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Bob Dylan 960420 in Portland, ME

From: John Wood (
Subject: Portland 4/20/96 - Song By Song
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 21:02:23 -0400

4/20/96 - Portland Song By Song:

1.  Crash On The Levee - Rocking as usual, with Uncle Bob cranking
        into his harmonica solos.  The audience is already going
        bonkers, getting into every note and phrase.
2.  Man In The Long Black Coat - Dark and brooding, with an extremely
        focused performance by the ensemble, accented by an
        assured, almost spooky Dylan vocal.
3.  All Along The Watchtower - Cranking again as usual, especially 
        Winston's drums.
4.  Positively 4th Street - With this arrangement, the song becomes
        more of a self-reflective statement than an anthem, yet
        it works nicely due to its hushed dynamics.
5.  Pledging My Time - Yes!!! A personal favorite that like past versions,
        shines in its grimy slow-blues auro; the State Theatre was
        literally transformed into the House Of Blues.
6.  Silvio - Lots of nice Garcia-ish leads from JJ during the 3rd & 4th
        verses, and the band again slams it on home.  Man, this
        arrangement kicks butt, especially when Winston and Tony
        nail THE SPOT!
7.  Mr. Tambourine Man - Uncle Bob on guitar, and the foursome beautifully
        float around the melody.  I would have liked the harmonica
        to appear, but Bob's guitar solo made its statement in
        a authoratively restrained performance.
8.  Desolation Row - Five verses are better than none, I guess.  Superb
        execution, with plaintively focused vocals by Dylan.
9.  Friend Of The Devil - "Now *this* is a repeat I'll take anytime" and
        again, splendidly done, with a touch tighter execution on
        the bridge.
10.  Maggie's Farm - Kickin' as usual, with a driving pedal steel line
        by Bucky.  The band is playing soooo well.
11.  What Good Am I? - A stunningly gorgeous ensemble performance, and
        Winston's cymbol placement and hushed accents worked wonders.
        Prior to the encore, my personal favorite moment of the show
12.  Seven Days - YES!! Goddamn...the band is *raging* through this
        as if they're going nuts on stage (I was!!:-), but Uncle
        Bob just rocked the house down, tearing into the lyrics
        as if every word was pouring from his soul from he to us,
        Not only does Uncle Bob take back every claim Ronnie Wood
        had to the song, but I sincerely believe that this band
        is one of the best *pure* rock & roll bands in the business.
        Winston just slammed his skins, grinning like a banshee
        warrior who just devoured his prey! Magnificent!

13.  Alabama Getaway - This time, Uncle Bob gets most of the lyrics
        correct, and the band charges through and jams the song
        enough to sastify the Deadhead contingent.  One friend
        of mine said, "I could hear them do this every night."
        Know what? The way they rage through this, I can too!
14.  The Times They Are A-Changin - There isn't a word in my vocabulary that
        will adequately describe the emotions I experienced for eight
        unforgettable minutes.  This was Bob Dylan at his best, folks!
        It was already enough that his reading shined as a master
        storyteller, but Uncle Bob's harmonica solo started casually,
        then built up momentum, then found IT and took off into
        the next stratosphere, going completely over the top in a moment
        of triumph and sheer heart.  Don't read what I have to say;
        get the tapes and listen to and experience IT! I was so emotionally
        spent that even after the lights came up, it took me several
        minutes to realize that if he had played Rainy Day, it would
        have been a pointless waste of time. Really!

This posting would be remiss if I didn't mention the excellent
audience, who was clearly into every turn, every phrase, every
song...just one standing ovation after another.  It was an
audience INTO IT without being a hindrance:  A far cry from
a Rochester '94 show that was ruined by inconsideration and
selfishness on many a stage-crasher.  


"Come writers and critics throughout the land,
 Don't criticize what you can't understand..."

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