page by Bill Pagel
Review by Trevor Hinson
First off, thanks to Bill Pagel for creating such a great website for us
Dylan fanatics to post our reviews.
WOW! What a great show! Bob was very animated tonight, completely
on fire at Lehigh University's Stabler Arena.
This is my 28th or 29th time seeing The Man...the 3rd time seeing him here
at Stabler, which is about 10 minutes from my house. How conventient!
My 8th row seats sucked, they were all the way floor left, so had I
settled for the seats I would have seen Bob's profile the whole night.
I've been too close at his shows too many times to settle for that, call
me spoiled. So I moved over to floor right, stood right by the front row
for the entire show, basically the best position to be in, because Bob's
looking over at us the entire time. Thankfully the security guards didn't
do anything about it. I basically had one of the best spots in the entire
Bob and co. came out shortly after 8. Bob was wearing a black suit with
red piping and a red shirt and tie. Kinda like Count Dracula...it was
almost the exact same getup he wore back at the MSG shows in November
Anyway, onto the show!
LEOPARD SKIN PILLBOX HAT
Great opener, Bob on some VERY good harp, reminded me of his harp solo
when he did this back in 96 at Hyde Park for the Princes Trust Concert.
He mixed up the verses a little but nontheless it was performed really
What? We get two openers? I'm not familiar with this being in the #2
slot but it was fine there, it kept the momentum going.
LONESOME DAY BLUES
This was performed to perfection, with Bob spitting out the words like
just loved it, much, much better than the album version. I think it was
clear at this point that we were in for such a wonderful treat tonight.
THIS WHEEL'S ON FIRE
Suprise #1. I haven't seen this one since '97. I kinda missed the
vocals on it, but Bob held it up pretty good. Note for note perfect. My
God ain't this band SUPERB?!
SEEING THE REAL YOU AT LAST
Not exactly what I'd like to hear, but it was a nice suprise to the
setlist and Bob performed it well, and, I think he got all the verses on
POSITIVELY 4TH STREET
The music on this one was GREAT. Larry really carried this one through.
And...as far as I heard I think Bob nailed the words.
I'm kinda tired of hearing this one, but it was performed well and with a
slightly different arrangement.
UNDER THE RED SKY
Surpise #2. I love hearing this song live. It's always such a great
treat. Bob's phrasing was dead on and Larry's pedal steel playing was
BYE AND BYE
The sit-down song of the night...Bob's lounge act. It was good, but not
HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED
AWESOME. I never tire of hearing this, because each time I hear it he
finds new energy in the song. It's a slightly different arrangement,
especially around the instrumental section, and it just rocked. It
brought the house down. When they did the closing part of the song, Bob
came out from behind his piano and did the "old man shuffle" as the song
came crashing down. It was one of the most hilarious things I've ever
seen at his shows. He was all smiles during the song and his ridiculous
dance at the end was the icing on the cake.
MASTERS OF WAR
This one was particularly powerful considering the song has re-emerged in
the news with those high school kids using the song to protest Bush's Iraq
war. The arrangment was very good and spooky.
HONEST WITH ME
The slide guitar lick at the end of every verse is now gone! Larry played
the song sans slide but it still rocked. I know some fans hate how Bob
constantly changes things up but I love it, it keeps us coming back for
more. He didn't come out from behind the piano during the instrumental
break to "lead the band," which was disappointing but anyway it was good.
GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY
Holy crap! The first time he spoke to the audience was before this song.
It was clear he was in a GREAT mood tonight. He said : "Here's a song by
request. This one is for Aladdin (?), he's somewhere in here tonight."
The song was perfect, haunting, tear-jerking.
When the song came to a close I shouted at the top of my lungs "THAT WAS
BEAUTIFUL BOB!!" And he responsed by saying "What else would you like to
hear?" and he chuckled. Has anyone ever seen Bob this happy before??
I agree with everybody that says that it's good but nothing near the
energy level when Charlie Sexton was in the band, this one didn't get sent
off into outer space, but it sure did rock as usual.
Bob and band then did the formation, only Bob couldn't keep still. He was
just bursting at the seams with energy. I watched as he left the
stage...honest to God I saw him running in place behind the stage. Is Bob
They came back for the usuals...
