I must admit, I was a little uneasy about this show. I haven't been
thrilled with the new band over the last eight or ten shows I have seen
with the outfit in recent years, and the reviews from earlier this year in
Europe struck me as less-than-enthusiastic. But I had hope. Fans seemed to
feel pretty good about the U.S. leg of the tour.
It was raining when I left my home in South Portland, Maine, at 5:30. It
rained most of the way to Manchester, a drive of about 90 miles. I arrived
at the stadium just as Jimmie Vaughn was finishing his set.
Once Dylan got rolling, it was apparent we were in for a great night, and
any trepidation I had about the drive, the weather, etc., was quickly put
to rest. I am not going to go song by song, but I will say that Dylan and
the band did a terrific job of pacing and tempo. He was dead-on into the
show from the outset, with crisp, clear vocals. The band shifted dynamics
with each tune, moving easily from swampy sounds to waltzes to flat-out
The set list didn't surprise me; I knew what to expect from reading recent
reviews, etc. What did surprise is how these songs were transformed. I
loved the ease of You Ain't Goin' Nowhere, the restraint on Tears of Rage
and appreciated the cadence of Just Live a Woman. As good as the opening
segment was, I was frigging ecstatic with new and sometimes softer
arrangements of Memphis Blues, It's Alright and Hard Rain.
During the latter, the crowd was absolutely hushed, keying in the lyrics
and overall performance. It was a pretty good rain at the time of the
song, and the irony of the moment was lost on neither the crowd nor band.
From that point on, the show soared. I vowed years ago that I would be
happy if I never heard another bone-dry run-through of Highway 61. But
this was nothing like what I expected. The band cut loose, and everything
connected. Dylan was animated with his playing and singing. Ditto on
Summer Days, which totally cooked. It was the highlight of an
exceptionally satisfying night.
After the encore, Dylan appeared quite pleased. The crowd was extremely
receptive, and if I could extrapolate from reading his facial expressions
and body language, he seemed to appreciate of the response. At one point,
during the center-stage bow, he removed his hat and tossed out what I
interpreted as imaginary angel dust over the audience. In another
lifetime, I might have thought he was tossing guitar picks into the crowd
-- it was that kind of gesture, a simple fling of the wrists. But his
hands were empty, and in my mind he was simply sprinkling a little love
This was the first time in three years or so that I have left a show
loving this band. No hesitation or apologies. This unit has come into its
own, and at least for one rainy night in Manchester, it was as good as
The good news, I will get more chances this fall to see more shows. I
usually try to catch three to five shows a year, and Sunday night was my
first so far in 06. In fact, I hadn't seen the band since Boston in spring
05. But I plan to be in Minnesota the weekend he plays St. Paul, and there
are shows in Maine and Mass. in November. The journey continues.
South Portland, Maine.
Review by Stephen Pate
Go on back to see the gypsy.
He can move you from the rear,
Drive you from your fear,
Bring you through the mirror.
He did it in Las Vegas,
And he can do it here. (copyright Bob Dylan)
The second day of our Dylan tour started under a downpour. I’m glad we
didn’t let that discourage us since we had a great evening in
Mass Pike was awash in water and not too scenic. We cut off on a local
road and still made good time to Manchester. When we got to the
Merchantsauto.com stadium the rain was down to drizzle. I got blocked
with my camera going in – rats - even buried it in my backpack. Those
rules are stupid since people are using camera and recorders all over the
There is no fun in using a wheelchair – well I lie since wheelchair racing is
a rush. There are a few perks and one is easy seating in modern ballparks.
We were able to get situated under the overhang and the top of the
seats, next to the beer, food and bathrooms. Rain ponchos were in supply
and needed since the rain kept up off an on all night. Most people came
prepared and stayed to the end. Endurance pays off.
Food and drink were an upgrade over the Wahcohah Park in Pittsfield but
the old time ballpark feeling was missing – modern times.
We got to hear Alana James who is a spirited Texas swing fiddle player –
read fast. Nice jump-up music to start the night. Junior Brown appeared to
be better tonight. Jimmy Vaughn needs a singer and some inspiration. He
does groove but you need a singer – guitar licks do not a performance
Emboldened by the modern accommodations, I took my wheelchair down
onto the field using the elevator and met some cool guys also using chairs.
It was a snap to get around and you could see the stage from the field.
Ta da – same Copeland intro music – reminded me of Elvis using Strauss –
Also Sprach Zarathustra (the Space Odyssey 2001 theme). It made the
crowd perk up – I wonder if they got the irony.
