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Review by Shawn Pulver
Here is a review of last nights shows at Continental Airlines Arena. About
an hour before the doors opened top the venue, a line had already formed.
The gates opened around 6.30 and I was quick to find myself on the floor
(the floor was divided into two sections). Phil came on at 7.30 and played
a fairly enjoyable set, but still not my cup of tea. Afer his set, I was
quick to give my regular "bobby" chants untill he finally came on stage. I
was almost directly under Larry, in a perfect spot to enjoy the show.
I am the Man Thomas
A pretty fun way to start the show, although I was screaming for Roving
Gambler. The sound was good right from the start (at least from where I was
Song To Woody
Although I had seen this on last night set-list, I was really hopeing Bob
would bring this out again. Let's put it this way, this was one of the best
Bob performances I've ever heard. The arrangement was very slow and you
could tell that it was well rehearsed. I couldn't help but think of the
significance of Bob playing this song in New Jersey - where he first met
Woody in the hospital. The connection of him playing the song here is just
a thought. Anyways, it was great.
Yes!! I was unclear initially what it was, but after a few seconds I was
sure about what he was playing. An awesome performance which seemed to be
well enjoyed by the crowd. The start/stop arrangment was very effective, as
was Larry's finger-picking intro.
Ring Them Bells
After Its Alright, I was screaming at the top of my lungs for Ring Them
Bells. It might have been a coincidence that he played it (or maybe he was
responding to my request). Either way, he played it. A long steel intro by
Larry and a performance that made for the perfect follow up to both Song to
Woddy and Alright Ma. I noticed that there was allot of band discussions
between almost every song, which continued through-out the course of the
show. Since I did not see the cue sheet, I can't comment if Bob was mixing
it up as he went.
Fairly average performance (but how could he keep things at the same level
of the previous three songs?) It did, however, feature a great closing
I have a few witnesses who were next to me and heard me screaming for
Visions after Tangled's conclusion. As was the case with Ring Them Bells,
it might have been another coincidence. The band appeared to be switching
to electric, when Bob decided to play another acoustic tune. Either way, he
played what I asked for and I was very happy. An excellent performance,
which I think might have been slightly improved with the presence of steel
Hootchie Coochie Man
A fun song, which I must admit am not very familiar with. Bob was in to it,
to be sure
Seemed slower than he's played it in previous years (Ie in Ne York last
year he even commented at the end that "that was too fast.) He missed many
verses from the middle of the song (but that can be expted considering the
length of the tune)
Charlie was playing lead and it really rocked to say the least.
Not Dark Yet
Nice version, although things seemed a little anti-climatic after the
The usual hysteria. Someone threw some Leopard Skin hats on the stage, and
Charlie seemed to get a kick out of it. Beats Hwy61 any day.
The encores were pretty standard for this tour (expect for Alabama Getaway
with Lesh) but I didn't care after hearing the first part of the show.
Everything else was just a bonus. Me Babe in particular featured an
outstanding harp solo. After Fade Away, Larry was nice enough to give me
his guitar pick. He came right to the front of the stage and handed it to
me. A great way to end one of the greatest Bob shows that I've ever had the
pleasure of witnessing. Thanks for reading, Shawn.
Review by Peter Stone Brown
On October 17, 1981, Bob Dylan played his first concert at what was then
known as the Brendan Byrne Arena which was close to brand new at the
time which the out-going governor of New Jersey in an act that appalled
and nauseated just about everybody named after himself. No one called
it the Byrne Arena and now at the end of the 20th Century where
everything is named after a corporation, it is the Continental Airlines
Arena (I believe its second corporate name) which is only slightly
better than the Pepsi Arena or the National Car Rental Center which
doesn’t even sound like an arena but a parking lot. I am convinced that
in the next century we will soon see cities and third world countries
taking on corporate monikers as well and soon the only way anyone will
know where they are is by what zip-code or area code which will probably
be corporate as well. Either way, that particular arena will always be
the Meadowlands to me.
The huge Meadowlands sports complex is built on a murky swampy bit of
Jersey desolation, a sort of non-place rising out of nothing a bit North
of the Mordor flames beneath the Pulaski skyway between Newark and
Jersey City and between the more or less upscale North Jersey suburbs on
the road that leads to the Lincoln Tunnel. The whole area has long been
rumored to be a Mafia burial ground and some people insist that Jimmy
Hoffa is part of the Meadowland’s foundation.
Bob Dylan’s 1981 concert at the Meadowlands was a monumental occasion,
and I still consider it and probably always will in the top five Bob
Dylan concerts I’ve seen. A 28-song show that found him fully
resurrecting his older songs after two years of doing exclusively
“gospel” material. He had one of his greatest and most professional
bands featuring the stellar rhythm team of Tim Drummond and Jim Keltner
and for the fall leg of the tour, none other than Al Kooper himself on
keyboards who was only too happy to revisit his original organ parts on
“Like A Rolling Stone” and “I Want You.”
