page by Bill Pagel
Review by Kevin Briggs
This night was an odd one and an off one for Mr. Bob. The oddest part was
the introduction, done by a new announcer and rather lengthy. It mentioned
something about him being the reigning folk icon of our time and battling
his way through addiction after he changed music forever. Security was
tighter than I have ever seen, with surplus constables and dozens of K-9
The first song was brilliant, and the band seemed to really be into it.
The Hamburg crowd was open and receptive all night, which is a good thing
because Mr. Bob and the band did not earn it.
Dylan's dance steps were in time tonight, but he never achieved a vocal
groove. His phrasings rarely caught fire.
"It's Alright Ma'" was the strongest vocal performance, with "Summer Days"
coming in a close second. The band grooved on both and Dylan's phrasings
meshed nicely, for the most part.
"I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" and "Mama You Been On My Mind" were downright
forgettable. "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" started out as "You Ain't Goin'
Nowhere," before Charlie awkwardly held the D chord until the rest of the
band caught on. "Mama You Been On My Mind" sounded as if Dylan was being
forced to sing it.
"Tangled Up In Blue" was not so hot either, as Bob and co. had to stall
the beginning due to Charlie's guitar tech screwing up. Charlie finally
showed up for the song after a run through of an entire verse and refrain.
Mr. Bob just sang highs and lows over the verses, with no cohesion.
Thankfully, as mentioned above, the Hamburg crowd was very receptive. They
were happy to hear most of the songs, although some of the newer ones,
including one as not-so-new as "Under The Red Sky," silenced it.
This concert ranks toward the bottom for me. It slightly edges Pittsburgh
1997. I look forward to Mr. Bob coming around to this area again though.
I'm very much aware of how the world can turn when he decides to put on a
Review by Corey Preston
I got home from Hamburg last night around 2, and sat down to write a
review, but I was just too revved up. So now, the morning after, here I
go, but I'll be damned if I'm still not feeling like jumping through the
ceiling. I've been to three Dylan shows now in the last three years, and
while I know that barely makes me a lightweight, I can say that this was
by far the most energised, most musical, most remarkable concert I've
seen. First of all, the venue, the Hamburg Erie County Fair grounds was a
bit frightening to me at first. It seemed to rinky-dink and worn down for
a truly great show. I was worried about accoustics and line of sight,
etc. However, upon arrival it was pretty clear that EVERY seat in this
small venue had a pretty good view, and any accoustic questions were
answered with the first song... A VOICE FROM ON HIGH- I had never heard
this before and actually leaned over at one point and said all high and
mightily to one of the folks I went with "this is 'I Am the Man, Thomas'"
but despite my confusion it was a really nice opening. Great harmonies
from the band, solid, countryish groove. I'LL BE YOUR BABY TONIGHT- A
complete surprise compounded with a GREAT harp solo in the beginning. Just
a very nice, solid arrangement. IT'S ALRIGHT MA- I'd been keeping an eye
on other setlists and was hoping he'd play this and was damn excited to
hear the opening chords, but if anything, this was a very very slight step
down from the opening two songs and the rest of the show. It was still
dazzling, and Bob spitting out "even the president" and "money doesn't
talk, it swears" gave me chills, but overall a pedestrian arrangement that
just seemed like it could've been a lot more powerful. I'm just being
critical for the sake of it though...onward! FOREVER YOUNG- never one of
my favorites, but nice to hear it live. There were great harmonies here-
when Dylan and his band start wailing it's really something else- and some
really excellent phrasing throughout..."may you climb ohn evreh rungggg"
stands out...at this point I was ready for an above average show, not
expecting the band to get any tighter or Dylan to get any better. The
rest of the show seemed determined to prove me wrong though, as each
number was better than the last. TWEEDLE DEE AND TWEEDLE DUM- I was
excited to hear the opening to this, dissapointed to hear an arrangement
very much like the one on "L&T." By the end of it all though, I was
laughing at some great lyrical twists and really digging the driving beat.
All in all an exciting, crowd-pleasing performance. UNDER THE RED SKY- A
BIG surprise. I never expected to hear this, and never really had all that
much desire to, but when I waded through the first few chord progressions
and figured out what it was, I was surprisingly VERY excited. It didn't
disappoint. A very straightforward version of this, but a good, bluesy
feel, and lots of great guitar work from all the bandmen- including Bob.
SUBTERRANIAN HOMESICK BLUES- This is when things really started rocking.
The crowd loved this and rightfully so- the band was wailing and Dylan's
voice was becoming clearer and more breathtaking. HIGH WATER- THE song I
was hoping to hear. I had heard great things about it live and it exceded
all of them. The arrangement didn't stray much from the "L&T" version,
except that the band practically dissapeared through each verse, leaving
only Dylan's chilling lyrics, some quiet guitars and a very subtle,
driving beat. Then, at the "It's rough out there," came a crashing
crescendo. Just the epitome of cool and downright spine tingling. MAMA
YOU'VE BEEN ON MY MIND- I always used to like the version of this Bob did
with Joan Baez, but I've never really been to fond of this song. However,
at this point Bob and the band were on and they turned this into a pretty
damn good upbeat country groove number. MASTERS OF WAR- THE ABSOLUTE
PINNACLE OF ANY DYLAN CONCERT I'VE EVER BEEN TO. This song simply blew me
out of the water. The arrangement was frightening, the band was right on,
and Dylan was in a world by himself, howling out the lyrics, at the end
reemphasising the "guns and death planes." His voice cracked and groaned
and squeaked and sizzled. He sounded 60, but 20. I had goosebumps
throughout this and I have a feeling I wasn't alone as the crowd really
responded to the classic anthem.
