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Review by Dylan Orlando
How was The Arts Center gonna top or even merit mention in the same
sentences with the previous two shows. That's some big shoes to fill
after what was played on the two previous nights. First off i have to
say that while i enjoyed the hell out of Tramps and MSG, i did feel sort
of depressed after them. I've been chasing around(always one step
behind) visions of johanna for years. He finally plays it and it didn't
live up to the billing-there were times it was amazing then there were
times when it seemed like a rehersal version. What i'm trying to say is
it wasn't like the one from Portland in 96, in fact that show was much
better than this one on the whole. Make no mistake Tramps was fantastic
but when you see a set list like that one tends to associate a great
list with also the best versions. Tramps was a phenominal setlist but i
could name better versions of many of those tunes from the last two
years(of course not in the same set) Not so much MSG because i expected
nothing but the standards(which i thought were particularly poor
especially silvio) and got treated to a great Hard Rain(although it was
a horrible venue for a song like that) and of course Highlands-which the
entire crowd around me remained pindrop silent for and hung on every
line. One thing worth mentioning on that particular song was David's
drumming. On a song like that it's important for David to keep it
interesting and steady but not get in the way at all. He did a clip-ity
clap, clip-ity clap that was so hypnotic and so right for the new
working of the tune. I got a laugh imagining Winston back there and what
he would've done.
On to Jersey-Cocaine got it going again with larry playing acoustic
slide. I'm not a big fan of this tune.At least in the the old slow
version the trademark lick is there, now in this one it seems like a get
the bugs out of the sound opener. Larry gets a few breaks to play
something but more often than not there Bob playin something over him
and just too much going on in the song to really give Larry a true slide
Back Pages was as good as Bob gets. I can't say enough good things about
this tune. It just may be the best song in the acoustic sets. Larry's
playing is moody and projects well over the band to give the fiddle a
sense of truly leading the song, that is until Bob steps up to the plate
and sings "Crimson flames tied through my ears....."
Bob and Larry playted a little call and response with harmonica and
fiddle as each got a solo with Bob taking it to the ending. What a
version! For my money, this was better than any acoustic song at Tramps
Masters was ok. Charlie was playin something out of the ordinary on it a
resonator guitar of some sort, but spent most of his time looking to the
side of the stage or his P.A. as if he couldn't hear himself. i really
only faintly heard his accents on the few chord changes. Bob sang it
well and it got a good response, but i've probably seen this song 50
times and it really does nothing for me.
Ramona was weird. The band started it up quicker than last tour. David
leading the way with the waltz he layed down. Bob sort of looked at Tony
as if to say "geez we keep changing these tempos, what song is this
again?" then tony said something to him and bob out of nowhere starts
strumming this C chord loudly, with no sense of timing in the song. it
didn't fit at all and then bob slowed down a bit and found the tempo
that the other five guys had established and the song was perfect from
there on out, but what a bizarre intro. it was faster than the album
version but still just as effective. One of my problems with bob lately
is that he keeps changing the tempos of the rare tunes e.g. John Brown
is different every time i hear it, Visions, ect. I think it detracts
from the song cause it never finds a comfortable niche.
Tangled was tangled. This wouldn't be so bad, if he'd shave two minutes
off the end. The solo is really horrible. It so self indulgent and
terribly boring. I like when he's singing and one or two instrumental
breaks but that five minutes at the end of two note solos is tired,
talentless, and whatever else you can say. He should trim it down and
just get to the point or let a real guitar player take the solo, there
are after all two monster players on stage next to him.
Watchtower is the same it is all the time. I don't like the acoustic on
this tune i feel like it's in the way and again i really want to see
what Charlie can do, it's a crime that he's stuck on the acoustic for
this. Hot palying by Larry as usual.
The highlight of the night for me was Lenny Bruce. Larry played real
quiet at first on the steel but when he got a break to play the solo it
was beautiful. He projects over the band better than Bucky did with this
instrument. Bucky seemed like he was always trying to mesh in a wall of
sound, when larry plays it's a true solo where he interprets a verse and
chorus and then gives it up for bob to sing. Bob got all the words(he
may have flipped lines on the different verse but each time he sang a
different verse. One time in mid song he almost sang the wrong thing but
he recovered and turned in a performance that was perfect. It didn't
sound unrehearsed (like say You go your way at tramps)it was as tight as
Not Dark yet and sung with the same emotion.
