Return to Current Tour Guide page
Review by Kevin Briggs
Bob Dylan was in good form tonight at Lehigh. The setlist isn't in yet
and I usually rely one when I write a review, but I want to write this one
while the concert is still fresh in my mind, so these will be more general
coments on the whole of the show.
Bob started out with Duncan and Brady and made particular emphasis the
line, "been on the job too long." I also heard him play this at Camden.
From the outset I knew that I would enjoy this concert more than I did
Camden's because of two reason: It was inside and I was up close. Dylan
is so much better inside in my opinion because inside venues are so much
more intimate. Dylan is so much better up close because being able to
watch his movements offers a whole different concert. The band starteded
out extremely tight and would sustain that tightness throughout the
After Duncan and Brady came "The Times They Are-A Changin'." Dylan and
Co. did a good job of making this one breath again. Dylan's vocal
improvisations were working full speed and the crowd was absolutely loving
it. The Lehigh community was a great Dylan crowd, They were attentive
and appreciative all night.
After "Times" came Desolation Row, if I'm not mistakin. I know he has
been playing this one a lot lately, but he completely nailed it tonight.
It was a bit slower than I remembering it being a recent concerts, in a
smooth, more bluesy way. It was probably the best version I have heard of
the song. Much better than the more standard "Unplugged" version that he
has been using for so long. It was my first real highlight and Dylan
continuously stunned me and my wife with his awesome phrasing. I don't
know how he did it, but he made Desolation Row sound like a blues ballad,
as opposed to a folky rock ballad. It was worth the ticket price itself.
"Tangled Up In Blue" was perhaps the disaster of the evening. Dylan was
singing well and everything appeared to be alright and then I saw Larry
kind of laughing a little bit. I don't know what was going on, but Larry
laughed and rolled his eyes, Charlie started figitting with his guitar and
something seemed to cut out. Larry was the real give away to an otherwise
oblivious audience. He seemed to be the most annoyed. I wonder if he is
starting to get the Bucky syndrom. he seemed to be mocking everything a
little bit. I guess he's just bored though. I mean, he has played
Tangled Up in Blue about 300 times or seomthing in the past few years.
After the "Tangled" happening things smoothed out a little bit. However,
off and on for the rest of the concert a staffer was crawling around the
stage in the middle of their songs to make sure the right giutars were set
up for the next song. I don't think this is normal, but I may be wrong.
Anyway, the band played on.
"Searchin For A Soldiers Grave" was beautiful of course, very tight and
harmonious. After it he played a few surprises. I don't remember them in
order, but he played "4th Time Around," "Tombstone Blues" and "Watchin'
the River Flow," and "Shelter From the Storm." These were all done great
and had me stumped a few times as to what song they were when they
started. "4th Time Around sounded very reminiscent of "Norwiegan Wood,"
but it eventually came into it's own.
All in all, it was a good concert. One thing that was painfully obvious
however was the constitution of the band. All 5 of them are obviously in
need of a well deserved break. The setlists haven't changed too much in
the past few months (although tonight was certainly a little more varied),
and they are becoming very business like. It's a tough situation. On the
one hand, they are playing so wonderfully and with such great unity. On
the other hand, they seem a bit tired and a bit like they are simply going
through the motions. I think a good two or three month break will do them
I think this is a show that traders should definetly seek out as a
priority. I haven't been to all of the shows on this US leg, but a very
different band from camden performed tonight. Everything was slowed down
to a tougher groove. Even "Pill Box Hat" and "Highway 61" were slower.
It was cool to hear because it showed how they are keeping the songs fresh
for them as well as us.
Dylan's voice was absolutely great. He pronounced and emphasized and
scowled and everything just through his voice. He sings softer than he
did even a year ago, but he sounds better than he has in twenty years in
Larry was actually the highlight guitar player as opposed to Charlie.
Maybe it had something to do with the screwed up sound sysytem or
something. Maybe Charlie's guitar wasn't coming through right. Now that
I think of it, it did seem softer than Larry's. Regradless, Larry was
taking the solos on everything from "Watchtower" to "Country Pie."
Charlie was sitting back a little bit.
