Review by Cincinatus
Oh say can you see by the dawns early light how we prepared for a road trip
for the Bob Dylan show located in Frederick, Maryland. The home of Francis
Scott Keys' burial plot and the world renown lawfirm of "Moo, Oink, and Cluck".
Our trip was planned weeks in advance. With map quest directions from the
great and first state of Delaware in hand, we slowly made the rounds and picked
up a 12 pack of jamaican brews, a 12 pack of freshly fried chicken, carrots,
celery and one Gratefruit for my first traveling companion " Big Mo". " Big
Mo" wearing a Walt Whitman shirt is an artist in his own right , a legendary
supporter of the arts and a self proclaimed Vodka taster.
Together, we traveled to pick up out next companion , " Big Mac" .
Discussing Douglas Brinkleys, The Great Deluge, we discussed the day ahead. Big Mac
was ready for us with his redneck horseshoes and his Pastrami and Cheese on
rye. After a brief tour of a new concrete slab, a country garden, and Big Mac's
racing pidgeons, we were off on our quest.
Sattelite radio was in Big Mac's vehicle, and provided a great montage of
music for our journey. From Tom T. Hall to Los Amigos en Paradisio, we raced
toward the show. A story here, a story there, and a story everywhere. Big Mo
and Big Mac never met before this day. Both good family men, I knew they would
get along. This I thought, is one of the best parts of going to see Bob
Dylan. The journey....
When we arrived, Big Mac recognized a black locust tree cluttered with
poison ivy. We parked, smoke, drank, and listened to a superb mix tape with cuts
from the Harry Smith Anthology, Tom Waits, The Osborne Brothers, Nick Cave,
Leonard Coen, The Seldom Scene, and Marty Robbins. The crowd was immense and
poured over Key's stadium like an invasion. Young and old, hippie and yuppie,
savant and statesmen, criminals and saints are going to the show. It appeared
to be a sellout.
We entered after a long wait at will call with a great bunch of folks.
Everyone was patient. Like Big Mo says, It's not the sun that makes you hot, it's
the others that complain about the heat.
We entered the stadium, and this was a very large crowd. Unfortunatley, we
missed the Texas two, but caught the next three acts. Junior Brown did not
disappoint and his whimisical words combined with his prison blues guitar set the
stage as the sun went down. Jimmy Vaughn also rocked the compacity crowd,
and yes he is the late Stevie Ray Vaughn's brother but a talent on his own
The place ran out of water and beer in my location before Bob and band due to
the large crowd.
Bob arrived on stage in a Black Cowboy outfit, and the rest of the band wore
white. The amazing thing about the setlist is how this band builds momentum,
and clearly takes chances on songs that they play night after night. This
approach always provides newness and it is almost as though they are seeking
perfection even though they know it will never be achieved. It's about the
From Maggie's Farm to Watchtower the band cooked, and the crowd was as big at
the end then when the concert began. Highlights of show : Positively 4rth
Street, Til' I Fell In Love with You with a spoonful Jam, Cold Iron Bounds, and
a smoking Summer Days with Jimmy Vaughn.
As we filed out like cattle, the locust chirped , the rockets red glared, and
the Flag was still there. The Pastrami and cheese sandwhiches were also, and
ooh they hit the spot as we ran over a curb, through a stop sign , and home
to our dormant wives.
Review by Baby Blue
This was my second Dylan concert. What a difference a year makes! This
year he has moved his keyboard over to stage left and more to the center. He
was far more engaged and rockin' this year then I remember last year. Perhaps
it was the sell-out crowd of more than 10,000 on a balmy and storm-cloud
threatening that had something to do with it. But he was rockin' - the
arrangements of the songs were fresh and expressive and for all intensive purpose -
sound very little like the original records, not even the new stuff.
Standouts for BabyBlue? Cold Irons Bound - a real surprise. I was ready
to go for it with Highway 61 (which is the one I remembered being blown away
about last year), but this year it was Cold Irons Bound - which had an
arrangement that just was a cross between bluesy/rock and haunting. It was wild.