Dylan and the band rocked through the same first four numbers from the
night before. There were small changes but nothing too exciting. I was
beginning to wonder if the second concert was too much too soon. I left
the field area and went back to my girl friend – first it was raining and
second the excitement seemed to pale.
When I got there he was just breaking into Watching the River Flow. The
song pulled me in. Then Tears of Rage – one of the great songs Dylan
wrote with Richard Manual. The evening was picking up. Rocking out with
Mobile Blues – “Oh mama can this really be the end.” My girlfriend said –
“You sing all those songs except the River one.” She is an astute person
with impeccable taste. Interestingly, she liked hearing songs from the
previous night again. “It’s like meeting old friends again” she said.
Oh my God – he started “It’s All Right Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) with a great
rocking arrangement. The band was cooking. I could not believe he sang
“A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall” next – a great classic done again with conviction.
I leaned over to my girlfriend and said “Girl, we are going to Connecticut for
Tuesday night. This is too awesome – rain or no rain.” She laughed in my
face, tossed her hair back and said “Yeah!”
The band was cooking hard on “Highway 61” and Dylan was too. He
repeated a verse – that is so easy to do when you brain freezes as the
band comes off the transition between verses. I hope someone captured
that and it becomes available on BitTorrent.
We all went wild when he started “Tangled Up in Blue”. So perfect for the
night and his timing and emotional delivery was right on. I still sing “She was
working in a topless place” Dylan cleans that up since he was born-again.
By the time of the encore, I was belting out “Like a Rolling Stone” and
“All Along the Watchtower”, two guys in cowboy hats were dancing down
by the dugouts and a 60ish guy in front of me was standing and swaying in
It was an emotionally moving night. I want to do it again.
Go on back to see the gypsy.
Review by Rick Watrous
The last time I was in Merchantsauto.com Stadium (is that mouthful really
the official name?) was to see the Manchester Fishercats get whupped by
the Portland Sea Dogs. Now here I was standing in the rain on center field
watching ol' Bob Dylan dig into that still growing classic song catalogue
yet again, reinventing them, rocking out, taking chances, doing what he
needs to do so he can sing them for the thousandth time and still make
The cool, rainy day did not bode well for an outdoor concert. Two of my
concert-going friends canceled out because of the weather. Determined to
catch my 6th?, 7th? Dylan show I dressed like I was going on a wet hike in
the White Mountains and bummed a ride with equally fanatic friends. When
we parked and walked to the entrance road leading to stadium, we passed a
large cardboard box that said "Free Umbrellas." I grabbed one of the new
umbrellas. We soon reached Security and a large sign that said "No
Umbrellas." Oh well, easy come easy go.
Putting our hoods up we trooped to seats above the Fishercats dugout. The
infield was mostly covered by some plastic padding, creating a large
standing area in front of the stage. The general admission policy meant
one could roam about at will-except into the dry upperdeck seats reserved
for season ticket holders.
Dylan had three opening acts on this tour and the first two were great.
Elana James and her Continental Two (or Three if you believe your eyes)
got the show moving with some Texas swing featuring her voice and fiddle,
two guitars and a slap bass, inspiring us to quickly abandon our wet seats
for the better view and ambiance of the standing room. Junior Brown
followed with an even smaller band: Junior with his guitar/steel guitar
hybrid, a bassist and a drummer with just a snare and one cymbal-but those
Jimmie Vaughn's blues-lite set provided the evening's lull and the time to
line up for a beer or hot dog. It was also the only time where it quit
raining for a spell.
Finally Copland's inspiring Americana classical music filled the air,
alerting the faithful that Bob was about to go on. Next came the weird
(ironic? With Bob you never quite know) taped introduction "Ladies and
gentlemen, please welcome the poet laureate of rock 'n' roll. The voice of
the promise of the '60s counterculture. The guy who forced folk into bed
with rock, who donned makeup in the '70s and disappeared into a haze of
substance abuse, who emerged to find Jesus, and who suddenly shifted
gears, releasing some of the strongest music of his career beginning in
the late '90s. Columbia recording artist, Bob Dylan!"
Dylan and his men in black strode on to the stage. With the exception of
steel guitarist Donnie Herron, they all wore black hats with their black
suits; Dylan sported a cowboy hat. (Late Dylan seems inspired by the
fashion sense and touring ethic of Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys:
uniforms, constant touring, and a revolving door of supporting musicians.
Bassist Tony Garnier is the only constant during the past dozen years.)
The two bespectacled guitarists looked like accountants. Dylan never
touched a guitar all night, instead stood-slouched-over a small organ.
