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Bob Dylan 960420 & 21 in Portland, Maine

From: John Wood (
Subject: Portland - 4/20 & 4/21 comments
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 1996 13:06:52 -0700

I'll get to the "by song" reports (also for Providence) tonight
or so, but here are some general comments for those that have
been inquring.

All I can say at this point is that if Uncle Bob comes to your
town and you don't go, you're missing a true legend that is
doing IT! This is no joke:  Since my first Dylan experience
(7/4/86), I have never been so enthralled by Robert Allan
Zimmerman live as I have this past week.

The Saturday night show sparkled from beginning to end:  Both
"Oh Mercy" tunes (Long Black Coat, What Good Am I?) received
beautifully detailed treatments.  Winston Watson's placement
of cymbols on the latter added a gorgeous soft dynamic in
particular.  The barrelhouse rumbling of Pledging My Time could 
have taken place in one of those smoky blues dives.  But then
there's Seven Days, which shreds pure rock & roll; Uncle Bob taking
back Ronnie Wood's claims to the song and the band crunching 
it to the next level.  But if anything, anyone who appreciates
Bob Dylan's music should go out and find a copy of the *tremendous*
rendition of The Times They Are A-Changin'!  Every note, every
phrase, every *moment* was exquisite; from Uncle Bob's carefully
considered enunciation of every verse to a transcendent, emotionally
moving harmonica solo that could *only* come from the mouth of
Bob Dylan.  For over eight precious minutes, I cried tears of joy,
stunned by the effort, heart, and the results achieved.  In fact,
it was among the most moving musical moments I've ever experienced --
no shit!:-)

How good is this band? Last night, 11 of the 15 songs I caught were
personal "repeats"! Know what? For me, last night *still* kicked ass! 
The foot-stompin' Leopard-Skin opener cooked (Uncle Bob's first line
was drowned out, but he inserted himself quickly), and If Not For You 
was Uncle Bob's response to an audience that was going rapturous
for every moment; both songs stamped with forceful harmonica (with 
some nice comps from JJ).  Even a recent song like Under The Red Sky 
contained these neat little details, many deriving from Bucky Baxter's
pedal steel.  Ah, and Masterpiece (a rarity in Dylan setlists
these days) included the "dirty gondola" bridge, sung forcefully
with clarity and conviction.  Seven Days again ruled, just
meat-and-potatoes rock & roll driven by a band playing with
energy and joy, yet with a driving precision.  Oh yes...what
can I say about Friend Of The Devil? I loved each version, and
the band is getting more comfortable with their arrangement 
with every reading.

Seriously, you folks can have your "alternative/grunge" band of choice:  
JJ Jackson, Bucky Baxter, Tony Garnier and Winston Watson are
the real thing! In fact, I defy anyone to find me a better pure
rock drummer with more sheer *power* than Winston Watson; his fiery
"lay it all down" passionate playing thrilled me night after 

If you don't see Uncle Bob when he rolls to your area this tour, you
are missing out on something special.  This is no Beach Boys
nostalgia act, but a 52-year old legend with an engaging, exciting
rock & roll band genuinely kicking ass! And the Portland crowds were
devouring it up, hurling one kind vibe after another, and the band 
responding in turn with several memorable moments of brilliance. 
Oh yes, I also cried last night to My Back Pages:  I heard it in 
Springfield, but this one felt so open and true, with the crowd 
singing along merrily without being a hindrance.  In the last two 
nights, I was moved on several occasions by the crowd reactions alone.

BTW, I have to throw in a few more cents just on the town of Portland.
Everywhere my friends and I went, we were consistently treated to
warm hospitality and a thoroughly relaxed atmosphere.  We ate
breakfast yesterday at a mom&pop breakfast place and were treated
to a killer meal, outstanding down-home service (the waitress was wearing
a GD tye-dye:-), and when we asked for directions to the nearest
state park, three different people responded with every detail
possible.  We drove out to Two Points state park yesterday afternoon
and enjoyed a gorgeous view of the ocean, with a backdrop that was
pure serenity.  Portland is a place I'll be visiting more in the near

Nonetheless, while I'm most definitely sated, there is also a side
of me that would like to catch "one more night."  And while he has
always been an acquired taste (almost all music is anyway), the time 
to catch Bob Dylan is *now*!

