Reviews

Monterey, California

Monterey Fairgrounds

August 21, 2010


[Colin Selig], [James Strohecker], [Roderick Smith], [Scott Kareff], [Brian], [Reinaldo Garcia]

Review by Colin Selig



My lady friends and I left home in the early afternoon for the two hour drive south to Monterey,
in time to take in some of the spectacular California coastline before the show.  Dressed in layers
of fleece and warms hats we walked a nearly abandoned Marina state beach watching pelicans 
nose dive into the ocean searching for fish.  Then it was on to Point Lobos state preserve 
where sea lions and otters lounged in the sun on picturesque water-carved rock outcroppings.  

After the warm up act, which was a couple of young guys pretending to be old time blues singers, 
Bob and the band finally came on at 8:54pm.  Charlie is still front and center, but his stage presence 
was more subdued then when he had just rejoined Bob about a year ago.   He seems to have 
worked it out with Bob so he plays the important major musical role on guitar but does not draw 
too much attention away from Bob with his physical movements on stage, although he did get 
down on his knees a few times in his enthusiasm.  The band is definitely more cohesive now 
compared to this past October at the Greek in Berkeley.  They are not as dynamic as the big band 
era of a decade ago when Larry was with them, but they are in a good groove and a pleasure to 
listen to.  Several songs received somewhat long introductions before Bob came in with lyrics which 
was welcome.

Bob sang many songs tonight at center stage with open arms - one out towards the crowd and 
the other down and slightly off to the side - like a town crier dedicated to delivering his message.  
He was in a good mood, smiling and nodding at other band members and once or twice cracking 
up so much he had to get it together to deliver the next line.  

Tonight's show had a great playlist, with less emphasis on the songs from 'Together Through Life' 
now that that album is a little further in the past.  "To Ramona", one of my favorites, was sung 
with sincerity and a twinkle in his eye, although I think he missed a verse.  "Honest With Me" has 
gotten another makeover which I am glad for as it had gotten to be enough already.  "Just like A 
Woman" was sung with genuine renewed interest, which is amazing given the number of times he 
has already performed this one in his career.  "Ballad Of Hollis Brown" was delivered powerfully and 
brought a tear to my eye, yet another song of his that is just as relevant today as when he wrote 
it decades ago, as sadly there are still many starving people on this planet.  Two more of my 
favorites, "Every Grain of Sand", a meditation on the perfection of the universe, and "Shelter from 
the Storm", a nod to the power of a good woman in one's life, were fantastic as well.  Bob is a 
powerful and captivating performer, and once again I was mesmerized and left in a state of eager 
anticipation for the upcoming shows in Oakland and San Francisco.
 
To cap the evening, during the band introduction at the beginning of LARS, Tony and Charlie 
pretended to burn Stu's guitar with a lighter, an homage to Hendrix's famous performance on 
this very stage 43 years ago.  

Colin Selig
 

[TOP]

Review by James Strohecker



In an area known for great music, unique weather, beautiful scenery and
diverse people, Bob Dylan and his Band took the Monterey Fairgrounds stage
to a packed, appreciative house crammed into the dirt lot and small rodeo
stands gathered in the cool (California summer) 50-degree evening.  The
group started off big, bold and strong, and Dylan and his Band sprinkled in
unique, well-performed songs that captivated the crowd from start to finish.

The set was a bit unpredictable (except for Thunder-to the encore) and
comprised some eclectic songs that haven't been played much, which created a
much more intimate, unique performance.  Songs of note:  To Ramona,
performed only once  this year; The Ballad of Hollis Brown, four times;
Every Grain of Sand, twice; The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, four; Most
Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine), four. (SOURCE:
http://www.boblinks.com/song2010.html)

They led off with Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 that was loud and hard out of the
chute - with Bob moving from keyboard to guitar mid-song to rock to the
finish.  Bob was wearing a flat grey round hat, two diamond rings and a dark
suit with a white stripe down the side of his pants; while the band doffed
light grey suits as Bob's Oscar watched from over his shoulder.

To Ramona was a slight surprise and Bob's strong, staccato vocals and harp,
capped by some achy-leg action at center stage, created a melodic tempo to
the evening and a fine finish.  During the song, Charlie - for the first of
many times during the night - was on his knee fiddling with his guitar cord,
dials and monitor.  (This was a common theme for him during the night.)

They rocked into a melody-laden, medium-energy Most Likely You Go Your Way
(And I'll Go Mine). Frankly, the Band seemed to be going through the motions
on this, as Bob carried the song to completion with a bright harp accent.

