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Review by Craig S.
Forget the story of how I got in, since only students and faculty were
allowed. Oh, well, I was in the second row by the stage, in front of the
microphone. And having seen the show last week in Bethlehem, I was
prepared to observe, since I knew that this tour was almost over. There
were no real surprises on the set list, but there was some excitement. The
crowd really was enthused, and Bob himself was laughing in-between some
songs, and was into it by the end. Duncan and Brady was very strong, and
the fiddle was very good on My Back Pages. Desolation Row was sung
differently than last week, more blues like and rocky. Instead of,"You
better leave" he sang,"You better hang up and Leave". Bob's lead was not
the greatest, but he was forgiven. Larry just smiled.
Frankie Lee was played with an infectious upbeat tempo. Larry started
Tangled up in Blue. Bob changed to "Seen alot of Women, but it never did
save his Mind". At the end he sang"Some are Truck Driver's wives, ".
Soldier's Grave is a waltz which is great with the 3 part harmony. On
Country Pie he sang the Rasberry 2nd part twice, but again no one cared.
Nothing about the peach tree either. On Blind Willie he opened 2 verses
with "I'm Gazing out thw Window". No one probably could tell. Bob gave a
little look, though.Tombstone Blues was really great with Charlie doing
the lead, and when Bob sang,"wiped his nose", Bob wiped his nose right on
time. Hmm.Bob was laughing now in between songs, and Trying to get to
heaven was next, which was but he fought to keep it relevent. Wicked
Messenger was ended with a little harmonica. Bob finshed the set with
Leopard Skin,and when he sang,"it balances on your head like a mattress
balances on a bottle of wine", it fit better than,"just like a mattress
balances, etc",better than the original.
When I saw Bob fool with his guitar on Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat, moving
the neck a la Chuck Berry, I knew that Bob was now getting into it, just
in time for the encore. Things Have changed was done well, and Bob
sang,"I'm not that eager to make a mistake", instead of ,"To make the same
mistake", like he has been singing. Like a Rolling Stone was also great, I
can't understand how he can still make it great. If Dogs Run Free, with
Tony on the big acoustic bass, had some interesting word changes. "Just do
your thing, You might even end up King", was nice.Then he rocked it
with,"To each his own, That's pretty much all I know". Finally, "It can
pay your bills, and do your wills, if dogs run free". Hmmm.
Larry played steel on Watchtower. In Times they are a Changin, I know I
read that last weeks version was the best in 15 years. Tonight's was
similar, but with extra emphasis on certain words, relevent to the current
election situation. Senators, Congressmen was the first message. Most
emphasis on "The first one now, will later be last". Those lyrics become
more amazing as serve as some comfort as well. On the last song of the
evening, Highway 61, When Sam had a bloody nose, which was at the
beginning of 2 verses somehow, Dylan wiped his nose on cue again. When
each chorus ended with,"on Highway 61", Bob screamed it loud, so loud that
Tony had to smile.
The final song was once again "Blowin in the Wind", but with one
difference. "before he can hear people cry", was sung with a broke up
crying voice, almost surreal at the time. I also detected crying with the
line,"that too many people have died". Did he sing it this on the spur of
the moment, or was it planned? I guess the answer is........
I wish I could see tomorrow's show in Atlantic City, but to travel there
with no tickets seems a little desperate. Which I will probably be after
this tour is done soon. Why do I need this fix? Well, maybe it is not so
ridiculous. Maybe if you see Dylan, his skill and genius hit your senses,
and you don't want more, then something is wrong with you. As for me, I'm
still heading for another joint.
Regards, Craig S
Review by Peter Stone Brown
From the time I left my house till the time I finally arrived at Princeton,
the temperature must've dropped at least 15 degrees. Dillon Gym is
somewhere in the middle of campus and one thing about Princeton University
is that it looks like a college, and Dillon gym was no exception. You
wouldn't know from the outside that it was a gym. We arrived about 20
minutes before the doors were to open and then the fear set in-they're
only letting in students with the doors divided up between undergraduates,
graduates and faculty or something like that. And it kept getting colder
and there was one Princeton student among us, but by the time the doors
finally opened, we had all managed to pair off with students who simply
showed their Ids and said, "He's with me." We made it up to the stage no
problem and stayed there, checking out the equipment, and noticing
curiously enough that there were mics placed in front of the speakers on
each side of the stage aimed towards the crowd. Somewhere around 8:15,
Al Santos made the announcement and they were on Dylan dressed in black,
with his black and white cowboy boots and a gold shirt and a gold tie,
opening with the now standard "Duncan & Brady" with Dylan emphasizing the
"too long" in the chorus. Then Larry picked up the fiddle for a strong
version of "My Back Pages." Dylan was being very serious, all business,
and then at the end he went for the harp, not bad for the second song.
