Review by Peter Stone Brown
For those who have eyes and those who have ears Bob Dylan and his band
conquered the Spectrum tonight in a show that never let up for a second
from start to finish. The introductory music started at 8:59 and Dylan
and band took the darkened stage and shook it with the debut of "The
Levee's Gonna Break. In a rendition that made the album version tame by
comparison with Donnie Herron on electric mandolin, Dylan just nailed it.
There was no getting the voice in shape warm up, he was roaring, and at
the song's end on the final few notes the keyboard sound was that of a
piano. With barely a break the band then jumped right into "Just Like Tom
Thumb's Blues," and it seemed that Dylan didn't even wait for the intro to
end before he started signing. It was a version startling in its urgency
and its energy topped for by an extended harp solo.
Donnie Herron and just enough to pick up the banjo and they were into a
fierce "Highwater," that featured both a lyric change, "I'm preachin' the
word of God/ I'll open up your eyes," and this amazing jam interlude where
Herron, Dylan and Freeman found this one groove and this one riff and were
totally in sync playing together and taking it as far as it could go.
This was followed by a simply gorgeous version of "To Ramona," where not a
note was out of place. "Rollin' and Tumblin' " followed with Denny
playing slide on a blue Denny with Stu Kimball on a black Strat and Donnie
again on electric mandolin and Dylan totally focused on how and what he
For the next song Kimball picked up his acoustic and started strumming
alone with Dylan on harp. Dylan played a few bars and started walking
back to an anvil case which held the harps and the Oscar statue, switched
harps, Kimball kept strumming a sixties style Dylan rhythm with Dylan
playing harp and thus began a version of "Desolation Row" that was
amazing. Not only was Dylan again nailing the vocal with fierce intensity
-- the way he sang, "The good Samaritan, he's dressing, he's getting ready
for the SHOW," seemed to summon all the deep and dark evil spirits lurking
in the crevices and cabinets of the songs landscape - the interplay
between the musicians was intense. Donnie Herron had been coloring the
song with subtle yet intricate mandolin riffs, but on this sing his role
in this band became very apparent. His focus is totally on Dylan what
Dylan is playing. His job is to pick up whatever riff Dylan might come
across on the keys, then start duplicating it and transmit it to the rest
of the band. And when it works as it was the entire night, he and Dylan
are totally in sync with each other. Denny Freeman who'd been playing
brilliantly all night contributed a with a Steve Cropper-esque guitar solo
followed by another great harp solo.
A very funky version of "Most Likely You Go Your Way came next," with
Denny sounding like a combination of Roy Nichols and Robbie Robertson,
while Dylan toyed with the lyrics. At one point I could swear he sang,
"You say you're tired and you're always wired, but you know sometimes you
Then came an incredibly spooky version of "Hollis Brown," which was the
very first song Dylan performed in this venue when he returned to touring
almost 33 years ago. While that version rocked hard, this version was all
about sustained tension, with the two guitars acoustic, with Denny playing
slide. Just as you thought the song was about to end, Dylan reprised the
final line followed by a final few chords that even though the guitars
were acoustic were as hard and heavy as anything played the entire night.
Then it was back into overdrive for "Highway 61 Revisited," followed by a
"Spirit on the Water" that was at once loose, and slyly sharp with Dylan
have talking, having singing, almost deadpanning the vocal, giving the
song a new meaning. When it came to the do you think I'm over the hill,
the line, the audience shouted back, "No!"
"Tangled Up In Blue" was perfect with more excellent guitar from Freeman
and led into another exquisite version of "Nettie Moore." This song truly
displays the strengths of this band because the structure of the song is
so precise. Mainly based around Kimball's finger picking colored by
Herron's viola, Freeman, Garnier and Receli, and Receli actually is
playing a far more intricate pattern, on top of the incessant thumping of
the kick drum. On top of this Dylan sang beyond the bounds of passion and
as he did at the Meadowlands, almost sang a harmony part on the chorus It
The band and Dylan pulled out all the stops on "Summer Days" and simply
had a blast. There were broad smiles all around especially on the
instrumentals, especially near the end where they again found one riff to
work off and took it as far as they could.