Dylan was animated and in great humor that October night. Starting to
introduce the band he said, “I wanna say hello to Mr. & Mrs. Kooper out
there tonight. This is uh, their son.”
Kooper who was I believe wearing a football or hockey helmet
acknowledged the applause. Dylan, wearing his famous Wayfarer shades
the entire show had lots more to say: “I’ve never seen no place like
this before,” as 20,000 people cracked up. “I went into the dressing
room and my mirror was black.” “There’s a lot of famous people here
tonight. I just want you to know that you may be sitting next to
somebody (in his most classic Dylan inflection) famous.” “There’s a lot
of people from Rolling Stone here tonight. After the show, they’re
gonna come backstage and interview me, then I’m gonna interview *them.*
And before “Gambling Man,” which the trio of back-up singers sang,
“Isn’t there a gambling town around here somewhere? What’s the name of
that place? Atlantic City?”
But of course it was the music that night that was the most important.
Dylan was into singing real high on that tour (the previous June he was
into singing real low). Sitting in the farthest corner of the highest
balcony, literally a dot on a stage that seemed a mile a way he’d cut
right through you with an achingly beautiful “Girl From The North
Country,” and putting such intensity into the bridge on “I Want You”
that every nerve in your body reacted. A slowed-down, spooky solid-rock
that could stir Blind Willie Johnson in his grave and a solo till the
last verse when the bass and drums kicked in “Times They Are A-Changin’”
that instead of being its original call to arms seemed to summon up
everything that had happened in the almost two decades since he wrote
it--the war, the assassinations, the hopes and dreams lost, capped by a
harmonica solo as eerie and lonesome as he’s ever played.
And so I couldn’t help but think of that concert long ago as Seth Kulick
and I hiked across the parking lot next to Giant Stadium going to what
must be around our 30th show together at least. We were sitting in
different places but not far apart. Seth with his brother and I was
with longtime RMD contributer Arnie and his wife whom we just visited.
Arnie’s been listening to Bob just about as long as I have and he grew
up in New York and I grew up outside of New York, and through e-mail
we’ve discovered a shared history of listening not only to Dylan, but
listening to same late-night radio shows and the same concerts and being
in the same room at the same time and here we were after all this time
attending a Dylan show together and I kind of felt like I’d known him
all my life.
And again we were sitting in the back of the hall directly opposite the
stage though not in the highest balcony pretty much surrounded by morons
who talked through Phil Lesh and who talked through Dylan and I couldn’t
figure out why they spent the thirty bucks plus for tickets not to
mention another ten to park to go to a show they evidently had no
interest in whatsoever since they weren’t listening and were barely
watching and were talking about everything but the music. I just don’t
get it, considering there were probably plenty of people who would have
done anything to get a ticket to this show.
Bob Dylan’s second appearance at the Meadowlands seemed to be a
summation of this tour where he has pretty much consistently surprised
and delighted his fans by pulling out all kinds of songs, not just once
a night but several. It could be called the “Anything Can Happen” tour
or more accurately the “Holy Shit!” tour because judging by the net that
seems to be most people’s reactions upon seeing the setlists. And so at
this show at a place that is fairly centrally located on the East Coast
that say people in Washington or in Philly or in New England would not
think twice about going to, not to mention all the people in Jersey and
New York, at the largest venue on the tour, he really did seem to have
his fans in mind. And once again I wondered as have others during this
tour particularly is someone keeping an eye on what’s going on on RMD?
Because, at this concert he seemed to be saying, you heard about
“Hootchie Coochie Man?” here it is. You heard about “Song to Woody” and
“Ring Them Bells?” Here it is. Of course I could be completely wrong
about this and no one will ever know.
There is a difference to the acoustic set on this tour. Nothing is
being casually thrown out there. Yes, he may forget lines--but I still
prefer him messing up to using a teleprompter--he way skip verses (which
he’s been doing for years), but he seems to be treating these songs as
something to be cherished. The performances and understated and almost
delicate. There is thought behind the singing and the arrangements and
not just on Dylan’s part, but on the part of his excellent musicians,
even on the songs where all three guitarists are doing little more than
strumming. “Song To Woody” was so quietly and subtly performed that at
first I felt this place is way too big for this to be appreciated.
And I had to doubly concentrate having to block out the talkers around
There was a force and fire to “It’s Alright Ma,” which started out with
just guitars, then the bass than the drums in the best ensemble
arrangement I’ve seen of this song with the borrowed from “Wake Up
Little Susie” riff of course being in emphasized, but not in the
totally overblown way it was in ’78. I saw the very first live
performance of this song in 1964 and it is one that I always want to
hear, one that has great personal meaning for me and one that I consider
one of Bob Dylan’s all-time greatest works. His own “Howl” set to
music. He flubbed the lyrics (and laughed) at that first performance in
New York City what seems both like centuries ago and yesterday, and he
flubbed them last night and I didn’t care then and I didn’t care last
night. Last night’s version, the version he did at Meadowlands in ’81
and that very first version were all great and all for different
And the version last night was not the speedy let me get this over with
as fast as possible version that I’ve seen at other shows.
