October 6, 2007
Review by Howie Weiner
I last saw Dylan in Albany at the Palace Theatre back in 1991. It was the first
time I watched him on the NET without G.E. Smith - if my memory serves me
well there was a Visions of Johanna on that occasion. How I wished I was at
the Palace last night, not at the awful Times Union Center. The powers that
be decided not to put on the AC even though it was 80 plus degrees and
humid. Everybody, including Dylan and the Cowboy Band sweated profusely.
In addition, the acoustics were sub par, but I didn't let it get in the way of
my enjoyment. This place was built for rodeos and monster trucks, not
Bob started the night in all black get-up, ah the Cowboy Band…Ho ho ho…they
didn't resemble a Cowboy Band. They wore these magenta/ slash Cranberry
jackets with black buttons over black shirts, hats and pants. They looked liked
they missed the audition for the "Barney On Ice" show or the off off Broadway
production of "The Four Amigos." There is no I in Cowboy Band, you put on
whatever suit they hand to you when you get off the bus.
Leopard Skin/ Don't Think Twice/ River Flow was a routine start - no real
fireworks. Bob made his move to his command center to pluck some organ.
The fourth spot on this tour has been huge, and Dylan delivered again with
a sublime "Simple Twist of Fate." The vocals were gritty, Denny's licks tasty,
and the harp solo was a creative venture with lots of feeling and escalating
intensity. I thought the following segment - Rollin Tumblin/ Deal Down/ Tell
I fell in Love with You was lackluster. If we could play the Dylan set list
Survivor game, I'd vote to boot "Till I Fell in Love with You" off first. At
first the new arrangement was a nice novelty item, but now it's just
taking up space.
The Minstrel Boy traded his black hat for a white one and presto, the night
exploded, Bob was a Dream Weaver. Working Man's Blues #2 was wild, the
crowd came alive. Dylan offered up some new lyrics in two spots. Dylan was
on the prowl, he always raises the level of his artistry when he's within a 60
mile radius of NYC or Woodstock. I'm not sure if they finally turned on some
AC or I was just becoming one with the environment, but I stopped sweating
as the show began to soar. Dylan was in fine form for the always welcomed,
"Things Have Changed" as his Oscar proudly watched from a top of a red crate
twenty feet to his left. I always go to bat for the Cowboy Band, but Denny
came up empty on his opportunities to solo.
I savored every second of the ensuing "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll."
There was a subtle majesty and focus to this performance that was stunning.
I've now seen this about five times since Bob's move to keyboard; this
rendition reigns supreme. After revisiting a timeless mockery of justice, it was
time for the nightly detonation of "Highway 61 Revisited." I appreciate this
song more every time I see it; Garnier and Recili pounded away, registering
readings on the Richter Scale.
The highlights were piling up as Dylan continued to effortlessly leap mountains
smoking our brains with "Ain't Talkin'." I was there for the live debut of this in
NYC on 11-20-06, but the thrill of seeing it for the first time was too much to
handle. In Albany, I was just a sponge standing out there in the 15th row
soaking it all in; floating in and out of every nook and cranny. The band was
perfect; catching the feeling and nuance of the masterpiece. Denny's snaking
guitar leads were devilish as Dylan delivered his sermon with steel-eyed
conviction. I thought it might be a little tricky converting Ain't Talkin' for
live consumption, but I think last nights serving exceeded the Modern Times
track. The band whipped through a pedestrian Summer Days. Somewhere
along the line Dylan switched hats again. During the brooding Masters of War
finale he was sporting a dark grey hat as he his head bobbed north and south.
It was the first time I've seen Masters close the set - it was quite moving. You
can't top the second half of that performance. It was a classic. Dylan just
The Cowboy Band really came alive for Thunder on the Mountain. Underneath
the neon glow of the Dylan eye logo banner, Dylan prompted Freeman to cut
loose on Thunder, refusing to move to the last verse until Denny tore it up .
