Brooklyn, New York

Prospect Park Bandshell

August 12, 2008

[Kevin Ouellette], [Mike Skliar], [Jeff Dellin], [Stephen Goldberg], [Scott Kareff],
[Iris Seifert], [Derek Geary], [Howard Weiner], [J. Slattery] [Michael Perlin]

Review by Kevin Ouellette

I got to the venue early to get a good spot since I had GA Lawn.  The
place was very crowded as the show sold out in a minute and a half.  The
sound check was audible and they did a nice version of Absolutely Sweet
Marie but we didn't get it at the actual show.  As a side note I did see
Haraldo Rivera at the show, he wasn't a big enough celebrity to get into
the private area he had to sit in the seated area with the rest of the

Dylan and the band came on a little after 8pm.  Dylan wearing a black
cowboy outfit with red piping.  The band in black matching suits.  Now I
will say this and it concerned me throughout the night.  Bob seemed to be
having some trouble with his legs or knees.  Every few songs he would
walk out from behind the keyboard and stretch.  He got down on one knee
several times.  I had binoculars and could see him grimace several times
while doing this.  

I'm not going to give a song by song review.  I will say that Bob decided
to go the political/anti-war route tonight.  We got a great version of
John Brown, Masters Of War, It's Alright Ma, and Blowin' In The Wind.
The extra encore song was a nice surprise.  Bob's keyboard was higher
in the mix than in previous shows and he played really well tonight adding
some nice touches and even a few brief solos.  His vocals were very good
too.  He was easy to understand and did some nice staccato20style
phrasing which was interesting.  This was done on Honest With Me, John
Brown and Masters Of War.   

This band is getting really tight too.  Denny Freeman was much better
than when I saw them in 2006.  He just tore it up on several songs and
added some real nice touches to some songs.  Donnie Heron was having a
blast with Bob sharing grins back and forth.  Tony and George were their
usual solid selves.  I don't really even know why Stu is in the band
anymore.  He plays strictly rhythm guitar and was turned down so low in
the mix he was hardly audible all night.  Denny had turned out to be the
real star of this band, well except for they guy playing keyboard.  

Overall this was a good show.  The band and Bob were better this time
when I saw them in 2006.  

Kevin Ouellette


Review by Mike Skliar

Just back from beautiful Brooklyn, NY.  The weather held out, and though
before the show there were storm clouds ragin' for about 15 minutes, not
a drop of rain fell at the concert site, the intimate and historic
bandshell in Prospect Park. (I was told later that it rained heavily for
a short time just across the water in Manhattan.)

I'd say overall that it was a good show, but not, for me anyway, an
all-time great one.  Bob's performance was focused, and very good. The
setlist unfortunately, was fairly boring, a little too much 'ordinary
stuff'-though, especially in the second half, there were many  wonderful
moments and one drop-dead amazing performance of a classic "Masters of

Bob's band keeps evolving, in this case both a good and bad thing. They
were tight and together, but an interesting and strange quality has
seeped in- the band members are all doing their own 'Bob'-style playing.
In past shows I've seen, lead guitarist Denny Friedman, for example,
played fluid, jazz-inflected lines with occasional  flat-five and
diminished and augmented accents. Tonight, he was playing a lot of that
'Bob three-note' style we all remember well from the mid-to late 90's
shows. There was some very coordinated, worked-out-in advance rhythm
playing by the entire band that seemed a reflection of what Bob wanted
to hear. Trouble was, tho, it didn't have some of the spontaneity and
occasional wild abandon of the Charlie/Larry version of the band, for
example. There seems to be a reluctance by the band members to step out 
other then the occasional "Bob-style" solos. On the positive side,
though, Bob's probably releltless drilling of the band has brought a new
ease in his own overall performence, which really was wonderful to see. 
I also felt some of the 'straight  blues/rock' numbers (Rainy Day Woman,
Lonesome Day Blues, Levee's Gonna Break, Summer Days, Thunder on the
Mtn.) suffered from a bit of sameness in the playing and arrangement.
(And why on earth would a setlist contain all five, plus 'Honest with
Me'? It seems a waste, especially as there were no songs played, for
example, written after 1969 and before 2001!Of course, every night is
different, but I've seen more 'balanced' setlists.)   The playing on the
ballads (Nettie Moore, John Brown, Masters of War, Girl from the North
Country) by contrast to the blues/rock numbers was much more inventive,
subtle and supportive to the singing. 

