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Review by Peter Stone Brown
The last time Bob Dylan played the Merriweather Post Pavilion was on June
14, 1981. That was a pleasant, Sunday afternoon concert. It was back
when the Gospel singers were still opening his shows and not long after he
started bringing the songs that made him famous back into the picture.
The show wasn't that long, but it had quite a few surprises including
songs from his not-yet-released new album, "Shot of Love," such as "Dead
Man," and "Lenny Bruce," as well as covers of "We Just Disagree" and
"Abraham, Martin and John."
There was a big time Deadhead scene in the parking lot accompanied by lots
of cops and undercover cops. We spent sometime before the show watching a
guy get handcuffed his car get searched, and the very obvious undercover
cop who fingered him.
Once inside the ground of the Pavilion itself, it was a lot mellower.
Now some people probably wonder, why go see Bob Dylan three nights in a
row or as many times as you can? Of course one of the reasons is it's
never the same show, but another reason is to catch that one performance
where he really does it, captures that thing that only Bob Dylan can do,
that magical moment in all its glorious essence. And then maybe you don't
have to see him anymore for a while, or maybe you already have tickets for
another show, or he's playing close enough and you hope he'll do it again
but even better. And sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn't.
In Columbia Maryland tonight, he definitely did. And sometimes you know
from the moment he hits the stage how it's going to go. And tonight the
audience also played a part and it's really not a matter of dancing or
standing up or not standing up, it's a matter of being into it. And
tonight 's audience collectively was far hipper than the one the night
before in Camden, who might've as well have been at any event. Tonight
the crowd knew when there was a great guitar solo happening and they also
knew when it was a special song.
And again tonight Bob Dylan and his band hammered home the point during
the first part of the show, that they may be playing acoustic guitars, but
they are rocking and rocking hard, as he tore into "Duncan and Brady,"
followed by a very nice "To Ramona," with Larry on mandolin.
And then, "Desolation Row," which had just been incredible every show I've
seen this week, but before the first verse is out there's this low but
loud rumbly feedback noise, and Dylan's mic cuts out, but they get it
together really fast and he continues, spitting out the words and he's
into his guitar solo looking for whatever it is he's looking for and then
he finds it, and he's going on and on, riding this solo like a rodeo rider
and it's like holy shit! What a solo! And the crowd is going crazy.
And then back one album into "It's All Over Now Baby Blue," with Larry on
pedal steel, and it's not as fast as it once was, but it's not as slow as
it once was either, and there's slow subtle, majestic groove building, and
the steel is ethereal, heavenly and they're really taking the song
somewhere it hasn't been before but they're not quite there yet.
"Tangled" was "Tangled" with Dylan once again tangling up the order of the
"Searching For A Soldier's Grave," was once again awesome. It's as if
whatever Dylan's been looking for over the past few years performing these
old country songs, he's really found it in this one. The feel was
perfect, the harmonies astounding, taking you back in time every one of
those fifty-plus years.
And then, the night's first big surprise, "Watching The River Flow," but
not the speedy country-rock version he's done for most of the '90s. This
version was more or less the way he originally recorded it-a rollicking
blues and they are playing for all it's worth and Sexton on guitar and
Campbell on lap steel are soaring.
And then out of nowhere comes "Every Grain of Sand" and Sexton and
Campbell have this guitar duet thing happening, and then (sigh) "Maggie's
Farm," followed by a truly inspired "Dignity."
And then once again it's hard rock time for "Cold Iron Bounds," and they
take it even further than they did in Camden getting FUCKING LOUD in the
And again the closer was "Leopard-Skin Pill-box Hat."
The intensity and volume continued through the encores with "Things Have
Changed" standing out, and Dylan singing "Like A Rolling Stone," like he
really meant it, followed by "It Ain't Me Babe," and a thoroughly nasty
"Highway 61 Revisited," with the guitars reaching ear-splitting levels.