It was the longest instrumental break of the night eclipsing Summer Days. All
Along the Watchtower closed out another one of a kind Dylan experience.
I've only caught two shows this tour, I'm still hungry - "Heart burnin' still
Review by Craig S.
The evening started with Amos Lee who reminded me very much of early music
by The Band. When Elvis came on, he was very upbeat and really killed. But
no Allison. My highlight was Veronica, but he had many other great
moments. He gave some personal info about his family, just a slight
difference from the next performer, LOL...His all acoustic set uses 4
guitars, and started with The angels want to wear my Red Shoes. Bob came
out slowly. Now that he plays the first 3 songs on guitar, as a fan I
started to wonder why he hadn't done so the last few years. Was it his
hand or is he now more comfortable with the word sheets on his keyboard? I
can tell you that on this night, he got much more comfortable when he
settled down on the keyboard. We were sitting on the side and he was
looking right at us. The words on the first 3 songs came out at the end of
the phrase, but that changed once he was on the keyboard, so maybe he
needs a little help and there is certainly no shame in that. Sometimes I
forget where I put my keys! He's got lots of words.....
1- Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat was very quiet and subdued. Kind of funny
hearing that song when he's wearing that big black hat.As on Blond on
Blond, Dylan does some lead guitar work, which was good to see.
2-Don't Think Twice was quiet, but featured some great guitar work by all.
Bob talked the line, " I ain't sayin you treated me unkind", and the song
end switches the beat to a slow blues. The beat change starts out with the
3-Watching the river Flow starts out with the lap steel riff, and just as
it seems he can;t find the words he squeezes them in. By sitting on the
side I could now see that Tony is really the band leader. Bob tells Tony
when the song will end, and Tony tells everyone else. This happens
4-Simple Twist of Fate brought Bob more into it, and the words were
song very deeply. And the crowd responded. Some word changes were,
Movin Like a Freight(no train), and People tell me it's a sin, to
remember her too long again. Not as radical as the old PBS change,
"People tell me it's a crime, to feel too much at any one time", but still
sweet. This is one of the Blood on the Tracks songs he likes to change up.
5th note harmonica solo at the end.
5-Rollin and Tumblin was changed from last time. Instead of the "Most
Likely" lead, it featured more slide leads and a phenomenal counterpoint
on the electric mandolin.
6-When the Deal Goes Down was pulled off quite nicely. It starts out with
harmonica and you can hear that heavy ballpark organ. From then on the
keyboard sound seems to have a new more important sound addition for the
band. A few years ago I could hardly make out the sound, but things have
7-Till I fell in Love with you was my first of 3 highlights. It was
played very slowly, even slower than on Time out of Mind. Great
8-Workingman's Blues#2- I had read a few weeks ago this was worth the
price of admission. This is correct, this version made it the absolute
highest point of the entire concert. Different than the album.
9-Things Have Changed features violin, and a minor key harmonica solo.
Alot of feeling.
10-Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol- How this folk song can be played in a
jazz style may be hard to understand on paper, but with the use of the
electric mandolin and jazz style guitar, Bob is able to do it.
11-Highway 61 Revisited- what can I say, it was revisited?
12-Ain't Talkin- believe it or not actually superior to the Album..
Again the ballpark organ and violin, words carefully expressed, such as, "
Things ain't goin so well". Third highlight of the night.
13-Summer Days- not too different, Bob keeps a wide stance at the
keyboard. Politics actually comes in at the next song.
14-Masters of War- Bob pronounced the words very carefully, like he was
aiming the words at someone. He ends the song with the first verse.
Encores 15- Thunder on the Mountain was great, but on automatic at this
point.Then Bob kind of acknowledged the audience (kind of) by introducing
the band. Why should he be like anyone else anyway? Elvis talked about
meeting Schwarzenegger and the possibility of his 10 month old twins being
president while Arnold cannot. Zimmy introduced the band while playing the
keyboard. That's enough for me.
