Review by R. Godlis
Just waking up from last night's 3 hour drive back to NYC from
Amherst, looking bleary-eyed over breakfast at my scribbled notes
from a show full of surprises.
I'll try to keep the intro material brief. Took my 13 year old
daughter along to her first BD show. Tix in the NYC area were
ridiculously expensive for last row balcony seats, so we went off to
Amherst with reasonably priced 4th row floor seats via ebay. Well
Approximately 4th row, not Positively Fourth Row. Security was so slim in
this college arena, that there were rows of fans standing in front of
the first row of seats. Making our 4th row like the eighth. So it was
more like a general admission standing show with folding chairs in place
to reserve your spot. I saw a few campus police officers trying to move
people along - but believe me,the riot squad was not restless tonight. No
complaints though. I actually like to see Dylan at these places. No
suits, no skeptics, just enthusiastic college kids and middle-aged fans,
with the occassional stoners thrown in for comic relief. An arena that's
somewhat intimate where even the last rows can see pretty well.
Dylan seems very relaxed in these places. And tonight he was full of
energy and surprises - right from the start.
Looking at last week's setlists I expected him to open with Maggie's
Farm, Absolutely Sweet Marie, or Cats in the Well. But Boom - just like
that he opens with a fantastic, clear sounding Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat-
with cool organ & a welcome harmonica break.
I looked at my daughter and said - we're in for a good night. But
little did I know. Next up - The Man in Me - was easilly
recognizable from the musical intro. In fact all the songs, even in their
new versions were clearly recognizable. This song is where we got the
theme of the night - sung in a very strong voice - "the man in me will
hide sometimes to keep from being seen, that's because he doesn't want-
to- turn-into-some-machine..." He did this verse twice! Finished it with
another harp break. Catch your breath. Now Tweedledee, with some very
Augie Meyers like organ trills, followed by the first quiet MT song of
the night - "When the Deal Goes Down" augmented with a carnival-like
organ. And then boom again - we got that great new version of Cold Irons
Bound - how's that? - the one that's been circulating from the Boston
show - which just builds upon itself. Feeling like I can't help it if
Sidenote - Dylan seemed to spend a lot of time after each song
walking over to his little table of stuff stage right - Harmonica - Beads
- His Academy Award - Setlists?Songs he wanted to play? - and then
wandering over to the band with something to say. Changes is what it
looked like to me. Did I say the organ sound was turned up nice and
Next came the 62-62-64 stuff done electric - a very nice Hattie
Carroll (more organ frills), I Don't Believe You (Mendicino like
organ playing - another harp solo - and more organ noodling). Then
into John Brown, not unexpected but still a bit of a surprise
coming on the heels of Hattie Carroll. I spent a lot time telling my
daughter - he hardly ever does this one.
But then, big surprise again - Watching the River Flow - a late start on
the vocals as the band waited for him to finish a few more bars of his
organ intro. Some dylanesque drawn out RiiiiiVER FLOWwww vocals and then
the man turned into an Organ Maniac in the break - finishng up by
matching notes with the pedal steel behind him. Did I say there was
absolutely no upsinging tonight - except for the MT stuff where it is
actually part of the original versions? Thank you.
Next - some organ playing in the dark and, another surprise, Sugar
Baby. Very insp[red is what I scribbled down. Lots of pedal steel in this
one. Not exactly the "dark" version of a few years ago, but nice to hear
- everyone picked up on the "these bootleggers" verse and the "amount of
trouble women bring" verse. Next - a good loud Highway 61. Followed by
Spirit on the Water - everyone was waiting for the "whompin good time
verse, of course. In fact this crowd was having a whompin good time all
night. They were very vocal. No party poopers in Amherst.
It was at this point that my daughter asked me how many songs he had done
so far - and with my scribbled notes in the dark arena I couldn't really
do a count - but up next came "Summer Days", and we both knew from
looking at the past setlists that we were on song # 13 of 16 - last song
of the regular set.
I figured Bob was on automatic pilot now. He was going to come back and
do Thunder on the Mountain/LARS/AATW and be out of there...
