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Review by Antonio Terni
Well, driving through Pittsburgh is a nightmare. Although I had a
fantastic map of the city, it took me more than one hour to arrive to the
venue. The problem is that Pittsburgh has no mercy for mistakes: if you go
once on the wrong direction it's a big problem going back and every furher
mistake gets you into deeper trouble until you stop without any idea of
where you are. When I finally arrived to the Palumbo Center I happily
discovered that there still were GA tickets available, so I bought one and
started queuing at 2.30 beeing 4th in the row (there were two californian
guys who had arrived ther at 9.00 AM and they were definetely first.)
Unlike last european tour, there were no discriminations and the first in
the row were the first to go in and so I was in the middle of rhe first
row leaning confortably to the rial: hope they will not behave nastily
again. Duncan and Brady was as usual, but then Tambourine was totally
different from any other Tambourine I have assisted to: Larry was playing
the tune using chords instead than single notes while Bob was singing
changing as usual the melody. I think that what Larry was doing was
extremely difficult and shows what a good guitar player he is, but the
whole thing was ruined by an absurd rythm and it sounded to me as a german
military music. They say that Tony is doing the arrangements of the songs,
but this time he's done something really awfull. I hope they will go back
to previous arrangements 'cause Tambourine is not a song you can play
with. It's alright Ma had a new arrangement too, but this time the result
was acceptable, although I prefer the former one. Love Minus Zero was
great although I hoped for Frankie Lee and Judas Priest, but you cannot
complain when you have such a wonderfull song instead. Just Like a Woman
is one of my favorites but I'm not very happy when Bob sings it with all
those up and downs.. I knew the 11th was going to be Drifter, as Bob had
not touched the harp before (how smart I am!) and it sounded powerfull as
usual. Leopard closed but the night before I had the best version ever
with G.E. Smith on an additional guitar, and so tonight it sounded a
littlle anticlimatic. In fact in Ann Arbor they were all having a lot of
fun while playing Leopard as the presence of Smith made things different
while in Pittsburgh they were back to routine. Anyway I still love this
song an I lost a hat as usual. On the encores If Dogs run Free was the
highlight, maybe only because is a novelty and we are always hungry of new
music. I don't think it will stay long in the list so I was lucky to have
it for a couple of times. I would say it was not a memorable concert, the
set list was quite obvious but Bob was in a good mood, constantly smiling
at a girl in the first row, and when Bob is in a good mood we all are,
don't we? And the main thing is that there were no splitting of the queue,
double rials and all that discrimination that in Europe made you feel
undesired. Thank you Bob for having changed things.
Review by David Berry
I grew up in Pittsburgh. Steel was made there. Rust Belt City on the banks
of three rivers. No more steel. A city redone.
The last time that I was there steel mills belched out smoke and soot. Last
night Bob Dylan belted out yet another concert on the never-ending tour.
As I parked my car to go and find a ticket I passed 2 VW beetles. One an
icon from the 60's the other redone in the new millennium. A car redone
I was ready for a little dose of Bob Dylan and his band. No sooner had I
gotten inside the lights went down and Pow. A little of that Bob Dylan
magic was kicking in.
Those who like a blow by blow account of the play list can move onto a
different review. I just basically need a dose of that music live. In
addition to his music seeing the band live just does it. He has revamped
most of the tunes. Just like serving up a wedge of Country Pie in all those
flavors I'll take a wedge of each blueberry, apple, cherry, pumpkin plum.
What a treat.
He was walking with his swagger as he moved about the stage, which was
just about as spartan as a garage. Nothing to detract from the music.
His voice had an incredible range moving all the way from the coursed
gravel and growl to if you can believe beautifully silky, tender and
warm. He was jaunty. He was full of himself. The joker joking around,
feeling his funny bone all the way to saying that after "Dogs Run Free"
was his animal rights protest song.
So if you like this stuff get yourself a little piece of this tour. Good
Stuff. You can bet I'll be back for more. Yeah!
Review by Carsten Molt
A basketball venue is hardly anyone's idea of a good place to hold a
concert due to the echo and muddy mix that usually plague these
facilities. So it was with a bit of trepidation that we entered the
Palumbo center last evening. Arriving half-way through the local opening
act, we found a place about 20 yards from the stage. The venue was pretty
full at this point and we eventually moved back from the front and watched
the show from a less tightly packed area of the floor.