They played for nearly two hours. For me highlights included "You Ain't
Goin' Nowhere" with Dylan unleashing his minimalist harmonica; "Just Like
a Woman" with some exquisite lap steel; and-at an appropriately
downpouring time-"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall."
I moved within ear damage range to watch Dylan snarl his way through "It's
Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding"). When he got to the line "Even the
president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked," a
spontaneous cheer erupted from the crowd. My favorite moment.
The show ended with the now inevitable encores, "Like a Rolling Stone" and
"All Along the Watchtower." The later, always performed with a nod to
Jimi's stratocaster-charged version, has a fraction of the lyrics of "Hard
Rain" but its sense of apocalyptic foreboding is perhaps even stronger.
Instead of the song ending as it did originally, with Dylan intoning, "The
wind began to howwwlllll," he now repeats the first verse, making sure we
all get it.
"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief /
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief. / Businessmen, they
drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth. / None of them along the line know
what any of it is worth."
This was my third Dylan Manchester show. The first was at Riverfest during
the late 80s, where Dylan, a wandering minstrel at the start of his
"Never-ending Tour" played a tentative set, as if just rediscovering his
own songs. The second was a great 2001 Verizon Center concert just after
9/11, when even going to a concert seemed risky; Dylan's songs and
performance rose to the occasion. The Aug. 27th show was solid, although
lacking in variety (no acoustic set, no covers, 11 of the 14 songs were
from the 60's or 70's). And even though he has a new album, Modern Times,
coming out on Aug. 29, not a note of it was heard.
Still, it was worth the rain, the Ticketmaster inconvenience charge, the
$6 beer, the wet butt. Dylan is our poet laureate (sorry, Donald Hall), a
rocker who is still evolving after all these years.
Minor League Baseball’s Been Very Good To Me
August 27th, 2006 was a helluva day. My alarm clock went off at
5:40 AM. I’m much more accustomed to going to bed at that time, but this
was a worthy cause. I boarded a 7AM train bound for Bean Town (home of
the slumping Sox). Next destination was the Hilton Garden Inn in Manchester
New Hemisphere. I had just enough time to listen to Bob’s new masterpiece
Modern Times four times. Somewhere along the way I had a revelation.
Modern Times is the greatest musical achievement in the history of Western
Civilization. I was sober; and just arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn which
overlooks the ballpark Dylan was going to be performing at. This is the
most confident, honest, and relaxed work he’s ever created. Everything
seems to be just exactly perfect. Dylan’s performance is very in the
moment, you can feel his presence like never before. I understand why
Dylan says this is his favorite band. There’s no excess baggage here, the
music fits the songs snugly. There will be plenty of time for the band to show
off their skills once Dylan starts peppering his set lists with this collection of
gems. I can’t wait.
This hotel is actually part of the Minor League ballpark. Albert
Pujols could have put a tater through my window in right center with no
problem. Some college friends of mine hunkered down in my room with me on
this rainy day. We had some shelter before the man in the black cowboy hat
came out to do his thing. Being that it was August, I packed light. I had
to fork over three bills for a poncho, and $40 for a long sleeve Dylan
shirt to keep warm. I need an expense account, anyone want to adopt me?
I have a perverse predilection for the song Cat’s In the Well.
Dylan delivered that as the opener, You Ain’t Going Nowhere was the
chaser. Smokin’, I love it. The drizzle gave way to a steady rain as Dylan
and company steamrolled into Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. I don’t
understand the apathy this song receives amongst fans. It’s a vibrant number
that kicks ass, especially live. Just Like a Woman was the next delightful
dish. I hadn’t seen it in about six shows, and I missed it. Bob was playful.
Looking out at the small devoted crowd, he decided to reward those fans
who ventured out in the precipitation. I didn’t feel any pain or rain as I
realized we were in for a night to remember.
I see Watching the River Flow a lot, but it sounded awfully good on
this night. I’ve been listening to the Basement Tapes a lot lately, so it
was a treat to hear a second number from Big Pink. Tears of Rage was
freakin’ amazin’, best one I’ve ever heard from Dylan. Bob was on fire,
who knows what inspires this man. I’m on fire. Two days till the release
of Modern Times, and the Dylan ass kissing that will ensue. Things are
pretty bleak in the world these days. Bob’s doing what any great
entertainer should do, helping us escape reality. He’s like three bong
hits of fresh Jamaican intertwined with three espressos, and six pints of
Another quiet plane from Manchester Airport cut through the rain
clouds over the stage as the band went for Stuck Inside of Mobile with the
Memphis Blues Again. This version had more pop than the last few I’ve
heard. I can’t recall the last time I stood in a heavy rain like this for
any purpose. I was in another zone, impervious to the conditions. The
barrage of classics continued as we absorbed another It’s Alright Ma.
