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Bob Dylan 990225 in Portland, Maine

Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 02:16:14 EST
Subject: Portland Show

If anyone out there went through the trouble of getting to the Dylan concert
tonight (a storm followed Dylan in his trek up to Maine) they were sure
treated to an unbelievable show. Not only was the setlist filled with
surprises and delights, but the man himself was far more outgoing and full of
expression compared to the night before.
	In comparison, I've seen seven shows over the last four years, but this would
prove to be head and shoulders above the rest. The crowd was fantastic, band
extremely tight, and Dylan was on top of his game, with a few tricks lurking
in the corner.
	Quick highlight of opener- Larry joined Natalie Merchant on fiddle for a slow
song which I didn't recognize but never the less, it was nicely done. But the
real show was obviously Bob, and he opened with two average performances of
"Serve Somebody" and "I'll Remember You." "Can't Wait" had its usual funk
aspect to it, and at this point Dylan began to get more animated with the
crowd (I was in row four, and witnessed numerous facial expressions throughout
the night). "Positively 4th Street" was one of the many highlights, well
performed, effective guitar, and convincing on the line: "you would know what
a drag it is to see you." Everyone began to dance on "Silvio," which was
pretty straight forward but a crowd pleaser, and nice contrast to the softness
of the acoustic set.
	"Masters of War" was nearly identical to the night before, but what came next
was like a dream come true. "Visions of Johanna," a long time favorite of mine
and nearly everyone else on RMD, was completely unexpected, and because of
this single fact I'm sure my opinion is very biased, but to me it was the high
point of the night. Not exceptionally sung or played, but its presence alone
was enough to make my night. "Tangled Up In Blue" was the best I've ever seen
it, with a brilliant guitar solo by Dylan, and lots of great "looks" to match.
Next was "Friend of the Devil," another favorite, and it became a crowd sing-
along towards the end, at least among those up front, slowly fading with a
nice light strumming of the guitar by Bob and Larry. Overall, the acoustic set
was the best one I have ever experienced, and it alone would have made the
	"Pledging My Time" and "Blind Willie," along with "61" were all very well
done, but the fact is that the guitar work of "Leopard Skin" and overall
emotion of the song overshadowed the former three (along with a version of
"Love Sick" that wasn't up to the standards set the night before). "Leopard
Skin" was definitely another highlight of the night, and the solos seemed to
last forever, yet still not long enough. "Blowin in the Wind" took a long time
to develop, with multiple guitar loops before Dylan launched into "How many
roads..." Finally, "Not Fade Away" was very short but a fitting end to the
	There's nothing more to say except this was an incredible show, and now I
can't sleep, because just thinking about it raises my heart beat. Hopefully
this won't be the last time I get to see my idol, but if it is, he left me
with memories from tonight that I will not soon forget. "Ain't it just like
the night to play tricks when you are trying to be so quiet?"  :)  please
email me if you were lucky enough to attend, or can get ahold of a tape of the
show, or just have any questions    goodnight everyone,
as I sit here stranded doing my best to deny it