Dylan and company took the stage at 7:45 PM and promptly began the
acoustic set with
1. Duncan And Brady(acoustic)- Dylan's voice was strong and clear from the
outset. My skepticism about the venues acoustics were quickly laid away as
the entire band sounded great and would continue to excel throughout the
2. Mr. Tambourine Man(acoustic)- One of my favorite tunes sung with a
hypnotic slowness that brought many cheers from the enthralled audience.
Dylan cocked his head to one side during the verses as if to recall the
emotions he felt when he wrote this gem so many years ago.
3. It's Alright, Ma(I'm only Bleeding)(acoustic)-A very rocking
bluegrass arrangement propelled
the song along with Dylan enunciating every syllable with strength and
conviction. On the eve of the presidential election, the line "But even
the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked"
brought one of the loudest crowd responses of the night.
4 .Love Minus Zero/No Limit(acoustic)- Dylan dug deep into his bag of
vocal nuances for a very tender rendering of Love Minus Zero. During the
outro, Dylan laid back as Larry Campbell played some lovely steel guitar
that took the song to the next level.
5. Tangled Up in Blue(acoustic)-At this point, Dylan knew that he had the
crowd in the palm of his hand and he began smiling a bit and hamming it up
during the instrumental passages of "Tangled". The crowd roared their
approval as Dylan took a short guitar solo that didn't go anywhere but
delighted the audience just the same.
6. Searching for a Soldiers Grave(acoustic) Larry began the song with a
nice mandolin flourish that slowed as Dylan gave the song a slow and
somber rendering that showcased the songs simple but unmistakable beauty.
A side note: This was probably the most appreciative and Dylan
knowledgeable crowd i have ever encountered. While very into the show and
in a partying mood, there was none of the belligerence or during song
talking that one can find at many concerts
7. Country Pie- Big smiles from everyone on stage during ‘Country Pie" A
good upbeat number to welcome the electric instruments. Dylan roared
through a quick solo and then gave Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell a
chance to shine as they traded solos back and forth. The band really
seemed to give this song a work out in its very short form.
8. Standing in the Doorway- Wow! A song that i had been hoping for and i
was not disappointed. Dylan sang strongly and loudly without forsaking any
of the songs atmosphere or intimacy. A very touching performance and Dylan
smiled broadly during the applause knowing that he had nailed it.
9. Stuck inside of Mobile- A chance for Dylan to play with his phrasing
and timing on the lyrics while David Kemper laid down a funky backbeat
that allowed Sexton and Campbell to each take a couple solos. Charlie
Sexton's solo soared beautifully as his playing sparkled all evening long.
10. Just Like a Woman- A very welcome surprise and nicely played at
that. Larry Campbell colored the song with cascading pedal steel notes
that added another dimension of feel to the song. Dylan sang the song with
delicate melodic phrasing that nicely fit the song. The audience again
rewarded the song with a long ovation that brought a smile and a fluffing
of the hair from Dylan
11. Drifters Escape- i was really happy to hear this tune as i had read
quite a few great reviews of it. This was the highlight of the show for
me. As the band laid down a rocking beat, Dylan nailed the vocals with
great power and phrasing. On of the most consistent trends of the night
was the fact that Dylan was in great vocal form and nowhere was this more
apparent then here. After a blues drenched jam, Dylan held the guitar to
one side and played a short but good harmonica solo.
12. Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat- After the band intros, LSPBH closed the
electric set. Dylan was doing quite a bit of dancing and bobbing his head
while the band pushed the song harder and harder which Dylan seemed to
thrive on. His vocals rang strong and true as he rode the maelstrom that
the band had whipped up. A very long, blazing outro treated the audience
to solos by Campbell and Sexton before Dylan brought the song home with a
short solo of his own. It is very strange to see the band stand there in
formation after the tune. They all look very uncomfortable and unsure of
what to do during this time. Encores
13. Things Have Changed- A good performance of the song but the rhythm
seemed to become a bit wobbly as the song continued.
14.Like a Rolling Stone- A good rocking sing a long tune for the casual
fan. It was well received and it was well played even though the rhythm
threatened to fall apart during the chorus. David Kemper was excellent on
drums all evening. Unfortunately, this was not Tony Garnier's best night.
His playing was good as usual but he didn't add the spark to the songs
that he usually does. On other nights, that would hinder the show but
since the rest of the band was so on and Dylan was at the height of his
powers, it mattered little.