The crowd, by the way, was really terrific, a great mix of older folks and
young. My other two shows, I felt either very at home with a LOT of
younger kids or very out of place with some older folks, but this show
just felt like everyone ought to've been there. But anyways... TANGLED UP
IN BLUE- It felt a little lightweight following up "Masters" but any
dissapointment I was going through in the beginning was gone by the second
verse. Dylan seemed to have more fun here than I've ever seen him have.
He was smiling and laughing and flubbing lines and making up new ones.
And all the while he was making great music. I've heard this three times
live and this was the best by far. SUMMER DAYS- I'd heard this was great
live and it was. Very much like the "L&T" version. Just a great rocking
song that kept the crowd up after "Tangled." MOONLIGHT- After the intense
"MoW" and the rocking, fun, "Tangled" and "Summer Days", this was as big a
fall in intensity as I'd ever experienced at a concert. Dylan was really
putting on a SHOW here, with peaks and valleys. I realised here that he
was out to really get to the audience this time around. "Moonlight," was
beautiful. Ethereal. His voice was perfectly crooning. At the end of
each verse he reached up for notes that a 60 year old who's done god knows
what to his body should never be able to hit. But he did. If I knew how
to waltz, nothing would have stopped me from grabbing one of the grooving
ladies around me and asking for a dance. This was just a phenominal
performance. DRIFTER'S ESCAPE- Something I didn't expect. A bit of a
comedown after the previous four or five songs, but a good, driving
arrangement with some great guitar work. RAINY DAY WOMEN- Very fun to hear
live, the band just had a blast with this. Bob introduced them all
midsong, giving each to showcase his wares with a bit of solo time. The
audience was surprisingly into it- given that Dylan only sang 2 or 3
verses and they only got to raise their cups of beer and sing "everybody
must get stoned" a few times- a sign of just how in Bob Dylan's hands we
were. After "Rainy Day Women" Bob and the band formed their familiar
formation and ran offstage for a few minutes before coming back on for a
solid encore. HONEST WITH ME- Bob must really love this song, because he
got more into it than anything else. He was dancing and posing and
laughing throughout the show, but here he was really rocking. The band
sounded great too, and the crowd, even though I'm sure this wasn't all to
familiar, really seemed to eat this song up. BLOWIN IN THE WIND- Best
performance of this I've heard. The phrasing on the lyrics was really
phenominal- the line about cannonballs sent a murmor through the crowd
that turned into a really great singalong- not the type where you hate the
drunks trying to sing along with this giant, but the type where everyone's
just singing together, having a good old time. The harmonies on the
refrain I've heard a bunch of times, and I wonder if maybe it's time Bob
think about reworking this, but overall, this was just a great
rendition...extremely powerful. ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER- A very strong,
rocking closer. Bob danced and flitted about and the band had a great time
showing off for the crowd. When it was all over, they posed again, this
time with Bob actually clowning around with a one-kneed, superhero pose
and Larry and Charlie cracking up.
To sum it all up, the MINUTE I'm done writing this, I have to get on the
phone and try to get someone to take my shift at the driving range
tonight-I'm all hot and bothered and ready to make the drive out to
Toronto. This was a truly great show. Bob seems in incredible shape and
I can't wait to hear about the rest of this tour.
Review by Angelina B.
It was a rather strange nite at Hamburg, New York on 8/15/02 and may as
well been in Podunk. (sorry if you live in Podunk). Let's have the good
news first. Bob Dylan looked "mucho fabuloso" and is still "el maestro"
and rocks better than most musicians half his age! We were lucky to have
him in Buffalo but I'm sure that will change. Tell you why later.
El rey began with "A Voice From On High" and as a reformed atheist, I
appreciate Bob's faith all the more! Do you know how hard it was to listen
to Dylan but only the songs where God wasn't mentioned? If you go back to
early Dylan, he's always been steadfast in his faith. Nothing has
changed, just me. Bob's voice was in fine form last nite tho' one has to
wonder how they keep up with such a schedule not to mention the hellish
heat wave delivered this week. It was a great surprise to hear the Bill
Monroe song delivered with intensity and love.
When hearing months earlier that he would be here in the Buffalo area at
an outdoor venue, I checked out the August lunar cycle. It would be a
week before full moon and my wish came true last nite that he sang
"Moonlight" under the not- yet- full moon. It's a romantic song that he
sang differently from the album but what else is new? Any female would
delight in knowing it was for her. The crowd was so quiet during that
song you could have heard a pin drop. I didn't want a rendition of my
favorite song on Love and Theft but he sang it so beautifully that he made
me cry. It's a good thing he didn't do "Standing in the Doorway" too or
I would've been bawling. It hit me right in the corazon! Maybe I'm in
the minority but that made my night. Sorry guys but only a female could
appreciate it. Who wouldn't meet Bob out in the moonlight alone? Gracias
I always wonder why Bob isn't mentioned when there is discussion of great
guitarists. Especially since he doesn't ride the coattails of other
artists (listening Eric?) Bob was especially excellent playing the guitar
that people around me were amazed at his rockabilly and bluesability that
emanated from the stage to the people. He's probably surprising many but
not me. Especially on "Summer Days", "Rainy Day Women 12 & 35", "Blowin'
in the Wind" and "All Along the Watchtower". The harmonies were
especially beautiful on Blowin'. Bob, if you ever want to name your band,
just call them the Harmonies. Great musicians always make it look easy.
