page by Bill Pagel
Review by Jeff Horrocks
Before I start my long story about this sultry outdoor show I must say
thanks to those who's work allowed me to enjoy this performance; Bob
Dylan, Tony Garnier, Larry Campbell, Charlie Sexton, George Receli. Thank
you also to Bill Pagel and all the other reporters and helpers past and
future, for their wonderful and essential services, and finally thanks to
the traveling crew who perform a generally thankless chore time and time
again, only in different places in different weeks.
This is my first review. I've seen Bob over ten times. The scene is
Baltimore's Pimlico Race Track for the Harley-Davidson 100th anniversary
tour. Several differences that this show had from the recent past make it
a very tasty memory. (Bob and I last crossed paths on November 14 & 15,
2001 in WVa and DC.) Bob is one of several big and small name performers.
Today will see Credence, Billy Idol, and Ted Nugent, along with his
Introduction was different, not the customary "Welcome Columbia Recording
Artist.." But a short biography, at least a paragraph (which I sadly
could not understand most of) mentioning how Dylan was considered washed
up in the '80's, blah, blah. I'm actually glad I couldn't hear it cuz'
what I heard sounded like some BS that someone with HD came up with. When
Larry and company came on stage they were visibly chuckling.
And then on to business. I Am The Man, Thomas. Extremely tasteful, and
very well received from the crowd. My partner and I were standing about
forty feet back on Larry's side. Dylan seemed to take the energy and turn
it around. It seemed as the crowd were not taken off guard by the opener
as I had seen several times recently when the band starts with a number
made famous by another, maybe more obscure, group. The crowd is sometimes
confused. But not today, they seemed to expect the song and several folks
in the crowd were singing along with the three-part harmony.
Second difference, Dylan seemed to be enjoying the atmosphere of the
outdoor show somewhat more than what I've seen him in the recent past.
(Last four or five shows we've seen have been indoor, going back to our
last outdoor show in Columbia MD on July 29, 2000.) It was a sweltering
heat, although the stage was shaded, I didn't notice any cooling devices
for the stage area. Dylan came onstage with his shirt open half way down
his chest in a black long sleeve jacket and pants which seemed to have
zippers down the sides. Small stars as accents. White straw cowboy hat.
No facial hair. Black & White cowboy boots. I notice they are not using
the black-white checkerboard stage flooring that they used last fall.
Charlie, wearing grey, obviously sweated through the back of his shirt and
jacket. Larry, wearing a long black coat, must have been warm, but not
obviously sweating. In fact now that I think of it, I never saw any of
them reach for a towel. Speaking of Charlie, somewhere in the show, maybe
before Tangled, during an acoustic set, he made an exit stage right.
Obviously Dylan and Larry were baffled, while Charlie kneeled out of sight
from the crowd and myself for about sixty or ninety seconds. He was right
next to the guitar rack. Kneeling on one knee, bent over, I really
couldn't see what was going on. When he came back onstage his eyes seemed
a little watery, and he nodded apologies to Bob and Larry, signaling he
was ready to continue. I don't know if he had a coughing fit, but that is
hard to do kneeling down. He absolutely COULD NOT HAVE barfed, I would
have seen a wide-eyed reaction from the crowd gathered off stage who I
could see, but it almost looked that way. He was a little choked up when
he returned. Simply a strange passage, never before seen by this
Another oddity was the sound dropping out for half a song. Dylan and Co.
continued admirably, Bob belting out a lyric or three before continuing to
play but not singing a moving version of their current song (unidentified
by this reviewer) and then back to high gear when the sound returned. All
this was received graciously by the sweaty crowd, no boos or catcalls as
our hero would have received in another era. I continued to encourage the
performers during the outage, as did many in attendance (we were actually
close enough to hear the instruments, un-amplified, or maybe it was just
through the monitors, we didn't get any lyrics during the gap). As
expected the return of the sound system was met with large cheers.
Dylan seemed to feed on the crowd which was very into the gig. Highway 61
in the first electric set, clearly got both the band and crowd stomping.