16- All Along the Watchtower- I'm sure Bob is happy at this point that he
only wrote three verses for this one. Three chords too.
This was another great Dylan concert that brought people of all ages to
Review by Dana Enciu
Driving from Montreal to Albany, through the Adirondack mountains was
amazing at this time of the year, the scenery was spectacular, and seeing
the changing leaves with the fiery red and bright orange hues piercing the
green color of the trees was, well, like in that TV commercial,
It was a beautiful hot summer-like day in Albany when I arrived in the
afternoon but soon a thunderstorm started with a very heavy rain that
stopped shortly after 7 PM. I was thinking “Thunder on the mountain,
rolling like a drum/Gonna sleep over here, that’s where the music coming
from”, but I knew this was not going to be the opening song. It was
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat which sounded ok, but somehow lacking passion.
The same for the next 3 songs except maybe for Don’t Think Twice...It
looked like it was going to be a routine concert, with no surprises, a
very correct show with Bob Dylan “behaving” himself. Well, I realized
once and again how little we know him (or think we do).
Simple Twist of Fate was the 4th song, and as he started to sing it, I
almost had to pinch myself to make sure it was all real: I, Dana, a girl
born in communist Romania, child of the 60s, I was in 1st row, on the
left-side of the stage ( I’m an addict now so I got the hot-seat this
time) looking at Bob Dylan in his eyes and listening to a heavenly
version of Simple Twist of Fate, and in the same time I was praying
“please God, make this last forever”.
Rollin’ and Tumbli’ got the crowd moving, it was electrifying.
The 6th song was When the Deal Goes Down and, as I always get very
emotional on this song, I had to sit down for a few moments. The song is
a masterpiece, the music and the lyrics come together to form a
perfectly polished gem; it encompasses the most sublime feelings of
love, kindness, regret, serenity, warmth, tenderness. It’s a song that
Dylan couldn’t had written when he was 25 years old, I think you have to
be mature enough and to get your share of sorrow and pain in life, to
finally produce this beautiful, beautiful work of art. I absolutely
adore it. After it, what better song than ‘Till I Fell in Love With You?
It was a wonderful way to gently take us out of the spell-like
atmosphere of the previous song, with lyrics like “I’ve been hit too
hard; I’ve seen too much/Nothing can heal me now but your touch”.
I could never take notes during Dylan’s concerts because I want to
concentrate on the show, so I just try to remember the order of the
songs, but after the concert, as I studied the set list, I realized it
was carefully built, the songs followed and came together perfectly,
there’s was no inconsistency, it was a way of taking us a step further
Highway 61 was incredible and obviously a crowd-pleaser. I could listen
to it over and over again and always be amazed by it, each time is like
I listen to this song for the first time. I was very happy to hear
Things Have Changed but the thrill came with Ain’t Talking since I never
heard it live, it leaves you speechless when Dylan sings “As I walked
out in the mystic garden” - there’s something about how he pronounces
“mystic garden”. It simply blows your mind away with “Ain't talkin',
just walkin'/Up the road around the bend/Heart burnin'” and when he gets
to “ still yearnin'/In the last outback, at the world's end” it just
gets so deep into your soul.
During the concert Bob Dylan looked serious, like a person who had work
to do and deliver important things, with no time for nonsense, but on
Summer Days he started to smile at George Recile and then to laugh. I
love how he’s trying not to let his guard down and trying to keep a
straight face, but in the same time he can’t help but break into a smile
- it makes me think that he is such a kid at heart.
It was Masters of War ending the concert. I couldn’t help thinking of
how Elvis Costello had to make his political “speech” before his songs,
and on the other hand, all that Bob Dylan had to do was to play Masters
of War. Some 44 years later the song is still so powerful and truthful.