Tonight was one of those shows and it also left no doubt how great this
band is. This is by far the best of any of the "Never-Ending Tour Bands,"
and easily one of the best bands Dylan has had. Now that Charlie Sexton
is stepping out more and more on lead guitar, the music is going somewhere
else, reaching new heights. The guy is a maniac and he'll do whatever he
has to do to get the sound he wants out of that guitar and he knows
exactly what he's doing. He brings back to Dylan's music that wild edge
that was previously only provided by Michael Bloomfield and Robbie
What a night!
"Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times." --Bob
Dylan Peter Stone Brown e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Review by John Pruski
Well, tonight was yet another in a string of truly great Dylan shows!
I sure hope we mere east coast mortals don't have to wait until 2001 to
see our super hero Bob Dylan again. With some major luck we'll get to
see Bob and Willie here this fall. Yes, we Dylan fans are getting way
spoiled : near constant touring by Bob and his superhuman crew, super
set lists, super performances, and this evening's show with 2 tour debuts
at Merriweather Post Pavilion was total coolness. I left (after a bit
of Phil), both physically and emotionally drained.
This morning I slept in until 11am, whereas yesterday I was on the road
heading for another joint by 11am. I again played it safe and arrived at
today's venue, Merriweather Post Pavilion in suburban DC/Baltimore, a few
hours before the show. Once there, I got the poster, tonight's was blue
and with Phil on top. Then I passed a good time with friends (Alex and
family; and I hadn't seen my buddy John since our Delaware show in November,
our seats were Center, F 100's and were wonderful) until Bob came out at
about 7pm and gave me my lagniappe. Tonight was truly icing on the cake,
since I had been to last night's show in Camden / Philadelphia. It was like
deja vu all over again!
Tonight's show was fantastic, perhaps marred only by the loud sound blast
at the passports brown verse in the first few seconds of Desolation. A
startled Bob resumed after a moment to a nice ovation from the crowd.
Larry played mandolin on 2 acoustic songs, and each was a treat. Speaking
of Larry, he broke a string again tonight, during TUIB.
I though the electric set was every bit as special tonight as last night.
Tonight we got great back-to-back tour debuts (River Flow and Every Grain).
The 10-12 slot songs were the same as last night and were just great.
Dignity was fantastic again, and Cold Irons rocked hard. In the Bended
Knee verse of Cold Irons, Bob bent nearly down on a knee, a great effect.
I missed not seeing a John Wesley Harding song, but on the other hand, I
just loved Dignity and Cold Irons, which I thought were the highlights of
the night. I don't think Bob told last night's hit the sack joke during
tonight's band introduction. And of course Bob and Band did their
formation after the electric set. Bob seems to be really into it, he was
just standing there with a hand on a hip and was stretching/shaking the
other hand. Larry seemingly is always the one to break rank first, after
about 20-30 seconds. The crowd was simply going crazy with applause
during the formation.
The encores were awesome and I just love Things. During the two acoustic
encores Tony played his 74Coma bass, whereas last night I noticed it only
on Tambourine Man. HW 61 really rocked and Tony and Charlie really cut
loose. I think the sound was perhaps better balanced tonight, or it could
be that my seats were better, but anyway tonight I heard Larry much clearer.
And of course we got the band's reformation after the encores.
I've had a fantastic weekend thanks to Bob and his great band. May God
bless and keep them always.
John Pruski, Arlington VA, 29 July 2000
Review by Mary
I'm just sitting here this morning, havin' the breakfast of champions
( high test java & smokes) and smiling from ear to ear. We got in at
3 am after one of the hottest show I've seen Bob do.
In spite of the weather forcast, it turned out to be a pretty nice day.
We stopping at the inner harbour for a quick bit to eat, then headed for
the show with plenty of time to spare, did a little shopping,got a poster
and a tankietee shirt. We headed to our seats which were right next to
the sound board. When the dude lit the candles on the trunk I knew it
was show time.
