Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

August 20, 1997

Mann Music Center

Thanks to Patrick Urban for the following review:

Just thought I'd offer a review of the concert in case anyone was curious.
 This concert confirmed my assertion that when Bob Dylan is on, he's the best
thing going today.  From the opening notes of Absolutely Sweet Marie to the
closing of Alabama Getaway, Dylan played with passion and energy and held the
near capacity Philadelphia crowd in the palm of his hand.  The atmosphere was
electric with the audience dancing and attempting to sing along to almost
every song, and Dylan joked and talked with the crowd more than I ever
remember in any post 1990 concert.  
About midway through the first chorus of Absolutely Sweet Marie, they finally
got the mix right and the passion in Dylan's vocals could be heard.  He
followed this with an excellent Takes a lot to laugh, Takes a train to cry,
alternating lead guitar parts and clearly phrasing the lyrics.  This was
followed by tough mama, apparently a staple in the third slot on this tour,
and while the song definitely rocked, I must admit I was hoping for something
different here having heard this several times before over the past two
weeks.  Between songs, the audience waited and wondered what Dylan would play
next.  Perhaps the best part of Bob's shows is the anticipation of a song you
would like to hear that he just might play.  It rained all day prior to this
show, making for a miserable day.  I hoped for "Hard Rain", in recognition of
the weather, but instead, Dylan launched into Shelter from the Storm.  I'll
take it.  This was a great version, slowed down from the "Blood on the
Tracks" rendition.  Dylan hit most of the verses, and the audience echoed
"Shelter from the storm" every time it came around.  About this time, Dylan
seemed to realize this crowd was really into the show, and began shuffling
around the stage, almost dancing, and walking out towards the crowd when
playing lead.  He continued this for the rest of the show.  Silvio ended the
first electric set; the concert just kept getting better.  From the first
notes of the acoustic guitar, the crowd guessed Love minus Zero, No limit,
and cheered the selection.  Dylan sang it perfectly.  Next up was an inspired
Tangled up in Blue, which really won the crowd over.  They were one with
Dylan as they all shouted Tangled up in blue together.  This song probably
brought the loudest applause of the evening, prior to the encores.  I saw
this same song performed at Hershey a week ago, and it was nothing compared
to the emotion Dylan evoked on this evening.  He closed the acoustic set with
Cocaine blues.  As he picked up the electric guitar again, I really hoped he
would not do "God Knows", obviously he loves to do that song following
acoustic sets, but there are so many songs I would rather hear in that slot.
 On this night, he played one of them : Stuck inside of mobile with the
memphis blues again.  This song got the audience up and dancing again, and
was followed by a moving Tears of Rage and then Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat.
 Just prior to the start of LSPH, several members of the audince rushed the
stage, on person fell to his knees at dylans feet and kissed his boot, Bob
just shrugged and looked confused while the audience cheered.  A woman jumped
on stage and threw her arms around Dylan, they appeared to be talking, and it
took about 1 minute for security to pull her off of him.  He was laughing at
that point and strolling around the stage.  The encores were played to
thunderous applause, with Rolling Stone sounding better than it has in years
and It Ain't Me babe providing the audience one last chance to sing along.
 The house lights came up and Dylan closed the show with Alabama Getaway,
which sent the crowd home humming and singing all the way.  I have seen 12
Dylan shows over the past 5 years, and he has never sounded as good as he did
tonight.  He has never played with as much intensity and seemed to have so
much fun.  For those holding tickets to future shows along this tour, Hold
On, because Bob Dylan just keeps getting better!

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