15.If Dogs Run Free(acoustic)(Larry and Charlie on electric) A very fun
and loose song that showcased Dylans ability to laugh at himself. The
lounge lizard arrangement was hilarious and the audience ate it up. Larry
Campbell took a spirited, jazzy solo to close the song out.
16.All Along the Watchtower- a few extraneous notes at the onset had my
hopes up for "Cold Irons Bound" but instead we got "Watchtower" which I'll
never complain about. One of the loudest crowd responses of the night and
the band delivered the goods. Charlie Sexton laid down lick after lick of
blues drenched rock and roll. A good performance by Dylan as he splayed
his legs and pointed his guitar at the audience in front of the stage.
17. Forever Young(acoustic)-A beautifully played tune that shimmered
under Dylan's warm vocal. Something about the way Dylan sang the song
reminded me of a painting with watercolors.
18. Highway 61- Another showcase for Charlie Sexton to trade solos with
Dylan. There was a very good light show all night and it culminated during
the climax of "Highway 61". Dylans vocals remained loud and clear with no
sign of tiring.
19. Blowing in the Wind(acoustic)- While i still see it as being
anticlimatic and a rinky dink tune, the crowd loved it and the harmonies
between Dylan and the band seemed tighter than usual. Another formation
with Dylan nodding his head and his hands on his hips.
An excellent show with great vocals, outstanding musicianship and a
very good set list
made for another magical evening. I'd love to get a copy of this show.
Sorry for the length of the review but i tend to ramble. In Bob we trust,
Review by Tom Lace
This venue is a basketball arena, built to infuse campus and city
enthusiasm for a historied sports program that had come onto hard
times. When it was new about ten years ago Dylan performed here--about a
week before the 30th anniversary concert at MSG. I remember it being a
typically mediocre show--the usual case at that time. Hard core fans were
showing up out of incurable fanaticism, and coming away with maybe a song
or two that was stellar, and another dozen that were pretty shaky. The
guy seemed close to being over the hill. The venue at that time was
disorganized, the acoustics bad--all in all one of the poorer events I can
remember (and I’ve been to enough to have developed a strong frame of
This time we arrived in the middle of the opening act--two local
acoustic troubadours who weren’t bad--and was pleased to see that the
stage had been reoriented, with general admission standing room in the
floor area, and the basketball bleachers along the sides for assigned
seating--a measure that tries to accommodate all the fan types (and I
think it was successful in this instance). The sound system seemed
stellar--much to my surprise--as this is a glorified high school gymnasium
and as I mentioned the sound was bad the last time.
The opening act finished and the lights came up. I found a few fellow
Dylan fanatics and compared notes since our last concerts together--this
venue was small enough that it was pretty easy to connect this way. Soon
it was lights down, and the crowd was quickly into the mood. The band all
came out and took their positions, followed quickly by Bob entering from
center rear to a rousing roar and applause. Bob looked dapper, even
formal in a tailored dark suit, crimson shirt with coordinated tie (almost
in a Regis Philbin mode--oh my). Tony stuck out in a nice fitting deep
lavender suit, with a black derby hat and his pencil thin mustache--looked
like he could walk right into Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy in this get-up.
Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell stood on opposite ends of the stage, and
made strange visual bookends indeed. Sexton wears his suit like the guy
who was forced to put in on for the prom. He shows up with hair wild and
flopping in his face--already sweaty or greased. Campbell has his long
locks well combed, almost air-brushed looking--dry, reserved, controlled
(and of course a consummate magician on any number of instruments). They
both sure play wonderfully--they just do it “from a different point of
view.” Now, the songs:
Duncan and Brady
I suspected this might be the tune only from following the set list on
Bill Pagel’s nice web site. I hadn’t heard it before, and had no idea
what to expect. The band was on from the first note, as was Dylan--clear,
strong vocals and an obvious commitment to putting on a good show. Bob
ended this with his “Thank you evrybuddeeeee” as well as a few other
words which I couldn’t get. Also during this song the lighting clearly
highlighted the incense cloud surrounding the entire stage and band.
Mr. Tambourine Man
Unusual version to my ear. It was easy to recognize early--the obvious
cord progressions were immediately evident. Bob’s vocal was real
prominent in the mix--commanding even--his diction clear and determined.
The arrangement was a new one for me--all in all a boxy, prefab sound.
Nobody freelanced. It was three guitars and a bass all rhythmically
strumming--no finger picking, no solo lines, just strum, strum, strum.
