Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
November 25, 2023
Review by Paul West
The man in the spotlight was 33 years old at our first Dylan show, half a
century ago. He opened, and closed, with “Most Likely You Go You Your Way
(and I’ll Go Mine)”--a song he’d started performing in public only a
couple weeks earlier. The backup band was, well, The Band. In the arena
crowd that night in Atlanta were Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn. Jimmy
was quietly preparing his run for president, a preposterous ambition for
an obscure southern governor; we locals figured he was really seeking the
vice-presidency. As part of his plan, Carter played host to Dylan at a
post-concert party at the governor’s mansion. You can google a Rolling
Stone piece about it or click on it here:
Now, Rosalynn’s gone, and Jimmy’s race is almost run. Bob is, thankfully,
still out on the road. Tonight’s joint: Baltimore’s symphony hall, on the
second of two nights. Our party of six included Claudia, my wife, who was
with me back in ‘74, and our two sons. Just like that long-ago first time,
there were no distractions from cell phones (which weren’t around then), a
surprisingly welcome throwback.
We knew the setlist going in, thanks to this venerable website (and
Dylan’s own), including “Most Likely You Go Your Way,” now played 484
times, and counting. Nothing could really prepare us, though, for the
performance, as we’ve learned from a dozen shows over the years.
Bob’s singing on “Watching The River Flow,” a worthy opener, seemed a
bit lost in the mix at first, but things soon got straightened out ,and
the sound, overall, was sharp and clear.
Highlights for me: A fine rendition of “When I Paint My Masterpiece,”
followed by a terrific “Black Rider,” one of many good cuts from the
“Rough And Rowdy Ways” album. Also, "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," which
started out sparely and finished with lush flourishes, a gem in this show.
“My Own Version of You,” a great song, was smoothly delivered, as were
“Key West (Philosopher Pirate)” and the terrific “Mother of Muses,” which
is still playing in my head.
The oldies were superb, though his singing on “Gotta Serve Somebody”
underwhelmed. And after the buildup that “Goodbye Jimmy Read” received in
other reviews, I found the arrangement a bit disappointing.
Every show is unique, of course. Our most unforgettable concert memory is
still the last show of the 2002 tour, when the band laid down on the stage
in Fairfax, Virginia during a roaring, eight-minute performance of “Summer
Days,” the main-set closer. Tony Garnier had his standup bass nearly on
top of him as he kicked his legs in the air. Larry Campbell and Charlie
Sexton (who would leave the band after that show) joined him on the floor
at Dylan’s feet, jamming at high speed and grinning, while Bob dropped to
Nothing like that tonight. I’ll remember this show for its tight
execution, Bob’s delivery in a voice that didn’t disappoint, and solid
backing from the current band, enlivened by the addition of Jerry
Pentecost, a worthy incumbent in a long line of drummers stretching back
to Levon. Can’t fault the decision to center the show around “Rough and
Rowdy Ways,” which increasingly looks like a late-career masterpiece.
Bob remains as protean as ever, rollin’ and tumblin’ the lyrics of songs
old and new. His ever-changing arrangements of the vocals and music are
among his supreme achievements as an artist. I miss the mix-em-up,
keep-em-guessing setlists of earlier concerts and extended instrumental
breaks that pushed shows past two hours in length. There’s also no denying
the creeping impact of age. Later in the show, he repeatedly stood up (to
ease the strain on his back?). He had sheets of paper laid out on his
piano that he closely followed at times--most notably on “Key West,” which
he stumbled over recently, according to at least one earlier review on
this site. Themes of mortality run through the show, and they are
unmissable, needless to say. But I’m glad we didn’t miss Bob’s latest
tour, a wonderful treat for fans old and new. And unlike some prophets of
doom, I fully expect to catch him again the next time he passes through.
Review by Barry Gloffke
Well, that's a wrap. 15 Bob shows in 25 days! What a great experience.
From Rochester, NY to Baltimore, MD. and so many cities and towns in
between. But, as this was the last show for me... it is bittersweet
writing this. I hope this is not the end of seeing Bob... but if so, then
I can say I went out with a bang. I, along with my beautiful wife
Jacqueline, who attended 4 shows, smiled, danced, sang and had a
thoroughly wonderful time.
This show was a step up from last night as the sound issues, although
still present, were minimal. The crowd was a bit more enthusiastic than
last night and the ushers/security knew me from the night before, so they
let me stand to the side and dance away from my aisle seat, so as not to
block anyone's view. A win-win-win for everyone involved. Crazy thing was
that there was absolutely no security up front at the stage for the first
two songs. Never saw that before. But I was ready from my 3rd row position
to tackle any drunk who tried to attack Bob!
Bob was in fine voice as he has been all tour, and the Band could not be
any better at this point. The sound they create within the structure of
the songs is incredible... subtle power... forceful fills... no one gets
to shine (except Bob), but each puts their signature where necessary, when
necessary. And as I've said before, JP Pentecost drives the songs with his
quiet pounding style.
The show started nicely, and Bob did some wonderful piano playing on MOST
LIKELY YOU GO YOUR WAY (AND I'LL GO MINE). But the show took off after the
duo of FALSE PROPHET and WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE where Bob nailed the
piano solos and interludes. Overall Bob was great on piano, and most
noticeably on CROSSING THE RUBICON. Standouts included MY OWN VERSION OF
YOU, BLACK RIDER and MOTHER OF MUSES. The top highlight was a blistering
mid-song riff by Bob and the Band during I'LL BE YOUR BABY TONIGHT that
kicked ass! Nice! There was no cover again as has been the standard since
the Beacon Theatre in NY.