Next, the band blew into I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have
Met) hard, loud and big.  Bob was at center stage crooning (while the older
crowd was swooning), his husky strong voice filling the night sea-air, with
a solid harp capper.

They followed this with a bass-laden Honest With Me, that saw Charlie Sexton
heading over to stage left to energize Stu Kimball.  Clearly (as other
reviewers have mentioned during this tour), Charlie provides energy and
excellence to this band, and at times you could see the band members
responding with smiles and aggressive instrumentation.

The Band next delivered a pretty, melodic, Just Like A Woman with Bob
playing the keyboards with long, lingering chords that gave the song fine
complexities that filled the appreciative crowd's ears similar to how some
of the Monterey area's wines enrich the palate.  The Band was tight and
no-nonsense; and at one point, Bob didn't seem to mind people singing along
with the chorus (he actually nodded and smiled - as he continued to the
finish).  The crowd loved it.

Next up was the song of the evening, Ballad Of Hollis Brown.  Bob and Band
presented a blistering blues rendition, with Tony Garnier on stand-up bass
and bow leading the background highlights, and Bob crooning the tight poetic
words.  What a shocker selection; what a great rendition and driven
performance - find this concert if you can, if nothing else for this song.
The poignant words ripped through the night air like a knife:

You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
Your children are so hungry
That they don’t know how to smile
(Source: http://www.bobdylan.com/#/songs/ballad-of-hollis-brown)

Next, the group laid down an upbeat The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
with Bob driving staccto lyrics to the beat of the song - Bob told the story
as the "Poet Bob," his way, his music, his rendition.  They followed this
with a hard-beat-laden Cold Irons Bound.  Others have pointed out that Cold
Irons Bound is a real rocker this summer.  No argument; and it's somewhat of
a signature for this band as they all get into the action.  Bob went down
and dirty on the harp as he faced off with rocker Charlie at center stage.

Bob and group followed with a soulful Every Grain of Sand that almost drew
tears from the crowd on this moonlit night. Bob gave this an updated flavor
and stage delivery with intense harp notes and some hip and leg movements at
center stage that demonstrated the song's passion and presence.

A blistering Highway 61 followed with Bob laying down some cheezy organ
tracks that really blended the songs rocking.  This was followed by a
surprisingly upbeat, bouncy Shelter From The Storm, with solid backlicks by
Donnie Herron on pedal steel.

The Band rolled to a close - and the encore - with a rocking Thunder on the
Mountain and bold, bluesy Ballad of a Thin Man.  Jolene and LARS provided a
solid and strong finish - and the band seemed to enjoy playing to the
completion.  Statue Stu Kimball actually banged out some riffs on Jolene and
moved from his spot on Stage Left; and Bob was invigorated on LARS.  Fine
finish to a fine show.

All reports (except from the first show) seem to have accurately portrayed
Bob and Band as tight, big, bold, and enlightened.  They're playing really
well; the music is excellent; Bob's at the peak of his game; and Charlie has
added new energy that both infects the band and the audience.  Well done.  Go
see these guys -- they're heading to Lake Tahoe, then Bay Area and up to the
Northwest.  You'll be impressed.

Random Notes:  Challenging entry into/out of the dirt-lot rodeo
stands;  "aisles"
progressively evaporated; and it was like they hadn't hosted a real event
there for a long time, albeit all the workers were very nice.  But in an
emergency, it would've been tough getting out.  REMINDER: always look for,
and discuss your exit strategy and meeting spot in case something happens .
. . During the show, in the 50-degree (this year's summer in California),
people were either old, cold or untold.  Nobody stood until the final couple
songs. Perhaps people just wanted to be "entertained."  Perhaps they just
wanted to sit. But it was a little weird.
 

[TOP]