On that note...thank you, Uncle Bob!:-)

                                        Hope that holds you for now,;-)

                                        John J. Wood

Date: Mon, 22 Apr 1996 18:36:48 GMT From: SadieJ (sadiejane@FOLLY.ORG) Subject: SADIE JANE - VIP/RIP Rumour has it that Delia *was* (albeit briefly) in the house at The State Theater on Friday, April 19th. Unfortunately, I arrived late from Boston (just in time for the end of the opening act) and so missed her..... IN BRIEF: (shows I saw) New Haven 4/14 Springfield 4/16 Providence 4/18 Portland 4/19 Portland 4/20 Portland 4/21 (Show I liked) Best: Providence (Show I thought was)Worst: Springfield (Show I thought was the)Most Interesting Musically: Portland 4/21 Bob is doing some of the best Harp playing I've seen in a long time. His guitar playing has also been very daring - he is taking a lot of risks, improvising melody lines and collaborating quite openly on stage with JJ. We're not talking about just moving over in his direction his direction generally but seeking his eye contact regularly during duets and talking to him during songs - lots of signals back and forth..... The band is in top form - bucky and JJ now attempting (though not really fully committing to) back up vocals on many songs: Alabama, Silvio, Friend of the Devil, etc.... Nicest stage story: At the end of the 4/20 show (of the three Portland shows - this is the only one where bob seemed really relaxed and having fun, smiling and walking around the stage) he tossed a harmonica down to a youngster (13years?) in the orchestra pit, house left. It was intercepted by an older fan and so Bob walked back to his stand, picked up another harp and walked back down to the edge of the stage where he reached down with it and put it directly into the young boy's hand. It was just about the nicest thing I've *ever* seen and the boy appeared to be completely overwhelmed with excitment. The next night (sunday) I saw Chris, one of the security staff, looking around in the pit section for something/someone and later asked an RMD'er who had been down there what was going on. The story from this person was that the boy with the harp had written a thankyou note for Bob and called The State Theater management on Sunday about trying to have it delivered to him. So, just as the first encore on sunday, Alabama, began, the security guard found him in the house and brought him to Bob's bus where they waited so that the boy could deliver his note in person. I want to say that I have NEVER EVER been to a venue where the personal feelings and requests of the audience were so politely and generously received. The management and staff at The State Theater should be commended on their hospitality and humanity. I truly hope that this beautiful art deco venue survives its financial difficulties! p.s. I will write up in more detail (if I can!) about these shows when and if I ever catch up on my zzzz's Delia ain't dead, she's bound for the North Country...
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 17:50:22 EST Sender: The Bob Dylan Discussion List ( From: Maureen LeBlanc (turning_pt@UMBSKY.CC.UMB.EDU) Subject: portland thoughts - April 19 to 21 (long) Lines: 146 Portland. You need to hear about Portland. I'm still recovering from Portland, a cold, and the sheer enormity of the experience. Call this an overview with some random thoughts. I'm sure others will post more detailed reports and reviews of each night's performances. In the Bob Speaks department, Sunday night's show (4/21) provided a virtual treasure trove of Bob Speaks material. Paraphrasing: "Portland's a great town and we hope to come back here a lot. Hope we've done our part toward saving this theater." Every night - every single night - there was something to surprise and elate us, provided by our troubadours: Bob Dylan - electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica and vocals. John Jackson - electric guitar, banjo, and fledgling backup vocals. Winston Watson - percussion. Tony Garnier - Electric and stand-up bass. Bucky Baxter - pedal steel, mandolin, and maybe an acoustic guitar on one song (?) Anyone else remember this? Along with JJ, he too is a fledgling backup vocalist. Friday, April 19: We arrived in time to hear a little bit of the openers, God Street Wine, but had unfortunately missed a message read from the stage for SadieJ, who was with us: "Happy Birthday SadieJ! Delia ain't dead - She's in the house!" Out came our favorite guys. Bob in his bronze pants and a red satin shirt, I think. Sat. and Sun. he reverted to his black pants with the silver braid down the sides. Whatever they were, they were worn with one of his satin shirts. Red the first day... White satin on