And then the slow steel majestic intro to “Ring Them Bells,” started and
I was happy, not only to hear it again, but happy that my friends Arnie
and Seth and Dylan and Daniela could hear what I heard in Baltimore.
“I’m in heaven,” Arnie said to me as it ended. And so into “Tangled,”
but then another surprise, another acoustic song, “Visions of Johanna,”
which worked much better than it did in the number three slot in
Baltimore, where perhaps Dylan wasn’t quite warmed up enough to sing it
quite the way he wanted to.
And then “Hootchie Cootchie Man,” written by Willie Dixon, but as every
Chicago blues fan knows, Muddy Waters’ signature song. And the band was
tough with Charlie Sexton obviously into it and lovingly showing that
he’s undoubtedly spent countless hours listening to and mastering the
sound of who knows how many great Chicago blues guitarists and Dylan did
Muddy proud, singing it straight, singing it true, lining out those
images that stretch from the Delta all the way up Highway 61 to Chicago,
that poetry of the blues, as musicologist Sam Charters once called it.
The only thing that might’ve taken it higher was if Dylan had played the
harp, and while the last thing I would every try to do is guess what
goes on in Bob Dylan’s mind, maybe he just felt (he is a musician after
all) that he could never do Little Walter justice (even though he came
fairly close to getting the Little Walter sound in a few fleeting
moments at the end of “Are You Ready.”
And then even deeper into the blues, all the way down to Georgia for
“Blind Willie McTell,” one of his most remarkable songs. At once, a
tribute to that remarkable blues singer, but at the same time a history
of the South and a history of the world, all the way from New Orleans to
Jerusalem indeed. And I thought of Seth a few sections away finally
after two years of trying and missing seeing this song at last and next
to me Arnie just couldn’t believe it was happening.
And then, even more blues. “Tombstone Blues,” with Sexton again
stepping out, raw mean and nasty, Dylan’s own “Hootchie Cootchie Man”
updated with John the Conqueroo updated becoming a dreamlike John the
Baptist talking to the Commander-in Chief, where the delta has been
replaced by the old folks home and the college. And hearing it, I
remembered way back when Highway 61 Revisited was still pretty new and
Muddy and Wolf and Little Walter were also on the turntable, listening
to that song in some long lost NYC apartment and a friend of mine saying
in reference to the Chicago guys, that stuff is great, but this
(“Tombstone Blues”) that’s our blues.
>From there it was into a shortened version of “Joey” a New York City
song if ever there was one. No, not one of his greatest though one of
his most controversial. Maybe he had the rumors of who’s supposed to be
underneath the Meadowlands in mind. At one point he totally spaced on
the lyrics. It didn’t matter. And yet another blues capped the night,
a joyous rocking “Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat.”
The encores were, well.... the encores. Phil Lesh came out for “Alabama
Getaway,” (time to hit the bathroom) followed by “Rainy Day Women,” (I
though to myself two parking-lot songs in a row) and the last was the
only song all night where the talkers finally shut up and yet they came
back for “Blowin’” and “Not Fade Away.” And the houselights went down
and stayed down for a long time and we wondered whether he would
actually come back, but it was almost midnight and he’d played for two
And so, did this match that previous time at the Meadowlands 18 years
ago? It doesn’t matter. It’s another time and in a way another place.
Will this show stay in my mind for almost two decades the way that
concert did? I have no idea. I do know this much: Bob Dylan was being
very generous to his fans last night.
"Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times."
Peter Stone Brown
Review by Jonas Viik
Things were going to be great. I knew it straight
from the time I entered the arena and received that
great gift from the Bob Dylan fan club: VIP General
Admission wrist band. Thank you so much to those that
made it possible. The space was great: not too
packed and close enough to see the emotions play on
Bob's face as he performed a wondrous set for the
people in the NYC area. A friend of mine from
college, Chris, drove up from DC to take part the
occasion and it was a very beautiful night, no doubt.
The music is great and when you have people to share
the experience with and compare notes with, things are
just that much better. Regards to you, my friend
Bob and his band hit the stage with the lights
a-flashin' and my goosebumps a-risin'. I Am The Man,
Thomas opened as I expected from the previous set
lists posted up here on your site. (Thanks to you,
Bill, for a fine service to the community!) The first
time I've ever heard this song actually. Song To
Woody came next, this a first for me in the live
arena. Both were really fine and got the people into
the groove for some music that was not going to be as
psychedelic as what Phil and his friends played for us
earlier. Then ... oh … then something really great
happened: It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
started and I was as happy as could be. No doubt, it
is one of my favorite Dylan tunes; chock full
o'meaning, sentiment that cuts right to the bone ...
disgust of the state of the world around us, don't
settle for it. Again, first time I've ever seen this
live and now that I have I can say that I am one more
step closer to being complete. (There are, of course,
a few more Bob could pull out from his vast collection
that would have the same effect - never hurts to dream
right? Bob might make them come true one day, you
never know. Saturday was one such day.) Ring Them
Bells and Tangled Up In Blue followed, the later of
which the crowd always seems to love and people
started to boogie down when Bob broke out the harp.
