Reviews

Columbia, Maryland

Merriweather Post Pavilion

August 16, 2011


[Tim Shorrock], [Todd Holden], [John Frisch], [Thad Williamson], [Timothy Keating],
[David Mendick], [Joshua Seese], [Alex Leik], [George Deyman]

Review by Tim Shorrock



This was a special concert for me because I met my sweetheart at  
Bob's last DC show last November, and this was our first Bob concert  
together. It was excellent, and the evening at this Maryland country  
venue was beautiful and cool. Bob started out with a bang: Rainy Day  
Women #12 and #35, which got everybody on their feet and stomping  
along with the familiar refrain. He then launched into Baby Blue  
behind a chunky, jaunty guitar-fed beat that dominated his set all  
night. The show then took off with Things Have Changed, with Bob  
doing some nice harp work, and reached a crescendo with Tangled Up in  
Blue, which he sang in most unusual rap-like beat. Then it was his  
more recent work - Behind Here Lies Nothing - with Bob playing a few  
licks on lead guitar with that snappy, Texas-swing sound from the  
album. Because I'd been reading the latest song sets, I knew the next  
song was likely to be Mississippi, and it was - sung in a slow,  
loping beat that didn't really do justice to the wonderful subtleties  
and deep sadness in the original. But don't worry, I'm not one of  
those people who complain about his arrangements; I've been seeing  
Bob live since 1974 and love the way he comes up with new twists on  
old songs. Next was the highlight of the show for me: his great  
antiwar song John Brown. Very nice banjo from Donnie Herron brought  
out all the terror and horror in the song, which is one of the most  
biting and relevant in Bob's canon. His line about the mother's pride  
in sending her son to fight "a good old-fashioned war" always sends  
chills down my spine - chills that I could hear in Bob's harmonica at  
the end of the song. Then it was on to Summer Days, with some fine  
organ playing from Bob, and then Cold Iron Bound, with more  
harmonica. Then it was a raucous Highway 61, with Bob playing  
wonderful organ riffs off of Charlie Sexton's guitar solos. A nice  
touch. He followed that with Simple Twist of Fate, on guitar; a very  
soft and slow version that dies out to silence. Next was Thunder on  
the Mountain, which sounded a lot like Summer Days. "Great swing," a  
middle-aged guy behind me said, and it was. With some of these songs  
I can imagine Bod leading his cowboy band in some Texas or  
Mississippi juke joint, playing rock & roll and swing all night long.  
But of course Dylan is always in the here and now, and next came a  
blistering Mr. Jones. Just about every time I've heard Dylan he's  
played this, and every time it sounds fresh and more biting than the  
last time. His contempt really came out in the line about "tax- 
deductible charity organizations," where the last word was stretched  
out over several chords. An ominous sound. I noticed he'd changed one  
line - instead of "you keep your eyes on your pocket and your nose on  
the ground" it was "you point your gun to the ground." A little  
antiwar rage seeping into this put-down of the ruling political and  
social classes? Who knows? In any case, that was his set, and the  
band left the stage to loud and sustained applause. And soon they  
were back for the encores - Rolling Stone, with a nice new downward- 
spiraling guitar riff from Charlie Sexton, and then a screeching  
Watchtower to end the show and remind everyone that wars and night  
riders are still part of life in 21st century America.

Tim Shorrock
Washington, DC

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Review by Todd Holden



a great night at a great, old  venue..big ceiling fans no longer allow the
stagnant air to lay on the audience down front like a fetid  sheet of humidity.

a great night weather wise and performance wise.  opening the great, rejuvenated
Leon Russell.  His band was tight as it was two years ago when I went to hear 
Leon at the Ram's Head Live in Baltimore town.  Since then Leon has gotten the
long overdue respect and recognition he deserves.   He's an icon of rock and
roll.   His set list was longer than i expected.  a  great opening act...

I had never heard the  Drive By Truckers and honestly I was impressed, more so
than most openers.  They have many local connections and added to  the draw of
this  show for sure.

I was a little  tentative on how Bob would hold up at this show.  Following a
day  off the road, he was full  of piss and vinegar, in top voice, clear as
humanly  possible for those 70 year old  pipes...and more animated than I've
seen in years.


bustin' opening the show with RDW and flowing right into a solid  IAOBB...he was
hot from the get go, just enjoying himself and the crowd.  my son commented that
Bob will likely be appearing in smaller venues as  this NETour rolls on with
the years.

the thing that struck me is once he hit the stage, everyone in the seats down
front where we were stood, for the entire concert...no one sat down...he  was
aware of that and he delivered as only Bob Dylan can do.