The conclusion is simple, it doesn’t look good when you try too hard and
in the end I guess this is the difference between being a genius or just
a talented singer: the genius doesn’t need too many words to get
straight to your heart.
Bob Dylan looked sharp and handsome in a black suit with white piping on
the side of the pants and around the lapel, white shirt, black and white
polka-dot tie, gray hat, and cowboy boots. And I think it’s great that he
got rid of that thin moustache...
When Bob Dylan came back for the Encore, he was watching from the corner
of his eye to see the logo banner drop and then he was happy. And we
were in heaven when he delivered Thunder on the Mountain and All Along
the Watchtower. At the end of the show a few people from the 3rd and 4th
rows came close to the stage and threw flowers which he didn’t pick-up.
Instead, he acknowledged the audience by raising his hands in a gesture
that looked like a blessing mixed with a thank you. I was indeed blessed
to be able to attend this concert.
A note on the venue: Times Union Center really needs to be renovated and
modernized. On the main floor there was some sort of hardboard covering
the ice, and at the end of the concert, on my way out, I could see how
the ice had started to melt during the show leaving a watery mess for
people to walk on. There was little air-conditioning and we were all
steaming in there, but I didn’t care too much, I was in the 1st row and
I attended a great concert, and that’s all that mattered.
It was my 4th concert this year, after Paris, Quebec and Montreal and my
8th so far. I wish I had the time to go more on the road...It was also a
sad time because it was the first concert I attended since August 5th
2007 when a person very dear to me, Florian Pittis - Romanian actor,
musician, revolutionary, professor and radio personality passed away.
Thanks to him, as a teenager, I discovered the music of Bob Dylan. We
met in April 2007 at the Bob Dylan concert in Paris and we parted as
always, agreeing without many words that we would meet again somewhere
in the world, maybe at another Dylan concert. Well, it looks like God
had other plans for him. Nevertheless, last night Florian was with me,
in my heart, at the concert and he will always be with me, at all the
Bob Dylan concerts. "Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels
sing thee to thy rest!"
Dana Enciu (aikizum)
Review by Brian Slattery
I attended last week’s Bridgeport show, and while I thought it was an
excellent show, something stopped it from being a superb show. I left
entertained, thrilled to have seen Bob, glad that I had taken the trip,
but not filled with the energy I usually feel leaving a Bob show. Still,
I was not unhappy at having seen him. However, I was slightly saddened
that I wouldn’t be seeing him again this year. And until Friday
afternoon, I thought I would have to wait until next year to get another
chance to watch Bob and the boys do what they do best. Then I got a call
from a friend who was running a marathon in Albany of all places. I
didn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind was blowing; so I
ordered the tickets and prepared for another pilgrimage to see Bob in the
faraway land of Albany. Skipping slightly ahead, I found myself in the
Times Union Center in Albany wondering if the venue would affect my
enjoyment of the show. I’ve seen Bob thirty-six times and have been to
a number of other concerts, and this, by far, was the worst venue I’d
ever seen. The seats were too small, and there was no air conditioning
until Bob took the stage, and even then, it was intermittent and made for
an uncomfortable evening. Fortunately, that didn’t matter. When Bob
took the stage, he took command, and such things as uncomfortable seats
and unbearable heat no longer mattered. What mattered was happening on
the stage right before our eyes. And it seemed some people got it.
Others seemed to be out for a Saturday night, with Bob being a mere
afterthought for them, like the person who asked/told me to sit down
during the last song of the night or the couple who then pelted me with a
piece of paper when I moved to a section where everyone else around got
it and were standing giving Bob the applause he earned and deserved.
Even those cretins who found it necessary to whoop and holler during the
opening act’s set (when not blathering on about inane garbage) and then
demand I sit down during Bob’s encores didn’t ruin the amazing
concert I was privileged to attend. It wasn’t a perfect concert, but
that’s not what it needs to be to be a superb, even sublime, one.
