or even knowing he was playing that day. I
was realizing I had never seen Bob in a Fair setting, but it was not
unlike seeing him in a casino setting, with all the non-Dylan people
walking around in some sort of daze....Being in a big agriculture area,
naturally there were animal exhibits. (The best line I heard all night, in
the fair but outside of the concert, was the farmer with his family, with
total enthusiasm - "Hey look! There's the Hog Barn!").
We had third row seats on the aisle facing Bob's front, not back, the
perfect vantage point for the show. Before the show we went up on the
Ferris wheel at my wife's insistence, which was great because we could
see right down into the venue. I was so focused on the seating set-up
that I didn't notice at first the big pen of cattle fifty feet in front of
Bob's parked bus. (They would be the source of some wafting odor
during the show; nothing too bad.)
What I noticed were the video screens on either side of the stage. I
assured my wife they would be turned off during Dylan's set----WRONG!
They were on for the entire concert---no flashy graphics, No close-ups of
Dylan or anyone else---The camera angle was from dead center--i.e., you
were getting the side profile of Bob at the piano. I was shocked. I can't
remember him letting this be done any time recently.
We were getting nervous that no one would stand and dance during the
show, but that was quickly laid to rest when almost Everyone in all the
front sections stood during all of Rainy Day Woman AND Lay Lady Lay!
(where he sang "You can eat your cake and have it too"). That's when I
knew we were golden! NO security yelling at us to sit down, no people
behind us throwing ice and screaming obscenities.....as in "Sit down
asshole!!!! Why do you need to dance?" NO poor fools like that near us at
this show. I almost wept, it was such a nice change from other recent
Dylan shows we've been to. (And must mention that an almost full moon
was rising behind the stage).
And Bob Clearly picked up on this energy. The first Five (yes 5!) songs
he played the guitar. (Had not seen that since Santa Clara 2004, the last
time he played guitar on stage until early this year). From the start of
Rainy Day to the end of the show, people were partaking in some of
California's finest.... There was basically no security. People would
walk up to the front, take 12 flash pictures, and the guard would just
wave them away. This did not seem to be affecting Bob, who was grinning
and dancing quite a bit thru the show. He seemed psyched that people
were up and dancing and giving energy toward the stage. (Unlike the night
before in Costa Mesa, where I was told they were forcing everyone in the
front to SIT DOWN.)
I think it was Don't Think Twice that he screwed up a few lines,
forgetting the words and then just mumbling something intelligible. But
that was the most major gaffe I noticed. There was Not a big cheer for
the "...President must have to stand naked" line in Don't Think Twice.
The Levee's Gonna Break was the highlight of the show; before this song
Bob slowly walked over to Tony for a quick talk; this must not have been
on the setlist. The whole band proceeded to kick ass; Tony and Bob were
mugging at each other thru the whole song.
Highway 61 was noteworthy for Tony's bass playing. I have Never heard
and felt the bass turned up so high. It was rumbling up thru the ground
and from the speakers at the same time, like some brutal volcanic eruption.
Unreal. (It was also amazing that you could glance over and see the
Ferris wheel lights pulsing and flashing in what seemed to be in exact
time with the music...no I was not on acid...it only FELT like it!) If I
had had a drink on my seat, the vibrations would have thrown it to the
ground. Cry a While was great to hear, but I must admit to liking the
version he was doing right after the album came out a bit better.
Masters of War was crazy. I could not help to think later that anyone
listening to these lyrics now, with no clue, would be convinced that this
song was written about the current administration. The sneer in his voice
and the grin on his face during "I can see thru your mask" and "You play
with my world like it's your little toy" was brutal. It's Extremely unnerving
to me that this song is probably even more relevant now than when he
wrote it 40+ years ago. A very, very powerful way to end a concert,
seemingly a big Fuck You to the people(?) In Charge.
The encores were typical; at least we could have gotten Blowin in the
Wind but oh well. I'll take Watchtower over nothing any day!!!!!