Memphis was memphis-same as always again charlie is wasted on acoustic
guitar playing cowboy chords while Bob solo's away.
Not Dark Yet was it's usual tremendous self. I've seen this at six of
the seven shows i've seen on this tour and it's always a highlight. Bob
sings it as if he has something to say and his voice just cuts through
you. The album riff was very pronounced tonight and was possibly just a
shade faster than the previous versions i've heard. This song has come
such a long way since the van morrison tour when it appeared for the
Highway, while another standard has really gotten some new life breathed
into it. Without Bucky there is more room for solos in there and larry
rather than sit at the steel guitar plays slide on i think some kind of
gibson guitar. What ever it is, it isn't his PRS or his telecaster. He
throws in a mixed bag of licks: Duane Allman, a touch of Lowell George,
and of course that Johnny Winter riff in the middle.
Charlie gets a thin, dirty, texas sound on his sea foam green esquire(at
least it looks like an esquire).
the encores were the usual, no new ground was broken.
The duets were slightly different since he did both i walk the line and
the wanderer but really these are just for fun and are not serious
pieces of music at all. At one point during the wanderer Paul was
singing with his hands and had them elevated over his head and Bob
looked over at him and did it too. He only did it for a second and
started to smile and laugh, it was very brief but funny moment.
This was a very good show that had that winning combination of an
inspired performance, a rare tune played well and of course my back
pages and Ramona.
Review by Pat Piscitlli
The show was fabulous!
Paul Simon opened & he was very good, though he lost the crowd several
times (noted by people milling about buying beer.) Overall he was very
Dylan was incredible!
I have never seen him so animated. It was as if he enjoyed performing!
After singing "Cocaine" he welcomed the crowd as you would expect a
wrestling announcer "Helllooo llladieeez aaand gentlemen!
My Back Pages was well done. The crowd became enthusiastic with "Masters of
War" (it is amazing that so many 15 year old kids know all the words!)
Ramona was excellent (a personal favorite & seldom played gem.) Larry was
great on mandolin.
Dylan sang the last verse of "Tangled" twice. I guess Bob as well as the
crowd couldn't get enough.
Then the BIG SURPRISE-A powerful rendition of "Lenny Bruce." The audience
was respectful during the performance, but it was obviously not well known.
I noted a lot of milling about during Mobile/Memphis Blues. It was a
There was only one song from TOOM, and it couldn't have been a better
selection. The live version of "Not Dark Yet" was outstanding!
The old standard "Highway 61" brought the crowd to a frenzy. By that time
most of the hardcore Simon fans left to beat the rush to the parking lot
(the crowd was still about 90% intact & lovin it.)
The encore raised the event to another level! Dylan mesmirized the audience
with his biggest commercial hit "Like a Rolling Stone" done surprisingly
similar to the original single - minus the organ & piano. Bob's lead guitar
was outstanding on this one.
A slow & mournful "Ain't Me Babe" puncuated with a long (hand held) harp
solo in which Dylan was far more animated than I've ever witnessed. He
brought the crowd back up on it's feet with the classic "Not Fade Away."
Dylan, the band, and the entire amphitheatre were totally rockin & rollin
at this point!
He ended the evening with a poignant and beautiful "Blowin in the Wind."
You couldn't ask for more (except maybe the JOKE)
The smiling, dancing Mr. Dylan gave it all he had.
Review by BlindBoy Grunt
New Jersey. It's a lot different from Old Jersey I would guess. A New
Jersey wouldn't have all those smells that had been accumulated over the
years, and maybe that's why Bob likes to play here. Or maybe it's just
because he knows that the crowd here will be more than appreciative to what
he's tryin to accomplish (even if he's not tryin to get to heaven on this
particular night). Nevertheless, Bob and Paul pulled out an interesting
change from the typical with the I Walk The Line / Wanderer bit, although
they were not performed as a medley, but as two separate songs, in spite of
what the "official BobLinx setlist" might say. When this happened (and when
Bob broke out the all-too-impressive harp solo on Sounds of Silence)
something told this clown that there was going to be something special about
Dylan's performance this evening. But Dylan had a hard task at hand. He
had to live up to and surpass Simon's dazzling performance which took place
before the duets and before the all-too-long setbreak. Having seen the
Dead on several occasions, I fully understand the necessity of setbreaks,
but this was absurd. For over half and hour we waited. and waited. and
waited. and finally we heard those 14 words that mean oh-so-much to the
faithful... "Good Evening ladies and gentlemen..." you know the rest.
