page by Bill Pagel
Review by Jason Polanski
Glad that Bob Dylan has crossed the northeast U.S. for the fourth time
this year! The venue was a college gymnasium, all general admission. No
beer, no security, lot's of camera's flashing and smoke in the air. Bob
with black suit and hat and a very sparkling shirt underneath.
First off for this review, the setlist was very well chosen. Great mix of
acoustic and electric songs as they sort of alternated.
Show opener was MAGGIE'S FARM including a great harp solo at the end.
Followed by IT'S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE which showed some interesting
phrasing at times. As far as vocal phrasings go, the highlight would
certainly be LONESOME DAY BLUES. This was an excellent attempt at blue's
crafted vocals, mathematical, under control, but seemingly improvised.
That whole jazz idea, bypassing the brain. Check it out!
Bob played VISIONS OF JOHANNA too!! Great, but slightly off with the band.
Couple lyrics missed. Bob seemed like he was ahead of the band at times.
Acoustic guitars all around, cept for the keyboard. Sounded like Hartford
02, minus Bob's guitar solos.
Another highlight was STANDING IN THE DOORWAY. Again, at the start of the
song, Bob attempted to rush the lyrics, intended or not, the band wasn't
in synch, so he restarted the song without blinking an eye. The band
caught up and this became a great great performance. The false start
seemed to put Bob on the edge. Sometimes great performers find success
A word about Stu Kimball also. Plays great with Bob. Nice interplay
between guitar and harp on GIRL OF THE NORTH COUNTRY. Teared up the solo
on SUMMER DAYS. Some kid passed out in front of me just as Stu was hitting
the peak of the solo. Sort of like the feelings passed around that stage
had been too powerful for some to handle. Or maybe it was just way too hot
in the crowd.
DIGNITY was another highlight. The verse with the line "someone showed me
a picture and I just had to laugh" seemed to drive Bob emotionally. Dug
deep into the vocals. Animated behind the keys. This was a great
performance. Wonder if Bob was reacting to all the flash cameras.
Another thing that blew me away was the power of the encore songs. I know
Bob plays ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER every night, but tonight it was another
I guess there weren't any real bad performances. The only one that seems
to bore me is TWEEDLE DEE. Doesn't have an edge and seems overplayed. The
moments where the band seemed off seemed to inspire them to approach
greatness. No dirty looks, all smiles. This is real rock and roll. What
happened recently on Saturday Night Live? Someone's back up tape was
played wrong? God help us if this band were controlled by back up tapes.
This stuff is real. It's loose. It's a continuing work in progress by one
of the greatest songwriters of our time.
Review by Chuck Owen
As far as I was concerned there was no other place to be then on RIT
campus Rochester NY Saturday November 13. Because Bob Dylan was in town on
his current fall tour. Rose, Lisa and myself made the two hour drive from
Welland Ontario Canada to catch this show. And I must say it was well
worth the drive. We met my friend Paul who was in town from Toronto
Ontario with his family to also catch the concert. And what a performance
it was. Dylan opened with a wonderful version of "Maggie's Farm" just to
let the audience know what they were in for. Dylan followed with "It's All
Over Now Baby Blue" by this time Dylan had the capacity crowd right where
he wanted them. For no entertainer today can work an audience like Dylan.
He can have them rock'in with one song then with the next song he'll have
them silent and listening to every word that he sings.
"Visions of Johanna" was a real treat, along with "Ballad of Hollis Brown"
Dylan had the audience mesmerized with these two classics. And I can't say
enough about "Dignity" what a great song, and to hear Dylan perform it
live is certainly a genuine treat. If Dylan and his band should tour
nearby your area you should do like it says at the bottom of his posters
"Don't You Dare Miss It" for Bob Dylan is a true icon a genuine living
legend a master entertainer who is light years ahead of all the others.
Welland Ontario Canada
Review by Joe Clifford
Hey Bob! It's me! I'm out here again! Must be 10-12 times now since The
Band tour so many years ago. Remember the last time? Toronto - August
'02!! You looked right at me!! I was on the aisle in the 38th row!! No??