Other stand-outs for me: Times They Are a-Changing, which reminded me of the
arrangement that I've downloaded from iTunes earlier this year by Tom Corwin and
Tim Hockenberry, which makes it more like a song of reflection than an anthem
for change. The preachy-ness is gone and instead it sounds more like a
timeless reminder that life is full of change. What made it stand out was that it
was almost ironic because so many twenty-somethings were jammed together in
what was nearly a mosh pit on the outfield and they seemed far more stunned
then totally knowing what Dylan was doing. It reminded me of the photos from
the early 60s as Dylan was transforming from the Guthrie songs to his Beat
period and the audiences sitting still watching and listening to him as though
spellbound. So for the boomers in the crowd, they were rocking with the man, but
for so many - thousands - of the millennials, they did frankly stand there as
Now that I think about it, I think that was me last year.
This was also apparent on the next song, "Lonesome Day Blues," one of the
newer songs from his last album, "Love and Theft." He was animated - almost
boyish, nearly dancing behind the keyboards. The 20-somethings stopped talking
and stood beside me staring at him. This was not U2. I turned to one of
them standing next to me and said, "Wow, he's really on tonight," and the guy
looked over at me with his eyes very round and then turned back toward the stage
- totally mute. It was weird. If it was just this guy, okay. But all
around me were all these kids and they were standing there mute, just staring at
Perhaps it was awe.
And wouldn't that beat all.
Many of these kids had been very noisily chomping down the hotdogs, the
nachos, the popcorn - laughing and carrying on like it was a party. But finally,
when Dylan took the stage around 9:00 p.m., they just stood there, staring,
not even moving - just staring at the stage.
Then there are these interesting teenage or pre-teen boys - who have let
their curly dark hair grow out and look strikingly like the Dylan of 1967.
There's not just one or two of them, though. They pepper they crowd, looking
slightly dorky, almost cute, like little Mini-Me Dylans. I remember them from
last year too.
Another highlight for me came from the crowd and I just couldn't stop
laughing. Dylan concerts also include entertainment from the crowd (sometimes on
purpose, and often inadvertently). There is a certain "Dead-head" quality to
some in the crowd. When you are close to the stage, fellow fans can use some
amazing tactics to get themselves even closer to the stage - and many of them
employ tactics that are decades in the making. Last night I saw one of the
best. This couple comes up behind me, pressing against everybody. They are
in their 50s and look like they could have stopped in to see Willie Nelson
before dropping by to see Bob. The guy is smiling and looking like an amiable
guy who drives a pickup with a gun rack. His companion has blond hair
bleached one time too often. She's moving her hands as she talks to the crowd,
"he's hearing impaired!" she shouts to all as they jam themselves forward, then
moves her hands as though using sign language. Only, she's only waving her
fingers and calling it sign language and of course, he gives it away when he
nodds to what she's saying. As I moved out of the way (as well all did), I
couldn't stop laughing. The sound was no different where I was standing and where
the ardent stood by the stage. Did they expect to read Bob's lips? Of
course, the biggest laugh is the idea that anyone can completely understand -
even with both ears fully functioning - to what Bob is singing. You have to all
ready know the songs in order to get it. But off they went, pressing
forward, waving fingers, smiling buoyantly.
Another highlight was Girl from the North Country, and I know this has been a
favorite of his for years. But when I hear it I think of his duet with
Johnny Cash you just have to wonder if he includes it remembering his old friend
who gave him his own guitar after Dylan first performed at Newport in the early
I did like the jamming songs - the arrangements were really innovative.
Summer Days was another one that took off - though I think it was Sugar Baby (one
that I don't know I've heard before) where Jimmie Vaughn, one of his opening
acts, joined him on stage to bring that mercury sound that Bob loves so much.
There was more than the guitar that was electric at that moment - it felt
fresh, which is simply amazing when you consider that Bob spends hundreds of
days on the road every year. How does he do it?