"Thunder On The Mountain" picked up where "Summer Days left off, in a
perfect version and again Dylan sang both "Like A Rolling Stone" and "All
Along The Watchtower" with energy and commitment and both featured superb
solos by Freeman and final jam where the sound seemed larger than the
instruments being played onstage.
Meeting up with friends who sat elsewhere during the show, everyone asked
the same question, "Was that as great as I thought it was?" The answer
Review by Craig S.
Not a song by song review, just the highlights. What a shock, starting out
hearing, "If it keeps on raining, the levee's gonna break". Arrangement
very close to the CD. Next Just like Tom Thumb's Blues, guess there were
a lot of New Yorkers here tonight. High Water for Charlie Patton, with
mando and banjo. Keyboard solo at the end. At the end of For Ramona,
Bob had to do finish with a harmonica solo. This version is clear and sweet.
After these, Bob became more warmed up. Rollin and Tumblin had the
same slide lead as the CD, but with a slightly alternate lead at times. This
song rocks, it is great in concert. On Desolation Row he said, ,"you better
hurry up and leave". Not that different for most, I guess. On Most Likely
You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine), Dylan's voice lost 30 years somehow,
and sounded quite youthful. This melody may be right for his current voice.
On Tangled, instead of the mando we hear the pedal steel, very interesting
move. Working nite and day while his mind just slipped away. Wow,
version # 4? Spirit is just unbelievable live. Nettie Moore so much better live.
Sweet and beautiful. Harmonica solos tonight were similar to that from Spirit
on the CD. Hitting a few notes over and over, with more force as he goes
on. Gets us all out of breath. Thunder on the Mountain was album like.
Surprisingly Clear Like a Rolling Stone, with feeling. How could that be? We
all miss Larry C., but between George and Tony, the balance is there. No
interesting lead guitar except for Spirit and Summer Days. Looks like Dylan
loves the new material, and the crowd knew it. The pedal steel, played on
so many songs, is really effective. Nobody should miss the rest of the tour.
That leaves Monday night, for those who have missed it. Bob finally looked
at the audience during Highway 61, he was pointing at us. And almost
acknowledged us before Watchtower. Almost............
Review by Birdman
Yessir, a fine… mild… for November evening…get it? First off, the Raconteurs
were awesome…great new twist for the White Stripe lovers in the crowd, and
they were up to the job tonight. Their drummer is likely one of the best in the
business tonight….Powerful leadership of the band, where everyone did their job.
Great opening acts are a Dylan Trademark it seems, I wonder if there's a waiting
list to open for the Little Fella…? Probably so, don't ya think.
Well, on with the scribble, First tune, and the first live airing of When The Levees
Gonna Break…completely re/worked from the albums version, much livelier
tonight….then High Water was the first highlight of the night for me…frankly
Ramona was a drag…especially the band and Bob…it's rare when these things
happen folks, but they do, and it's my job to point it out…so there, Bob, a little
smack on the wrist for the professional ineptitude of Ramona… you made up for
it with a Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid sounding 'Desolation Row'…right after Rollin
and Tumblin'…back to back candy.
Bob slipped into some 'up singing on Hollis Brown and it worked…, then Highway 61
jettisoned everyone in the medium sized venue across the Universe, we time
traveled on that one Bob…hey, it's what they came to Philly to do, right? knock
the crowd on its collective ass and say, "see ya next time suckers!"…Now wait a
minute, would Bob say such a thing…well, I wouldn't think so, but then again, he
squeezed one more gig after tonight's original 'last show of the current tour'….that
pissed me off because I felt cheated out of something, even if it was only the end
of something…it was significant.
Besides, from Forest Hill, Maryland, I'd rather ride to Philly than D.C. and Fairfax.,
Virginia… getting into town was a breeze and my son took me to a place Greg Dulli
turned him on to and I experienced my first Wiz steak and cheese with provolone
and onions …at Geno's . My first real Philly Cheese steak was the best I've ever
tasted…finally at 67 I get to tackle a true original.
Spirit On The Water was good; Tangled Up In Blue, the Ultimate Break Up Song
was great…then Nettie Moore, even better. Summer Days was the most
animated song of the evening.
