Reviews

Elmira, New York
Coach USA Center
November 9, 2002


[Ann McEntee], [John Morello], [Todd Michael Smith], [Mike Allen & Laurie Banks], [Carl Meier], [Willy Gissen]

Review by Ann McEntee



Just got back from the show yesterday, stayed in Elmira, Mark Twain
country, for the weekend. Had a truly wonderful time! Small town, very
down to earth people, great atmosphere! Gotta love these places of
historical interest.

Arrived in Elmira at 10 a.m. the day of the show after a 6 hour drive from
Canada, well worth it!! I was so excited to see what Bob would cook up for
us this evening! I can tell you we were given one of the very best shows I
have witnessed to date, after seeing a number of them over the years. Like
fine wine, Bob just continues to get even better! May you keep on keepin'
on Bob to the grand young age of 120!!!

Had a truly fabulous time waiting in line with some of the finest
Bobcats one could ever hope to meet up with: Sue, Martin, Paul, Peter, all
those at the main street entrance, thanks everyone, this show will forever
be ingrained in my memory. We laughed, shared stories, and had a grand old
time! There was music going, Van Morrison, The Band, Zeppelin, Bob & the
Dead it was a very fine lead up to the show. Weather was spectacular for
November, indian summer like, the anticipation was high and we all were
waiting for Bob to bring his message of truth and honesty to us this fine
evening!! 

Showtime approaches and we all line up to make a mad dash to the stage, i
was lucky enough to get to the front around Bobs keyboards and my hubby
behind me, my fine friends did equally well, so we were very fortunate and
thankful to say the least. We settled into our place, my sweet hubby went
and got us all some beer, and we waited anxiously for the refrains of
Aaron Copeland's rodeo, at that moment the loud cheering and anticipation
began, i had tingling in my spine! I must mention that I find it
absolutely wonderful to see children at Bob shows, and we were lucky to
have a sweet, very spunky and darling 5 year old girl within our vicinity,
I would have loved to see Bob throw down a harmonica to her!!! She loved
the show and was jumping up and down to Tweedle Dee it was so cute!! It
was obvious she was destined to be a Dylanite:-) Great that the music is
being passed on to the children!! 

Tweedle Dee had everyone charged up and moving and Bob came out on
fire!! His voice was so clear and loud i have never heard him in better
form! He is definitely a man of conviction and it was obvious, yes, that
he was on a mission tonight, and we were in for one of the best Bob shows
I have ever seen. Just when I thought Montreal, Quebec and Toronto 2002
could not be matched, well Bob you really knocked our socks off I can tell
you. The emotion unbelievable, the sincerity, the facial gestures, wow, I
don't know of any artist who can move me like Bob does.

Carrying a Torch, I broke down, this is one of my favourite Van Morrison
songs, When last weeks reviews were posted I was so awed that Bob played
this, as he did after the very sad and untimely passing of Mr. Derek Bell,
one of my fave Chieftains. A very kind gesture indeed! I had mentioned on
bobdylan.com for Bob to please play this in Elmira, I got my wish
indeed!!! Oh my lord, I cannot tell you the feeling that went through my
heart and soul, and the emotion that Bob poured into this, every word, why
why why can't we reeeeeeeeeeeconnect..............Bob had that tears in
his voice emotion, that sincerity, and he feels every word of this song it
is so heartwrenchingly beautiful. In fact I am crying writing this that it
touched me that much. Bob thanks, you bring so much joy to so many!!! I
sang this all of yesterday, and boy you do give Van a run for his
money:-)!

About the keyboards, I was hoping one day that Bob might grace us with his
keyboarding finesse, and he did indeed, oh so beautiful on Carrying A
Torch!!!! One thing Bob, turn up the sound it was hard to hear the keys in
the mix, but I was in the front, maybe people could hear it better farther
back?? Please keep those keyboards Bob they add so much beauty to the
music, and it's great to see you so happy tickling the ivories, not to
mention the little Elvis moves as well:-) Great stuff!