The whole show was very well played by all members, as far as I could
tell. I am in agreement with those who think '99-'02 were the best years
in terms of the band, but this lineup can also pull off a little magic,
thanks to Bob.
Review by Heddy Richter
We had a great time at Bob’s show last night in Paso Robles.
The Venue. A big yellow moon rose as Dylan and his cowboys took the Arena
stage last night around 8:30 and the oak-studded golden hills behind the
stage faded in the twilight. As the Mid-State Fair celebrates the
achievements of the area’s local ranchers and farmers, there was more than
one real cowboy in the audience as well. To our right the giant Ferris
Wheel, aglow with colored lights, slowly revolved throughout the set. By
sunset the extreme heat of the day had dropped and a pleasant breeze
cooled things down. Seated in the center of row 22, we had our best
seats ever for a Dylan show and it made a huge difference.
The Audience. The open-air arena was nearly full with an audience
predominately of Dylan’s contemporaries. This made a difference, too. At
our age, excessive alcohol is contra-indicated with many of our
medications. Hence, no argumentative drunks screaming “Wooo-wooo,” few
idiots demanding their favorite songs during harp solos, no one around me
got up for more beer in the middle of the set, and MOST PEOPLE SAT FOR THE
MAJORITY OF THE SHOW!!! Perhaps they weren’t as rabid “Bobcats” as I’ve
seen at other shows—they didn’t cheer when he sang “Even the President of
the United States sometimes must have to stand naked,” nor did they
reflexively scream “NO!” when he asked “You think I’m over the hill? You
think I’m past my prime?” (which must have been something of a surprise
for him) but they were sure well behaved.
The Technology. This was the best sound of the three Dylan shows I’ve
seen. It was loud (you could feel the base vibrate through the sand
floor), but I could hear each instrument and Dylan’s voice (properly way
up front) distinctly. And—hurrah! hurrah!—he allowed the use of two large
video screens during the set. This was great because when people were
standing I could still see. (I understand this is extremely rare.)
The Security. Non existent. The Fair security checked bags for bombs and
weapons when we entered and that was that. I could have walked into the
arena with a reel to reel tape recorder. There were plenty of cameras
flashing—by now there is probably video on YouTube—and I sure hope the
tapers were out in force.
The Set. Could have been more interesting. I was hoping for Leopard Skin
Pillbox Hat, but since I decided Rainy Day Woman is a tour diary of the
65-66 tour I like it better than when I thought it was just a one-joke
wonder. Anyway, it’s a rousing opener. Also was hoping for Blowin’ as a
closer—I have heard Watchtower before—but it gave Denny the chance to make
like a guitar god and solo. The Modern Times arrangements are starting to
shift, and he made two lyrical changes in Working Man’s Blues.
(Apparently at least one of them is audible on the Tucson tape.)
The Performance. Out of this world! Given the current state of Dylan’s
voice, he was in terrific voice. He enunciated clearly, and I could
understand almost every word. The band is hugely improved since the first
time I heard them (spring 06). They are loose, in the groove, and Bob is
giving them a lot more room. I couldn’t really hear his guitar in the
mix, but even the organ sounds better. (Did he get a new instrument?
This looks like a more substantial keyboard than the rinky dink thing he
used to play.) In all, by far the best show I’ve seen; I hope he comes
back soon. Thank you, Bob. Great show.
Review by Snuffy Rin
I love seeing Bob Dylan in an open air venue instead of the indoor
ones. Summer days are just beginning in Paso Robles. We had 98 degree in
the county fair ground but the temperature dropped below 60 after the
sunset. I was thinking about going Costa Mesa or Paso Robles to see Dylan
and I picked Paso Robles. The Costa Mesa was close but due to luck of
transportation, the ticket price was high, good seats were already gone
and almost sold out, so Paso Robles was the only chance to see Bob this
summer and I made a right decision. The show great very enjoyable. Thanks
to someone sold to me the ticket below the cost because his wife could not
make it due to her Mom was sick or something. Hope everything is fine with
The opening act was okay. She just looked like Sheryl Crow to me. Bob
showed up around 8:35PM. Bob played three new tunes for me which were Lay
Lady Lay, Cry a While, The Levee's Gonna Break. Cry a While, I have never
chance to hear it until now. It was kinda different than the CD version
but loved it. Bob screwed up the Lyrics on It's All Right Ma and he sang
the president naked lines twice. Just Like A Woman was always welcome with
beutiful harp solo at the end. The show ended with Masters of War and it
was really something. Unlike other shows, the security was nice and they
did nothing about taking picture of Bob unless you were in the front rows.
