Essex Junction, Vermont

Champlain Valley Exposition
Coca-Cola Grandstand

July 1, 2007

[Theik], [Nancy], [Don Ely], [Doug Collette]

Review by Theik

Bob and crew arrived on a very cool and slightly breezy afternoon - the
sunset splashed clouds were a highlight through his show. Jimmie V. played
an average set, both musicly and lengthwise, vacating the stage for a
prompt 8:05 start for Bob. The first five songs, with Bob playing
wonderful guitar, were fantastic, especially "To Ramona". The sound was
dialed in from the very first note: I have never heard such pristine sound
at a Bob show before. His vocals were clear and distinct, as was each
instrument. The shift to keyboard / organ was expected and the clarity of
the sound blissfully continued. As was noted in a local newspaper review,
the "Rollin'" "Girl of the North Country" combo was excellent, with "Girl"
possibly being the highlight of the whole night: wonderful arrangement and
unique phrasing from Bob. Also, the "Summer Days" "LARS" set closing combo
was very high energy and had the crowd right in tow. An amazing evening
for one and all . . . It slights any song to say one was better: band and
Bob were on a serious roll. Due to work considerations this show will be
my only one on this tour. I've heard glowing reports about some of the
earlier gigs but I can't honestly compare this show to those. I can say
that this was, especially from a sound system perspective, the best show
I've seen Bob do for quite some time. If the other shows are as strong,
this is certainly a way above average tour - one should go out of their
way to catch at least one show.



Review by Nancy

Even for Vermont it was a cool summer night with overcast sky.  The crowd
was ebullient, though, knowing we were in for a special event.  Bob Dylan
and his Band are in town!  Jimmie Vaughn and his band took the stage as
the crowd seeped into the Fairgrounds.  Those of us who arrived early to
see the opener were not disappointed by Jimmie Vaughn and his bluesy set. 
Fine guitar playing, great drummer who looked like Uncle Fester and guest
singer Lou Ann Barton with a smokey voice that fit the tunes.  I  don't
skip Bob's opening acts - I think he gives it a lot of thought and brings
us more good music.  But the pitch definitely rose along with the
anticipation once the roadies came on to set up for Bob and the band.  A 
nice touch for my sister and I was that the sound system played George
Harrison during the set change.  We appreciated that nod to another of our
musical heroes.  I had my fingers crossed that Dylan would open with
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.  The crowd went nuts when Bob and the Band came
out and swung into ... Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat!  Fantastic version!  And
it just got better from there.  My sister and I have caught Bob on each of
his concert tours over the last few years and a couple of times back in
the day but we were especially blown away this time.  A couple of special
treats for us were Girl from the North Country and Most Likely You'll Go
Your Way (And I'lll Go Mine).  I have never heard a better band.  They
show up dressed for work - no jeans and t-shirts for these professionals. 
Bob and the Band look smashing in jackets, ties and hats and their
experience shows in the arrangements and tight performances.  Bob delivers
his own lyrics without so much as a back up vocal but we love that special
rasp and he makes us pay attention with the new versions of the classics. 
He clearly loves his current incarnation and so does the crowd.  The
immediacy of the live music pumps the crowd and there is dancing at the
seats and in the aisles.  The last four songs of the evening bring
everyone to their feet.  Kick ass versions of Summer Days and LARS are
followed by the band leaving the stage to howls of appreciation and cheers
for an encore.  Most bands would have nothing left after the set we have
just heard with the relevance of The Times They Are A-Changin', the energy
of Rollin' and Tumblin' and the emotion of When the Deal Goes Down to name
just a few.  But we know they are coming back and keep cheering, clapping,
stomping and begging for more.  They make their entrance, strap on the
guitars and take their places to thrill us with Thunder on the Mountain
and All Along the Watchtower.  What can I say?  If you're a Dylan person
(and who else would be reading this) you know how it feels to see Bob so
magnificent, redolent of the past but so firmly here, now, in the present
with arguably the best music he's ever made.  Bob introduced the band but
those were the only words he spoke.  After the final song they stood
together, flanking Bob in the middle of the stage for their nod to the
crowd's adulation.  Bob looked like he might say something into the mike
that was next to him, and I always wish he would, but instead he raised a
hand, almost a wave, kind of a salute, definitely an acknowledgement that
we had shared "a whoppin' good time."  PS My favorite fan - the woman in
the leopard-skin pillbox hat!


