page by Bill Pagel
Review by Denise Copley
First let me preface my remarks by saying that it has
been a long excruciating wait this summer and fall
waiting for Bob to come to my part of the country. The
northeast being the tail end of the tour made it really
hard to read all of the great reviews this tour was
getting, knowing that I had to wait until late November
to "get some."
The wait was certainly worth it! I went to the
Manchester, NH show on Wednesday with my usual high
expectations. I must admit that this show was solid,
but dare I say it, a bit uninspired. The sound was
great, the tune selection was good, but the bard
appeared to be a little road weary. There was very
little left knee action from Bob, and all and all I
think he needed a break and was looking forward to his
turkey. I know that noone posts unfavourable reviews
here but this is how I felt about Manchester. Good
yeoman work, but nothing extraordinary. (Gotta Serve
Somebody was a real treat.)
So, I go into turkeyday thinking that Bob was just too
worn out by this time in the tour and that I had
probably missed out on most of the fun. I have seen
lots of his shows before, and I was happy to see him
in good health and doing his thing. I had my Portland
ticket and figured that he would put on another even
levelled show and move on. Boy was I wrong!
At Manchester, Bob + Co. took at least 3 tunes to get
warmed up, this was not to be the case at Portland!
When the band came on at about 8:23 for an 8:00 start
they launched into Hallelujah which was kick ass from
the first measure. I was psyched and didn't yet dare
to believe that this show would be as good as some of
the reviews I had been reading all summer. Somehow
there was something in Bob's voice when he sang
Hallelujah I'm ready to go that let me know we were in
for a good night. Bob was into it from the very
Next comes One Too Many Mornings, and the only people
who weren't thinking about past relationships, and on
the verge of tears during this one, were the people
whose hearts have already turned to stone. This tune
was worth the price of admission all by itself. Bob
went for the harp at the end and the crowd was
delighted with a sweet (but all to short) harmonica
jam to finish out this masterwork.
Quick interlude here, Bob had on this really cool
cream colored cowboy suit with a white tie, and he
looked the sharpest I have ever seen him look!
OK, next up the most kick ass Desolation Row I have
ever heard. The experience of this tune is impossible
to convey. The band is so tight and Bob was intent on
laying it down, this tune was real rock and roll
delivered right in your face. The power and the glory
could not be denied!
Next up This World Can't Stand Long. Bob has been
saying that we live in a lawless crazy worl for
sometime now, and this tune was his editorial on that
subject. Good tune, no epiphany here though.
Tweedle Dee + Tweedle Dum, good to hear this one done
rockin. The summer reviewers were right, this one
takes on a new life done live.
Not Dark Yet, this was the hidden bonus track of the
show that I wasn't expecting. If you know the lyrics
to this one and have listened to TOOM, this one hits
pretty hard. A beautiful tune, Charlie by this time
has laid down some country riffs that really made my
soul leap and weep. Still tremble when I think about
Stuck Inside of Mobile, Bob had to rock here because
noone could stand up to another tear jerker like the
last one. Lots of fun going around and around with
this one. By this point Bob's left knee was all
warmed up and he was grooving with it as much as he
can and as much as I have ever seen him in 20 + shows.
I think Bob really loves Portland Maine. He has a
house up the coast, and for whatever reason, he puts
on great shows here. Bob is really interacting with
the people in the front rows and jamming his guitar
neck in their faces on a number of occasions
throughout the night. I think everyone in attendance
had to thank those folks up front because they must
have been well behaved, Bob was really enjoying the
interaction. This show was General Admission and I
knew I would be late so I brought binoculars, and I'm
glad I did. Bob was animated to the point of being
passionate! Maybe the most I have ever seen him.
Like the other reviewers I hate to rank shows because
memory often fails, but this one is right up there at
Lonesome Day Blues next, and I can't really remember
much about this one. Sorry.