Bob opened with "Duncan and Brady". I just love the pretty sunburst
guitar on that sharp dresssed man. I'm diggin those boot too. It wasn't
as rockin' as "I am the man Thomas" but I liked it just the same. Next was
"To Ramona" and as I watched Bob through the binoc's, he
looked tired. On the way to the show, we talked about what Bob might do
today. Dave was hoping to hear Desolation Row since it's been on his
mailbox for the last 25 years. He's never heard him do it. I said,
"maybe today, dude!" Wishes do come true, even though Bob left out a few
verses. At one point the sound board went bonkers and the dudes in there
were rushing around plugging stuff in and doing the thing they do and got
it up again. Thanks guys for knowing your shit. Never panic! That could
be why Bob went into " It's all over now Baby Blue" and "Tangled up in Blue"
in the fifth spot. My guitar teacher and I talked about this and he said
"Bob will probable take it to the grave why he does it in the 5th spot.
I never get tired of hearin it. "Searchin for a soldiers grave" is a nice
piece sounding somewhat like a civil war ballad. The way Bob did "Watchin'
the River flow" was very bluzsy and perfect for the bedroom. As he went
into the next song I couldn't believe my ears. The one I've always wanted
to hear. It was the first song I learned on the guitar, I love it that
much. "Maggie farm" was rockin, and Bob gettin loose now. "Dignity" is a
great song and I've never heard hime do this either. This is ONE Fuckin
great show! "Cold Irons bound" they just rip up the place! The guys at
the sound board are dancin'. What a hoot. Then "Leopard skin pill box hat"
and the crowd is dancin' and fluttering like butterflys on a puddle. I love
the way they all stand statuesque for a brief time. A little trippy. Bob
stretching out his fingers. I've been lookin forward to hearing "Things have
Changed" since I went to see the film. Great job! "Like a rollin stone"
was cookin! I didn't want them to stop. "It ain't me babe" was good to hear.
I used to like to hear Johnny and his wifedo this when I was a kid. I was
great to hear Bob do it today. What a day! Then he just blew us away with
"Highway 61"!!! Since we had to drive this road to get to the show, and the
perpetual road construction, I can identify with all the junk and things
happenin when we drive that road. Finally, "Blowin' in the wind". I love
the riffs from Bob and the tangent he goes off into while the band plays on.
Spooky! All I have to say is, " I glad I have tickets for tonights show!
It should be KILLER!!!!
Review by Rich Stombres
Bob came out to a nearly packed house. Although thunderstorms had been
forecast - it stayed dry, although it was hot and humid. Bob and the boys
came out at almost 7:00 P.M. sharp and Bob looked perturbed from the start
(although he loosened up later). Bob was wearing his jet-black suit with
white, western trim, a silver shirt and tie, and killer black and white
snakeskin cowboy boots. He didn't look as old as I had expected (my wife
and I had tickets in the orchestra pit - so we were nearly on the stage).
Larry, Tony, and Charlie had on shiny charcoal grey suits. David had on a
cowboy hat and a green golf shirt.
Good evening ladies and gentleman, would you please welcome Columbia
recording artist, Bob Dylan?
Duncan and Brady - Bob was serious, but on. I was hoping for Duncan and
Brady, and the boys didn't disappoint. The harmonizing was terrific and
Dylan was confident, loud, and clear from the get-go.
To Ramona - nice rendition (although I don't think the nearly capacity
crowd recognized the song).
Desolation Row - Bob was clear, energetic and began to knock his knees
together - a special treat indeed. Larry and Tony were smiling quite a
bit during this one - they seemed to enjoy the entire show.
It's All Over Now Baby Blue - I saw this last year at Nissan Pavilion - so
it wasn't on my wish list - but Bob's facial expressions started to get
into high gear at this point - he can control the band with his eyes -
it's incredible to see it as it happens.
Tangled Up in Blue - in the obligatory 5-spot. Bob blew his nose before
the song - maybe he's feeling a little under the weather from the Jones
Beach show. Larry broke a guitar string toward the end of the song. The
crowd loved this song and it got the whole joint rocking. Unfortunately
there was no harp on this one - actually, no harp for the entire show.
Searching for a Soldiers Grave - Great harmonizing and Bob showed that he
could sing. A nice change of pace - Bob showing once again that he is the
master of his show.