LIKE A ROLLING STONE
Good version, with the stop-start chorus. Nice quiet jam in the mid
section. At the last chorus the entire band, including George, stopped.
So when Bob sang "Like a rolling..." his voice was the only thing coming
out of the speakers. That was pretty cool.
And then the band intros. One again Bob can't stand still. He did a
corny joke about George: "George is from Louisiana, and he has a lot of
snakes. When it rains he puts the snakes on his windshield and he calls
them his 'windshield vipers'." Duh!
This one was a little more spooky than I last remember it. It was LOUD.
I actually left half way through to avoid the parking lot mess after the
show. I've heard that song so many times I didn't feel guilty, my cup was
WOW, that's all I have to say. I don't think I've ever seen Bob this
Although, I do have the say the best show I've ever seen still to this day
is November 22, 2002 in Fairfax, Virginia. If any of you RMD'ers can get
a copy of that show (it's very much in circulation), you will be glad you
Thanks for reading!
Review by Peter Stone Brown
Maybe it was all those shows this summer in baseball stadiums, but Lehigh
University's Stabler Arena seemed a lot smaller than I remembered it
being. What was sadly evident waiting for the show to begin was the
amount of empty seats.
Sometime after 8:15 pm Dylan and band took the stage and started with Bob
in good voice on a reasonably strong "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat," that was
mainly notable for the harp solo. This was followed by the evening's
biggest surprise "Absolutely Sweet Marie," in the number two spot. It was
okay though I wish he'd return to singing the opening line as "railroad
gate" instead of "railroad bridge" which he seems to prefer now. Bob
ended the song with an extended harp solo.
"Lonesome Day Blues" came next, though the song didn't sound as fiery as
the version I heard from Rochester and it was becoming apparent that
something was missing from the sound at least where I was sitting, which
was pretty much slightly above stage level namely the bottom. It wasn't
that you couldn't hear the bass, but the whole bottom end should have been
booming and it wasn't.
Dylan moved into semi-growling mode for "This Wheel's On Fire"
particularly on the memory served you well line at the end of each verse,
and again played really good clear harp, but the punch that should have
been driving the band just wasn't there. Now this happens to be one of my
all-time favorite songs by anyone and I was lucky enough to witness the
live debut. But tonight's version was slightly on fire and barely rolling
down the road.
Things should have continued rocking or perhaps gone even higher with
"Seeing The Real You At Last," but the energy level stayed pretty much the
same. This was followed by a nice version of "Positively 4th Street" with
Larry on acoustic. This would've been okay for any other song, but this
song is supposed to be nasty, not nice.
Reaching the midway point with a sing-songy "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum"
the show could go up, down, or stay the same. The show stayed the same,
which meant keeping things at a reasonably smooth competent level. There
was to be no lightning intensity, not a phrase that truly leaped out and
grabbed you, just the occasional hot guitar lick, and a band, that tonight
sounded more like a group of back-up musicians, which was a shame because
this summer, at shows where I least expected it, they sounded like a band
and a great one.
So despite doing a bunch of songs I really appreciate such as "Under The
Red Sky" which had a not bad solo from Kimball and good harp from Bob, and
a "Masters of War" which brought up the intensity meter a couple of
degrees, and an okay "Girl From The North Country," introduced as a
request from the mysterious Aladdin (who has his own story to tell). And
then at the song's end came the evening's second surprise sort of when
Dylan asked, "Anyone else wanna hear anything?" but before anyone could
respond, he said "It's Too Late," before launching "Summer Days."
Ultimately Bethlehem was a show where the harp solos were way more
interesting than the vocals, where the band never really jelled and the
energy level, which began on a fairly high level never went higher than
the initial five songs.
Review by Stephen Walter
Pretty good stuff here, at times. Great seats too, the best I've had at
Stabler, where I'd seen Dylan previously in '99 and '00: fourth row back
from the low and smallish stage, and a few steps right of center (just
like America!). Granted, there's still far too much of a "cookie-cutter"
approach -- as a fellow listener aptly put it -- in which one mid-tempo
blues-rocker starts to blend into another, creating a sort of thick sonic
porridge, tasty enough at first but soon becoming tiresome, especially
when unleavened by a proper acoustic set, which I'm beginning to think may
never reappear. It's difficult even to entertain that prospect; I've
awaited every tour leg since '02 hopefully, always expecting that sooner
or later it would inevitably return. I'm not so sure anymore. What is
the Never-ending Tour without an acoustic set? To my mind, it's a tour
that's already, to some degree, ended. A diminished thing.