Mama You Been on my Mind, probably the slowest tempo
song of the night, but it drove me out of my seat to
go to the floor and dance. This one was sweeter than
Lobster Tails in drawn butter! A truly beautiful work
of art. Its a shame that that rendition will never be
Hattie Carroll, tried not to think about the lyrics of
this song because it would have made me to mad and
bummed me out. I ignored it because I didnt want to
be downbuzzed. Probably played very well.
Oh, Oh, Tangled Up in Blue next, I know, I know we
have all heard it many times before, but this original
version rocked the house. By the time Bob broke out
the harp at the end everyone was on their feet issuing
primal screams. Thank goodness Bob is even playing
the harp this tour, but to play is so short is almost
a tease! Anyways, Bob blows the last bars of TUIB and
the roof is ready to come off! The crowd is going
nuts, Bob knows it, and is loving every minute of it
judging by his huge grins! What could possibly come
Summer Days, great follow up to TUIB energy level
stayed high, didn't think new album could stand side
by side with the classics, but this band pulls it off
Next is Drifter's Escape. Bob loves that Drifter for
some reason. Woody would have loved him too. Woody
never fired an electric guitar like Bob and Band did
during this number. I knew it would leave burn marks
in its wake and it did!
Rainy Day Woman, Bob did not bum out while playing
this one. I could tell he did his best to energize
this tired tune. I'm with the girl who said "Bob you
don't HAVE to play this one you know."
Things have changed, very professional rocker. This
band is good!
Rolling Stone, Bob was, and I shit you not, Dancing!
more than just that left knee chicken wing thing he
does. The old man was giving it all he had! Here he
is interacting with the front row on every line, and
Bob took a lead that was incendiary. He couldn't put
more energy into a tune if he tried, I am quite sure.
Dogs Run Free, Beautiful country licks here by the
guitar section. I can't always tell who is playing
lead with these three guys but I think it was Charlie
taking my soul for a ride over and above some of those
rebel rivers. At the end of this tune, it was so
beautiful that Bob said to the crowd "If I keep
playing that one I will hypnotize myself!" I already
was hypnotized! Bob walked off laughing.
Honest with Me, White hot rocker. Didn't know that
the new album contained such hits even though I have
listened to it often.
Blowin in the Wind, The fun just goes on and on.
Watchtower, Back to kick ass rock and roll, haven't
seen rock this hard since the heyday of one Mr. Jerome
So now the show's supposed to end, but here is where
we owe it to the folks in the front row, and Bob's
love of Maine. Bob brings the band out for:
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Great tune to end a great night. A totally delicious
and satisfying holiday treat. I left feeling shameful
about thinking Bob would not provide after the
Manchester shows. Just talked my wife into letting me
go solo to the Fleet Center in Boston tonite, gotta
log and buy my ticket. Lucky for me these things
aren't selling out! People are so ignorant sometimes.
Sorry for the length. I am still high from last
night I guess! I guess "I'll see you all after awhile"
Review by Tim Krauss
Well last night's Bob Dylan performance in Portland, ME was terrific.
Bob was sporting what appeared to be a new suit, kind of an off-white,
but definitely different than most of the white, black, or grey suits he
As for the music and songs, Bob was as impressive as ever and really
seemed to enjoy playing yet again. The crowd was made up of people of all
ages, which was nice to see.
Not much more to say than hasn't already been written when describing
these Dylan shows in the last few years, but there were a few out of the
ordinary events at this particular show. For example, Bob flubbed up on
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. He was doing okay but with that kind of
song, which is serious, solemn, acoustic, etc., it really doesn't leave
much room for mistake. However, Bob messed up on the last verse and
instead of saying the appropriate "bury the rag deep in your face" line,
he mistakenly sang the "take the rag away from your face" line. Bob
caught himself as soon as he did it and immediately drew back from the
microphone and then just finished with the standard "now's the time for
your tears." It was painful to watch! I really enjoy that song and have
seen Bob perform it perfectly on a few occasions. I guess I was due to
witness a Bob mistake. And, given the way Bob has been playing of late,
apparently he was just due to make a mistake. Even Bob isn't perfect!
