Ithaca, New York

November 15, 1999

Cornell University
Barton Hall

Review provided by Christopher Kundl.

Every street in Ithaca has two things in common:
They're all one-way, and they're all one-way in the
same direction. If you see a restaurant on the
opposite corner of an intersection that you'd like to
go to, you have to drive in a huge circle in order to
have a chance in hell of winding up in front of it.
Very confusing. A nice college town, though, and my
friend Ben and I pulled in at about 1:00 pm to a light
dusting of snow to catch the smallest venue on this
leg of the tour (though not exactly tiny at 6000).

We arrived on the campus around 1:15, where we found
conveniently close parking, in proximity to Barton
hall, a beautiful ivy-covered building where the
concert took place. We sat just inside the foyer doors
until 5 pm, at which point we were ordered outside
until about 6:15. Not necessary, as far as I'm
concerned. It was pretty darn cold out, and I didn't
see anything going on in the space where we were
sitting to warrant removing us for an hour. Oh well;
ya gotta do what ya gotta do, I suppose. The "staff"
for the event were students from Cornell, and they
were simply inefficient, uninformed, and lacking of
any tact. I applaud their taking on of such a project,
but they should have at least been monitored
periodically. There were some "Campus Police" around,
but as far as I could see, they did little more than
collect dust. The only people who had arrived earlier
were a group of Dylan fans who were following a
segment of the tour, including Fredericka, Rob, Todd,
Ken, and others I whose names I can't recall; but we
had a good time chatting with them throughout the day.
I gave them the copy of Tramps I'd made to listen to
on the way down, and they kindly gave me a copy of an
El Rey show I didn't have. Nice folks. 

(Earlier in the afternoon, we heard them soundchecking
"One More Cup of Coffee", "Angelina", "Pass Me Not, O
Gentle Savior", and "O Babe, it Ain't No Lie")

After waiting over an hour outside (freezing to death;
I must give my thanks to Todd for lending me the
blanket), they opened the doors, and the mad rush to
the upstairs hall ensued. We were briefly patted down
by "event staff" upon entering (they didn't notice the
camera I had in my pants), and proceeded to sprint
across the hall floor to the stage on the other side.
When the dust cleared, we were in the front row (up
against the rail), just right of center, with Ben on
my left and Ken from Dublin on my right. The hall
filled up pretty quickly (and seemed to be full,
taking into consideration that they misjudged the
amount of people that would fit on the floor, and that
some empty seats in the bleachers were a result of
folks who had managed to squeeze their way behind the
sound board).

Phil & friends hit the stage relatively promptly (from
a Dylan fan's point of view), dressed casually in
t-shirts and sneakers. Now, I'm not really a Grateful
Dead/Phil Lesh fan, and I'm not familiar with the
music at all, so you'll have to excuse the made-up
song titles, as I don't know their correct names… The
most impressive numbers were "Mountains of the Moon"
(sung in a spooky, throaty voice by Phil), and "Let
Your Soul Shine", sung and soloed by Warren Haynes of
Allman Bros. fame. The jams, which were new to me,
were sometimes interesting, but just as often sounded
like a garage experiment. This might appeal to some
people, but I couldn't quite connect. However, Phil
looked like he was truly enjoying himself the entire
time, which made it all worthwhile. At the conclusion
of his set, after his bandmates had left the stage,
Phil remained to say a few things about a) the
historical significance Cornell had for the Grateful
Dead (they apparently played a very famous/popular
show there), and b) the liver transplant he recently
had, encouraging everyone to donate organs, and to
inform their family members of their decision to. Very
nice and appreciated.

The equipment change went smoother and quicker that
I'd expected (Phil & co. had a lot of stuff onstage).
Before I knew it, the lights were down, the boys
ambled onto stage, and the deafening summoning call:

"Good evening, Ladies and gentlemen…"

Bob was dressed nattily as usual, with the short black
coat with navy embroidering, and white-piped black
pants with shiny studs running down the bottom foot of
the piping. A good hair night, which for me means wild
& crazy. They start out with:

SOMEBODY TOUCHED ME: This was the first time I've
heard this one, but it was enough to make me decide
that it was my favorite acoustic opener of '99. What a
great way to open the show. It reminded me of a
rousing sing-a-long at summer church camp I attended
in my childhood (although this time, Bob Dylan was
leading us in it). Totally enjoyable and uplifting.
The most telling thing about the bouncy energy of this
number was the fact that, on the way home, I could
hear Ben (who is only a Dylan fan by association with
myself) singing to himself, "glory, glory, glory…
SOMEBODY touched me…". I was impressed that he had a
song so early in the set stuck in his head. There was
an amp pumping out Bob's microphone directly into our
right ears, so from our vantagepoint, at least, his
voice was way up in the mix. Next up is