Okay, now for what ruined Bob Dylans's concert. Attention all bands! DO
NOT PLAY THE HAMBURG FAIR IN HAMBURG NEW YORK EVEN IF YOUR CHILD'S COLLEGE
DEPENDS ON IT! Ohmygod. I should have known when Tim McGraw was busted
by the Erie County sheriffs a coupla yrs. back that this was the venue to
stay away from. First I have to admit to being raised in the Buffalo
area before I deliver the tongue lashing at the pighos working last nite.
It was my first time to attend a concert there. I'm ashamed and
embarassed that they were pighos, both the females and the males. WHY
can't the audience move in closer to see the artist the great Bob Dylan
without being literally pushed back? Most venues will relent toward the
end of the show but N-OOOOOOOOOOOO, not here in Hamburg. During the
WHOLE SHOW, not just at moments, the fascist pighos:
1) made a line and stood in front of Bob and company
so that the paying people could not move closer to get a better look at
their favorite artist!
2)came at people who lit up regular cigarettes, not joints and forced them
to put it out, Duh, is this open air or what? I don't even smoke and it
bugged the hell outa me. I quit smoking but was ready to start again.
they were just being a-holes.
3)pighos grabbed cameras from people and told them to pick them up after
the show. ok, we're not supposed to do that. anyone who knows anything
about photography knows that to get a good picture one needs a
professional camera. why confiscate these single use cameras that won't
come out anyway? I have pix from the Rolling Stones in the 70s that
show little nondescript heads. still, no one believes me that it's the
4)someone was passed out and the pighos totally ignored her til the end of
the nite. when they did come, they didn't care to button her blouse or
anything! and were laughing at her. and they were supposed to be the
pigho paramedics! two were females and they didn't care either. pity
them if they ever get drunk and passed out anywhere.
5)everytime you passed a pigho, they wanted to see your ticket.
6)pighos were overall discourteous, aggressive and were looking for a
fight. the crowd should've pushed thru the "iron curtain."
The Buffalo police are way more humane, so don't stay away totally, Bob.
The band and Bob Dylan were pretty mum, did their business and left the
stage. The encore was short. can't blame them for it. Pighos ruined the
nite. Tickets were $30+. What they didn't say was the extra $7 at the
gate that paid for the pighos' service. It was a ripoff. not the concert
but the experience with the pighos.
That, my friends, is the way to kill a good time for all Dylanphiles.
Dylanphiles who had to wait for two years, five months, three weeks and a
few days to see him back around Buffalo. BUT WHO'S COUNTING?
I've already driven to a location near Toronto so I figure tonite will
make up for last nite.
Sounding off was good and saves $ at the shrinks.
Comments by Michael Peter
My wife and I saw Bob in Hamburg, NY, at the Erie County Fair. As usual,
we were more than pleased to see Bob, and he and his band did not
disappoint. I'll leave a song-by-song review for others, as I want to
review the concert environs. Bob played a large grandstand that is a part
of a racetrack; whether it is for horses, or autos, I do not know. But I
can tell you it was deplorable, and it should not have been allowed to
happen. The show should have taken place at an area college, the HSBC
Arena in Buffalo, or (I can't believe I am saying this) at the Darien
Lakes Amphitheater at the Six Flags Amusement Park.
They don't know how to run a show at the fairgrounds, and the facility was
not made for this type of event. They didn't have enough ticket-takers,
for starters. Many people missed the first few songs because they could
not get in in time, despite having been in line a good 20 minutes before
show time. Once in, if you held a "track" seat, the equivalent to a floor
seat at an arena, you had to go through yet another major bottleneck. I
could be wrong, but best I could tell, there was only one access point to
the track, with only two people checking tickets and stamping your hands.
There seemed to be more ushers, but they were overwhelmed as people had
trouble finding the unmarked seats.
Four songs into the concert, all around us, the ushers struggled to seat
people, which made for an annoying and distracting atmosphere while the
majority were trying to enjoy the music for which many (like us) came so
far to hear. And the seats, talk about small. They were wooden folding
chairs positioned right on top of one another, not an inch of spacing side
to side. Front to back was not much better, as my eight-months pregnant
wife can attest. They might have been suitable for toddlers, not for your
average American adult (especially those scarffing down the myriad of
fried foods available on the midway at the fair).
So, it wasn't until about 2/3's of the way through the show, that I felt
things loosen up just a bit that I might go to the bathroom and get a
beer. But to get to the beer, and back to my seat, I had to traverse
hundreds of people who positioned themselves on a rise that gave them a
view of the concert, presumably a better one than their seats allow. That
should have been a thoroughfare that provided quick and easy access and
egress for people using the bathrooms and getting concessions.
