Review by Luke Copeland
I attended the Dylan show in Winston-Salem Friday night. For those of you
who weren't there, which is almost all of you, you missed a great show.
I've seen Bob ten times now, the first being in 1978, and his voice was
better than I've heard this decade. I may have heard a little bit of up
singing on *Like A Rolling Stone*, but only for a moment. He was really
putting a lot of emotion into the lyrics. Great phrasings and pauses. I
was pretty close and it looked to me like Bob was having a good time. As
God is my witness I saw him smiling on several occasions. Maybe it was
just gas. The crowd was sparse Friday night, but hey, that much more Bob
for the rest of us, right? I've attended Dylan shows over the years with
college buddies, my wife, my girl friend (yeah, in that order), but this
time I took my ten year old daughter. I was really proud of how she
enjoyed the whole spirit of the event. And the minor league ball park idea
remains to be pure genius in my opinion. The fans were allowed to
congregate right in front of the stage in a festival style I haven't
enjoyed since before the tragic stampede at The Who show in Cincinnati in
1979 (or 1980?).
My favorite songs of the night were *Just Like A Woman*, *Shelter From The
Storm, Highway 61, Summer Days, A Hard Rain *and the two encores. I don't
recall ever seeing Tony Garnier as animated as he was Friday night on
*Summer Days. *At times his upright bass was tilted at a 45 degree angle
from the stage floor while he was boogying to the beat. I even think he
spun it around a time or two. The whole band was really on fire. Donnie
Herron on pedal steel, lap steel, and electric mandolin is in my opinion
the best secret ingredient to the band since G. E. Smith. I even heard Stu
Kimball on rhythm guitar pretty high in the mix and it was a nice touch,
especially on *Shelter From The Storm*. And since when have the band all
worn the same shirt? This was a nice touch. And three of them were all
wearing the same flat black hat. Sort of reminds me of a traveling lounge
lizard act, and a damn good one at that. Bob wore his black cowboy hat,
white sequined dinner jacket, and black trousers with a white stripe down
the side. Visually and musically, this was an entertaining show. I'm glad
I could share it with someone I love.
Review by Jesse Jones
It was a beautiful evening in Winston-Salem. Children played, young
people partied, and us old folks enjoyed another fine concert.
Elena James, starting exactly at 6:30, revealed a smoky voice to
match her incredible fiddle playing, and her singing fit the music
perfectly. She did Guthrie's "Oklahoma Hills," some of her own
compositions (from her new CD, which is great), and closed with a rousing
"Orange Blossom Special." The only problem with her set was that it was
Junior Brown followed. His technique on his combination guitar and
peddle steel was dazzling, but the band, an electric bass and a snare
drum, were boring, as was his singing and the presentation. His set was
Jimmy Vaughn followed - lots of great blues licks, an enjoyable set -
it was just right.
Dylan started promptly at nine and played a great set. His singing
was melodic, focused, and creative. The new version of "Shelter from the
Storm" was a thrill, and he did great versions of "Most Likely You'll Go
Your Way and I'll Go Mine," "Boots of Spanish Leather," and "A Hard Rain's
A-Gonna Fall." "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" was another
highlight for me.
Dylan and his band played the set fresh and engaged, as if he were not
about to release his first album in 5 years. It was a splendid night!
Review by Reid Evans
Just got back from Winston-Salem, figure I would share some thoughts
before I hit the sack.
I got into town at about 8:15, and despite my best efforts to miss the
entire opening portion of the show, I could still hear Jimmie Vaughn playing
as I was parking. He was doing the exact same set as last night. I'm glad
neither of my siblings are famous.
He finally put it down around 8:30, and they started to set up for Bob. I
found a nice little seat behind the 3rd base dugout and settled in. Tonight
the stage was setup in the outfield of this 50 year old relic. It was probably
the least aesthetically pleasing of the seven of these ballpark shows I have
seen, second perhaps to Greenville, SC last year.
About twenty minutes later Bob and the boys came out, wearing what I
call their bib uniforms (that's what those shirts look like). They opened
with No Time To Think, from Street Legal. It was an okay version. Donnie
substituted his pedal playing to make up for the horn work o the album
I'm screwing with you. The opener has become just as predictable as the
encores. It was Maggie's Farm: pretty good rendering of the overworked
The Times They Are A Changin: Was not as crisp as last night, but the
Harmonica playing was superb. Also, Denny's style of play fits this
Lonesome Day Blues: In this case Bob's voice fits this key perfectly.
Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine): This was a highlight of
the night, a different arrangement, played I believe, in a minor key. It
was a softer version than what was a staple last year. This version was
not as riff driven as last years. Bob sang the piss out of this one.
Boots Of Spanish Leather: The slightly altered intro threw me off for a
second. Well sung, with an absolutely stunning harp solo to finish it off.
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding): Another highlight for me, this
arrangement was a litle different than it was in the spring, like Most
Likely, it was softer. Bob sang it softly, with some really good phrasing.
There were no manic violin fills from Donnie though he did play it. Bob
ended it differently too, instead of the usual, "it's life and life
ohn-leeeeeeee with the nasally high pitched effect, we got a much
darker and much lower (thing of the "down sing" on She Belongs To
Me from the spring) "it's life and life own-layyyyyy.
