Bethel, New York

Bethel Woods Center For The Arts

July 18, 2009

[Monica], [Stephen Goldberg], [Scott Kareff]

Review by Monica

Yasgur's Farm

In the midst of a rainy summer and below average temperatures we were
reluctant to commit to a trip to Bethel, NY as we were already hooked up
for a show closer to home. However, the old alfalfa field of 40 years ago
has been all prettied up and it is a good venue to see a show. So off to
the woods we went. In 1969 the country was well into a military conflict
abroad and the banging of the drum for civil rights at home was echoing
loud and clear. The Woodstock Festival brought together music, lots of
people and social harmony. However, even though it was in his own
backyard, amazingly it didn't bring out Bob Dylan. Bob and his cowboy band
showed up tonight. We opted for lawn seats for this show and took up a
piece of real estate center lawn. The sun was out but rain clouds lurked
all around the park. The Wiyos opened the evening and these guys inspired
me to walk up the hill and buy a CD. Nice renditions of Blind Willie
McTell and Lil' Walter songs. The Wiyos are a bluesy, New Orleans ragtime,
feel of a band with a lot of future potential. Willie Nelson & his band
gave a good performance. The little sister playing piano, just
outstanding! We could have listened to Willie all night long. John
Mellencamp was a crowd pleaser with a nice solo on the acoustic guitar.
Even with the rain that came folks were up on their feet singing along to
some well done old favorites. By the time Dylan took to the stage the rain
had cleared and the stars were shining. Attending a Bob Dylan show is like
Forest Gump's box of chocolates: "you never know what you're going to get"
(as far as, in the way a song will be played) and this show was no
exception. The show kicked off with an old favorite of the fans, Leopard
Skin Pill Box Hat, and Don't Think Twice It's Alright, with Bob on guitar.
In response, a good sing along, toe tap and hand clap from the crowd.
Tonight's performance of Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, which would normally
have me reaching for a piece of gum and saying ho hum instead had me
engaged. The guitar licks made you take notice. However, it also had you
looking to see if there was a monkey with a red hat sitting on Bob's
shoulder cranking the organ grinder. Po' Boy is another tune that many
fans might not have on their wish list. Bob and his cowboy band's enticing
version of this song plays better in show than on record. With stars
shinning in the night sky Bob moseyed out from his keyboard and played a
hollowing harmonica and crooned out a captivating version of Forgetful
Heart. For a moment you could imagine yourself camped out on the range
with your feet by the fire and your head on a bed roll staring at the
night sky. This is clearly another song that plays better in show then on
record. The muted man who sings and the soldier band made their stand with
a set list that at first glance wouldn't knock your socks off. But, that
is what's so amazing about a Bob Dylan show. What the show may lack in:
popular favorites, dusty shelved never sung songs, or sing along
renditions instead, provides you a new perspective of songs that aren't
popular favorites ( they don't get much play at home). Despite a brief
shower, tonight was a beautiful evening with the stars shinning and the
sweet smell of timothy on the breeze. Bob Dylan the matchless musician and
his polished cowboy band provided an evening of a couple of time-honored
favorites, not so popular tunes coupled with new grooves that will grow
old and better like fine wine. How about that Jolene!


Review by Stephen Goldberg

A great show at a great venue. I must admit that after going to Dylan 
concerts on a fairly regular basis over the past 21 years or so, I  have
been setting the bar lower and lower. A good show is now one with  only a
few cringe inducing moments. I was expecting the worse, having  read
reports of the return of the dreaded upsinging and the same  boring band.
Well, happy to report that not only was there no  upsinging, Bob's vocals
were clear and strong from the opening song to  the very last verse of
Watchtower. The highlight for me was, believe  it or not, Po' Boy, sung
beautifully. That Bob can pull off a song  like this and Forgetful Heart
in front of a crowd of party-hearty  drunks fired up by Mellencamp is a
testament to his power. , or  preferably as a performer. What struck me,
was how much more is  required of the audience by Bob, as compared to
Willie Nelson or  Mellencamp. Dylan, by playing songs like Hattie Carroll,
Po' Boy,  Workingman Blues and Forgetful Heart compels the audience to
listen if  the songs/performance is to have any meaning at all. Those that
do are  richly rewarded. Those that don't stand around and talk or
preferably,  leave.  After the Mellencamp, I thought, how is Bob gonna
come on  after such an energetic and crowd pleasing set? Well, he did,
despite  only playing a few songs  the casual fan would know and having a
lead  guitart that didn't play  one single memorable note all night. 
After  the show my wife smilingly said "He's still got it!"  On to New
Jerse.  God help us!


Review by Scott Kareff

For me, this concert was a lifetime in the making.  When the summer
barn-storming tour was announced, I decided that now was the time to
realize a dream and pack up the wife and kids and take the whole family to
the show so my 8-year old son could see his namesake perform live and in
person.  Talk about pressure.  But Bob did not disappoint.  He put on a
wonderful show.  Before that though, this being the site of Woodstock, the
heavens opened and a Hard Rain began to fall.  It was pretty hairy at one
point, and we almost bailed.  But the kids hung in there, and when a giant
rainbow appeared to frame the stage, we knew the show would go on and we
would make it through.

The first 5 songs were amazing.  Great out of the gate with Leopard Skin
Pill Box Hat.  Singing very clearly.  The band was cooking. Then one of my
favorites, Don't Think Twice, and we all sang along.  For me, this was one
of the show's highlights.  Another highlight was a great Hattie Carroll,
completely re-worked (first time I have heard this arrangement, anyway). 
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (which I told my twins was them!). It's
Alright Ma was ferocious, and Workingman's Blues (#2) well done as well. 
Others have commented about Bob's performance of Forgetful Heart, and I
agree it was exquisite.  Then it was Thunder on the Mountain, and we had
to bail, having exceeded my 5 year-old's tolerance.  Would have liked to
have stayed for Jolene, but what can you do.  I was very impressed with
Bob's performance, and glad we were able to make it.

One note about the venue.  The grounds are beautiful and all, but the
traffic was horrendous.  And while the website warns you to get there
early, there is no reason why they can't do something to alleviate the
awful crawl.  Anyway, John Mellencamp was very good, and from what I was
able to hear and see of Willie, so was he (though I missed Pancho and
Lefty stuck in traffic if indeed he played it). 

As always, thanks Bob, and see you next time the Bob Dylan Show comes to


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