There's a slight rearrangement in Honest with Me, though it still feels
like one of my least favorite songs he plays.  A bigger rearrangement
was given to Beyond the Horizon, which has a sort of syncopated
rocked-up swing/jazz groove to it now. It was different then the album,
but still effective.  It's alright Ma was a bit different then prior
years, and is another fantastic arrangement and performance- Bob almost
always does this song justice, and tonight was no exception. "Girl from
the North Country" had its 2003-era arrangement, and is always a stunner
as well  

In addition to 'It's alright Ma', the other ones that really stood out
for me were 'Nettie Moore' (which has always been wonderful every time
I've seen it), 'John Brown', and especially, 'Masters of War'. Though
Bob's played it a lot, it had not only an effective arrangement but a
really unique vocal phrasing. The first half of each line was delivered
exactly where you thought it should be, while he delayed the second half
of the line way past where you thought it would fit, only to deliver it
in this perfectly conversational behind-the beat tone that added to its
emphasis. It made you realize that Bob, when he wants to, has incredible
control over his phrasing- he repeated this hard-to replicate pattern
for the whole song, and it worked completely. It's hard to say a 'best
ever Masters of War' but this was up there.   "Like a Rolling Stone' was
an effective bit of arena-rock. as always. Finally, the upbeat almost
swingin' Blowin in the Wind made a nice closer. 

All in all, it was a great way to spend an evening in Brooklyn on a
great night. Not the best Dylan show for the ages, but a fine
performance and a few moments that really stand out as incredible.   


Review by Jeff Dellin

Beautiful night in Brooklyn and despite some confusion over start time and
lack of a seating chart, the show appeared to go on without a hitch and
was from my point of view well orchestrated, making for a pleasant
experience overall.

Somebody get that man a massage! A couple of times during the set, Bob
appeared to cramp up, at one point falling to a knee to stretch his leg.
Of course, a little leg stiffness didn't stop him from getting through a
fairly standard but well played set.

After seeing this band a number of times, I've resigned myself to not
being surprised and blown away and instead trying to appreciate the subtle
nuances of "Honest With Me" and "Highway 61", songs for which the words
"subtle" and "nuance" shouldn't apply. While the lack of songs from the
'70s and '80s was again somewhat disappointing there was more to enjoy
from this performance.

I was happy to hear "Lay Lady Lay". Though it's been played a lot
recently; I've seemed to miss it. Unfortunately, the version wasn't
totally up to snuff with Donnie's steel guitar almost inaudible in the

To me, the band started to kick in right at the beginning of "Lonesome Day
Blues", while not the "Mississippi" I was hoping for, was still a
strongest showing from Love and Theft and was one of the highlights from
the first half. That led into "Girl From The North Country", the closest
thing to a surprise for me, and the only real appearance of a harp solo in
the main portion of the set (he did blow a few notes at the end of "Spirit
On The Water").

Then came "Levee's Gonna Break", "Spirit On The Water", "Honest With Me"
three songs frankly I have seen so many times that I lost interest for a
bit. "Honest With Me" did have some interesting vocal phrasing as noted in
an above review and almost sounded like a totally different song for two
minutes or so.

John Brown was nearly worth the price of admission itself with Bob
really trying to make it meaningful. I thought the rest of the show
sounded great, especially the funked-up "Beyond The Horizon" and a
haunting "Masters Of War". In the past, "Masters Of  War" was more
over-blown in attempt to punctuate the powerful lyrics. Last night's
version let the lyrics do the talking and that was much appreciated. 