Hey, I was one of those people! By the end of the
tune, answers came to me as never before, i.e., "Hey,
life goes on and life is great. Don't let a bump in
the road bring you down." You see, the song with its
tale of lost love was given a new twist with notes of
hope and happiness from Bob's harp. Never before have
I heard such an outright happy version of this tune.
His Bobness showcased complete mastery of the
instrument, directing the song to heights unbeknownst
to many. Pure genius, folks. Likewise, Visions Of
Johanna struck a nerve as we are in New York (that
whole NJ thing is just a technicality, everyone knows
that). The song was sung and I felt shivers when the
line, "The ghost of electricity ..." was uttered and
the crowd hollered their appreciation. Magic it was.
Then out came the electric arsenal and along with it a
Hootchie Cootchie Man that set the place on fire.
Sung with conviction that I wasn't sure humans
possessed, taking no prisoners, Bob belted it out and
we were blown away. Blind Willie McTell came next,
and then Tombstone Blues and all was well. The smile
got bigger when those first two chords from Joey were
played. Bob mentioned Red Hook and that now makes two
references to NY (the first being Visions Of Johanna,
of course) in one concert and we all felt damn good.
The mood changed when Not Dark Yet started and I was
able to see the sincerity on Bob's face. Those
romantically dark words flowed out: Bob at times
holding onto words, squeezing them in at other times.
Our collective breath was taken away with the song's
honesty. No hiding behind metaphors here, folks.
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat came next to close of the
set (before the encore that is) and it was quite the
rocker. Encore time came around and the classic Like
A Rolling Stone beside it and everybody was singing
along as everyone knows this song. Then beauty came
along with It Ain't Me, Babe. The lighting crew
managed to effectively play with their toys, shining
the floor lights up towards the band when the song
took a turn into that minor chord part, the effect
being somehow appropriately earie if I may so. Again
the harp was utilized to its fullest, Bob taking the
NY crowd along this emotional journey, ending this
tune on an upbeat note. Out came Phil to join the Bob
and his band for two tunes: Alabama Getaway and Rainy
Day Women #12 & 35. It was great seeing the two on
stage, playing away, the people loving life realizing
that the two separate shows are great as is, but two
legends playing together ... WOW! The songs rocked.
Blowin' In The Wind came then, one last acoustic piece
before Not Fade Away came out and TORE THE WALLS DOWN.
As someone wrote-in previously, Bob has made this his
tune. He would make Buddy proud were he alive today.
What a night. It is a treat to see Bob performing so
well, singing so clear, cracking jokes when
introducing the band, recognizing the audience, and (I
especially enjoy this) smiling. Bob, we are smiling
with you. BTW, let's give some credit to the sound
board people and musicians! Folks, the sound quality
was great regardless if acoustic or electric. The
harmonizing - which is amazing - was never covered
over by any instrument. Likewise, the guys in Bob's
band have things down pat and play with accuracy and
feeling and follow Bob's cue perfectly. I feel very
lucky to experience this event. Thank you.
Review by Jamie Link
While heading home from this concert, my friend and I were discussing
the existence of God. I then cited the concert we had just seen as
proof of a higher being. In a word, this concert was transcendental.
It was by far the best I've seen since I started going to Dylan
concerts two years ago. I guess part of it was that I was only about
10 feet away from the stage. This allowed us to see all of Bob's
strange dance moves and unforgettable facial expressions.
Phil Lesh was more than acceptable as an opening act. His guitarists
(including the 15 year-old kid who looks like one of the Hanson
brothers) simply rocked. His extended foray into the Other One was
exciting, and the Franklin's Tower closer got all the Deadheads in the
crowd flailing their arms around with wild abandon and got everybody
else jammin' as well.
After about 100 minutes of Phil, we stood in our spots and waited
patiently for Uncle Bob. He and the band got out on stage around
9:40. Bob was wearing an interesting suit with flowers embroidered on
the front and the back. The band was ready to go, and you could tell
from the inception that the night was going to be special. We were
certainly not disappointed.
The opener was I Am the Man, Thomas with its great chorus where Bob
yells out "I am the MAN!!" Bob is correct; he definitely is the man.