The vast majority of the crowd were upper and lower middle class families and
friends, of all political stripes from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West
Virginia, and DC - groups with blankets and mats and comfortable shoes,
tailgating in the parking lot or stetched out on the field thinking that next year
they might sit in the seats instead, some who bought their first Dylan record
in 1965 and some who just saw "No Direction Home," now wanting to see Dylan
before he goes home.
Speaking of home, after an excellent All the Along the Watchtower (which
overshadowed Rolling Stone - again, different then last year) Bob and his band
came out for a final bow (so old-fashioned - like a different era). The lined
up at the edge of center stage. Bob was in the middle, but instead of bowing
or waving, he tood there was his arms held out horizontally like a cross and
his index fingers pointing up. He was again, somewhat awkward, as though
uncomfortable being center-stage finally. But this a was a curious gesture - no
wave, no bow - just this - well, it looked to me like a sign of the cross.
Review by Christopher Jenkins
Dylan's show in Frederick last night was great. This was my fourth show in five
years and I'd never heard Bob sound so good. His diction was very clear, I'm
not sure if it was because of the mix or because of Bob. And yes, Bob has
changed position on stage, now he's on the right of the stage, not the left,
and he's in a more central location in the band. The setlist was great. New
arrangements of songs like Cold irons Bound and Girl From The North Country
were incredible, true gems. Jimmie Vaughan joined Bob for Summer Days at
the end of the set.
As for the other bands, Elana James and her crew were a good warm-up act.
Junior Brown was a true surprise, incrediblee guitar player and performer. And
once Jimmie Vaughan got warmed up he was very good also.
All in all, a much better line-up and concert than the Bob/Willie concerts of
the past couple of years.
Review by John Frisch
Tonight saw Dylan to continue to reinvent--the first time this fan had
heard his completely reworked and reinvented versions of "Till I Fell In
Love With You", "Cold Irons Bound" and "Sugar Baby". The first two
were resounding successes--Cold Irons Bound was the standout of the
night for me taking on a deeply sinister feel. Sugar Baby did not--it was
something of a total disaster, an odd miscue in an otherwise great
performance. While the first verse or so of Maggie's Farm found him
struggling to find his voice, Dylan righted the ship midway through the
song and really hit his stride with his first rate band thereafter. I have
had the good fortune to see Dylan regularly in recent years--while the
setlist was not particularly imaginative and did not cut new ground (last
year's Bowie, Maryland show had Senor, Chimes of Freedom and
Shooting Star for example), the reworked versions of material from Time
Out of Mind and Love and Theft made for an interesting evening. As a
result of a strong performance by his Band and the enthusiasm Dylan
brought to the task, even the standards "Highway 61", "Summer Days",
"Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower" sounded
remarkably fresh and were forcefully and crisply delivered.
Review by Thad Williamson
I hadn’t seen Dylan since November ’04 and haven’t been listening to
recordings of recent tours, so all the new arrangements were novel to
me. Suffice it to say that the show is more interesting than the setlist
alone might suggest—just about every song has been significantly
reworked with respect to pace and phrasing.
Maggie’s Farm, the opener, didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but
The Times was absolutely luminous, capped by some fine harp playing.
Lonesome Day Blues was also excellent; Stuck Inside of Mobile was
notable for the seemingly random order of the verses Bob sang. I still
miss the “old” arrangement of Cold Irons Bound, but this still rocked.
The next big highlight was Girl of the North Country—just beautiful,
and a nice surprise not given away by the unfamiliar arrangement and
opening. Highway 61 was its typical adrenaline-laced self, Bob getting
more and more animated at the keyboard by this point.
The performance peaked in my view with Sugar Baby and Summer
Days. There are so many great lines in Sugar Baby, and everyone of
them came out crystal clear and biting last night. It’s easy for those
who go to a lot of shows to take Summer Days for granted, but
there’s nothing wrong with a consistent crowd-pleaser. Jimmy
Vaughn joined in for this song—he played some tasty fill-in licks and
was about ready to launch into a wailing solo when he was clearly
surprised to see Bob interject to sing a couple of more verses. But
Jimmy got his chance later on and delivered and then some.