I really thought "Like A Rolling Stone" was excellent last night,
probably ranking in the top three of the dozens I have seen over the

I was happy to hear the third encore, a speeded up "Blowin' In The Wind
(nice harp outro), thinking that Bob had laid an extra song on the New
York City crowd. Later, I find out the main set was only 14 songs so it
was the standard 17 song show he has been playing all over Europe for
non-festival gigs. Perhaps his legs were really cramping after "Masters Of
War" and ran to find a masseuse back stage.

Jeff Dellin


Review by Stephen Goldberg

When I was growing up my family used to drive into Brooklyn from Long
Island to visit my grandmother at least one Sunday a month. She lived by
Grand Army Plaza, right across the street from Prospect Park and the
Brooklyn Museum. Back in those days Prospect Park was a threatening and
dangerous place. My brother and I weren't allowed to leave the apartment,
much less go to the park. Move ahead 20-30 years and Prospect Park is once
again a beautiful place and a great place for a concert. The tickets said
6:30PM, the media and website said 7:00PM and Bob apparently said 8:30PM.
The website for Prospect Park boasted of the "directional" sound system
and is it ever. Like many, we didn't have tickets and were out on the lawn
on the other side of the fence. Couldn't hear a thing if you were stage
left or right but the sound was clear right in the middle. The fence by
the way, was a sore point for the locals who deemed it elitist and said
that was the first time a fence was erected to block the view of the
stage. A few things struck me about the show. First is that the Wolfman
was nowhere in sight. Dylan's vocals were clear throughout. The band is
tight but lacks the energy and attitude of a rock band, probably at Bob's
insistence. The lead guitar work bordered on amateurish, at times similar
to Bob's simplistic leads but without the crazy train wreck quality. The
arrangement of Girl From The North Country was criminal as was Blowin' In
The Wind. What was with that 50's doo wop bass arrangement? Nettie Moore
was stunningly beautiful. John Brown even managed to quiet the annoying
and incredibly rude and self centered cell phone users. It's All Right
Ma's arrangement brought me right back to 1978. The uptempo tunes had me
dancin', the quit ones had me listening and I guess that was the point.
Overall, an average show and about what can be expected from Bob and His

Stephen Goldberg


Review by Scott Kareff

Was it really true that last night's concert at the Prospect Park
Bandshell was Bob Dylan's first performance in Brooklyn?  

Having spaced on the pre-sale and getting caught without a ticket, I
weighed my concert options this week:  Wilco or Bob Weir/Almann Brothers
on Wednesday or good old Bob on Tuesday.  I spent much time yesterday on
Craig's List trying to avoid the scalpers and find those "true fans" who
were looking to sell their tickets at face value to a kindred spirit.
Couldn't make that connection, though.  So, with visions of "Joey" (born
in Redhook, Brooklyn) and even "Tangled Up in Blue" (Montague Street) in
the back of my mind, I boarded the "F" train in midtown bound for
Brooklyn, not wanting to miss a Bob show in NYC.  

As I entered the Park and saw the picnickers setting up outside the
bandshell I was immediately at ease:  even if I didn't find my ticket, I
would enjoy the songs from outside the venue.  And tickets were very hard
to come by.  Didn't look promising.  And then suddenly I turned around and
she was standing there:  A quiet, solitary, longhaired, trenchcoat-clad
fan who generously agreed to sell me her GA ticket at face value.  The
weather had cleared and I was in the show.

The Bandshell proved to be an ideal venue.  Although the reserved seats
appeared to be no more than a bunch of plastic chairs set up in the sun,
the lawn was not crowded.  I soon found myself in the first row of the
lawn, right up against the steel barricades.  An ideal perch to view the
night's proceedings, if only security would let us stay there.  We waited.
 No need to sit through an opening act this night, just enjoy the evening
until Bob took the stage, which he did well after 8 PM.  Our location
worries were put to rest when security told us that as long as we didn't
push against the barricade, we would all get along just fine. (Midway
through the show Police Commissioner Kelly strolled trough the venue, a
show of force for the men in blue; no incidents as far as I could tell,
though EMC did lead a shaky looking woman out of the show a few songs in;
unclear what ailed or what became of her).