Before I get to the heart of the matter, I want to talk about Amos
Lee’s set. His performance of “Black River” was phenomenal.
Usually my concert goose-bump moments come only after Bob takes the
stage; tonight the first of many came when Amos Lee played this song.
Kudos to Amos Lee for that one and an overall great opening set. After a
great set by Elvis Costello, as well, it was time for Bob. Gone is the
“Fanfare for the Common Man” and “Hoe Down.” The introduction is
the same. And it still makes me laugh. With the introduction out of
the way, Bob launched into “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,” and despite
hearing it last weekend as the opener, I thoroughly enjoyed it. As
expected, there were some songs repeated between the two shows I was able
to see this time around, but 50% of the set was different, and that is
100% fine by me. Bob delivered the goods on every song. The opener
rocked. “Simple Twist of Fate” was breath-taking, beautiful,
delivered with care and focus, and deservedly well-received by the crowd.
“Workingman’s Blues # 2” was phenomenal. Bob’s vocals on this
one in particular were stunning. I like the reworked lyrics, as well.
If you haven’t heard a recent concert performance of this one, find it
and give it a listen. Give it five or ten, actually, because I don’t
think you can take it all in on one listen. Bob did “’Til I Fell In
Love With You” in Bridgeport and at this show, and while I questioned
its place in the set list back in the summer, and while it isn’t on my
top ten list, these new versions are really growing on me. Bob nailed
the lyrics, stretching certain lines, having fun with it again tonight,
before ending it with a great harp solo. “Things Have Changed” was
charged with an energy I felt missing the last time I saw this one live.
The addition of some nice harp work added to this performance, too.
“Ain’t Talkin’”, which I heard back at the NY City Center show
last November in its live debut, was awesome. Bob’s approach to this
one was more subtle and subdued than the album version and the debut of
this one. You had to lean in and pay attention to the lines. The lyrics
were sung with a quiet menace to them. It was a stunning performance of
this “Modern Times” modern classic. It is never easy for me to pick a
favorite moment from a show. I can pick out highlights, of course, but
it is difficult to lock into the one moment that eclipses both the sun and
moon and all other moments. So I am not sure if “ The Lonesome Death
of Hattie Carroll” was the moment that stands out most, but something
about Bob’s performance of this touched me deeply. When he told us to
bury the rag deep in our faces because now was the time for our tears, I
believed him, feeling a tear well-up in my own eye. And I loved the
harp at the end, how it and the song quietly wound down into silence. It
was beautiful and transcendent. The songs I did not mention in detail
also were well-played. I can’t recall a bad moment or ‘off’
performance of any of the sixteen songs. I don’t include them here
simply because I try to avoid giving a play-by-play of each song. It’s
not about critiquing each song as much as it is about commenting on the
feel of the show. And I believe the performances I mentioned captured
the feel of this show perfectly. I left energized, on an emotional and
spiritual high, and so glad that a simple twist of fate brought me to this
show. When I walked out of the venue, I walked past Bob’s buses. And
while I tried to call fellow Bobsters Charlie and Nina to find out where
the after-concert festivities were taking place, I stood and watched Bob
in the back of the bus watching baseball. I thought that was a cool
moment. And when I finally got back to my hotel later that night, I saw
two of Bob’s buses out in front of the hotel, and once inside, I saw Al
Santos and some of his other techs coming into the hotel. While I sat at
the bar talking to some fellow Dylan fans from Montreal, I hoped to
catch a glimpse of the man himself, but if he were staying at the same
hotel, I didn’t chance to spy him. Still, it was enough to know I
probably was staying under the same roof as Bob Dylan. It added a little
more to an already amazing night. If you find yourself debating whether
or not to see Bob this time around, stop the debate, order the tickets,
and take the trip. It will be well worth it.
If you have any comments or just like to talk ‘Bob,’ feel free
to get in touch with me at
Keep On Keepin’ On
Brian J. Slattery
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