More Highlights:
Highwater, wow, Bob belts this out, Highwater everywhere, it's rough out
there!!!! Yes!!! Bob's facial gestures are wonderful, eyebrow dancing,
lots of little smiles, then back to the poker face:-) so cute! Bob loves
this song, he puts everything into this number, and 'tis a great number
indeed!

It's Alright Ma, so appropriate for these times, and to hear the
President of the United States line always gets a big cheer from the
crowd, so we all cheered and applauded! Bob had so much fun tonight, he
was really belting out those lines, and honestly, he seems very happy
these days, and never missed a beat all night!

I am forever amazed that a man of his age can sing so strong like he
does, with so much conviction and sincerity, and to remember all those
lines, unbelievable. So what, when he has a bad night, big deal, wow, if
we were all so lucky to read off those lines in front of thousands of
people with such accuracy!! We can hope and pray when we reach his age
that we have that kind of stamina, and determination! Way to go Bob!!!
Thanks for bringing your fine show on the road!!

Shelter, just absolutely awesome, wonderful arrangement of this song!

The Band absolutely unbelievable, these guys are so tirelessly hard
working, they deserve every bit of praise they can get. Larry just
weaves magic into those instruments, that Mandolin on Shelter was
utterly and strikingly beautiful!
Charlie, George, Tony, what a band Bob has, thanks guys for adding even
more elegance and beauty to Bob's already sublime catalogue of surprises!!

We have to mention Bob's attire for the evening! A lovely black suit
with red piping, matching boots with red flame tips, and a black and
white tie, very dapper and elegant! Nice to see Bob and the band always
dressing with class and style! I'm a bit of a fashion bug myself, but i
love those classic, tailored styles!

Bob brought out the harp tonight on two occasions, and this brought the
house down, just the way he pulls out the harp is so fun to watch:-)
Someone mentioned to me that he is very chaplinesque, and quite right
indeed!

There's so much to say about this show that it would take me a week to get
it all in: The joy, Bob prancing around the stage when he's not on
keyboards, so very, very cool, the crowd went absolutely hog wild when Bob
went walking around the band members, then strolling back to the
keyboards! He played with his hair fluffing it up!! Broke into many many
smiles, thanked us after Tweedle Dee, did some of those deep knee bends
(great to see you are fit Bob!) Ah, the whole show was a highlight!!

Warren Zevon, God Bless him, that Letterman show brought tears to my
eyes I can tell you, is that a man who has dignity and integrity?
Unbelievable! Enjoy every sandwich indeed Warren! 

Mutineer!!!!! Yes Bob, unbelievable!!!! You had to hear the sadness,
tears in Bob's voice, he really feels for this man, it is very clear he
has nothing but love and respect for Warren. You couldn't help but cry
hearing this song, and Bob's gutwrenching emotion, every syllable, every
word. I for one will never forget that. You could hear a pin drop the
Coach USA Centre was so entranced and amazed! I hope Mr. Zevon will get
comfort out of knowing that everyone is out there thinking of him, so very
sad.

Old Man, wonderful as well, Bob was very reflective, as if singing about
himself and wishing he were a young man again, he seemed to have great
affinity for this song, and as I've read on these reviews before, I agree,
Bob does these cover songs so amazingly. I think it just shows the amount
of respect he has for other people and their songs. Keep playin' 'em Bob. 

I left the show with joy in my heart, and watched the beautiful and
exquisite Prevost busses take off, heading to another joint. Everyone
waved and cheered, threw kisses, as the busses departed into the night, a
really sweet scene of love and affection for all this man continues to
give us over the years, and Bob we all truly appreciate every effort you
have made in doing so. Keep in good health, drive safely, and keep on
doing what you want to do!

Also want to say it is great that this man keeps ticket prices
reasonable, how many other artists can say the same! Poster prices too!
You are the man, Bob!! Thanks a million!