Encores…always fitting and perfect endings…for a short song, Watchtower always
carries me farther and farther each time I hear it…yes, the Wildcat did growl
tonight…Mr. Bob and his band of fine musicians were here to play and not just for
the ride…Not the best show ever, but far and away one of the best, mixing new
material and tried and true material…making this show unusual and
mysterious…they succeeded in satiating the crowd who carried good vigor
crossing the parking lot this balmy November evening….a good time was
had by all…
Review by Howard Weiner
Back in 1985 I saw the Grateful Dead at the Philly Spectrum,
Brendan Byrne Arena, Portland’s Cumberland County Civic Center and
the Nassau Coliseum. It’s hard to believe that 21 years later I’ve
just seen Dylan on tour at these same venues. The same Bob Dylan
who had already established himself as the most important artist
of his time before the Grateful Dead came into existence. Over the
years, the names of some of these venues have changed, but the
relevance of Dylan’s music hasn’t.
Senor Dylan greeted Philadelphia with When the Levee Breaks as the
opening number of the night. The rest was gravy. That was the last
thing on anyone’s mind as he took his place behind his tiny
keyboards. It was a great thrill seeing the debut of my favorite
Dylan blues revamp from Modern Times. Dylan and the band smoked
this one for all it was worth. It’ll be interesting to see if Bob
starts playing this a lot or he keeps it for special occasions. I’d
love to see this replace Summer Days as the set closer. With Bob
heading to the heart of NYC for the tour finale, Just like Tom
Thumbs Blues was nice to hear after the levee broke.
Dylan had his same back top hat-black suit appearance with a grey
tie. The band was tough to look at dressed in these awful looking
brown suits. Luckily for the drummer, he didn’t have to don one of
these eye sores. I’d also like to thank the people who paid for the
amazing seats my friends and I sat in all night which were located
stage left with a scintillating view of Dylan. High Water followed
as Dylan plunked-down an interesting solo that reminded me of the
type of music that you might hear at a Philadelphia Flyers game. On
this fourth consecutive night of performing at the end of a tour,
Dylan was energized, but his mates seemed a little flat. I don’t
have a strong predilection for these new renditions of To Ramona,
but this one was enjoyable. Thanks to Dylan’s organ which dominated
the sound, I couldn’t get skating rinks out of my brain. I was
envisioning Kristi Yamaguchi doing triple toe-loops as To Ramona
Rollin’ and Tumblin’ in the fifth spot had the place hoppin’. The
outstanding set list continued with a fine Desolation Row. It
wasn’t as lengthy or Majestic as the version from Portland nine
days earlier, but it still was delightful. Most Likely You Go Your
Way had a nice romping feel to it as Bob continued to show devotion
to his mid 60’s classics. The Ballad of Hollis Brown caught us off
guard- it was one of the highlights of the night. A laid-back
musical accompaniment gave Hollis a different feeling. Dylan
recited the words thoughtfully- it was less brooding and dark than
usual. Dylan and the band jumped on Highway 61 for a quick jaunt.
This jamless excursion was probably the result of road weariness.
To avoid redundancy, songs 10-16 played out the way I’ve described
them in my three previous reviews with the exception of Nettie
Moore. Dylan’s vocals are getting sweeter with each passing
version. My new favorite lines from this song are, “I got a pile of sins
to pay for and I aint got time to hide/ I’d walk through a blazing fire
baby if knew you was on the other side.” Why is he walking through
a blazing fire, shouldn’t he at least be jogging?
In summation, it was another gem of a concert, perhaps not as
energized as Thursday in East Rutherford. I like what Bob’s been
doing this tour when he and the band receive their final ovation
after Watchtower. Bob exits by himself stage left while his mates
leave stage right. It looks like Dylan’s headed to the VIP party and
his Cowboy Band is headed to Denny’s for a grand slam breakfast. The
Raconteurs made quite a racket as the opening band. I’m no spring
chicken, but I’m not an old coot who can’t handle some loud
rock-and-roll. These guys repelled me. I’ve heard some people
compare them to Led Zeppelin, but in my best Lloyd Bentson, “I’ve
heard Led Zeppelin and the Raconteurs are no Led Zep my friends.”
Bring back Merle and his cowboy band, please!