So much for the preliminaries.  Now for the show.  Overall, I thought it
was a very strong performance.  Surprisingly so.  Looking at the set lists
from recent shows, I was not expecting an inspired performance because the
set lists have not varied very much recently.  But this was New York, and
so I should have known better.  Although the show started off slowly in my
view with a version of Rainy Day Women, Lay Lady Lay was a great comeback
and the swamp rock of Lonesome Day Blues showed that Bob was full of good
energy this night.  (Lyric change alert in Lay Lady Lay:  ""You can eat
your cake and have it too"; yes, Bob, we are paying attention).  Then he
unveiled a re-worked Girl From the North Country that was almost
unrecognizable.  Songs 5-7 were of more recent vintage; I really enjoyed
The Levee's Gonna Break and Honest with Me. Another swamp rocker.  Down in
the groove for sure.

John Brown was next, and this seemed to mark the transition to the
culmination of the show.  Still a good number of songs remained,
including an always great It's Alright Ma and Nettie Moore.  When he
tore through Summer Days (killed it as usual), I started thinking about
the encore, and this drifter's escape.  He wasn't done just yet, though,
choosing instead to close with Masters of War, which is relatively
uncommon these days it seems. What with John Brown earlier, Bob was a
veritable one-man anti-war movement on this night.

Great encore:  Rolling Stone and Thunder on the Mountain.  And finally,
the surprise of the night, a completely re-worked Blowing in the Wind. I
swear no one in the whole place seemed to recognize this song at all.

And that's all she wrote.  Bob took his leave, I did the same, waved
goodbye to the Tour Buses that zipped ahead of me down the avenue with Bob
and Co. headed for another joint.  And while I could quibble here and
there with the set list (would have preferred Cat's in the Well, which he
opened with in Philly, instead of Rainy Day, and could have done without
Highway 61, didn't get Joey), I ended up thoroughly satisfied with a truly
outstanding performance by a great showman, in his inaugural Brooklyn
performance, after all these years.

Bravo, Bob.


Review by Iris Seifert

The New York Show - a cake with pink frosting

Truly a day only the Lord could make as Mr..Dylan points out and
emphasized again with a verse repeat at end of Levee.

Verse by Rumi (translation by Coleman Barks):

"Whispering at dawn: Don't keep from me what you know. Answer: Some things
are to understand, but not say. Be quiet.

Following Rumi's advice, many things shall remain unsaid; however, they
were understood.

The energy of the show was different from the sizzling Electric Factory,
but with its definite blasting hot moments in Levee, Honest with Me,
Summer Days and what seemed to me more of a contemplative Highway 61, but
also dire warnings in It's all right Ma, a version of Masters of War where
you could feel the imminent danger, and a haunting John Brown);
speculations let loose in a conversation with NY old-timers about Girl
from the North Country as being a bonus tune for Ms. Rotolo - the
romantics in us would delight in such gesture. Beyond the Horizon - glad
to hear the dance version again, and Nettie Moore getting to be a
favorite. As other people have mentioned, it is a feast to hear the
variations in phrasing and intonation in any of these songs, especially
pronounced tonight, changing several times within a song.

Like Rolling Stone was moved to the encore set, and Thunder on the
Mountain to finish the cake, and the pink frosting: Blowing in the wind,
yet again with a nice long harmonica solo to finish it up. Now we just
needed to eat that cake that was promised in the 2nd tune of the night.

All in all: a song and dance show, and Mr. Dylan did dance! The security
staff member who kindly let me stand next to him behind the speaker
exclaimed: I did not know he could dance! And then a little walk around
the front of the keyboard and the center mike towards Mr. Garnier, some
leg kicks, shoulder attitudes and front turns with pointed fingers excited
the crowd to no end.

This show was not much for sound, but all for the visual and proximity,
though the "important" lyrics were well audible..

Think Pink.