When after the break, he starts playing a slow number! What????
And just like that we're into an amazing "Lenny Bruce". Just dead on. The
high point of an evening full of high points. Why is this night different
than all other nights? Only Bob knows. This is why we go to these shows.
Even my kid knew she was seeing something different. And on top of that
she got a very good "Like A Rolling Stone" - which was just fine as the
closer - just like 1966 in 2006.
We set our direction home for the late night 3 hour drive back to New
York City - thinking I do believe we've had enough.
Review by Mark Lange
Obviously, these reviews are soooooooooo subjective: one person had a
Vision in the show, and some other person thinks it was complete trash.
That being said, this show falls into the Vision category for me. I've
probably been to 40-50 shows in the last 25 years, and this ranks way up
there.....something felt very special, and I don't know if I can describe
it, or would be interested to see if anyone feels the same way.
There were times, at the beginnings and ends of songs when the crowd was
most definitely not loud--it was almost weird. Very few bursts of cheers,
clapping along etc., and both my friend and I (and she's not the big
Bob-lover I am) read it as in the crowd was absolutely enrapt. And it
seemed to me, that Bob and the band took the sometimes-quiet of the crowd
the right way--this was not a dead crowd, but a crowd that was absolutely
present, energized, attentive, and soaking it up. Bob aint Bob for nothin.
And the set list--with some pretty rare picks (I haven't been watching the
lists this tour too closely) seemed tailor made, with stuff that would've
been lost on a louder crowd.
The stand outs:
The Man in Me: very sweet, grooving, Bob's voice very clear.
When the Deal Goes Down: had some light keyboards, some kinda carnival,
carousel sound which I found perfect, and just slightly surreal Hattie
Carroll: One of those songs I live for when seeing Bob: you could hear a
pin drop, and every line delivered as if for the first time. John Brown:
Outstanding. My friend commented on getting goosebumps, then tears. Every
word crystal clear. Sugar Baby: reworked, interesting. Spirit on the
Water: tough to pull of that Love and Theft, small club jazzy sound, but
they did it. And naturally the "you say I'm over the hill...you say I'm
past my prime" brought quite a cheer.
And after I told my friends that the encores are always the same and I
sometimes like to get a jump on the traffic and get out of there, out
comes Lenny Bruce and no Watchtower, both of which are just fine by me.
Just a song and dance man indeed.
Review by Leo Baldwin
Going to a Bob Dylan show is an act of faith. You put your trust in Bob.
There is nothing you can do to influence what he is going to do. You can
yell, “pick up a guitar,” or “Lay Lady Lay,” or even “say something.”
Forget it. It’s an avalanche and all you can do is swim with it. My
experience with the live-in-person Bob Dylan goes back to the Before the
Flood tour with the Band and the Rolling Thunder Review followed by some
twenty-odd shows—most good to great; several bland to bad, but each in
their own way special. The show at the Mullins Center in Amherst,
Massachusetts was wonderful. There was a mellow mood that permeated the
set. Songs like Sugar Baby, Hattie Carroll, The Man in Me, and Spirit On
the Water were the heart of the performance. It was a lovely mood, all
the more remarkable for being in a basketball arena. Even Like a Rolling
Stone had a reined-in feeling. As always, a few people wandered out
looking dazed and disappointed, confused and cheated, not knowing any of
the new songs and pissed off at the new arrangements. You get it or you
don’t. Frankly, the set list felt like it was designed to alienate the
casual fan—the one’s who haven’t bought a Dylan record since Blood on the
Tracks. Well, as a friend of mine said, “let ‘em go.” I agree. It just
might end the arena tour concept. Seeing him at a minor league ballpark
or one of those refurbished classic old theaters is so much better.