It seemed like a marching band version--Sousa does Dylan. Of course the
way these things go, in another decade and after a few more listens this
will probably become one of my favorite versions. Must say I’m not there
It’s Alright Ma
I’ve heard this song several times live (since ‘74) and it stays fresh
for me. Begins with intense Dylan vocal over delicate Larry Campbell
finger picking. Through the early verses, Tony Garnier gives a simple
base background behind the verse, and a more lively, rolling baseline with
the refrain and between verses. The “even the President of the United
States sometimes must have to stand naked” line got a good crowd response
on this election eve show. I remember the big roar this one got in ‘74,
with Nixon (who it was hard to imagine ever being naked) and Watergate in
full gear. Then again the roar around the time of the Monica Lewinsky
trashola. This line has seen a lot of miles and a bit of history. This
song and it’s well sung lyrics sucked the crowd in. Not just into the
musical groove but into a cosmic or spiritual groove as well. This is
more than rock n roll--take a look at the faces in these crowds (if you’re
able to quit staring at Bob) and you’ll see what I’m talking about. As the
song builds, so do the guitar layers. By song’s end they’re all plucking
away, a crescendo of music and words worth witnessing. This number ends
with a long instrumental coda--show casing the versatility of these
Love - zero
Tricky intro for me--I thought it was another tune altogether before I
finally “named that tune.” I went from Like A Rolling Stone to She
Belongs To Me to, finally, Love - 0. Now I did have a couple of beers,
and as mentioned earlier, I’ve been attending these things for a while
now, so this may all just represent my personal decay. Whatever, I do
enjoy trying to figure out which song is coming. Bob’s word delivery on
this one was impeccable. Larry Campbell plays steel guitar. Bob does the
3-note solo--maybe even 4 or 5 at times. The crowd loves it--he squats
and does a few head bobs and gets the crowd response with each movement.
He has fancy black and white cowboy boots, which have elongated toes that
make the things look about two sizes too long. He’s into squishing them
as if putting out cigarette butts.
Tangled Up In Blue
I was glad to hear this one--incidentally this one is recognizable
after the first cord or two--because one of my companions, a friend for
45 years (we listened to Kingston Trio tunes together before there was a
Bob Dylan) happens to love this tune. It was at the top of his wish list
and here it was. It started with a dark stage--a spotlight on Bob,
another on Larry. Larry played lead, Bob barely strummed his way through
the beginning verses of this one. By the second verse the stage was lit
full, and the entire band was playing. I noted again the quality of the
sound given this arena. I flashed back to seeing Willie Somerset (a local
Duquesne University basketball hero) score 44 points in this arena’s
predecessor building and how excited I was to witness that about 35 years
ago. I think this Duquesne University event (the Palumbo Center--the
official name of this venue, is Duquesne’s basketball arena) now will move
into the top spot in my memory bank. Bob solos, but seems reserved. He
puts his head down, watching his guitar, and glares from under his brow at
the front row folks. His eye contact is almost scary--the intensity and
mesmerizing quality are potent.
Searching For A Soldier’s Grave
Larry is now on mandolin. The groups harmonies (Tony stays away from any
vocals) are nice on this one. Nice acoustic blend--these guys sure can
Rockin’ electric version. Remembering my first listen of this song on
the album way back when, I never could have imagined this rendition. It
sure works, though. A huge, pleated curtain appears as backdrop to the
stage. It began as red-green sheen, but the light show changed to yellow
by the song’s end. Bob and Tony are strutting around to the rock beat.
Even Larry and Charlie are bouncing a bit, with Charlie all over the
guitar frets. At one point Dylan drops both hands from his guitar and
accents his singing with hand gestures. The boys all seem to be having
one good time on this tune. And now Bob’s legs and knees are
jumpin--reminds me all of all those descriptions of his leg tapping and
knee bouncing in his young days--all raw uncontained energy. It’s obvious
how much he loves the rock star role watching him now. Oh me oh my
Standing In The Doorway
Bluesy beginning. Bob in his “listen to this” vocal style. This one
overflowing with Dylan’s unique inflections, phrasings, and timings. A
nice concise sampling of what it is about him that I find so alluring yet
so hard to explain. Wish I could bottle this performance. I looked for
my binoculars--wanted to lock in on him during this one--and saw them
about ten folks down the aisle. My friends and I had been sharing these
binocs, but the appeal of Bob during this tune had made one person and
then another and another ask to take a quick look. He really had
everyone’s attention here. I couldn’t get the glasses back as quickly as
I’d have liked, but I couldn’t help but marvel and smile in the aura of it
all. Bob’s now spreading his legs, bending his knees and squatting into
the blues notes of the nice rendition. After this one’s over, Bob and
Tony hold a triumphant post-song huddle with the look on their faces that
said, “we really nailed that one!”