There were some heavy duty Dylan fans in this crowd, Princeton students or
not. Standing in the freezing line, some kid next to me said, "He's gonna
do 'Desolation Row,' he does it every other night." The kid with him
asked him how he knew that, and he said he had ways of finding out, and
sure enough "Desolation Row" it was. It was good, but didn't have quite
the punch it did the week before at Bethlehem. At the song's conclusion
Dylan took off his guitar and conversed with the band for a second and
then before he had his guitar back on, they were into "Frankie Lee and
Judas Priest," my first time seeing it since he did it with the Dead in
'87. But this was one scrambled version with Frankie Lee saying Judas
Priest's lines and vice versa and the passing stranger who burst upon the
scene got all tangled up in it too, and the only thing I'm sure of by the
end was that the little neighbor boy did whisper underneath his breath,
"Nothing Is Revealed." This led to an equally tangled and quite speedy
"Tangled Up In Blue" with Dylan looking at everything but the audience,
and when he got to the she lit a burner on the stove verse which might've
been third but definitely wasn't fifth he said the first line so fast that
it jolted you with a kind of "what the hell was that" and all the time
Dylan is doing his best not to crack a smile, and then on the guitar solo
he find this one funky high note and kept hitting it and making those
strange faces he makes while looking at Larry Campbell who seemed on the
verge of cracking up. Another huddle followed, but "Searching For A
Soldier's Grave" came next and Dylan appeared to be waking up. This is a
song he likes and on it he did this chameleon thing where all of a sudden
he looks 30 years younger and he's leaning back and wailing standing just
like he did in '63 or '64, and then another huddle and into "Country Pie"
with both Larry and Charlie on telecasters.
An okay "Blind Willie McTell" followed with more scrambled verses and at
the end he called Charlie over to him and they blasted into "Tombstone
Blues," and suddenly Dylan was alive and digging it, and leaning into the
mic, and no more is this the blues shuffle it had sometimes been in the
past, but has the crisper beat of the original recording, and Charlie is
getting the exact same tone out of his guitar that the Beatles used on
"She' s A Woman," and against his best efforts Dylan flashes a real smile,
and Sexton is finally unleashed on guitar.
"Trying To Get To Heaven" came next, and Dylan was totally into singing it
and also very into his rhythm guitar part, playing with more precision
than he usually displays, and then came a truly amazing "Wicked Messenger"
and now the famous phrasing is coming hard and heavy with particular
emphasis on "opened up his heart."
Then a fairly perfunctory introduction of the band, and into "Leopard-Skin
Pill-Box Hat," which was "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat," but on this night
Dylan seemed to be enjoying the blues numbers and then the lineup though
Dylan had a very hard time standing still and started joking with Tony.
"Things Have Changed" resumed the intensity and on "Rolling Stone" Dylan
started playing around with the vocal singing the last word of each line
on some absurd high note, kind of like "once upon a TIME/you dressed so
"If Dogs Run Free" was great and tonight he got all the lyrics right - on
the other versions I've seen or heard so far, he always seemed to mix up
tapestry and symphony, but tonight it was exactly like on the record
except for one change: "It can pay your bills/And cure your ills" instead
of "It can cure the soul/And make it whole.
Then Charlie kicked off "Watchtower" with the rest of the band almost
scrambling to join in and all of a sudden there's a light show behind
them, but Dylan sang it like it meant something, carefully phrasing each
line. A sad, moving "Times They Are A-Changin'" came next with the third
harp solo of the night, and then into "Highway 61" with the "Georgia Sam"
verse sung twice in a row.
There were times tonight when Dylan truly hit it, but the show didn't seem
to have the same power and urgency did that Bethlehem had the week before.
"Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times." --Bob
Dylan Peter Stone Brown e-mail: email@example.com
Review by Angela Frelinghuysen
My mom and I found out about the Princeton show as soon as it was posted
on Bob Dates (thanks, Bill), and we had been trying to get tickets ever
since then. We tried everything--a friend of a friend is a freshman at
the University, my sister has a friend who's friend is a junior, my
grandfather was an alumnus, and my mom even e-mailed Bill--so I e-mailed
my sister's friend, called my friend to ask her friend, and by Tuesday had
grown very discouraged upon finding out that at the last concert at
Princeton, they checked for ID's, and each student could buy only one
ticket which crossed one of my connections off the list; and by Wednesday
my other connection didn't respond until they sold out.
Still determined, I left Penn Station bound for Princeton, where my mom
was to meet me, and headed strait to the end of Prospect Avenue, where we
parked our car and walked through the campus to find Dillon Gym (My mom
joked that he would mention something about them spelling his name
wrong.). I felt incomprehensibly terrible--all I'd eaten all day was a
bag of Cheetos, a clementine, and a few ginger snaps back in Brooklyn--and
I was unprepared for the chilled windy night--I hadn't brought a decent
coat because my mind was on Bob, and nothing else. This was the first
time for him to come to my home town (in my lifetime), and as it looked to
me then, I was going to miss it all--something that means more to me than
I could ever attempt to verbalize, while some of the geekiest boys and
girls in the country would be in there gettin all excited when they'd hear
Bob and the Band play Like a Rolling Stone because that's the only song
they'd know, and say things like, "What's this guy's first name again?"
(I actually heard that during the concert.)
As we crossed the campus, we asked every passer-by if they had tickets to
sell. We found the Dillon Gym, and spotted the four buses. Hopeless, I
sat down next to the closest bus to the gym door, and attempted to collect
myself and my sad situation. I saw someone walk out of the building and
towards one of the buses--and hey, it looked like, and indeed was Tony, so
I called out, "Tony!" and he waited for me around the corner of the bus,
and I said hi. He was waiting for me to say something, but in my state, I
really had nothing to say, so I said something stupid, he responded
intelligently, and went on his way. I was thrilled.
So a few minutes after finding the gym, I made it around to the front,
where I found some familiar faces from other Bob shows. There were so
many people looking for tickets. I recognized someone from high school
who I never would have guessed would be at a Bob show, so I asked him if
he'd sell his ticket. No luck. More and more students got in line, and
my Mom and I had split up and split our money so we would have enough for
the greedy rich kids. But that was not the case--a group of students in
line (there were actually two lines) asked if I was trying to buy a ticket
(somehow they didn't notice my cries of desperation) and they said that
their friend just left to get one to sell; so I stayed with them, and
worried about how much money she was expecting to make. When she returned
a few minutes later, I had my money ready, and showed her a twenty and a
ten. (I tried to make the trade-off as inconspicuous as possible so that
I wouldn't get a school of hungry Bobsharks surrounding us, trying to buy
it for more.)
"No way," she said. My heart jumped up to my throat, then made a
free-fall to my knees, and burned a hole through the pavement beneath my
"I'm not prostituting Dylan! Twelve dollars is what it cost, twelve
dollars is what I expect!"
I fumbled through my pockets, trying to find my singles. No luck. "Will
you take fifteen?" Sold! I thanked and thanked her and waited in line
behind her group.
Finally the line started moving, and by then I had made up a story about
why I didn't have my Princeton ID, but something happened when I was asked
for it, between the time I made up the story and the time the story was to
be told, and I don't know what happened to me, but I blocked it out of my
mind and drew a blank; so I had an exchange with the ticket guy for a
while, and tried using segments of my story, but it didn't work at all,
and it came out even more jumbled than tonight's telling of the Ballad of
Frankie Lee and Judas Priest. He took me by the arm and told me to see
"that man, over there," where he pointed, and with my ticket in my hand, I
marched straight ahead, to the gym itself, hardly glancing at the man I
was supposed to see about my story of the ID. I was anticipating a call
of "That girl! With the cape! And the hair!" and had visions of a group
of men coming from nowhere to carry me off. I plopped myself down stage
center, as close as I could, and I didn't dare try getting closer because
I was happy just to get in, and I didn't want any run-ins with ID
Ten minutes to showtime, my mom managed to have gotten in and find me--I
really thought I'd be one up on her. (She just told the ticket guys she
was an alumnus, and that she'd bought her ticket from the Frist Campus
Center when asked.)