Dylan's always great, even when he seems to be a bit tired and bored from
touring. The concert tonight was worth ten times the ticket price. The
music and singin is always on. And how about those Dylan guitar solos.
He's improving you know. I think his classic three note solo upgraded to
5 or 6 notes. He was even hitting some nice licks on the jazzy "Tryin' To
Get To Heaven" and "If Dogs Run Free." I think guitar hero is the next
thing that Dylan is working towards. What a night.
Review by Peter Stone Brown
Could there have been a more surreal day/night to go see Bob Dylan? The
day after what is easily the weirdest presidential election in my
lifetime. Probably like a lot of other people I didn't get enough sleep,
first falling out waiting for Gore to deliver his concession speech and
waking up 45 minutes later to his campaign manager announcing there would
be no concession, and finally going to sleep for not long enough some time
after that. It seemed like the whole country was in a daze, the endless
droning of commentators the uncertainty. Hardly any messages on
rec.music.Dylan, barely any email, the crazy realization of that long
unanswered night sinking in, along with the realization that the country
is divided almost exactly in two.
And so, I left early for Bethlehem wanting to beat the rush hour traffic
out of Philly with the radio on. This was the fourth concert that Bob
Dylan has played at Stabler Arena, first appearing there in the fall of
'81 and every show in that place has been completely different. Stabler
Arena itself is a strange place in the middle of nowhere, down winding
two-lane country roads just north of Bethlehem, PA, and coming from
Philly, you don't have to encounter Bethlehem at all. I got there pretty
early and immediately noticed the three busses and the three semis. I was
supposed to meet my friend Andrew in the parking lot and upon arrival it
dawned on me there were at least three parking lots. So I got out and
walked around. If you got close enough to the building you could hear the
band soundchecking. It was getting chilly and I was walking back to my
car to get a jacket when Andrew appeared. We went to check out the
busses, trying to figure out if one was Bob's though none looked like his
usual bus. Two were parked facing the building and the third, which had
the motor running was backed towards the building for an easy exit.
Andrew kept daring me to go knock on the door. Finally we walked around
to the back to check out the license plate - Oregon. A security guy
appeared and told us to beat it or we'd be arrested for trespassing. We
walked around to the front of the building and stood near the stage door
where we could hear the band checking "What Good Am I," all instrumental,
and then, "Somebody Touched Me." Someone, probably Larry was letting
loose with great flat-picking bluegrass runs.
We split for dinner and came back everything going according to plan.
There was now a fourth bus parked behind the arena, also facing out,
Dylan's bus. After passing through Stabler's somewhat intense security
was found are remarkable seats, first row above the floor right at stage
level. Roadies were checking guitars and putting out setlists. The
lights went down, the band appeared, and then Dylan, dressed in his black
suit and yes, sporting a pencil-thin moustache.
They launched into "Duncan and Brady," and just like the summer shows, he
was on from the first note. And then into one of the best versions of
"Times They Are A-Changin'" that I've seen on the Never Ending Tour. I
was pretty sure he was going to sing it-the first song I ever saw him sing
in concert, and tonight it seemed as relevant as it did in that November
concert in New Jersey almost 37 years ago. And then into "Desolation
Row," which also seemed scarily relevant, Dylan snarling out key lines
like "The Circus is in town," which it most definitely was. Now I'd just
seen him sing this only four months ago, but the arrangement had changed,
with just the guitars starting out and the drums kicking in as he reaches
"Desolation Row," suddenly taking the song to a higher level and each
verse he's approaching differently and it doesn't matter which verses he
isn't singing because he's really singing and then he's into the guitar
solo and it's building and building and all of a sudden he and Larry are
doing this guitar thing together, perfectly meshing with each other right
up the scale and we're looking at each other and wondering, could they
actually have worked out a guitar part? And he's driving the song home,
every line making some sort of crazy connection with that other world
outside and then into "Fourth Time Around" with Larry on bouzouki which
I'd never seen him sing and it's soft and sweet but still "Fourth Time
Around," and in those three songs it's also sinking in that he's showing
just who he is, and becoming increasingly clear that on this night anyway,
he's remembered who he is and has decided he's really going to do it.
