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Bob Dylan 960416 at The Synphony Hall, Springfield, Mass.

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 01:12:55 -0400
From: Seth Rogovoy (rogovoy@BERKSHIRE.NET>)
Subject: Springfield 4/16

Just home after driving two hours in blinding snow from Springfield,
where I saw what may have been the greatest Dylan show I've ever seen
(I've seen I don't know about a dozen or two dozen Dylan shows dating
back to the '70s).

General comments:  The best-paced Dylan show I've ever seen. The most
hard-rocking, or at least the most successfully hard-rocking. The best
SOUNDING, crystal clear parts heard from each musician. The most musical
-- melodically, improvisationally, and of course Dylan's singing, also,
dramatically better than it's been in years. No more mumbling, croaking,
talk-singing.  Beautiful singing. Alive. Focused. Not shrouded in
darkness, not hiding in dark lights or underneath a hat or behind dark
glasses, but present in front of an audience, and at times giving
conventional signs of actually enjoying himself (smiling, acting goofy,
dancing). Guitar plyaing just gets better and better..  Great song
choices. Even the same old same old ones given new life, inspired
renditions of too familiar songs. Hardly a dud the whole night.  Even the
Dead numbers -- am I really saying this? -- were good (Silvio and
Alabama) -- it was actually touching, I felt well, he's doing this Dead
stuff because Garcia played his songs all those years, and he's returning
the favor as a sort of tribute to his fallen friend, and even I -- the
Dead-hater of them all --  was moved by the gesture.

I would have liked to have heard "Tonight I'll Be Staying", but Lay Lady
Lay was pretty. "You Go Your Way" was a surprise, as was an impassioned
version of "Tears of Rage," given a very Basements-like treatment, vocals
and all, and we were lucky to get that instead of "What Good Am I", which
is a beautiful song but we've heard it already. And Bucky Baxter did this
very strange thing with the pedal steel to make it sound like an organ.

Silvio was a revelation, totally redone arrangement, hard-rocking
thorughout, and then breaking into a VERY Dead-like instrumental section,
wtih JJ doing his best Garcia imitation.

Acoustic set: Typically in the past the least interesting, here it was
transcendent. They have really worked hard on the arrangements, and they
are like a mini-string orchestra, with lush, gorgeous sounds. Tangled was
just SO pretty. I was disappointed when he chose Masters over Desolation
Row (the other choice was Baby Blue -- all this acccording to a cue sheet
I saw on the lighting board), but he surprised me, again, with just a
magnificent arrangement, and very impassioned vocals. He meant it (some
cynic next to me suggested he sings it now becuse Eddie Vedder sang it at
the tribute).  And "Mama," the same, pretty, touching.

The overplayed "Maggie's Farm" was a revelation -- seemed to borrow the
funk-hook from Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime."  "Wheels On Fire,"
like "Tears", could have been right off Basement Tapes, with harmonies
and Bucky's strange organ sound.  "Real You" was rendered Rolling
Stones-style, perhaps the least interesting number of the night, but the
rockers at their best, too, took on a very Highway 61 Revisited/Blonde On
Blonde type sound, sorta like mercury or something.

Strange that Alabama Getaway was the biggest hit of the night, but there
were a lot of Deadheads in the crowd, but I'm not gonna say any more
about that.  "My Back Pages" given a classic, anthemic, electric
folk-rock treatment, as was Rainy Day.

Are all his recent shows like this, or did I just luck out and catch an
amazing night?

Seth Rogovoy
music news, interviews, reviews, et al.