Review by Don Ely

I'd chosen this run of shows for my summer Bobtrip because it gave me 
three distinct environments: the urban / suburban setting at Wantagh, 
the legendary locale at Bethel, and the rural northern setting at Essex 
Junction. After the last of the three Bob would head up into Canada 
and I would close out my vacation by spending a night at my secret 
hideaway in Brattleboro, Vermont; having a blast following the signs to 
Secret Caverns in Cobleskill, New York; and touring Eastern State 
Penetentiary on my first - ever visit to Philadelphia.
I'd spent too much time in the Catskills ( munching on REAL bagels 
from the REAL Hebrew town of South Fallsburg, New York ) and so 
didn't get to my hotel room until 7:30. Luckily the Champlain Valley 
Exposition was just down the road apiece, and while I missed Jimmie's 
entire set I didn't miss a note of Bob's. Champlain Valley is a multple - 
use venue containing a variety of buildings much like a state fair. 
Temperatures were mild in the region making for an optimum week to 
travel, and on this evening were downright cool, giving the feel more 
of a harvest festival. I stayed out of the beer garden and thus arrived 
at my seat as Bob Dylan and His Band launched into a very raucous 
"Leopard - skin Pill - box Hat". This song has never really been one of my 
favorite Blonde On Blonde numbers, but this one just kicked ass and 
was a welcome respite from the usual set openers. The audience was 
seated on plastic folding chairs, and the stage was set under high, sunny 
skies with mountains off to the east. Perfectly beautiful. I can only 
imagine what it would be like seeing Bob at some of the outdoor stages 
I've read about in the mountainous west. The first four songs in tonight's 
set duplicated the same four last night at Bethel Woods. Maybe I was in 
the " sweet spot " but the sound was superior to either of the previous 
two venues, sharp as an ice pick and as clear as Mallett's Bay. Bob musta 
been having fun on his guitar because instead of the standard four tunes 
he gave us five on the strings! The bonus was a lovely "To Ramona", 
and the band delivered it with panache before Bob shifted over to the 
keyboard for a little "Rollin' And Tumblin'".
Seemingly often Bob likes to use his magic paintbrush to render "Girl Of 
The North Country" for northern audiences, and this one was the finest 
I've seen in some time. Performed in what I call the "music box" 
arrangement of the past three years, it was eloquent and moving, as it 
should be, not in any way awkward as some of the 2004 versions 
tended towards. " Things Have Changed " still sounds good, but it's 
signature riff has almost completely disappeared. The crowd loved every 
minute of this show, which as usual ranged from young families to AARP 
card carriers. The man in his forties on my left was as enthusiastic about 
what he was seeing and hearing as was the man of about nineteen to 
my right. And why not? Dylan was in great voice and the band was 
cookin'! Dark clouds that threatened rain had settled over us but couldn't 
threaten the band's exuberence in the least. Other selections to highlight 
this wonderful night included a moody "Love Sick", a hard - rockin' "Most 
Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)" (a personal favorite Blonde 
On Blonde number), and a very strong " When The Deal Goes Down". 
Even the ad infinitum "Summer Days" was a treat, and naturally had 'em
up and dancin'. A solid night's work from Our Man Bob and his crew, 
putting a smile on every face that headed home.
So it was a brilliant run for me, an experience to whet my appetite for 
the hometown Detroit gig ( Sterling Heights ), and then the Toledo Zoo, 
another great place for concerts. Though originally I lamented the fact 
of no ballpark tour this year, Bob's people have done an outstanding job 
of choosing some really unique venues this time. Y'all have fun at the 
show near you!
Don Ely
Rochester, MI         


Review by Doug Collette

July 1st was an early stop on the current leg of Dylan’s summer tour and his 
third appearance at the Expo since he began his so-called Never Ending 
Tour in the late ‘80s. It was stellar on every front. 

Bob Dylan’s always been uncomfortable with celebrity, and fresh off the 
over-hyped stadium sojourn with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the 
Bard’s (re-) commitment to the road signified his loyalty to his legacy as a 
troubadour. It also ventured an even more ambitious goal: to demystify and 
demythologize himself to the world through regular recurring intervals of 
live performances year in and year out. 

Even as revered a figure as Bob Dylan must adequately address the 
fundamentals of live performance, and judging from this summer evening 
(more like autumn) in Vermont, he has plenty of ideas about the means to 
do that. Whether or not you’ve seen Dylan before, you’d be anxious to 
see and hear him again based on this show, simply because there was 
something to enjoy in his own performance, the versatility and panache of 
his band, as well as the astutely chosen set list. 

