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Bob Dylan 970816 in Mansfield, Massachusetts

Subject: Re: Blind Willie McTell 8-17
From: Alberto Louis (
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 1997 13:04:47 -0500

In article <>, (PHyatt1962) wrote:

> How many out there that saw last nite's show would agree that his
> performance of this song was incredible?

I'd agree -- he played it at Great Woods on Saturday, and I thought it was
the standout tune of the night.  That little guitar riff he kept injecting
into it was perfect.


Subject: "hotter than a crotch" (long 8/17 review) Note: Should be 8/16! From: O'B ( Date: Sun, 17 Aug 1997 19:03:34 -0400 No heaters on stage for this one. It was hot and sticky: no air, no breeze. Great Woods is one of those typical amphitheaters built in the 80’s, with seats under a covered shed, with lawn “seats” up in back. Sound inside the shed is notoriously bad, though this was not the case last night. It is also the site of the worst Bob Dylan show I’ve seen (early 90’s). He was obviously drunk, literally was halfway through Shelter From the Storm before I knew what tune he was playing. Ah, but those days are long behind us now... Sweet Marie... The opener. By that I mean it was just that--sort of unfocused, everyone getting their feet on the ground (both crowd and band). Not bad, not great, but then warmup songs rarely are. I tend to think of the show starting with the second tune. Bob was wearing the same black suit with the stripe down the side of the pants, with a white, brimmed hat. Strange note--at Loon Mountain, it was chilly and there were heaters on stage; Bob wore pants and a shirt, no hat. Last night it was hotter than hell; Bob wore a suit, complete with jacket and hat. What a contrary bastard ;-) If Not For You... First evidence that tonight would be special. Bob is on his game. The lyrics dance atop the music, Bob confidently shifting the delivery of each line, just a bit different from the way you think it’s going to be delivered. On a mediocre night, this can sound more like sloppiness or lack of rehearsal. On a good night, it keeps a song alive that you may have heard a hundred times. On an outstanding night, Bob drives the band with the vocals, challenging them to keep up with him, “c’mon boys, stay with me”. Tough Mama... You can see the playful confidence on Bob’s face, in contrast to Tanglewood 2 weeks ago. Strongly performed, though I was kinda disappointed that he mumbled the “hotter than a crotch” line, given the weather. Like a Woman... This one got the more mainstream fans into the show--one everyone recognized. I can’t say enough about how tight the band was, following Bob’s lead. There are some shows where you watch the band, listen to the music, thinking maybe “good guitar solo” or “drums are faster than usual” or “this was better in Providence last year” or something like that. Some shows, you’re thinking “I wish this guy next to me would shut up” or “man, my feet hurt” or “shit, I hope we don’t have to sit in traffic for two hours after the show” or you find yourself paying more attention to the guy on the side of the stage messing with the backup guitars than the band. Then there are the nights that keep you coming back, keep you willing to deal with the hassles of driving two hours, paying $5.25 for 12 ounces of beer, getting searched by some guy who is 100 pounds heavier and 75 IQ points lighter than you. These are the nights where you are locked into the songs, where you go all night, never distracted by the people next to you, where you disappear into the songs, where the songs become the songs that they were meant to be. You aren’t conscious of the guitar player’s notes or the drummer’s beat, you hear the whole song, no, you feel it. You aren’t at Great Woods or The Orpheum or The Beacon Theater, you’re just here, now, living these songs. The music takes you somewhere, whether far away or deep into your own head, that’s up to you, but it takes you somewhere. That’s the power of music, whether Dylan’s or Coltrane’s or Mozart’s or, I suppose, Green Day’s. Last night was one of these nights, at least for me. In fairness, I should note that a guy two rows in front of me slept through most of the show. Silvio... Always a crowd-pleaser, though not the show-stopper it was two summers ago when it first settled into the permanent rotation. Kudos to the guy in the third row holding up the “Isis” sign, even though it was in vain. Tambourine Man... The acoustic set was the same (title-wise) as Loon Mountain, but played at a much higher level. Bob by now knows that they are on tonight and seems to be having fun with it. Rather than looking ahead, but at nothing, he actively makes eye contact with people in the first few rows. The band is up to the task, only once the energy threatens to slip as Bob searches for a way into an acoustic lead, but Bucky jumps in on mandolin, not stepping over Bob’s abortive lead, but supporting it, and in two beats the hesitation is gone, Bob has found the entrance into the lead that he was looking for, and there is no looking back. Tangled Up... This one gets the crowd back on its feet. Bob plays one of his now patented three-note leads--while it may lack in technical complexity, it raises the energy level a palpable notch or two. Absent tonight, noticeable especially during the endings of the songs, is that “circling while waiting to land” feeling where the song is extended an extra minute after everything has been said, while the band tries to come together for the ending. Tonight, Bob gives the little head nod and thirty seconds later, we are taxiing to the gate. Cocaine Blues... Seemed to be a crowd favorite. At Loon Mountain, there seemed to be more of a “what is this?” vibe in the audience. A silent shed as people paid attention (as opposed to the annoying murmur of conversation at Tanglewood). Oddly, the sleeping guy woke up during this tune, stood up for the first minute, then was asleep again by the first few notes of... I Don’t Believe You... Seeing Bob sing this with that white hat on reminded me of The Last Waltz, singing this same song with the band 20+ years ago. Danko now a junkie, just out of Japanese prison, Robertson and Levon Helm hating each other, sniping at each other in the press. Bob still up there, same song, same white hat. Looked like Peter Wolf (of J. Geils Band fame) sitting on an amp on the side of the stage, checking things out. I’m not sure it was him, but it sure looked like it. He was in the crowd a few years ago at the Harborlights show. Blind Willie McTell... I didn’t think I’d get to hear this, as I had seen the previous night’s set list. I wasn’t sure until I heard the first line sung. Who’d have guessed a few months ago that a standard set list would include “Tough Mama” and “McTell”. A year from now, we’ll all be bitchin’ about how lame it is that he keeps playing this song every night :-) Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat... Cool, I figured it’d be Highway 61 or Maggie’s. Bob obviously having fun now, making eye-contact with someone in the front row, then playing them a little lead riff. encores--Rolling Stone, Forever Young (a girl behind me says, “Hey isn’t this a Rod Stewart song?”), and RDW #12 & 35. I was in section 1, row S. I was kind of dismayed to see SadieJ (at least I think it was her, seemed to match her picture on her web page/didn’t get a chance to say “Hi”) sitting only five rows in front of me. There is something definitely wrong with that. And I thought she had earned automatic front-row access by now ;-) till next time, John -- O'B ( ) ( ) "I can tell your future: just look what's in your hand"