As the show went on Bob came back right away with Tangled Up In Blue,
which, quite frankly, really fit the situation. I think this song picked
both me and Bob up and we were able to forget about his Lonesome Death
Dylan got the job done on all the other stuff as usual and it was great
to hear some of those new Love and Theft songs for the first time.
When he began singing If Dogs Run Free he was doing okay but then he
started to slide and forget the words or something. Bob likes to insert
this "it can pay all your bills and cure all your ills" line on this song
and he seemed to just throw himself off on this night. It was good though
and Bob kept his sense of humor on this one. During the song Bob kind of
skipped back to Tony Garnier as if to be saying "Hey Tony, I fucked this
Anyway, Bob finished out the song and then he made a rare, non-band
introduction address to the crowd, saying, "I forgot the words/lyrics, I
It was classic Bob. Anyway, great show as usual. Attend if you can
wherever Bob is. And thanks Bob for still playing after all these years.
Good times all around. At he end of the show Bob was smiling at some
youngsters in the front rows and pointed at them and gave them the thumbs
up. Hey, it was thumbs-up all around.
Review by Jared Ishkanian
Quick recap of the show in Portland on the 23rd and a story that ended the
night. We got to the Civic Center at 5 with the line already about sixty
deep. Luckily it wasn't that cold of a night since they made us wait until
almost seven before opening the floodgates...we got a spot in the middle
of the floor, about fifteen feet back from Bob's mic, and stood our ground
until the lights dimmed, and I'm Ready to Go started up. Bob's acoustic
solo in One Too Many Mornings was great, and I heard someone behind me say
that he was gonna rip on the electric tonight, a prediction that turned
out to be true. Good two minutes with the harp that got the crowd wilded
up, right into Desolation, a better version than most. This World was
great, harmonizing in only Larry, Charlie and Bob's vocals to end, "this
is world too full of hate," which seemed ironic and strangely fitting for
the times. Tweedle Dee was great to hear, as were the first few notes of
Not Dark Yet, but Larry's guitar was out of tune and Bob kept glaring over
at him while he tried to recover. Sidenote, Larry was smiles all night,
and his playing, especially his solos, were tight and very solid. Mobile
put a smile on my face, always fun to hear, and Dylan did take a few rips
that got people dancing and the boys all cranking into a solid groove.
Mama You've Been On My Mind was my personal highlight of the night, very
toned down arrangement, Bob's vocals clear and emotional...nothing else to
say but a great song to hear (I had been hoping for Johanna but no
dissapointment with this one). Hattie Carroll was nothing out of the
ordinary, and Tangled was a pretty standard affair, cutting out the
"topless place" verse, my personal favorite, but the crowd loved it
none-the-less (it seemed to be a packed house- Mainers love their Bob).
Summer Days rocked, maybe the best electric song of the night (it was
funny how much the crowd was digging on his new stuff off L&T), and
Mississippi was the song I had been hoping for all night (although he sped
up the delivery of the vocals quite a bit from the album, but its Bob,
what can you do...) Drifter's was almost unrecognizable, and the set
closed with a fun, stretched-out Rainy Day Woman. I'll skip over details
about the first encore- except THC was great, as was If Dog's Run Free
(which Dylan told the crowd, "almost got me hypnotized" and then turned
and had a few laughs with Tony). We made our way to the exits as the
lights stayed dim after the Watchtower ended expecting the night to be
over, but right as we were about to leave the cheers picked up and to my
surprise, Bob was back, strapping on the acoustic for a great version of
Knockin, complete with backing vocals by Charlie and Larry that really
complimented Bob's (as opposed to those on Blowin that just dominate one
another). It was a great way to end the show, and right as Bob left the
stage, we took off, thinking the night was over. As we passed the tourbus,
a crowd quickly gathered around the front- obviously a Bob sighting. I
made my way over to find him wearing a white cowboy hat, signing
autographs and bantering with the fifteen of us or so that were lucky
enough to catch him before he borded the bus. I was amazed by how patient
he was with some of the fans who shoved things into his face to sign, but
the whole time he was very unlike all the reports and stories I've heard
of the unapproachable Bob. I came away with a signed ticket stub, thanking
him with my complements on the show, wondering if it would be the last
time I'd ever see him in concert (I think I've said that after every show,
this being my fifteenth). "Stick with my baby, stick with me anyhow,
things should start to get interesting right about now." Another great
show to cap off an amazing year for Bob. -Jared Ishkanian Jishman@aol.com
Review by Karen F.
Musically Bob and the boys were enchanting as was
usual for this leg. A solid, beautiful performance.
The songs were done with tenderness, style and
brilliance. But something was missing, nothing seemed
emotive, the band didn’t smile much, (I saw Larry
smile at the end of LARS). Bob signaled to end each
song as soon as possible and was not moving as much.
The body language and the harp playing was
perfunctory. Bob gave little attention or effort to
his guitar playing and hit some pretty discordant
sounds and seemed to be coasting tonight. It was
still all brilliant but not an otherworldly
performance like MSG, Boston or Philly. I finally got
to hear Mississippi live and it alone would have been
worth the trip. Hattie Carroll, This World , Not Dark
Yet, If Dogs, and Mama, you’ve been on my mind were
standouts and high points for me.
I think it was due in part to the crowd in Maine who
didn’t get up much till the first formation. The
stadium was packed to the rafters and yet small enough
to see everyone. Every time I looked around it was a
politely mellow audience who seemed comatose at times
like they were watching a video, even during the
rockers. The locals I spoke to, said it’s always like
that and only the very front of the floor section is
responsive usually, as it was tonight. In Things Have
Changed when Bob says “for a minute there I thought I
saw something move, don’t get up gentlemen I’m only
passing through“-- it fit right in. When Bob said
after If Dogs, “I even hypnotized MYSELF on that one”
– it seemed to be that he realized the audience was
already in a trance. On the bright side just about
NOONE left their seats for 2 and a half hours and I
saw not a hint of nachos or beer. (I thought of New
England stoicism but the Boston crowd the following
night welcomed Bob with a bang and rocked harder than
the Philly or NY crowd even did.)
We usually sit on the David side (my husband’s a
drummer/view of Bob’s guitar) but tonight we sat on
the Larry side and I realized I had been
misidentifying Al Santos for years. I always thought
he was the guy at the sound board with white hair.
I’d always seen the mic and the white haired guy and
the lights would go down and I would hear L&G etc.
Last night the guy sitting next to me told me it
wasn’t Al and then I saw someone else go to the mic in
the dark and I heard Al’s voice and realized my long
time error. You learn something new every day.
We left before Knockin’ and tried to get to the tour
busses but we were blocked by security. Then I read
on RMD that a crowd of people got to meet Bob at the
busses! It seems like it wasn’t my night at all but
it actually was because I am always (sycophantically)
thrilled to see Dylan in concert.
Review by Mark Goodrich
What a difference a day can make. Wednesday night's concert had been enjoyable,
but not incredible, and I worried that this show would be a letdown for me. But
this was a much better show compared to the Manchester.
I was hoping that the set list would be significantly different than Manchester,
and I wasn't disappointed. There were 11 songs repeated from the night before,
but 11 different songs were played as well, including two from L&T that I had
not yet heard.
The Civic Center in Portland was slightly smaller than the arena in Manchester,
and the Portland show was general admission, with standing-only on the floor.
Shows like this usually have a better vibe. The crowd was also younger than the
Manchester crowd, leading to higher energy level
I entered the venue at about 7:15. Many of the seats were filled, but the floor
was only about 1/3 full. I figured I'd go down to the floor for the show, but I
rambled for a bit first. I decided to head down to the arena seats near the
front and check out the seats that were perpendicular to the stage. I've had
luck with seats in this area in the past, and tonight was no exception. I found
a seat that was about 8 rows up from the floor, facing the side of the stage. I
was about in line with the drum kit and the amplifiers. I could see behind the
stage, to were the band would emerge, and I was right in front of the steps the
band takes to get to the stage. I decided to stay put – after standing
throughout the Manchester show, I figured I could use a rest.
I spent the time before the show watching Dylan's crew set up his equipment. I
spotted both Tony and David standing behind the stage at points. Tony was not
wearing a hat, and I realized how bald he is. The hair you see when Tony's
wearing a hat is about all the hair Tony has!
Since the show was general admission, the arena filled up earlier that at other
shows... in Manchester the place was still half empty at 8, while tonight the
arena was almost completely full by then. People started clapping and cheering
and calling for Bob many times before the show started. I knew this would be
an enthusiastic crowd.
The show started at 8:20, same time as the Manchester show. I watched Bob and
company emerge from the runway make their way around to the stairs, and climb
up to the stage. Also, for the first time, I saw the guy who gives the
introduction, using a microphone near the onstage mixing board. And the show
"Hallelujah, I'm Ready to Go"
Same opener as the Manchester show. I noticed that Bob's voice didn't seem to
be as strong on this one as it was in Manchester, and I was worried that this
wasn't going to be a good show. I was afraid that Dylan's voice was going to
be in tough shape, and that the set list for this show would be similar to
I was wrong. Dylan's voice seemed strong after "Hallelujah", and I was treated
to nine straight songs I hadn't heard the night before!
"One Too Many Mornings"
I don't think I've heard Dylan perform this one live before, and it was
enjoyable. Dylan played his first of four harp solos at the end of this one.
One of my favorite Dylan songs, and it was great to here it live again. I
like the arrangement they use, with the drums adding a lot of energy to the
"This World Can't Stand Too Long"
I've never heard this one before, but I recognized the name. The chorus was
strong, though I though the singing on the verses wasn't that strong.
"Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum"
The first electric song of the evening, and the first L&T song of the night.
The crowd gave a fairly big cheer, recognizing the song before Dylan started
singing. A straight, but great, version of the song.
"Not Dark Yet"
Perhaps my favorite song from TOOM. When I heard Dylan perform it live a year
ago, it gave me chills. It didn't have quite the same effect on me this time –
perhaps because I was feeling much happier this night than the night last year?
"Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again"
I've heard this song performed live a lot, and have never really enjoyed it. It
wasn't a highlight for me this night, but I enjoyed it more than usual. This was
a trend for the entire night... the crowd was more energetic than the night
before, I was comfortable, and really connecting with Bob and the band. Bob's
electric playing wasn't bothering me as nearly as much as it was on Wednesday –
I'm not quite sure if he was playing better, or my mood was just better!
"Lonesome Day Blues"
This song took the place of "Cry A While" in the set list from Wednesday, trading
one of the bluesy tracks off L&T with another. I preferred this performance to
"Cry A While". The crowd appreciated the song as well.
"Mama, You've Been on My Mind"
A big change from the electric blues send up of "Lonesome Day Blues", but it
worked. Bob and his band turned it down a notch, but Bob hung on to the crowd
with his voice.
I noticed that the arrangement of this song was similar to that for "Don't Think
Twice". Bob played another fine harp solo during this one.
"The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"
I've heard this song performed live once or twice before, and its never been a
highlight for me. Tonight wasn't an exception, and it was the slow point in the
concert for me.
"Tangled Up In Blue"
The first repeat song from Manchester since the opening song. I figured
"Tangled" would have to come up at some point during this acoustic set. Again,
this is one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the night, and I enjoyed it because
of that. It was a good crowd tonight, and Bob seemed to be enjoying himself.
Bob played harp at the end of the song, which he hadn't done on Wednesday.
This one showed up in the same slot as it had on Wednesday. It was highlight for
me then, and was highlight this time as well. I noticed that the applause on this
song was quite strong, especially for a "non-hit" song.
Another song in the same slot as Wednesday. I don't think it was much different
from the night before, but I think my energy level was higher, so I enjoyed it more.
Substituted for "Cold Irons Bound" from the night before. Although I love "Cold
Irons Bound", "Drifter's Escape" seems a better song for this slot. The band
really rocks out on this one. Bob played harp at the end, as I had seen him do
when I saw him a year ago... the harp solo was good, but not as the one he'd
played a year ago.
"Rainy Day Women"
The standard set closer. Similar to last night, but the playing by Bob and the
band on the jams was improved. .
Dylan did the band introductions again, the song ended, they did there bows and
left the stage. I could see them walk to a little curtained off area behind
the stage. They emerged back out after a minute or so and came back to the stage.
"Things Have Changed"
"Like a Rolling Stone"
"If Dogs Ran Free"
"Honest with Me"
"Blowin' in the Wind"
"All Along The Watchtower"
The first encore was identical to the songs played on Wednesday. Very similar
to Manchester, but I enjoyed it more, the result of being well rested. After
"Blowin' in the Wind" they started to leave the stage, but again came quickly
back to play "AATW". There was a little less of a delay this time than last
time. I noticed Tony making the same motion tonight as he had on Wednesday...
standing in front of Bob and waving his hands up in the air.
After "AATW" the band left the stage. I noticed someone hand Bob a black cowboy
hat and he placed it on his head as he looked up and smiled as we cheered from
the side of the stage. So cool. This had been the end of the show Wednesday
night, but the crowd response was greater tonight, so I wondered if Bob would
come back. Unlike the first encore, they didn't proceed into the little
curtained-off area behind the stage, but headed past it towards the ramp leading
out of the arena. When they got to the ramp, they paused for a few moments.
Then I saw one of the crew run from them back towards the stage, signaling to
the guy doing the sound. I realized that they were coming back!
And they did. The crowd went nuts and they placed "Knockin' On Heaven's Door".
I liked the harmonies that Larry and Charlie have added to the song, though it
was a bit too much at times, and they were out of tune at a couple points. But
it worked for me and for the crowd.
After "Knockin'" the band left the stage, and this time the house lights came on
quickly. I stayed in my seat and rested for a few minutes. I noticed that Tony
came back up to the side of the stage, holding a Styrofoam container of what I
assumed was his dinner! He talked to security and pointed out a few people
outside the backstage area. Security let them in. Friends of Tony, I assume.
I left the arena soon after that and saw Bob's bus pulling away.
All in all a great show and I'm glad I'd driven 100 miles for it. On to Boston...
Review by Patrick D.
I have been to 6 dylan shows, and this was by far my favorite. We got
to the venue a few hours before doors opening and hung around to try to
find Dylans bus coming in. We hung around the garage area, and Dylans bus
rolled in about 20 mins later, but security kept you far away from it. He
walked off his bus into the door, which i didnt have much of a problem
with because I didn't expect him to sign anything or say hi. We found a
great entrance into the building where hardly anyone was lined up, and
hung out for a few hours until they opened the doors. We got great seats
right next to the stage in section D, row 5.
He emerged onto the stage dressed in a white western style suit, but
no cowboy hat tonight. Dylan was in the best mood I have seen him,
probably because of the open floor with everybody standing, which he
probably enjoys seeing compared to seats with everybody sitting. He did a
few great acoustic songs, a great Desolation Row and Tangled Up in Blue.
Then the electric set came, which is always great, he moved around a
lot tonight, putting a lot of energy into every song, he had the best
encore i have seen him have, he did a great Rolling Stone, Watchtower (the
highlight of the show) and came back for the third time for a great
Knockin in Heavens door. and you could tell he was loving the show, with
several smiles and after he put his guitar down, he was talking and
smiling to someone in the audience, something I have never seen him do.
This was the best Dylan show I have seen, and will definetely see many
page by Bill Pagel
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