Literally a cloud of dust was created from the foot shuffling during that
song. The cloud would subside and rise again later. Speaking of clouds,
I swear there were about a dozen raindrops right as the show ended. We
were all ready for a short rain by then, but gosh, that was way too short.
But I'm jumping to the end too early.
A break after a dozen or so songs, I wasn't counting or writing titles.
Strong encouragement from the crowd. I don't think they were aware of the
routine return. Even though I was aware I showered the players with
praise, who knows when the last time we see them will be. (This from a
guy who was/is a big Dale Earnhardt fan, difficult to do, be a fan of a
dead fella, again I get off track.) The band seemed enlivened by the
response of the customers. This group was about the same as recent shows,
that is to say people from all over the place. I saw a prominent
Baltimore TV personality hanging for most of the show down in the front
pit very nearby myself, somewhere under that blue smoky cloud that I was
not responsible for. Many oldsters with grey beards were in attendance,
mixed in with many youngsters without any adult hairs, and all the biker
types in between. I must say I was easily at home with the crowd; nobody
was overly drunken or abusive of the band or their peers. Strangely it
didn't seem to be a biker crowd where we were standing, just a lot of
Dylan fans, many of them obviously with years of experience behind them.
Some reliving their 1970's college days, while trying to latch onto
sweet-young-thing twinkies floating down near stage-front. Several were
making runs to the refreshment stands or talking loudly as if there were
no entertainment going on, my friend and I were riveted in suspense. This
was shaping up to be a seriously memorable Dylan occasion with the sweat
dripping down our bodies.
Another strange thing, he didn't do Blowin' in the Wind. That has to be a
first for me. Thank you for doing Tangled, one of my all time faves.
That song has been done too many times for some folks, but obviously not
for Bob. This time they were fresh, Bob seems to have been exploring some
new guitar passages for this presentation.
One of my favorite Stanley Brothers songs, Stone Walls And Steel Bars, was
part of the set. A rarely heard song. He played it only a handful of
times in the last two years. I also heard it at Bristow VA. I wonder if
Bob sees some regional connection with this song. Certainly the
Baltimore-Washington area is a fertile area for bluegrass fans, and who
else represents that genre better than the Stanleys who are well known
I want to mention that Bob played two Dead-related songs, Jack Straw, and
Not Fade Away. The first time I saw Bob was when he toured with the
Grateful Dead in 1995. I haven't missed a show within a couple of hundred
miles since then. My love affair with Bob's work has definitely been
stronger than my attraction to the art of the Grateful Dead.
This was my first concert with George Receli manning the drum kit. I had
mostly been exposed to Dave Kemper and I really could not say something
bad about Dave, I totally enjoyed his art. George actually seems a little
lost with Bob's material, but somehow it does not make a big difference.
He's workin' hard every song, adding his rhythm. He definitely seems
ready for a drum solo.
That brings me to something else. During Rainy Day Women. A standard for
several years, I noticed something new. The only spoken words to the
audience come during the band intro near the end of this song. Each
member is turned loose for a few bars of solo or improvisation that was
very entertaining and telling of each band members' leanings. This is
reminiscent of the traditional way bluegrass bands do their intros. At
least Bob doesn't mention the home state of each player. (i.e. "From
Randleman North Carolina, on Banjo, let's have a big hand for the former
town mayor, Kyle Petty" etc.). Each player romped freely during this time
showing sides of their character that were not usually allowed to run
unchained within the confines of Bob's material. Tony's turn had all band
members falling silent, Charlie even taking a seat, while Tony expertly
jammed to wide smiles of approval from his brethren. Charlie's featured a
jazzy improv that Bob grabbed onto and sent it back to him like a
boomerang. Wonderful. George seemed to want to go wild given ten seconds
alone, and the band seemed to go wide-eyed at the effort. George seemed a
little embarrassed among his peers for getting maybe a little too far into
the groove. I say welcome to the band!
