August 29, 2010
Review by Roger and Claire Cutler
After witnessing a great Dylan show at McMenamin's Edgefield Manor on Saturday
night (see review for Aug. 28) to celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary, my
friend Claire and I passed a peaceful and relaxing day on the McMenamin property
enjoying the energy from those who attended the previous night's show and those
arriving for the second show at this remarkable venue. The anticipation and the
vibe circulating before a concert is always a huge rush. This was intensified on
this occasion as folks discussed the previous night's show and what they hoped
to hear at the next show. As the day progressed, the energy mounted and reached
a new level in mid-afternoon as the sound check emanated throughout the hotel
grounds. We had already decided that we would not be attending the warm up acts.
Our plan was to have a nice dinner at the outdoor eatery in the hotel where one
could here the music and enter the venue when John Mellencamp was winding down.
We knew from the previous evening that with festival seating, once Bob came on
stage, everyone in the first 25 rows would be standing with blankets and lawn
chairs abandoned. We had managed to be fifteen layers of fans from the stage
during the first show but we were hoping to get even closer to His Bobness
We timed our entrance into the venue as Mellencamp was playing his penultimate
song, which we knew from Saturday's show. (There are some advantages to artist's
who play a standard set list each night; I just don't want to listen to them
more than once.) We took a seat on the ground, far stage right, for the last
song. When it ended there was a fair amount of movement as people went for
refreshments or to refresh. After about ten minutes we spotted a patch of green
about 10 feet in front of the stage. No blanket, no lawn chair, and NO PERSON.
We were on the move. Within ten minutes of entering the venue we were positioned
directly in front of the stage, and would be no more than 15 feet from Him in a
matter of minutes. We were in disbelief. This was going to be amazing!
Fortunately, we did not have to wait long. The intro started and out came the
band members and Bob. Tonight wearing a white troubadour hat (last night was a
white cowboy hat) to go with a black suit with a bold stripe down the slacks.
The band broke into Pill Box Hat, the same opening as the night before. The
crowd was up and pushing towards the stage taking us even closer. Then came the
hi-light of the night. Bob on electric guitar playing Don't Think Twice. The
crowd was singing along and Bob was picking, including a solo. We never thought
we'd see that again. His playing was wonderful! This was shortly followed by a
dynamic I Don't Believe You. Bob was center stage with his harp and a mic and
gesturing with each phrase as if acting out the song. We could not believe what
we were witnessing. I've never seen him so emotive. The crowd loved the
playfulness of the song and Bob's gestures. Wow - what fun. Just Like a Woman
had the crowd completely engaged. Throughout the chorus Bob would sing the lead
in ("You ache") and the entire crowd would sing back "Just like a woman" and
then Bob would sing the line himself. It was magical. A number of the songs from
last night's show (Highway 61, Thunder on the Mountain) rocked the house again.
Not surprisingly, Rollin' and Tumblin' was a good selection for the rocking
theme of the set. High Water was also a good fit here and a real treat for
everyone. The only disappointment for me was Tryin' To Get To Heaven. It is a
favorite of mine, but this was a strange musical version and difficult for me to
embrace. Maybe some liked it. Willie McTell provided a soulful respite with
Bob's piercing harp. The last song of the set, like the night before, was a
dramatic spellbinding rendering of Thin Man. Bob sang this with such utter
contempt for Mr. Jones and again gesticulated with each ridiculing phrase. I
hope someone is capturing these performances on film. The artistry is
breathtaking. The encore was a well-performed Jolene, and a Rolling Stone with a
very enthusiastic crowd participation. Bob was better than he's been in years.
And as always, Bob gave us much to ponder. For Claire and me, we'll keep on
keepin' on. Hopefully we will see Bob in a not too distant time.
Roger and Claire Cutler
Review by David Harper
The Cutler review for Saturday was very true.
The concert reviewer for the Oregonian was typically disengaged at
the proceedings describing Dylan in a headline as "Detached". I'll tell you that
wasn't so, the following show, this Sunday in Troutdale. If you were down front,
as me and Gail were, or you had binoculars, you'd see right away Bob looked very
well and quite engaged. Smiles and twinkles, fast connections on and off stage.