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 12:06:28 -0400 From: Seth Rogovoy (rogovoy@BERKSHIRE.NET) Subject: Re: Springfield 4/16 (fwd) I thought, and Mitch agreed, that maybe a Siskel-and-Ebert type discussion of the show might be fun to read. So here's a repost of our private mail. My comments to Mitch are interposed within. How about the rest of you who were there last night jumping in? On Wed, 17 Apr 1996, Mitch Gart wrote: > Well, for me I loved it any time the band was playing, the 5 of > them are playing incredibly well togehter and just keep getting > better. I thought a lot of times Bob's voice missed notes he was > trying for and sounded really rough. Sometimes it can sound "ragged > but right" and other times just ragged, and last night I thought > it was just ragged a lot of the time. I guess I side with "ragged but right." I also thought he was doing some great melodic improvisational things, too. > > I loved Silvio, You Go Your Way, Alabama Getaway, and Rainy Day > Women (which I thought I was tired of but found myself loving anyway). Yeah, and I thought even the overplayed Maggie's Farm was pretty funky. > > Liked the idea of Tears of Rage and Wheel's on Fire but thought Bob's > voice was bad on both songs and sort of spoiled them for me. I think it seemed clear that these were "new" to him, in that he hadn't done them much recnetly and was still feeling his way through them, but that's also precisely why I thought they were so effective, that he really WAS feeling his way through this old-but-new numbers. But I also thought he sang them remarkably like he did on Basment Tapes, it sounded even like he must've been listening to the old tapes in preparation... > > I had read recently on rmd that Bob was singing Wheel's on Fire so > that wasn't a surprise but Mama You Been ... was a nice surprise. > > One thing that was a lot of fun was that I got my ticket at the last > minute and was sitting way high up in the balcony in the middle of > a bunch of college students and it was fun to see them reacting to > the songs. On a lot of them, e.g. Tangled, they would be quiet at > the beginning and then break into wild cheers at the first "tangled > up in blue" chorus as they recognized which song it was. That was > a lot of fun, sort of like hearing the song through new ears. > Were these the cute but silly people who were clapping a beat to Masters of War?? [In a subsequent private E-mail, Mitch confirmed that indeed they were.] ***************************************** Seth Rogovoy music news, interviews, reviews, et al. *****************************************
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 11:56:03 -0400 From: Seth Rogovoy (rogovoy@BERKSHIRE.NET) Subject: Re: Cue sheets On Wed, 17 Apr 1996, Digest [James W. Fox] wrote: > I was reading Seth Rogovoy's review of the 4/16 Springfield show and wonderin' > how people find out what the alternate songs selections area at slots. Then > Seth answered by saying he read it on a cue sheet from the lighting board. As > interesting as it is to know if a gem it about to be played, doesn't this take > away some of the surprise? YES, it does, and I must admit I was torn by the impulse to look at the sheet when I saw it and to ignore it (much as I was tempted to ignore set lists posted to the group). But truthfully, I felt my responsibility to this group to get the info outweighed the value of my personal "surprise" I might gain from ignoring it. Also, there still was SOME element of surprise to be gained by not knowing which songs he would choose in the spots that had alternate selections (and in the case of last night's show, disappointment over NOT hearing, for example, Desolation Row, was tempered by Dylan's reinvigorated, impassioned version of Masters of War -- although what the heck were those kids doing clapping a beat to it?). Besides, well, I was just curious! > I'd rather know at the end of the show and be > surprised from song to song. Are only the front rowers able to see the cue > sheets? Actually, I was in the very last row, next to the lighting board, which is where I saw the cue sheet. THe sound there was incredible -- crystal clear, as i've said. I brought binoculaurs (I always do, even if I'm in the front row I'll use them), so I could see pretty well, although I imagine the FEEL of sitting way up front must add a whole other element, which I'd be interested to hear about from the veterans who were up there in the first and second rows. > > >From someone in the nth row. > ***************************************** Seth Rogovoy music news, interviews, reviews, et al. *****************************************
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 13:37:53 GMT From: Sadie (sadiejane@FOLLY.ORG) Subject: NICE GUYS finish FIRST (springfield 4/16/96) A semi-demi phoned in show. Bob struggled all night to get a handle. The standouts were Lay Lady Lay which hit a groove, less lyrical and more rythmically (rhythm? rhthym? rithum?) driving than I've heard it before. I thought he really struggled on Silvio, and kept extending the solo, perhaps in hopes that he would find what he was looking for. The acoustic set was very solid - we all had seen Desolation on the cue sheet up at the soundboard and called out for no avail. He took his guitar off for Wheels on Fire and although the vocals from the boys were totally inaudible (perhaps just a problem for us down in the front few rows) it was also one of the strongest songs of the night. ok. So, they're not GOLD LAME trousers...(so maureen informs me) but BRONZE LAME. And yes he had the watch fob from hell on again. White satin shirt, black T-shirt. And you all you TOTAL GUITAR NERDS ;+} out there, Bob's new (old) guitar is not a SJN country western but an old J-45 (this according to my pal Kevin So (who plays the same clubs now that Jewell played in Boston last year and is green with envy that she gets to open for Bob and he doesn't...time will tell...) The NICE GUYS were Jack and his friends in the front row. Jack had been behind me in line in Springfield and scored the front row seats - we had a nice little reunion before the show started and then just before the acoustic set, when his friends went for beer, he turned around and motioned for Maureen and I to come over and take his friends' seats! He actually HELPED me over the row. We stayed until his friends returned and then they GRACIOUSLY sat down on the floor right by our legs so that we could stay in the front. Unfortunately some very clean cut looking gentleman with a walkie talkie and black