New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium

July 15, 2009

[Cody Derespina], [Gaetano Albani], [John C.], [Ernie Pancsofar], [M. Dweezi]

Review by Cody Derespina

Pre-Bob thoughts: Willie was better than the last time I saw him, but man,
those roadies must carry coffins with them in case one of the band
suddenly dies. They look so lifeless and bored. John Mellencamp was
actually very good. I don't know much of his music, but he performed with
vigor, the band was tight and loud and he had a lot of energy to him.
After driving up from Long Island for the show, I was standing one row
back from the rail for Bob:

1. Rainy Day Women 12&35

I’ve been to 17 bob concerts prior to this show, and believe it or not,
I’ve never heard this one. Aside from the novelty, that was about the
only good part of it. Dylan sang kind of mumbly, but it was nice to see
him play guitar again. One thing I noted, though, was that Dylan seemed to
have A LOT more fun on the keys than on the guitar. Almost as if he was
going through the motions center stage, but actually doing what he wanted
on the organ.

2. Stuck Inside of Mobile

When I heard Stu strum an acoustic G-C combination, I thought I had
gotten lucky and “Billy” was going to be played, but alas, the drums
pounded in and the Ragman drew circles. Again, some non-chalant singing
from Bob. Not bad, by any means, but nothing too inspiring. I didn’t
care much for the arrangement which was just so-so.

3. Levee’s Gonna Break

Never cared for this on “Modern Times,” but in concert it was
tremendous. This was the first song that gave me some hope for the show.
Bob was very playful behind the keyboard, doing his little “should I
stay here or go center stage?” dance and smiling after almost every
line. Good performance.

4. Tryin’ To Get To Heaven

Decent harp solo, good performance. He sang it really well—almost
surprisingly so. Another song I tend to bypass on the album, but it was
very nice in the four-spot here. After this, I thought, “alright the
concert’s really heating up now.” But then we got…

5. High Water

Normally, I love this song. I used to play it with my band all the
time. But the new arrangement with the double-time drums in the chorus
really ruined it for me. The band never got in a consistent groove and
there was no outstanding guitar work on this one. A bit of a letdown.

6. I Feel A Change Coming On

Make that THREE songs I don’t like on record, but now thought were
great in concert. I recognized it right away and after the initial
thrill of realizing I’d heard a live debut, it was a pretty excellent
version. One funny thing: After Bob sings the bit in the last verse about
not having anything he leaned into the microphone and said “oh poopy!”
which drew some nice laughs from the crowd.

7. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

This song grew stale from being played repeatedly since its release,
but there was a subtle new arrangement here and it sounded very good.
Another highlight of the night. But Stu STILL cannot play the Charlie
Sexton lead part. It’s EASY STU! LEARN IT! He knows the notes, but can
never play it fast enough with the tempo. Sorry, it just bothers me.

8. When the Deal Goes Down

A song I don’t especially care for on the album, and this didn’t do
anything to repair that opinion. Not that it was a bad version, I just
don’t particularly think the song is all that good, and it kind of
killed the energy from the last two songs.

9. Highway 61 Revisited

Perfunctory. Good. Been Better. Never gonna be bad. Next.

10. Ballad of a Thin Man

This one was great and really made my night. It’s one of my favorite
songs and Dylan sang the hell out of it. Did a nice little sing-and-play
routine where he would trace his vocal line on the organ that had a good

11. Thunder On The Mountain

Good version here, but it seems better suited to an opener. Maybe it’s
all those years of closing with Summer Days, but it’s hard to imagine
other songs in the main set ender slot.

12. LARS

Not bad. Sang the “You’ve gone to all the finest schools” verse,
which was good to hear, as I’ve missed out on it a few times. Other than
that, it’s normal self.

13. Jolene

Nice version of an okay song.

14. Watchtower

Man this song has been so much better. SO much better. 

This band is very good except for the guitarists. They lack any punch or
feeling. They don’t do any solos that make you say “wow.” They just
stand there and play chords or do simple little melodies. Which are fine.
But when you don’t back it up with anything else, it’s just awful. I
miss Charlie, Larry and even Freddy so damn much. At least they looked
like they were having fun. Stu and Denny just stand there with these
expressionless faces. Very disappointing, considering the bands he’s

All in all? Levee, Heaven, Change, Tweedles and Ballad were the
highlights. It was a good solid show. But I’m aching for another of the
GREAT ones.

Cody Derespina


Review by Gaetano Albani

Dylan last played New Britain Stadium during the summer of 2006. It rained
pretty much the entire show. For this show, however, it was sunny and warm
with low humidity. Thanks, Weather Gods!

I missed the opening band, The Wiyos, as it seemed everyone and their
brother descended upon the stadium at the same time, forcing me to park at
a local high school and hoof it to the main gate. Oh well, at least I
caught a glimpse of John Mellencamp riding into the stadium parking lot on
his chopper, maneuvering in and out and around the grid-locked cars. He
was wearing his typical jeans-t-shirt-vest ensemble with a pair of shades.
No helmet. I think he colors his hair, because it looked jet-black. What a
douche bag.

By the time I grabbed a couple of beers and made my way down to the field,
Willie Nelson was well into his set. The last time I saw Willie (which was
on the inaugural Dylan/Nelson baseball stadium tour), he had a full band.
This time, it was just him on guitar, a bass player, a piano player, some
guy playing a snare drum, some guy playing the harmonica, and some other
guy playing, well... something. I really don't know, because I really
wasn't paying attention. I thought this set-up made for a pretty ragged
sounding, bar-band feel. That in itself is not a bad thing, except it
probably would have sounded better in a bar, rather than through the PA
towers. Still enjoyed it, though.

