University Park, Pennsylvania

Penn State University
Bryce Jordan Center

November 9, 2010

[Toby Thompson], [Don Ely], [Joshua Seese]

Comments by Toby Thompson

Bob was hot, the Penn State audience tepid, Bob standing solo at the mike
through several songs, gesturing like Sinatra, leading like Ellington, a master
showman at the far reach of his career.  The black tour buses inched toward the


Review by Don Ely

Monday was an off-day, so I could take my sweet time driving up to State
College, only about 140 miles from Pittsburgh. First stop was the town of Donora
on the banks of the Monongahela River. Like many towns scattered across the
industrial east, Donora was a chemical town, and in 1948 a tempurature inversion
created a toxic cloud of fluorides that killed twenty people and injured scores
more. The resultant cover-up by the responsible corporations aided by agencies
of the US Government left injured parties without compensation, but the silver
lining is that the Donora Fog led to the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1955.
On a lighter note I wanted to visit the Latrobe Brewing Company, purveyors of
Rolling Rock, America's greatest pilsener made in Latrobe, PA. I've been
enjoying the stuff now and again for thirty years, and was anticipating taking a
tour if offered, or at least getting a couple photos of the brewery. To my
disappointment I found the company had been sold in 2006 to a major corporate
brewer, who make several brands at the facility of which Rolling Rock is not
among them. It's now made in ( gasp ) Newark, New Jersey! But life rolls on as
the story goes, as did I, rolling into Johnstown, PA as my final diversion
before calling it a day. Back in 1889 captains of Pittsburgh industry owned a
sportsmen's club that doubled as a summer retreat for their families. It sat on
Lake Conemaugh, a man-made body of water held in place by an earthen dam at one
end. Over the years the dam was not maintained, safeguards were removed to
prevent the best fish from leaving the lake, and a recipe for disaster was
heating up. On May 31 of that year all hell indeed broke loose, and millions of
gallons of water roared fourteen miles into the valley below, laying waste to a
few small settlements along the way and crushing the city of Johnstown with a
fury of Biblical scope. Telegraph lines were down, so residents had little
warning of the deluge to come. In ten minutes time homes and businesses were
tossed about like toys in the playpen of a tantrum-throwing child, and 2200
souls, mostly women and children, were lost on that day. It is the indomitable
human spirit to spit in the face of tragedy, however, and within weeks the
survivors buried their sorrows and began to rebuild their dreams. Testament to
their fortitude exists in the Johnstown of 2010, a charming community nestled in
the bosom of the mountains.
Monday night was spent in Altoona, so I arrived in State College early tuesday
afternoon with, you guessed it, plenty of time to kill. My hotel was set in the
heart of the Penn State campus, so I spent the day exploring what the town had
to offer. I was staying less than two miles from the Bryce Jordan Center in
University Park, so come showtime I decided to walk from the hotel, a cool and
refreshing experience in either direction. Another stellar performance was
presented by Bob Dylan and His Band, every bit as good as the previous one in
Pittsburgh. If only more folks could have seen it...all three of the venues this
week are some of the larger halls on the tour, and were nowhere near capacity.
The stage was moved up considerably, and at the Jordan Center attendees were
seated in a slight wedge formation all the way to the top. This was wonderful
for those of us who were there, however, transforming your average basketball
arena into an intimate theater. My ticket read " side stage " and I wondered
about this beforehand, but instead of being off beyond the wings I was located
in a group of extra folding chairs to the right of the center floor section, end
of the aisle, with plenty of room to groove. I made the acquaintence of a nice
local lady who had lived for a time in Lincoln Park, Michigan. The almighty MC5
had their origins in Lincoln Park.  I told her a favorite line from one of my
favorite Bob Seger songs ( " Back In '72 " ) was " Lincoln Park, imagine.... "
Tonight's Bob Dylan Show included " This Wheel's On Fire ", which would likely
be in the setlist if Bob played a show just for me. I caught the reinvented "
Tweedle Dee And Tweedle Dum " for the first time, led by the jungle drums of
George Recile, and instead of groans and grimaces this song put a smile on my
face. " Cold Irons Bound " in what I think was a new arrangement, was assertive
as always. Contrastingly " Visions Of Johanna " was delicate like Louise and
meshed well with the acoustic bass with bow and fiddle of " Forgetful Heart "
performed two songs later. " Can't Wait ", also driven by the bass guitar of Mr.
Tony Garnier, was probably my favorite number of the evening; I loved the
arrangement and the Time Out Of Mind selections are among the most interesting
on the tour. The Pennsylvania shows, the second and third in my Bob Dylan
concert career, were worth every penny, and, I might add, priced reasonably
considering they're from a Hall-of-Famer.


Review by Joshua Seese

It was just another day at the office for Bob Dylan.  My emotions were
still running on adrenaline from an evening with Mr. Dylan two nights
before in Pittsburgh, Pa.  State College was buzzing as I arrived early
afternoon to check-in at Days Inn with girlfriend in tow.  Witnessing back
to back shows of Bob Dylan became the highlight of my autumn.  The dream
of seeing Dylan again had become a reality.  Chasing down Bob Dylan all
over again made perfect sense.  I planned my outfit of bowtie, vest,
distressed jeans, and cowboy boots to witness the many sides of Dylan.  My
girlfriend bought a dazzling dress.  We stared down the coming of this
event for months like a freight train bearing down the tracks.  The mood
for the show as well as the downtown hospitality made for a mystifying
spectacle of grandeur and musical sophistication.  Everything was perfect.
 We did not dare miss this.  The concert was a sweet sonic assault of the
audible and visual senses, where Bob Dylan threw in more angles and shapes
to his art than Picasso ever wished he could.  We adore his voice.  We
respect the fact that his voice mirrors the moods, images, and daring
themes that run strand through his late albums in twentieth century
America.  A few highlights of the set include Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat
which was the same as Sunday’s opener.  I would have preferred Rainy Day
but I loved what he did to this song as the verses were laid out and set
in place like a bricklayer.  This Wheel’s On Fire was totally unexpected
and ominous.  It was daring, captivating, and dramatic.  I was very
excited that he played this, as I am a big fan of The Basement Tapes. Just
like a Woman was solid genius like Sunday night, with nervy starts and
stops to the song paired with dynamic vocals that tug at heartstrings.
 Visions of Johanna brought back that mercury sound which made me very
ecstatic!  Dylan conjured up brilliance with exuberant movements and
electrifying vocals behind the keyboards.  Summer Days made for an all out
dance session with some wonderful guitar playing.  Ballad of a Thin Man
wined and dined the crowd with his wonderful stage presence and menacing
harmonica solos.  Like a Rolling Stone possessed beautiful waves of melody
like candy to the senses, wonderfully sung by the high roller himself. The
venue setting was intimate again, acoustics were great, band was tight,
and the audience was great.  I was center stage slightly off the floor
with a brilliant view.  Bob Dylan is a man who knows his stuff.  He always
has a big grin because he loves what he’s doing and he’ll bring the A
game.  Do not get fooled into thinking you know who he is or try to
understand him because he is forever young and everything else under the
sun he aspires to be!  He’s still as daring and audacious as ever!  That
night we toasted to the ability of Bob Dylan to make you drop whatever it
is your doing, whatever life you’re living and skip town to get blown away
by that wild mercury sound. 

Joshua Seese


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