page by Bill Pagel
Review by Larry Fishman
The Pines is a beautiful, small amphitheatre located in a scenic park in
Western Massachusetts - a 90 minute drive from west of Boston. It's nice
to be in a venue with inexpensive parking and vendors from the area with
homemade food, not the usual corporate tasteless junk.
Opening Act: The Waifs. How good? Damn good. They just seem to get
better every time I see them and I gladly paid the $15 to buy their latest
CD - you should do the same at their Website. .
Bob was dressed in head to toe white with a short black tie - the band has
given up that coordinated Drifting Cowboys look for their own grown up
rock and roll thing. The sound quality was on the good side of
acceptable -and I don't think I have ever seem Zimmy so animated. He was
swinging those skinny legs of his all night and really leaning into the
mic pushing out the lyrics. Between songs there was plunking on the
ivories, or general band tuning -- channeling Tour 74 in a way. Bob was
at the keyboard all night though he frequently strolled the stage to give
instructions to various band members. And yes yes y'all, he played alot
And hmm, who is that mystery guitarist - lurking behind Lucky and nestled
in next to the drums. Some guy was strumming away all night long. At
first I was hoping it was Nils Lofgren, but it wasn't. Bob didn't
introduce him with the rest of the band. I'm certain someone in the Dylan
world will figure out who he is. Looked in his 40's or 50's with pulled
back hair. New tryout? Need a new guitarist Bob? Guess I would need to
be able to play more than "Oh Susanna."
The crowd seemed older - if that's possible - lots of Stop the Iraq War &
Howard Dean for President bumper stickers in the parking lots. The men
had beards and the women no makeup..okay..on to the show:
1. To Be Alone With You. Played fast, boogie woogie style ala Jerry Lee
Lewis. Bob's banging away feverishly and Koella's guitarwork really swung
the tune. Not much country flavor left on this Nashville Skyline treat,
but alot of womp. It's clear to me that these boys wanna rock tonight.
2. The Times They Are A -Changin' Played in a muscular style, upbeat
and jumpy. Bob's harp solo wasn't his usual meandering 2 note, but real
melodic and musical and good.
3. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. Or as I like to call it the new
"Watchtower." Nice snappy version, it's a guilty pleasure of mine, but
yeah, I would rather hear "Gates of Eden."
4. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight. This one was given a jazzed up arrangement
and then a more typical (and equally delightful) harp solo.
5. Things Have Changed, Finally the band has a change to rock out a
little - this version is the most faithful to the album of any song of the
6. Shelter From the Storm. One of the real delights of Dylan live is
discovering songs anew from different arrangements - this one really
struck me. Arranged in snappy, swinging style with the chorus left out, I
just grooved on the narrative that sent shivers up and down my spine.
With a short, sweet harp solo, Shelter was my night's highlight for
7. Highway 61 Revisited. Time to rock once again with this crowd pleaser
that really took off and revved. Koella was hot & cold all night - often
on the same solo on the same song. He was front and center tonight, all
night, with Campbell taking few leads - one of the rare ones here after
8. Blind Willie McTell. My nominee for the new national anthem, played
well with Bob singing in a soft growl. Thank you Bob, thank you.
9. Its' Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) Zimmy really leaned into
microphone and spat out the lyrics with bite & bark and precision. The
band lowering the decibels during the lyrics and cranking it between the
stanzas. Felt the passion here.
10. Watching the River Flow. A bit of a mess, but an enjoyable one
nonetheless. Campbell took a nice turn on slide guitar and crowd
certainly roared after the ecology song.
11. Boots of Spanish Leather. A vastly different arrangement and
setting. Bob & the band played quite softly behind the vocal with a sort
of acapella feel. The beauty and sadness really came thru.
12. Honest With Me. Well played with the two main guitar boys in
simpatico. Bob seemed a little bored - time to retire this one. And just
when I though lethargy was setting in...
13. Tangled Up in Blue. It started with an ugly thud, the band was stone
cold off with the piano and the guitar stepping on each other in an bloody
mess...and then the song was reclaimed soaring to heights long unseen.
Performed with real energy and panache - it was a wonder to behold. I
have felt that Bob has mangled this song for the last couple of years, but
tonight -- on the money.
14. Summer Days. A truly superior version and perhaps Koella best turns
of the night. An exuberant song played well with texture unlike some of
the havana gila endless versions.
15. Like A Rolling Stone. Back from a longer than usual break before the
encore, this version was shot out of a cannon. A bit faster than usual,
16. All Along the Watchtower. To hear that Sergio Leone intro is to know
the night is shortly ending. Good rock and roll to close the show.
In sum, a good night with some great moments - and great effort and focus.
It's back to New York City for Bob thank goodness he hasn't had enough.