Dylan has prepared for this tour like Vince Lombardi. Vince has his
own rest area on the NJ Turnpike just like Joyce Kilmer and Molly
Pitcher. Maybe one day the Jersey authorities will honor Tony
Garnier for his 17 plus years of service to the NET. Anyway,
Dylan’s show is meeting the needs of all the paying customers-
casual fans are getting the big hits, 60’s lovers are getting their
fill, he’s representing Modern Times adequately and the Bobcats are
getting their rarities. Each concert has something distinctive-
makes you wanna come back for more. Bob has a well deserved night
off on the 19th. Rest well Mr. Tambourine Man, cause on Monday I’ll
come following you.
Review by Cincinatus
When I awoke Saturday morning, I printed the lyrics to Desolation Row, and
sang them. My wife scowed, my cats yawned, and out of breath, I asked my
wife, how does he do it night in and night out throughout the world at his age?
My wife, the pearl of wisdom that she is, told me that she read where Bob
Dylan and the legendary author Henry Miller once played ping pong together
in Henry's Big Sur retreat. Neither talked too much about writing that
evening. Her point, don't think too much, just enjoy the show....
Arriving at the show, I awaited fellow travellers at the Will Call office
to pick up our tickets. There, I met a most interesting Philadelphia
Ticket broker and good fella, who told terrific stories. The most
interesting was how he once scalped tickets to the Pope's visit to the now
destroyed JFK stadium. Only in Philadelphia...The cops stayed warm in
cars, as the throngs of people multiplied, some breaking the law and some
remaining outside the law.
After we picked up our tickets, we watched with delight how Michigan beat
the point spread. My wife's words of wisdom hit me when a man with a
manicured beard and a dose of petuli oil discussed the significance of the
Eye of Horus. It' makes a nice souvenir, I thought. Just enjoy the
show....and onto the show.
The Raconteurs were disburbingly rocking as the crowd filled their seats.
Highlights included Bang Bang and a song with the refrain Blue Vain.
Unfortnately, I am unsure if this is the actual title of the song.
We settled in for Bob and Band. I will not provide a play by play because
I think it's all great. I will provide highlights though. The opener,
Bob's voice, " If it keeps on rainin' the levee's gonna
breakkkkk"....superb vocal and a tight as you get band. The conclusion
of Tom Thumb,... each night of the tour crept through with the final
line...To Ramona, it sounded Tex Mex...beutiful with a soulful harmonica
solo. I thought of the Late freddie Fender and still do not know why.
Desolation Row...could'nt believe it...From my shower to the spectrum....I
was enjoying the show. Hollis Brown, the highlight for me of the
meeting....Bob would not let the lyric go...Love the rift of Spirit on the
Water, Love the change of pace...waiting to exhale. Nettie More superb,
Donnie's fiddle playing haunting....
Lastly, I really enjoyed the encores, each played to attempted
When I left into the brisk evening, I bought some soft Philly pretzels
from a shivering salemans, He asked if I'd enjoyed the show...I
answered "yes" as the mustard stained my worn out Levi's. " Perfection is
in the eye of the Beholder" he replied. Now I would have to think about
Review byDan Vitantonio
The Phila. show was not quite as spectacular as the Fairfax, Va. show the
night before, but was still a very good concert.
1. Levee's Gonna Break - B. He performed this quite well, and got into it,
though it is not much of an interesting song and didn't do all that much
as an opener. There isn't much "punch" to the song, it didn't have the
same effect as Cat's In The Well (or Maggie's Farm), but it was good to
hear (though it makes sense that he does not choose this from the Modern
Times list to play very often - in fact tonight may have been the first
appearance of the song).
2. Tom Thumb's Blues - B-. I was very happy to see him perform this (!),
but tonight's performance in particular seemed a little scattered and
disorganized. I actually thought of this song as one that would sound good
with the current band and style of performance, so I think that tonight
was just an off-night. Still, it's a classic, and seeing it live was a
treat, plus Dylan redeemed himself with an absolutely stellar harmonica
solo at the end!
3. High Water - B. Similar to the previous night's performance but was a
but scattered, and he didnt have as much volume to his voice. Still the
arrangement was great.