Larry's role in the band, in my uneducated opinion, might have evolved
since I've been watching all these years, since I used to have a lot more
hair. My mind is foggy but don't I recall that before Bob needed to play
a lot of solo's himself, Larry used to play many of the solos and hot
licks. Now Bob or Charlie seems to step into those roles, while Larry has
moved into the 'fill' role. Actually this is a very, very much harder
thing to do expertly, while it is recognized less by the paying public.
It is filling a team role, absolutely an expression of being a part of a
band. His contribution makes everyone look more accomplished. Kudos to
Larry for adapting to what I interpret as his changing role in the band
over the last many years. He truly is an expert at expression with
numerous instruments with four, six, eight, or twelve strings, but that is
almost beside the point; it's his tastefulness at using these tools that
is so appreciated by this listener. I hate to compare one artist to
another but I am reminded of dobro player Jerry 'Flux' Douglas as being
the same kind of musician that makes everyone on stage appear to be a
virtuoso, when it really is their own understated performance that makes
each of the others shine without drawing attention to oneself. Almost
like a reflecting parabolic dish can concentrate waves, Larry can
concentrate Dylan's sound. Standing O for you Larry.
What else could seem different? As mentioned earlier, the players could
seem different. At the end of Watchtower, Dylan was readying for the
lineup but didn't seem to have the gumption for what has turned into the
traditional stare back at the audience, letting the praise wash over
himself and the band. Maybe we'd be treated to a shake of a shoulder in
Somehow tonight Mr. Z seemed to want more than to just watch back. He,
unbelievably, acknowledged the crowd! Twice during this show he bowed on
a single knee to show his humble appreciation for what he obviously felt
to be his best work of the moment. And the second time was during the
closing. So THERE WAS NO TRADITIONAL LINEUP to be seen tonight.
Here's the major kicker to end the report. An obviously experienced Dylan
hometown fan from Dundalk, MD (as homey a place as the neighborhood around
Pimlico) gracefully flopped a small, leather covered notepad and pen a
yard or so from Dylan's feet during what should have been the lineup. At
first Bob seemed to react as expected. ("Oh Shit, What Are They Gonna
Launch At Me This Time!?") But a split second later he recognized it for
what it was, an ultimate expression of tribute. Then, to all's surprise,
Bob bent down, laying his beautiful gold-trimmed Fender Telecaster
back-down on the stage, and picked up the pen, and -take my breath away-
scrawled on the pad. Clearly pleased with his work he flipped the notepad
back to the front row, shortly followed by the pen.
You could knock me over with a feather while I bounced like a
Bob, kneeling to the crowd! Acknowledging their participation! Reveling
in their warmth and bowing in humble servitude. Bob Dylan, the troubadour
that he is today and has been to all intelligent observers, for forty
years. Then the gift of an autograph! Astounding! As if it were a kiss
blown to the crowd. (I really have to go back a few years before I can
think of seeing such a band-crowd interaction. That was when a lovely
young lass wearing the correct headgear joined the band onstage during
Leopard-Skin-Pill-Box-Hat at Columbia, MD July 29, 2000.)
I rushed over to talk with the lucky autograph receiving fan.
Understandably she was not able to keep her feet! A sweat coated
grey-hair standing next to her commented that in over two hundred shows
he'd not seen this before! How was I to disagree! I got a first hand
look at the autograph and let it burn into my brain. I plan to use this
info for those eBay Bob autograph auctions, to help me judge what is legit
and what is not. For sure I know that one signature was legit. I saw it
before my own eyes! I still can't believe it! As a little way of
connecting with that lucky lady, I offered to wet her whistle with a cold
beer, as we walked away from the stage. The best five bucks I spent
during a three-hundred dollar day! (Tickets $55 for general admission.
While trekking back to the car, we came across a fella playing Man Of
Constant Sorrow, a'la 'Oh, Brother' on his Martin guitar. I didn't
interrupt him to educate him that Bob had that classic covered on is first
album, and played it in Europe earlier this year. Sorta like brackets on
an admirable career.