Comments by Derek Geary

The other reviews seem to have captured the spirit of this show:
definitely "hit and miss" to put it generously.  The only tunes that were
really compelling were Masters of War and maybe LARS. But reading a review
of the  Asbury Park show I am inspired to say YES, the sound mix SUCKED.
If anyone in the Dylan camp ever reads these reviews, please fire the guy
with tin ears behind the mixing board. His idea of mixing is 90% bass and
10% the rest. That mixed with Bob's bass growl of a voice these days is
the chief reason I feel that I am seeing more mediocre reviews than ever
these days. Well, that and the fact that his current band sounds like an
average lounge band compared to the soulful guitar driven Campbell/Sexton
edition.  Plus, Dylan subtracts half of his power by hiding behind a huge
hat and playing keyboard at the side of the stage. I just watched the
video of "Love Sick" from the MT dvd version and it is striking what a
different experience it is of his genius. C'mon Bob!



Review by Howard Weiner


Although I've been trapped in the heart of Manhattan for the past twelve 
years, the hog-eyed borough of Brooklyn was as mysterious to me as Lewiston,
Maine or Mexico City.  After exiting the F Train by Prospect Park with everyday 
commuters, I stopped off for refreshments at a tiny bistro. In the garden, 
beneath a caravan tent, the waitress poured a Brooklyn Lager for me while 
fondling my upper torso. Greek music and incense filled the air as the scraping 
of cutlery against plates was offset by birds chirping in stereo. A grey tabby 
proudly displayed his furry white belly for the patrons, then suddenly whacked 
a pebble and chased it down the cellar steps. I had to extricate myself from 
this charming backyard Brooklyn scenery and figure out how I was going to 
get into Dylan's sold out performance at Prospect Park.
As evening sky grew dark, I was struck with the realization that my mission was 
futile.  I wasn't able to find a reasonably priced ticket or scam my way in, so I 
joined thousands of Brooklynites who were content squatting or milling about 
the bandshell perimeter. Any view of Dylan or the stage was completely 
obstructed, and from my vantage point I could hear the music, but it wasn't 
loud enough to get off on. I sulked during spotty performances of Rainy Day 
Women and Lay Lady Lay. A generic set list ensued. Dylan shuffled out the 
wonton soup, egg rolls, chicken and broccoli, pork fried rice, orange slices and 
fortune cookie like so many times before. On the grassy knoll, I sat amongst 
those spread out on blankets. Lonesome Day Blues was apropos for my 
situation, and well played. Dylan and the band really laid into a fiery offering 
of When the Levee Breaks. However, an obnoxious Bensonhurst couple 
bickered non-stop right behind me. They were unhappy with the concert 
series, Dylan, each other; they were born pissed off. A sullen-faced brown 
dog sidled-up by my side and licked my face for a minute or so. "Bones come 
here, I'm so sorry," exclaimed the embarrassed dog owner. I was fond of 
Bones, but I decided to relocate. 
Sandwiching the next segment with the old timey swinging ping pong waltzes 
Spirit on the Water and Behind the Horizon, the concert felt like a summer's 
eve on the Coney Island Boardwalk, circa 1941. Picnickers, dog walkers and 
curiosity seekers peacefully paraded around the perimeter of the bandshell. In 
my line of vision was a poster promoting Issac Hayes's July performance at 
Prospect Park - one of his last. R.I.P. Shaft! "You know you hurt me, you gave 
it to me, you socked it me mama, when you said goodbye, oh mama, walk on 
by." Highway 61 Revisited was muscular; you could hear Stu's guitar squeal and 
screech. Netitie Moore was cathartic. I needed to be closer to the Cowboy 
Band. Summer Days grooved - an amalgamation of all of Dylan's vocal and 
musical stylings on this night. With Russian bombs raining down on former 
Soviet soil, Dylan's performance of Masters of War was wicked. Resumption 
of the Cold War loomed in the air, but It's Alright Ma, it's life and life only.

Better tardy than not at all, I found out where the cool kids were chillin to 
Dylan. Up on the hill where the asphalt cuts through the greenery, and the 
bicyclists and hipsters hang, the music was thundering. The hypnotic flashing 
neon lights of the NYPD mini jeeps effortlessly danced amidst the towering 
pines beneath the egg white omelet moon. I should have been in this spot all 
night. Dylan was deep inside Like a Rolling Stone, 20,000 New Yorkers were in 
awe, and I was at one with the universe. Thunder on the Mountain was out 
of control, everything exploded from its essence. Blowin in the Wind was 
anti-climatic after that one-two punch, but Sweet Jesus, we were in the park, 
with the Maestro, on a sweatless, starless night in a City Park. Saturday Night 
at the Borgota beckons. 