Oh well. I guess you're on the "Small Campuses We Ignored For Years"
Tour. No matter. I guess you can't play everywhere. I did like the
show, though. The usual fine mix of contemporary and historical material.
I do wish you'd extend the versions of most of the songs. It might mean
an extra 1/2 hour a night on stage, but what the hell. You and the boys
might be the finest 5 piece out there now (unless Richard Thompson is
touring). I do think it's about time to shake it up though. Keep this
nucleus, add a horn or two, a chick back-up singer (maybe not black - too
stereotypical, maybe even racist. Why do so many white artists think they
need black back-ups - street cred?) Ah, I digress... OK - the set.
Maggie's Farm was a nice opener. Set the tone for the eve. Baby Blue -
fine. ...Johanna always a great choice, a hit from the past without being
"a hit". Girl From The N.C. was the high point for me and my companions.
Great acoustic(ish) arrangement. Being 50 something but still basically a
rock 'n roll boy, I like the rockin' finishing 3 songs, but would like
more rock throughout. So that's it, Bobby boy. Good job - lame finishing
jokes aside. The syncophants near me got a chuckle though.
Comments by Bill Benedict
just got back from the show and it was fantastic. i'll leave the
song by song to others because to me they were all great, especially
visions, baby blue and girl of. bob sounded great, lots of harp and the
band was on fire. great sound too, atleast for me behind the soundboard.
if you haven't seen him, go ( don't worry about him not playing guitar),
if you can, go again. the place was packed and into it, a very memorable
night. i don't know if bob or any of the band ever reads this stuff but
if they are reading this; thank you!
Review by Mark Powers
I last saw Bob in Cooperstown in August. This time saw a couple better
song additions (Po' Boy and Visions of Johanna) but the selection is still
rather limited. For example, if I hear All Along the Watchtower again I
will scream. It is a good song but I can think of 200 others of Bob's I'd
rather hear. Let's start at the top. A crowd of RIT college engineering
dweebs with zero enthusiasm. No enthusiasm until the encore. I didn't
smell anything suspicious at all. At one point I yelled, "Doesn't anyone
get high here at RIT?!" Students in front of me mentioned that they had
voted for Bush. So I said, "You got to be kidding! You're gonna be cannon
fodder in a couple years." So the kid says, "Hey let's not talk politics,
we're at a Dylan concert man!" I just looked at him and couldn't even
fathom what this kid was about. Wow...Anyway back to the show. Started out
with a terrific Maggie's Farm. Heard that back in "88, "92 and "94. I
kinda liked this version. Then Bob did what I consider a fairly weak Baby
Blue. Slow and too plodding. The pace, which needed to be picked up a
bit, picked up when he slammed into Lonesome Day Blues. Maybe not the
rocker I was looking for but it had a hard edge. The band is still tight
though my buddy said he hates the band. Says they're too polished. I
disagree. Next came Visions which was a real treat. The sound in this
college field house was much better than could be expected. Very little
echo and not too loud. Dignity came next and it was sweet. Could hear
every word and the crowd liked it too. Then the song that many criticize
but I love was played, Tweedle Dum...I love the guitar flourishes in this
one. Shit, I'll take that over AATW any day. The sublime sounds of Po' Boy
came next and I was beside myself. Beautiful sound, creative and poignant
words...'my uncle took care of me and I won't forget him'....
Beautiful...A really surprisingly superior version of High Water and then
Girl from the N Country came next and it was a wee bit different than
Cooperstown. It's always been a fave simply because it is so damn
heartfelt and such a lovely love song. A weak and (I can't believe I'm
saying this) a boring version of Stuck Inside...Bob was energetic (at
least for a guy in his 60s) but this tune plodded too. A real surprise and
treat came next with Hollis Brown. You could hear and understand every
word. I can't say that for every Bob show I've been to. Then came two of
my least favorite Bob tunes. And he didn't disappoint. They still bore
me... Honest With Me and Standing in the Doorway. Thank god he tore into
Summer Days. It was like Bob had joined the Stray Cats! I only wish he had
done Cold Irons Bound. When he did that in Cooperstown it sounded like we
were on a train through the darkest part of hell. But it was a good trip.