So, to bring to a close, an extremely memorable performance. Maybe short
on songs, but definitely not short on memories. Please hurry back to the
Mid-Atlantic area Bob! I'll try to be here when you return. Safe
Journey! Many Inspirations!
Review by Alex Leik
Everything that went wrong with Bob Dylan's appearance at the Harley
Davidson Open Road Baltimore stop was in no way under Bob's, or his
band's, control. Everything that went right, on the other hand, was very
much under their control. And most everything went right!
We arrived to the racetrack around 2:30, having learned from Newport that
it may be best to miss a few bands in order to avoid heatstroke. This
time, instead of my wife in tow, it was James, who has hit the double
figure mark in Bob shows, and my parents, who have made Bob's Baltimore
shows a staple. And, they have always been rewarded properly, starting
with Baltimore '99, then Towson, 2000.
As we entered the gate, we were all told we were going to hell, I guess
for being part of the Harley festival? I am still not sure what we had
done wrong up to that point, but apparently, going to church once a week
is not enough anymore! A "Jesus Saves" organization spouted their
propoganda to uninterested college kids, Harley fanatics, and perhaps the
occasiional Bob fan who listened with Slow Train or Saved in mind. It
certainly got me thinking as to what Bob would play. Would he be
"inspired" by the rhetoric, or simply let it pass by?
We took a spot just to the right of the soundboard, stage Larry, about 1/2
way back. The crowd was very thin, and I commented that things should
pick-up by 3:30. Well, Bob was not in the mood to wait. at 3:20,
Copeland's 'Rodeo' took off, and the "new" intro was heard over the PA. I
still can't tell if it is Al Santos or not. Sounds like him at certain
points, but certainly delivered in a very sarcastic tone, as if to
chastise the journalist who thought he could sum up Bob's career in such a
brief manner. Great!
'I am the Man, Thomas' started things off on the right foot, band
energized, harmonies on, but something lacking in the sound. Ah yes! the
ever disappointing "festival sound system". It quickly picked up Bob and
the boys as the first verse started, but the precedent for the day was
set. Bob, was not taking any chances with the heat, dressed in the black
pants with white piping, and black western shirt with white trim, but it
was opened to reveal - Bob's bare chest?? Yup! It was quite a site.
Perhaps his nod to Elvis? Nah, just a way to beat the heat, and keep the
ladies smilin'. James commented that Bob could use a 'bro" (Seinfeld
ref.), but I reminded him that the man is 61. Bob looked great, my mother
commenting that this was the best she's seen him look (I think she was too
busy looking at his chest)!
'Baby Tonight' followed in the "surprising" second slot, and was a nice
arrangement, but I feel it looses some of that country twang when done
acoustic. 'It's alright Ma' followed, and they started to hit the groove.
George is really driving this song, and Bob started to move (incidentally,
the show was broadcast on a live video feed, with 2 giant screens on
either side of the stage. I was very surprised that Bob let this happen,
but perhaps he did not know. Now, how do we go about getting a copy of
that on VHS, or even, DVD?). Next came the first "surprise" - Highway 61
in the first electric slot. This was the tip that it would be a shortened
set, 4th song electric. It was also the tip that Bob & the band were gonna
take that Highway to hell with the rest of us and ignore the "Jesus Saves"
propaganda, at least for today.
"Highway" cooked like nothing I have ever seen, and I have seen it plenty.
Bob stepo back after the second verse / chorus, gives Charlie a look, and
he is off! Charlie is completely running with a tremendous lead, and the
video feed is focused on just him & Bob, groving away. Good Lord! Charlie,
say it ain't so!! But if you are leaving, best of luck. Your talent will
take you anywhere! The next verse/chorus came and went, and it was Larry's
turn. But, the video feed though it was still Charlie. Oh Well, it was
clear to most people that Larry was gonna answer Charlie, and add a little
more. My Dad aksed me if they were warmed up after this one - Yup!
Next, well, you've all seen it by now in the set list. All I know is that
Bob says what I think to be "Everybody..." - I am thinking, RDW?? Could he
possibly butcher it this badly? Then "building big ships and the boats"
WHAAAAAAT??????? I was not the only one completely floored by this gem.