I’m a high school teacher and I find remarkable the number of kids just at
our small school who have discovered the greatness of Bob Dylan. They’re
the ones that make it possible for us, the old acolytes, to experience
these shows. The kids are the ones shouting themselves hoarse and dancing
in the aisles. Looking around the place during a sub-par rendering of “I
Don’t Believe You” I could see the young fans eating it up—the young
woman, swaying and smiling beatifically, clapping her hands to ever other
beat; the kid in the Phish shirt swirling and whirling while the guitars
played; and the two late-twenties guys in the next aisle chuckling in
amazement and delight along with my daughter and me when, of all things,
Dylan started the encore with “Lenny Bruce.” The morning after the show I
asked Ben, one of my students, what he thought of his first Bob Dylan
show. He told me it was the greatest thing ever. Then I asked him if he
knew any of the songs. He said, “Maybe two…but I loved every song he
Review by Ernie Pancsofar
Duck out of work - leavin' on the run.
Out on the highway - clouds blockin' the sun.
Mist fallin' down - darkness fillin' 'round
Goin' back to see Dylan - to hear this evenin's sound.
First on hand - The Raconteurs began
With a similar set as Boston - and still sound grand.
However, an addition from the Byrds did evolve
I Love the Christian Life - sung with some resolve.
I have read some of this band's earlier tour site reviews
By individuals who seem to be quite confused
By the mixture of talents that seems to effuse
Into a loud and sometimes dynamic blues.
I personally like their creative energy
And the exciting, complementary synergy
Mingled in with some tenacity
You can hear each band member's individuality.
I had a clear view from where I sat
As the set started off with Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat:
Front row, stage left on the floor
Waiting for what was to be in store
Five concerts in four month's time
My entire entertainment budget is now a dime.
It took awhile before I could see
Song #2 was The Man In Me.
I had to go back to my Bob Dylan Lyrics Book
And turn to p. 295 and once again look
At the New Morning pages to review this song
It's been awhile - sometime a bit too long.
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum took set list position #3.
In this song, Denny Freeman shines and he was quite close to see.
But overall, not one of my favorites of the night
But it brings out some of the talent - and this band's tight.
When the Deal Goes Down was in position #4
Melodic, smooth and with tenderness and more.
The audience is attentive and you could even say hushed
As Bob sings this song slowly - he doesn't seem rushed.
From the very first note with a deep bass sound
There is no doubt what's next, it's Cold Irons Bound.
There was a much longer intro in the Pittsfield set
From Time Out Of Mind, it's always a good bet.
My highlight and the talk 'round the cracker barrel
Was The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Bob's past songs contained clips from the news
To fuel his lyrics - a source for his muse.
The title of Bob's seventh song selection
Escaped my waning memory's detection.
I wrote She Acts Like We Never Have Met
I Don't Believe You was in this spot of the set.
On Veterans Day in Boston town
I originally thought Bob would play John Brown.
This song is one of sorrows
War brings such uncertain tomorrows
Soldiers leave to cheers, but quite often
Returned quite maimed or worse, in a coffin.
For spot number 8
John Brown met his fate.
Watching the River Flow has a nice, easy pace
And anchors a spot in the #9 space.
The set so far is a satisfactory one
Quite diverse and over halfway done.
Sugar Baby is the 10th song of the set
Bob's ballad style singing has not left him yet
This final track from the Love and Theft CD
Has multiple meanings and thoughts for me.
Bright lights flashing 'gainst the black backdrop
Everyone knows this old fashioned stop
As I begin to hear Highway 61
It lets me know the set is almost done.
Spirit on the Water enters in at #12 place
Bob's soft, crooning voice has a leveling pace
Reflective and selective in his questioning at this time
He asks us, the listener, if we think he's past his prime.
Tony's smile is the highlight of Summer Days
As he twirls the upright bass in entertaining ways.
The band puts new life into this version of the song
As the members of the audience move and sway along.
The set is over and the clapping does begin
I've already written "Thunder" as my 14th pick again.
But much to my surprise, what does Bob sing instead
He begins his encore with Lenny Bruce is Dead.
Then Bob introduces the members of the band
Followed by Thunder on the Mountain - again quite grand.
I smile as I remember hearing it the first time
And admiring Bob's ability to creatively make a rhyme
Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches
I'll recruit my army from the orphanages.
Like a Rolling Stone ended the night
The band seemed to get it sufficiently right.
