Review by Peter Kurie
A disclaimer: Whoever engineered the audio for this gig should be shot.
The drums and bass in Bob's band were entirely lost in the mix, and the
pedal steel and two guitars seemed to be split between the Left and Right
channels, preventing anyone who wasn't standing idead center from hearing
a decent balance between the string instruments (I was stage right and got
all pedal steel, and one of the guitars). Bob's organ was faint, but
fortunately his voice was coming through loud and clear, which is the most
important part. Perhaps the terrible audio quality was a result of the
show having been moved inside to the Bryce Jordan Center because of the
threat of rain; the acoustics are a lot different inside a basketball
arena than on a baseball field. This being said, the openers sounded
great, particularly Junior Brown, who kicked ass and made poor Jimmie
Vaughan sound like an amateur bar act at an open mic night.
Bob started off rough as usual on Cat's In the Well, but his voice warmed
up quickly through an extended version of Lay Lady Lay (the same verses
but repeated several times over) and the best live version I've heard of
Tweedle Dee (I've never cared too much for this song, but Bob won me over
tonight). Just Like A Woman was one of the highlights of my evening; the
arrangement has been beautifully revamped to compliment the new delicacy
in Bob's voice (or maybe it's the other way 'round...?). Tom Thumb and
Memphis Blues followed in more standard fashion. The second highlight of
the night came for me with a riveting version of Hattie Carroll: The band
was particularly soft and balanced on this tune, and Bob's voice was more
melodic and nuanced than I've heard it in years. The reverberation of his
voice in the dark arena had a haunting effect, and I got the chills. The
second half of the tune lost some momentum after a mediocre instrumental
section, but overall it was a thrill to listen to. Next came a pleasant
version of Times Have Changed, followed by an equally enjoyable To Romona,
which was also re-vamped to great effect, with Dylan in strong voice. The
crowd went wild for Tangled Up in Blue, which meandered a bit and was less
focused in its delivery. Forever Young ended the acoustic part of the set,
and a rocking Highway 61 ended the pre-encore set. If there was a third
highlight for me, it was this spirited version of Highway 61: Dylan turned
around all the subtleness of his voice from earlier in the night and
delivered the song with a driving energy, gyrating his hips Elvis-style.
The band was particularly turned on to this one, as if they were just
getting warmed up. I was glad to hear this instead of the usual Summer
Days closer. The encore was, of course, Rolling Stone and Watchtower,
which the crowd loved, and which I accepted as par for the course.
My friend and I had great seats for this show, sitting stage right (our
left) in the direction Bob faced. (I had to remind myself that he's
reversed his keyboard setup since the last time I saw him, and is now
facing the opposite direction and standing in the middle of the stage
instead of on the side). Not to my surprise, lots of people left during
the show, not understanding what it was Bob was trying to make happen;
perhaps expecting to see the Bob Dylan that made folk or folk-rock in the
'60s. In my opinion, the show was a huge success -- not the best I've seen
(in part because of the awful sound mix) but close. The best part about
the night was watching how much fun Bob was having on stage: He's
obviously doing exactly what he wants to be doing, and is happier perhaps
than he's ever been on stage. He danced a jig and grinned and lauged on
many occassions. You can tell he loves his band, too, which I'm not as
partial to as the last setup, but which probably has a lot of room to
grow. I'm seeing Bob and His Band again in Philly at the end of November,
and I'm guessing they'll be even tighter by then, especially on the new
Review by Carsten Molt
This show was originally supposed to be held at the Medlar Field baseball
stadium but was moved to the indoor Bryce Jordan Center at the last
minute due to rain. It was a good thing too. The rain had stopped the
evening before but it was still a damp and rather chilly evening.