The encores were fine, everyone thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Other random observations—it’s interesting to see the way Bob now
uses his left hand to communicate with the band, usually waving it
when he’s about to sing. His voice and his level of animation both
steadily improve as the concert wears on. I like that there is more of
an organ sound going on now. And nice touch that Bob has all the
band gather together at the end of the show for a “bow.”
Fun evening all the way round. My friend who is only a casual Dylan
fan absolutely loved it, if that’s any indication.
Review by Jim Keil
Saw bob last night at Frederick, MD. Packed house on a hot, humid
night, for Bob, Jimmie Vaughn, Junior Brown, and Elana James. Spent
the first three acts in the first base seats but moved dead center
front for Bob.
Very polished show, except when Jimmie Vaughn came out for summer
days--pretty much of a laugher. Denny Freeman was terrific
throughout. Bob's voice was crisp and clear. The band has improved
each year. The sound system was good. Highlights for me were Lonesome
Day Blues, Cold Irons Bound, Girl from the North Country and the
But the act is missing something. No new songs, although there was a
new arrangement of Cold Irons Bound and one or two other minor
rearrangements. No spark. No surprises. No imagination. Even cutting
Denny Freeman loose would have been a pleasure. Obviously there's a
lot more to Denny than we've been permitted to hear the last several
years. What, the band couldn't find the time between europe and the
ballpark to rehearse a couple of the new songs?! Somebody tell Bob
he's got a new album coming out in a few days!
Despite all the professionalism, I was disappointed, I guess. These
last three years the shows have looked an awful lot alike. Not the
way I'd imagined he would spend his autumnal years. Maybe Modern
Times will surprise us as the previous two did, but you'd never know
it from last night. I left thinking that "that was nice" about a guy
whose performances have rocked so many people's worlds.
Review by Howard Weiner
What a revelation Junior Brown was. He’s the best guitar player I’ve ever
seen open up for Dylan. I’d love to see him come out and play with Dylan.
We did get to see Jimmy Vaughn come out for Summer Days. Jimmy was
pretty good, but Junior is a must, see get there early. Dylan came out in
the usual black garb, looking more like a general than a cowboy. The band
was dressed in opposing white suits. I wasn’t sure if they were gonna rock
or we were headed for a civil war reenactment.
Speaking as someone who sees Dylan on average around seven times a
year there wasn’t much to rave about his performance in Fredrick, Md. If
there were twelve songs in his rotation I didn’t want to see; this was
them. The place was as crowded as I had witnessed at any of these Minor
League ballpark shows. I thought this might spur Bob on, but it was just
more of the same ole, same ole.
I tried to put my desires for an interesting set list aside and enjoyed
Maggie’s Farm and The Times Are A Changin’. I sorely miss She Belongs To
Me from last tour. The band really came alive on Lonesome Day Blues, the
best version I’ve heard from this gang. I was excited to hear Positively
Fourth Street. Tonight’s version was alright, but it missed the loving vocal
inflections Dylan used in Memphis on 4-24-06. I didn’t detect much
emotion in Dylan’s vocals all night, though most of his singing was solid.
Dylan didn’t seem to keep the crowd’s interest on this night. The attention
span of locals tends to wane after three quality opening acts. People were
shuffling in and out and all around. The concept of bringing his tour to
these towns that I would never visit is creative. I like the fact that folks in
these small towns get the opportunity to see him. However, it’s hard to get
into a good viewing location at these gigs. My days of fighting through a
crowd of locals coming out for Saturday night entertainment that doesn’t
mean all that much to them are over. If you really love the music, it’s difficult
to have a meaningful musical experience standing between the 1st and 2nd
base path, 250 feet from the maestro. I think it works the other way too.
Dylan seems more keyed up playing indoors, with the red curtains and black
night sky behind him, and a more attentive crowd in front.
I can sum up the rest of the concert by saying the performances were as
ordinary as the set list. However, he’s such a consummate professional these
days that his show really was pretty good if you haven’t seen him often.