Paper writers seldom notice these things because of the candy or plastic cups
they're squeezing. You've seen them at these shows. Wonder how they miss
it. Here's the facts: Bob Dylan sang a near perfect show Sunday in Troutdale,
Oregon at Edgefield's fabulous hotel and gardens.The performance took off with
a strong voice and energized singing. Really good. And this is toward the end of
the current road schedule. Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat kicked it off with a thunder
roll of authority. Right away this outfit claims the stage from whomever shows
up. And Mellancamp was really good. Material from his last and current works are
the best I've heard him ever do. But we're talkin bout Bob.Now he picks up a
silver grey strat for Don't Think Twice and plays it nicely. Keeps it strapped on
for a hot I'll Be Your Baby Tonight playing a little more freely than in awhile.
Everything still moving full force and feels like a good show coming. Just Like A
Woman with a fresh twist. Audience offers up choruses and Bob lets them in,
some, and it works well. But this is not a sing along show. Move quick into
Rollin and Tumblin. It scoots. Powerful music. Neatly gears down for I Don't
Believe You. Oldie but goodie. Catch a breath. Front and center for High
Water. This is a big song. Bob, still really into nailing this stuff, comes right to
us, center stage, hammering solid lines all the way. Band is playing tight and
tasteful as ever but maybe a tad more forward. Nice moments. Concise and
clear. No wasted notes or lost time anywhere in the whole set, I thought. As
some have noted, Charlie's got it just like he should. Less flash and more class.
Looks and sounds better this year. Always was a joy.The shows singular
highlight, for me was, Trying To Get To Heaven, a line or two added to this
version was a surprise. Highway 61 still shows off Bob's rock n roll chops.
Anyone's got to be impressed if you've heard this one as much as we've heard
this one. Tears right through the heartland with blazing lights. Concert first for
me was Blind Willie McTell. He could have sang it twice. Almost too good for
an outdoor show. Thunder On The Mountain flew by like a saxaphone wigging
out. I like the words but couldn't catch them this time. But it sounded good.
The singer isn't tired. Ballad Of A Thin Man has turned into quite a gag and a
special moment with the fans, us, no Joneses here right? This one is also
center stage and hand mic, with lots of fun. Fast encore, bus engine running
back of the stage, Jolene winds it up, lot of info in this snazzy tune, good song
to play and sing, great eye and crown logo up full and the finale Like A Rolling
Stone. He might've done this better in bygone days but not much. Because
I'm a retired DJ and paint in acrylics, I give Bob a break and tend to praise
rather than not but have to admit the past several shows in our neighborhood
haven't been as robust as this one Sunday in Troutdale. Anyway the man who
put lyrics to the architecture of our soul and carried Mystery into song,
described the fall and resurrection of our time, is still happening.
His voice was damn good.
Review by Steven Thwaits
Back to Seattle tonight after two great shows outside Portland at the
McMenamins Beer Factory and Concert Grounds. They like to liquor you
up. On the bright side, people were in a party mood, a happy Saturday
night. You can guess the not-as-bright side.
John Mellencamp made some really good sounding music both nights with
his super cool bass player, wild lady fiddle player and tough as
leather guitar guy. Mellancamp writes good dark American music, a
little strident at times and over enthusiastic maybe. Sweaty fist-
pumping music and a few dark Ralph Stanley type tales of dread.
Bob is sounding really good. The band is sounding really good. Highway
61, Just Like a Woman and Thin Man seem to be three key songs right
now. Once not so long ago I never wanted to hear JLAW again, but he
has created a new fire there. Thin Man is brilliant, full of anger and
dismay, sung with energy and physicality. The band is tight and
focused. They bring it to every song and Bob is not wasting a word. He
is using every breath on stage for his music. They are having a good
time. Jolene has become the song of choice for first encore, and Bob
sings it like he's got a flesh and blood queen in mind. I wouldn't
know, but he seems like a contented man.
After the second show ended, the band did their little line-up thing,
and Bob kicked his foot in the air. I remember when he used to shoot
his fingers like a pistol at us. It's just a nod, but he means it,
like he means everything.
And it was great to hang out with my fellow Bob people. Thanks to Noel
especially for helping me out! On to Yakima for me? Seattle of course!
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