August 20, 2011
Review by Ernest Gurney
Everyone in our group was looking forward to what seemed like a consistent
"song number 2" in the Dylan setlists. It had been years since Dylan had
sung "To Ramona" but it was appearing with frequency. In fact the last 5
nights saw it coming in right after "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat". Well, we soon
got the hint that things had changed. Dylan's steps to the familiar spot at
the organ and the first song came out as "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35".
Dylan's in great voice and his humor and timing already on display as he twists
the phrases into a camaraderie of victimization, with everyone harmonizing to
the refrain…."everybody must get stoned"….. Hmmmmm…..is this an "uh-oh"
to song number two? Yup.
Dylan, loose in Captain Kangaroo striped pants, a tan hat UFO -hovered on his
head, like Devo gone MORE alien, stays at his post. Charlie Sexton and crew
begin the plinkety plunk opening to "Don't Think Twice It's Allright"…. A
tender song that fits nicely where the hoped-for Ramona ….. did not show.
The third song and "Things Have Changed"….although that really should be
typed "THINGS HAVE CHANGED". Dylan oddly steps back from the organ and
makes his way to a microphone placed at stage-front/center and begins to
Tell The Tale of "Things Have Changed"…..complete with broad gestures
and opened facial expressions that affirmed lyrics…..this is now a Story rather
than rote-rhyme recitation mumbled from the rear of a cheesy organ wheeze.
Suddenly I'm back in Augusta and it's 1975. Dylan in white-face gesticulating
with tight fists and open hands, twisting his face around the words, vivid and
biting. He sweeps his hand back to the band in accentuation and mutters "I
used to care but things have changed" and I'm back in Bangor, 2011. A
funneling point and I'm in a time where there is no time. The Moment we so
desperately try to capture on film and video and "certified sound recording"
has become some pointillist series of dreams. Dylan continues the exploration
of Moment and Memory, of Time as a force to be reckoned with, regaling the
audience with "Tangled Up In Blue", two lives together that sure were gonna
be rough…..Dylan begins the excursion into harmonica solos that makes the
night a remarkable display of his many talents. The woman in front of us starts
to wave her hand back and forth as if in evangelical rapture. The night
becomes "something different". After the theatre of "Tangled…", Dylan turns
back to his post and into one of his best love songs, leaning into "Beyond
Here Lies Nothing", describing the love that lives where it lives and has no
need of an Elsewhere, in fact resents the incursion of everything Outside.
"Mississippi" flows next and it's wide and wonderful, but Dylan can't help but
refer to Time yet again….'he stayed in Mississippi a day too long…..
At first I had REAL problems with Dylan's next song, "Lonesome Death of
Hattie Carroll". Presented in a clockwork beat by the band, Dylan "at his post"
at the organ, cold in highly-mannered clipped speech elipsed of emotion.
Dry…..dry as a Police Report. It is as if Hattie Carroll is in some macabre wind-up
music box ballet, her life swept by matters not of her control. Maddeningly rigid
in tone and delivery, Dylan then follows this with a Brechtian take on "Ballad of
Hollis Brown". Back at the microphone, he delivers an operatic Life of a Farmer
Down on His Luck, theatrically splaying his arms to your poor little children
"a-tugging at your sleeve", turning to "the rats have got your flour, bad blood
it got your mare". When he tells you of the "cold coyote calls", his voice barks
and you can feel them in the night, just out of sight of the cabin, waiting.
The two works were tied somehow, bound by something common and not
just because they're from the same album. The characters live forever and
their plight never changes. Relevant now as they were when written over 40
years ago. Lives locked into Cartesian time, a 'clockwork" of modern Man, the
circumstances of their situation is constantly undermining their existential
humanity. We are Captains of Our Destiny? What a joke, Dylan says. The only
control left to Hollis Brown was his decision to end it. And the only time Dylan
turned from the audience was when he refrained "somewhere in the distance
there are seven new people born". It never stops. Things DON'T Change.
Except in Matters of Love and by a "Simple Twist of Fate"…..which is Dylan's
next pick, a tale of a man obsessed by wanting the woman he once knew for
a time. That which brings you together can also tear you apart. It happens.
Get over it. But he never does. He waits at the dock, hoping that lightning
strikes twice. Gambling clubs build casinos on this premise.
"Highway 61" follows and Dylan is time-juggling with String Theory phrasing
and timing, releasing the band to wanton rambles of guitar, reeling them
back in with extended bellows of "out on Highway Sixteeeeee…..ONE!…..the
delivery turns staccato, punchy like a fighter hitting an opponent in one spot
over and again. I never know what to make of this but it's happened several
times in his live sets.
Dylan weaves into story-teller again, warming to the microphone to tell us all of
Blind Willie McTell. Clear phrasing from Bob, along with extended harp solos and
the gracious guitar of Sexton and resonant Garnier bass-lines mark this as a
"Thunder On The Mountain" has become a staple of the sets and deserves it.
Good song, lively, gets the audience ready for the idea of an end to all this joy
and hoopla. Dylan strikes with one more jewel of theatric delivery at the
microphone, an impish yet biting "Ballad of a Thin Man". He's having a lot of fun
and ….. is he making fun of us? Do any of us know what is happening here?
Then off…..to await the encore….