The lights dimmed (the guitar tech got his kick for the night when people
cheered as he tuned one of Larry's guitar's, as if he was the real thing).
First to come out was Larry, then David, Tony, Charlie, and Bob followed.
Duncan and Brady--no surprise at all, but rather had an expected calming
effect on me; I was Home. It was now safe for me to breathe--this concert
was happenin and I was witnessing it happen.
My back Pages was beautiful--Larry was amazing, as always, and everyone
cheered when Bob pulled out his harp, and let no one down when he had
finished. Desolation Row came next, and I was happy to hear this one.
Frankie Lee and Judas Priest was a thrill for me, not because it was a
first, but because it was done amazingly. Who cares about the scrambled
lines--who said what, and in what order it was said. The story was still
there, and the quality of his voice, the way he stressed certain words and
phrases, made this one very, very memorable. I can still hear the way he
said "my loss will be your gain" echo through my head.
TUIB started with the spotlight on Bob and Larry. The way they build this
one up is a thrill for the audience, myself included--even for those who
didn't know what to expect. The house lights here were put behind the
audience, which was kinda neat, but I imagine it blinded the boys. Things
got really cookin here--not that Bob and the band weren't warmed up, but
rather, the audience warmed up to them. The Princeton crowd was slightly
cold, most noticeably before TUIB--the quietest, most unconnected audience
at a Bob show ever (It wasn't the sort of crowd to cheer at "The circus is
Maybe it was because I hadn't heard this one in a while, and because
tonight was the first time for me to see Bob since this summer, but
somehow, I didn't recognize Searching For a Soldier's Grave at first. but
it was beautiful. Love the harmony. This band is as amazing acoustic as
it is electric, as was proven tonight when Searching was followed up by
Country Pie always makes me happier than I expect. Charlie really cooked
tonight. He rocked the joint. Wish Bob (or whatever it is) would unleash
him some more! I think they should release a live version of this and
Dogs as a single.
No one else seemed to know Blind Willie McTell, at least not around me.
This one was greatly under-appreciated by the audience, but definately not
Tombstone Blues rocked. For some reason, the guitar part Charlie hammers
was more noticeable tonight. It really did sound "She's a Woman"-like.
The best live Tombstones I've heard. I think it was during this song when
Bob sung "Yeah!" into the mic--he really got into it. I felt soooooooo
good when he bellowed "useless and pointless knowledge." None of the
students got it.
Tryin' to get to Heaven numbed us; it was as if we had all taken medicine,
but only Bob's voice was our medicine, and we stood, transfixed. I've
never heard it anything like this--very, very slow, but not at all too
slow. His voice was clear, powerful.
Wicked Messenger was also a first for me tonight. I've been wanting to
hear this one for a long time. Bob had the greatest lead for a harp
solo--I saw them all communicate, and it was a great set-up, and indeed
was a great solo, but something just didn't quite work out, and Bob
called it short. Larry smiled big, like he often does.
Leopard-Skin was a great way to end the first set, and after it, the
audience started chants of "Bob," 'one more song," and "Dylan." The
Formation was a long one, and convinced me that the Princeton students
actually did appreciate what had just happened. It was very loud from the
screams and whistles. Bob, in the way he stood, said, "Yeah, give us what
you got, we did." Larry was beaming. What a smile. Tony too. They
seemed to not believe what was happening. Magical.
No one seemed to know Things Have Changed; the audience wasn't into this
one as much, but they suddenly woke up for LARS. For some, this one
seemed to be the only song they knew. It was amazing, truly amazing
tonight. Bob has been playing around with how he sings each line, singing
a higher note for the last word of each phrase.
I was soooooooo happy to finally hear If Dogs Run Free. It's fun to watch
them really perform this one. Tony played his big acoustic bass, like
usual for this song.
AATW gained the audience's respect, and it should have because it was
Larry on steel was perfect.
For the harp solo on Times, Bob put out his right hand in front of him,
and really got into it. I was surprised that I didn't hear a reaction
when he sung "Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command," being
the collage crowd. Quality of the voice superb.