Next up...aarhh!...John Mellencamp. I know I sound like a snob, but I just
never bought into his whole shtick. This was the first time I had ever
seen him live, and it seemed that every song he played was a hit, or a
least something that I was familiar with. Big deal. At least the crowd
seemed to really enjoy him and his cornball band. It got to the point
where I was expecting his stage crew to roll out a Chevy pick-up truck at
any moment. When he started to dance with his bean-pole fiddle player
after she finished a solo, I threw-up in my mouth a little bit. Thank god
he didn't play Jack & Diane. I would have really lost it right there on
second base.

Whew! Now time to sneak-up closer to the stage while we're between sets.

Once the sky grew dark, the stadium lights were extinguished. Then, Dylan
and his band emerge from the shadows, looking totally cool as usual. Dylan
is dressed like a river boat card shark in black; his band is dressed like
a bunch of big-city gangsters with white jackets. I never grow tired of
Dylan and his band taking the stage. It is still a thrill after all these
years and countless shows later.

Now, rather than going through the set list, song by song, I just want to
share some impressions and random thoughts that struck me during this

Dylan opened with Rainy Day Women playing the guitar. I noticed that
he seemed to be holding his guitar in a more up-right position, rather
than with the neck running parallel to the ground. I might be imagining
this, but this looked different to me from the way I remember him
holding his guitar in the past, when he played it almost exclusively
during live shows. I know that this more upright position would have to
alter the flex in his wrist and his fingering on the fretboard. Could
those rumors be true, that he originally switched to keyboards because
of pain or arthritis catching up to him from playing guitar? I know he
said in this past Rolling Stone interview that he was playing keyboards
because he could not find someone else who could play the way he plays,
only better. Still, it struck me as looking, well, different.

I noticed that most, if not all, his playing on the keyboards were
programmed to sound like an organ rather than a piano. This worked
particularly well, I thought, with his newer material, as it provided a
more swampy, bluesy vibe. I also enjoyed this organ tone because I
always found his piano playing to be a little "blocky". As in, he
tended to hit blocks of chords rather than interspersing any
single-note runs or melody into his playing. Don't get me wrong.
Sometimes this style works because it is percussive and adds a certain
punch to his songs. Other times, unfortunately, he sounded like he was
just banging chords, ham fisted, which I found more distracting than

The energy of the crowd really picked up during the band's rollicking
version of "The Levee's Gonna Break". Awesome version!

The energy of the crowd really ebbed during "When The Deal Goes

It's official: I've heard "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum" live more than
any other song, save "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Watchtower". I'm not
saying that's a bad thing.  But, I'm not saying that's a good thing,

I hate to say this...I'm beginning to miss the days of Charlie Sexton
and Larry Campbell more and more. I miss the textured and varied sound
that they brought to the band. Denny and Stu sound very workmanlike,
but not as distinct or memorable.

This is weird. I kept thinking about Cate Blanchett during "Ballad of
a Thin Man".

I know I'm getting too old for this, but I've committed myself to
hitting the road for the Pawtucket, RI show. A 4-hour round-trip on a
work night, be damned!


Review by John C.

The weather was perfect for the show this time, unlike the pouring rain
last time Bob went to New Britain Stadium. We got there early and the
parking was well organized, easy in easy out. The lines weren't. The early
admission line and the regular line kind of merged but we got though it.
Great crowd except for a few rowdy Willie people. The Wiyos warmed up.
They were very good. Next came Willie. He was in good spirits, seemed to
have fun and wasn't as rushed as last time. Mellencamp was great. Bob was
in good voice and played more newer stuff than usual. The highlight for me
was "I Feel A Change Comin' On". I wasn't crazy about the arraignments on
LARS and Watchtower but it was a good night with Bob.

John in CT


Review by Ernie Pancsofar

Musings on Another Bob Dylan Concert

What am I looking for?
What do I expect?
What will he deliver?
What will he elect
To play and the order to each song
It’s hard to anticipate what will come along.
People of all ages are heading to the Park
Old and young are in the crowd three hours ‘fore it’s dark
I wonder if he'll ever put Catfish on his plate
I'll add it to my wish list – the hour’s getting late.
Maybe I'll go to Lakewood.
Maybe I'll stay at home.
Maybe just will have to do
Where I decide to roam.
Bob’s songs take on more meaning
To those of us who are leaning
Closer to his age
In the presence of this sage.
I listen to some songs more intently than before
Like Trying to Get to Heaven Before they Close the Door.
Those of us who've been granted a second lease on life
Listen to his songs anew – the ones of death and strife.
Well, once again I leave his show and marvel at his presence
And think, maybe, once again I got a glimpse Bob’s essence
As he shares new interpretations of each song
I’m grateful for this chance to come and tag along. 

Ernie Pancsofar


Review by M. Dweezi

An absolutely perfect night for an outdoor show. Willie was in fine form
but played a too short set for my taste. The same could be said for John
Mellencamp. Perhaps just a double bill next time to give the opener equal
time. Enough of that though. Stu, George and Tony were in GREAT shape
last night. The band was the best I've seen them in a while. Having seen
Bob over 40 times now I'd have to say that his set list was uninspired.
He sounded good and was playing well but something was missing. A certain
spark just never ignited. There were hints and high points. When the
Deal Goes Down was set somewhere between a waltz and a funeral dirge.
Excellent rendering of this song. Bob's phrasing on "Thin Man" was
brilliant. He made the song new and fresh by just changing the cadence
of his vocal delivery.  These are the moments that I wait for at his
shows.  The sound system for all 3 bands was surprisingly crisp for a
stadium show. A great night overall and definitely worth the trip!!


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