Portsmouth, Virginia
NTELOS Pavilion Harbor Center
May 8, 2003

[Alex Leik], [Charles Cirirella], [Bob Morecock]

Review by Alex Leik

Bob Dylan let it all out at his show at the Ntelos Harbor Pavilion in
Portsmouth, VA Thursday night. I may have come in with low expectations
due to the fact that this was my first show since the departure of Texas
guitar ace Charlie Sexton. But “His Band”, as they are billed, has not
lost anything with Charlie’s departure. In fact, Freddy Koella is a
welcome addition, purely professional and extremely talented.

I arrived in Portsmouth from Charlottesville after a 2.5 hour drive in
light traffic. I met up with Marc, Annie & Mary at the Bier Garden we were
on our way to the venue (a short walk) by 7:30ish. Frederica was doing her
thing in the parking lot, and as The Waifs ended their set (a great
opening act, BTW), I look over to see Frederica standing a few seats to my
right, in the front row. Amazing!!!

Maggie’s Farm opened a truly great night of Dylan music, with Bob in the
black suite, white piping, and silver, I dare say, ascot?? Perhaps a
tribute to another Freddy – from Scooby Doo fame? Anyway, this Freddy was
on from the start, still huddling up close with Larry and eying his boss
several time per song, but you could tell he felt comfortable with
Maggie’s Farm, which is nice considering they had not played it much yet
(only once on this leg if I recall??)

Freddy really started to shine on the Tweedle Dee riffs, and this is where
I really started to enjoy him. In the recordings I have heard from
Australia, I feel this song was really butchered some nights, due in part
to that infamous riff sounding like shit – was this Billy?? Anyway, Freddy
took it and ran with it, and added some great solos of his own, trading
with Larry the way Charlie used to do.

THC was expected, but had much more emotion vocally from Bob than I can
ever recall, and being in the front row, literally in front of Bob, this
was great to see. He was damn sure that the Bible is right, and wanted us
to think about it. A stunning I’ll Remember You followed, with Larry doing
what it is that he does so well – pedal steel.  Freddy chimed in with some
great solo work as well, and the vocal from Bob made this song one of the
evenings highlights.

During Drifter’s Escape, the unthinkable happened. Security started
checking tickets of those of us in the front row, and Frederica was asked
to leave!!! I have never seen her kicked out of a show? But it was not to
be, by the end of One Too Many Mornings, the only acoustic # of the night
(and as always played with so much care and emotion), she was back in the
front row, ducking between people whose height would hide her from the
Event Staff – man, it must be a full time job for her!

Now, I know I have blasted the mp3 I heard of the 1st Dignity played on
this tour, and I stand by that – it sucked. But last night was something
entirely different. By far the best version I have ever heard or seen of
this song. The little pause where George stops, and it is just the guitars
on the bridge, man that is great. Bob walks out from behind the keys and
really starts getting down, laughing with the band, pointing to us in the
crowd. Simply the highlight of the show for me.

Saving Grace was nice to hear – a first time for me, but I can’t help but
think that these songs (gospel) will never reach the level they reached
during ‘79/’80. Almost a tease to hear them now, but nice to hear even if
it was a low point in the show. Even this show low points were still well
worth the price of admission.

Highway 61 tore things up to a whole new level, with Larry & Freddy (ha, I
typed Charlie here 1st, habit I guess) really playing off of one another,
and this is when Freddy looks like he’s been in the band for 3 years, not
3 weeks. Bob gave him some good nods of approval, which must help ease the
nerves. Honest with Me & Summer Days also offered Freddie plenty of
opportunity to show why he was in this band, and he did not disappoint.
Oddly enough, the Freddy highlight of the show for me was Floater, done as
it should always have been done, with violin. I always thought this song
was lacking in previous shows, and thought it was one song where Charlie
really didn’t stand out. Well, Freddy was all over this, and he and Larry
exchanged some nice violin / hollow body solos, extended, I believe, by
Bob forgetting the words and needing some time to sort them all out ;-)

As you all have heard by now, a nice treat to close things out was Bruce
Hornsby on the electric keys for Watchtower. For those of you that don’t
know, Bruce is a native Virginian, lives right up I-64 from
Norfolk/Portsmouth area, and seemed a bit tentative / nervous at first
(was this his first time on stage with Bob??), but once Bob gave him the
signal to PROCEED without caution, he was right at home. A GREAT treat!!!

I’ll end this review with what I think someone of Bob’s stature can mean
to certain people. About halfway through the show, Event Staff came down
right in front of me (I had front row seat, but was basically against the
rail) and escorted a little boy, probably not any more than 12 years old,
between the rail and the stage. Now, I am not sure, but I am thinking the
boy may have been mentally handicapped, and I know for a fact he had
vision problems due to what looked like some heavy-duty corrective lenses.
Well, he get situated and to be honest, I am not sure he could see Bob,
even that close. But, Bob saw him during Highway 61, and gave this kid
about 1-1.5 minutes of his undivided attention, dancing, smiling ,
nodding, pointing. For that brief amount of time, that kid was the only
one in the audience as far as Bob was concerned! I’ll not lie, so I’ll say
I almost started balling on the spot, and thinking about it again here
makes me smile. After Highway, Event Staff came to get the kid and I told
them to let him be, he was not bothering anyone and he had caught Bob’s
eye and was having the time of his life. They said his father just wanted
him to get up close for a song or 2, but he had to go back – and thanked
me for offering that he stay. Well, Dad made his way down eventually and
the kid was able to stay for a few more songs – I don’t even really know
if the kid was able to really SEE Bob, but I know I’ll never forget what I
saw that night – Thanks Bob!!!