This was the third and final show i was going to see on this tour and i
was really looking forward to it as the other 2 shows i had seen were
excellent. The show was all general admission but one could receive a
wristband for the floor area in front of the stage if you wanted to do so
instead of taking a seat in the stands. i decided to get a wristband even
though i knew it meant having to stand for the next few hours.
i found a good place to stand just as Elana James & The Continental Two
were starting their set. Their time on stage was short and had a pretty
similar set list to the other two shows i saw her play on this tour but
it was still a enjoyable number of traditonal bluegrass tunes.
Junior Brown was the next act and he was excellent. i enjoyed his set all
3 times i saw him and each time was better than the last. Brown plays a
double-necked guitar combining the standard instrument with a steel guitar
which he has nicknamed "Big Red". He got really loud ovations from the
crowd after each of his excellent guitar solos. Highlights of his set
were "Highway Patrol" and "Still Life With Rose".
The third and final opening act was Jimmie Vaughan and his Tilt-A-Whirl
Band with Lou Ann Barton. i don't like Jimmie Vaughan at all. i find him
and his band very uninteresting. Lou Ann Barton is an o.k. singer but has
no stage presence and seemed to not want to be there. Jimmie Vaughan
encouraged the crowd to clap along a couple of times. i don't like that
kind of crowd pandering stuff. i will clap in appreciation but not when i
am instructed to do so. i was glad when his set was over.
After a short break, The stage fell into darkness and Al Santos said the
usual introduction. The lights came up to reveal Dylan and the band.
Dylan wasn't wearing his customary cowboy hat but other than that, he was
wearing his customary cowboy outfit.
1. Cats In The Well- This was a really good song to open the show. Dylans
vocals were a little gruff on the first verse but he settled in by the
second verse and the band was tightly locked in the groove. The song ended
with a brief but interesting jam.
2. Lay Lady Lay- Dylan delivered the song really well and Donnie Herron
played some really nice flourishes on his pedal steel guitar. i was kind
of surprised that Dylan didn't end the song with a harmonica solo.
3. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum- i am still not a fan of this song but it
was a little bit better than usual which isn't saying much. Dylan was
really putting a lot of effort and emotion into the vocals all night and
this song was no exception.
4. Just Like A Woman- This was really well sung. Donnie Herron colored
the song with some nice cascading pedal steel runs that added a new
dimension to the songs natural beauty. Dylan added very effective vocal
pauses during the chorus and capped the song of with a long and emotional
5. Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues- i always enjoy this song and this was a
very good rendition. It was a very dark and smoke filled version that was
very easy to get lost in. Dylan was doing a lot of knee bends and leg
wiggling during the extended jam portion of the song.
6. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again- Yet another wall
of sound version of this song. Dylan sang the "Mona tried to tell me..."
verse twice which made Tony and George laugh but Dylan delivered the
lyrics well and the tune was more enjoyable than usual. 7. The Lonesome
Death Of Hattie Carroll- This was a very stark and well delivered
performance of the song but it was not as powerful or chilling as the
version that i heard in Washington, Pa. on 8/20/06. It was still really
8. Things Have Changed- i was really glad to hear this song and Dylan
sang it with a lot of care. Dylans keyboard was turned up reasonably loud
during the tune and he played some interesting parts between the verses.
Denny Freeman was given some room to play a couple of solos but neither
of them really went anywhere.
9. To Ramona- This was one of the highlights of the evening. Donnie
Herron added some beautiful mandolin embellishment to the song and Dylan
handled the lyrics with care and tenderness. He ended the song with his
best harmonica solo of the evening.
10. Tangled Up In Blue- i hadn't heard this song in more than 4 years and
was elated to see it again. It got a big cheer from the crowd as well.
The band fell into a nice groove which allowed Dylan to dive deeply into
his vocals which had some new lyrics that added a nice twist to the song.
This was another highlight of the evening.