Review by Roderick Smith



What a lovely sight to see. The summer light filtering down in the sea mist air. A 
tangerine  glow on green. Oaks and eucalyptus gently swaying beyond the stage. 
Thousands flood through the narrow wooden gates onto the cool dirt of the arena 
floor.  Chairs carefully laid out. The two tiered grandstand with it’s fluted roof top 
runs the length of either side. General admission crowding on to the long wooden 
benches. It feels as though you are standing inside the heart of some great musical 
instrument made of redwood and golden sand. The cuddled masses bundled for 
the coastal air are “olden looking” but not old.  This is a county where lifestyle is an 
art form after all. Popcorn and corn dogs available with an elegant touch. So with 
this much comfort afforded we the assembled believers, one would hope the
“master” would also be at ease and relaxed.  He was.  His newly tooled hot press 
band roared in like some unearthly chariot burnished in chrome and silver. The white 
fedora crown atop the maestro’s head, weaving and bobbing like a moth around 
the flame. The music a steam engine action of cranking wheels and sliding pistons 
starting its long uphill journey. Swaying back and forth. Rhythm and the blues. 
Building in the night. A strange staccato dance emerges. It would never stop. 
Somewhere in the mix a roller rink on a Saturday night. All dance. Couples dance. 
Boys. Girl’s dance. Polka party. That organ you remember. Maybe it was in church 
somewhere. Juke box band from the thirties. This is the current show.  The man is 
wielding his keyboards like he blows his harp. Simple, clear and loud.    The kneeling, 
spinning wild eyed Texan sharpshooter, Charlie Sextant holds nothing back.  
Blue ribbon on this one.
 

[TOP]

Review by Scott Kareff



Bob Dylan returned to the Monterey County Fairgrounds last night possibly for the first 
time since back to back shows in 1963 (when Joan Baez shared her stage with him) 
and 1964.  An interesting crowd shuffled in, past the paddocks and onto the dirt floor
of the arena.  The venue with its food stands and its charm was very appropos for the 
travelling carnival that is the Bob Dylan show.  I was with some old college friends and 
we were by far the youngest fans in the crowd, which was dominated by fifty- somethings 
and lots of cranksters and scolds even more ancient than Bob himself.  The two couples 
we were with hadn't ever been to a bob concert, and I felt that I bore some responsibility
for the group's presence at the show, what with the coincidence of our family's presence 
in this beautiful town on our summer vacation coinciding with bob's band barnstorming this 
part of the country.  Our friends were familiar enough with bob, but I was nervous that his 
current style of performance would not be to their liking.  "Someone told me that you can 
either get an amazing performance, or a total dud".  I was confident bob's performance 
would not be lacking I told them, just not sure it would reasonate.  I was right about the 
performance and needn't have worried about the rest.

Bob gave a great concert, every song strong, not a wasted note.  Our seats were close 
and that helped, though some of the cranks and scolds who protested every time someone 
got on their feet to lift up their glass, dance and sing were annoying.

Anyway, as mentioned, this was a thoroughly entertaining show.  See him next time he 
comes around.

Here is the rundown:

1.  Rainy Day Woman - my friend and I were just talking about his opening with this.  
Not my favorite, but what the hey, we were underway.  And with the trio of gems 
that followed, I can't complain.


2. To Ramona-from fixtures and forces and friends your sorrow does stem

3.  Most Likely you go your way (and I'll go mine) - time will tell just who has fell and 
who's been left behind

4.  I don't believe you (she acts like we never have met) - her skirt swayed, the guitar 
played, her mouth was watery and wet

At this point I was on cloud 9.  Could have been around here when the scolds scolded 
for standing.  It was all I could do to keep my butt in my seat, but no one could stop me 
from keeping the beat.

5.  Honest with me

Standard late never-ending tour fare

6.  Just like a woman

This is not one of my favorite songs but I really enjoyed this version

Harmonica, vocals a little dance from Bob - not sure which song he chose to step out 
front and do that little soft-peddle step he does, but bob was clearly enjoying himself.

7.  Ballad of hollis brown

Haven't heard this song live very much.  Good performance.

8.  Hattie carroll

Always great

9.  Cold irons bound

Not sure if my chitown friend brad heard the line about the winds in chicago but I tried
 
10.  Every Grain of Sand

What a treat

11.  Highway 61

Always hits this.  Not sure if this was one of the times that charlie sexton stepped out 
and played on bended knee, genuflecting at the alter of bob, but that was quite a move

12.  Shelter from the storm

One of my favorite songs, though I didn't think this version was the best treatment of it.  
It was a bit empty, and maybe it was just the particular fact that I had just been listening 
to a 1978 tour performance of this song, but I found myself singing the part "from the 
storm" a la the back-up doo-wop singers from that long ago tour

13.  Thunder on the Mountain - where in the world is alicia keys?

14.  Ballad of a thin man

Another classic I think bob had some fun with the lyric "next time you come please why 
don't you telephone"

Encore

15.  Jolene

Lots of room to sing jolene in this version - great, rollicking

16.  Like a Rolling Stone  

Fitting end to a great show

At the start of the encore I had confidently predicted either a 1-song or a 3-song encore.  
We got two, but were left wanting more.  It goes to show, you don't ever know.