And then it's into "Tangled Up In Blue," and no matter how many times he's
sung this song, by sheer will or maybe magic, he still finds a way to
phrase "tangled" differently every chorus. And as many times as I've seen
him sing this song, and as many versions that I've heard that I haven't
seen, he still somehow can breathe new life into it, and then shifts gears
back into old time bluegrassland for "Searching For A Soldier's Grave."
And into "Country Pie," letting the guitar players break loose and almost
sneering out the lines, "Raspberry, strawberry lemon and lime/What do I
care?" As it ends, my friend Jack says, "Only he could sing that song
and never crack a smile."
Out of nowhere came "Shelter From the Storm," in a not like it was before
arrangement, and midway through I started to imagine Van Morrison singing
it this way, and again he's really singing, and Andrew leans over and
says, "The voice is back."
But before "Shelter From the Storm is even sinking in, it's time for a
fairly nasty and funky romp on "Watching The River Flow," which basically
served as a lead-in warm-up for the all out assault of "Tombstone Blues,"
which was the perfect choice for this night, and Dylan is singing it as if
he suddenly remembered why he wrote it, almost summoning up the ghosts of
Highway 61 and there's no mistaking the venom in his voice when he sings
(on this college campus), "The old folks home and the college" and "Your
useless but pointless knowledge."
But it's time to shift gears again fast forwarding 30 years into the new
"Trying To Get To Heaven," which may as well be a different song. This
arrangement has totally blown my mind and I still don't know to describe
what it's turned into. It's kind of like one of the jazz pop standards
that Willie Nelson or Van Morrison would sing, but at the same time it's
not. And I'm listening and I'm thinking that he is never finished writing
his songs and whatever versions you here are just stops along the way, and
I'm also thinking that maybe this is how he really wanted it to be, but he
just didn't know how to take it to this place when he wrote it.
Then it's backwards and forwards at the same time with the revamped
"Wicked Messenger" which rocks as hard as anything he ever did, and
finally he picks up the harp and lets loose with a spectacular solo, and
closes out the first portion with "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat."
Returning, they blast into "Things Have Changed," keep it going with "Like
A Rolling Stone," and then "If Dogs Run Free," and somehow it all makes
sense and there's no let-up in the energy level, and Dylan is clearly
having a good time and in total command at the same time, and just as the
experience of seeing him do that song is sinking in, he's roaring into
"Watchtower," all three guitars on fire as he emphasizes, "There are many
here among us who feel that life is but a joke," and "Let us not talk
falsely now, the hour is getting late." Then it was back to the acoustics
for "I Shall Be Released" with Larry and Charlie answering Dylan's lead
with perfect harmony, and while the guitar may have been acoustic the
arrangement was somewhere out of soul music, and you could almost imagine
Al Green singing it.
And then the inevitable closers, "Highway 61" and "Blowin' In The Wind,"
with Dylan jumping right into the lyrics on the latter.
Tonight was my 75th Bob Dylan concert and in many ways it was as powerful
as any I've seen going all the way back to that very first one in not very
full concert hall in Newark, New Jersey eight days after JFK was shot.
Back then you used to go to see Bob Dylan in part to see what he had to
say. And tonight, even though in many ways the setlist wasn't all that
different than any other night on this tour, somehow, on this night, at
might well be a turning point for this country, in the once industrial
town of Bethlehem, PA., those songs - some of the most brilliant and
powerful of his career - spoke out once again.
"Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times." --Bob
Peter Stone Brown
Review by Karen F.
No Mustache! 3 hr. drive. 4 black with white slash
tour buses with Fla. Tags, 3 semi’s. Drivers nice and
smiling. Arena smallish and only 2/3-3/4 full. (Get
tickets The Legend is on stage!) Roadies in gray
Jumpsuits with Egyptian eye on back. 20 or so stringed
instruments on/near stage. 4 in Larry’s cage with
“beware of dog” sign. Incense. 7:40 Al Santos off
stage right floor mic, L & G please welcome C.R.A. Bob
Dylan. Right into Duncan. Several thank-kewww’s,
thankkewww INDEEED, Thank kew INDEED Ladies and
Every song rock solid and carefully, lovingly done.
