November 14, 2010
Review by Mike Hodnett
Monmouth University is located very near where Bob was picked up by local
police two years ago when they spotted a shabbily dressed man peering into
derelict houses. The twenty something officer only knew him from pictures
from the 60's and when he identified himself, she had trouble believing him. The
matter was quickly resolved, but I half expected that he would make a joke about
it this evening.
The venue for this concert is a recently opened basketball arena. The show was
sold out and the crowd gathered rather quickly, so the band took the stage
precisely on schedule. It seemed to take about four songs for the technicians
to get the sound right, but once they did, the atmosphere was very pleasant. I
would estimate that about half the crowd was students. It was gratifying to
hear that the people largely seemed to recognize such non-standards as "Cold
Irons Bound" and "Not Dark Yet".
I've heard Bob in better voice and he seemed to be singing behind the beat
on most songs, but I enjoyed the unique treatments of "Tangled" and "Hard
Rain". He seems to enjoy vocalizing sans guitar or keyboard and then
blowing his heart out on the harp. He has spoken of his desire to find the
"right" keyboardist that would free him to do more on stage and I look forward
His shows combine the comfort of certain faves with interesting selections
from recent and older albums that keep us on our toes. Keep 'em coming my
Comments by Bill Coleman
Dylan last played at Monmouth College in April of 97 and it was among the
top 5 best shows I had ever seen. So, not expecting to be as dazzled as we
were then...we were treated to an amazing set of music with Dylan front &
center blasting the harp in ways I haven't heard in 10 years. He was
stinging the guitar on "Mobile" and created an incredibly dramatic mood to
each song when playing a simmering organ. He sang was such poignant purpose,
dipped and danced, was a captivating storyteller and when he wasn't doing that,
the band rocked our sox off. Bravo Bob, a blast from the past.
Review by Michael Perlin
My first Bobconcert in over two years, my longest hiatus since before 1994. And I
was not disappointed. Bob was engaged, focused, having fun, and, dare I say,
musical. Certainly the best in-person experience in four-five years (dating back to
the concerts in Newark and at the Beacon in the summer of 05 (the Amos Lee/
Merle Haggard tour, and the Spectrum in November 06)), and whetting my appetite
for this coming Tuesday when I see him again in NYC.
It had been more than 40 years since I had been on the Monmouth campus (for
those keeping score at home, this was the 3d different Monmouth County venue
where I have seen him perform (Holmdel Arts Center; Asbury Park Convention Hall,
being the others, a factoid of interest, I would expect, to fellow NJ-ites who still see
the world in a county-by-county frame of mind..), and what better reason could
there be to visit West Long Branch on a chilly fall nite? We (my friend Richard and I
[we had never gone to a Dylan concert together though we had run into each
other at one of the Bob/Van M series at MSG in Jan 98]) were standing about four
rows back dead center. No complaints about the sightline or the venue. Audience
was the usual Bobmix: lots my age (and older!), lots in their 30s-40s and many many
This was in some ways a difficult night for me. It was my first Bobconcert since my
main Dylanista, Michael Feuerstein passed away a year ago May. There have been
other concerts I have been to in the past 16 years that Michael wasn't at, but he
was always such a part of all of them. I miss him so much on so many levels, but
especially at a Bob venue. Sigh… A part of me - I know this is corny - feels he was
listening from above…
I digress: The song list was split down the middle: 8 of the songs from pre-mid 70s,
and 8 from post-mid 90s (and, with the exception of Tangled, all the earlier ones
were from Blonde on Blonde or before). I mention this simply b/c it encapsulates the
man's breadth and scope and timelessness. Though he didn't sing Forever Young,
the takeaway from the concert was that that is precisely how he remains today.
First things first. This was my first concert with Charlie as lead guitar in Charlie'
current time with the band, and the extra energy and verve that Charlie brings
with him was apparent from the opening. Given how many nights the Never Ending
Tour does in countless college gyms, huge arenas, small clubs, minor league stadia,
etc etc, it is almost incomprehensible to me that the band can keep up the spirit
and the soul night after night. And they do.
To the songs >
1. RDW: Always a yawner for me (but always a crowd pleaser), it had more oomph
tonite, and suggested to me that Bob was going to be on game (as the opener is so
often little more than a glorified sound check). Keep hoping to hear the opening
chords of Down in the Flood as the opener, but guess those days are long gone.
2. Baby Blue: This was the first I have heard Bob play guitar in 7+ years (!) and that,
alone was worth the price of admission. I had wondered if he would doing anything
more than strumming chords (and truthfully, that would have been dayenu after such
a drought), but he actually was into it, with a surprisingly crisp and pointed solo. Yay.
3. Mobile: At this point, I noticed the scrim… images first of urban landscapes (sort of
modern versions of Fritz Lang movies; later, either Bob soloing or the whole band). I
expect I have seen this at least once since the Wayne NJ concert that came soon
after Alan Ginsburg's death but can't recall. Intro was new to me til the last two bars.