There's something about a wait that makes the following performance seem
even better, and I guess the wait had some sort of effect on me. Cocaine
Blues, though faster than the last time I heard it, kicked off the show, and
Bob's vocals told me that there was something very special happening this
evening (although, judging from the setlists and reviews of previous shows,
it appears that EVERY night is special which makes it all the better. Keep
it up Bob!!!) Never once did his vocals falter. Never once did the message
become muddied in some incomprehensible mumbles. This was BOB DYLAN (as
Peter Stone Brown would say), and he was here to sing some serious songs in
a serious way. This focus, this professionalism continued into the most
perfect My Back Pages in quite some time. This could be the quintessential
version for all I know, for I've never heard any better performance of this
song. Bob was on. Bob was REALLY on. The harp solo, like the one in
Sounds of Silence, was breathtaking. Larry's work on the pedal steel
combined with Dylan's impeccable delivery of the oh-so-important words made
the song mean more than it has meant since 1964 or so. Toooooooooooooooo
Much. And just when you think you've heard it all, the greatest-ever
Masters of War comes along to caress your ears. Okay, maybe not the
greatest ever, but certainly up to par with the most recent performances of
this (IMHO) overplayed song. Masters, as it turned out, was a break from
the insanity that had apparently encompassed the mind of the Master of song,
because after this stunning performance he insisted on blowing our minds
again. This time, the vehicle was a gem from Another Side... To Ramona.
Words cannot describe the emotions that consumed my being, so I won't even
try to cover this song. The nuances. The phrasing. The musicianship.
EVERYTHING. Perfect in every sense of the word. You must hear this to
belive it. Then there was TUIB with the twice-sung "slaves" verse, but
that's okay. It was Tangled up, and so was Bob. My guess is that he was
blown away by how awesome the first part of the show was. Can't say I blame
him for that.
Strap on the electrics. (Didn't take more than 16 seconds either!) Then the
next thing we knew we were knee deep in AATW. Not the swampy late 98
version, but a new, but old 95/99/94/93/?? version. Not too shabby there
Mr. Bob. Hear it. Feel it. Live it.
Lenny Bruce showed up for a few minutes and a lot of people didn't recognize
him. Too bad for them. I didn't think it was him for a minute, but after a
couple of reps, I knew it couldn't be anyone else. Lenny Bruce. I sure do
miss ya. Thanks for letting us know you miss him too, Bob!
The rest of the show was as you might expect.... brilliant. Read the
setlists for a further knowledge of what he played, but suffice it to say
that Bob knew what he was doing when he got to Exit 116.
for a real good time.
Review by "Anonymous"
After having read and heard so much about the Dylan/Simon shows, I must
admit I was a little hesitant about actually seeing one. For so many years
reviews have been glowing, but the performances I've seen have been less
than stellar. But following that line of reasoning, you end up being wrong
eventually. Tonight, I was wrong. I love it when I 'm wrong.
Paul Simon came out and did a spectacular set that consisted of nothin he
hadn't done before, but the DeadHead in me couldn't help but wanna dance...
and dance I did. Way to go Paul! Highlights.... Mrs. Robinson 99, Me and
Julio, Graceland, and of course, the stuff with Bob. Strange things started
happening as soon as Bob hit the stage. For one, Bob grabbed the harp and
did a truly stunning solo in the Sounds of Silence. No silence there, as
the crowd got into every single note. Somehow, this crowd full of people
who don't follow Dylan nearly as closely as we fanatics do knew that this
harp solo was something special, and something special it was. As many have
said over the years, there are times when Bob's harp plays the verses no
tongue could sing. This was such an occasion. A true surprise and the
deepest of treats.
I Walk The Line began and I was surprised that it wasn't "That'll Be The
Day", but when they stopped and then started with "The Wanderer" it was a
totally different story. Although the performance was nothing spectacular,
the fact that the pairings had been changed was something special. Knockin
was knockin..... knock.. knock... knock... I hear you knockin.... nothin
special. somethin different though, for those of us who've never heard the
"I hear ya knockin" thing (which echoes the old blues and folk tradition in
a BIG way). All in all, I was impressed, but not blown away by the duets,
except for Sounds of Silence.
then the wait.