Song to Woody was a pleasant surprise, and it was good to know that
the Hard Travelin' Woody Guthrie was keeping an eye on our little part
of New Jersey tonight. Then came an incredible It's Alright Ma. Bob
crescendoed on the President of the United States line, which got the
requisite rise out of the crowd. It just goes to show you how
prophetic ol' Bob could be back in 60's. Next was a tender Ring Them
Bells. The song is not one of my favorites off Oh Mercy, but it was
still a treat. Being accustomed to Bob's abbreviated sets from the
Simon tour this summer, I figured we'd be getting the usual Tangled
and then move on to the electric stuff. But this night was special,
and we got a Visions of Johanna before Tangled. Visions was an
absolute joy to hear. He still remembers all of those strange lyrics
after more than 33 years. To hear Bob up on the stage crooning about
the ghost of electricity is simply ethereal. Next came Tangled Up in
Blue. No matter how many times I hear this, I still enjoy it. Bob
gave away his guitar and got the harp out and started doing some very
strange dance moves, including a swaggering strut from the back of the
stage to the front. The lights went down and we moved into the
First was a rockin' bluesy Hootchie Cootchie Man. This let Bob's
axemen show off some of their many strengths, and they would get many
more chances. After this song my friend yelled out "Blind Willie
McTell!!!" Then my other friend, who was attending his first Bob
show, followed with "Yeah, Bob, play Blind Willie!!" We watched Tony
mouth the words Blind Willie over to Bob, and then the lights went
down. When they came back on, the familiar chords were playing, and
we knew that Bob had listened to our pleadings. The version he played
was better than any bootlegs I've ever heard, even though he replaced
"rebel yell" with "undertaker's bell." Even if the concert had ended
at that point, I would have gone home a very happy man. Bob still had
a lot to say, though.
We were next treated to Tombstone Blues, another of the 10 firsts for
me at this concert. An abbreviated Joey followed. Bob seems to enjoy
singing this one when he's near New York City. He accentuated the
"clam bar in New York" line and followed up with a priceless facial
expression as he was saying "fork." Things slowed down for a poignant
Not Dark Yet. By the end of this song, the Deadheads were visibly
confused, and were looking for some Rainy Day Women action. They got
pretty close with a romping Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat. There was a guy
in the front row wearing such a hat, and Bob kept looking over at him
during the whole song. Of course, at the end of the song the hat made
it up to the stage along with another LSPBH. The band left, but we
all knew that Bob was nowhere near done.
Before we knew it, we were being hit with the timeless chords of
Rolling Stone. Another amazing version which was much better than the
one I heard this past summer. The band traded in the axes for the
acoustics and played a pretty It Ain't Me that was complimented by a
great harp solo at the end. Bob then announced that Phil Lesh was
coming back on stage and we got one of the big surprises of the night:
Alabama Getaway. Larry blasted off on the guitar solos on this one,
and I can now rest happy knowing that I've heard Bob sing this great
Dead song. The stoners in the crowd got their fill with Rainy Day
Women which also rocked with Phil's bass beating in the background.
The band left again, but emerged after a couple minutes, albeit
without his Philness. I got just what a wanted, though; a simply
beautiful Blowin' in the Wind. Every time I go to a concert I hope I
hear this because it moves me each and every time it is played.
Almost everybody was singing along on the legendary chorus and it was
a wonderful feeling to be amongst such positive energy. Bob had been
going on for about two hours at this point, but he had plenty left for
Not Fade Away. This crazy version gave Larry and Charlie one more
chance to show off. The Deadheads started their patented flailing
again and the Bob fans were treated to some more silly Bob dancing.
Simply put, this concert was amazing. If you have the tape please let
me know because I would love to relive the experience. It was all of
the foot pain suffered from standing for 5 hours straight and then
some. I can only wish that the next concert I go to will top this
Review by Jim Kearns
First of all, a little backround; I've been a Dylan fan since
1966 (when I was 14) & a Deadhead (minus the tie-dye)
since '71, so, obviously, this show held a great deal of interest to
me. I've been lucky enough to have seen Dylan perform live about a
dozen times since '73, including four shows in the past year. On
Sat. the 13th, my wife & I arrived during Phil's set, just as he went
into the old Youngblood's song "Get Together", which sounded robust &
uplifting, just as it should. By the time we had gone thru the
routine of getting wristbands to get onto the floor & buying a couple
of beers, the band had moved on to a searing version of "Dear Mr
Fantasy" which put me in mind of having seen Garcia perform that same
song with Traffic at Giants Stadium some years ago. Phil & Friends
sounded strong& confident thru-out& the atmosphere in the audience
was nothing but a party (no surprise there!). The hi-lite for me was
when John Coltrane's "Equinox" turned up in an extended jazz jam
sandwiched by "Cryptical Envelopement/Other Ones---mesmerizing! They
finished up with a powerful,crowd pleasing version of Franklin's
Tower & were gone, along with about 15% of the deadhead crowd on the
floor, who didn't return for Dylan! This is something I don't
understand; what has happened to these people's musical curiosity? I
thought it was ridiculous in '95 when so many people stayed in the
parking lot while Dylan opened for the Dead, but to leave when you're
already there is just ludicruos! Anyway, it was great for Lillian &
myself since we were able to navigate our selves to a spot just in
front of the stage on the left -hand side-perfect! Dylan himself was
just a pleasure from start to finish-& what a fun guy to watch up
close-every note or syllable seems to be accompanied by some body
language or facial expression.The set list shows terrific range,
from the straightforward & endearing"Song to Woody"to the ethereal
cascade of images in 'Visions of Johanna"; modern-day myth making in
"Joey"; outright fun, and pull out the stops party song,
"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat". Bob's band is a marvel of sublety &
versatility & it's great to watch them watch him to work every nuance
out of every song. Larry Cambell, in particular, seemed to stand
out, especially on electric guitar & he received a terrific ovation
when Bob introduced him. Speaking of guitar, it's been one of the
most pleasing developments in music in the past few years to see Bob
emphasize & showcase his guitar playing--as a 47 yr old, it's vastly
encouraging for me to see a 58 yr old improving his game in front of
my very eyes ! There was a ton of guitar going on when Phil came out
to join Bob & the band on "Alabama Getaway" & "Rainy Day Women"!