During Highway 61 Revisited some cats in back of me were talking New York
Giant’s Football. I was bummed out to learn Arrington’s knee is in bad shape
and a couple offensive linemen are hurting. A couple of weeks till the season
opener, ten days till Modern Times. Maybe that will bring sum relief to the
mundane set lists since the summer tour of Europe. It was an interesting
weekend in Civil War Alley checking out strange places in the Appalachians.
I spent the night in Boonsboro, Md. Weird wacky stuff.
Review by Eric London
Last night's show in Frederick was a lackluster return to the DC metro area
after a tremendous appearance last year at the other local minor league park
-- PG Stadium in Bowie. To me, this show didn't come close to living up to
the praise given for the first few shows of the tour. Let's hope it was
just a rest stop before better things to come.
First off, it was crowded beyond belief. I've been to dozens of minor
league games at Frederick, and the crowd was twice as big as on the average
fireworks night. It was great to see such a strong turnout for Bob,
especially gratifying to see the huge number of high school kids without
parents dragging them along.
Bob's voice was at the low ebb. He made it through Maggie's Farm passably,
but The Times They Are A-Changin' was a disaster even by his recent vocal
challenges. He recovered a bit during Lonesome Day Blues, but limped
throughout Pos 4th St and Stuck. By To Ramona, it had warmed up and
improved a bit, and hit some bright spots during Cold Irons Bound. His
phrasing was extremely sing-song-y and uninspiring. Maybe he was focusing
on his keyboard playing, which in contrast to his vocals was compelling and
The band was following its leader too well. Many songs didn't click until
the halfway point, and they really didn't break out too often. George and
Tony were working hard as always, but Kimball and Freeman were hardly heard
from. There was some very nice jamming on Sugar Baby by Herron. Jimmy
Vaughn accompanied on Summer Days with some very second rate soloing. After
the song, he looked like he wanted to hang for more, but Bob must have told
him to beat it.
He ended with a fairly inspired LARS and a decent Watchtower.
This show felt a lot like the Solomon's Island show in 2003. Not a wasted
trip, but leaving with the knowledge this obviously wasn't one of the better
shows you've seen or will see.
PS: It looks like Bob has a giant diamond wedding band on his left hand.
And for the first time in recent memory, they didn't have a tour poster with
that night's stop -- they were selling copies from the gig at Ernie Shore
Review by Robert Cohen
I had seen Bob Dylan and his band once each during 2004 and 2005 at simialr
venues, minor league ballparks in Maryland. Although Bob's voice was hoarse
during a rainfilled show in 2004, the band was most impressive that night, and
I could recall images and sounds of Cold Irons Bound, Hwy 61 (a real roller
coaster of sound), Tweedle Dee and All Along the Watchtower months after
the show At the 2005 show, Bob's voice was in fine form, and the song
selection was excellent, including great melodic versions of Stuck Inside Mobile,
Masters of War, This Wheels on Fire, John Brown and Freedom Flashing.
Although good, the concert in Frederick, MD seemed to lack highlights. Bob's
voice was hoarse, but his phaseology and intensity were noteworthy. The
song selection seemed average, and the sound seemed to maximize guitarist
Denny Freemen and minimize the drummer. It's good that Bob will have a new
round of songs to play soon; it is needed. Both guitarists now seem stiff and
I was amazed at how the role of guitarist Stu Kimball has seemed to diminish
compared to the expanded role of Denny Freemen, whose playing seems very
good on slower, melodic songs, such as North Country Fair, but seems
mechanical and stiff on upbeat songs that dominated the concert, such as
Hwy 61, 'Til I Fell in Love Wtih You, Maggie's Farm. Stu Kimabll now plays
accoustic guitar on the majority of songs, but who can hear an accoustic
guitar in rock and roll mix? His guitar licks and enthusiasm were integral in
2004 and 2005. What is happening here?
I took my 22 year old stepson to the concert, and he thought the concert
was great. I thought it was good, but not as good as the memorable
concerts I saw in 2005 and 2006.