Stuck Inside Of Mobile
Jumpin’ intro. Larry with the only acoustic guitar. Great version of a
classic tune. Tony G. groovin’ on this one. Tony has this smirk/smile as
he prowls and takes in the whole stage scene. He’s obviously the
quarterback. During this tune he’s looking at Bob almost with the look of
a fan, an admiring, even awe struck look, as if he’s very tangibly aware
of the special scene he’s a part of.
Just Like A Woman
Drum roll of an intro takes us quickly into the lyrics. Done in a very
traditional form--which comes as a surprise since so little of live Dylan
comes packaged this way. Larry again on steel guitar.
A first for me, and an enjoyable one. A pounding, hard drum beat. The
instrumental is sparse during the lyric, all guitars revved during refrain
and between the verses. Dylan is really into the words on this one. At
the end he, with guitar in hand, goes to the back amp and picks up a
harmonica, which catches a big reflection off on overhead light and sends
out a flash. He drops the guitar to his side, machine gun style, and
takes the harp and mike into his left hand. This solo is brief but well
received. This one ends with a “thank youuuuuuuu,” followed by the band
Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat
Full tilt electric crowd sparkin tune. Bob plays decent lead guitar.
Again into knee bending toe squishing moves. Tony G. yuckin’ it up in the
background. The tune ends hot followed by my introduction to “the
formation.” This looks pretty staged. Bob stands there expressionless,
just sucking in the good crowd vibes and basking in being the pop idol
guy. The others look a bit sheepish in this role. Larry and Charlie peel
off in sync from the sides, then Tony followed by Bob exit stage center.
This deal is pure Dylan--an odd orchestrated maneuver like nobody else
would do it. And it got big time crowd response. In fact the longer they
stood in formation, the louder the applause--different.
Now for the encore tunes:
Things Have Changed
Dylan enjoys this tune. Sexton’s hair is flopped all in front of his
face. Larry’s hair remains well coiffed--what odd bookends these two
make. Tony G. is bouncing about.
Like A Rolling Stone
This is definitely a greatest hits night. The crowd is pulsating along
with this one. Dylan sucking up the legend role. Not a bad version. In
looking behind me into the floor crowd I lock onto a fan singing along at
top volume, totally lost in the moment
If Dogs Run Free
Acoustic number, with Tony on acoustic bass. Dylan cryptically sings out
“do your thing, you might end up being king. “ Other lyrics grabbed me on
this one--I’ll need to give it a closer look. I do remember mocking this
number among friends when it first came out--along with the rest of that
album. You just never know with this guy--even the apparent “dogs” come
back in a quality way--it just takes a long wait (30 years in this case).
Another “thank you” Then “That’s my animal rights protection song.” All
Along The Watchtower
Larry on steel. The crowd is up and pumped. Dylan a bit subdued.
Nice rendition. Have liked this one since first hearing it live in
Philly ‘74. Dylan delivers in a strong precise voice--the crowd in rapt
attention. Looking out over all the faces locked onto Bob is nothing if
This gets the crowd out of hypnosis. This is musical hype, preparing us
for the finale. Larry and Charlie are turned full loose on this one. No
doubt who the guitar slingers are on this number.
Blowin’ In The Wind
Bob does subtle, soft versing with upward voice inflection at the end of
each line. The refrain finds all the boys in harmony (again sans Tony).
The song finishes and it’s “the formation”, revisited. Bob puts one hand
on his hip and stares expressionless. The others squirm a bit. Larry and
Charlie again do their synchronized peel. Then Tony followed by Bob are
gone. The crowd roars for more, the lights stay down for several
minutes--long enough to give us the hope of another encore, but such is
not to be. A roadie appears and starts unplugging. The lights go up, the
crowd moves apart. The undercurrent of chatter is everywhere talking of
what a good show it was. We’re all lucky--lucky to have this musical bard
in our midst, lucky to have this cyberworld in which to share and savor it
all, lucky that he’s still out there doing it for us. Don’t miss any
chances at this wonder--it can’t last forever.
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