Funny, for a fella who’s tired of the label of being a sixties hero, he
goes down that road often. I don’t care what decade he picks his material
from, it’s all good to me. I can’t wait for Modern Times, his new stuff
sounds like it comes from the forties and fifties, authentic real deal.
“Where have you been my blue eyed son? / Where have you been my
darling young one?” Oh baby, it’s a Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall. Dylan was
truculent; he looked like the Dean of Admissions at a major university as
he gave us the good news. It’s one of those special moments that you try
to grasp, but you can’t. Here I am in a silly ballpark with Bob Dylan
while he’s fully engaged in one of the greatest expressions of art ever.
There should be 100,000 people here, but luckily this is our party, 1,000
screwballs basking in the chilly rain of Manchester. Even the songs that
are usually mailed in like the Highway 61 that followed burned with love.
Dylan did a couple of squat thrusts as we all got carried away during this
number. Cowboy Bob, more than once offered up a finger pointing pistol
salute for the crowd and his band as the evening pressed on.
Good Lord, Tangled up in Blue was hot. Last time I seen this was on
April 28th, 2005 at the Beacon Theatre. It was the first time this band
tried it, and they laid a rotten egg. That was then, this is now. I’ve
seen longer instrumental jams, but tonight’s performance was
scintillating. Bob threw out a few lyrical changes; I can’t remember the
exact lines so you’ll have to check out a tape. Summer Days closed out the
set in romping fashion. The spring tour of 2006 Bob was teasing the jam on
this and Highway 61. Tonight no punches were pulled; the jams were
aggressive and curt. Like I said before, it’s all good.
Like a Rolling Stone does something to me every time. Tonight was a
dynamite version. Denny really kicked out a great solo. Bob’s on the
money, this band is terrific. I’ve been singing their praises for awhile
now. Dylan pointed out at that crowd as he sang, “How does it feel.” The
heavy rain made the night better. At this point, only hardcore Dylan nuts
were left, and Bob was paying his respect to us. He was jovial bordering
on giddy. The beer was cut off an hour and a half earlier, so why was I so
in love with the closing Watchtower? Bob gave us one last thrill. Lined up
with the band behind him, he approached the stage, took off his ten gallon
hat, and pretended to toss some kind of magic dust at the audience. He
was laughing as hard as I had ever seen him.
It’s 1:30 PM; I’m drunk and the last person standing in Manchester.
I got a 5:30 wake up call to get outta here so I gotta wrap this screed
up. I’ll be back with another field report on 9-1-06 from Fishkill. Until
then, “Goodnight my love, may the Lord have mercy on us all.” Don’t
forget to show your love and buy Modern Times on Tuesday!
Review by Julia
Just getting back from my fifth Dylan show ever, I'm still shivering. I
know Bob can't control the weather but he did do several rain-like tunes.
It was 53 degrees and raining and again I'll say he can't do anything
about the weather...but Bob, dear! Not only did security make us ditch
our umbrellas and buy plastic ponchos...the biggest let down were ... the
lights. Seeing you in the dark is I'm sure something the mother of your
son might be used to. I, however am not at all used to it.
With the weather conditions and every light off[practically] with the
exception of the stage lighting, we had a very, very, very difficult time
seeing you. The 3 openers had lights on...and sadly to say, we didn't
have that option with the most important part of the evening. Sorry...and
I'm not a complaining kinda girl. But it was a Birthday concert/show and
we had been looking [get it ...looking] forward to seeing [yes... seeing]
you. But it was hard, it was hard and yes a hard rain did falllll!
Love you Bob!
Hugs and Birthday kisses!
Review by Patrick McCabe
It was rainy and generally miserable.
I got there to see Jimmie Vaughn, I missed Junior
Brown who I truly adored in Pawtucket, and of course
As usual I got my spot in front of the soundboard
The sound was very good, not as good as Pawtucket
blame the weather.
Bob came on starting with Cats in the Well and I
quickly expected the same four opening songs, great
but a repeat none the less.
About this time I started talking to an ex-father who
was there with his daughter, although she was on the
rail and he was back at the soundboard.
We started talking about our situations but it didn’t
dampen our spirits, misery enjoys company.
The fifth song Watching the River Flow was nice.
And then Tears of Rage
We both looked at each other and then just listened
Its been a while since a song hit me that hard.
Great concert despite the awful weather
I saw this guy after the show with his daughter, she
was very polite and nice and said she thought her
father was cool.
Whoever you were give her daughter a big hug for me, I
can’t hug mine.
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