My thoughts and feelings about the night
Are similar to other times Bob's been in my sight.
I welcome the chance to see him play live
It's an honor to hear him - no matter the dive.
His phrasing and playing often in different keys
Bring serenity and satisfaction and please
and thank you, Bob and I wish you good cheer
'Til I see you 3 or 4 times again next year.
Review by Dweezil
The venue at UMass Amherst is just the right size for a Dylan show. Big
enough so nobody gets shut out and intimate enough to carry the acoustic
numbers to all. I've seen Dylan here before and was just as impressed.
I arrived for my 35th Dylan show just as Jack White and his new
incarnation "The Racanteurs" hit the stage. While Jack and said band can
play they were much too loud for the room. Particularly impressive was a
cover of "Bang Bang" made famous by Cher and found in the movie Kill Bill
as done by Nancy Sinatra. Jack really belted this number out. Overall
though it was a relief when they finished as they were really too loud.
Dylan came on stage to the usual fanfare and announcement and tore into
Leopard Skin. The night though was truly highlighted by the acoustic
songs like Hattie Carrol & John Brown. The only disappointing song was
"I Don't Believe You". That was the only time that the band and Bob were
not really clicking for some reason. Otherwise the show had to rank
within my personal top 5 out of the 35 times I've had the pleasure of
seeing Mr. Dylan. I thought I was in another world when he came out for
the encore and pulled Lenny Bruce out of his sleeve. Having viewed the
set lists on this site I was sure that "Watchtower" was coming. I was
glad to have made a last minute decision to travel the 75 miles to catch
this show. The new material was a great fit with the classics. Bob just
keeps getting better and better.
Review by Bill Thomas
Arguably the apogee of Dylan's show at the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst was "John Brown."
For there was no greater demarcation point regarding the
world that Dylan was borne of, and of that which exists today: "He
that is not busy born is busy dying."
The merchants and money-lenders were busy, plying their
trade in front of the Mullins Center in the unseasonably mild November
gloaming: "You gotta an extra ticket, buddy? We'll give ya 15 bucks" (and
flip it for $50). Meanwhile, low-key activists were seeking Internet
signatures to end a War Gone Wrong.
There was an era, when Bobby was coming up, that college
campuses served as the portent of times a changin.'
"In the thunder-rollin' stink, the thing that scared me most
... was that his face was just like mine.''
Eerie, haunting, bone-chilling, spine-tingling,
consciousness-shaking, dead-on ... and in typical fashion without a
direct reference to the current nightmare. But the Civil War-influenced
"John Brown" was potent just the same.
And my, things have changed. No need to head for a beer
break, because no beer was sold at the concessions. And no hazy,
head-lightening sweetness lofting above the antiseptic arena, as in the
days of yore. Perhaps it had something to do with the cops-with-dogs at
the entrance to the floor seats. But, God Bless 'em, for the most part
fellow fans let you stay on your feet throughout the show.
"Man in Me" from New Morning was an elegiac, rare treat;
"Leopard Skin,'' always a welcome romp; "Cold Irons Bound," tautly
brooding, though someday Bobby may let it take full rockin' flight yet
anew; "Watchin' the River Flow," a cosmic, swirling journey; "Sugar
Baby," perhaps superior on record, but a stately gem just the same.
Then the joint-jumpin' song of the night, "Highway 61,"
followed by "Spirit on the Water." How ironic is it that someone who
snarled, "It's a wonder you still know how to breathe," gets his most
rousing cheer for "You think I'm past my prime/let me see what you got/
we can have a whoppin' good time"?
Yes, Bob, you have lived many lives ... and I hope you
live many more.
"Summer Days" was big-band shimmering splendor. Then, the
surprise of Lenny Bruce for the first encore. "Thunder on the
Mountain," less raucous than expected, and Denny Freeman's
piercing solo punctuating "Like A Rolling Stone."
Oh yeah, The Raconteurs sounded to these middle-aged ears
as if they were often channeling a blend of Robert Plant and Jim
Morrison, sending some even-older folks to the hallways during their
spirited, explosive and inventive set.
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists