page by Bill Pagel
Review by Jason Polanski
The setlist tonight "on paper" was seemingly similar to a week ago in
Rochester, NY. Having seen that show and listened to it all week long in
great praise, I'm going to have to say that Amherst was a completely
different show. In fact, it's time to stop thinking of Bob Dylan shows in
terms of 14 songs and 2 encores. Those are "even" numbers. Tonight's show
was more odd than that.
The point of this show was the phrasing. Bob made every effort to dig into
every line with a passion of complete unexpectation. (well maybe not
TWEEDLE DEE, but oh well!). There were moments like on DIGNITY where he
would sing the line "to find Dignity" but broken up with a pause that was
for the ages to ponder. "To Find.......................ah, Dignity".
Bob just had a quote in "Rolling Stone" magazine about how he tries to hit
either the one or the three. He talked about this in the book too. I think
that throughout the night he was finding odd numbers that wouldn't exist
in the space of a rock and roll song. On STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE, there was
a point where the band finished the solo break, they went back to the
first chord of the verse and Bob didn't sing right away. Thought it would
be a second solo and then, he sings. Threw the band off. All of a sudden
everyone was on edge. This band is not playing with metronomes.
One more example is on ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER. Bob fiddled with a riff
on keyboard on the first verse which was picked up on by Stu. The
interesting part of this riff was that it doesn't belong in the famous
Am-G-F-G-Am pattern . It's quite possible that Tony was holding up that
foundation, but Bob was finding an alternate pattern, something that
seemed to exist between the lines. Also check out HONEST WITH ME. There
was a riff between the vocal lines that sounded very different. Almost
like the concept of cross harmonica. Finding notes that are part of a
different key and applying them to the key that the song are in.
And as far as the singing, some great lines. The last verse of MR.
TAMBOURINE MAN. The last verse of "Mobile". Showed off some tricks.
"Baaaaaaaabbbyyyblue" sounds like "bluuuuueeeeeesssssagain" sounds like
"gaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyguitar". Of course, according to Bob, he's looking for
emotional connections that have nothing to do with the words being said.
So the concert becomes a pattern of techniques, once again not, I think,
in the 16 song structure. I think about when I'm writing a letter and I
have certain emotions to choose from (smiley faces and variations of that
:) It's kind of like Bob has a punch of yellow faces to choose from and he
can pull any one out at any time no matter what the words are. Finding a
song within a song. Finding the space that exists between 1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4.
Finally, EVERY GRAIN OF SAND was absolutely beautiful. Bob was real daring
with the vocals. Singing in a range that I don't think I could get to with
my youthful vocal chords. He reached a point of high softness at times
that probably can't be repeated by anyone.
And I guess that's the point. It was actually his point. No one is doing
what he is doing. The concept of this band is not straight forward rock
and roll. And it's not the improvisation of the Grateful Dead either. It's
about finding a part of a song that does not exist on paper or song's
within songs. Sure, it's done in the context of songs we know, but there
seems to be so much more. I speak as a fan and a musician. I thank Bob for
a great year of music. Looks like he's recording, so he will most
certainly need to promote the album. Can't wait for 2005.
Review by Cary Krosinsky
great show tonight - hard to believe that Kingston was 3 days ago - that
was such a dud by comparison
every song was excellent tonight - yeah, who needed another Tweedle, but
the first 5 were very hot - Bob ended both Baby Blue and the improved
Tambourine Man with excellent harp solos - Maggie's Farm was cooking right
out of the box - who cares if you can predict it if its the goods -
Lonesome Day and Dignity were very solid
Po Boy was fabulous as was Every Grain of Sand - quintessential 2004
versions of each, not done better this year to my ears
Stuck Inside of Mobile was excellent - every song like this with a mid
song jam or two, the band was right on - Stu was especially on the ball
Standing In The Doorway, one I've longed to hear, was also excellent - on
this song and most others this night, Bob was trying different phrasing,
with anywhere from good to great success. When Bob is finding new, quality
vocal ground, that's what makes a show for me. Mixing 'wolfman' with
smooth delivery, he really was the master of his universe tonight.
Honest With Me was completely reworked and successful - sounded like it
was played in a different key - very nice.
He really seems to step it up in this area - Amherst 1999, the last time
he played Mullins Center, was a classic, and last year at next door
Northampton was top notch too.
Add Amherst 2004 to the list of shows you make sure you get to hear a
Review by Bill Wessling
Sully's eggs over easy with a side of polish music a break fast joint in
hadley, is were i sat collecting my thoughts from last nights happening.
nothing like good home cooking a great breakfast was needed after Bob
served up some great home cooking last night. I mean every grain of
sand, po boy, standing in the door way, all in one sitting, I ask what
other artist/musician would attempt and could pull off such great
numbers?. I took my two nieces Anna and Alyssa and their two boy friends,
now as i sit alone i wonder what the hell they thought of the show, i
never know what there thinking, i do know they loved the opening Maggie's
farm Dylan had his good Dylan voice, then they ditched me most likely to
find a smoke. Dylan must of saw the same sign we saw on the drive up for
the basketball hall of fame, i'm guessing he played dignity for pistol
pete. I read in chronicles that bob wrote it the day he heard pete had
passed away, did you know dignity 's never been photographed, I loved this
show it had a real layed back feel to it. one more thought i have is,
before every show i hear some one say bob's band is great it doesn't
matter what he sings like, but last night i was sitting there thinking ya
bob's band is great but some times his singing is so kick ass that not
even they can play up to the temp he sets. po boy ha !