Saturday, and Pink satin on Sunday.... I think. Black leather boots all 3 nights. The days all ran together and I didn't do fashion notes. Didn't do *any* notes. Could some fashion consultant clear this up please? We're front row center - a place I've never been in my life. He's in great voice. We were up cheering and dancing early and often. Bob looks great and sounds even better. It's not long before sweat starts flying everywhere, as Bob & Co. tear into this Friday night set. *Visions of Johanna*. Slow, powerful, dramatic. There were audible gasps as people realized what they were hearing. *Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again*. Don't know about you, but I'd pay the price to go through that one twice. *Simple Twist of Fate*. Always one of my faves. "he felt the heat of the night...hit 'im like a freiiiiiight train ... movin', with a simple twist of fate." *Forever Young*. :-) That's all that needs to be said. *Forever Young*. *Joey*. A personal fave, and he poured everything, every vocal nuance imaginable into it: "Jo-ey - Jo-ey. King of the Streets, Child of Clay. Jo-ey - Jo-ey what made them want to come and blow you away!?! " Everything came together again for the man who learned to look his demons straight in the eye. When it was over, we couldn't stop cheering, couldn't stop "double pointing" and couldn't stop blowing kisses and handing out our hearts. Let's just say that it felt real, real good and call that an understatement. I won't forget it - Ever. I won't forget that whole week in fact - from New Haven to Portland. I especially won't forget Friday, April 19th. We met people - Ray, the famous, touring Ray. Bill Pagel of Boblinks fame. Christine Consolvo, (we'd met before), who's always such a gracious presence. Saw David the deadhead again. All kinds of people. Met a lot of HWY61-L subscribers. It was just wonderful to meet people in person. Ira and Lee. Stefan and Christine and so many more....I can't think of any more names and it's making me *crazy*. Thought I saw my heart headed for Orono, Maine on a tour bus, but it was apparently my brain hitching a ride. We learned that we have friends who would go out of their way for us over and over again. Saturday night - *Man in the Long Black Coat* is chillingly, achingly beautiful. *Positively 4th St.* done in sorrowful, pitying style. *Pledging My Time*, with that masterful blues vocal. *What Good Am I?* Standing in the middle of a row, the tears start flowing - rolling down my face. "If I turn a deaf ear to the thunder in the sky, What good am I?" The simple truths of a humane life, you know? The ... where's the word where's the word that gives us the ability to lift ourselves up. The essence of humanity. People don't do unspeakable things to each other just because they're human. They *choose* consciously to do unspeakable things, or else they *choose* to resist that impulse and do good. Dylan is *right*. Everyone should know that at some time in any given set of Dylan concerts, you'll cry. From out of nowhere, you'll cry. It could be anything from sheer joy that there's another person walking the earth who understands how you feel, to a realization that only a higher power could've planned a soul like this, to put into words the things we can never quite say, and who can make us stop to consider the things we might not otherwise think of considering. It might even be something in between. Whatever it is, it'll hit you someday and you'll need kleenex. Bring plenty. *Seven Days* has been everywhere, improving with each romp. I have to look at the setlists to see how often they've played it since I joined up in New Haven, but each time they bring it out, it comes breaking out of the gate better than the last. This song has found its home again with Bob and his band. *Wheel's On Fire*. Another one triumphantly reclaimed. If you'd heard Saturday night's *Mr.Tambourine Man*, you'd know he could never, ever outdo that. It was a prayer. He *will* outdo it though. Maybe tonight. Maybe somewhere in your neck of the woods. Sunday night's *Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat* opener: Beyond belief, period. If you'd been counting the number of jaws dropping in the State Theater you'd have lost count and would've had to start again. Sunday's whole set sounded exactly the way the setlist reads. Phenomenal. It isn't possible to convey to you how important it is to *run* to where ever they're selling tickets in your town. If you've never seen Bob Dylan and his band live, in concert, you have to go now. If you have and were disappointed, get your ticket now, and get back in there. This is a guy who's struggled with the title "living legend" since he was a boy and has finally managed to