Review by Seth Rogovoy
Dylan subverts expectations at Look Park (Northampton, August 19, 2003)
by Seth Rogovoy
(NORTHAMPTON, Mass., August 20, 2003) - It must be both exciting and
terrifying to be a member of Bob Dylan's band - exciting in that every
night you are performing with one of the greatest legends of rock music
and helping to perpetuate his legacy by keeping his music vital, fresh and
alive, terrifying in that Dylan himself seems to thrive on subverting
expectations, including what song you're going to play next and how you
are going to play it.
There were several of these tense moments in Dylan's erratic but
ultimately electrifying show at the Pines Theatre in Look Park on Tuesday
night, a show in which Dylan threw several curveballs to his musicians and
to ardent fans. Always one to mix up his set lists, Dylan introduced
several numbers that had rarely if ever been played on his recent tour,
including the opening number, "To Be Alone with You," rendered as a
rollicking, Little Richard-style bit of rock 'n' roll.
To the uninitiated, even more surprising must have been the sight of Dylan
playing the entire concert standing off to the side of the stage in front
of an electric keyboard, subverting the iconic image of Dylan with an
acoustic guitar around his shoulders and a harmonica on a wire rack around
his neck. But for the past year, Dylan has forsaken his longtime axe in
favor of his original instrument, one he played in teen-age bands and then
only rarely, and mostly on recordings, over the last 40 years or so.
Dylan's gospel-style piano chording were apparently the main reason for a
version of "Shelter from the Storm," in an arrangement that bore a family
resemblance to the Band's "The Weight" but otherwise did not serve the
song well. Better was a hard-rocking rendition of "Highway 61 Revisited,"
in a John Lee Hooker-style blues-rock vein with Dylan's slam-chords
punctuating the stop-start arrangement. The song also served to shake
Dylan out of an unfortunate pattern he falls into on occasion -- and which
plagued him early in the show -- where his vocals get stuck in a sing-song
pattern that ends every line going up - the musical version of Valley
Having ridden himself of that pest, Dylan continued in apocalyptic mode
with a searing version of "Blind Willie McTell" followed by a modal-blues
style "It's All Right Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," in which some of his lines
were sung in a gentle, almost sweetly conversational tone instead of the
rough, froggy croak he mostly favors.
The curveballs came mid-show, first when Dylan sprung "Boots of Spanish
Leather" on his band, which apparently had no arrangement for the tune.
Dylan started off playing solo accompanying himself on piano, as the band
slowly figured out the key and the chord progression, eventually even
finding a groove to propel the number.
After a pretty faithful version of "Honest with Me," from Dylan's most
recent album of new songs, "Love and Theft," he reintroduced an old
concert favorite, "Tangled Up in Blue," but not first without a seeming
tug-of-war between him and longtime guitarist Larry Campbell, with Dylan
wanting to play the song in a radically new arrangement and Campbell
apparently insisting that Dylan adhere to the beloved song's basic
structure. Campbell won out, and George Recile's thundering drums and Tony
Garnier's solid bass lines drove the number home.
Dylan sang numbers like "The Times They Are a-Changin'" and "I'll Be Your
Baby Tonight" with seductive intimacy and a bit of a smirking leer.
Dressed in a white cowboy suit with his bandmates variously bedecked in
black and gray suits, he looked the ringleader of a gang from the Wild
West. He seemed to be having a pretty good time, as did the crowd, even
if, as my much wiser 10-year-old son observed at the end, "He played a lot
of good songs the wrong way."
[This review originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on August 21,
2003. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2003. All rights reserved.]
Review by Mary Clare Kersten
Greetings from the West Coast. I missed this show, but convinced my
sister-in-law, who lives in Northampton and hadn't seen Dylan in over
thirty years, that she had to go. I'm sharing some of her response with
you because it's such an affirmation of what the rest of us already know:
i was going to write to you this morning.. it was WONDERFUL.. i actually
tried calling you during the concert so i could hold the phone up, but
your line was busy..the concert was held outside in this really cool
grassy amphetheatre.. like a relatively small Tanglewood.. except that it
is shaped like a Greek amphitheatre, so the lawn slopes towards the
stage.... we, the audience, never stopped moving and dancing from the
beginning to the end... what a treat. i love what he does with his old
tunes.. very swingy, kind of big band ..Dylan is such a great role model
for us all: you don't have to stay the same, or simply grow older.. he
shows us how all of life is a constant process of self-re-discovery and
reinvention.. nothing about him is the old Dylan, and i am struck by how
he has simply improved as he has re-discovered a new self and musical
expression... and TECHNICALLY, his and his band's work is startling.. he
is just such a master.. the evening was non stop magic.. what more can i
page by Bill Pagel
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