Troutdale, Oregon

McMenamins Historic Edgefield Manor

August 28, 2010

[Roger and Claire Cutler]

Review by Roger and Claire Cutler

Claire, my best friend of thirty years and I embarked on yet another pilgrimage
to see His Bobness! This time from Victoria BC to Troutdale, Ore. The venue was
McMenamins Edgefield Manor which is one of the most amazing places on the
planet; a former poor house farm with a great communal spirit in a simplistic
setting with vineyards, flower, herb, and vegetable gardens, restaurants, pubs,
a basement pool hall with darts, shuttle board and even a juke box. Perhaps most
emblematic of the ethos in this utopic setting is the bronze statue in the
garden of an organic Jerry Garcia. The hotel has some hostel rooms which bunk up
to twelve travelers while other rooms, like ours, are queen beds with shared
baths down the hall. And of course, a beautiful small outdoor amphitheatre which
hosts their summer concert series. Bob's 'Never Ending Tour' is in town for two
shows. And yes, you can hear the concert from anywhere on the grounds including
your room.

I'm writing this review the morning after the first show from a rocking chair
positioned on the side porch of the hotel overlooking the concert venue which
last night was jammed to capacity (approx 5000) with many others lying on
blankets on the grass outside the show taking in the music. Already the line for
tonight's second general admission show is settling in to get top seats for the
show which is still ten hours off. I spoke to the two in the front who indicated
they arrived at 5:15 this morning. They were at last night's show and the one
earlier in the week in Bend. Their only regret once they are up front is sitting
through the warm-up shows without earplugs. As I had some extras in my travel
kit, I returned to our room and retrieved plugs for the early birds.  We arrived
last night to check in at five as the warm up show was getting started. As it
was general admission, it was a given that we were not going to get up close and
personal. We decided to forego the warm up shows including Mellencamp, get some
dinner and wander the property. We had heard Bob was on at 8:15 so figured we
would catch the end of Mellencamp's set and settle in for the real show. Had
never seen Mellencamp but knew his music from the radio and the odd album of his
I owned in earlier years. We could hear Pink Houses (one of my favorites) in the
distance at one point; sounded good. By the time we entered the venue, found two
square feet of grass to park about sixty layers back, Mellencamp was winding
down. The hi-lite was probably "I Fight Authority, Authority Always Wins" (if
that's what it's entitled) in which the crowd was very animated, shouting the
line with enthusiastic revelry. It was a great harbinger of what was to come
once the the sage who encouraged all of us to question authority decades ago was
about to take the stage.

At about 8:18 one of the unenlightened impatient member of the audience near us
said "He's late". I turned to her and said with a smile "Bob's on his own time".
She wasn't sure what to make of that but before she could look at her watch
again someone else said, "I hope he doesn't start changing up his songs. Why
can't he play them as we heard them on the radio?" HELLO? I thought to myself he
was at the wrong show if his comfort zone was cookie cutter performers. All I
could think was these folks were in for a long night which would no doubt go too
quickly for most. 

Shortly thereafter came the standard introduction recounting Bob's (and our)
roller coaster ride over the years while the band could be seen taking their
position on stage. And then Bob's almost melodic strut to his place behind the
organ. The excitement mounted and then the band broke into 'Leopard Skin Pill
Box Hat.' Wow! Gruff voice but could hear every cynical word. The sound and
Bob's voice were going to be great. Then came 'Baby Blue'. Beautiful. I had
visions of Newport and wondered if Bob had also met the folks I had spoken to
just prior to him taking the stage. 

At this point I was on the move, I told Claire that I was going to scope out the
front. It was relatively easy to weave through the various blankets and lawn
chairs as most people were on their feet given His presence. I was about 20
layers back when I was stopped cold, struck by the first few chords of Tom Thumb
with Bob on guitar. Not just using it as a prop but playing lead. It was an
anthem. By the end the entire audience was feeling the angst, no doubt had hit
the harder stuff by now, and wanted to go back to New York City. We all let out
a cheer. The show was on. "Just Like a Woman" followed with the crowd getting in
on the chorus and Bob having fun. I realized at the end of the song that my
recognizance mission was over and I had to retreat to Claire with a report from
the front lines. We quickly abandoned our lawn chairs and blanket and were on
the move. We were 15 layers back in no time and about to witness Bob like we
haven't seen in years. He was in good spirits, playful, strumming guitar,
pounding the keyboards, and his voice was on. His harp playing was haunting. All
the songs were wonderful and moving. 

There were a number of unforgettable moments which hopefully will be witnessed
again. When Bob approached the mic center stage with his harp and we heard him
claim "It was early one morning, I was laying in bed" I was in disbelief.
Although he cut out a few of the verses of 'Tangled' it was a wonderful
rendition and very much a touchstone for the fans, most who appeared to have
many old friends who they don't know what they're doing with their lives. Bob's
mesmerizing Workingman Blues was soulfully aching particularly in todays
economic climate. At the end Bob was centered stage with his harp feeling the
pain. Highway 61 blew everyone away. We were all rocking. Here's where you can
really see what Charlie Sexton brings to the band. Much more energy which gets
everyone going, including and particularly Bob. This was electric rock n roll.
No one was sitting, and one understood how Bob changed everything way back then.
Thunder on the Mountain also rocked the joint. Bob also played Levee's Gonna
Break; I presume to recognize the five years since Katrina. As it's the ring
tone on my cell phone I was initially confused as I was sure I had left my phone
at home. It was a moving performance recounting the strife of a day only the
Lord could make. The most remarkable moment however, and the signature of the
tour from what I can tell, was the last song in the set, Ballad of a Thin Man.
Bob center stage with his harp, chanting the lines with such contemptuous acid
as if he was a Beat poet in a cafe in the Village. Poor Mr. Jones. If he was
present, he must be feeling pretty small and confused. It's too late now Sir! 

The encore was the standard Jolene and Rolling Stone. Both done well. It doesn't
matter how many times one sees Rolling Stone played, it gives one chills.

This is a great tour and one not to miss. We are back again tonight and no doubt
Bob will mix it up so we can be busy being born. I'm hoping for "It's Alright
Ma" but knowing we may have to settle for another surreal "Thin Man" has us
passing a most pleasant day. Hope to report tomorrow.

Roger and Claire Cutler
Victoria B.C.


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