Band was tight. New to tour The Times they are…
(Senators, Congressman) Fourth Time Around (maybe he
saw this weeks TV guide), and Shelter from the Storm.
Bob was seriously careful with the lyrics and bent the
words so well it made my hubby laugh hard many times.
Raw energy in each song. Each one brilliant. Hubbys
fav tonight Desolation Row beautiful guitar and
vocals. My fav ALL
No standout, they all rocked. Rock steady and greatest
hits + if dogs (glad the clapping along stopped ˝ way
thru.) Wicked Messenger harp loud, clear and searing
but short. Bob openly enjoyed LARS as did the crowd.
Band Intro. Big clapping.
Audience was thoughtful, polite, respectful, laid
back… but clapped enthusiastically and stood for both
formations but (except for standing floor area) sat
for everything else.
I gave Bob 20 standing ovations and leapt out of my
chair in reflex dozens of times.
Bob smiled or grinned wryly as often as he did the
serious/stern face. The lines on his pale,
fascinating, expression filled face were deep. Tired
looking but fully alert and focused. He did the
insect leg crush out the cigarette, bend and sway
dance the whole time.
Hair wild and dry. Black suit w/white pinstripe on
legs and shirt collar, B & W boots, orangeish thin
tie. Young Charlie, Dapper Tony, Cool Larry, David’s
big white hat.
I’ve seen shows with more highs, lows, pizzazz and
chances taken but this was just fine by me.
He walked off stage at 9:35 and kindly patted his
stage hand on the back. We ran out and saw the police
escort and 2 buses ready to leave. We jumped in the
car I waved like a lunatic yelled Thanks bye Bob at
the bus when we caught up to them on rte 78 “heading
for another joint.”
Review by Stephen David Walter
National turning point aside, the most pressing question confronting
Wednesday's audience at Stabler arena had to be:
What is up with the John Waters moustache?
Exit polls indicate that concertgoers are divided almost exactly in two
over this phenomenon, half of them finding it "groovy" and the other half
decrying it as yet another instance of our nation's declining moral
standards. A tiny fringe minority maintains that said moustache is
nothing but a tool of special interests, a mere prop, they claim, for the
near-mythical "upcoming HBO special" in which it will be the centerpiece
of a Monty Python-esque sketch entitled Bobby D. Demented. Time will
A good show, this one at Stabler, much better than the last one here
(which took place well before the Great Setlist Emancipation of November
'99). Good, not great, with several rapturous moments.
I have to say that, for me, it was difficult transition from the joyous
run of outdoor shows this summer (five in a row from Scranton through
Stanhope) to tonight's forlorn, cheerless, prefab college arena with its
largely inert crowd and dismal acoustics featuring muddied vocals toward
the rear and the always lovely devil-pounding-on-tin back echo. Not that
I'm trumpeting the virtues of the outdoor sheds, but at least they are out
of doors, whereas here one is literally swallowed up in steel.
Is Dylan never going to stop playing venues of this kind, I wonder? Club
shows, not to mention club tours, will always remain a rarity I'm sure,
but is there no way he can be persuaded to play theaters or the smaller
performing arts centers in the fall and winter months? The concert I saw
at the beautiful Newark P.A.C. in '98 was another good but not great
concert with another less-than-ecstatic crowd; all these things being
equal, however, I still recall the *sound* of that venue with considerable
wonderment and glee.
Of course Dylan will only be persuaded to play theaters, etc. if he can be
persuaded to start playing the larger cities again. The last N.Y.C. shows
took place during the Simon tour of summer '99! If only he would
resurrect the Beacon or Roseland or M.S.G. Theater-style residencies ...
and I suggest that not out of nostalgia but with mind set firmly on the
present. Just think what he could make of them now. One can only
speculate whether his decision to avoid them has to do with tour
logistics, money, or a desire to fly under the radar of the big-city
media, but when the closest Dylan comes to a East Coast residency is his
now annual fling at an Atlantic City gaming house of choice, one must hope
that the decision will not prove irreversible.