Watching the River Flow - I thought it would be Country Pie, but Bob gave
a nice rendition.
Every Grain of Sand - a highlight for me - Bob was clear, crisp, and
seemed to pray his way through this Christian song. Bob starts to ham it
up for the people up front - he's surpassingly limber for someone his age.
At this point between songs - Bob starts to do knee bends and stretch.
Maggie's Farm - the standard recent arrangement - the Phil Zone recognizes
this one and gets into it.
Dignity - The crowd loved this one. Bob was having fun and every word
came through loud and clear - great round of applause after this one (and
my wife's favorite).
Cold Irons Bound - A showstopper. Bob ROCKS. This one tore the roof off
the sucka. The new arrangement is fabulous and Bob nailed this song -
Everyone understood they were in the midst of a legend as this one
unfolded. Bob even seemed to enjoy himself as did the rest of the band.
Leopard-Skin Pill-Skin Pillbox Hat - Chuck Barry would have been proud.
This was rock-n-roll in its purest form. There is no doubt about it - Bob
can rock with the best of them.
Next, Bob adjusts his tie, straightens his coat, places his hand on his
hip - and FORMATION. How cool is this? Bob and the band - soaking it up
(except for Larry, who smiles like a little school boy). But Bob is there
- putting his name on the line and the crowd goes berserk.
Things Have Changed - Bob was moving all around at this point - I was glad
to hear this song and it got a nice round of applause (although I didn't
think most of the Heads recognized it).
Rolling Stone - got the crowd going - the band seemed to understand that
they were actually playing with Bob-Freaking-Dylan at this point - smiles
It Ain't Me Babe - Delicate, clear, outstanding.
Highway 61 - Once again - Bob showed he is a rock-n-roll star. Great.
Blowin' in the Wind - Great harmonizing and a great version.
Great show - Bob and the boys are getting' it done. Vocals are crisp,
energetic, and heartfelt. Wish I was going to Waterloo.
Thanks Bob - I'll cherish this for a long time.
Review by Carsten Molt
The Merriweather Post Pavilion is a much nicer and mellower venue than any
of the other outdoor venues where i have seen Bob Dylan. I was somewhat
worried by the VERY large Deadhead contingency in the parking lot and
thought Dylan may be playing to a half empty venue. But by the time he
took the stage the venue looked pretty full from my vantage point in the
front of the lawn.
1. (Acoustic) Duncan and Brady- This was a great way to open the show.
Dylan's vocals were strong from the first note and stayed so for the
entire show. This was as rocking as acoustic music can get.
2. (Acoustic) To Ramona- Although this isn't on of my favorite songs, it
was well played. Larry's mandolin was very prominent on the extended
3.(Acoustic) Desolation Row- during the first verse, there was a loud
feedback sound that and Dylan's microphone goes out. After a few seconds,
it comes back on to reveal a fiery vocal performance. Dylan also played a
very rocking solo. He was experiencing the song instead of merely playing
4. (Acoustic) It's all Over Now, Baby Blue- A bit faster than the
versions i have heard before. It started much like the versions of last
summer but the band found a delicious groove that fit Dylan's vocals
superbly. Larry Campbells guitar shimmered beautifully here.
5. (Acoustic) Tangled Up In Blue- Although he skipped a verse or two, the
band was really cooking on the tune and Dylan was definitely loving it. It
is hard to explain how hard Dylan and Co. were rocking out. When the magic
is as present as it was here, no electric instruments were needed to set
the entire venue into ecstacy.
6. (Acoustic) Searching For A Soldiers Grave- Dylan was at the height of
his power by this time and had the crowd eating out of his hand. Dylan's
vocal were full of energy and passion raising the energy higher and higher
on each verse.
7. Watching the River Flow- The electric set started not with "Country
Pie" as was expected but with a very powerful rendering of "River Flow".
This was not the loose as a goose version of the last several years but a
full steam ahead version that recalled the original version in it's
arrangement but far surpassed it in its execution.