It seemed to take about four forevers for Bob to finally take the stage, but
once he took it, he took command of the entire stage and audience. I'm just
wondering if he made traffic stop on the Garden State Parkway, because if
I'd heard this stuff while driving down the road, I'd have most certainly
stopped. But I guess this is a review, so I should mention the songs, huh?
Here i was expecting the old Elizabeth Cotten classic Oh Babe It Ain't No
Lie, but Bob pulls out another of my favourite old blues tunes, COCAINE
BLUES - A little faster than the last time I heard it, but that's okay too.
Sounds a little more like the feeling of cocaine than the slow, depressed
style of playing to which we were so accustomed, and it made me wonder just
what it was Bob was doing backstage that made us wait so long.....
hmmmmmm..... But if he was intoxicated on the white lines (and we ain't
talkin highways folks) you'd have never known it by the way he performed MY
BACK PAGES. Perfect in every sense. If there is a more realized version of
this song out there, I'd like to hear it. The harp, Larry on fiddle,
everything... perfection. He doesn't have to play this one again. And then
we got MASTERS OF WAR. Brilliant... as always. and I'll say no more. Then
the biggest treat of the acoustic set came rolling into our ears. At first
I didn't know what he was playing, and once I recognized it, I couldn't
believe my ears. TO RAMONA. A little faster than I'd prefer it, but his
handling of the lyrics more than made up for the speed of the song. Get the
tape of this show. Hear this song. Hear My Back Pages. Dispute this
opinion if you can. Too good...... Then, we have TANGLED UP IN BLUE.
Althoug he did the "dealin with slaves" verse twice, it was no different
than it always is, and we all know what happens there, so I'll move along to
the electric set which started so perfectly with ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER.
Not as violent as some of the 93-95 versions, but powerful nonetheless. It
actually reminded me more of the Dead's version than anything Bob has done
with it yet. Regardless of your opinion of the Dead, you gotta admit, this
is one of the greatest songs ever created, and the Dead's way of doing it
wasn't too shabby. So anyway, it was kinda like Dylan doing the Dead doing
Dylan. No complaints here. Then we got it. Oh how we got it.... The sign
said Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. It made no mention of the special guest
appearance of LENNY BRUCE. And what an appearance! Bob mumbled a few of
the lines, but hey, he's not been doing this one a lot, and I don't mind a
few mumbled lines in a song he's not been playing. Spectacular. Remember
me saying you had to get this tape? Well, here's another reason. Then
there was a short pause and I said to my companion... "Memphis Blues", and
sure enough, Bob didn't let me down. STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE WITH THE
MEMPHIS BLUES AGAIN seemed a little rushed, but still rocked like hell. Bob
got the words down like nobody's business and took his solos like a man.
There was not an immobile buttock in the place. Then NOT DARK YET.
Perfection. That's all. The rest of the show was as would be expected.
Great performances of H61R, LARS, It Aint Me Babe, NFA, and Blowin. You
know, the same old thing. But Bob gave enough of himself to let those of us
stranded somewhere off the GSP know that there was something worth going out
for on a Wednesday night in late July.
Thanx Bob. Now, just start doing shows with two sets of 10 songs each every
night, and make those jams just a little bit longer. Okay, he's not Santa
Claus, but it is July...................................................
Review by Carsten Wohlfeld
Whenever I go on a trip to see Dylan, I make a list of three songs that I
really wanna hear. This time the list included "Visions Of Johanna“,
"Highlands“ and, the most unlikely of all, "Lenny Bruce“, a song I have
wanted to hear for a long time. But of cause with every show the chances
are getting slimmer, that he’ll ever play it agan after he apparently
abandoned the song after that performance in Durham in April 1997.
Anyways, I was more than happy to have heard two out of three within 24
hours even and I went to Holmdel without huge expecations. Nice venue,
looks exactly like The Meadows Theater in Hartford and again the show was
almost a sell-out despite the ridiculous ticket prices. The Mike Dalton
Band and one Paul Simon opened the show and at 9.30 Simon annouced that
is was a pleasure for him to introduce BOB DYLAN!