The surprise double opener of "Leopard-Skin" and "Sweet Marie" made for an
effective one-two punch, but would have been more forceful had the latter
not fallen short of the mark musically, with the sluggish vocals to match.
"Lonesome Day Blues" redeemed that near miss, and then some: I've heard
several renditions of this live, and most have been tremendous; it's
easily my favorite of the heavier "L&T" songs in concert, maybe because it
hasn't been overplayed, though it's hard to imagine this song inspiring
anything like the existential dread I feel at the opening bars of "Tweedle
Dum" or "Honest with Me." Dylan laid into the verses with a ferocious
abandon, exploiting the best low register theatrics his voice still has to
offer, sounding his barbaric yawp over the heads of the audience. I love
the latest rewrite, "I keep telling myself I'm still alive ..." -- the
power of positive thinking.
"This Wheel's On Fire" began tentatively, but the initial keyboard trouble
actually allowed the band to build up an eerily convincing intro, which
unfortunately Dylan wasn't able to sustain despite some impressive singing
at the outset. Only a couple of the post-backup versions of this one have
managed to break through to a level where one doesn't miss the harmonies;
this wasn't one of them, and by the middle of the song he seemed to lose
focus, and occasionally timing, with the verses sounding hesitant and the
choruses sounding toothless, noncommittal. His harmonica did a far better
job of bringing across the original's dark intensity. A powerful if
somewhat by-the-numbers "Real You At Last" came to the rescue; I couldn't
tell for sure, but I believe this is one of those where Dylan cribs the
lyrics from atop his trusty pedal steel, and the song has a lot more meat
on its bones as a result. I'm all for this habit, myself, and only wish
he'd copy more pages out of the songbook and initiate a better filing
system in which "Durango," "Jokerman" et al aren't so easily lost in the
Alas, nothing could rescue one of the lamest "Positively 4th Street"s I've
yet had the misfortune to hear. I thought this song had begun to recover
from its too-slow, monotonous performances of the later '90s; I seem to
recall a relatively limber and graceful one from Philadelphia in '02.
What happened? This one dragged its ass across the floor like a starved
three-legged mongrel, with Dylan alternating between robotic spoken-word
chunks and frail sing songy interludes that drove me nearly to
distraction. Without a doubt this was low point of the evening, and even a
fairly good "Tweedle Dum" couldn't remove the bad taste from my mouth,
although, frankly, even the greatest "Tweedle" in the whole wide world
wouldn't have done the trick, because as much as I like the song, I am
sick to death of hearing it, and would like officially to rename it
Up to this point the show was a choppy affair, Dylan logy one moment and
hard-hitting the next and exhibiting a sort of wispy gray aura, the band
finding their stride then losing it again, at times looking positively
morose: just grinding it out, in other words, with few signs of good
humor or the joyful interplay that can make the live experience so
rewarding. Just like so many times before, however, the mood onstage
turned on a dime somewhere in mid-set. Dylan grew steadily looser and
more animated: the guitarists' work on "Twiddly Done" appeared to please
him, and he began making more and more eye contact with his favorite,
The band seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief; one could hear the
difference immediately in a rather gorgeous "Under the Red Sky," fluid,
well-sung, and perfectly paced -- not too fast, not too slow, just right.
"Bye and Bye" could have squelched the revival, but they managed to break
the up-down cycle by pulling out a fairly decent version of a song that is
abysmally performed more often than not: Dylan sang it with better timing
and more snap, crackle and pop, and the band made it swing more than
usual. I'd much have preferred "Po' Boy," of course, but this wasn't bad.