Heads in the crowd began bobbing up and down, and Charlie, Tony and Larry
broke into broad grins, fans themselves for just a minute. First time
since the Isle of Wight. I stil get chills thinking about it. And for
those of you hoping he may play it again?? Well, they nailed it, to put it
mildly! I would hope they continue to play it. Charlie and Larry added
great harmonies, and Bob was having a blast playing it. Unfortunately, the
static from the sound system starts to come in near the end of it, not
louder than the song, but clearly putting a damper on what was an
extremely energized, and obviously well-rehearsed, song!
The sound system finally blew during what started out to be a great
'Subterranean'. From where we were you could still slightly hear it
through the monitors as the band plugged away, doing exactly what they
should do in that situation, and still sounding great. Sound was lost for
about a minute or 2 (?), then came back on and appeared to be fixed (the
static was gone), at least for the time being. What we got to hear of
Subterranean was hot, very strong, and the guys are jamming together like
there is no tomorrow.
Back to acoustic due to the shortened set, and another sweet surprise, the
first 'Friend of the Devil' in some time. Bob tripped up on the words
pretty badly, and decided to just blow the harp on the last verse, which I
thought was fantastic. This was one of the few songs where he could get
away with that, since it was not his own. It really sounded nice. TUIB was
a strong version, and George is still bringing this, along with the other
'songs you were tired of hearing', new life.
Back to electric, and a cooking 'Summer Days'. I have yet to hear a bad
version of this - don't know if it is possible. And they love it. Once
again, Bob gave Charlie and Larry license to go, and they did. Dad watched
this one through the binoculars, concentrating on Larry & Charlie. I told
him that I did that once, and now, whenever I pick up my guitar, I think
about that, and promptly put it back down. Amazing what those two guys can
do, and the sound Bob can acheive with this band when he permits it. This
was an "ON" performance. Another surprise, 1st 'Stone Walls & Steel Bars'
in some time, and perhaps the first electric version ever? Perfect
harmonies, and while acoustic would have been nice, I am not complaining
at all. I was wondering if it was possibly slated for the third acoustic
after TUIB, but maybe 'forgotten'. After Summer Days, Bob thought "Woops!,
Well, lets stay plugged in and do it."
'Cold Irons Bound' was delivered flawlessly, with George right where he
needs to be at all times. I remember David had trouble with this
arrangement on more than one occasion, and it is difficult for the drum to
keep up on this, or keep in sync. But, George nailed it every time. Rockin
version, reminiscent of the winds in Chicago! RDW (now!) closed things
out, and we got the prolonged intro, where every body gets a minute of so
to "go off", almost like an 80's glam rock band. You gotta love it.
As they returned for the encore, I noticed something I have never seen in
30+ shows. Bob walked over to George, and literally, with his hands,
showed him how / where to come in on NFA. Of course, I did not know they
were going to play NFA just yet, but you could see Bob nodding his head,
as if in rhythm with the start of the song, and then his hands played "air
drum" as if to show George when he comes in. I know George has not played
this one much, and the arrangement is slightly different from David's
days, but this was really neat to see. Usually, it is something you would
see Tony do. Bob took the horse by the reigns, and as the song started, he
stood right by George. When George came in, he gaot the nod of approval
from his boss, and Bob was off to the mic. What a great thing to see!
NFW and Watchtower closed out this truly tremendous performance, right up
there with Bob's last 2 Baltimore apperances in '99 & '00 (Towson),
probably better than Towson, but not '99. The static from the 'sound
system' also returned during the encores. But, we did not completely lose
The obvious was this: The band was on, tighter than I have seen in some
time, and allowed to do what they wanted (Charlie & Larry) - some of
Larry's mando work was breathtaking (FOTD); we still got some of Bob's
search & destroy solos, but it ain't a Bob show without them IMO; Bob was
having more fun than I have seen in some time, smiles all across his face.