11. Forever Young- This was a pleasant surprise. Dylans vocals soared
loudly and clearly above the bands understated and tasteful melody. A
very sweet harmonica solo put a big exclamation point on the end of the
12. Highway 61 Revisited- i was expecting "Summer Days" and was really
happy to hear this instead. This tune always seems to deliver the goods
and tonight was no exception. Stu Kimball and Denny Freeman both played
long, searing guitar solos that brought a big smile to Dylans face. Dylan
was really roaring the lyrics and pounding away on his keyboard.
13. Like A Rolling Stone- It started with a interesting melody. The song
was played a lot slower than any other version than i had ever heard
before. i am not sure how i feel about this arrangement but it certainly
made the song more interesting than usual.
14. All Along The Watchtower- This was the usual end of show madness.
Dylan was really yelling the lyrics instead of singing them. The crowd
really loved it, though.
A. Dylan didn't seem as jovial as he did the last few times i saw him but
he was putting every ounce of energy into the performance. His vocals
powerful and clear all evening. Besides the repeating of one verse during
"Stuck Inside Of Mobile", there were no vocal flubs or mumbling to be
B. The band sounded as good as i have ever heard this current line-up
sound. Stu Kimball and Denny Freeman seemed to be comfortable in their
respective roles. i still don't think that Freeman has much personality,
though. Tony Garnier was as solid as ever. George Recile was not as
bombastic as he usually is but his playing was appropriate and tasteful
on each and every song. Donnie Herron was excellent all night long
whether he was playing steel guitar, mandolin or violin.
C. The crowd was pretty well behaved. There was a bit of talking at some
points during the opening acts but it was never overly obtrusive or
D. This was the third time that i have seen Dylan at the Bryce Jordan
Center. As basketball arenas go, it is pretty nice and the event staff
does their job professionally and stays in the background during the show.
In summation, the show was excellent and i had a great time. If anyone
has a copy of the show... Of course, these are only my opinions and i
apologize for the typos and length but i tend to ramble. In Bob we trust,
Review by Trent R. Schneider
Another unpredictable set list unfolded in a surprisingly nice venue- this
show was moved into the Bryce Jordan center to avoid damaging the field at
Medlar park after 2 days of steady rain. A three-hour drive got us to
Penn State around 5 PM and to our surprise we found the parking areas were
only partly full, with scattered tailgate parties throughout - there was a
friendly atmosphere of comradery despite a chilly overcast afternoon with
intermittent showers. We fired up the grill, played some recent bootlegs
and got ready for the show, enjoying conversation with some other nearby
tailgaters. My friend and I brought our daughters, who enjoyed their
yoohoo's while we opted for the harder stuff, and threw on some burgers
Getting inside just as Elana started her set, it wasn't very crowded - a
good opportunity to hit the head and scope out a place to sit. We found
seats on the floor level (they had just four rows extended open on either
side of the main floor) which got us up about 5 feet above floor level,
and standing against the back row put us right at eye level with the
stage. The view was great!
The openers were enjoyable again - the transition from country, blues,
rockabilly, and rock as they hand off the stage really prepares the crowd
for Dylan's range of music. Despite the criticism of some other reviewers,
I can see how this works and why they have put it together this way.
Junior Brown is very talented, and honestly he and Jimmy Vaughn, who also
did a great set, are worth the price of admission. There were a couple of
wow! moments from those two.
The small crowd was really ready for Dylan, the excitement building as the
crew got the stage ready and tweaked the sound equipment. Dylan took the
stage to thundering applause. Clearly not too many first timers in the
audience! Cat's In The Well is a good opener - an upbeat song which gets
the crowd moving. I was at the Reading PA show where he rolled out this
opener, and since I don't care for Maggie's Farm, this worked for me
Dylan's voice was showing some wear as he started the set - this being his
5th concert in 6 days he struggled to get his pipes working. He did get
stronger as he went, but throughout you could see where he was consciously
making a choice not to strain his voice. This was most noticeable during
Forever Young, where he spoke not sung the chorus line 'Forever Young'
most of the way through the song, which does detract from it. He did sing
it through once toward the end which the crowd really appreciated though.