Joyous pandemonium "rained"! It seems to me that perhaps the
profound influence that Dylan had on the Dead way back when has now
come full circle. As if to reinforce that notion, after "Blowin in
the Wind", Dylan finished up with that (by now expected) homage
l' Dead (& Buddy Holly& the Stones) "Not Fade Away". Not fade away
indeed.....I left the arena feeling a damn sight better than I did
when I came in & for that & a whole lot more I say thank you ,Bob &
as long as you keep playing, I'll keep coming out.
Review by Damian Carpenter
Just ended a week of intense 'higher' learning, and was really looking
forward to this show. Unlike the last eight concerts of Dylan, this one was
very accessible from New Paltz, NY.
I believe this was the largest of the tour in means of crowd size. There
were at least 17,000, at first i thought the majority of the attendies were
Dead freaks, but that thought was erased later.
First off i am not a Phil Lesh or Dead fan so instead of "critizing what i
can't understand", i'll stray away from reviewing what i thought was a
listless set. Phil went on at 7:43 jammed for 30mins, then played covers
the "Dear Mr. Fantasy" being the best. Phil ended at 9:23 by concluding
with a common DEAD arrangement; Help's on the way-slipknot-Franklin's Tower.
Done thank God!
Speeking of God's, the one i was waiting for was due to hit the stage in a
matter of moments. Then the moment arrived at 9:55. The lights where
flickering, the incensce had made its way around every far corner of the
This was the most anticipated show that i have been to, because of the
recent setlist originality. The first song however i was expecting.
I am the Man Thomas: the mix was a bit low at first, then straightened
out. The usual approach at this song. short and uplifting.
Song To Woody: Not many times do individuals get to say they have seen
this one live. Very privlidged to let my ears intake this tune. Bob
delivered a emotional vocal...hardly been BOOORN! very solid execution of
this personal song. Thanks BOB.
It's Alright Ma: Seriously thought this was off the sets for awhile after
he played it often then left it off the last 8 of 9 shows. Anyhoo, the song
was ate up by the crowd after every verse, and he only fumbled on the third
verse. very good backing by the band.
Ring Them Bells: Very much like they have played this one for the last
hundred shows. Larry on steel, Bob had a nice vocal delivery. overall a
nice addition to the four spot.
Tangled Up In Blue: Good ovation from the starting notes, crowd sang
along the whole song. A tad slower from previous time i saw him (Wantaugh).
Bob had a really solid last verse and it built up from there. Great solo
by the man, then reached for the harp. Bob played the harp to the seats
from behind the stage at first, then when the harp began to get climatic he
turned around and flat out wailed the shit out of the thing.
Visions Of Johanna: At first I thought i heard the opening lines of
HIGHLANDS, then to my astonishment it was another acoustic number. Then
once I caught on i was in shambles. The acoustic set was complete, How many
people get to hear Song To woody, its alright Ma, and Visions in the same
night? Vision's was not as solid as the Tramps but well well done. More
concentrated on music than lyric ingunety, maybe thats why he muffed the
Hoochie Coochie Man: The best Dylan electric cover EVER! This song fits
BOB in the utmost way. EVERRRRYYYBODY Knows IM HERE. Charlie shined on
this song in the middle, and Larry wailed a killer blues solo at the end.
BOB definetly know his blues roots.
Blind Willie McTell: Bob had a soft lyric approach on this one. This
version had alot more jamming than other BWM i have heard. Charlie added a
real cool and eery solo.
Tombstone Blues: The strongest electric rendition of this one i have
heard. Bob got into the lyrics really well at this point in the show.