My friends were impressed with the show, one of them lamenting the song list after 
comparing to other shows - welcome to the club, I told him.  Maybe next time you will 
get your perfect set list, but the odds are against it and the chances slim, that bob will 
fit into the expectations we have for him.  In the meantime, it was good enough for right 
now, to quote tom petty's new song.

As we left the show, the cantankerous cranks behind me commended me on my 
self-restraint, and even my wife admitted I could have been a lot worse.

Until next time - thanks Bob 

[TOP]

Review by Brian



The Monterey Fairgrounds Bob Show was hugely satisfying for me.  My
brother and I traveled 5 hours from Chico, CA to see what was his first
Bob Show and my 15th.  We arrived at about 5:30 and found free parking
right across the street from the fairgrounds.  I was excited to hear parts
of the soundcheck.  To Ramona and All Along The Watchtower were both
played (without Bob singing of course) and I think they also may have been
playing  Maggie's Farm before that.  The line was nonexistent in
comparison to the shows at the Greek last year in Berkeley and at the
ballpark in Stockton.  Those shows were general admission and this show at
Monterey had assigned seats so the experience was entirely different.   I
felt like I'd been through a marathon after the Stockton show and the
Berkeley Shows were the best pair of shows I've ever been to but I was
exhausted after each.  The weather in Monterey was brisk at best and we
were glad we brought our sweatshirts.  The tickets I got were 9 rows back
in the center.  I've only been closer once and that was when I got to
Berkeley for the 2nd show last year before 2 for a 7:30 start.  This time
I actually had a seat and I wouldn't have to worry about various drunks
and thugs pushing their way around for a better view at the expense of
other fans.  This made my seat very comfortable.  The poor folks behind me
had to deal with a constant stream of people as their row was the poorly
constructed aisle to the pit seating area.  At the movies I really like to
sit in the middle with a full view of the screen.  I don't have to look
from side to side too terribly much and I don't strain my neck from
looking up from the front row.  The seats I had were kind of like getting
into the theater before everyone and getting those mid-level seats in the
middle.  I feel like we hit the jackpot for my brother's first show.  The
ground was covered with dirt and the folding chairs were tied together in
pairs.  When a plane roared overhead before the show I was a little
worried about the influence this might have on the sound.  The Dough
Rollers came on first.  They were sharply dressed in suits and had a wide
array of guitars to choose from.  My brother and I were trying to guess
which one was Harrison Ford's son.  They played blues and gospel and had
at least three songs with an association to Bob.  One song was a John Lee
Hooker song (Bob opened for John Lee Hooker in 1961.)  One song, Stack A
Lee, was also covered by Bob on 1993's World Gone Wrong.  Another song was
High Water.  The version they sang was the Charley (or Charlie if you
prefer) Patton version of the song.  If you listen to Charley Patton sing
High Water it seems to me  that his vocal style is what Malcolm Ford is
shooting for. When Bob hit the stage around 9 everyone was fired up. 
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 sounded great.  Bob started out on keyboard and
picked up the guitar midway through.  All were standing for this one and
many were following the song's instruction/commentary.  When the band
started into To Ramona most of the people up front sat down and many sat
down after being yelled at angrily from those behind them.  When I'm
blocked by people standing up I stand.  When I can see the stage from my
seat I'll try to stay in my seat and not upset those behind me.  Everybody
just wants to have a good time right?  After To Ramona came Most Likely
You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine.)  I think this is when I saw a plane
fly over and realized to my delight that I couldn't hear it at all. The
band was tight and Bob was bobbin' and weavin' and havin' a good time.  I
Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) came next and I still
hadn't heard a song I hadn't heard in person yet.  There's something
magical about hearing something new each time and someday If I'm lucky
enough to keep seeing him every year I'll probably go to a show without
any new songs.  Even songs I've heard before offer surprises and Honest
With Me got the crowd going pretty good.  The guys always  seem to let
loose in new ways on this one and it's always been a favorite of mine.  It
was about this time that I noticed an older guy a few rows in front of me
with a camcorder propped squarely in front of his face just sitting there
taping the show.  Soon after a security guy on the stage pointed him out
with a laser pointer.  A couple minutes later a big security guy found him
and promptly relieved him of his camcorder.  I'm glad he didn't get kicked
out.  Just Like A Woman came next and my brother asked me if this was a
good song to go the bathroom during.  I told him that there wasn't a good
song to go to the bathroom during so he left and got back midway through
it.  Bob delayed the end of each line on this one in a way I hadn't heard
before.    A one-two punch of Ballad Of Hollis Brown and The Lonesome
Death Of Hattie Carroll came next.  These two songs both seem like history
lessons but the first feels like a punch in the mouth and the second feels
more like a punch in the stomach.  The highlight of the evening for me
came next.  A flat-out unbelievable Cold Irons Bound.  This is the 5th
time I've seen this song performed and each performance has been unique. 
This performance ranks right up there with Red Bluff '02 and Berkeley '09.
 Now for the surprise I was waiting for.  A well-played rendition of Every
Grain Of Sand came next.  I hadn't seen this one performed before and I'm
glad I was there for it.  Highway 61 Revisited followed and I don't think
I've ever seen the boys rock this song harder than they did in Monterey. 
As the guys next to me said, "that was un-real."  One more surprise for me
was in store.  A really great new version of Shelter From The Storm.  I'd
heard a recording from the Japan tour and this was in the same mold but
I'd never heard this one live before and it is one of my favorites.  I was
very excited to be there to hear it.  Any Blood On The Tracks songs are
always a special treat.  I practically wore out that tape and I love the
new arrangement.  A fiery Thunder On The Mountain followed.  Next up came
Ballad Of A Thin Man.  From here on out most in the audience were
standing.  Bob has added even more movement and verve to this performance
than he had last year.  After a short break the boys all came back on
stage.  Stu and Charlie took some final drags on their cigarettes and
Charlie left his coat behind.  They started up Jolene and I figured we'd
only get two songs in the encore.  When Bob introduced the band Charlie
took a lighter out and acted like he was going to light Stu's guitar on
fire.  I think Bob's comment was that Stu's guitar almost caught fire
during Highway 61.  Like A Rolling Stone was performed beautifully.  They
even had the lights shining out on the audience on this one kind of like
they did in '01 and '02.  It seems like it must be fun for the musicians
to be able to have the lights turned on the crowd for a change and to be
able to look out and see the folks that are cheering them on.   I hope
they have some idea of how much we appreciate them all.  Some of the best
memories of my life have been spent listening to Bob and his assorted
Never-Ending Tour Bands.  This particular band is as good as any I've
heard him play with.  With a quick get together at the front of the stage
and a sort-of shrug from Bob the evening had come to an end.  I hope the
couple from the Netherlands seeing him for the first time and the guy in
front of me in line seeing him for the 30th time had as much fun as I had.
 I am always in complete wonder and amazement at the level of talent and
creativity on display at these shows.  Stu, Donnie, George, Tony, and
Charlie are sincere and true to the task at hand and I am grateful to
witness the shows these guys put on.  They and, more importantly Bob, seem
more and more willing to take risks and feed off of one another as time
passes.  Thanks to them all for a great (but maybe a little too loud at
times) show.