Even you had a bad seat, you could easily go up to the front section.
Beginning of the encore, I made it to the third row and Bob was so
UP-CLOSE. If I were in the Costa Mesa show, that's called "Mission
Oh, Btw, I met Tony Garnier at the front of Starbucks. He was on the
black motorcycle. We spoke a little bit and asked him "how's the show last
night?" , "Does Bob planing to going back to Japan?" or something like
Review byLee Lucas
The Paso Robles show was nothing short of magical... I have seen Bob a few
times before, all last year. And I am becoming more of a Dylan fan as
each show passes. Those other shows were: Bakersfield, CA Pittsfield, MA
and Los Angeles at The Forum. Far and away this was the best, although
Pittsfield was a close second. I absolutely LOVE seeing Bob outside on a
hot summer night. The baseball tour last year was really cool in
Pittsfield, but the Paso Robles show was soooo much fun! The Ferris wheel
all lit up, the full moon, Bob playing and the wine and beer flowing
freely is just about as close to heaven on earth as I can get! If we all
get to wish for our own heaven that will certainly be part of mine! The
crowd around us was ROWDY and dancing and drinking and FUN. The only
thing I really can complain about was that it got a little too slow in the
middle, and I REALLY missed singing/screaming along "How does it
feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel" for the encore. I think Like a Rolling Stone
should always be the closing song, for me the show just isn't the same
without it ... . The Mid-state fair was a blast and the perfect place to
see Bob. I hope he plays there again next year! I just feel so l lucky to
be able to see him live and in person, and think he rocks. Deana Carter
was really good opening too.
Los Angeles, Ca
Review by Jim Davis
From the first chords of Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35 it was clear that Bob Dylan
and Band were having a good time, and happy to take the audience along for
The California Midstate Fair (Paso Robles, CA.) provided a picturesque backdrop
for the Dylan show, the Ferris wheel casting some extra light on this American
From "Watching The River Flow" forward Dylan and band played a very tight set,
with Dylan on guitar (after a 4 year unexplained hiatus) for the first 5 songs,
before switching to his now usual keyboard set up.
Focusing heavily on his last two records, Dylan provided the crowd a good mix
of up tempo songs -including Highway 61 Revisited, Cry Awhile, Summer Days,
and Thunder On The Mountain, along with slower songs & ballads including
Workingman's Blues #2, and Spirit On the Water, both from his 2006 Modern
Dylan and band moved into high gear with a fiery hot version of The Levee's
Gonna Break (this live version playing much better than the record).
Dylan closed his first set with a chilling version of Masters of War, a poignant
song that is as relevant now as it was when first penned and performed roughly
4 decades ago.
After some raucous applause and audience demands Dylan and band came back
to perform "Thunder On The Mountain" (from Modern Times) and the classic
"All Along The Watchtower" (Dylan prefers and plays the Jimi Hendrix version,
rather than his own).
Bob Dylan provided the audience with a solid show, including songs spanning
the entire length of his 40 plus years of recording - and almost half of the show
comprised of material from his last 2 records (The Rolling Stones cannot make
the same boast).
Many seem to appreciate the Bob Dylan of today, an artist who adjusts and
rearranges his music according to his desires and prerogatives. Others state that
they want the songs and music played the same way that they heard it on the
record. I am glad that we are able to enjoy the music and art of Bob Dylan, as I
enjoyed this show all the way. Good times.
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