Finally, the lay of the land was very unpredictable. My wife (again, eight
months pregnant) nearly took a tumble after tripping on a concrete
outcropping that was not marked off or flagged as a hazard in any way. It
was dark, for crying out loud, and I saw several other potential hazards
Before anyone calls me a complainer, please understand, I have been to
close to 400 concerts over the last 22 years, and I expect that concerts
are not prim and proper events. In fact, many of us would see our favorite
performers in the open at high in the desert, if that's the only choice we
had. But we should have a choice in these matters, or at least more of a
voice. Over the years I've observed that some concerts are produced well,
and other are not. And when they are not, I think that the message ought
to get out. Likewise, when things are done right, it ought to be told,
too, and I'll give you a couple of quick examples of that. The night
before this Bob gig, we saw Bruce Springsteen at the Gund Arena in
Cleveland. It was hard for my wife to stay seated and the people behind
her complained that she was standing. She approached guest services to see
what they could do for her, and they acommodated her in a handicapped
section. They even came back to offer her a wheelchair out of the building
(which was unnecessary, but thank you!), "...because that's the way we do
things at the Gund" our usher George said. A few weeks earlier at Blossom
Music Center for the Allman Bros and Phil Lesh, the parking people made
special arrangements to get us in some shade as it was an especially hot
and humid day.
Again, your average rock concert is not meant to be a night at the opera.
But on the other hand, we often pay opera-like prices. We deserve respect
as paying customers, but often we do not get it; no one is accountable, or
at least not anyone that we can find and approach to call them on things
when things are wrong. Such was the case, I thought, last night in
Along those lines, I think that people who attend concerts need to have an
advocacy group that tracks these things. What should we be able to expect
as concert goers? What facilities are best for concerts? Which are not?
Where are facilities staffs friendly and helpful? Where are they not? I've
contemplated trying to collect this data and publish it on a website, and
I'd like your opinion if you think that this stuff matters, and I thank
Bill Pagel for publishing Bob Links, and for giving me a platform. Contact
me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Review by Trevor Hinson
It was a 6 hour drive to Hamburg from my hometown
of Allentown, PA; a long and boring drive on two
major freeways. We got to Hamburg in the afternoon
when ominous clouds greeted us with rain and thunder.
Thankfully we came prepared with rain gear in case
it was raining during the show, but thank God it didn't.
The Erie County Fair was your typical fair, lots of
food, lots of lights, and what fair is complete without
rides that spin you around. I was considering going
in the haunted house and possibly going on a ride or
two, but decided to enjoy some Chinese cuisine and
get in line early.
So the doors open up and boom, there's the stage, basically
people who didn't pay for a ticket could have watched or
at least listened to the show outside of the grandstand.
Our seats seemed really promising, on the track in front
of the stage, and we were bitterly disappointed when we
found our seats. Yeah, they were really close, but they
were to the far right (Bob's left) and the stage monitors
were blocking most of our view. I couldn't see Larry or
Tony at all during the show, Bob was visible about half
of the time, when he was away from the mic and jamming
we couldn't see him. Security was TIGHT. Nobody was
allowed to smoke on the track, and two or three songs into
it a myriad of cops were standing in front of the stage.
I don't know why, my best guess is they just wanted to
hear Bob. Oh yeah, there were ganja-smelling dogs there
too. I guess the whole state of NY is still in a post-911
no tolerance mode, and that's understandable, but for
crying out loud, it's a DYLAN concert, no one is there
to harm anybody.
Anyways, since our view was obscured the entire show, we
were dancing, from the first song to the last song of the
encores. It was a dance fest! And the coolest part about
it was other people found our spot and danced with us. I
met a guy and his sister, both were going to University
of Buffalo and both were from Bob's home state of
Minnesota. The girl was absolutely gorgeous, and it
made the show considering she was happily dancing right
beside me. I liked her smile and her fingertips, everything
about her was bringing me misery.
This was show # lucky 13 for me, and it was honestly one of the
best. George's drumming is much more punchy than Kemper's,
and the whole band reacts to it. They brought their jams
to levels that I had never experienced before. Even "Tangled"
was great! But I'm getting ahead of myself. Bob took the stage
wearing the typical black suit and white hat, and I immediately
noticed a difference...the intro! I think there already has
been some discussion about this, but the announcer basically
said that Bob made folk-rock, found Jesus, and in the late 80's
was dismissed as a hasbeen. And then Bob opened with a Stanely
brother's song, "A Voice from On High." Was this a live
debut?! It reassured us that Bob and Jesus are still like peas
and carrots, that his faith in Him hasn't subsided, and that's
kinda cool, hey, we'll get to see Bob in Heaven! Saint Bob!
I see that there have already been a few fan reviews of this
show, all with the same consensus - Good show, shitty security.
And since I really didn't get to watch the show, rather dance
and listen intently, I'll just touch on some of the highlights:
Forever Young- wow, I never heard it this early in the show, I remember
when he was using it as an encore in 97 and 98, and it was appropriate
then. But here in the early portion of the acoustic set, it was clear
to me that Bob was pulling out all the stops and with this so early
I knew we were in for a treat.
Red Sky- I didn't recognize this one at first, it wasn't until the
line that I got it. Either Larry or Charlie used a different opening
riff that must have had even a few hardcore Bobcats scratching their
Subterranean- YES! YES! YES! It was just awesome, all the hippies were
dancing their asses off, and the tempo changes were camparable to
"Cry a While." Damn, this band is tight. How many other 61 year old
performers keep getting better and better?