Shelter From The Storm: A good version, again slightly different from
last year. Not so much in form as much as in instrumentation, mainly
from Stu picking as opposed to strumming. I thought it was a good
choice, a pretty hope filled song to follow up an anthem to life's
Highway 61 Revisited: It was okay, Denny did some interesting guitar
Just Like A Woman: Crowd favorite. Nice though. I always wonder
why the Europeans sing along to the song like a choir, and it never
happens here. I'd be mortified if it happened though.
Honest With Me: This one kind of limped out of the gate, missing an
early turn around. It was just very vanilla, I think is the nicest way to
put it. I remember hearing this in 2004 and it was such a high energy
song. To be brutally honest with you, no pun intended, what was
missing was Larry Campbell. What he used to bring to this tune,
especially with the slide, was simply empty space on this rendition.
A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall: I really enjoyed this, Bob phrased it beautifully.
I think I had a moment during this song where I just thanked God for
Tony. He's the one you never look at on stage, but if you ever took
him away, it would be like watching the rest of them naked. He's a
Summer Days: Bob has so much fun playing this. That song brings joy
to even the most mirthless of concertgoers.
No time at all passed and they were back to finish it off, there's no
point in commenting on the encore. That would be like reviewing air.
It's there, it's good, so just accept it.
There was an interesting part in the band introductions where I think
Bob said that Denny played the drums, then he looks at him and says,
"you can play the drums"? "Wowww". Something like that, I didn't
process it as it was happening.
And I beat the traffic out only to get as lost as I could be.
It all started when I asked this teenage girl for directions at a stoplight.
Don't ever do that, don't ever ask a teenage girl for anything. Unless
you're a teenage boy I guess.
Review by Dudsky
So, there I am about 35 feet from Bob Dylan. He's singing "Shelter From the
Storm" and I'm thinking about how big the outfield looks when you're in it.
Second base, over my shoulder, is oddly close. The grandstands, though, seem
miles in the distance. Everything is some form of illusion, especially at a
Bob Dylan concert. I'm in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at Ernie Shore Field.
Shore was a RedSox pitcher who threw a perfect imperfect game Babe Ruth
started. Ruth walked a man, got thrown out arguing over the size of the
umpire's strike zone, and Shore got 26 batters out. The 27th? The leadoff
hitter who obligingly got himself thrown out trying to steal second. Shore
went on to become a sheriff just north of here in Yadkin County and Ruth went
on to become, well, Ruth. A larger than life figure, one of five or ten from a
generation you have to see if the chance comes along. Like Bob Dylan.
Dylan is appearing this summer at various minor league baseball parks. Writers
and fans like to believe Dylan is making some statement about the mythical
connections between old fashion travelling shows and small town baseball. I
prefer to think that he's getting a bigger cut of the take from the baseball
teams than he would from arena and club owners. It's amusing to think of the
meaning that critics and fans try to invest in Dylan's every move and
utterance. He seems to play with those illusions and bend the light through
the glass in as many ways as he can turn it.
In this case it means reinventing himself as the leader of a fairly serious
rock band. If Dylan's band were a baseball team they wouldn't be greats, but
solid .270 hitters with power. "Highway 61 Revisited" is a hard liner off the
left field wall. No stolen bases from this team, no stolen paychecks. They
play hard from the 1st to the 9th. Journeymen doing honest work.
Dylan may be comparable to Ruth in celebrity, but in performance is more akin
to TY Cobb. On the field a picture of intensity, seeming to grow taller when
the game begins. White sports coat, black hat, leaning into the keyboards the
way Cobb leaned into the bases, going in hard spikes flashing.
Cobb wasn't a gentleman player who wanted the fan's praise. He was on the
field because he had to be there, playing with intensity because it was who
and what he was. Dylan doesn't have to ride a bus around to places like
Winston-Salem, Bakersfield, or Pawtucket to make money or a reputation. I'm
guessing he has to do it for the same reasons Cobb played baseball, to find
the best expression of who he is.
The fans are the same who came out to see the Georgia Peach. The ones who want
to stand in the light of a star, the ones who want to get tanked up in a crowd
of people and forget who they are, the bankers and the beaten, and the young
ones who had to come because their parents made them.
I don't spend much time in the deep end of the Dylan song pool. But last year
before a trip to St. Louis I bought "Chronicles", his narrative about becoming
a legend, and found in it's pages a good and honest man. It got me through a
couple of long plane flights out and back. If he was going to go to all the
trouble of coming a few miles down the road from me, the least I could do to
return the favor was come and see him play. Throw my $49 on the offering plate
for a secular revival service and see if anyone got saved.
What I got was worth the price of admission. The minor leaguers who opened the
show, Elena James & the Continental Two (there were three of them) played with
the joy of youth. Then came the life-long bush leaguer, Junior Brown, who was
there because he had to be somewhere, and finally Jimmie Vaughn. The younger
brother of a bigger star who has had a few shots at the big leagues and is now
down in AAA trying to figure out where his career went.
Dylan? Of all the Dylan impersonator's he is likely the best. He brings his
songs out and wipes the pine tar off of them and then takes good hard swings
with them. Sometimes he hammers the pitch, occasionally he strikes out. But
when the band was literally blistering "Honest With Me" and Dylan sang "I'm
not sorry for nothin' I've done-I'm glad we fought I only wish we'd won." you
knew he was telling the truth.
Bob Dylan is on his way to Cooperstown and that seems about right, too. His
show is headed north. They will be in Frederick, Maryland tonight on a road
that will lead back to Minnesota and the Dakotas. Back to where he came from
and, despite fame, never left. If he comes to a ball park in your town go see
him. You don't miss the chance to see Bob Dylan. There won't be another one
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