TOmstone..BLUUUUESSS. Then Bob and Larry shared a really sweet solo trade
off. then BOBBY solo again at the end...a really awesome showing of this
Joey: Could of been the best version since Brixton Academy 95. But he
totally misplaced the verses and ended up leaving out some verses. But
Larry had a great solo, and Bob hammed it up nicely to make the song a solid
Not Dark yet: The concentration Bob gives this song is unparallel. Just
has good as any other one i have heard. Very soft and emotional
Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat: Bob starts this one off with a Joke, after he
intro's the band. "David Kemper he's on the drums, he never lie's only when
hes in bed". Anyhoo, LSPBH really really rocked. It seemed as if the
sound was cranked up once this song was in gear. Charlie was all over this
song. Larry kicked serious ass on slide guitar. The best version i have
ever heard with ease.
Like A Rolling Stone: thought i would be seeing What Good Am I? or Love
SICK. Bob solo after a nice Charlie one. The vocals were not to stellar
until the end, and seemed a bit faster than most other LARS. Which is good.
It Aint Me Babe: Truly amazing, Bob landed a dynamite tender vocal,
played a very altered rift on his guitar and ended with an incredible
different Harp solo. Crowd loved it.
Alabama Getaway: Phil Lesh waited around (which he should) to play
electric bass on this one. The best AG i have heard, BOB nailed the lyric,
and the band played this alot faster than from previous attempts.
Rainy Day Women: Again with Lesh. Better vocals than previous years.
added a new lyric at the end, something corresponding with dressed in Black?
the music on this was alot better than other RDW and felt like it was
going to end when it wasn't. Loud, long, and jammed.
BOB and the boys left the stage and seemed as if they were truly done.
but knowing that the Bobfather had been playing 18 songs, they returned.
Blowing in The Wind: no intro to this one, seemed a bit dull compared to
other versions. Noticed that they held the Wind chorus a little longer than
usual. The weakest song of the night, yet the crowd appreciated this one
Not Fade Away: A different beat, a tad heavier. Really Really got the
crowd to feel it. I think the majority of deadheads realized that BOb is
the surpreme cover artist of this Holly tune. perfect way to end a trully
amazing show. love to get this on cdr or a tape.
Thats that, all and more i asked for. 127mins from what i counted, he is
getting better and better with age.
KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON
Review by Matt Fox
First of all I was on the floor up close at both the Philly show and the
Meadowlands, and both of them were excellent. The differences: the
floor at Philly was much more crowded than in Jersey, and
there was more uptight attitude, pushing, arguing etc. Part of the
problem was the traffic on Broad St. coming to the show, and
judging by the number of people backed up in line to get there even 20
minutes after Phil started (we were stuck there with them)
lots of people probably arrived a little frustrated. We got in for the
last half of Phil and it sounded good, with Unbroken Chain,
Dupree's, and the final Love Light. But compared with the flawless
symphony that transpired in Jersey, this set was a little touch
and go. Then Dylan came on, and rocked down the house, major highlights
being Hattie Carroll and Boots of Spanish Leather in
the opening acoustic set, and Fulsom Prison Blues in the electric.
Shooting Star was well-played too; it was how the show ended
that blew everybody away. Dylan fans have come to expect Not Fade Away
to be the cue that the show is over. But after Not
Fade Away, the lights stayed down, and sure enough, after a few minutes
of wild cheering (and after tons of people had given up
and begun to file out) Bob and the boys came back, and gave us Blowin
in the Wind, and a rocking Highway 61 that seemed like it
lasted 20 minutes! So there was little disappointment at the Philly
show as far as I could see. We got what we came for and more
and got our money's worth.
But now for the Meadowlands show! For us this show started at about
3pm, in the parking lot, where a full on Deadhead camp
was in full swing. We tailgated all afternoon, right next to the white
bus of the band "One Eyed Jack" who played about an hour
set as the sun was going down. Then I took out my guitar and
harmonica, started playing Dylan songs and Dead songs, which
attracted 3 other roaming guitarists and a couple of drummers.So by the
time we went in at 7pm, we were in top spirits and ready
to boogy. As I said, the floor was not as crowded as at Philly, and our
group of 6 got a nice circle of space toward the middle of
the floor, although the arena was pretty full, all the way up to the
second mezzanine. Phil & Friends came on around 7.30 and
launched into a sweet 20-25 minute jam, Phil acting more like a
symphony conductor than a rock star (they each have music
stands in front of them, and my guess is they put alot of thought and
planning into each night's set); the jam weaved in and out of
tunes and phrases without settling on any one for long (I could of
sworn I heard 'Goin' down the road' for a little bit before they
turned corners and were off into something else). What blew me away
about the whole set is that they never really stopped once,
they just kept playing, flowing out of one song and into the next.