settle up something within himself about living within his own skin and soul. You can't pass this up. He struggles to create something new out there every single night with the *best band in the world* backing him up. That voice ranges from honey to gravel and every space in between gets filled up too. There's no emotion left unturned as he rips into each song, redefining it forever -'til the next time. His guitar work is golden. Even on an off night, you'll get the best performance you've ever seen. There's nothing canned. There's no "product" in the sense that we've come to expect these days. Just real music, made by hands that get blood blisters for the sheer love of playing the real thing, night after night. These guys put themselves out there for themselves, for us, and to uphold and pass along a tradition that should never die. Don't miss this. Seriously - chalk me up as a simple cheerleader if you need to, but do yourself a favor and don't miss this tour. That was a tiny sample of Portland, Maine, The Overwhelming City. You should visit Portland. Nice place, and you never know what you'll find. Thanks everybody. Maureen
Date: Fri, 26 Apr 1996 19:33:59 GMT From: SadieJ (sadiejane@FOLLY.ORG) Subject: Sadie in The State (Portland April 19-21) Bob at The State Theater, Portland Maine April 19-21, 1996 I have done my darndest to recall as much detail from those nights, leaving out the fashion comments and general RMD gossip to my comrades - so if you re not interested in the music I suggest you skip this one ;+} Craig - I hope that the carriage returns work for you. They were a pain in the #ss to insert....;+} ================================================================ April 19th Bob took the stage on Friday with the look of grim-faced fatigue. >From my front row center seat I can t recall seeing him crack a smile all night....everyone commented later on the incredible setlist from that show - but it was not a great effort on Dylan's part - not that I blame him either - I thought I could hear the road creeping in is all. Visions was tentative and perhaps a tad too slow (or so it was said over drinks later that night) but curiously compelling because of the vulnerability and ambivalence that he showed. I think this new arrangement: lyrical, introspective and reflective, was an improvement over the original. The opening line, "Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet?" sung like an honest question, not a sarcastic remark. I don't remember which words he sang, whether he skipped a verse or invented new lyrics....leave that to the -ologists ....I do hope that he brings that one out again. It's one of those lost songs that can only be found in the playing I suspect. Seven Days and also Friend of the Devil both suffered from the Friday night, just got into a new town blues. I thought they both needed their batteries changed. Forever Young was perfect. Perfect for my birthday show - if he wasn't going to play Delia... then I was going to be happy with Forever Young. I think somewhere someone said: "All happy shows are alike, but an unhappy show is unhappy after it's own fashion" Well, Friday night s show was one of those sadly tired shows, that never went into automatic pilot (thankfully), giving us a glimpse of happy shows to come. April 20th Speaking of happy shows: Saturday's was more along the lines of the Providence (kick ass) show with bob looking relaxed and even cracking a smile or two. I've never seen him do Long Black Coat without playing guitar and he seemed the most uncertain during that number. Watchtower seared and soared, Pledging My Time (the first Dylan song I ever memorized the words for) was typical Bob at his campiest road side blues best. when I heard the opening to Tambourine Man I at first felt a twinge of disappointment. It's never really been a favorite of mine - but this was a Tambo Man I'm not likely to forget. Bob giving a sketch of the song with rhythmic and harmonic rebounds and then painting those image rich pictures with the cracks and crevices in his voice. This was no (I'm Tony Bennett) lounge act Tambo Man. He played guitar all throughout, balancing his crazy melodic angles against JJ s steady melodic rhythms - all mystery and fairy dust. What Good Am I? was a perfect choice for the occasion and everyone in the house appreciated the sentiment. Seven Days SEVEN DAYS S E V E N D A Y S was huge! It drove us down, reminiscent of the dangerous Everything is Broken arrangement (which is a favorite of mine) - with those evil 9th chords (is that what they are?) sinister and dark. I had never been moved by the recording from the Bootleg series - but boy did this version GET TO ME. Not a song about reconciliation and reuniting but