August 9, 2009
Review by Noel Trujillo
We drove South to Albuquerque from Chimayo, about 90 miles, for the Dylan
The weather was about perfect and after a Sandia Casino buffet, we went to
the Journal Pavilion which is a more than adequate venue. As the Dylan
freak of the group that included my wife, brother, daughter, and
son-in-law I was the instigator that got us to the concert. We were in
the 5th row to the right of center and had a great view.
Although I had seen Dylan a number of times since the NET started and a
few times before, I would say this was not the best or the worst. I
believe the Sexton/Campbell lineup was more forceful and pushed Dylan much
more than the current lineup. Their version of Summer Days was cathartic
while the current group played loud and predictable.
Willie and Mellancamp were enjoyable but I came for Dylan.
I have followed the set-lists and pretty much knew the emphasis. I had
heard the majority of songs before so Thin Man, Lay Lady, and Summer Days
were adequate but not special. Of the old songs Stuck Inside a Mobile was
a treat as was It's Alright Ma, a song that entered my psyche early in
life and the only Dylan song I can recite. Of the new songs Beyond Here
Lies Nothing, Beyond the Horizon, and When the Deal Goes Down were firsts
for me and balanced nicely with the "hold no prisoners" treatments of
Stuck Inside and Mobile, It's Alright Ma, and a scorching Highway 61. Of
the new songs When the Deal Goes Down and When You Get to Houston were
ones to remember. I had heard Nettie Moore before and this version was
better as Dylan singing was almost perfect.
The encore of LARS, Jolene, and Watchtower were worth the price of
admission. Jolene rocked.
I so wanted to hear Blind Willie McTell, but that was not to be. I had
read in some venues that people actually left before the end. I saw
nothing of the sort in Albuquerque.
Finally, I believe that the lineup is adequate and quality musicians, but
unwilling to push the envelope. They don't push Dylan and seem to play it
safe....and they don't respond when Dylan pushes them. I thought there
were times when solos and improvisation would have made waht was good
I'll wait for Blind Willie.
Chimayo, New Mexico
Review by Pete Madzelan
The venue was the Journal Pavilion located south of Albuquerque’s downtown.
There it sits alone—away from everything. It’s an awesome venue with the
backdrop being mesas in the distance—the openness of horizon takes you in and
makes you part of it…
Sitting in the 5th row was beyond expectations—a luck up that we’ll take any
I was standing in line for a beer when I heard the opening notes of Willie’s
“Whiskey River.” The beer would have to wait. I hustled a fast-steppin’ jaunt
back to my seat and witness Willie up there doing Willie…
We’re sitting there watching Willie strumming riffs when we notice that two rows
up from us, sitting in the 3rd rows is the governor, Bill Richardson!
And Bill-the guv was into it!
He was there dressed in jeans and acting like a regular guy watching a concert.
Hell, he could’ve been up with the other celebrities (like Dennis Hopper) in the
wings (from the 5th roll we had a good view of them), but there he was
hobnobbing with the regular folks. Between acts he stayed being friendly and
greeting whoever came up to him.
Willie plays with intensely that argues with his birth certificate, and he
freely pours every bit of himself to you with an effortless charm that relates
to everybody. I mean, he’s Willie. His songs are simple truths that connect on
many levels. One is memory, and that’s important in a country where the absence
of historic memory is a given and amnesia is a disease.
His songwriting doesn’t get enough credit but his songbook is full—“Angel Flying
Too Close to the Ground,” Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and
on and on…
He sings Crazy and that conjures up Patsy Cline and her heavenly sent voice, and
it shows just how far back Willie’s history goes.
His “On The Road Again” is the ultimate road song of feeling free-or just
craving it so much that you’re bursting at the seams. When hearing it, if you
can’t feel the wind blowing through your hair while cruising over I-whatever
highway # blacktop, well then, you had better check your pulse.
Hearing the song on Sunday sparked the memory of seeing Willie for the first
time at the DuQuoin State Fair in DuQuoin, Illinois in August 1980.
John Mellencamp rocked; did an acoustic short set and then closed by rocking the
joint. He pranced around every corner of the stage and did a whole lot of
smiling. Of course, he sang his small town anthems, songs for the common man
that struck the chord of the everyday struggles from nameless towns to the farms
and the yeoman farmer. And you know that somewhere Daniel Shays is swinging
The day moved quick, like an runaway train. And soon the sky shifted from day
to dusk, and then without noticing, the sky’s pastels of pinkish hues colored
itself to darker shades…of black.
Anticipation for Bob was high… With Bob you’re always looking at where he’s at
artistically during a specific point of time. It’s only natural. So, you look
for the twists and turns in the road—the constant changes. You stare and
study—pondering the new songs. The labor is arduous—and can be like chasing a
ghost. It’s like prospecting in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains for the Lost
Dutchman’s Mine. An impossible task, and yet it’s there and it’s attempted.