8. Every Grain of Sand- The biggest surprise of the night and it was
sung ever so sweetly. Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell were weaving
tender guitar tapestries for Dylan to ride upon. It featured a very nice
instrumental break that soared elegantly without a misplaced note to be
9. Maggies Farm- i am pretty apathetic about this song but the crowd had a
great time dancing to it and it continued the high energy vibe of the
10. Dignity- The vocals rang strong and true as this was a very inspired
version. Dylan had been wiggling his legs and been striking guitar poses
the entire show and this was no exception.
11. Cold Irons Bound- For me, this was definitely the highlight of the
show. After a long spacey intro, The band turned on a dime and charged
headlong into a version that bore little resemblance to the album version.
This new version roared with intensity and conviction. I have never heard
Dylan rock this hard or sing so loud. This is the reason that we go see
concert after concert. When Dylan is at the height of his powers, there is
nothing else like it.
12. Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat- Another rocker but after "Cold Irons
Bound", anything would be a let down. This was not the best version of
"Pillbox Hat" but it wasn't bad. It just paled in comparison to the high
level of intensity that the rest of the set had established.
Sidenote: After "LSPBH", Dylan and the band assumed the formation. The
audience went wild and the ovation grew louder and louder the longer they
stood there. It was strange to see but Dylan in particular seemed to be
enjoying it with his hands on his hips.
13. Things Have Changed- The first encore sounded very much like the
recorded version and
Dylan was clearly into the lyrics.
14. Like a Rolling Stone- Dylan sang this chestnut with a lot of
conviction and the crowd loved the chorus sing-a-long. There was a
unique instrumental passage that was led by a rocking solo by Charlie
15.(Acoustic) It Ain't Me, Babe- There was nothing noteworthy of this
overplayed tune until the end of the last verse when Dylan led the band
into a scorching 30 second rockabilly jam that sounded unlike anything
I've heard Dylan play before.
16. Highway 61- The intensity rose again and Dylan rode the storm of
guitars through a fiery version that got the crowd dancing again. Lots of
strong vocals and guitar runs by Dylan again. A little bit of dancing and
baby steps during the outro jam.
17. Blowing in the Wind(Acoustic) Again, the lightweight "Blowing"
closer. The back up vocals by Charlie and Larry were very good and Dylan
sang the song well but the magic and energy that had transpired over the
previous hour and forty-five minutes had passed.
This was one of the best if not the best Dylan shows i have ever seen. We
stayed for the first half of Phil and Friends set but it was clear who
should have closed the show. To take nothing away from Phil and Friends,
Dylan clearly blew him off the stage.
The audience must be mentioned since they played a large part in
creating the magic between Dylan, the band, the music and the fans. i'd
love to hear a tape....
Review by Hodah
Well, I did it. I went to Maryland and saw Bob. After seeing the
Jones Beach show, I knew I would go. I hopped on a train, (there's
always something appropriate about taking a train to see Bob) and
made it to Baltimore in time to buy a ticket and comfortably walk to
a 7th row seat. (I still have no idea where I was supposed to have
sat). Once again I was impressed by the mix of deadheads and families
that were there. So many kids!!! I love seeing that.
'Duncan' was fun, I get such a kick out of the "electric car" line
considering the age of this song. 'To Ramona', man I love this song.
It didn't have quite the "waltz" feel that it had at the PNC back in
November, but you can't beat those lyrics. Yet he did. 'Desolation
Row'. The static burst did throw Tony off as much as it didn't
effect Bob. But it was almost like they tried to make up for the
break in stride by really putting alot into this song. I hadn't
heard 'Searching For A Soldiers Grave', yet. I especially like to
watch Bob sing covers. He obviously sings songs he likes, and it's
always clear in his delivery. 'Watching The River Flow' was nice,but
I was looking forward to hearing 'Country Pie', I really enjoyed the
country jam that Charlie and Larry get into on that song. Then those
first few notes rang out and I couldn't believe I was going to hear
'Every Grain Of Sand'. I swear he sang it like it was a new song.