On to Solomons!!
Alex Leik


Review by Charles Cirirella

My friend and I drove into Portsmouth from Columbus, Ohio ten hours there
and every cold corndog and charcoal burger was worth it because as so many
of us know there is no experience that compares to seeing Bob and the best
band in the band wheels on fire tearing us to shreds with their passion
and extreme audacity. Previously I'd seen the Nashville and Louisville
shows so it was quite a treat to see him open with, "Maggie's Farm",
instead of, "Tweedle Dee". From the onset he was fully entrenched in the
music and the mayhem no matter if the Portsmouth crowd did not
automatically rise to their feet. Even during, "Dignity", or, "Honest With
Me", many of the front row attendees stayed in their seats which both
sickens and saddens me because I mean Dylan is in his sixties and he stood
the entire concert, but hey whatever because Dylan appeared to be having a
great time laughing and smiling for so much of the show even spitting at
one point and after having seen him spit in Fairfax during a incendiary
performance last fall I'm guessing when he spits it is a true sign that he
is really getting into the show. I know many people when they see the set
lists think same old same old and yet I'm here to tell you you can not
judge this tour or for that matter any of his tours by a set list because
every night is different as he takes these songs higher and higher. For
instance tonight's, "Drifter's Escape", was like no other, "Drifter's
Escape", I've yet seen on this tour or any previous tour. He strapped on
the electric for this one and to witness him and Freddy trade licks is
quite a breathtaking sight to behold  for these guys clearly enjoy playing
together and the energy infused into every ferocious note is both
infectious and sonic in its bursting raging fury. What never fails to
impress and carry me away to another shore is how after a rocking song
played at breakneck speeds he can so masterfully bring the intensity down
from a roar to a tender lulling kiss and he did just this with the
absolutely gorgeous, "One Too Many Mornings". The performance of this song
was definitive as Dylan like some country doctor healed us with his own
special brand of medicine. The intimacy of the performance of this
particular song was devastating as Dylan showed to us what it means to
change the ashtrays on a whole other level. He followed this song with a,
"Dignity", that brought everyone of us to the edge of the lake taunting us
to follow him beyond the water's edge and even though I am terrified of
water I was more than willing to follow him into this particular lake
because I knew the music and piercing true vocal delivery would more than
keep me afloat. He changed the mood again with a, "Saving Grace", that so
ultimately personified not only Dylan's own personal covenant with his
Lord, but each and everyone of our personal relationships with our
Creator. Like I said above I've now heard and seen this song a number 
of times this tour and yet every performance of it is vastly different 
from its predecessors and highly charged with its own personal and 
Spiritual markings. Not only is it obvious that Dylan loves performing 
these songs ("Like A Rolling Stone", on the three occasions I was 
fortunate to experience it live is so chocked full of hungry 
silences - moments when you know precisely what Dylan meant when 
he said when first written it was like five pages of vomit coming 
out of him - here he is again, all these years later,vomiting it 
out not reinventing or even reinvesting himself into the song,
but in truth sharing with each and everyone of us how he feels today while
asking us how it feels for us to be without a home, a complete unknown,
like a rolling stone .......), but that he has no other choice but to
perform this material because it is so obviously what he was born to do.
Thank you for sharing with us Bob the creative fires you so definitely
possess and have never shied or backed away from because you may have felt
the cost was too high. As you wrote in, "Journey Through Dark Heat",
sacrifice is the code of the road as you continue proving this by staying
on the road and heading for another joint like a bird that flew.

Charles Cicirella


Review by Bob Morecock

My 15th (or so) Dylan show of the past 5 years. A wonderful venue on the
water near the Shipyard: perfect weather, fantastic sound and a
surprisingly fresh and punchy set by the Waifs. Dylan came out in
excellent voice and took a relatively mundane set list to near perfect
side trips into blues, gospel,rock-a-billy, arena rock, folk while having
what to all appearances was the time of his life. I have never seen him so
"happy" or more animated. His enthusiasm was contagious: The much
mailigned new guitarist tore it up and seemed right at home. Larry and
band seemed to be enjoying his contributions too. The  interplay between
the guitarists and their postioning side by side onstage was a treat and
Bandmaster Bob ran the show (mostly)  from his vantage behind the organ
stage left. One notable exception was an extended and  exquisite acoustic
workout with Freddie on" One Too Many Mornings." I cannot imagine anyone
in the sellout crowd who was not taken in or aback by the evening. When
Bruce Hornsby came out for a few runs during Watchtower there was a
looseness and a vibe at work which was rare to my experience with the
Tour. Don't believe what you may have read... go see this latest

Bob Morecock


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