Enjoy the tour everyone, what a treat you are in for indeed!!

All the Best,
Slan leat,
Ann McEntee
Quebec, Canada

[TOP]

Review by John Morello



This was like my 30th time seeing Dylan and this was by far one of the
best nights.   I will share the highlights.

Carrying a Torch. I have always loved this song from VM's Hymns to the
silence album and Bob sang this song with so much feeling.  Especially the
last verse. So much emotion which I think is because of the piano playing.
I honestly think that it has enabled him to approach songs differently
than if he was playing the chords on a guitar.

Just like a woman conjured images of swirling wind storms in late summer
with the rhythms created by Garnier & Rocelli (Sounds like a law firm).
This brings me to make the point that George rocelli has really infused
the songs with so much creativity and playfulness, What an addition and
its spilling over into the other members forcing their own
reinterpretations. The Harp solo was spontaneous ( it certainly surprised
Larry Campbell who was like "OK ..I guess I'll step back from my solo) and
genius. That harmonica solo said just as much any of his lyrics.
Wow...what a cosmic communication.

Totally new interpretation of Its Alright Ma....Wow what a tough song.
Sung with low guttural drowl ("People gammmmez...You got to Daaaawj

Shelter from the storm F**kin blew me away.  This new interpretation is a
direct result of the band playing Searching for a soldiers grave for so
long.  Wow...What a chorus with Charlie and Larry joining in. The mandolin
was beautiful too!

A very quiet Don't think twice. Had to laugh when Charlie sat down on the
drum riser and broke into a kick line at the end,,,and then caught
himself.

Floater is the new Masterpiece of this tour.  So much air in the music and
man I can listen to him sing "drag nets and ropes" ALL DAY

I will address the question of "Shut up Shut up"...He was simply telling
everyone in the band and around to listen up I'm gonna introduce the
banc...He said "Shut up Shut up I wanna introduce my band" then they broke
into ...

"Summer days.   THE BAND RAINED DOWN FIRE FROM THE HEAVENS.  This was the
most amazing version I have ever heard. Totally went into this Bill Haley
thing at the end. This song embodied  50 years of Rock and Roll...Wow. 
This was a total musical erection, foreplay, and MULTI orgasmic
experience... and I was reminded of the grateful dead lyric..." the music
played the band"

Well all that's left to say is there was something about Elmira.  I walked
away muttering "Something about Elmira" like Kerouac muttering "I think of
Dean Moriarty"

[TOP]

Review by Todd Michael Smith



After a busy and tiring two day film shoot in Delaware, my partner and I
quickly loaded up my car in the middle of the night and headed back to my
hometown of Elmira, New York. My best friends Jenny and Ed had called to
say my favorite singer was in town.  We drove all night and was it ever
worth it. If your a Dylan fan, now is the time to see him, he is in top
form and giving two hundred and fifty percent!

WOW! is all I have to say about the Elmira concert at the Coach USA! A
packed house of about 6000 grateful fans. The fans sang along with Bob and
danced on the floor and shouted we love you Bob! And even though his only
spoken words were shut up shut up we are going to keep playing (followed
by a laugh) ..his repour with the audience was sweet and wonderful.

Bob was alert, clear and appreciative of his audience. I have been to Bob
Dylan concerts before but none we're even close to this one. Bob did it
all and gave it his all. ( new songs old songs Piano guitar and harp)
Several times the band just stopped playing to highlight Bob as he played
without missing a note. The more the audience cheered and screamed the
harder Bob and his band played and sang. Two and a half hours without a
break and twenty songs later the crowd buzzed with compliments as did the
press.

Todd Michael Smith

[TOP]

Review by Mike Allen & Laurie Banks



Elmira, home of Mark Twain, seemed a fitting place to view another
American icon, with a similar gift for words and a similar reputation for
eccentricity.