4. To Ramona - A-. NICE! Very slow and melodic music by the band, and
there were parts of the song where Dylan was speaking the lyrics -
reminiscent of a younger Dylan style. Good harmonica work here too. What a
nice song! Could have used a little more range with the voice. He didnt
seem to be totally "on" with the vocals tonight, last night his voice had
much more volume and was more consistent.
5. Rollin' and Tumbin' - B+. Nice, fast arrangement of this, it started
out REALLY cool with Dylan poignantly emphasizing the phrase "some young
lazy slllllutt has chimed awayyyyy ma' brains". This was also played in
Fairfax, and sounded a bit better here (though the arrangement was the
6. Desolation Row - B. One of the all time greats! Great fun to see this
performed!! He went through the entire song and got the lyrics dead on,
and played nice harmonica at the end. But this, unfortunately, was not as
good a performance as it could have been, especially since he was fumbling
around with harmonicas at the beginning and just dived right into the
first verse without any indication to the band that he was starting, so it
was kind of disorganized. Also, there were parts where he sang in a very
repetative tone - each verse following the exact same cadence for like 10
or so verses... sounded a little weird. But whatever, it was Bob Dylan
performing Desolation Row!
7. Most Likelt You'll Go Your Way... - C-. Played in Fairfax, not
particularly well, sounded almost exactly the same tonight. I don't think
this song suits his vocal range, he didnt seem to be hitting some of the
notes, and this happened both nights in a row. The melody he was trying to
sing wasnt consistent and did not really follow with the music the band
8. Hollis Brown - B+. Very cool arrangement of this! Someone mentioned
"spooky" - that's accurate. Acoustic sound here, with Dylan spitting out
the lyrics in a low register similar to the way he did "Boots of Spanish
Leather" in Fairfax, however it did start to sound a little repetative
after a while, and was not entirely captivating.
9. Highway 61 - A. Great, he nails this one every time. In fairfax it was
the closer, which I though was a great spot for it.
10. Spirit... - A+! Best performance of the night! Great singing, and more
from the steel guitar than on the album, or than the previous night's
performance for that matter. Good harmonica at the end.
11. Tangled Up in Blue - A. This is a good staple song for his setlist. He
does a great performance of it, similar to the album version but more
electric guitar. Good use of vocal range.
12. Nettie Moore - A. Beautiful song, performed true to the original
version. Sang it a little higher in the chorus, which was nice.
13. Summer Days - A. Very well done. Same arrangement as usual. High
14. Thunder - B+... didn't seem to have as much energy as last night, he
seemed tired at this point and looked like he was going through the
motions. For some reason they unveil that creepy eye backdrop at the start
of this song - i dont know what that thing is all about. It was still good
15. Rolling Stone - B. OK. He could try doing another song, though.
16. Watchtower - F. Terrible. He REALLY needs to get away from this song
for a while.
Review by Eamon Tisdall
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, back your bags and
head downtown cause the man is coming around. After a ride
down the Broad Street subway, we popped out into the street
to see the circus in full flight, fans of all ages buzzing
with anticipation. Found our seats (in the press box!) and
watched the Raconteurs-who despite having a great name were
not really my cup of tea. Had their moments, some pretty
songs, but too much instrumental "experiemntation" that
after awhile just sounded like glorified noise.
Outside at the break to smoke cigarettes and bask in the
Dylan lover camaraderie, helped along by a few "special"
cigarettes if I can disclose that in the hallowed pages of
Boblinks. Back inside and to our seats just as the intro
music started up and it was the poet laureate of a
generation Columbia Recording Artist BOB DYLAN, blasting
onstage with a rolling "The Levees Gonna Break" to a
Spectrum as packed and energized as it was back inn 74 with
the Band. I saw Dylan across the street at the Wachovia
Center in 02 and it was FAR from packed-this was the most
energy I have seen at a big arena Dylan show in years, and
engaged energy-the crowd was familiar with and appreciative
of the new songs. Clearly Modern Times has brought Dylan
back to the fore with a lot of people, and he seems to be
enjoying something of a latelife performing heyday as well.
Just as when I saw him this summer at Reading, he clearly
loved being on stage playing and singing the songs he loves.