Howard Weiner


Comments by J. Slattery

Try as I did, I was unable to get a ticket (and unwilling to spend
scalper’s prices) for the Brooklyn show.  That didn’t stop me from
going out to God’s country in hopes of hearing a great concert.  From
what several  friends told me, the venue was such that you could sit out
on the lawn and hear the show perfectly.  So, hoping that this were
true, I trekked from New Jersey to Brooklyn to see what I would find.
What I found was a unique venue located in the middle of a park located
in the middle of Prospect  Park.  Bob’s buses were parked on the
street, and future Bob Dylan fans played on swings and slides on the
playground behind the band shell.  From a quick survey of the area, I
discovered it would be quite easy to find a good patch of earth from
where I could hear the show.  So, with the location scoped out, and time
on my hands, I searched out a place to eat and perhaps raise a few pints
to Bob’s health.  When done with a rather tasty meal (and a couple
pints and glass of single malt), I wandered to the park, where I saw
several friends—fellow NYC Dylan meet-up members as well as some
non-Bob friends—and we chatted for a while, speculating what Bob had in 
store for us.  As show-time neared,  I decided to follow a hunch I had had
upon first seeing how the venue was set up; so leaving my friends for a
few minutes, I wandered over to the playground, where, after a couple
minutes, walking through the jungle gym flanked by two imposing
gentlemen, came a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt, meandering toward me. 
My brain realized I was three feet from Bob Dylan, but my body couldn’t
process it all at once.  I fumbled for my camera, snapping a  blurry
picture, speechless, unable to even say ‘Hey Bob’, but having a second
where I was three feet from him, looking at the man himself as he weaved
the rest of the way into the venue. That alone gave me reason to be glad
I came out to Brooklyn without a ticket.  So, while I didn’t get to 
see Bob in concert (but did hear it quite well), I got to see Bob at a 
concert.  If that were all, I’d have  been satisfied, but there was
more.  There was a great show with strong performances of Lonesome Day
Blues,  Girl from the North Country, John Brown, It’s Alright,  Ma, just
to list a few stand-outs.  It was an interesting experience to be hearing
a live Bob show without seeing it.  It made me focus even  more on the

During the encores, I met up with a fellow Bobster, Jason, and we went
out to the buses.  I could hear Bob singing Thunder On the  Mountain and
Blowin’ in the Wind, but the sound was muffled.  That was okay, though,
because we positioned ourselves near the path Bob and his entourage used
to return to the  buses.  Nestled in the middle of his entourage, Bob
came out of the venue, nodded to some people in the crowd, walked five
feet in front of us, and proceeded to his bus.  It was amusing to see him
flanked by all  these people.  I don’t think most presidents have such
a protective detail. Overall, it was a great night for a Bob concert. 
And as great a show it was, I think what stands out for me most is seeing
Bob almost face-to-face before and after the show. I will be writing 
down my observations and thoughts on the other four shows I saw in the
past week when I get the time.  The Foxwoods  and Borgata shows were
stand-out performances, and I need to take time to gather my thoughts.  I
can’t wait to hear all of these shows again. If you have any questions
or comments or just would like to talk Bob, get in touch.  You can reach
me at  Also, you can visit our NYC Dylan Meetup 
page at Myspace. Keep On Keepin’ On, Brian

J. Slattery 


Review by Michael Perlin

*A Double Shot of My Bobby's Love...*

I've seen Dylan twice over a three day period, and over a four day period,
but never, until this past week, on back-to-back nights: Tuesday in
Brooklyn and Wednesday in Asbury Park. The snapshot version: OK set lists,
great band energy, totally redone arrangements, and more evidence that
Bobby just keeps on keepin' on... and most likely always will.