After Band intros, knowing there were only two songs left, I was absorbing
as much of the atmosphere as my mind could consume. A fine GOODBYE JIMMY
REED was followed by an exquisite EVERY GRAIN OF SAND with a superb harp
coda. Beautiful ending, but as I said, bittersweet. Thanks Bob!
Well, it was good to see some Bobcats for one last time this tour.
Mangala, is was nice to see you once again. Safe travels... when in NY
contact me. Ian, Gary good luck on the rest of the tour and the trip home
across the pond. Melody and Steve good to speak to you... when in NY...
you have my info. And lastly it was nice to meet Mike, sorry can't
remember your two nom de plumes, who attended the last eight Bob shows.
Hope to see all of you and many more on another Bob tour. But if this was
the last, then I'm glad to have met all you great Bobcats (and Deadheads)
over the years.
As an addendum, I first heard Bob when I was about 6 years old. I was
entranced by this whiny voice emanating from my sister's bedroom. She was
playing Freewheelin' and it was BLOWIN' IN THE WIND that first drew me in.
But that was just a fleeting moment. I heard nothing more from the man for
several years. Fast forward to 1975 and twelve year old Barry is sitting
on the sand at Rockaway Beach, NY (yes, the Ramones Rockaway Beach) on a
hot summer day. And just like the Ramones song, I had hitched a ride with
a friend of mine to the beach. As a matter of fact, I lived across the
street from Joey Ramone. I went to Rock 'n Roll High School (Forest Hills
High School... Ramones, Paul Simon, Kiss, etc.). I did not know him
personally as he was a few years older than me, but I would see him in the
neighborhood every once in a while... odd looking guy. Anyway, back to
Bob. 1975 was the heyday of FM radio, and the king of NY radio was WNEW FM
102.7. It seemed that every radio on the beach was tuned into that station
when out of those radios came the most magical sound... it was Bob Dylan
in all his nasal glory belting out that thin, wild mercury, found on STUCK
INSIDE OF MOBILE WITH THE MEMPHIS BLUES AGAIN. Wow!! I was blown away to
say the least. That began a love affair that revolved around the release,
during my high school years, of DESIRE, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS and STREET
LEGAL. I was deep into Bob. I started to go back to his 60's catalog and I
loved his early 80's christian era, but then I lost track of him during my
1980's college/art/club/dancing/drugs/sex period. It was not until I
graduated college and got my first job (Architectural Digest magazine)
that I got a chance to see him live. It was a dismal first experience.
October 17, 1990. I had seats too far back in the Beacon Theatre in NYC to
see the stage clearly... the sound was awful... Bob sounded like shit...
the only good thing if you could call it that was seeing Lenny Kravitz
open for Bob. I was underwhelmed. But that changed the next time I saw Bob
five years later on Oct. 18, 1994 at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC. That
show rocked!! And it was the start of what is now 85 time seeing Bob. Some
good, some bad, some great, and and a bucket full of phenomenal shows. So
many great memories. Bob has given me wonderful experiences by dint of
fandom. I've travelled to places I would never have seen and met people I
never would have met had it not been for my rabidness. Whether his music,
bootlegs, concerts or whiskey, I've been hooked on Bob a long time. Once
again, thanks Bob!
Review by Rich Paddock
Spent Friday and Saturday evening at The Meyerhoff for Bob Dylan and Band,
my first encounters on this leg of Rough and Rowdy Ways Tour. Sets were
the same both nights - no surprise there; they started promptly at 8 and
ran for about an hour and forty minutes. My seats were in the Grand Tier.
Really glad I got to see a couple of shows on this leg. For me the only
performance that was stronger Friday than Saturday was “False Prophet”.
For the most part I thought Saturday was the better overall performance -
the murmuring chaos as “Watching the River Flow” takes shape was very
brief on Saturday night which made me think the Bob and band were raring
to go. Saturday’s sound seemed way better with the vocals very clear and
the piano sounding less “tinny” and better balanced in the overall mix.
This was particularly true during the musical interludes between verses.
On “Mother of Muses” the interactions between guitars, bass and piano made
me pause to recognize that these guys are really good and sensitive
musicians! Couple of other high points for me: the swinging drums, fiddle
and precision start/stops on “Masterpiece”; vocals on “Black Rider” and
“Made Up My Mind”; the insistent pulse of the band on “My Own Version”
Review by David Mendick
“God, your plans are incomprehensible to me!
Their total number is countless! If I tried to count them—they outnumber
grains of sand! If I came to the very end—I'd still be with you.” I never
listened to this Dylan classic like I listened tonight. This is his church
temple mosque synagogue. I went with my rabbi. He’s never seen Dylan and I
don’t think he knows lots about him. But I needed him to come. When we
left he said it was “spiritual “ and “healing “. His words not mine. Every
grain of sand has never sounded better. Such a beautiful song. Beautifully
sung. Timing like Sinatra. His whole career captured in a few moments of
the most haunting harp solo - it seemed to last forever. The memories will
last forever. It was spiritual. Healing. My words. My wife keeps saying it
may not be the end. But i think it is. And that’s ok. Finally. Thanks so
much to boblinks.
Review by Todd Holden
night 2 Meyerhoff, Baltimore…righter on the dot, show opened, same line up,
played with strong voice, harmonica was a treat..at the grand piano most
of the evening..
large, multi aged crowd, packed
pretty much the same drill as night before…
outstanding renditions of Most Likely,
Watching the river flow, every grain of sand
biggest crowd response gotta serve somebody…purely open hearted and strong
crowd must have had joe biden on their mind for Black Rider …’you’ve been
on the job too long…
go see him..it may be the last time around..
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