Tangled- I know, this really should never be considered a highlight for
someone who's heard it 13 damn times in concert, but everytime Bob
seems to find a new kind of energy from it. This one was special
because of the jamming at the end. The song really did come to a
"peak" where the energy was just bursting out of the stage and the
dancing got more intense.
Moonlight- most people sat down and quietly enjoyed this one but I was
still dancing and the beautiful girl next to me was too. The half
moon in the sky, Bob, and the beautiful brunette whose face burned
holes into my eyes- what more could I ask for??
Drifter- The guy in front of me kept saying through out the entire
show that he wanted to hear this song. So Bob performs it, and delivers
a wonderful harp solo, and when the song was completed the guy turns
around, looks at me, and says, "Bob's a wizard. He's a wizard, man."
Rainy Day- Yet again a common live song but done extremely well,
complete with extra verses. Bob introduced the band and each
member got to do a solo- and once again, George gave us some
sweet tempo changes that just added mountains of energy to the
The encores were standard fare, but Blowin' was done especially well.
The harmonies were sang so well that it gave me chills. Larry and
Charlie were practically screaming into the mics. Just beautiful.
As we were walking out of the show, all the lights from the rides
and everything kind of made it a more magical kind of evening.
It reminded me of a circus, and I was thinking to myself, "what
a strange place to see a Dylan show."
Well, I guess that's it, I'm seeing Brian Wilson in Philadelphia
on Sunday night, then Bob again on Monday night in Long Island.
Yey! If you missed the Hamburg show, I hope this review created
a nice little mental picture of what it was like, and if you were
fortunate enough to be there - I hope your experience was as fun
and pleasant as mine.
Keep on keeping on
Review by John Gusky
Having grown up, like a many a child born in the 20th century,
idolizing Bob Dylan, the opportunity to see the man and his band in
concert is simply the stuff dreams are made of. I had some binoculars, and
giddily awaited peering through them studying the man's facial expressions
for myself.. Trying to catch a glimpse into his mystique.
Basically, I was awaiting a sort of religious experience. What I found
looking through the same said binoculars when Dylan, donning his recent
trademark cowboy hat and country gentleman finery, took to the stage was
something even more remarkable. I wasn't blown away, overcome with great
emotion. It's seems so obvious now.. but I realized that all in all, Bob
Dylan is just a regular guy! A regular guy with a staggering song
catalogue exceeded only by the crack band he's been touring with...
They opened up, keeping in form, with a traditional folk number. Larry
played mandolin and this was my first exposure to he and Charlie's
exquisite harmonizing abilities. What a great offset to Dylan's voice.
"I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" was a pleasant surprise. Not a song he
never plays, but if you do happen to catch it you feel blessed. Midway
through, I watch him turn around and pick something up. I notice his
guitar dangling across his torso, supported only by it's leather strap.
Then I see a shiny metal thing palmed in his hands. I let out a roar of
approval which came about 20 seconds earlier than the rest of the crowd's!
He played a very Nashville harmonica solo, in step with the song. The
acoustics in the Grandstand were enough to make me cry. The band sounded a
little too muddy up there, especially Dylan's vocals. And it's was the
type of muddy that you know you only needed to be about 20 feet closer...
"It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleedin')" was one of the showstoppers for
me. The new arrangement gives Dylan's voice more room to breathe. The way
he accents different lines is wonderfully evocative, he brings new
experiences to the song without losing it's core essence. True artistic
evolution, folks! With almost childlike glee he paused, "even the
President of the United States must sometimes have to stand..... naked!"
"Forever Young" featured some of those jaw-dropping harmonies between
Charlie, Bob and Larry. Wonderfully articulated vocals by Bob. Although
this song was sadly never properly recorded, it remains an enduring
presence in Dylan's legacy and has taken it's place in live performance.
Next up was the first of 4 "Love And Theft" tunes. "Tweedle Dee &
Tweedle Dum" was a rapture to watch the band perform. All the licks were
there and Dylan continues to explore different ways of singing his own
compositions, for example, going up rather than down in the change from E
to B "Lying low and they're making hAAAY." I did just a great job of
explaining that ;o)
"Under The Red Sky." This is the only original in the set that was new
to me, and I couldn't help but wonder about all the criticism directed at
the album. "Under The Red Sky" seemed like a beautiful composition,
circular but forward lyrics and a twilight sort of charm. Call me a sucker
for bad taste.
I had no idea that Bob still played "Subterranean Homesick Blues." One
of my favorite songs. He came pretty close to flubbing lines, but it
seemed to be owe more to the different structure of the song than a
falling up of his memory. I think he just went a little too far behind the
beat or something. Either way, leave it to Dylan to turn a bad hand into a
It was a little hard for me to tell..it was during this song that an
argument ensued between my Father and an Usher over possession of his
fucking camera. He would not give up. I'm sitting here trying to enjoy one
of the only concerts I've looked forward to for so long and he gets into
it with an 18 year old girl. I had to tell him, "She's not going to go
away!" I mean, it's just not her call. Anyhow, he disappeared for a while,
making me quite uncomfortable.
"High Water" was one hell of a treat. The dynamic ability of the band
and the presence of his new drummer George Fill-In-The-Blank were in full
bloom. Turning the verses, things got ear-splitting quiet instrumentally
leaving Dylan's vocal to carry the weight. The choruses brought wind of a
fiery crescendo. When Bob sang, "High water everywhere" I wished I'd
brought my rain jacket.