SONG TO WOODY: This literally sounded like something
from a bygone era, appropriate for one of Dylan's
first endeavors as a songwriter. Delicate and
beautiful. The mentions of Woody, Leadbelly, Cisco,
etc. all thankfully received good crowd responses. It
was such a haunting thing to hear Bob sing the line
about "hittin' some hard travellin' too", almost forty
years after he penned it, coming true as if it were
some sort of ominous portent. But it wasn't sung with
world-weariness, rather, the innocence of someone
one-third his age. Just perfect. I can hear this next
lick coming before the lights come back up:

summed this one up well: "boy, he really nailed that
one!" Indeed, I can't imagine any of the other
performances of this masterpiece on this tour being
any better. It was word-perfect and sharp as a razor.
No botched lines, no passive singing… This was just
awesome. Bob was in a great mood, and it shone through
like the day in his facial expressions at the end of
each verse and chorus (eyebrows raised, lips pursed,
Cheshire grin, etc.). Good dynamics by Larry, David,
Tony and Charlie (whom we stood more-or-less in front
of). The "prez. Of U.S. sometimes must have to stand
naked" line got a good loud cheer, and Bob made this
hilarious "hey, I just write the songs" sort of smiley
look in response to it, as if he got just as big of a
kick out of how ironically pertinent the line
continued to be. Next in line:

TOMORROW IS A LONG TIME: Tender and touching. This was
the second time I've heard this one live, and it was
just as delightful as the first time around. It had an
understated feel to it; Bob sang a major third lower
throughout the choruses (except the final one),
compared to the last time I heard him do it. That
time, the choruses seemed to carry the song, as to
where last night, the verses stood out. I noticed that
only Larry sings backup on this one, and at the
moment, I can't think of another song that bears this
distinction. Anyone care to enlighten me? To round out
the acoustic set, they crank up

TANGLED UP IN BLUE: In all seriousness, last night's
TUIB was a revelation. It sounded like a different
song altogether. As some people have remarked about
other great performances of Dylan's version of "On the
Road", you would've thought he was singing about
something that happened the night before! Definitely
the best performance of TUIB I've heard. He swapped
the "She worked in a topless place" verse for "she lit
a burner on the stove". It ended with a harmonica solo
that just went ON and ON… It was glorious. When I saw
that TUIB had been omitted from the previous night's
setlist, I thought, "hmm, maybe it's time for a
change…" But the preacher man convinced me otherwise.
As to where some nights, this song is a road-weary
crowd pleaser, last night it crashed through the set
like a freight train (bringing on a few tears as it
did). Thus ended the acoustic set. The axes come on

MONEY HONEY: I wasn't familiar with this song, but it
was a great way to kick off the electric portion of
the evening. It was nasty and bluesy, and featured
some good-'n'-noisy backing vocals on the choruses. A
song I'd certainly like to see pop up again now and
then (the lyrics are a kick too; someone posted them
on RMD later that night…). Next up:

SENOR: Featuring Larry on fiddle for the first half,
Bob on harmonica for the second. Actually, something
happened after Bob began playing his harp solo, he
walked over to Larry and had a short discussion, Larry
put down the fiddle and sat down at either the lap or
pedal steel (I forget which), put on his picks, and
waited for an appropriate point to begin playing,
which apparently never came up (Larry just looked sort
of confused). Bob played harp all the while. The
confusion didn't hinder the beauty of the performance.
It was dark and arresting. A good compliment to the
following number:

MAN OF PEACE: Loud and aggressive. Thematically (and
sonically), this was a great one-two punch with
"Senor". I was happy to see that this didn't become a
one-off. During this song (I think) Charlie played a
great scorching solo, and at the end of it, a man just
to the left of me deliberately applauded him with his
clapping hands extended, and Charlie responded by
carefully mouthing the words "Thank you" as he did a
mini-bow. What a nice gesture! Charlie is a-okay in my
book, a fine guitarist, and a gentleman as well. After
a good round of appreciation, they slide into:

I WANT YOU: A good delicate break from the surrounding
loudness. The lyrics were perfect with one funny
exception: the guy with the Chinese suit had a Chinese
flute instead (which Bob then proceeded to take from
him). The choruses had a rough approximation of the
original Blonde on Blonde riff running through them
(that was easily recognized right out of the gates).
This was the only song other than TUIB that most
non-Dylan fans or highly casual fans would've
recognized (a distinction that usually goes to a song
like "Watchtower", "Like a Woman", "Hwy 61", etc.). 
But nothing could've prepared me for what was to come

THIS WHEEL'S ON FIRE: This was utterly huge,
expansive, thunderous… Perfect! It washed over the
crowd like a tidal wave. The downright haunting
backing vocals on the chorus served as the perfect
backdrop for Bob's bitter, ghostly lead (this is one
song where Bob's phrasing not lining up with the
backing vocals works completely; it doesn't sound
messy, it sounds gorgeous). I think when Bob wrote
this at Big Pink with giving it to another artist in
mind, he meant Bob Dylan circa 1999. All in all, a
blazing inferno that made my night! (On a side note,
Ben turned to me laughing at the end of the first
chorus; he had recognized the song as the theme from
British sitcom "Absolutely Fabulous". Oh brother…) to
round out the set proper:

CAT'S IN THE WELL: I thought "Wheel" was to be the
electric closer, until I thought, "wait, there were no
band intros." Well, the band was introduced, and this
one rocked like crazy. Officially my new favorite
regular-set closer (What a neat alternative to "HWY
61" or "Silvio" or whatnot!) Everyone took solos here,
smiles all around. The whole time I thought, how neat
is it to see a show where he plays a song from his
self-titled first album AND one from the unfairly
maligned "Under the Red Sky"? This, to me, was a
regular set for the ages. After some WELL-deserved
bows, they leave the stage to thunderous applause.