What a bunch of complainers we Dylan fans are. For all those who would
seek to chastise me for ingratitude at this point I can only say, please
don't. (I won't even call you a simpleton for doing so.) I take my Dylan
wherever and whenever I can, and I am never less than grateful for the
opportunity --ever more so, in fact, ever more so. Even at this dump
south of Bethlehem where his star burned fitfully yet bright.
Even in the face of a soporific crowd, most of whom did not even begin to
wake up (and quite a few of whom did not even *show* up ... plenty of room
at this inn) until the encore set. From the now-ubiquitous
baseball-capped student contingent on the floor to the wide-bottomed
fifty-somethings in the seats, there seemed to be very little energy or
movement anywhere except very close up to the stage. Judging by the
audience near me in the lower concourse, Dylan's people may want to start
handing out some of his trademark canes before performances to encourage
slothful attendees at least to get off their precious behinds and applaud
between songs, since for many tonight that seemed an almost insurmountable
Admittedly, I had been spoiled by my experience this summer, where I was
witness to some of the most wildly enthusiastic Dylan audiences in all my
nearly thirty shows. I am on record as a strenuous advocate of listening,
of attentiveness, as opposed to free-form interpretive dancing, inept
sing-alongs or ridiculously inappropriate clapping. But a little
combustion? That's needful. Dylan himself has said so. A little less
standing or sitting 'round waiting. It couldn't have been past anyone's
bedtime, for God's sake.
The man to my rear who sang almost every verse so horribly out of tune and
*actually waited on Dylan's phrasing* to finish each line does not count.
(When he began shouting out for "Silvio," I turned to my party and asked,
Should we kill him now, or later? I wasn't far from serious.)
The middle-aged mustachioed dork (no offense, Mr. Dylan) on the floor
directly below me who engaged in endless Donald Duck-style dancing and
repeated bows as to "His Majesty"--all amidst a swirl of young hippie
chicks he would be arrested for trying to score with--does not count,
The songs. The songs! I should write about those too, don't you think?
I've written about everything but.
"Duncan and Brady" ... spirited as usual, but Dylan overdoes the refrain,
I think, robbing it of some of the slyness it had this summer; plays it a
little too broadly for my taste.
"The Times They Are a-Changin'" ... perhaps it's just my mood--as the
nation sits in limbo after having rejected wholesale its best chance at
reform--but I'd hesitate to attach much or any overt political
significance to "Times," which amounts to a perfectly typical setlist
choice at this point in the tour. "Chimes of Freedom" maybe, just maybe.
But not this. Which of course doesn't mean that the song can't be heard to
resonate in that particular way, just as "Masters of War" seems to embody
for so many reviewers a response to whatever local conflict might be
erupting at the moment. It would be foolish, however, to ascribe that
resonance to the performer's express intention every time the song is
Here's how the song resonates for me, tonight: the times are changin';
they always are. "The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hastens to the
place where it rises. ... All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not
full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All
things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it ... what has been is
what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is
nothing new under the sun." People are crazy, times are strange, I used
to care, but ... "behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind." That
which is, already has been. Until the world explodes. I cannot listen to
"Times" now without hearing "Things Have Changed," and vice versa. Both
tonight are well-performed, their passion beautifully intertwined.
"Desolation Row" ... equally good as the renditions this summer; love this
version, best I can remember hearing live. (Would love it even more if we
could hear the Dr. Filth verse included.) Tonight he sings "bummed a
cigarette" with such despair, as if Einstein's ruin all started with his
failed attempts to quit smoking, which so unhinged him that he became
addicted to drainpipes in the bargain. I can relate. Really, though, if
you think about it, this is a song *about* addiction, on any number of
levels. A song addicted to allusion whose characters are addicted to
illusion, right down the street, as it were, from the bar at Harry Hope's.
"Fourth Time Around" ... what a delightful surprise; when the bouzouki is
pointed out my mind immediately leaps to "Chimes" ... but wait ... Charlie
on electric ... and then it starts and then I know. A soft and lovely
treatment marred by flubbed lyrics in at least two places--that's all
right, though, that's all right! keep trying these, don't stop--but
brought to a triumphant close with razor-edge enunciation, depth and
menace in the final lines: "and I, I never took much, I never asked for
your crutch, now don't ask for mine."