"Mama, You Been On My Mind" was a Bootleg Series style treat. The band
turned it into a fine ensemble performance, a small miracle when you're
dealing with the fragile quality of Dylan's solo-acoustic work. This only
further proves my theory that Bob Dylan's Band could blow any other off
"Masters Of War" is another favorite among favorites for me. The solo
acoustic feel was still the skeleton of the modest band arrangement. The
timelessness of this masterpiece was clear. Dylan sings this song today,
in a much different voice, as though he still could have written it
The stage lights went black, as they did after the band completed each
song. Except this time, the spotlights on the band were blue! "Tangled Up
In Blue" was one of the songs that had everybody from the assholes behind
me cracking jokes about "Old Man Dylan" to the diehards in the back
dancing in the aisles. The band was in top form and Dylan was clearly
enjoying himself... letting out a big smile as he flubbed the a line in
the second verse, by over-estimating how much time he had to fit in all
those syllable: They drove that car as far as they could ... Split up on a
dark, sad night. Both agreeing it was...good" Quite a cover. Finally,
during this song my Dad reappeared. Somehow after arguing for the duration
between "Red Sky" and "TUIB" he managed to convince security to let him
keep the camera. Lucky me!
There were a couple show stoppers already, but "Summer Days" was the
clincher. The band was right on the money. Dylan showed impressive
vocabulary in the rockabilly guitar language and I had the time of my life
shouting the lyrics to this one alongside my hero. Awesome song delivered
"Moonlight" was another fine interpretation. If I only I could have
been down in the floor section, dancing away with the rest of them.
"Drifter's Escape," while totally different from the JWH version was a
searing rendition. The lyrics hit much harder in the unfamiliar muscial
context and it Dylan did a greater job, imo, of voicing the complaints of
the different characters in the song.
"Rainy Day Women" brought the house down. For what must have been 15
minutes the band jammed, the audience was on it's feet. Dylan, of course,
took the opportunity to give each band member his own little spotlight. A
great way to end the show, the audience was howling like dogs running free
They came back out and delivered a rocking, rocking "Honest With Me."
The song moved with a great drive and Dylan clearly enjoyed this one.
Though most of the audience seemed new to the song, they shared his
"Blowin' In The Wind" was the second blow in the knockout encore set.
The verses were sparse and the choruses filled with a wash of that
beautiful harmony between Sexton, Dylan and Campbell. During a space
between lines in the verse I shouted, "Shakespeare!" from sheer enjoyment
of the moment and appreciation of a truly great poet still in his prime.
Unfortunately I was hoarse and I'm relatively quiet anyway so nobody
outside a 10 foot cirumference heard me.
"All Along The Watchtower" left the audience in a storm of approval
for a good ten minutes. With the stage situated directly on a race track,
the band's bus wasn't hard to see hauling away while most of the crowd
unknowlingly applauded for one last encore for the road. They say a great
performer always leaves the audience wanting more. And as I watched that
tour bus pull away, with it's police escorts bathing it in a siren glaze I
felt a longing tug on my heart strings. "I wish I could go with him."
Review by Carsten Molt
Anticipation was running high as Jillsy and i made our way into the
racetrack area of the Erie county fair grandstand. After first sitting in
the wrong seats(there were some ushers but they didn't seem any more aware
than the oncert goers) we found the correct seats about 12 rows back in
front of Larry. The one drawback to the seats was that they were pushed
tight together. It was hard to applaud without elbowing the person next to
you. the only other drawback was the midleaged couple with the teenage
daughter who had to play musical chairs throughout the show with one
another. i read a few other reviews that remarked about the tight
security. Jillsy and i didn't see any security at all and could have snuck
in a film crew with no trouble. Oddly, the PA announcer said that no
cigarette smoking was allowed. dumb rule that many people ignored, anyway.
Enough about that..On to the good stuff.
After a new lengthy introduction mentioning "substance abuse, Jesus" and
Dylan being "washed up at the end of the eighties", Dylan and Co. came
out. It was odd seing Dylan in the sunlight. He was wearing a black suit
with white boots and the white cowboy hat. Without a word, they broke
"A Voice From On High" (acoustic)- i believe this was the live debut for
this bill Monroe bluegrass tune but it sounded great and a fun way to kick
off the show.
"I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" (acoustic) - This was a big surprise and a
killer version. I enjoyed the mandolin work by Larry a great deal and
Dylan put a lot of effort into the vocals. The song ended with a nice
harmonica solo which brought loud cheers from the crowd.
"It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" (acoustic)- Always nice to hear but
this wasn't the best version i've heard. it was very well done, though and
the crowd loved it.
"Forever Young" (acoustic)- An odd place for this ong to appear as it is
usually used as an encore piece but it was nicely done with Charlie and
Larry ading beautiful harmonies on the chorus. At this point, Charlie
seemed to be having trouble with his equipment. This continued
through the rest of the show. It was not audible from where i was sitting
but Charlie seemed to scowl at his guitar tech. at the start of every song
and a couplke times Charlie wasn't even on stage when the next song began.
Luckily, Larry was great and stepped up to fill the holes where Charlie
"Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum"- This arrangement sounded a bit more like the
album than other versions i've heard but it built up ome steam towards the
end and Dylan pulled off some great phrasing gymnastics.
"Under The Red Sky"- This was great. i didn't recognize the tune at first
but it turned out to be a highlight as Larry played shimmering pedal steel
guitar and a beautiful sunset provided a great backdrop for the tune.