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum continues to be enjoyable live, I have always
thought this one of the weakest songs on Love and Theft, but I really like
it performed live. Things have Changed was the only other recent title he
played, and was a highlight for me. I have a terrific recording of a live
version of this song from early in the 2005 tour at Foxwoods casino, and
this was every bit as good if not better! Wow, just fantastic.
The rest of the show came out of the distant past, skipping three decades
of his work. But what a past it was! Memphis Blues, Tom Thumb Blues,
Tangled up in Blue all resonated strongly with the crowd, the latter most
of all. At one point between the songs a fan yelled 'THANK YOU BOB' and we
all applauded even louder, we all felt the same way.
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll was a poignant moment in the show,
the updated sound of it could place it on any of his most recent albums,
and carries a message every bit as relevant today as when he penned it
more than 40 years ago. I stood mesmerized throughout it - a very intimate
moment - almost like Bob just decided to drop by and sing this for you in
your living room. He is really pouring himself out with some of his song
choices, it's a rare treat in the commercialized music world.
To close the main set they nailed Highway 61 Revisited big time, a bit out
of control at the end but another great performance. I guess they ran out
of time to play Summer Days as the closer (yet another surprise) but given
the choice head to head I'd take Highway 61, so no complaints here. My
daughter was a bit bummed though as she likes Summer days.
We moved down onto the floor for the encore, to get even closer to the
stage. All Along The Watchtower was an especially powerful closer, and
really showcased the talents of drummer George Recile - the guy has skills
that really jump out in this song. They all did a really nice job on that
one. Dylan lingered on stage afterwards, obviously enjoying the
appreciation this smallish but enthusiastic crowd was showering on Bob and
I was worried the big sound of a show geared to the outdoors would be
muddled indoors, but the tech crew did an awesome job with it and produced
a show worthy of recording. The sound was really clean and sharp. Another
Trent R. Schneider
Review by Jon Mertz
On Sunday I saw Bob Dylan for, as near as I can figure it, the thirteenth
time. The concert was supposed to be in a ballpark in State College PA but
at the last minute was moved to the nearby Bryce Jordan Center. I've seen
Bob in that venue 3 times and all 3 have been stellar concerts. I took my
14-yr old son, my Sweetheart, and two of my best friends. It was a fine
For much of the Never-Ending Tour, Bob has based his concerts on old-time
Country & Western shows of the 40s and 50s. He usually dresses like a
cowboy, has his band wear matching suits, and calls the evening's
entertainment (including the opening acts) "The Bob Dylan Show". He plays
county fairs and parking lots as well as arenas and theaters. I read that
the Stanley Brothers used to play drive-in theaters, setting up on top of
the snack bar - I haven't seen Bob playing any of those yet but won't be
surprised when he does.
This summer's tour featured three opening acts. First up was Elena James
and the Continental Two Plus One - Elena, who was in Bob's touring band a
year or two ago, on fiddle and vocals, plus two excellent guitarists and
an upright bass player from another planet. Their short set of cowboy
swing included "Oklahoma Hills" by Jim Reeves and ended with Bill Monroe's
"Orange Blossom Special", played at warp speed. They sounded like a bunch
of my Spade Cooley 78s come to life, minus the crackling. Stellar
Next up was Junior Brown. When the roadies brought out the drum set - a
snare drum and one cymbal - I remembered that a guitar-playing pal of mine
had seen him last summer and told me about a conversation he had with his
drummer, who was a teen-aged heavy metal dude moonlighting in a rockabilly
band. So I mentioned that to people around me, wanting as always to appear
"in the know". However, the drummer on this particular evening was a
gray-haired gentleman who appeared to be about 70, which made my "inside
information" seem to be based on flawed intelligence. My buddy Marc
thought the bass player was from Steve Earle's band, The Dukes. They
started playing a shuffle, and then Junior came out carrying his
guit-steel (half telecaster half pedal steel, his own invention), put it
on its stand, plugged it in, and launched into 45 minutes of
unpredictable, inventive, highly entertaining and fairly mind-blowing
playing. The spots we'd staked out hours earlier, a few feet from center
stage, gave us an excellent vantage point to watch Junior at work -
switching back and forth between the two halves of his instrument,
alternating between using metal finger picks and brushing the strings with
his palm, fretting the guitar neck, producing a slide from his pocket to
play the "steel" half of his invention, cracking himself up, all the while
singing in a baritone rumble that made everything sound a little like
"Convoy". Being that close to the stage, we couldn't hear his voice too
well, which was a shame, but his guit-steel was blasting out at AC/DC
volume levels. The songs in his set dove-tailed into each other, Junior
starting the next one before the dust had settled from the last one, his
hired rhythm section obviously as curious as the audience as to what would
come next. In the middle of his set he broke into what sounded like a
heartbreaking mariachi song, sung in flawless Spanish, which coming out of
Junior (who looks like a hard-drinking trucker) made the whole scene just
a little surreal.