The concert starts to wrap up with "Like a Rolling Stone" , again such a staple
of the sets that you have to play it and everyone wants it so here it is….do you
know what any of this is worth? Yes….Dylan then ends the concert with "All
Along the Watchtower"…..although he hauls out the standard version…..and
leaves the audience and the night with a growling "and the wind begins
Review by Zoo Cain
August 20, 2011-Saturday-eight p. m around sixty degrees. Leon
Russell opening for Bob Dylan, Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, Maine.
Great crowd anticipating a great evening of amazing music, from two
legends of the nineteen sixties. Bob Dylan in millions of minds the
king of kings, of the music business. Leon and band hit the stage at
eight. Delta Lady rockin the yard. Leon looks and sounds ninety
years old, but still Leon and still great to hear him. Rollin in my
sweet baby's arms. Band is spirited and immensely talented. Leon
ragged but hanging in there. Stranger in a Strange Land. Sweet
little angel. No fun being critical of Leon, so i won't be. Back to
the Island. Cool to hear these songs again. A cover of Wild Horses,
a crowd pleaser. Fallin, fallin, yes I'm fallin and she keeps calling
me back again, by the Beatles, rolling along pretty darn good. Crowd
is delighted. More music and than Walking Blues song by Leon's lead
player. The crowd into the show. Leon alone, playing keyboards and
Singing This Song For You. Band is back and roaring into Jumpin Jack
Flash!! Papa was a Rolling Stone and Kansas City. Ending with Roll
Wind is picking up and the stage is just about set for Bob Dylan and
his band. This is a very exciting time. The man is about to hit the
stage. The air is electric. Rainy Day Woman 12#35 about as strong as
possible. Doesn't get any better than this. You can tell right away
that Bob is in a really good mood. Don't Think Twice it's Alright,
slowin it down a bit. Things Have Changed has Bob out front without
instrument,spinning a yarn with song. Very good voice. Now blowing a
mean harp. This is guaranteed to be a special night. Guaranteed!
Tangled Up In Blue, still fronting the band with just a microphone,
while holding the crowd spellbound. Crazy arrangement but works
terrifically. Wow the harmonica playing is better than ever. Beyond
Here Lies Nothing, exotic bit of tuneage, with Bob sporting an
electric guitar. Band sounds right on and powerful. On keyboards
doing a cool version of Mississippi. The Lonesome Death of Hattie
Carroll, very very interesting. A big night for lightness and long
melodic stories. Electric guitar for Simple Twist of Fate. Finally
kicking it way,way up with Highway 61 Revisited!!!!. Bob Dylan and
his band can really romp. Anyone out there that think that Bob
doesn't have it going on should show him what they've got. The
audience loves what's going down here. Blind Willie Mctell, with a
wailing harp. Nobody does a show like Bob Dylan. Nobody.Thunder On
the Mountain picking up the tempo, picking up speed as we go, into
another dimension. Jamming to a very happy crowd. All the
instruments into a great dance with each other. A lot of humor in
Bob's keyboards and its catchy. Ballad of a Thin Man sounds sinister
and to the point. Like A Rolling Stone thundering over the landscape
of a sea of people and nature. Into encore territory and Bob is
visibly happy with the night. All Along the Watchtower, pedal to the
metal, no holding back tripper.
Review by Brian Lewis
After Tempest was released, I heard that Dylan and his band had rehearsed
Tempest songs while doing sound checks before concerts. I believe I heard
some songs before the August 20, 2011 concert at the Bangor Waterfront
Pavilion. It was the second last concert of that summer tour before the
finale in Boston the next night. Anna Liza and I arrived in Bangor early
after travelling from New Brunswick, Canada that day and went to the
waterfront about two hours early. From where we parked we could see the
back of the stage and it was open from front to back except for some
equipment between the front of the stage and us about three hundred feet
away. There was hardly anyone milling around at all. Leon Russell and
his band were warming up and you could see and hear them quite well. After
they finished and in the next fifteen or twenty minutes you could see
Dylan and his band take the stage through the right (our left) side of
the stage and start to play. Dylan wasn’t singing very loud at all, more
like a muffled sound and low, I presumed he was saving his voice for
later. I thought about how dedicated he was to even practice on the next
to last night of the tour, surely they knew what they were going to play
very well or else a surprise song would appear tonight. I didn’t
recognize anything they played but again sometimes I’m not that good at
name that tune and anyway perhaps some regular songs had changed since we
last saw him in Saint John, NB in May of 2008. I’m almost certain these
were rehearsals for Tempest recordings that would take place early the
next year. They did about five songs, stopping and starting up again at
intervals throughout them, Dylan’s voice never more than an pronounced
whisper. The concert started before dark with Leon and his band who
were perfunctory and made a great rock n’ roll band with a number of
great covers. Russell’s lead guitarist was exceptional and even took a
turn at the microphone for a song. When they finished Dylan took the stage
with some dark storm clouds to the far north of us, you could see lighting
way in the distance but it never threatened. This made for a nice
background for the set. I was surprised that the outdoor sound was much
better than the arenas I had heard him in before. He seemed in great
spirits and played electric guitar on a couple of songs which I’ve
read he isn’t doing much of anymore due to arthritis. The highlight for
me was “Blind Willie McTell” a song that I had missed hearing for many
years, even after it was out. There’s always a great Dylan song that is
missed along the way….how can that be consistently possible?
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