"Subterranean Homesick Blues" Wow! I was hoping for this tune and had high
hopes for it and it did not disappoint at all. Dylan flubbed a line or two
but he was really into the song and Tony started his dancing around. Larry
had a huge smile on his face as his slide guitar playing was superb.
"High Water" i missed the banjo but after my initial disappointment, this
turned out to be good, LOUD and a lot of fun.
"Mama, You Been On My Mind" (acoustic)- One of my favorite songs and it
was amazing. Dylan was using every octave of his voice during the song and
capped it off with a tender, emotional harmonica solo.
"Masters Of War (acoustic) - As always, it was very well done. Again,
Charlie was grimacing as his equipment wasn't working to his satisfaction.
He seemed to lose focus in the show about this point and never seemed to
become as inspired as i've seen him be in the past.
"Tangled Up In Blue" (acoustic) - i know some people tend to tire of this
song but neither Jillsy nor i are among them. It was a very good version
vocally and the band(especially Receli and Larry kept the tempo bright and
punchy. As the post vocals jam winded down, Receli added a funky drum roll
which started the jam up again and took it into a totally new direction.
After the tune, the whole band had big smiles on their faces, including
"Summer Days"- A good time rocker as always even though the instruments
tended to drown out Dylans voice at times. At this point, i noticed that
the crowd while appreciative of the songs, seemd too laid back and when
the occasional person did stand, the crowd behind them yelled at him or
her to sit down until they did. This dampened things a bit.
"Moonlight"- i am not fond of this song but it was nicely played. It
reminds Jillsy of "If Dogs Run Free". Kind of jazzy in jillsys opinion.
Kind of boring in my opinion.
"Drifter's Escape"- i love this song and i was great. Dylan leaning into
the vocals and adding a powerful harmonica solo at the end. Another
"Rainy Day Women #12 & 35"- Pretty much the same version as always. Nicely
played, nothing special. Durin band intros, each member had a few seconds
to solo. During Charlies solo, which went nowhere, Dylan
butted in with his "search and destroy" soloing and stole the solo which
was alright as Charlie seemed indefferent to the show by this point.
"Honest With Me"- i like this song a lot. It really rocked but the crowd
didn't seem to get into it as many seemed to be fishing for their car
keys. larrys slide work was LOTS of fun as he threw himself into the song
but with his usual cool demeanor.
"Blowin' In The Wind"- (acoustic) After a sweet harp introduction, we got
this song again. i still don't like it but the crowd loved it so
good for them.
"All Along The Watchtower"- After the psychedelic opening, the song roared
off of the stage and ended the concert with a bang! Almost 2 hours of
A couple of notes:
The crowd was more of a "Greatest Hits" crowd than usual, or so it seemd
The no smoking rule is according to the PA announcer 'a NewYork state
law". Stupid, stupid, stupid.
It was a very good show although Charlie was having an off
night. Larry bravely took his place trading solos with Dylan and
enjoying himself quite a bit. onto Toronto. If anyone has a copy of this
show, i'd love to acquire it. In Bob we trust.
Review by David DeVries
I wanted to add some comments on the string here about the show at the
Erie County Fair.
First: my bona fides. I was a 'middle-comer' (not a late-comer and not an
original) to Dylan. I first saw him at the late show of the Concert for
Bangladesh. I admit that, callow 17-year old that I was, I went to the
concert because of George Harrison, hoping that his benevolence might draw
his former bandmates out of their acrimony for one night. So, I got half
the Beatles. But something else happened that night, something I had not
expected. When George announced, "I'd like to bring out a friend of us
all, Mr. Bob Dylan," it felt like Madison Square Garden, if not the whole
island of Manhattan, was lifting off the earth. And Dylan kept us up
there for his whole mesmerizing performance (with a little help, of
course, from his friends). Then, two or three years later, Dylan and the
Band in the Garden. This time the moment came when Dylan, alone with his
guitar--one man holding thousands rapt in the spell of his voice--came to
the verse in "It's Alright Ma...", the verse that always brings the
audience up, "even the president of the united states sometimes must have
to stand naked." But that night in New York was the summer of the
Watergate debacle and the roar of the audience, I felt sure, must have
been heard in Washington.
After that, I saw him periodically through the 80s. But since 1997 I have
made a point of doing whatever I can to see him on his yearly swing
through the Northeast. Now, to Erie County. The Fair is, as others have
indicated, a real rural bib-overall and tractor pull kind of affair. And
I'll admit that the facility--the racetrack and grandstand--were less than
ideal for a concert. In fact, this is probably the strangest venue in
which I've seen a major performer. But it somehow made sense for the
figure that Dylan has become in the American mythos. The smell of horse
and cow manure, the sight of tractors and hay balers in the distance, the
sun sinking behind the stage in the clouds of the west, all that seemed a
perfect backdrop for the man who has given us "Love and Theft" (to say
nothing of World Gone Wrong and the rest of his miraculous catalogue). I
was sitting up in the roof-covered grandstand and did not have to confront
the problems others have described down among the groundlings. But the
sound of Aaron Copeland wafting out over the grounds, the prelude to the
entrance of Dylan, seemed emblematic of Dylan's place: like Copeland, a
Jewish outsider connecting through arduous exploration with the sinews and
veins and bones of America and here was the proof, Copeland's and Dylan's
work booming out over a fair that bills itself, "America's County Fair."