jacket came down and told them they couldn't sit down in the front of the stage and so Maureen and I were gingerly helped back over the first row to our second row seats. At the end of the acoustic set, however, Jack helped us back over and practically ushered us to the edge of the stage right in front of Bob's monitors. Needless to say, I shared my bottle of Old Grandad with these estimable gentlemen all evening..... Nate took prolific notes all evening about which words bob missed and which solos he screwed up so I will leave the pernicious detail to him ;+} Oh, and the very strange coda to the evening was when the guitar tech (the one with very short cropped hair) brought me Bob's cue-sheet WRAPPED IN BOB'S WATER GLASS. Maybe he thought I would want to fax the glass to Bill, maybe he thought I looked thirsty (I had been dancing rather enthusiastically at the foot of the stage), maybe he just doesn't like dealing with those full cups of water (or near full). Needless to say, he was careful to wrap the glass in the paper with the words out (so they didn't get water on them) and I want to assure you all that I DRANK EVERY DROP!!!!! It was nice, clear, fresh water afterall...and I *was* thirsty. Delia ain't dead, she's bound for the North Country...
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 14:23:10 GMT From: "Joseph M. Scamardella at White Rook" (jmscamar@ASIMOV.OIT.UMASS.EDU) Subject: spfld, ma 4/16 - my $.02 for those interested, i have to say that i've been waiting a long time to see a performance from dylan like last night's (see other postings for set list, i can never remember). from the moment he started, singing with mike in one hand and mike cord in the other and no guitar i knew this was gonna be great. basically, the most striking aspect of the show for me: bob's voice. an incredible instrument. his black, white and tan fender solid-body guitar. a lot of solo work. harp playing. there was a lot. either he was guitarless and played harp while walking around (e.g.lay lady lay) or if he was playing guitar he would lay it down and choose a harp and start playing and walking around (e.g. my back pages). bob looked real cool in dark gold, satin-type pants, off-white shirt with black tee underneath. for some reason the performance reminded me a lot of the 1978 street legal tour, probably because of his vocal interpretations, harp and often guitarless singing. this was all really great. the crowd was really wild, and bob responded in kind. it was so obvious he was having a good time ! the band was brilliant, and jewel voice is quite beautiful. it's gotta be hard being an opening act too, with everybody talking and people being seated, etc. anyway, my $.02 worth. what did other people think ? joe scamardella new salem, ma -- "Hey Nelson, hand me that chatterbox." -Lt. Hanley, Combat
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 1996 14:31:21 -0400 From: John Wood (johnw@DELPHI.COM) Subject: Springfield song-by-song Sorry for the delay, but here's Springfield Song-by-song: Crash On The Levee -- Much cooler with harmonica, adding a grittier edge to a cool rocker. Lay Lady Lay -- What Seth said on Dylan's singing...or should I say, crooning. So relaxed and confident, Uncle Bob handled his harmonica in a way that is only *Bob*. Watchtower -- Even this well-worn warhorse rocked, with several strong exchanges between Uncle Bob and JJ. Most Likely -- At first, I almost thought it was "I Don't Believe You," but this received a relaxed, rumbling workout. Tears Of Rage -- Thank you, Uncle Bob!:-) One of my personal faves, and like Seth said, Bucky's pedal steel added a beautiful touch, although it reminded me more of the best country of Nashville Skyline. Sylvio -- This new arrangement (with the choruses) rocks, and last night's version smoked: If you didn't get off, you didn't belong in Symphony Hall! Several blistering instrumental moments of brilliance, especially Winston's power-drums. From this point on, I felt the band was in this same high gear for the rest of the night. Tangled -- Several verses alone were sooooo sweet, with Uncle Bob enunciating and stressing certain phrases with heartfelt inspiration and assurance. It's no secret of the improved concert performances the last couple of years, and this is a typical example. Of course, a potent harmonica break from Uncle Bob. Masters -- So goooood, with the band (sans Winston) extremely tight and focused on the changes and phrases. Mama -- Tasteful as always, with Uncle Bob's barotone very relaxed and understated, as was his harmonica break. Maggie's -- No matter how many times you've heard it, last night, this band made it so fresh; thanks to a John Lee Hooker-like boogie arrangement. I personally prefer the backbeat slam of the G-keyed '94 versions, but this arrangement contains a different, intriguing personality. This Wheel's -- Bob crooning with plenty of verve, and JJ's & Bucky's backing vocals wisely took a back seat. Once again, another confident, strong harmonica solo. Real You -- This band knows how to play this song; like the Rolling Stones when they had balls! In fact, I never got into this song until this band started incorporating it into the repertoire, and Uncle Bob once again played those oddball leads that shined in spirit on both guitar and harmonica. Wow, so much more harmonical than in December. Alabama -- Seth, I'm a longtime Deadhead (deal with it!;-), and last night's version put the two versions I caught last year (Worcester, Boston) to shame. Uncle Jerry was smiling brightly, as the band cranked out the changes with bone-crunching passion. Uncle Bob swapped a few lyrics, but that didn't matter. It was a hoot to see Uncle Bob also play to the balcony on several occasions. My Back Pages - Winston's brushes added a nice, punchy touch, and Uncle Bob again shines on his phrasing and harmonica. Rainy Day Women -- Seth, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I only counted two verses. At this time, the house lights were on, and JJ appeared a touch perplexed, but what was great was seeing Uncle Bob *lead* the jams, adding harmonica (his 7th harmonica song of the night!) to a gritty blues-rock fest! Overall, this was a consistently strong outing, with plenty of memorable moments of excellence. Like Seth said, not a dud in the lot, and the crowd -- a mix of wine-and-cheesers and Deadheads -- ate it up. This was no Beach Boys nostalgia act, but the real thing! Looking ahead to Providence tonight, then Saturday & Sunday at Portland.:-) John J. Wood

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