Review by Bill T.
Ballad in Plain J: Jimi, Janis, Jim and Jerry
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all them prophets dead and gone
So now we have the reluctant prophet
remaining, by the name of Robert
Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan. Or, as one
well-put headline had it some years
ago: Just an Everyday Bob.
It was a strange feeling entering my
alma mater's reconstituted basketball
arena last night (Sat. Nov. 20) from the
gray November drizzle and the rain; as
if it were some half-empty antiseptic
movie theater: No beer, no smoking, and
oddly enough for a campus, no students,
just middle-agers such as myself, and
some offspring. By the way, do hippies
But at least we have Bob, who penned so
many anthems of liberation and protest:
Masters of War, Pawn in Their Game,
Blowin' in The Wind, With God on Our
Side. At least he's still out there:
winning a Grammy for Time Out of Mind,
hitting # 3 on the best seller's list
for Chronicles, gracing the cover of
Newsweek, having LIke a Rolling Stone
named best rock 'n' roll song of all
time. At least he survived past fellow
60s icons Jimi, Janis, Jim and Jerry.
Of course, you wouldn't know he had an
opinion if you went to one his shows.
He's a real Nowhere man; got no point
of view; knows not where he's going to;
isn't he a bit like me and you?
So enough of the navel-gazing, and on to
The first half was essentially rather lame, with
Zimmy, in his black duster and white shirt,
uglifying songs such as Maggie's Farm and Baby
Blue with a harsh, discordant, contradictory
By the way, does Bob have scoliosis? It sure
looked like it the way he was bending over the
keyboard all night, especially since you
couldn't hear one keyboard note.
Lonesome Day Blues had a sharp interlock jam
with Stu and Larry, while Tambourine Man was
teasingly gentle; yet Dylan spoke it, rather
than sang it.
I wouldn't have guessed Dignity to get things
going, but it was a turning poimt; with Stu and
Larry rocketing it off.
Kimball ripped up Tweedle Dee; it was a
For anyone who cares, It's All Right Ma was lost
in Dylan's fractured delivery
Then we get the rare treat of Every Grain of
Sand. Tony gently rumbles on bass. Don't that
suck, you secular humanists?
"Stuck inside of Mobile" was majestic,
seamless, seamlessly-circuititous . ( By the
way chicks and others who dig guys' looks,
Larry's got a goatee and black, dark brows)
"Hollis Brown" is like the song no punk
rocker could ever write: "Your wife's
screams is stabbin' you; your baby's brain
is bleedin'; your legs can't seem to stand
(sic). This was unbelievably ominous and
powerful, with George Recelli's drums
punctuating it with passion.
Honest with Me rocked while Dylan snarled
to good effect
Dylan should be run through a car wash for
his up-tempo treatment of Standing in the
Doorway; it sucks the life out of the song
Summer Days was a great romp-boogie; Stu
I didn't hear any introductions or jokes
before the Like A Rolling Stone encore. Had
to split to get home to a 4-month-old baby.
(You know how it is)
Review by Igor Jakovcevski
Amherst & Boston
WOW. Both shows were...WOW.
Bob's voice was totally great, the band was tight, not as exciting and
innovative as it used to be with Freddie or Charlie, but tight, playing
solid rock, following Bob's lead. These two concerts were keepers/sorry
for the folks who could not make it. Setlists: No surprises here, 'cept
for John Brown in Boston, and it was also surprisingly good, sounded
rehearsed, and Bob was fully focused on what the song meant. Crowd was
pretty quiet during that one, too. Absolute highlights (for me): 1. God
Knows. The band plays thunder as God speaks. Think "and the gods made
love" from the electric ladyland. think "God knows there's a river/God
knows how to make it flow/God knows you ain't gonna be taking nothing with
you when you goooooo". 2. Desolation Row. Anyone else notices how much
Bob's poetry gains with his great singing? I think I never really got this
song before I heard him last night. It was also far from acoustic, it was
a thunder, too. 3. Standing in the Doorway... Bob changed tempo, it's
totally new song. He was actually speeding it up during the performance.
Now it's not just desperation at the doorway, there's some nervous heist.
4. Watchtower, especially the first night. Those who heard it will know
why. The world comes to an end, and we still wonder what any of it is
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORTH? Besides, the wind begins
TOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo howl. 5. Honest with me, second
night. Amazing new arrangement, he uses a riff from "Stuck inside of
Mobile..." in it, and it fits. Absolute lows: 1. Lay lady lay...I see no
reason for this song to exist. performed probably as good as any NS song.
I don't see reasons for the album to exist either. 2. High Water. To make
it clear, I love this song. But it does not work without Freddie. Stu just
does not get it, so it sounds hollow. Bob and Larry did their best, but it
was arranged for the lead guitar. Relative highs: all the rest. We even
heard Maaaaaaay you Staaaaaaaaaay Foreeeeeeever Young again. The game is
the same it's just upon another level. Thanks Bob, see you next year,
page by Bill Pagel
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