Highway 61 got some dancing again, and they were into Blowin' which many
didn't recognize until he was singing it. I heard no boo's, like I heard
might happen because some idiots in Princeton were trying to convince
people that it was not his song at all, and that he had stolen it. But
like he said before one of the song's first live performances, "I didn't
actually write it; I just sort of recorded it. It was there already
before I came around. And I just sorta took a look and I saw and I wrote
it down." These people took it the wrong way. Tonight's preformance was
a great way to end the show.
Bob's voice was incredible tonight, and he was really into the audience,
making all sorts of faces at the people in the front--so was Tony, but he
was all smiles. Larry smiled a lot, too, a full-out cheshire grin several
times. One thing about Princeton is that it was HOT! When bob shook his
head, beads of sweat flew through the air; Larry's chest--exposed by his
partially unbuttoned shirt--was wet. I felt bad looking at Bob in his
shirt buttoned up all the way. He unbuttoned the top during the
Formation. His shirt was a shimmering gold; Larry and Charlie wore white
shirts. Unfortunately I couldn't see past his waist, so I couldn't check
out his leg movements.
Review by Bill Mountford
A curious crowd gathered at Princeton University's ancient and storied
gymnasium to see a certain ancient and storied Columbia Recording artist.
Well, ancient perhaps, but still vital and also current. Many of the fans
were Dylan first-timers, which explains the delight during "Tangled",
"Rolling Stone", "Watchtower", "Times Changin'", "Blowin' in the Wind",
etc., but the most interesting moments occurred elsewhere.
During "My Back Pages", it appeared that Dylan glanced toward the Board of
Trustees, who sat above the crowd in a (circa 1950) "luxury suite". Noted
alum and former Senator Bill Bradley was among this crowd of Suits And Ties.
Thirty-five years earlier, Mr. Bradley led an undersized and underdog
Princeton basketball team to the NCAA Final Four, and definitely owned that
very gymnasium. The polite applause offered by the Suits And Ties served
as a reminder that they are closer to Dylan's age than the swaying kids who
jammed forward near the stage. Aaaah but I was sooo much older then, I'm
younger than that now…
"The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" served further reminder that
Dylan remains an outsider on the inside. Or, perhaps, it is an insider to
those on the outside. Take your pick, Frankie Boy, my loss will be your gain…
Anyway, he'll gladly perform for you, but that's about it. The moral of the
story, the moral of this song, is simply that one should never be where one
does not belong.
"Searching for a Soldiers Grave" is a genuine delight. It is apparent during
this song just how much Dylan enjoys performing with a band. When Charlie
and Larry enthusiastically join the leader during the chorus, it faintly
resembles the camaraderie of The E Street Band (this performance was, after
all, in Bruce country).
Me, oh my. Love that "Country Pie". While many of the Princeton students
went on-line to prepare for what songs to expect, giving careful consideration
to past set lists, etc., it did not mean that they knew the songs. The sign
of a great band is the ability to ride into a different town each night and
blow the crowd away with a performance of material they are largely unfamiliar
with. I'm not sure Bob and his Boys did this but…
During "Blind Willie McTell", there was definitely a palpable rumbling murmur.
This song is pretty good… really good… this song is great... What song is
this?… It's unbelievable!… Some people knew, but even those who didn't were
duly impressed. A certain hip member of the faculty, Professor Wilentz (who
sat with the Suits And Ties wearing a pair of "Infidels" shades), was
certainly well aware of "Blind Willie McTell", although most of the other
Suits And Ties appeared to be patiently waiting for "Blowin' in the Wind".
Every Dylan show has some magical moments. Watching Dylan shakin' his left
leg during "Desolation Row" got the crowd whirlin' a bit. He looked like a
1950's Minnesota schoolboy imitating Elvis Presley. During "Highway 61
Revisited" when he lifted his Fender Stratocaster up near the microphone as
though he were trying to create even more sound, he looked vaguely like a
folk singer from Gerde's Folk City from nearly forty years ago trying to be
heard. Surprisingly, "The Times They Are A-Changin'" still resonated. Given
the disturbing political climate of the past few weeks, this anthem no longer
sounded like an echo. Come Senators and Congressmen, pleeeaaase hear the call…
The coolest moment of the show was the final one, however. After finishing
"Blowin' in the Wind" as the final encore, like conquering troubadours Bob and
his Boys predictably stood defiantly still and stared toward the crowd for a
long minute. No movement, no waving, nothing but blank stares. WELL WHAT
DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? WE'RE A PRETTY GOOD BAND, AREN'T WE?
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