How does he do that? How does he take a song that he's played tens
of dozens of times, that we've heard hundreds of times, and then
performs it like it's his newest and favorite songchild? As close as
I was, I still used my binoculars, I wanted to see his eyes. And
throughout this song I couldn't stop looking at his face. My eyes
filled with tears, he sang "to ease the pain of idleness and the
memory of decay" like it was someone else's lyrics that rang true to
him. The same with the "angry flame... always hear my name" line. I
don't know if it was the almost oppressive summer humidity, but I
feel the audience responded personally to the "violence of a
summer's dream" line. The folks all around me were making eye
contact throughout this song, really feeling the hymnlike mood.
Dignity was fun 'cause I haven't seen him do it before. I don't want
to skim over the bands playing on that song, but I have to get to
'Cold Irons Bound'. All I can say is, "WHAT THE HELL WAS
THAT!!!????" I knew from the swirling guitar and random drum bashing
what song was about to be played, but THAT IS WHERE MY FAMILIARITY
WITH THAT SONG ENDED!!!. Where does he come up with these
arrangements? I felt that TOOM was an album that translated very
well to the live shows with little changes in arrangements. I'd say
that 'Can't Wait' really had the biggest change. But I was not
prepared for what he did to Cold Irons. The a capella singing, the
maniacal thrashing, it built up to some crazy abstract King Crimson
like cacophony. I missed Wicked Messenger, I realize they don't want
to turn into some adult Metallica or anything, but I think it
would've been an awesome duo of music. During 'The Formation' I
noticed Bob working his right hand as if were cramped. Something I
noticed him doing several times for the rest of the evening. I can
only guess the end of this tour is coming right on time. I enjoy
hearing 'Things Have Changed' live. It was a bit of an emotional let
down after the crazy energy of 'CIB' and 'Lepoard Pillbox', but he
did sing the words in uniquely clear manner. Cutting words where we
all do, as opposed to prolonging them. The "trying to get as far
away from myself as I can" line brought a squint from our man.....
and I felt as if the woman that doesn't appeal to Bob was somewhere
in the audience that night. (if not just clearly in his mind)
'Highway 61' sure as hell did turn into a rockin jam. The wonderful
harmonies of Bob and the boys singing 'Blowin' In The Wind', is
still ringing in my ears. ahhhhhhhhh...............
Review by James Cho
I believe Peter Stone Browne best described the motivation to see as many
Dylan shows as possible in his recent review of this show. When Dylan is
on, it's breathtaking. It's mind-blowing. It's a humbling religious
experience. At Baltimore in Nov '99, I experienced one such show; and at
Merriweather, the legend once again soared past all of my criteria for a
legendary show: set list variation, singing quality, musical quality, and
that little extra intangible that makes live performances knee buckling.
In Dylan's acoustic set alone, four of the six songs were firsts for me
(of nine shows since '94). The highlight was definitely Desolation Row.
I also loved the covers, and I think Dylan's inclusion of covers is not
only an exciting musical treat, but it's also a great way to learn the
songs that are personally influencing his current musical direction. The
electric set continued with stunning surprises. During the change in
instruments, I told my friend to expect Country Pie since it's opening of
the electric set was as reliable as Tangled's 5 spot. Then again, I
should've learned by now never to think the master is that predictable,
especially with the next song. When I heard, "in the time of my
confession, in the hour of my deepest need," wow. The vulnerability and
helplessness of this song poured throughout the bustling amphitheater.
What a treat because I've always felt the "christian trilogy" contains
some forgotten gems and is misrepresented by "Gotta Serve Somebody,"
easily one of my least favorites. And then to hear the rare Dignity
followed by a revamped Cold Iron's Bound, well, fucking unreal! And now,
looking back at the setlist, to realize that I didn't hear Country Pie or
Wicked Messenger or the blistering Drifter's Escape or Frankie Lee and
Judas Priest, which are all songs I've seen on setlists and comprising the
supposed resurgence of Dylan's country phase into this summer tour, well,
this setlist not only blew me away, it has me begging for more, and
thinking, I MUST see him again.
Of course it is one thing to have a great setlist, it is another for Dylan
to sing a great setlist. The former is exciting, the latter mesmerizing.