Then they dropped it into overdrive for a screaming, turbocharged "Highway
61" in which the mad Recili blew out my right eardrum via the stage-left
speaker; I certainly can't blame Campbell, whose always tasteful,
restrained guitar and steel I heard much more of than Kimball's on my side
-- a good deal as far as I'm concerned. Bam-Bam's delinquent speed-freak
chops drove even Dylan into a frenzy, as he literally ran over from his
toy piano as soon as the song ended to shoot love darts at Recili with his
"Masters of War," presumably dedicated to the students at Boulder High,
was taut, stark and eloquent; Dylan's voice had largely shed its shriveled
husk by now and was ringing out cold and clear. "Honest with Me" will
pass without comment; in my opinion the goal should no longer be to tinker
with these "L&T" warhorses so that they sound slightly different, but
instead to shelve the damned things and play something else for a while.
[Additional grousing deleted]
At any rate, spirits remained high even through the deadening routine, and
we then heard an actual dedication to someone who must feel very special
and loved today in spite of his funny name. I'll admit I got a little
ahead of myself on hearing the word "request," upon which visions of
rarities commenced dancing feverishly in my skull; after all, the last
request I heard Dylan play was "Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread." Still,
any disappointment faded before a really fine example of "North Country"
in its current "Dark Eyes" chamber-folk arrangement, with Dylan's singing
slow, measured, tender, and mournful without being lugubrious, and with
some achingly lovely guitar fills from Kimball. A high point, along with
"Lonesome Day," "Red Sky," and "Masters."
By this point Dylan was bouncing around like a hop-toad, joking with and
teasing the audience in a way I've rarely seen in person. "Anyone else
wanna hear anything ...? Aww, it's too late now" -- I'm almost glad he
declined, since the loudest shout in my area came from some demented
masochist who took the opportunity to call out, for the second or third
time, for "Stuck Inside of Mobile." "Summer Days" was obviously
preferable to that, but will otherwise pass without further comment (see
After the encore break, I watched Dylan emerge from the darkness, *still*
dancing and shadowboxing as he made his way to the keys: not
surprisingly, "Rolling Stone" rose above the perfunctory tonight, although
it too could use another rest. Afterward he yelled out "Thankyew,
friends! -- freeyunds, in his thickest hipster-hick inflection -- and
repeated himself before introducing the band with what by now we all know
and love as the Dumbest Joke Ever. "Watchtower" blew out the other
eardrum but was worth it for those dazzling atmospherics from Campbell's
pedal steel; what an amazing musician, to say nothing of being the hair in
a band full of hats. Whenever he decides to leave the tour, which I hope
is later rather than sooner, it will be an immeasurable loss.
Tonight's installment ended with the black-and-red cloaked trickster
taking leave of the audience by blowing us wet kisses in a disgustingly,
hilariously smarmy fashion, then wiping his creepy white hands on his
lapels. It was a bumpy, sometimes lurching, yet mostly enjoyable ride.
Review by Ferg
Every time I go and see Bob I am enchanted. It Is hard to describe his
presents on stage, but there is something moving about it. I like to
think of Bob's s act as something pure. The man has been through so
much, and yet he finds ways to reinvent himself while staying true to who
he is. His show is not commercial or glitzy in anyway, yet you are drawn
to it in every way. Bob was decked out tonight in his black and red
cowboy getup, sweat dripping down from his face every now and then. He
looked like a ghost from the old west; like he jumped on a train and
hopped off in the Lehigh Valley. For the first few songs he hardly looked
up. He just pounded away at his keyboard, which at times seemed to be not
working. With that said, Bob livened up in a way that I have never
seen him before. He spoke a few times. He dedicated a song to a guy named
Aladdin. (Aladdin was a fighter, from what I understand, who got to meet
Bob while having dinner. Bob told him he would play a song for him if he
came to the show. Hope I got that one right.) Bob was lively; he danced,
swayed, and toyed with the audience. He even joked with the crowd. After
the request of Girl from the North Country (which was absolutely
beautiful), he laughed and asked if there were any other requests. The
crowd roared and shouted song names. Bob smirked and ripped into Summer
Days. At the conclusion of the main set Bob stood in the center of the
stage. I was 5th row center, and had a great few. The crowd erupted.
Bob played to it a little, and made guns with his fingers and fired at the
crowd. He came back for the standard encore. However, when he introduced
the band he told a joke. He said George had a lot of snakes, and that
when he went driving he put them on his windshield and called them
The band sounded great. George's drumming was tremendous. It shook
the entire arena. Just a few song notes: Pill Box Hat followed by
Sweet Marie was an incredible one two punch. Masters of War was
absolutely haunting. And Girl from the North Country had a pure beauty
that moved the entire crowd, even those who were unfamiliar.