LOVE SICK: This one sounds angrier instrumentally
every time I hear it (due in part to the change from
Bucky to Charlie, and the corresponding equipment). It
featured a great, weeping solo from Larry in the
middle, and a little funky one from Bob at the end. 

LIKE A ROLLING STONE: Good performance. Bob was taking
great liberties at stretching out the vocals on the
chorus, much to the delight of the crowd, and the
chagrin of Larry! During the final chorus, he delays
one line (maybe "no direction home") SO long that
there's no way he could squeeze it in before the next,
and he stands there smiling. Larry looks all confused,
Bob ends up singing "like a complete unknown" twice,
and I thought, what a great Bob moment. He was
screwing around, smiling the whole time as if to say
"ha, only I know what's going to happen next!!!" Funny
stuff. The acoustic stuff comes on for:

FOREVER YOUNG: A nice alternative to "Blowin'" which I
think was brought on by someone with a large sign to
my left with "Forever Young" written on it in purple
or blue (during the song, they held it up backwards to
face the audience, which produced a big cheer). This
was such a good show, even the crowd-pleasin' encores
had a little variation. 

RAINY DAY WOMAN #12 & 35: Something happened at the
end of "Forever", and Bob left the stage entirely
while the other guys suited up a la electric. They
began playing before Bob even got back to his guitar.
He was having a discussion with a stagehand, then
Larry, then the stagehand, and so forth until he
decided to sing the first verse. He was a little
distant initially, but came around during the
instrumental break, when he became playful again,
standing in all sorts of goofy positions, making faces
at the crowd (and then smiling to Charlie). If there
was to be a song that came together a bit slowly, I'm
glad it was this one, which would've set the
Phil-followers off no matter how it was played
(provided that the words "everybody must get stoned"
came out of Bob's mouth). Next:

DON'T THINK TWICE, IT'S ALRIGHT: This was gentle and
light, sung by Bob with a lighter, airier tone than
his previous acoustic numbers. Another beautiful oasis
of peace in a sea of searing guitars. Just as subtle
and endearing as the original recording. Finally, they
end the night with

NOT FADE AWAY: Loud and charismatic. Obviously, it
made for a great-feeling connection between Dylan fans
and Dead/Phil fans, especially after all the negative
junk flying between the two camps on the Internet. I
saw a guy after the show wearing a T-shirt with Calvin
& Hobbes hugging each other in the center, with "Our
love is real" written above and "Not fade away" below.
A great feeling to end the night on.

High on the music, I shuffled my way to the truck with
Ben among huge snowflakes. We got a bit lost on our
way up to route 89 north, but it certainly didn't
dampen my spirits. Ben and I have always found a way
to laugh at our misfortune, and this would be no
exception. My last memory of the night was falling
asleep on route 90, with a line running through my
head; "if today was not an endless highway… if tonight
wasn't a crooked trail… if tomorrow wasn't such a long

General thoughts:

The regular set was one for all time. Think of the
song distribution in terms of albums: there was a song
representing "Bob Dylan", "Bringing it All Back Home",
"Blonde on Blonde", "The Basement Tapes", "Blood on
the Tracks", "Street Legal", "Infidels", and "Under
the Red Sky", as well as a great gospel opener, a
classic outtake (though officially released on GH vol.
2), and a super bluesy live debut with R&B roots. When
you take into consideration the encores, you can add
"Freewheelin' Bob Dylan", "Highway 61 Revisited",
"Planet Waves", and "Time Out of Mind" (13 album songs
from 12 different albums), and of course the rocking
Buddy Holly/Dead connection closer. 

If you would've showed me this setlist at the
beginning of the year (or even at the beginning of the
Phil Lesh tour), I would've said, "YEAH, RIGHT!" But
once again, Bob Dylan has managed to truly and
thoroughly impress me. "Woody", "It's Alright", the
born-again "Tangled", "Senor", "Man of Peace", and
"Wheel" were all genuine highlights (count 'em, six,
maybe seven depending on who you ask). "Wheel's on
Fire" was definitely worth my ticket. 17 songs, most
played to perfection. This is one I'll cherish
forever. If anyone has a tape or CD-r, please, get in
touch. I'm certainly willing to accommodate a special
trade for the best Dylan show I've witnessed yet.

Christopher Kundl

PS) It would be unthinkable for me to not take the
opportunity to thank some people who made the jaunt
down to Cornell possible, Terry and Suman for the
tickets, and Ben for, well, everything, as usual.

Return to Current Tour Guide page
Return to Bob Links
Go to the Set Lists (by city) page
Go to the Set Lists (by date) page 1999 Tour, 1998 Tour, 1997 Tour, 1996 Tour , 1995 Tour, Pre 1995 Tours
Go to the Cue Sheet page