TUIB and BHLN were excellent, and on the last four bars elevated to Bob to wale
on his harp with Tangled Up In Blue...he just smiled and waled and the audience
loved it.  He delivered and never let up...

CIB...hell,  Cold Irons Bound was the highlight of the night for me, the harp
and the delivery and the newer arrangement than i've  heard before made this a
moment of zen for all the folks around us.  Damn well done, and the band just
hanging on his every word, and well they should.

Highway 61 and Simple Twist of Fate saw the master ranging from his harp, to 
the guitar, to the keyboard, which by the way  brought reminiscences of the
old roller rink days with the organ music for 'couples only'.

Ballad of A Thin Man is predictable, with Bob, alone up front on the harp and
spewing the words out to any 'nay sayer' in the audience who doesn't get it,
or is just there to see the icon before he leaves this universe.  Sadly, i'm
sure there are those who want 'to see him just once, after all he's a living
legend'...

For me, my son, and lots of  my friends we've been on this journey with Bob
Dylan in our homes, in front of the stereo and at concerts like this one. 
The 'die=hards' I guess you could  say...we've been at it through the years
with a magical moment in time when he rolls into town, sets  up, does his
show, and heads on down the road.

Bob Dylan...sure there's been some stinkers...but not that many and  we keep
coming back for more, and damn  if the little fella doesn't keep finding us with
jaws dropped open,  standing, some of us on  weak  and busted up knees...and
hollering like hell  at the end of the numbers.

Why do we do it..?  A lady next to me was saying she was staying at the 
Sheraton and  ran into Donnie Herron and spoke to him...she sure knew a lot
about Bob Dylan and the various band mates he's assembled over the years...she
knew a lot more than me...Although I did get to talk with  Denny Freeman a
time or two.  Now that's just pure 'groupie' I told her...and she agreed, and
laughed...I'm 72 and still a fan, a 'groupie'...and this will continue as long
as this enigma continues to perform and refit and  redesign his shows....it
just doesn't get stale or laconic.

Actually it was a revitalizing show for me...haven't seen Bob this dynamic  in
a  while...whatever it was, the show this close to my home town of Forest
Hill, Md. was a 'must see'...hell, anything within 100  miles and he's
performing, it's a lock to go. My son was into the Drive By Truckers before I
ever heard of them....so  it was a happy birthday gift for him...

We noshed at J. Chang's, tossed a few shots back and were knocked out loaded at
the Merriweather  Pavilion...truly a great night for both of us.

The audience was well behaved, at least down front, where it can get a little 
sketchy from time to time.  On and on, there's more but hell if you weren't
there, try to catch a show when the Master rolls into a town near you....

No one left the pavilion early, that says a lot as well...

Oops, forgot to mention seeing Charlie Sexton in the wings, watching Leon
Russell.  That blew my mind.   Charlie needs to eat a cheeseburger now and 
then,  painfully thin, but my God can he play, we all know that, I know...and
he adds much and  allows Tony to laugh out loud when George Recile loses a
drumstick, and then tosses the other one.  A funny moment, if you got to see
it.

Damn fine band behind  Bob...what more could you  ask...?

Todd Holden
Forest Hill, Md.
BIRD

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Review by John Frisch



I have seen Bob about 20 times or so and came to this show with low expectations
after what I thought was a fairly indifferent show at Aberdeen/Ripken Stadium a
year or so ago.  Bob delivered a superb show last evening.  He and the band were
thoroughly into the show--I have rarely seen him give a more animated
performance.  This was especially true when he stood front and center at the
microphone with his harmonica.  His gestures and phrasing were remarkable.  I
was about 25 rows from the stage with a pair of great binoculars (which revealed
an interesting and new grey goatee) and he was really charged up and into it.  
Standouts included stunning, and I do mean stunning, versions of Simple Twist of
Fate (very faithful to the original recording) and and Ballad of a Thin Man (the
latter delivered in a remarkably ferocious and well-worn growl).  It's All Over
Now Baby Blue, Things Have Changed and Like a Rolling Stone were several cuts
above average performances--very strong renditions passionately delivered. 
While a few songs disappointed, they were the result of some rearranging that I
just was not crazy about as opposed to a sloppy or indifferent performance.  I
love Mississippi--I think it is one of his strongest songs in many years--and
the version he played just did not do the song justice.  The same can be said
for an absolutely awful rework of All Along the Watchtower.  I have frankly
grown bored with hearing it during his encores and when he began the song I was
at first surprised and relieved I would not be hearing it and wondered what he
was treating us to instead.  When he sang the first lines I could hardly believe
it was the same song--the arrangement is flat out bizarre to my taste and goes
nowhere.   Great crowd and great venue.  

John Frisch

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Review by Thad Williamson



Tremendous Dylan concert last night in Columbia. Dude is 70 years old and is
dancing around the stage with a microphone, spitting out every phrase with
gusto, using hand gestures to emphasize the point, no embarrassment about what
his voice sounds like, while the five guys in smoking gray cowboy suits are
rocking behind him. awesome.

Highlights for me: John Brown, Mississippi, Thunder on the Mountain. Very clear
articulation of all the words, passionate engagement with the material. I didn't
think any of the songs were bad, but these stood out. Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
and Thin Man maybe next best on the list. Interesting reconfiguration of Simple
Twist of Fate. 

Dylan looks like he could go on another 15 or 20 years, at the moment. I mean
that. Catch it while you can.

Thad Williamson

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Review by Timothy Keating



Commitment. The word kept occurring to me as each song rolled out last night at
the Merryweather Post Pavilion. This was a very impressive and powerful show.
Dylan performed with great voice, spirit, enthusiasm and commitment. That's what
I heard. His commitment to the power of the songs was electric in the air. I
haven't seen Dylan for a couple of years, so it was exhilarating to hear him
sing in such strong voice and harp and organ and guitar and to learn first hand
that the tired critiques about his voice and the quality of his shows are
completely false. The new (for me) arrangements of Things Have Changed, Cold
Irons Bound and Ballad of a Thin Man in particular were outstanding. And John
Brown was a towering accomplishment. I had always thought the song to be a bit
unconvincing. After all, what mother really is delighted to see her son go off
to a "good old fashioned war?" But last night I heard the universality of the
song come home with crushing conviction.  I don't know how this artist manages
to call up the strength and inspiration to perform as much as he does. What I
saw/heard last night was commitment to the songs, sincerity of delivery, power
in the voice and in the music. This is in no way an artist in decline, as some
might have us believe. He seems rather at a peak of new powers. 		

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Comments by David Mendick



I used to think that Dylan was god-like. Now I think he is god. And i`m not
joking. 

The shows just keep getting better sometimes its little things like the band all
to the left of the stage with Dylan alone center; singing to his oscar on
"things have changed", the phrasing of Mr Jones on the brilliant "ballad of a
thin man". I could go on & on.

Next to me was a lovely man from England who brought his daughter for the
first time-i`v done the same thing with my three kids - now that they`ve all
left the house i`m back to taking my wife. She hadn`t seen him for many years
but agreed that he was better than ever. I love his voice now as much as ever -
it`s rich and thick and wise and with his new phrasing and alone at the mic he`s
become sammy davis-like.

Keep on preaching & the disciples will keep on coming.

David Mendick

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Review by Joshua Seese



Bob Dylan in concert.  Always a spectacle fit for a king.  It is one thing
to hear your favorite band on album but revelation to experience them live
in concert.  Bob Dylan is winning whether he chooses to accept it or not. 
He opened with Rainy Day Women again.  Bob must have figured why not bring
down the house before the crowd even have a chance to get cozy.  Make them
sweat.  Get them nervous.  Go out with a bang before even entering and
then stay a long long while.  Wear out your welcome by punching beauty
into the depths of their souls with well accomplished intellect and
masterful phrasing.  Itís All Over Now Baby Blue played out mesmerizing
and full of tension.  Things Have Changed showed Dylan once again as the
great surveyor and purveyor of musical landscapes.  Case in point he does
what he wants to and I adore him.  Let Bob and the boys play all day and
run wild with their music.  He is the only artist justified to be whatever
it is he wants to be.  Tangled Up in Blue possessed its usual bursting of
longing and genius empire.  Beyond Here Lies Nothiní had me repeating over
and over in my head that I just love those guitars.  Those gorgeous lyrics
were still kicking and spinning off of images entering my subconscious
days later always begging me to sing along.  Mississippi demonstrated
Dylanís growth with songs-aging wonderfully like fine wine.  John Brown
was the highlight of the show for me.  I became helplessly choked up with
a few tears.  His delivery swallowed me whole.  Truthful, gripping,
devastating, emotionally crushing.  Summer Days had me believing since the
last time he played it that Bob does still know the few places where
something is going on.  He sucks you in like the drama of the sun where
everything gravitates toward the center like with something so innocent as
a Dylan stare or gesture that cracks the musical whip into place.  Cold
Irons Bound was dreamy, filled with swirling undercurrents.  I could not
help reminiscing back to last fall and the string of shows where he culled
the crowd like a fortuneteller with ideas burning up the horizon lines not
so far away. Highway 61 flipped the crowd into frenzy.  I really like this
song.  It proved a really energetic performance.  Thunder on the Mountain
was rollicking.  The drive of the song was stamped with his tour-de-force
band.  Simple Twist of Fate showed the singer torn but hopeful.  Bob
played some great guitar lulling us into reverie.  Ballad of a Thin Man
was simply terrifying in its delivery.  Bob slammed his vocals into
overdrive as he got his kicks off hearing the echo.  Like a Rolling Stone
was slipped into another set and the impressions felt criminal to receive
something so definitive yet infinite as it crawled though decades and
decades of musing.  He has been giving this song careful attention letting
it run on its own.  All Along the Watchtower was a nice farewell.  The
fame of the story left us suspended in the bliss.  The Harmonica as always
broke through the songs like a freight train coming down the line.  Bobís
presence was ominous, fascinating onlookers with a smile.  The guitar and
singing were great.  The Bob Dylan shows I have attended have always met
and exceeded my expectations on the highest level.  All those drives back
to hotels and going home and leaving me to unpack carry a sense of
accomplishment that I attended something completely unique.  The Bob Dylan
Show.  Cheers to Bob!  This indeed was the summer of Bob.