And just when you think you have it all figured out, you find out that the
conclusions you’re holding in your hand is nothing but fool’s gold.
It’s then that you stop and just listen to the music, and let others quest for
endless questions; let them examine Dylan to dust; too closely—getting bogged
down…mired—or to quote words from “Nettie Moore,” “The world of research has
gone berserk. Too much paperwork.”
At around 9:15, Bob walked out with his band. The crowd rises. Dylan still
excites. I’m still trying to figure out why his Oscar is on stage… I guess I
should just let it go.
His set alternated between the 1960s and post 2000 work. In doing so, he gave
us a mighty river of emotions, where the tributaries are endless, being both
long and short; happy and sad. Or as Dylan responded to L.A. Times music critic
Robert Hilburn, “The space between despondency and hope can be as large or as
small as we make it, depending on who we are…”
And on this night, he gave us space to work in.
With the crowd up and excited, Bob opened by ripping into “Ballad Of A Thin
Man.” The harp blew rhythmically loud, and the crowd responded. Nobody sat for
at least 5 songs—even the guv was standing.
He followed with “Lay, Lady, Lay,” with Bob center stage doing a bit of dancing
while playing the harp, and being very—very animated.
“Beyond Here Lies Nothin',” from this new album got a massive response with
people shaking, getting twisted and distorted with everybody “…movin' after
midnight. Down boulevards of broken cars.”
I wasn’t surprised by the response. The new album is top-shelf stuff, and to
those who don’t like it, or are stuck somewhere back in time, well, that’s the
way the world goes around.
While up and shaking in harmony with the crowd, I noticed that the crowd was one
of all ages with a lot more younger people than one may think. In fact, a kid
behind us—no more than 13 or 14, was mouthing the words to every song.
Bob has noticed a new and younger audience. “I sort of was betting on my new
audience, and I kind of forgot about the old one.”
But hey, Dylan’s train is still rolling, so everyone can still get on board.
During this tour, Bob has played the guitar, but here in Albuquerque he didn’t.
To me, Bob loses something behind the keyboard, but…it is what it is. And in
the end, it didn’t stop the power of the music.
Bob rocked “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again,” “It's
Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)” and “Highway 61 Revisited.” The songs
unrelentingly rattled the night air, proving that Bob still gets rowdy with his
music, refusing to give in to the years or to the limits of his voice.
I’ve noticed in recent years that he has changed the tempo of some songs to
accommodate his cracking voice that’s at times seems to be caged and unable to
keep up with the staccato cadence of his phrasing.
At times it can sound as if he’s gargling with gravel while at the same time
shooting out a blues rasp that comes from the depths of American Roots Music.
Without question it’s as Bob sings in “I Feel A Change Comin’ On”: “Some say I
have the blood of the land in my voice.”
Bob dipped into his 1930s-1940s crooning melodies of “Beyond The Horizon” and
“When The Deal Goes Down.” Though good, the memory of Bing Crosby need not
The incredible “Nettie Moore” (the title taken from the 1857 “Gentle Nettie
Moore”) didn’t fare so well. It just didn’t get the response it deserved. I
don’t know—who knows, maybe it’s was too slow. To me it was perfect—telling;
the rhythm was sterling.
The new “If You Ever Go to Houston” thumped us back again into the 19th century
and told us we had “Better walk right. Keep your hands in your pockets.” Than
didn’t happen. The song had the joint jumpin’, and nobody kept their hands in
Throughout the night, the set musically switched tempo, expertly the rhythm
ebbed and flowed like ocean waves. The set ended with the toe-tapping “Summer
The encore began with Bob elongating the words of “Like A Rolling Stone,” and
then the 2009 “Jolene,” echoed us back to a Chuck Berry type of tune—and dancing
ensued. “Well you're comin' down High Street, walkin' in the sun. You make the
dead man rise, and holler she's the one…”
Night’s end came with “All Along The Watchtower.”
“…and the wind began to howl.”
The night ended without nature’s howling wind, just the stillness of hushed
quiet—a summer southwest night that produced a carved notch of memories that
aren’t sold over the counter.
Dylan returned with his band to bow and acknowledge the audience. Bob did that,
ending the night as he began it, being very—very animated.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Review by Steve Dossey
Dylan had a challenge following John M.'s set, whose band was very tight and
rocked hard (not sure if he meant it). His voice was quite raggedy as expected
(the worst I have ever heard it over the last 5 years), and only approximated
singing in the last five songs. Overall a pretty decent song set. I could have
done without Ballad of a Thin Man, Lay Lady Lay, Stuck Insided, Beyond the
Horizon (tho an interesting rendering) and Like a Rolling Stone (tho performed
with vigor). HW 61 really was a scorcher, Summer Days was rollicking, Nettie
Moore (a very strange talk along then singing arrangement), Jolene lively and
All Along the Watchtower was powerful as per usual. The positives: Dylan played
a lot of harp during the show. He was pretty animated and seemed to mean it.
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