"Tangled up in Blue" ... dismal. No magic at all for me, and I'm usually
won over by this one, at least in concert. Unfocused vocals, musically
nothing more than a mechanical routine. Somebody is out there beating on
a dead horse, and they're all bored sick of it, clearly. Who wouldn't be?
Put it on the shelf already. How about "Tight Connection to My Heart"
here, acoustic a la Supper Club? That would be spectacular, but just
about anything else would be a welcome change. Even the casual fans must
have heard enough "Tangled" by now; they certainly didn't seem too excited
by it tonight.
"Searching for his Grave" ... another fine performance of this song, which
is so straightforward and modest that most people can't find much to say
about it, myself included. That isn't to slight it, not at all, merely to
say that the song and its performance speak for themselves, eloquently but
plainly, which, I imagine, is part of what Dylan himself must like so much
By the way, if anyone reading this has not been to any shows at all this
past year, next time you do go, be prepared for some very powerful harmony
work from Dylan, Campbell and Sexton. In fact, I'm surprised that this
development hasn't received much more attention; to me it is truly
astonishing to hear Dylan attending so closely to melding his vocals in
with the others'--I wonder, has he ever worked so hard at that before?
Baez? The Band? This comes close anyway, and is as wonderful as it is
"Country Pie" ... yeah, it's been fun, but they can take it off the
windowsill now, it's cooled down right well, I think. How about "Million
Dollar Bash" instead? All right, enough with the shadow setlist ...
"Shelter from the Storm" ... rapturous moment, indeed. This one blows me
down. Don't believe I've heard "Shelter" live since M.S.G. '98--this
one's well worth the wait. Slow and mysterious, with an interesting
displacement of verses ending with "I offered up my innocence, got repaid
with scorn ..." which, if you think about it, makes this a brilliant
companion piece thematically to "Standing in the Doorway," another song
that has recently graced this spot. Beautifully sung and paced. You'd
think he'd been playing this one for months.
And for offering that performance, Dylan is repaid with what from the
audience? Not scorn, surely, but with an unmistakably tepid response,
which, as far as I'm concerned, is worse. It seems possible that Dylan
and band notice this somewhat keenly as, after "Shelter," they immediately
go into conference at the drum risers, only to come out several moments
later with an extra song (number 20 for the night, inserted here, I'm
"Watching the River Flow" ... I laugh to myself, thinking, they went into
conference for this? Not a bad run-through though. Quick and dirty.
Cracks me up when he sings "only yesterday I seen someone whose goose was
reaaaalllly cooked." Only at a Dylan show can you ride your goose then
get it cooked right out from under you. Priapic associations discouraged.
"Tombstone Blues" ... straight-edged blues, clean, hard and dangerous,
just like a well-honed blade. The contrast between this hard-edged
musical attack and the allusive, densely layered imagery is perhaps *the*
core dynamic of of Dylan's best work, the grinding, dissonant, glorious
heart of it. All of that seems stunningly clear tonight in the steely
confidence of this performance, with Dylan's classic delivery turning on
that dime between hatred and longing, wild humor and despair. "I wish I
could write you a melody so plain ..." the singer wishes, but when Dylan
actually *does* that it comes out sounding like "Make You Feel My Love,"
doesn't it? Of all the melodies, all the songs that he has written, the
truly great ones never keep us from insanity by trying to ease or cool--if
they can keep us sane at all, it is only by driving us mad.
"O may the moon and sunlight seem
One inextricable beam,
For if I triumph I must make men mad." --W. B. Yeats, "The Tower"
"Tryin' to Get to Heaven" ... I can't explain how or why I love this
arrangement so deeply. Since I first heard it on a sound file from Europe,
I couldn't believe my ears, my heart climbed up my throat. And tonight's
version is much more together than that one, lyrics fully in place,
Dylan's voice rising gently yet firmly on "high muddy water," stretching
out "heat risin'" then sinking down, "... in my eyes." A magician's sense
of timing, that's for sure, as when he holds the pause after "close"
almost impossibly long before sinking down yet again to rest the entire
verse on "door." The throat feeling. Know what I mean?