Dylan’s much-touted return to playing electric guitar on this tour actually 
found him assuming lead duties for the first half-dozen tunes (before 
relegating himself to a cheesy-sounding electric keyboard). It was almost 
logical, then, to open with “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat,” since Bob had 
played the solo on the 1966 studio record from Blonde on Blonde. But 
the curiosity factor of him soloing—and acquitting him quite stylishly—
gave way to fascination with the ingenious arrangements of all too 
familiar material. 

While “To Ramona” was more conventional than the arrangement of 
“The Times they Are A Changin’,” during both songs Dylan found his 
voice literally in the often-caricatured, idiosyncratic singing style he 
mastered over four decades ago. Proffering “Girl From the North Country”
 as a minuet (!) suggested Dylan and band had done some woodshedding 
 prior to the tour. Constant eye contact among the six musicians, most 
 often between the leader and bassist Tony Garnier (who’s been the 
 stalwart of Dylan’s lineups for close to twenty years on acoustic and 
 electric instruments), and there was little doubt the stories of Dylan’s 
 preference for spontaneity are all too true. 

But there was no sloppy approach in play here. Tunes came to emphatic 
cold stops as the band swung into formation behind Dylan and gathered 
force through more recent tunes such as “Things Have Changed” and 
“Love Sick” from the Grammy-winning Time Out of Mind era. At this point, 
in case the ready-to-be-pleased crowd hadn’t noticed, caught up as they
were in dancing and other fervent expressions of devotion, this venerable 
culture figure was fully engaged and in command of what was happening 

This man doesn’t just merely remember all the lyrics to the wordy likes of 
“It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding,” he communicates a sense of 
rediscovering their meaning as he sings them with so much fervor. While
it might’ve seemed disconcerting to hear almost as much response to the 
famous declaration “Even the President of the United States must 
sometimes stand naked” (that’ll always be suitably topical!) as the lines in 
“Spirit on The Water” referencing “…maybe I’m over the hill … maybe I’m 
past my prime…” it’s important to note the usually adult demographics of 
a Dylan concert audience. This night, interestingly, it was peppered with 
not only children but also young adults. 

Dylan’s all too aware of that dynamic, though, so the streamlined rock of 
“Tangled Up in Blue” was of a piece with another dark horse selection, 
“Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine.” The humor has never 
been really obvious in Bob’s material, but it’s as evident now as when that 
was originally recorded in 1966—as is the tongue in cheek delivery of the 
smaltzy “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.” 

The similarly-styled, “When the Deal Goes Down,” from 2006’s execrable 
Modern Times album, did boast Denny Herron cutting a swath through it 
with his electric violin. As the latter’s pedal steel then sliced through 
“Summer Days,” the band went full gallop, drummer George Receli goosing 
guitarists Denny Freeman and Stu Kimball (who had set aside the acoustic 
instrument that lent such intricate texture to songs earlier in the set). So 
it was odd for the ensemble to take the intensity down a notch for “Like 
A Rolling Stone.” True to his wish not to foster an image larger than life, 
Bob Dylan refused to anthemize his most famous song. Rather, he seemed 
humbled to be able to sing it over forty summers since it became a hit on 
radio. In that respect, it rang all the more true as a statement about the 
search for identity. 

Though “Rolling Stone” didn’t rock with true grandeur, the encores almost 
did. Dylan’s band rumbled like a freight train through “Thunder on the 
Mountain,” while “All Along the Watchtower” sounded more ominous than 
usual with its stop-time structure. In its own way, to hear Dylan intone the
lyrics with such portent struck a balance with the tuneful tones he coaxed 
from his harmonica during the course of this two-hour show. 

As with the sky above and beyond the grandstand, in turns bright and 
colorful, dark and severe, its clouds briefly filled with rain, Bob Dylan 
appeared both more and less than you might’ve expected: a dour 
father-figure cum voice-prophet. As nattily attired as his band, his 
diminutive sixty-six year-old figure topped off with wide gray hat, he 
smiled more than once during the performance, but spoke not a word 
except to somewhat stiltedly introduce the band prior to aligning with 
them stage center at the end of the night. 

Bob Dylan’s greatest achievement may be his longevity. Notwithstanding 
the cultural influence of his music—arguably the single greatest of its like, 
at least in the popular realm in the last century—and the fact that he still 
performs regularly, forty-five years after his first Columbia recording was
released, without compromise of his artistic integrity, at such an intense
level of inspiration, is nothing short of amazing

Doug Collette


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