about desperate longing, "seven more days, all I gotta do is survive". During The Times They Are A-Changin' after bob picked up his harp it seemed as though the night would never end. And just as the band looked about ready to close up shop, Bob would go diving back down for another chance to bring up a pearl. April 21st Sunday. I never know what to expect on the last day of a run. Mostly because I know I'll be feeling the beginnings of my "post- bob syndrome coming on - not knowing when I'll catch another show (I really shouldn t complain) and also being a bit tired of sitting in an audience, ready to get back to my own business (stealing whatever I learn from bob and recycling it for my own twisted purposes in the bars and folk clubs of Boston). Sunday s show while not having the same high loose energy of Saturday was perhaps the best of the three. I usually pride myself on being able to guess a song within the first few bars of intro but was completely stumped by Sunday s opener. There was this moment of incredulity in the house as we heard the first few lines... Wellllllll, I heard you got thaaaaat brand new leopard- skin pill-box haaaaaaaat and we were suddenly all on our feet, clapping and stomping and cheering and screaming like teenage girls at a Beatles show. I must say that it was the best I ve heard it live too - the tempo was a perfect raunchy grind. I find it has been too fast in the past - this way we could really savor every twisted, tongue-in-cheekism. The only problem ( problem? you say.... Bob plays LSPBH and you complain? ) was that it launched the opening of the show in a way that Bob, his band and the audience were all not quite prepared. The next song, If Not For You , sort of hung tentatively on the momentum of this wild opening and then fluttered into a no-man s land. That sudden burst of energy was quickly diffused (with the audience awkwardly finding themselves standing in a lyrical ballad) and I think we all felt relief when we heard Watchtower come in to get the ball rolling again. I would have chosen something perhaps more intense and focused - maybe I Want You or Senor - a song with more purpose than the sweet natured If Not For You . Sunday night was indeed a great night for guitar playing - JJ and Bob both appeared to be stealing from eachother quite a bit on stage - in the most good humored way. Inventing and then trading new motifs back and forth. During one song (can t remember which) Bob started a new idea and JJ waited to see where it was going before jumping in. It was great seeing that kind of space for invention on stage - no anxious rush to fill every moment with sound. Then, when he did join in, it was to gingerly add in a complementary melody to bob s more angular one. Bob also took his time moving from guitar to vocals to harp and this allowed JJ ample opportunities to lead the band with his own playing. During Alabama Getaway Bob took an extended guitar solo and JJ decided to start punctuating it with the refrain Alabama getaway, getawaaaaaay . I watched JJ trying, but not succeeding in getting Bucky s attention to join in with a harmony. The audience down front noticed what was going on and started singing (screaming) with JJ who finally took a few steps behind Bob and managed to get Bucky s attention - Bucky joined in for some of the best back-up singing of the night. I would like to see the band continue to add vocals as they have done - it is still very tentative. ================================================================ On Saturday I wandered into a used bookstore and found, in a pile of old sheet music, this song by Hoagy Carmicheal. Paid my $1.75 and took it back to the hotel room (along with some nice Wolf and Rutter songs) to play around with - time to kill before going down to the theater at 6:00 to grab a general admission seat for the show. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Blue Orchids, Hoagy Carmichael I dreamed of two blue orchids, two beautiful blue orchids, one night while in my lonely room. I dreamed of two blue orchids, so full of love and light, That I wanted to posses each tender bloom. Then my dream took wings and through a thousand springs, blue orchids seemed in a world apart, But when I met you something pale and blue Came stealing from the meadows of my heart. I saw my two blue orchids, my beautiful blue orchids, last night and what a sweet surprise When you looked at me, it was plain to see, Blue orchids only bloom in your eyes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I'm hoping to get this one up and running soon :+} xx sadiej Delia ain't dead, she's a thousand miles behind... Delia ain't dead, she's back home...
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