Tuesday added Brooklyn to my borough life list. Prospect Park, a great
venue. Our seats were row A (don't get too excited; that was about 8 rows
back), slightly left of center, three seats from Geraldo Rivera, who, when
I looked over, did seem to know all the words. This was my first BD
concert in almost two years (Philly, Nov 06), and that is the longest gap
for me since before 1994. I was disappointed that he has retired the
guitar again (for good? Who knows), and, if I were given a polygraph, I'd
concede that a full night of keyboard is *not *as alive, as immediate or
as passionate as a night with at least *some* guitar. But, I remain
grateful that, at age 67, the joker had not been relegated to the

Awaiting the concert, in line, we heard the soundcheck set (*sans* Bobby)
: Sweet Marie > This Wheel's on Fire > My Back Pages > High Water. If
only... Concert was sposed to start at 7; it started at 8:30. Is there
*anyone* else in the world I would have patiently sat 90 minutes awaiting?
Maybe Bruce and maybe Petty, but that's the long list version. The band
was the same as it's been for several years, and embedded in that phrase
are some positives and some less-than-positives. Basketball fans are
familiar with the "box and one" defense; the band struck me (more in
Brooklyn than in Asbury, but to some extent there as well) as a "box and
two": Bobby, George, Tony & Donnie, in the heart, on one hand; Stu and
Denny on the outside, as the other. Tony has been Bob's Cal Ripken for 15
years, and is the main reason the band cooks the way it does. Winston
Watson remains my favorite post-Levon Helm drummer of Bob's, but George's
performances these two nights were nothing short of spectacular. Donnie's
work on steel pedal, uke, banjo, violin et al adds a texture that has
become even more necessary since the demise of Bob's guitar (am I the only
person who remembers the portion of the 05 tour on which Elana played
violin, and who hopes against hope to see her back with the band?). But,
during the entire night, there were two moments in which I thought Denny's
solos made an authentic contribution. And, how do I say this nicely: I am
yet to figure out whatever difference there is between Stu's playing and
the playing of a dozen or a 100 guys doing covers in bar bands. But,

There were, as I indicated earlier, lots of new arrangements.* *Until I
heard the first words of *North Country,* I did not have the remotest idea
what it was going to be (my notes are blurred now [why I shouldn't wait
five days to write these up], but I was sure it was a *Modern Times* song,
most likely *Nettie Moore* (which, of course, came later). The new
arrangement of *It's Alright Ma* was also new, but contextually, it was
pretty easy to figure out what it was going to be before we heard the
first words. On the other hand, all of the *Modern Times (*and* Love and
Theft*) songs were basically live versions of the released cuts. The high
points of the night were *John Brown* and *Masters of War*, both musically
and politically. Here was Bob, in Brooklyn (hmm.. How far was he from
Montague Street??), with an audience as blue state as he'll ever get, and
he hammered home the reminder that we do, indeed, live in a political
world. (The special crowd roars on the other numbers came at the
predictable points: at "I'm over the hill" on *Spirit*, at "I'm in a
cowboy band" in *Nettie* and in "...must stand naked" in *It's Alright.
*But it was sustained for most of *John Brown*, and more so, during

Maybe some day he'll retire *Summer Days* (Alex, our son, points out that
maybe he just likes to *play* it, and I guess that might be). And since at
least we were spared *Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee*, I guess I shouldn't
complain. But, when there is *so* much to choose from, why, why, why?
Since we had a long trip home to Trenton ahead of us, we left after
*LARS,*figuring that I would get to hear the expected encores the next
night. As it is, we opened the garage door at 1 a.m., so it was probably a
good decision.

Wednesday, I got to Asbury Park very early, and walked on the boards. This
was a nostalgia moment for me; when I was a little boy, my parents used to
take me to the Asbury Park boardwalk from Perth Amboy, where we lived, all
the time. I saw my first rock and roll concert at Convention Hall in 1959
when I dragooned my cousin Terry (who was then 17 [I was 13]) into taking
me to see The Platters. And I had not been back since. So this was a
double memory lane trip for me. I wound up at the very front of the
General Admission line, and, as a result, we (not with Linda tonight, but
with our friend Susan, who is a Monmouth County girl by birth) were on the
rail just in front of Stu. Again, the 7 pm start was delayed 90 minutes.
Grumble (more so, b/c we were standing). I've read lots of complaints
about the acoustics, but from that perspective, I didn't find it
problematic at all. Or maybe I've just gotten so used to the sound that I
didn't notice.