The Coach USA Center officially seats 5500.   But what was normally an ice
surface for the Elmira Jackals (Eastern Conference champs in the United
Hockey League) was opened up to standees, so the attendance may have been
6500.

Dylan sang strongly and clearly from the outset, pounding an electric
piano for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  His voice held more bass and less
rasp than it did on his last two albums.  He wore a black outfit, trimmed
with red, and looked a bit like a bellhop.  The hair was just as frizzy as
ever.  And the performance was just as wild as his hair.

The piano, although mixed in low, added to the bluesy ambience.  Dylanís
hands moved like butterflies over the keys during Carrying a Torch (a Van
Morrison cover), Tombstone Blues and Watching the River Flow.   River,
paced much more slowly than the original, ground along with a mesmerizing
beat.

After Things Have Changed, Dylan finally picked up an electric guitar.  
The crowd erupted, recognizing the opening chords of Brown Sugar,
rollicking rock and roll, a good contrast to the mood of the song before. 
Dylan is the master of juggling moods and tempos to pace the show.  At
several points during Brown Sugar, the houselights shone to catch the
crowd shimmying and shaking.

Dylan started playing low on the guitar neck, but later exchanged high
lead riffs with Charlie.   The guitar chemistry between Bob, Charlie and
Larry lit up the concert.  It was feast for guitar lovers.  I counted 13
guitars used in the course of the evening (thatís counting Tonyís
electric, standup and acoustic bass.)   Tonyís bass work was just as
resplendent as his dark outfit and his trademark fedora.

Dylan played acoustic for a lilting version of Positively Fourth Street,
then returned to piano for Itís All Right, Ma, a very slow version with a
percussive sound to all the instruments.  George really shone on this one,
booms and crashes like thunder and lightening from his drums.  During Just
Like A Woman, Dylan picked up the harmonica for the first time, and as
Shakespeare would say, forsooth, the crowd went nuts.

What can I say about Drifterís Escape Ė adrenaline, amphetamine rush,
total craziness?  Tore the roof off the place!  Charlie, Bob and Larry all
played electric guitar, and it was a good thing they had some extra
guitars -- the ones they were playing were in danger of being destroyed. 
The song, originally an obscure acoustic number from John Wesley Harding,
has mushroomed into something else.

Shelter from the Storm featured gorgeous mandolin work from Larry, vocal
harmonies from Larry and Charlie, and a new chorus --   a gospel-bluegrass
kind of feel.   Dylanís vocals swooped and soared with masterful phrasing.
(In fact that would be true of all of the songs.)  Dylanís heartfelt
performance on Neil Youngís Old Man got a rave response.  During Honest
With Me, Dylan stopped playing for a while and walked around the stage,
letting his band strut their stuff.  Donít Think Twice featured Bob, Larry
and Charlie all on acoustic guitar, and all three excelled at picking and
at blending in with each other.   It was gorgeous!

High Water, Mutineer and Floater rounded out the show, Floater really
starting to gel as a live piece.  Charlieís jazzy solo drew a round of
applause.

People started hollering out requests, but Dylan playfully told them to
shut up, it was time to introduce the band.   Then he gave them a chance
to show off as they launched into the last number, Summer Days.  They
started at a blistering pace, speeding up a song thatís already pretty
fast -- rockabilly at its finest.  The audience couldnít sit still.  Bob,
Charlie and Larry took turns playing lead, and the guitar work on this
really brought the show home.   Soon they were all riffing together, notes
flying every which way but still meshing with Tony and Georgeís
turbo-charged beat.  It just kept getting better and better.  With all due
respect to the Rolling Stones, I really felt I was seeing the greatest
rock and roll band in the world right there in Elmira, and based on the
response at the end, I think a random poll might have confirmed my
opinion.

Knocking on  Heavenís Door took the place of Blowing in the Wind as the
first encore, and All Along the Watchtower was the second.  Watchtower
featured a lot less high notes than the Hendrix version, a lot more bass
and percussion. Again, George shone.