Again, good and thoughtful guitar playing. At this point, it became clear to me how
much more energy Charlie brings to the band (the most since the halcyon days
when Larry was lead guitar). A good thing.
4. JLAW: Loved the audience participation, and Bob coming back with the same
phrase just at the end of the audience singing, using the spaces and the rests so
effectively. My first insight of the night: I have always said that, culturally/sociologically,
Bob was more like Miles Davis than any other popular musician of my lifetime. But here -
and it recurred in several other songs - I felt a kinship between Bob and Thelonious
Monk (the blank spaces being so important musically). Amazed I never picked up on
5. Levee's Gonna Break: First post 1966 song. I had heard this once before (world
premiere, Philly, Nov 06), and it didn't lose anything the 2d time around. And here, I
started listening to the phrasing (again, as if this were a jazz nite) of Bob's keyboard
playing. No more just thumping chords, but tuneful one-note-at-a-time improvisations.
6. Tangled: Chagrined that I didn't get it til the first words (I have not been listening
to boots of this tour, deciding I wanted to be surprised lots). Again, very different
phraseology than the last times I heard him (most recently, Asbury Park 08), tho the
"choruses" were more like what we have come to expect than the verses. More
important: center stage with harmonica. And, what is this world coming to, really good
harmonica playing. Tuneful (did I say that before), and melodic. And again, it became
so clear that Bob was really having fun. He may have added some new words in the
last verse, but I wouldn't swear to it.
7. Tweedle: Lord. Why this? Why this? 2000 songs. Why this? OK, I didn't expect to
hear idiot Wind or License to Kill, but maybe Johanna or Willie McTell? Why this? Gd
knows, to quote a Bob song I've heard once or twice. On the other hand, he was
back on the guitar, and I guess I would have been grateful for anything on the guitar.
And again, solos were well thought out, harmonic and musically mature.
8. Hard Rain: I first heard this at Rutgers in the un-canonized concert (yes, it happened!)
in February 65, and many time since. One of my favorites (I have drawn on the lyrics
multiple times for article titles, as my work friends know), and I am amazed that any
22 year old could have had the vision to have imagined these images back then. And
he keeps getting stronger and stronger.
9. Cold Irons: It seems he always plays this when I see him (this must have been at
least my 10th hearing). Again, center stage with harp. I haven't thought about the
political undercurrents of this song since I saw him do it just before the 00 elections,
and, in the wake of this year's mid-term debacle, those undercurrents emerged again.
10. Forgetful Heart: Worth the price of admission. And much more. Shattering.
Stunning. No other way of describing it. My first first-time ever of the evening, and
one I will never forget. Other than the spectacular once-only-for-me performance of
I and I (NYC, Dec 97), this was, simply, my greatest in person Bob song since 1965 or
before (pretty hard to compare anything now to When The Ship Comes In at the MLK
march, I know). Sounded as if it were in 9/8, almost dirge time. Donnie playin
Tony on stand up bass. Bob with more soul, passion, depth, emotion than imaginable.
Beyond belief. I was privileged to hear it. Chilling doesn't even come close t
11. Highway 61: A bit of a let down after Forgetful Heart. Again, I have heard this
100 times and it only stands out if the guitar pyrotechnics are other worldly. This was
fine, but nothing memorable (tho again, it was clear that Bob had been thinking about
what he was playing on the keyboards, and it hasn't always been that way..).
12. Not Dark Back to center stage with harmonica, and, next to Forgetful Heart, the
high point of the night. This is Bob staring death in the face from 13 yrs ago, and the
sense of mortality/immortality/mortality still dominates the performance. I could hear
this every night and be a happy man.
13. Thunder: So, from this point on, no more surprises. Thunder rocks, and as always,
Bob was really into it. Again, you noticed that he was smiling and happy and engaged all
night long. What a pleasure!
14. Thin Man: It had been years since I had heard this, though I expect I will again in
two nights when I see him in NYC. One of the greatest songs of "back then", and it
has lost nothing over the years. His final center-stage-with-harmonica of the night.
Again, it boggles that he wrote this at 24…
15. Jolene: My second first-ever of the night, and already I am lopping it with Tweedle
(why this? Why this?). Yawn.
16. LARS: So how many times has Bob played this song over the past 45 years? 10,000?
Still fresh. Still new. Still anthemic. Still the greatest rock and roll song of all time. Still
why Bob is Bob. Left the audience with smiles as wide as the heart on the way out.
Speaking of on-the-way-out: a college aged couple was talking, and the girl said to the
guy, "I feel as if I was part of history tonite." Honey, you were.
What a night. And, as I finish this, I realize that I will be seeing him again in
than 60 hours. I can't wait!
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