The setlist was less inspired than the Tuesday setlist, I think, but I
found the concert musically more interesting (mostly that's a positive,
but not entirely). It occurred to me for the 1000th time on the subway on
the way back to Penn Station (the F to Borough Hall, changed to the C;
worked like a dream) that the ethos of Bob's music can be collapsed into
one thought and one lyric: the thought was expressed first by Verdi – in
music, passion is all. The passion – and even more, the *tension*, in
Bob's music – is what makes it worth going back time after time (for those
reading this who don't know me, my first Bob experience was at Gerde's in
May 1963...). And the lyric– "he not busy being born/is busy dying" – is
my life's mantra. So, the incessant reworking of the songs –while
certainly aggravating and exasperating on one level – means that the
concerts are never going to be museum pieces. And that also, always makes
it worthwhile.

This time, his enunciation on *RDW* was far more pronounced "be (pause)
all (pause) alone". Like that. *It Ain't Me Babe*, again, for me a totally
new arrangement, was a kind of waltz/reggae rhythm. *Spirit* was, in part,
a kind of march (and here was Denny's first notable guitar work of the
night, and there was far more of that in this concert than in Brooklyn ,
which is a very good thing). I cannot begin to describe the new version of
*Tangled*(which, of course, I was totally blindsided by): the verses were
step-by-step talking down lines in an almost nursery rhyme pattern (a
friend said it reminded him of an Irish jig.. Maybe...). And after the
"Said to me/ `Don't I know your name?'" line, he ad libbed, "I don't think
you do," which I maybe recall from an earlier version? It was fascinating
to hear once, but maybe the next time, it'll be back to the 2002 version
when Larry (sigh!) was playing lead guitar (yeah, right... ) *Trying to
Get to Heaven* was a high pont; all the emotion of the original came
through like a laser. Again, throughout, the work of both Tony and George
was propulsive, dynamic and inspired. On *Summer Days*, George was
incendiary (there is no other word).

The musical high point of both nights was *Ain't Talking*. Chilling.
Chilling. Chilling (and Donnie's violin was spectacular). That alone made
the night worthwhile. *LARS *was fine, *Thunder* rocked, and then came
again, an entirely new version of *Blowin'* (for which I was prepared),
which, for the first 32 bars or so easily could have been Smoky and the
Miracles doing *You Really Got a Hold on Me*. Contextually, I think it
worked, tho no doubt it disappointed a lot in the audience hoping for
something that approximated the 1963 version.

We noticed Patti Smith off to the right of where we were standing, and
kept hoping she would join Bob for yet another encore. Alas, no (their
singing *Dark Eyes* together at the Electric Factory) remains one of my
strongest concert memories). Sigh...

I can't figure out how much I should obsess about setlists (though I still
had two "firsts" (*Beyond the Horizon* in Bklyn and *Ain't Talking* in
AP)). I saw the list from Foxwoods and from Atlantic City, and they were
like gutshots to me (*Johanna! Tambourine! Chimes!)* But I know,
realistically, that the versions probably were as altered as the versions
of *North Country* and *Tangled*. And I'da sang along in that
weird-trying-to-keep-up way that we all do when a new arrangement is
unveiled. And Bobby looked absolutely happy at both concerts I saw
(smiling, laughing, clowning around,, dancing a bit [I wouldn't believe it
either]). And maybe that went hand-in-glove with the less unusual set
list. But still....

So, again, OK set lists, some great music, and throughout, great energy,
great urgency and great what Linda tells me is called "suchness" (a
Buddhist term meaning, more or less, "the appreciation of reality within a
unique moment.")That's what it was. And that's why I'm already looking
forward to the spring tour.

Thank you, Bob.


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