Though I must say that for this show at least, I don't quite agree
with the stark contrast people have been making between Phil/space
jam vs. Dylan/discrete songs. Phil and Friends played
discrete songs, they just didn't punctuate them with endings and brief
silence the way Bob does. Anyway, the set was structured
and beautiful, with the Cryptical and Other One enfolding the long
extended interlude of "Days Between" and that other song of
which there is some dispute. Then Cryptical flowed, and I mean flowed,
into Help on the Way, and what blew us all away I think
was the keyboardists vocals! He nailed it, and it seemed for a few
minutes that Jerry was back. The excitement in the hall just
kept getting stronger as they pulled into the expected Slipknot, and
then finally into the full glorious light and rhythm of Franklin's,
and by this time the whole crowd was in ecstacy, dancing like it was
the end of the world. "Roll Away the Dew!" harmonies
melted time and space, and when it reached the end, I for one thought,
"this surely can't be it" because it all passed so quickly in
retrospect. But sure enough, Phil gave his "organ
donor" talk, and they were gone.
The lights came up, and we all took the chance for a bathroom break.
Then the lights went down, the roar went up, and the man in
black strode on with his entourage of dapper young men. After opening
with "I am the Man, Thomas" a usual opening song (but
one I hadn't heard yet so I was glad he did it), Dylan dug deep into
the past and played Song to Woody! Then, not to be outdone,
he hit every verse of It's All Right Ma! It just went on like this,
with Ring Them Bells (beautifully played, man!), the usual Tangled
(but well played for sure) and another one of my favorites, Visions of
Johanna. My wife and I were stunned with disbelief by this
point, but as we heard other unexpected favorites, like Blind Willie
McTell (he skipped the verse about slave ships, and changed
the refrain line into "But I'll tell ya one thing/nobody can sing/the
blues like Blind Willie McTell), and then Not Dark Yet (a more
than welcome reprieve from the usual Love Sick), we were undone.
Already the best show we had ever seen! Then we got a
rockin' "Like a Rolling Stone", in the opening of what was technically
three encores. They left again after It Ain't Me Babe, then
they came back with Phil and gave us Alabama Getaway and Rainy Day
Women (which Phil really gave a nice bass emphasis to
this old warhorse, and Bob let the music predominate and only sang
two or three verses max). Then they left and we kept
cheering, tired as we were, for quite awhile and they came back,
again!, with Blowin', and Not Fade Away. On the choruses, the
stage lights blazed, and we all basked in a bright moment of clarity as
we danced to the song that we all know and love from the
Dead, and which Bob has definately made his own now too. The show ended
at midnight! Once again, the best show I have seen in a long time, and
all for 30 bucks! Anyone who gripes at 4 1/2 hours of sweet music for 30
bucks doesn't really have any hope of being happy in this world.
Some observations about the Phil/Bob synergy: Just as Phil has already,
in his email here, voiced his appreciation of the chance to
get back together with Dylan, so too I think Bob is really profiting
by the energy Phil's sets provide and by the presence of the
Dead fans that come for Phil but stay for Bob. The parking lot
carnival that comes with the Heads is not something that usually
follows Bob when he's on his own or with somebody else. Frankly, many
of the strict Bob fans are a little uptight, intellectually
oriented, and a bit shy in crowds (I am speaking from personal
experience). The Dead fans have really helped us loosen up a bit
(some of us at least). I think it works the other way too; some Dead
fans I think are getting a chance to see why so many people
like Dylan, and perhaps some of the Dylan/Dead animosity (let's not
deny it's there, and that it actually goes back many many
years) is now beginning to dissipate. Also, Dylan it seems to me is
really taking up the challenge/the example of Phil and Friends,
as can be seen by the way he has been varying his sets throughout this
tour, pulling out stuff that we haven'nt heard literally in
years. By contrast with his tour with Paul Simon (I was at the Madison
Square Garden show, and the set was good but not great,
and the set lists from those months are just a bit repetitive) these
shows have been inspired and on target, and Bob, as many have
noticed, is truly charged and having fun on stage, dancing and laughing
and letting the jams get longer and more off the main song
line. I think all these things can be chalked up to the good vibes
that the Phil sets bring and the added energy of the Dead heads
too. As primarily a Dylan fan, I have to thank the Deadheads and Phil
for helping to bring us some of the best Bob we've heard in
awhile. (Of course, it can't all be just because of Phil and the
fans--Bob is on top of his game, and I'm glad for it, and for him,
whatever the reasons.) I hope that this synergy is indeed working both
ways, and that maybe some of those Dead fans who gripe
on Dylan are indeed opening their ears and hearing something they've
never heard before--precisely because Bob is not the Dead
and he has other things, no less beautiful and
well-wrought, to sing and to say to us.
Enough for my ten cents worth. Keep on Truckin, Good Love, and Let
us not talk falsely now, for the hour is getting late.
Matt in Princeton
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