At the end of his set, Junior threw his fingerpicks into the audience,
then pretended he was going to throw the guit-steel into the audience too.
He walked off as the rhythm section vamped, old-school show-biz style.
All of us agreed that we MUST go see Junior headline sometime - preferably
in a bar.
Next up was Jimmy Vaughan and the Tilt-a-Whirl Band. I was never a fan of
Stevie Ray Vaughan, so seeing his older, less-talented brother play the
same style of white Texas blues was no thrill for me. Jimmy looked like
someone I would've seen drinking in the bar with my dad in the 1960s -
neatly dressed, hair slicked down, red face, and a sour expression. He
looked like a mean drunk who was mad about being temporarily sober. After
a few bland songs - all of which might've sounded better if the stage
wasn't still smoldering from Junior Brown's set - he introduced Lou Ann
Barton. Lou Ann looked REALLY pissed off about life in general. It seemed
as if perhaps she and Jimmy had had a disagreement about money (or maybe
booze) in the tour bus before the show.
The band had no bassist, the basslines being delivered by a smiling old
black gentleman sitting at a white Hammond B-3. He was the best thing
about the band. Highlight of the set was, I guess, "Ti Na Ne Na Nu".
Bob's set was very, very good. I had not seen this particular incarnation
of his band yet - last time I saw Bob was April '04. The guitar players
are new since then, and Bob is playing some sort of combo organ instead of
a piano now. Sometimes what he played made sense, sometimes it didn't,
sometimes you couldn't hear it. His singing was quite good, meaning -
well, you know what I mean. Good for Bob. He played what seemed to be the
same three-note harmonica break in 4 or 5 of the songs, and didn't look at
the audience at all - his keyboard was set up facing George Recile, so his
back was to everyone in the stands to the right of the auditorium. I had a
good view of him, though, and was entertained by his facial expressions
and body language throughout the show. The sound of the keyboard, which
reminded me a bit of rolling skating rinks of my childhood, combined with
Bob's moustache to lend an unintentional but inescapable Dr. Phibes vibe
to the proceedings. Bob was NOT wearing his usual cowboy hat, but his hair
looked like he had been wearing it recently.
The only song I had to strain to figure out its identity was "Hattie
Carroll", because it has been reimagined as a lilting parlor ballad - it
sounded a lot like the slower songs from Modern Times. Although that
defused the anger of the lyric somewhat- "Take the rag away from your
face/ Now ain't the time for your tears" - it was a highlight of the set.
So, too, was "Highway 61", as well as "Tangled Up In Blue", as well
as...everything, really. It was a very good night.
After the encore, as the band lined up in what has come to be known as The
Formation, Bob picked his black cowboy hat up and walked toward the front
edge of the stage. He reached inside the hat and pantomimed sprinkling
handfulls of pixie dust on the audience, then rejoined the line-up to
stare down the audience as we paid our homage. Then he was gone.
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