OK-so after the well received opener it is deep into the
well-Tom Thumb's Blues, one of my favorites. Dylan sang it
with soul and care and it came alive again, 41 years after
its birth. At tthis point I knew we were in for a great
show. Things have changed with Bob-the songs don't all sound
the same anymore, there is a new energy and cohesion and
commitment to the music. Three times in recent years I have
Dylan sparkle-in 03 at the Trocadero, in August in Reading,
and Saturday night. Two in a row is a hot streak. After the
lyrics Bob turned in his first harp solo of the night, which
built two an ecstatic crescendo-again last night, as in
Reading in August, the mark of a special song was often
Bob's harp solo.
After Tom Thumb's the band burst into an especially spirited
version of a live standard of recent years, High Water-Dylan
switching up the lyrics a bit, "I'm preaching the word of
God, I'll open up your eyes"-and the man was in control of
this number, singing it with all the prophetic fire it
deserves. Dylan-dressed impeccably as always-seemed very
spirited, lots of fun little flourishes on the piano and
dancing moves from his tiny little legs. High Water rocked.
Then it was another gift-To Ramona-another all time favorite
Dylan song, one I had never heard life. I couldn't believe
my ears when it started. And the performance was more than
worthy. Dylan mourfully cried out the acingly beautiful
words of one of his finest and most subtle love songs-again,
it must be mentioned the gift that Dylan gives us by
continuing to inhabit his songs so deeply-he can still give
them to us from deep inside of him, fresh incantations of
old prayers not a soulless greatest hits review. This one
was topped by another gorgeous turn at the harmonica and a
great big thank you from the crowd, at this point aware that
it was getting a treat on this night.
Back to Modern Times for a rocking and well received Rolling
and Tumbling. Not too much to say about this one except
that it had great energy and came across fantastically live,
and that it was very well received by the audience, again
proving itself well versed in Modern Times.
From Modern Times to timelessness and Desolation Row,
another great gift from the canon lovingly delivered. 40
years later Bob is still peeking into Desolation Row and I
thrilled to peer over his shoulder. When you take in a
performance like this its hard not to think you're in the
presence of a seer. The power of one man's voice can be
trule overwhelming, even in a packed old hockey arena.
Staying in mid 60's with Most Likely You Go Your Way....not
one of the evenings highlights but still great to hear, Bob
messed with the lyrics, didn't sing my favorite stana-
sometimes it gets so hard to care, etc-at least that I could
Even further back with another gem....Hollis Brown. I saw
this done ten feet away from Bob at the Trocadero and this
version couldn't top that, but it was beautifully done. The
band played with a stately precision and the tension was
achingly sustained until the lasst line-somewhere in the
distance there's seven new people born-which was sung twice,
reemphasized, as if to make clear the overriding message
that some form of hope does spring eternal, with death
comes life which makes the song so powerful. One of Bob's
finest singing performances of the nights, quietly chilling.
The set moved into its final phase with an absolutely
inspired Highway 61, a live staple that sometimes lacks its
kick but had it in force Saturday night. They messed with
the chorus a bit to great effect.
Then the Modern Times highlight of the night, Spirit on the
Water, an instant live classic that Bob and the audience
both loved. Great fun when he sang "think I'm over the hill"-
no way bob!-"think I'm past my prime"-uh uh!-"...we could
have a rocking good time"-great goes crazy.
Spirited Tangled Up In Blue, another staple that has
regained its life lately, followed by one of my favorite
songs from Modern Times, Nettie moore. Unfortunately there
was movement in my section during this song so I was unable
to give it the undivided reverential attention I desired,
but I still felt the impact of another new song that is
cleary extremely effective life-it will be a kick to watch
these songs develop over the years. isappointed to have
missed When the Deal Goes Down and Workingman's Blues but
you can't win em all.
Set ended with the rave up of Summer Days-nothing more to be
said with this one than we are a kick ass cowboy band and we
can do Saturday night in style.
Encores were standard, again notable for the renewed
commitment Bob seems to have to his staples-LARS and
Watchtower are most definitely not retreads live right now.
Then my faorite part of the night, when Bob and band face
the crowd, bathed in light. The packed house screamed back
its adulation, and then the best damn song and dance man in
the business disappeared into the darkness. Come back soon
Bob-I'll go wherever you wanna take me, any night
Review by Silvio D.