Joshua Seese

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Review by Alex Leik



Bob - black suit, red piping.
Band - light grey suits, black shirts. Stu/Tony/George in hats
†
I was 4th row stage Stu, along with bro (who has seen a few more shows than I),
sis (who has seen less than 5 shows) and a rookie friend. I feel it is important
to note that all of the complaining about setlists of late is clearly missing
the point that Bob is putting on very strong performances. Also, tonight I found
him to be perhaps the most animated I have ever seen him. † Rainy Day Women was
the expected opener after the last 2 nights of LSPBH. Very solid, Bob is in good
spirits right away. The "Stowwwwwned...stowwwned" at the end was new for me, and
the crowd ate it up. Baby Blue was very upbeat, quickly recognized. Bob moved
center stage for THC, and I very much enjoyed the new arrangement. Bob seems to
have a lot more fun with it as well. This was the first harp of the night, and
he really played it loud & well. Played the right key even. This was my 3rd time
hearing the latest version of TUIB, and by far the best. The other 2 don't even
come close. I like the change to "trying to stay out of the joint" in place of
"heading to another joint". Wow, this was a highlight tonight, and I have not
said that about TUIB in some time (since Baltimore 1999??). † I finally had my
first Beyond Here...and Bob's first guitar of the night. He nailed this, his
guitar was very high in the mix, and in tune, and just sounded great. Another
highlight. The new Mississippi is definitely the low point of the show. Just do
not like this arrangement. Almost silly, to be quite honest. Its not what the
song is about for me. If any song on that album embodies emotion & passion, its
that one for me, and this version just downplays that, almost mocks it. But, he
made up for it with a stellar John Brown, 2 weeks removed from the helicopter
crash in Afghanistan that killed a Navy SEAL by the same name. More great harp
here, and Donnie really driving this songon banjo. † The final few songs were
average, except Simple Twist & Thin Man - these soared at the end of the show.
The echo doesn't really work on Thin Man, mainly because Bob is singing so
loudly the "Do you...Mr...Jones". It doesn't need the echo, the song holds up
brilliantly as a set closer as is. † LARS and AATW were solid encores, the
latter of which has a slightly altered arrangement,and much shorter (no long
"jam"on this). † So, here's my lesson. After 9 years of 5+ shows per year, the
perfunctory boredom and complaining about set lists (that I see so much now
online) set in for me. But, now I have done just 3 shows in 3 years. And Bob's
performances have improved each time. Fairfax 2009 was topped by Charlottesville
2010, which was just topped by Columbia 2011. I like this aproach, and I think
Bob has settled on a pattern that works for him. It is yielding more consistent
shows and better than average guitar, harmonica and keys work from our hero. †
Also, I noticed much more lead work from Stu tonight, than Charlie. And it was
good overall, solid. Charlie did much more rythm, with a few leads here and
there. Tony & George were havinga blastat Bob's expense cracking up over what I
think was Bob's flirting with some of the hardened groupies up front. And let me
say that while I did not appreciate Drive by Truckers as much as I had hoped I
would, Leon Russell ROCKED the joint. I wish he had been the 2nd act instead of
first so more people would have seen him. But man he was good. And he has a
stellar lead guitarist who I would recommend to Bob if I thought he might
actually get some leads. † So, Ill keep on keepin on, and hope for another show
in 6-8 months. I rather like this approach.

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Comments by George Deyman



I saw Dylan's show in Columbia, MD last week.  It was great as usual!  He
even did "John Brown," one of my favorites.  His harp work was great and his
voice was strong.  He was very much into it, spitting out the words.  He even
did did some crooning of sorts, on front and center stage.  This has certainly
been the summer of Bob for me.

George Deyman

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