One constant of every Dylan show that I held previous to Merriweather was
that his voice needs at least one or two songs to warm up. Even during my
then favorite show of all time, Baltimore (Nov.'99) Dylan's voice was
unbearably harsh and ragged for the first two songs. I found that his
"cold" voice mixed poorly with the I Am the Man, Thomas and Tambourine,
which I think requires a certain amount of tenderness. Obviously, Crosby,
Stills, Nash he will not be.
However, with each acoustic number, his voice contained a rare tenderness,
as if singing to a wide-eyed child, that magnified the legendary lyrics.
Such delicate lines like, "your cracked country lips, I still wish to
kiss," commands a gentle intimacy, and Dylan nailed it; he delivered each
word, no each syllable, with stunning emotion.
His singing erupted to powerful heights when he plugged him. His
Midwestern drawl lingered ever so lazily during Watching the River Flow,
and in Cold Irons Bound, at the end of the refrain, my god, he howled a
chilling "awwwwhhh!" that echoed the narrator's intense anger and sent a
lightning flash of awe throughout my body. Soul and blues flooding Bob
What sets this show apart and the current Neverending Tour from other
periods of Dylan's career (with the exception of perhaps the tours with
The Band) is how he and his band are re-interpeting timeless songs. The
two highlights (and usually one highlight constitutes a great show!) were
Desolation Row and Cold Iron's Bound. The first one I hold in the rare
realm of Bob Dylan genius. His greatest poem, I think every live version
of Desolation Row has never quite captured the intense agony and despair
expressed in the studio version. The unplugged version, for example,
simply isn't moving. The new version doesn't try to emulate the studio
version; rather, it gives it a new life, a new meaning. Gone is the
barren waste land void of hope. With the new arrangement, although the
present is desolate, it hints toward salvation in the future. The new
hope sprouting from the ashes of Dylan's apocalype is startling. Without
question I must hear it again, and again.
The same with Cold Iron's Bound. I think this may be Dylan's best
electric song to date. The gripping a capella verses are backed by a
thundering beat, and suddenly it blisters into an amped up refrain. The
result is that I felt every drop of anger and frustration which the
narrator feels, and to be honest, the rest of the songs, and awesome they
were with the dueling solos, just limped through compared to the new Cold
A note of reverent respect now for his band. By my count, Larry played
the mandolin, guitar, and steel pedal, all in the first four songs! As
said many times in the review, no one can replace Bucky Baxter. Still,
Larry played beautifully on Baby Blue. He truly has carved an
irreplaceable niche in the band since his reserved days on the 1997 tour.
The other guitarist, Charlie Sexton, is clearly commanding the spotlight
on guitar leads. The difference from the Baltimore show when he was just
starting and this show is apparent: Charlie Sexton's lead guitar adds a
raw and untamed energy that has never before been present in Dylan's
songs. The blues numbers in the setlist become screeching freight train
wrecks when Charlie steps up, reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughn.
The only deterrence to this magnificent show was the crowd around me.
Sadly, they were oblivious to the magic in the air. Peter Stone Browne
writes the crowd's energy was infectious; the infection clearly did not
reach my area on the lawn. I can tolerate intermittent talking as long as
they are paying attention; having one's back turned and cackling like a
hyena is another; and having one's cell phone ring during Every Grain of
Sand!!! I had to move. Please, Mr. Dylan, you are not an opening act. I
don't care who you tour with, I'll pay to see you with N' Sync, but a
blatant lack of respect for your music and those who deeply care about
your music is infuriating. And being one of your younger fans, I can't
always spend the big bucks for the better seats (although I clearly would
have in hindsight).
Aside from my area, this show was the best that I've seen. Everything
about Dylan and his band's performance was magical, and I can only hope
the Neverending Tour continues as well as this phenomenal web page.
James J. Cho
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Go to the Set Lists (by date) page 1999 Tour, 1998 Tour, 1997 Tour, 1996 Tour , 1995 Tour, Pre 1995 Tours
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