Perhaps it was the loose fitting shirt baring his chest, but from the
constant interplay and smiles he had with the band & crowd, I get the
feeling Bob's was not the only bare chest. Another great moment came when
a fan threw something up on stage at the end of the encores, along with a
pen to sign it. Well, Bob obliges, but simply tosses the item back into
the crowd, no where near the person that tossed it up there. I hope that
person really didn't think they were going to get it back, signed, and in
one piece. The frenzy for the item was reminiscent of Bond's 600th homer,
and probably worth more to those fighting over it (and me!)
So, it goes to show. It has been a while since I have seen a shortened set
list, being treated to 18-20, or 20+ song performances of late. Well, I'll
take this 14-song gem over most of those any day. As I mentioned in the
beginning, while the sound system had plenty of issues, as most festival
sound systems do, Bob's & band's command of this performance outweighed
anything that could have stepped in their way . I think the "Jesus Saves"
people were last seen running eastbound on Northern Parkway just about the
time Bobby was telling us "There must be some way outta here!"
Review by Todd Holden
Yep, the rockin' little Zimmerman took the stage 'neath hazy, humid hot
skies down at Old Hilltop, better known as Pimlico.... The cowboy boots
were shimmering in the sunlight as the master of transcendence took the
stage right on the dot....3:15 p/m....and that's what the tickets called
Bob was up for this one....cause he's prone to Harley's these days....no
more Triumphs. It was an eclectic gathering for sure, and at one point
I'd a swore there were more Harley Hogs there than humans. What a parking
lot filled with big iron and chrome....
The early phases of the set were rough and loud and that suited everyone
there, including me....I was posted right beside the sound board and with
the exception of a few glitches on static and loss of volume, the Little
Fella from Hibbing put the pace on the floor and the lads took up the
slack.... once with harmonies so bollixed up, Bob made a quick retreat to
the harpoon and sallied back to the mike to save what was left of whatever
tune he was delivering....I know it was prior to Summer Days...which was
the first tune of the afternoon that just flat out took life and tore into
the crowd with a vengeance.
Version of Cold Irons Bounds was the best I've heard him do in
concert....it was orgasmic. All in all a grand move by Bob Dylan
2002....and the encores of Buddy H.'s Not Fade Away fitted the bill just
as well as did Highway 61, Tangled Up In Blue and I Am The Man Thomas....
leave it with an ass kicking All Along the Watchtower, and pack up the
kids and go home to shower...but now comes Billy Idol, and what a time
warp that recreated...he's great, an icon in his own right....Flesh, White
Wedding, ..... Never stuck around for the Nuge....who needs that?
Bob Dylan.....you did good, you earned your keep, and your band , as you
introduced them, shine on brightly, through haze, heat and sun....
Review by Jim McCoy
Ok. This is short and to the point. Bob Dylan and band totally smoked in
this short (under 1 hr??) set. But some suprises for me where Quinn the
Eskimo, Subterranean Homesick Blues, and a FANTASTIC Friend of the Devil.
Actually the fantastic adverb should go also for Stone Walls and Steel
Bars, Summer Days, etc.....
I was wondering what it would be like Bob going on first (before Billy
Idol and Ted Nugent following). All I can say is the Harley Davidson's
100th anniversary tour was certainly enchanced by Bob's act. I was out of
there after Bob's set.
With the leadership of Tony Garnier on Bass, and the multitalented
instrumentalist in Larry Campbell (great guitar player--love his slide
work), and the smoking guitar sound of Charlie Sexton, and drummer Geroge
Receli on drums (sounded great). Thanks Bill for this web page cause--one
two many beers later--I had a some problem remembering the finer points of
the set selections.
The one thing for sure, Bob's vocals were right on, and the band was
really tight. The harmonizing keeps getting better. Bob wasted no time in
getting off stage--but it was great. Plus I had the added bonus of getting
3 rolls of film on my point in shoot!
I am glad I did not let the General Admission venue stop me from seeing
LEGEND BOB! The band smokes once again.
page by Bill Pagel
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