Amazing show Saturday night. This is the first time I have seen Dylan
with this band lineup. Although this group does not quite match the
aural punch and all out rocking of the Campbell/Sexton/Garnier/Kemper
lineup, this is a great band with a sweet sound that is full of modalities
and subtleties. It is a more "mellow" Dylan that we get now, in keeping
with the new album, but I think that's just right. The way this group
plays allows Dylan's time- and road-weathered voice to be heard: and on
this night it sure was. Except for a few songs where it seemed a bit lost
in the mix ("Most likely.", and some of "Rollin' and Tumblin' "), his
voice was clear as a bell and full of emotion. He poured his heart into
every song and it was very moving.
For me there is always one song at every Dylan concert that is just about
perfect and afterwards marks that concert in my memory. This time around
there were at least three: first was the opening "The Levee's Gonna
Break", where Bob and the band came out with all guns blazing: I knew it
was going to be a special night. There was also the chilling and haunting
version of "Hollis Brown", the best I have heard him do, with each word
enunciated and clear: you could almost hear the cold coyote's call echoing
through the bare concrete of the Spectrum. Then came the stunningly
beautiful "Nettie Moore" which, after hearing "Spirit on the Water", I
thought we were not going to get. It was, note for note and word for
word, a marvel, and made my night. It should serve as an example to any
touring band on how to get a song across.
As Dylan continues to tour through his sixties, one thing is becoming very
clear to me: he will continue to find a way to play his music live and
make it work. As we probably all have, I had started to think "Man, his
voice is really going, how's he going to keep pulling this off?". Well,
Saturday evening he gave me the answer. Dylan has always surrounded
himself with superior musicians, both in the studio and on stage. Now
that his voice - and maybe even his guitar hands - have lost a few steps
to time, that unerring instinct becomes even more important. On Saturday
he showed me that he still knows exactly what to do and who to bring along
in order to get his songs out loud and clear. Bob, to quote another great
stage performer who you admire, "long may you run".
Review by Stephen Trageser
I've been a fan for 32 years, give or take. Took me a while to warm up to
him; because it definitely was not love at first listen. Didn't see what
the big fuss was about. After all, he's kind of cranky, aloof, a snarky
wise-ass at times (wait..that could be me!) And that voice; definitely an
acquired taste. But like so many others that we later find are so well
worth getting to know, he grew on me. It sure helped that my best friend
had the classic albums. Then another friend gave me a promo copy of
Highway 61 "borrowed" from a radio station he worked at that was going
from progressive to country, and voila, like Sinatra in Man With The
Golden Arm, I was hooked. I waited in vain for the Rolling Thunder Review
to touch down in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Finally, he showed up 3 years
late(r) with a full gospel choir in tow, performing Slow Train Running in
total, but little else. A mixed blessing for sure; the music was
excellent, but it wasn't what I came to hear. I'm not looking for
sympathy, but "Lord knows I paid some dues coming through...." (at least
on that night I can tell you.) Anyway, I moved to Philly, and was rewarded
with seeing Bob do the old favorites at the Spectrum in 1981. (First
concert I went to where I could buy beer and I took full advantage of the
opportunity, thank you very much.) Was Al Kooper in that band? I read
something where he said he was, and it was he who persuaded Bob to play
the old favorites during the Shot of Love tour. Wasn't expecting that, but
what a nice surprise. I know Fred Tackett and Tim Drummond were there for
sure. My most vivid memory of that night however was, and please don't
laugh, an overpowering version of In the Garden. Yes, I am a believer, but
frankly it was a lot more of a rock 'n roll, rather than a spiritual
experience (I had half a load on you see.) Anyway, Bob and his band were
playing their asses off and the music just kept getting louder and louder,
and the rhythm, lead, and bass guitars were perfectly in synch and then I
had what you might call an "out-of body experience. " Not a loss of
bodily funct ions, (thank God) or an orgasm (if you must know,) but
fucking awesome just the same. And ever since then, at some point during
nearly every Bob Dylan concert I've attended, there's been this point in
the evening where he takes me someplace where I wasn't expecting to go,