Bob finished up with his all too familiar LARS and AATW. Bob did his
standard (as I've read on these here pages) joke about windshield vipers.
But the two things that struck me were Bob didn't play any guitar again
(i.e. Cooperstown) and he and the band came out to the front of the stage
to take a bow. The band stood there with hands on hips or at side but Bob
held his hands out like he was receiving gifts from the gods. Kinda weird
but memorable. Just like the show. Bob is still the greatest and I'd see
him anytime. If you get a chance read his autobiography and another good
one on the Never Ending Tour called, Razor's Edge.
Review by Paul Bagnell
The Gordon Field House is a fairly new, and spacious, basketball arena,
and was a good place to see Bob play. My friend Chuck (the guy who was
treated so shabbily by a security guard spoiling for a fight - see Chuck's
account elsewhere on this page) and I were standing about 50 or 60 feet
back from the stage, just to the right of centre. It was a pretty good
place to see, and hear, the show. I heard a couple of people complain that
they couldn't understand anything Dylan sang or said, but you could hear
it all from where we were. I also will not go through song-by-song
breakdown of the show, but instead offer up some random thoughts and
impressions. I noticed fairly early on that there was a woman doing sign
language for hearing-impaired people. She was standing off to the band's
right, and was lit with a spot light as she signed Dylan's lyrics while
dancing a little. I thought this was very cool, and I wish Dylan had
acknowledged her near the end of the show when he introduced the band. I
wonder if she travels with him, or if she was someone local. Whoever you
are, thanks for being there. For me, the highlight of the performance was
"The Ballad of Hollis Brown", which was presented in a beautiful acoustic
arrangement. Tony Ganier played his acoustic, stand-up base, and played it
with by strumming a bow gently across its strings. Another highlight was
"Visions of Johanna", which I've always thought of as one of the most
beautiful songs in Dylan's repertoire. It was the first time I'd heard it
played since the summer of 1991, when he did it at the Kingswood Music
Theatre, at an amusement park north of Toronto. And "Dignity" rang true in
a forceful, rhythmic delivery. This was the first time I'd ever heard this
one live (I've seen Bob perform about 45 times). I remember there were
often calls from the audience for this song to be performed when it
emerged about ten years ago, as part of the "Unplugged" release. As far as
I know, he never did it back then. But it was worth the wait. "Summer
Days" was a great closer to the pre-encore set. But it was nothing like
the blistering rendition that we saw several years ago at the Molson
Amphitheatre in Toronto, when Charlie Sexton brought the house down with a
big red electric guitar. This was the first show I have seen with Stu
Kimball on guitar. He seems to settle back into the mix a little more than
earlier guitarists have. I know this isn't the majority view out there,
but I liked the now-departed Freddy Koella. He played some tight and right
solos during Dylan's three-night, three-venue stand in Toronto last March.
I hope we see and hear Bob play guitar again someday. There were moments
in Rochester when you could actually hear some piano chords coming from
his keyboards, but they were infrequent. That's it. Thanks for reading...
Review by Stuart Gilmour
What a treat. Ventured down from Canada for another wonderful show. A fine
blend of old and new, electric and acoustic. Visions of Johanna will
remain with me for a very long time. Mr. Dylan was his now usual awkward
jumble of slightly spastic body english. He left the keys at one point,
shuffled towards the rear of the drum kit, couldn't make a circle around
so did a three sixty back to his keyboard. Maybe it's just me, but I
thought this was hilarious. This is my favorite band because they are just
so real. Mistakes, mistiming and all that stuff just reinforces that this
is real music played by very real folks. A very sincere tip 'o my hat to
the finest drummer, vastly underrated, Mr. George Recile. Ever heard
George miss a beat? Thanx to Rochester for the fine hospitality and free
parking at the show. Thanx Mr. Dylan, wherever you are.
page by Bill Pagel
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