Bob was truly in rare form, and I am thankful that I got a chance
to see the legend one more time.
Review by Tom Karel
It's been almost a week since the Lehigh show, but the memories are
still fresh so I thought I'd contribute a review. This was my third Bob
show at Stabler Arena and probably the best of the three. The show in
February 1999 was fine, but I enjoyed Natalie Merchant's opening set
better. Bob returned to Lehigh in November 2000, the day after the
presidential election and delivered a strong and wonderful show. Some of
the songs - "Times" and "Desolation Row" seemed to speak directly to the
uncertain mood in the country that night, and the set included an
unexpected "Fourth Time Around." I had better seats at that show - in the
bleachers to the right of the stage instead of far back on the floor - and
that made a big difference.
Incredibly, this was my third Bob show of the year (and 16th in all). Can
I help it that Bob keeps coming around? In March, at the Tower Theatre in
Upper Darby (just across the line from West Philadelphia) I sat far up in
the balcony and loved every minute of the show. This summer I was in
Cooperstown, NY with my family and again had a distant view of the stage.
So this time around we were greatly surprised and delighted with our
seats. The row was EE and I assumed it would be higher up in the
bleachers, and had to look twice at the letters when the usher told us
where to sit. The seats were in the very first row of the bleachers,
maybe 10-15 feet from the edge of the stage. I attended this show with my
wife (who has only seen Bob twice, both times outdoors at Hershey Park
Stadium, once in the rain) and a friend who had lived in Woodstock during
Bob's time but was unaware of him. It was her first show and she was
desperately trying to find someone in the audience who looked older than
We were very close to the sound board, which was manned by Al Santos (?).
Right before things started he saw someone he knew in the stands and he
waved a laminated sheet of paper. It turned out to be the text to Bob's
introduction, which he read a few minutes later. We could see the steps
leading onto the stage so we were able to watch Bob and the band come and
go. The only drawback to our location is that part of the stage was
obscured by two small speakers near the corner. If I had been sitting one
seat to the right I wouldn't have been able to see Bob at all. As it was,
I could barely see Stu Kimball all night, though I saw Bob nodding his
head at Stu frequently. I also saw one of the roadies sitting and reading
a book through most of the show!
We were surrounded by die-hard Bob fans. A guy to the right had
been to many shows and was bummed that his view of Bob was blocked by the
speakers. He asked several roadies if they could be moved, with no
success. So he wound up standing a bit further to the right for the
entire show. He also constantly yelled for "Romance in Durango" and
"Forever Young." Behind us were a middle-aged mother and her son who had
also been to many shows. On the other side was a guy in his early 40s,
from northern NJ, who had seen Bob 40-50 times. He was very nice and told
our friend that the concert would be very loud (we were directly beneath
one of the huge speakers), she wouldn't be able to understand what Bob was
singing, and that she would have a terrific experience. Afterwards, she
said that he was exactly right! She did know 7 or 8 of the songs, and my
wife knew 8, but concluded that a dylan concert was "too much hard work."
I think she secretly had a great time.
Most of the people sitting in the seats on the floor stood for the
entire show, and the crowd was well behaved - maybe a bit too well
behaved. Security made one attempt to clear the aisle by the front
railing, but then gave up and fans stood there all night. It was
really nice not having anyone sitting in front of us. I found a pair of
small binoculars at home and used them occasionally to study Bob's face.
The binocs weren't that great, but they gave me my closest look ever at
Bob in action.
The show started very strongly; the first five songs were all rocking hard
right out of the gate - no clunkers or half-hearted efforts in this show.
Here are a few comments:
Pill-box Hat - a great opening song. Because the lead-in music is
similar to Rainy Day Women, that's what I thought he was going to do. I
was pleased to hear his voice coming out strong and clear in the mix.
Absolutely Sweet Marie - a big surprise in the number 2 spot and also done
very well. Was it going to be a Blonde on Blonde night?