someplace cool, and at the same time the opposite of cool, someplace that
I know when I'm there because I can feel it right behind my eyelids,
where it might ges a little moist at times. Such as when 20 years later,
I saw Bob again at the Spectrum not long after that day of national
tragedy when, having been dismissed from work early, I made a beeline for
Best Buy to grab Love and Theft, because you know, I have my priorities
in order. The song this time was Tangled Up In Blue. That was the last
night I saw Bob play guitar, trading lines with Larry and Charlie, and
that was also when it happened again most memorably for me. Had no booze
or drugs that night, or at least nothing stronger than second-hand smoke,
anyway, but the feeling couldn't have been better. Now it's 2006 and we're
back at the Spectrum (or as my wife affectionately calls it "The
Rectum.")Sure it's dumpy, a second banana, a little worse for wear, and
over-the-hill, but aren't we all? It ain't so bad. It has character , as
they say. The perfect place to see a mainstream musician with a cult-like
following. The Raconteurs opened with an impressive set of hard rock,
nearly an hour's worth too, that was very well received by the partisan
Dylan crowd. The highlight was a stunning version of Bang Bang (He Shot Me
Down,) that cheesy Sonny and Cher song from the '60s with the hooks that
get stuck in your brain, for which we can thank/blame Quentin Tarantino
for unearthing for the soundtrack of Kill Bill (Part1.) It was my first
direct exposure to Jack White (another guy I used to think was over-rated,
but now, I can't find the right superlatives to desribe.) The rest of the
band, especially the "other" guitarist, were no sloaches either. Whereas
most opening acts get a tepid, or polite response, these guys got a
well-deserved standing ovation. And I love it when the opener goes over
well because IF there just might be a feeling of competitiveness by the
headliner (What?Competition in the music industry!? Never!) the house
always wins. Let it be said that everyone who was there Saturday night
went home a winner, bcause whatever the reason (and it just could be
bcause they're great every freak'in night) but Bob Dylan and his band put
on a performance that was second to none. There were many highlights, but
Most Likely You Go Your Way, Highway 61, and no surprise, Tangled Up In
Blue were as good as they ever get. So at least 3 times that night I was
tranported to that cool/uncool place.Not bad at all. Bob's voice was in
fine form, and generally distinct throughout the evening. Whenever he
played the mouth harp (his voice that's never changed) it was moving,
musical, and a genuine treat. His keybord playing was also more distinct
than I can ever remember it being. Overall, the sound quality was
excellent, the song selection and pacing just right, and the playing -
what a great, great band! It's okay if you still miss so, and so, from
years gone by; I do too. But don't take anything away from these guys -
they can rock, swing, bop, and play with the best of them. I don't know
if anybody cares, but from my seat, I was able to see that Bob had what
appeared to be the song lyrics positioned behind his keyboard laying on
what looked like a spare pedal steel guitar. I'm always in awe of the fact
that he can deliver the lyrics night after night with barely a flub ( but
with sometimes a new wrinkle here and there.) In any event, I'm now doubly
impressed that at age 66 he can even see the lyrics from what must be
close to 3 feet away. I know I couldn't.
God bless Bob, thanks for your never-ending tour,and hope to see him
again real soon.
Review by Michael Perlin
It had been 15 months between Bob concerts for me – an eternity! I always
look forward to them, but I had high hopes that this would be special –
the guarantee of adding several never-heard-before-by-me-in-person songs
to my Bob lifelist, the quality of the reports I had been getting from
friends who had seen him earlier on this tour ("Michael! No more
upsinging!"), our daughter Julie's glowing review from when she saw him in
California last month (the first San Francisco concert). Bottom line: we
(Linda (my wife), Julie [in for the holidays] and I) were not
disappointed. It was spectacular.
We were in the 10th row on the floor, dead center, at the Spectrum, the
ghost of electricity, no, I mean the ghost of Dr J dunking from the foul
line floating above us. We had just about given up on big venue concerts
(the 03 debacle w Petty at the Garden State Arts Center being the most
recent awful memory), but, Linda was on line at 10:00.01 on the first day
that pre-sale tickets became available, and these seats were offered. Wow!
If I were to go back and think about my other favorite recent
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