Review by Chris Toll
Well, last night was my 14th Bob Dylan show (the first was in February 1966 in
Louisville, KY). Last night was a wonderful show. Looking at the setlists for this
tour, you might think, "Just a formulaic list of songs Bob has performed about
a million times - there won't be any surprises." I must admit I did think along
those lines. I was totally wrong. Bob was in great voice. The nuances he pulls
out of the ruins are truly amazing - he's enunciating perfectly - every word is
clear. And the band is magnificent (the pedal steel and mandolin playing are
particularly beautiful) - the sound is massive and swirling - a fierce storm of
sound when that is required - other times the music is delicate and precise,
almost hushed. Excellent versions of The Times They Are A-Changing (it was a
country waltz), Positively 4th Street (not angry now, just so sad), To Ramona,
and Girl of the North Country (who says sorrow can't learn? - sorrow can
learn that sorrow won't end). And the version of Like a Rolling Stone was the
best version of any I've heard since 1994 - as a friend of mine said, for the first
time I really felt he was singing for me - "...like a complete unknown..." - and
the music was a breathtaking cathedral. So see Bob on this tour - the songs
are just incredibly beautiful.
Review by Ron Radosh
I love Bob and all he does (his XM show is the best thing on radio; I
never miss it.) but the show was awful- simply terrible. We were
pretty far up front in front of the stage on the ballpark lawn, so we had
excellent view of Bob (who sat center stage) so all could see him, and the
sound was first rate.
But the best thing about the concert were the opening acts.
(except Junior Brown, who I don't care for.) Jimmy Vaughn gave a tight
good performance, and sang very well. Of course, it's always sad to hear
him do his late brother's Texas Flood, since his guitar picking just doesn't
But although Bob tried; he enunciated all the lyrics and never mumbled,
let's put it candidly. He CANNOT sing at all. He just croaks and talks, and his
voice sounds horrible. Also, believe it or not, we were bored stiff---nothing
did anything for me. I kept waiting to hear something good that could
move me. Also, compared to the last band with the indefatigable Larry
Campbell, the new band was horrible. When I saw Bob at the Warner
Theater the band cooked---they did some of the same songs this time;
and the difference is very noticeable. They maintain a beat, and that's
Bob goes through the motions, moving quickly from one song to another,
never saying a word. Looks like he's anxious to get through the night's
work, and that's about it. I wonder, why does he do this? It obviously
isn't for the money. Can't he stop touring, write new songs, perform
occasionally, save his voice, and find other creative outlets. He doesn't
have to do an endless tour anymore. Obviously, plenty of people felt the
same way----scores were walking out about half way after he began, and
they kept leaving. And these are people who came to hear him, and they
voted with their feet.
Comments by Steve
Jimmy Vaughan played during summer days. and he played very well. Bob
actually walked over to the mike after the song and thanked him on mike
and high fived him. Dylan very happy during summer days. Highlight of
the show for me was Cold Irons Bound as it continues to morph into
different forms . And a milestone for me. My 50th Dyaln show since 1978
Keep up the great work Bill.
Review by Michael Miller
This was my 25th Dylan concert, but my first in 4 years. After being away a
few years, I was curious as to how Dylan would sound. After reading reviews
of previous shows on this tour, I did not expect such a large crowd (I read
reports of 10,000 and 12,000). I thought I could sneak in late and get a
decent spot, but that was not the case.
Maggie's Farm was an arrangement that I never heard and really liked.
However, Bob's voice was not the best and it took a few minutes to figure
out the song. The vocals on Times They Are A-Changing was much better. The
next few songs were just kind of so-so. Things picked up with Cold Irons
Bound, which was another arrangement that was unique to me. The highlight
for me was a very heartfelt version of Girl From the North Country. He
finished strong with a good versions of Summer Days, Like A Rolling Stone
and All Along the Watchtower.
There was a noticeable difference in Dylan's voice and his band than there
was when I last heard them. He did not have the volume or intensity that I
remember. Fortunately, I've never been to a Dylan concert that didn't leave
you with at least one special moment and this show was no exception.
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