Sounds Of Silence
opened proceedings and I didn’t like this version with Simon’s big band
as much as the one with Dylan’s musicians, though Bob’s singing was
higher in the mix this time and de to the fact that he didn’t go back to
pick up his harp for the solo (he had it in his pocket), he sang all the
lyrics, including my favourite line "saw 10,000 people maybe more“, which
Simons sings on his own when playing with Bob’s bands.
I Walk The Line
Less country-ish, cause Tony’s one note bass and Larry’s fiddle were
missing.Not sure if that was for the better or worse, though.
Kind of a surprise I guess, cause verybody expected "Blue Moon Of
Kentucky“ to follow. Pretty bad version with a funny moment halfway
through when Bob and Simon forget the lyrics similtaneously.
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
A nice reggae version, kinda like the one Dylan used to do in ‘78. The
two of them ahrmonized better at the (improvised) ending compared to the
two versions I’d heard previously, but I still can’t warm to the duet
part of the show at all. Almost 45 minutes later it was time for the real
Better than at the Garden, Bob seemed to be in fine form right from the
start. Maybe that was due to the fact that the two "important“ NYC shows
were now behind him or maybe it was because he had the "warm up“ with the
duets, but his singing was loud and strong and Larry played slide again.
My Back Pages (acoustic)
Not as good as the Hartford version, just because Larry’s solo wasn’t as
good and when he tried to play a twin solo with Bob the two of them never
really matched. The harp solo wasn’t too good either, but hey, with a
lovely song like this I shouldn’t complain too much.
Masters Of War (acoustic)
was "Masters“, which is to say that is was very, very good. Bob’s singng
was very strong, I’d say it was almost gentle, if that wouldn’t feel
somewhat inappropriate with this song.
To Ramona (acoustic)
Larry on mandolin. Pretty much sounded exactly like the old arrangement,
so I wasn’t too impressed. Mostly just because I don’t like waltzes most
of the time.
Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)
Pretty good version, with nice, playful phrasing. Included the "italian
poet“ verse again, and this time Bob even remembered all the lyrics on
that verse, even though he messed it up later, acuse he went down to that
basement two times :-) Pretty hot Bob guitar solo at the end, but no
All Along The Watchtower
was "Watchtower“, the „We-remember-Jimi“ version. Then Larry moved over
to pedal steel and the band began playing what sounded a lot like "I
Believe In You“, which made me very, very happy. It’s one of my favourite
songs and Bob hasn’t played it in ages... But then Bob stepped up to the
microphone and sang "Lenny Bruce is dead“.
YES!!!!! He did Lenny Bruce and evn though the band wasn’t really sure
how to play it and Bob was struggleing with the lyrics, I was in heaven.
Pretty much the same version that they last did two and a half years ago,
even though Bob’s singing wasn’t as gentle... All three songs I wanted to
hear I got to hear within 72 hours... Bob’s so cool :-)
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
Another song that Bob had tons of fun singing and playing around with
certain words and lines. Charlie on acoustic guitar.
Not Dark Yet
Yet another gorgeous version, even though they (and especially Bob) start
it a bit too loud and fast and then tone it down, to make it as smooth
andgentle as it should be. Band intros followed and for the first time
Bob introduced Larry as "on guitar and pedal steel...“. Then Larry
grabbed his slide guitar and it was time for:
Highway 61 Revistited
The usual hi-octane end-of-the-show version... crowd went nuts.
Like A Rolling Stone
More 60s-flashbacks which finally won over the Paul Simon fans who took a
nap during the first half of Bob’s set. All together now: "How does it
It Ain’t Me Babe (acoustic)
Ungrateful as I am I wasn’t too happy with the encores. Maybe it was just
because I was still so happy that he did "Lenny Bruce“ and that was
obviously THE highlight of the show for me. At least wwe got another harp
Not Fade Away
was "Not Fade Away“.
Blowin’ In The Wind (acoustic)
was "Blowin’“ and I was on my way out to catch the rather early last bus
(and train) back to NYC.
The show was good, but hardly exciting, not a big surprise cause the two
NYC shows were so good, that it was virtually impossible to keep up the
pace without either repeating those two shows or throwing everything
ocerborad that he’s been doing at the dates with Simon. I was not
disappointed, but I wasn’t too impressed either. On to Jones Beach.
Thanks for reading!
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