The sound was splotchy; but his voice, at least for most of the show, was
strong, clear, articulate and impassioned. Among the high points for me
was "Masters of War," and the poignant juxtaposition of Dylan's feverish
delivery of the song while off to the right of the stage stood a cannon
and flag display, a veterans' memorial honoring "the young people's blood
[that] flows out of their bodies into the mud," that juxtaposition
captured, for me at any rate, the power of Dylan's essential
Americanness--roots deep in the soil of the conflicted, blood-soaked
history of the "old weird America," both celebrating--through the music,
the songs, the performances--the power of that history as well as
confronting--through the music, the songs, the performances--the wreckage
wrought through that history. And we are all implicated in all of it is
what I take Dylan's ultimate meaning to be, a meaning perfectly evoked by
the three song encore. It was a great show.
Just my two cents.
Thanks for this site.
David N. DeVries
Review by Ed Pfeiffer
Well you thought he was just a short, skinny Jewish guy from Minnesota?
Well you're wrong...it's Cowboy Bob along with possibly the best
band he has ever assembled. What can you say about Bob that
describes him better than a "changeling"? He's always changing things up
in his ever evolving body of work. This iteration sees the continuance
of the "Cowboy Bob" genre. Sitting up close, got to see the whole getup.
He was the man in black. Black cowboy shirt with black inlay, black
pants with the thin white stripe down the side, black boots with white
flame tips all topped off in a big straw cowboy hat. This goes along
directly with the current lineup he has playing with him, standup bass,
mandolin and pedal steel guitar. I may have said before that this
countrified version of Bob really works both acoustically and
electrically. The old ones seem to take on new life.
It seems this year, there's a new opening theme, a reprise from his
"born again" phase. A lot of the shows have opened with "I am the man
Thomas." This night stayed the course thematically with a cover of Bill
Monroe's "A Voice from on High." What followed was a commentary on the
current state of affairs in our nation and the world. These songs have
new meaning to us now, and somehow it all seemed to fit as a commentary
on our push toward Saddam. "It's All Right Ma (I'm only Bleeding)"
pushed the Vietnam 60's right up there with the new millennium struggles
of the middle east. The theme continued with "Forever Young" and
"Masters of War" mixed in with the songs from his new album. It all
seemed to fit. He was in great voice (for Bob) with the words clearly
discernable as he growled away, snarling and twisting his toe at the
times of lyrical poignancy like he was grinding out a cigarette butt.
During the instrumental solos, he would ride the guitar body up and
point the neck down. This seemed to give Larry (mandolin, pedal steel)
an idea of where he was going with the next part. He was all smiles
watching Bob and adjusting along. Man these guys were together. No
horsing around either, it's one song after another with no breaks. You
rarely see him look out past the edge of the stage. It used to be said
it was because of his own shyness or how the words were his and he
wanted to keep them there. This was no different as he kept his eyes
downward, and at the end, there is no bow, just dipping the neck of his
guitar to acknowledge the applause. I would have to say this was an
excellent show with Bob in fine form. I certainly wasn't disappointed as
the band and the vocals were fantastic. No garbled up nonsense words
like we saw in the late 80's/early 90's. He's come a long way from
there, and so have the rest of us. A great night as we straddled out
later to the Fair, in my cowboy hat with my loved one for some of the
fried nodules offered up at the concessions.
Review by Cory Hawley
Here's a short review, mainly to reply to previous reviews for Hamburg:
It was definitly an odd show, with the strange intro for Bob (talking of his
folk era, religous stint, substance addiction, etc.) Also as mentioned in above
reviews, the security at the show was deplorable. Very unprofessional. There
were K-9 units, but I didn't seen any action. I had a seat stage left on the
end of the aisle. Security chased down people if they saw as much as a lighter
come out. Erie County law prohibits the use of tobacco (smoking not chewing) in
public areas. Whether it be resturants or concerts, indoors or out. I do like
the rule when it comes to resturants, and maybe even in enclosed areas, but
outdoors shows. Maybe just allow the use of marijuana so it feels/smells like a
concert. Anyways, it was a mad house trying to get out. Tons of people trying
to get thru a small opening. So a couple kids started jumping the cement wall,
and then one of the overweight, powertripping fat-ass security told them "get
your little punk asses off the wall and wait to leave." So the young kid,
like any other said "I can't wait to make $8.00/hour to work security at fairs.
I had to laugh. then instead of just shutting up, the pig says, "Well at least
I didn't pay $30.00 to watch the show, I got paid to sit and watch." Laughing
with his other pathetic Rent-a-Cops. I then had a few choice words of my own,
and he didn't seem to reply. Anyways, again, great show, awesome opener. It was
great to hear I'll Be Your Baby with larry on mandolin, and Under the Red Sky
was great. He flubbed the beginning of Tangled, and had a lame-ass jam on rainy
Day Women, where he just kept plucking the same note for like 2 minutes. Bob
Dylan CAN be a great guitarist, but is very inconsistant. I think he's a bit
better on acoustic than electric. Anyways, thought he might do a 2nd encore,
as they took forever to bring up the house lights. Oh well. Announce the rest
of the tour for the fall so I can see if I'm going to need to book a flight to
catch a show, or if he's going to make it east.
page by Bill Pagel
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