Pure speculation, mind you, but I can't help thinking that there might be
more to this new arrangement than we might imagine. There are jazz-like
inflections here and there on Time out of Mind; take "Million Miles," for
instance. Which leads me to wonder if Dylan did indeed know where to take
this song when he wrote it, but then decided to take it somewhere else.
In other words, I wonder if there isn't an outtake in the vault that
sounds remarkably similar to the version we're hearing now.
"Wicked Messenger" ... and this one sends me right around the bend. Much
as I love "Drifter's" and the new "Cold Irons," this is my favorite among
the three--I love the stretched out vocal lines followed by churning waves
"Leopard-skin Pill-Box Hat" ... audience finally stirring from its torpor.
"Things Have Changed" ... see "Times" above. The Voice IS back; this is
never more evident to me than when I listen to Dylan negotiate the
fast-paced lyric runs on this song. In terms of diction, control, and
out-and-out commitment to the material, Dylan is singing as well as he has
at almost any point in throughout the Neverending Tour. Not just to hear
him singing with such passion, clarity, wit, and focus--that's not the
miracle, I have heard that before. To hear him singing that way so
consistently: that's the miracle. We are living in blessed times.
"Rolling Stone" ... It's all been done before, it's all been written in
the book. I won't add to it save to say that he phrased "rolling stone"
once in a way that was new and, well, hilarious to me.
"If Dogs Run Free" ... I am more charmed by this song than I have any
right to be, after calling it a dog in public the afternoon before he
first played it. Well the dog woofs live, what can I say. Dylan is
already having a lot of fun improvising around the lyrics, elaborating on
phrases as with: "do your thing, you might even get to be a KING",
something to that effect; or at the end, after uttering those immortal
lines about harmony with the cosmic sea, instead of "cure your soul / make
it whole" he sings "it'll pay your bills / ... cure all your ills, If
DOGS--RUN--FREEEE." Unreal. Even more so when large red psychedelic
amoebas appear on the back curtain and start writhing as we're suddenly
"All Along the Watchtower" ... seems to have found a new roost here, like
some ancient bird of prey. Hearing this right after "Dogs" is like
looking up some sunny afternoon to seeing turkey vultures circling in the
blue. You know there must be a carcass somewhere.
"I Shall Be Released" ... vultures wheel but can't block out that light
entirely, that light that comes shining from the west down to the east.
Final rapturous moment of the evening; along with "Fourth Time Around,"
"Shelter" and "Tryin' to Get to Heaven," a real highlight of the concert.
This is the song that most reminds me of the Band now with its
transcendent irregular harmonies--the Band in their country "Rockin'
Chair" aspect but also in their blue-eyed soul. Closing my eyes, it
honestly feels like Manuel, Danko, and Helm are all alive and well and
singing behind the man--it is that trancelike, that gorgeous. Oh the warm
"Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blowin' in the Wind" closed the show in fine
form, but that ain't exactly a news flash, now is it?
Dreary atmosphere. Good to very good show. Dylan, as usual now, binds
those two imperfect halves together into a great experience, a captivating
whole. The sun rises and the sun goes down, and there he is too, again,
shining his light on some other place down the road or across the sea.
He's become a part of our mental weather, like some comet across the sky:
at first you follow it instinctively, delighting in its changeable
brilliance, and then you think it will never leave.
Stephen David Walter
Review by Josh Leik
It used to be said, and probably still is, that there is nothing like a
Grateful Dead concert. It is also said that Elvis is the king of rock n'
roll. I certainly agree that there is nothing like a Grateful Dead
concert but having seen Dylan over the past 12 years, I don't know of
anything more unique or as entertaining. In the 1800's there were
traveling entertainment shows and, although I can't think of what they
were called, I really get a sense of that every time I go see Bob play.
I guess my favorite part of the night was when Bob introduced his first
guitarist as Gary Campbell. And all this time I thought his name was
Larry. But there was some great music too.
