Amherst, Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts Amherst
Mullins Center

November 19, 2010

[Dan Fleming], [CSK]

Review by Dan Fleming

I caught the shows at UMass Amherst and UMass Lowell this weekend - it's
a great time to be a Dylan fan! Here are a couple comments:   I thought 
this was a really strong show. I was about 10 rows back from the
stage, and the crowd around me was really into it, which enhanced my
experience.   There were a lot of high points to this show, but here are
some that really stuck with me:   The tandem of "Can't Wait" followed by
"Tweedle Dee" was really effective. The band really cooked on these, and
the songs had a down-and-dirty, swampy feel. The low lighting also
contributed to this effect. I'm a big fan of George's playing, and the
drum beats really made these songs cook. I caught the following night's
show in Lowell, when they again played "Tweedle Dee" - the arrangement was
the same, but it didn't work as well for me as when it had the "Can't
Wait" lead-in.   Another highlight for me was "Tangled Up In
Blue". Another nice arrangement, and the band demonstrated their
versatility by giving this a lighter feel compared to the driving
roadhouse-band style that they frequently feature.   As expected, Dylan
did some really nice harp work, and there was nice interplay between him
and Charlie. I'm a big fan of Charlie's playing - maybe it was influenced
by my location in the hall, but I would have liked it if his soloing was
more up front in the mix - sometimes I could see his fingers playing
something intricate, but it didn't really come through the mix well. Also,
it would be nice if the band was allowed to stretch out a little more -
I'm not a big fan of jam bands, but I wish they would allow more
soloing/jamming space on a couple of the songs.    I forget which song it
was, but toward the end of the show (maybe "Highway 61") Tony did take a
few bars up front and it smoked.   But, those are minor points. I've been
fortunate enough to see Bob several times in my life, dating back to the
Rolling Thunder show at UNH, and several shows since 2001, and this was
one of my favorites.   



Review by CSK

Mullins Center was the scene of my all time favorite Bob show, in Fall
1999, when he was joined on stage by Phil Lesh, Warren Haynes and Jorma
Kaukonen, and played an unbelievable version of Highlands that had to be
seen/heard in person to be believed.

This would be my one and only show this year, last year having taken in
two shows in NYC where Bob was clearly energized by the return of Charlie
and the coming to life of the songs from the latest album leading to some
very good shows with a positive swirl of energy to them. Prior to that,
last saw Bob in Vancouver in 2008 while on another business trip, where he
had started his thing of guitar on one song, center stage on another,
behind the keyboard for another, sometimes mixing it up between songs, a
little kid in his artist's sandbox, mixing his paint, shaking it up as he
goes along, and that's exactly what he would do in Amherst as well. 

Bob does seem to have brought somewhat under control his throatiness -
using when he chooses his voice in a Waitsian manner, alternating this
with more tonal singing seemingly at will. Similarly, he has an abundance
of growing riches instrumentally, with his electronic mike working
wonders, and his keys and guitar work also being deployed with positive

4 major highlights of tonight's show would result from this intentional
mixed bag 

The opener - Gonna Change My Way of Thinking - a song I'd missed last
year, was redhot out of the box and very welcome indeed. Bob behind the
keys, the band's sound immediately revved up and an irresistible beat to

Shooting Star not one of the 4 highlights, but successful, with Bob up
front doing his on/off Waitsian thing, but his harmonica work towards the
end really launched the song.

Stuck Inside of Mobile - Bob signing in a low, consistent almost staccato
manner to good effect, but it is his guitar work that does the trick, and
so its 3 songs and 3 very different instruments and positions for Bob -
tha band spends the night turning constantly on a dime in the process

Spirit on the Water - an okay version with some slight extensions on the
jams with Bob back on keys for this song and the next, which was

a red hot Rollin' & Tumblin' - again, with the band changing style on a
dime - this one was Charlie's domain and well received, but only was a
lead up to the second major highlight

Tangled Up In Blue - Bob center stage, and crooning/Waitsianing his heart
out to excellent effect - but it was his harmonica lead that really soared
- a fantastic version of a song that simply won't quit changing and
staying relevant - this one was worth the price of admission alone (as was
the opener) - and a great new lyric twist (was this new?) - not Heading
For Another Joint - this time, Trying To Stay Out of the Joint!

Honest With Me - slightly reworked but didn't really go anywhere, but
that's okay - maybe more life for this one down the road, but again a lead
up to higlight 3

Can't Wait - Bob center stage again, and belting out the words to great
effect, the band crisp and sharp behind him - fantastic

then a slightly reworked, trimmed down Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum - always
interesting to hear Bob spindle, fold and mutilate his songs, followed by
highlight 4

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - Bob seems to often pull this out when he
feels confident - this is one of those times, and he found new phrasings
that made the song soar, the climax sequence was wonderful - when he hits
this one right, its always a highlight

Highway 61 - good, always a crowd favorite

Workingman's Blues - and this working man started to get tired right here,
so started heading out mid song - it was a good one, but then as he
commenced into Thunder and I knew what was coming next, it was Highway 91
for me and the rest of the hour and a half on home.

Great to see Bob every once in a while - he is the ultimate true artist,
using his toolbox to maximum effect at the spur of the moment. One of the
great live performers of all time. Always a privilege to see him at work.


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