Brian

[TOP]

Review by Reinaldo Garcia



For the better part of a decade, I've been imposing Bob Dylan on my
daughter Victoria. In 2003, when she was six, we lugged her to Paso Robles
to witness a mediocre show. This only cemented her dislike of the man she
claims "sings grumpy." 

Victoria's homework assignment: Study a CD compilation of Dylan's
"best" songs. She said, "I prefer his earlier stuff. Like that song
'how many roads must a man walk down' "

Victoria's now 13, fanatically devoted to The Strokes, and she gets
Dylan. We live two miles from the Monterey Fairgrounds, and found our
seats, 100 feet away from the stage, about two hours before Dylan's
entrance. During the interim, Victoria grilled me about Dylan's
politics, his music, and his influences. I even regaled her about
Dylan's malodorous outhouse on his Malibu estate, and I accurately
predicted Dylan's set list, telling Victoria , for starters, that Dylan
would open with "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" or "Rainy Day Women #12 &
35." 

Dylan's current band is superb. It's so good Dylan uses it every
chance he gets and, in my opinion, inappropriately. For example, the
delicacies of "To Ramon" and "Every Grain of Sand" were mangled
by the full band approach, and Dylan ought to've used those songs as a
respite from all that thunder on the mountain. Why not risk a solo piano
or acoustic guitar accompaniment? 

The uptempo, blues-based numbers were fantastic. "Cold Irons Bound"
and "Highway 61 Revisited" rocked with brutal power, and the closing
number, "Ballad of a Thin Man," crushed the opposition. Dylan stood
front and center, and like an imp of the perverse, taunted Mister Jones,
still clueless after all these years. 

Though I wrongly predicted the evening would end with "All Along the
Watchtower," Victoria was sated. "He's so cool!" she exclaimed.
"I could never get away with wearing that hat!"
 

[TOP]

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