Lonesome Day Blues - a near-perfect rendition, with great vocal
inflections and the band was smokin'. I don't think it was quite as good
as the version played at the Electric Factory in March (which I've
listened to countless times on a bootleg), but close. This was a
first-timer for me.
This Wheel's on Fire - another first timer and again Bob's vocal
delivery was superb. At the start of the song something wasn't
working on the keyboard and a roadie came to the rescue while the
band played on.
Seeing the Real You at Last - I wasn't sure what this was going to be and
Bob's voice got buried a bit in the wailing music, but it was a good
version. Most of the crowd, however, didn't know this one.
Positively 4th Street - it took my wife a few lines to realize what
this was. While she was happy that he sang it, she didn't
particularly like the new slow version. I thought he did a fine job with
the song, and included a nice harmonica riff. So far Bob played harmonica
on every song except Lonesome Days Blues.
Tweedle Dee - My wife recognized this from the opening music and it
was a good, rocking version. More wild harmonica.
Under the Red Sky - a nice surprise and another first timer for me.
Sung beautifully, very close to the album version. And another dose of
Bye and Bye - ditto, ditto, ditto. Bob's voice seemed to get better, and
smoother, as the night wore on.
Highway 61 - I guessed this from the intro and my wife was delighted when
he started singing the familiar lyrics. Everything worked on this song -
the band got into a groove, Bob threw himself into the lyrics, and the
arena came alive. At the end of the song he supposedly did a little dance
in the middle of the stage, but I missed it. I did, however, see him
praise George and the others; he seemed absolutely thrilled with their
Masters of War - blue lights came on and Bob really tore into this
song. The words were clear and the music had an ominous sound. The crowd
responded well to this one, cheering after many of the lines. When Bob
repeated the opening verse he sounded truly menacing.
Honest with Me - this was very good and loud, but didn't match the
high energy of Highway 61. It was also a bit of a letdown, because I knew
the set was nearing the end.
Then came an unusual moment. Bob actually acknowledged a special
request and then played a wonderful, gentle version of Girl of the
North Country. At the end of the song I thought he was saying
something about the band, but according to other fan reviews he said,
"what else do you want to hear? Ahh, it's too late!" Everyone on stage
was laughing, but instead of doing another request, they launched into
Summer Days. It was very good, though the band doesn't jam as long near
the end as they used to.
The encores were crowd pleasers and almost everyone stood through
Like a Rolling Stone. Bob then did the band introductions and told
the windshield vipers joke. Watchtower sounded excellent and then
they were done. Bob sort of bowed to the audience and then did
something weird with his hands - he held them in front of his face
and blew over them, almost as if he was blowing kisses to the crowd. We
watched the boys walk off the stage and toward the rear exit. They were
probably on the bus before we left our seats.
Review by Nancy Hood Boczar
Maybe I live in another world but I read the reviews and am fascinated
and impressed but yet also feel like I'm dragged across the floor like a
three legged chair. I start going bumpety bump. I tell myself reviews and
critiques are supposed to be nitpicking and most of the time someone
always wants more than they got though at times people are satisfied. I am
not putting the reviews down because they are well done, clever and
illuminating and it all goes to show it is in the eye and the ear of the
beholder. Though I am loyal to Dylan- to a fault perhaps , I am so
grateful that he is accessible and on the road so often that it is hard to
complain. I won't go so far as to say I was always satisfied. Back in the
1980s even though the shows were longer and some of the songs had gorgeous
acoustic guitar solos by Dylan and G.E. Smith, I wasn't satisfied. I could
feel that something was missing. I have been satisfied at every show since
the making of Time Out of Mind. Some are better than others and the
crowd's energy level and the setting does play a part. But Dylan and the
band always deliver. For me the best moments were Wheels on Fire, Girl
From the North Country, Masters of War and Honest With Me. There weren't
any surprising covers nor did he pull any big surprises out of the hat
other than Girl From the North Country but I couldn't let what I wanted
get in the way of what I got. It was well worth the trip and the money.
Maybe this isn't the kind of detailed review that would tell anybody much
so I'll save the details for the real smart ones. I think Dylan looks like
a fightin' rooster and wears the duds to prove it. I do wish he'd play
guitar again but if I start wishing , I'll miss the moment.
Nancy Hood Boczar
page by Bill Pagel
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