My brother Alex, cousin Dave, and I were very happy to see the arena was
slow to fill so we strolled up to about 15 -20 feet from the stage. I'll
be an optimist and say there wasn't a better place to be because we saw
everyone very clearly and could see the chords they were playing, any
closer and our view may have been obstructed. Anyway!!
I hoped for a change in the opening number but after he started Duncan and
Brady I was not disappointed at all. Gettin tighter and great vocal
harmonies with a rearranged ending so everybody knew what they were doing.
It's been a long time since I heard The Times they are a changin and it
never felt better than it did last night. Very heartfelt emotional
singing although Bob still looked like he just woke up. Is it me, or is
PA and MD, the place where things shake up on every tour. I will never
relocate from the south central PA area for that reason alone.
Desolation Row was very nice and Bob continued to become more interested
in what he was doing (and look more awake), but Fourth Time Around really
made it a great show, and only four songs into it. Bob flubbed a line or
maybe two, but sang it very well and I just love the arrangement. This
was the first time I'd heard it.
Tangled Up In Blue. You think sixty or so versions of this song would be
enough but tonight was exceptional. (sorry for underestimating you Bob)
The most melodic singing I think I have ever heard on that tune. There
was a new melody there tonight and it was very, very nice.
Searchin for a Soldiers Grave. Short and to the point. Beautiful vocals
(harmonies). Larry was about to do a mandolin solo when Bob started to
sing the last verse, and I was a little disappointed, but still a
Oh me, Oh my-I think this is the song where Gary, I mean Larry had a
little difficulty getting a nice lead going. That may have been the mix
or he just missed it, but Charlie more than picked him up and made it the
best version of this song that i've heard. Charlie's got this chord lead
thing that he does that I haven't seen anyone else do -at least not as
well-and I was dancin like a dead head if only in my mind by the time the
second verse started. You have to say somethink about Tony and David too
because this song as well as every other just has a solid backbone and
that is a huge part of what has made Dylan great again in recent years.
Shelter from the Storm was very nice but Larry's pedal steel was drown out
by Bob's leads. Still very nice singing and this arrangement is my
favorite of this song. Watching the river flow is a great tune and was
done very well but just doesn't do for me what other songs do. Maybe it's
the simple lyrics or basic blues progression or lack of a real melody, but
just not my favorite.
Tombstone blues was solid and Bob had a lot of fun with the phrasing.
Charlie in the middle of the song dropped his e string down to a d- i
think they were playing the song in the key of g- and did some more of his
chord leads that are just mind blowing. Tryin to Get To heaven is a nice
new arrangement, but it think since the original is one of my favorites,
i hate to see it altered. Nice performance anyway.
Wicked Messenger took me a while to recognize. it was the first time i'd
heard it. I remember the riff from recent recordings i had heard, but
could not place it. Bob did some nice harmonica work and directed the
band expertly when either he or they got alittle lost.
Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat was great with some nice leads and Things have
Changed was a great performance but I was waiting all night to hear "If
dogs run free" which i'm told is part one of "who let the dogs out". Great
performance, but sang his heart out, kept his sense of humor and let larry
do some great guitar work. Oh yeah rolling stone was good too.
I haven't heard Watchtower for quite some time and although i was tired of
it a couple years ago, it was great to hear it again in such fine form.
But then came what was probably my favorite. I shall be released is a
simple beautiful song and i love vocal harmonies and these guys do it as
well as anyone. Honestly, who would have thought 10 years ago that bob
would have a band that he does harmonies like that with. Charlie jumped
in early on one chorus but it was otherwise a very very fine performance.
Highway 61 rocked and blowin in the wind was the perfect finish. I don't
get tired of hearing them sing that song together. So there was nothing
like a grateful dead concert, there is nothing better than a bob dylan
concert, and I'll let you decide who is the king of rock and roll.
Return to Bob Links
Go to the Set Lists (by city) page
Go to the Set Lists (by date) page 1999 Tour, 1998 Tour, 1997 Tour, 1996 Tour , 1995 Tour, Pre 1995 Tours
Go to the Cue Sheet page
Return to Current Tour Guide page