Hemingway once said that American literature begins with Mark Twain.   In
the home of Mark Twain, I was thinking that rock and roll as an art form
begins with Bob Dylan!

[TOP]

Review by Carl Meier



Struck by Dylan's reading of the consciousess of the crowds "Carrying a
Torch", "Positively 4th St.", and during the band introduction his
"Shut-up Shut-up," (no not particularly Elmira) in post apocalyptic
America, the bobbing and weaving  of the heads and hands in a very sweet;
my friend said "angelic", "Don't think Twice" I dread to think what if
anything is happening in the crowd"s mind who never had anything of their
own when he tells them "Its not me your looking for babe" Well aware that
the "guillotines" are being stoked up again, (the Wellstone comments) well
maybe they were just taken out of sight for a while, I cannot imagine
where this man gets the energy and spirit to deliver his insights to the
largely mind-bombed crowds; we are getting down to very serious business
here,  and I'm sure he doesn't end all his concerts with "Watchtower"
because "its such a crowd pleaser"!

Respectfully,
Carl Meier

[TOP]

Review by Willie Gissen


A Bob Dylan Diary
by Willy Gissen

One of my dreams is to go on tour with Bob Dylan for a year, but I don't think that 
is going to happen. But now I have the chance to do the next best thing. I was 
working on a political campaign for a candidate who shall remain nameless other 
than to say that we lost in the general election last Tuesday (November 5). But 
coincidentally, the timing coincides with Bob Dylan coming down the East Coast on 
his current tour. Some of the other staff members are doing things like going to 
lie on a beach in Aruba for two weeks. But I thought I'd do something better to 
unwind after the campaign. I'm going to eight Bob Dylan concerts in 13 days. 

I was careful to order my tickets the day they went on sale over the web and have 
them all in my possession. I'm not a professional Bob Dylan tour-goer; in fact, I 
had once conversely determined to go to only one concert per tour to prove that I 
wasn't a groupie. The last tour I said to myself, "Who am I kidding?" and "Who knows
how much longer Dylan will be going on tours; he is getting older." I went to three 
concerts last time in New York, Uncasville and Boston.

I thought I'd keep a diary of my impressions this time, just a few paragraphs per 
concert, max, as a way of preserving the experience and sharing it with the general 
public as opposed to the hardcore Dylan fan. So here it is:

Elmira, NY, September 9-It was a long trip up to Elmira from my apartment in 
Hartsdale in Westchester County, four hours and over 250 miles, and I was thinking 
to myself, "Is this really worth it?" I had general admission tickets and started 
standing in line at 5:30 PM for an 8:00 PM show. This guaranteed three things, 1) I 
was serenaded by an old man with a gray beard who sang Dylan and related rock songs 
out of tune, 2) Another elderly gentleman came with an accordion to sing over and 
over and over again, "That's amore." He punctuated the songs by saying, "I need some 
big tippers," 3) When the gates opened, I was right in front within spitting distance 
of Bob Dylan.

Wow! This was one of the best Dylan concerts I've ever been to. Bob has completely 
changed his act including learning (or playing in public) the keyboards for the first 
time that I know of. How many people at Dylan's stage of life pick up a new 
instrument? The intro was expanded; there was a new version of Shelter from the Storm; 
and Dylan played songs by other artists including the Rolling Stones (Brown Sugar) 
and Neil Young (Old Man). He ended the main set by playing a phenomenal version of 
Summer Days, jamming with the band for what seemed like forever. It was explosive! 
The concert was definitely worth the drive.

Driving home, however, I was grateful that Elmira is going to be the longest drive, 
and it was fortunate that it was first. I was so tired that I actually pulled off 
the road and took a nap and didn't get home until almost 4 AM.

(to be continued)

[TOP]

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billp61@execpc.com

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