Subject: Portland, ME - Feb. 25, 1999 From: "M. LEBLANC" (turning_pt@UMBSKY.CC.UMB.EDU) Date: 25 Feb 1999 22:49:38 -0800 Acoustic *Visions of Johanna* -- We were there! Please please please put this Visions up on! Sublime. Blind Willie McTell! Have Visions and Blind Willie ever been done in' the same show? Dazzling. Pledging My Time! Positively Fourth Street! Outstanding! I thought I'd heard the most blistering, smoked and nailed Highway 61 Revisited last night in Amherst, but that was before tonight's flambe! We drove from Amherst into Portland, starting out this morning and pulling into town at about 5:00 pm. Were we rewarded for our journey? You Betcha! Thanks Bob! Maureen :-)
Subject: Re: Portland, ME - Feb. 25, 1999 From: Joe McMullen ( Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 13:11:15 GMT Organization: very little organization I braved the Great Nor'easter of '99, driving over 100 miles to Portland, and it was a fantastic show. Bob's voice was the best I 've heard in five straight years of shows that I've seen. The acoustic set was awesome! Natalie Merchant also did a great, animiated show. I wish Bob would have called her up for an encore. She did one song with Larry Campbell playing violin. Not Fade Away!
Subject: "Really Nothing To Turn Off" Portland review (long) From: O'B ( Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 19:36:53 -0500 It's a truism in concert-going that the shows that are the most difficult to get to tend to be the ones most worth attending. Portland was no exception, thanks to some unpredicted highway snow on the 150 mile drive. Amherst was easy, and an okay show. Portland was harder and well... Gotta Serve Somebody Fairly succinct. Shorter, less of a jam than I would have figured, which is okay for an opener really. Play it, get all the fingers working, get the feel of the place and get on with the show. Less chatty crowd than Amherst, roughly the same type of hockey arena, though a much older building than the new Mullin Center. Most of the seats are on the sides of the building, not many on the ends. Security seemed friendly and even-handed, something you canÕt always take for granted. IÕll Remember You Cool selection. Out of the sixteen songs you know youÕre going to hear, 5 of them are pretty much written in stone (this tour: Gotta Serve, Tangled, Hwy. 61, Love Sick, NFA) so the wild-card songs are the ones that define the show. The second song in any Dylan show is your first look at the cards that BobÕs dealing out that night, your first hint of how varied the set list might be. Million Miles, though a great song, had been played a bunch in the #2 slot on this tour including the previous night, and I was hoping he wouldnÕt take the easy route and just slide into that again. IÕll Remember You, while not an outrageously obscure choice, is played infrequently enough that Bob and the band arenÕt likely to slip into playing it from rote. A nice choice, well-played and well-sung. The sound in the civic center was excellent, you could hear every lyric that Bob wanted you to hear. CanÕt Wait I love the Time Out Of Mind songs live, theyÕre songs meant to be played, roared, growled. IÕd have no problem sitting through a night of just TOOM songs, I think itÕd be a great show. 4th Street Last time I saw this one (I think it was the last time, anyway) was at Avalon in Boston, with about 6500 less people in the room. Bob sort of swallowed the first line and a big part of the crowd didnÕt recognize the tune until the second, when they roared. The fourth song of the night, and the fourth with strong, focused vocals. Bob was right on top of the lyrics, and when he wasnÕt singing he was playing and mugging, always focused, unlike the night before when he often seemed annoyed and distracted as the players were having a harder time meshing together. By now, it was obvious that everyone up there was playing with more confidence than in Amherst. Silvio Much shorter than the jammed out versions IÕve been used to hearing, which is fine with me, since I feel that the jams have become much less interesting without John Jackson. Also, since David Kemper joined up, the on-stage dynamic seems to have shifted, with Dylan leading the songs to a greater degree. When Winston Watson was in the band and a song was wrapping up, Bob would give the little look signaling that heÕd had enough and Tony Garnier would pick up on it, turn to Watson and theyÕd lock up and bring the song in for a landing. Now, when Bob has had enough, he gives the look to Kemper, who then wraps things up pretty quickly, more of an aircraft-carrier landing than Garnier and WatsonÕs lengthier touchdowns. Not a complaint, really, just an observation. Masters of War Well sung, well played, but IÕve heard it enough for the time being. Sort of the same way I felt about Million Miles before: I was just hoping for a little bit of a twist in the lineup. Visions of Johanna I was expecting Pass Me Not, which would have been okay, and hoping that we wouldnÕt get Cocaine Blues, only cause IÕve heard it a ton in the past year and a half, and there arenÕt a lot of new places you can take that song. Their was a brief discussion on stage before the song--no different from a couple of others earlier, no look of surprise or anything indicating anything unusual. Tony nodded and started noodling a couple of notes, Bob started strumming, it was familiar, but i couldnÕt place it immediately...was it the same as that gospel tune last night?...wait, I know...ÓAinÕt it just like the night, to play tricks...Ó Holy shit. Not what I expected. Not at all. The crowd gave a yell after the first line, then quieted down to listen. Some people obviously were aware of their good fortune, but not all: I saw people heading for the bathroom. That was the last time I was distracted until the song ended. There was no sign that this song hadnÕt been played recently. Bob nailed the lyrics that he sung, no mumbles, no missteps. His guitar break was bright and melodic, not one of his two-noters. Who cares, though--more than any of that it was just some moving shit. After the first couple of lines, I was absorbed way past the point of caring about the mere novelty of hearing it. This was why I drove through 150 miles of NorÕeaster to get here. Tangled Up In Blue Got a significantly bigger reaction from the crowd than Visions, got the masses standing and dancing, which is what itÕs designed to do, I guess, by its now entrenched spot in the acoustic set. I had no right to complain about anything in the set list now, and I knew it. ItÕs over-played, but still a great song. Friend Of The Devil The largest roar of the night was in recognition of the first line of this song. ItÕs a great song, a perfect fit for Bob. I got my introduction to Bob Dylan through Jerry Garcia many years ago so I love this nod to his memory. I think Dylan wears this song better than Alabama Getaway. I also love the change by Bob from ÒleveeÓ to ÒcrossroadÓ (Went down to the levee/ but the devil caught me there), tapping into the familiar imagery of blues legend. I never attend any concert without feeling at least a pang of loss that Garcia is gone. He was responsible for the greatest musical moments of my life. If you have no use for the Dead, thatÕs fine with me, but IÕm sure a lot of people feel the way I do, if that roar in Portland was any indication. Pledging My Time Fun blues. Another unexpected tune, a set list from the snow gods apparently. By now Bob is obviously having fun, and heÕs starting to mug and seek out eye contact from those down front. Nobody dances like Bob Dylan, thatÕs for damn sure. Blind Willie McTell YouÕve got to be kidding me. If IÕd written the frigginÕ set list myself I might not have been as satisfied. A crystal clear performance. I love the slight change in the chorus: IÕll tell you one thing/ nobody can sing/ the blues like/ Blind Willie McTell. A brilliant choice in an already brilliant show. Surprisingly, some people take the first lines of this song as their cue to leave, which though baffling, works fine for me as it frees up room in my crowded row on the floor. Highway 61 BobÕs having a good old time, and gives Larry Campbell a lot more room here than he did the night before and Larry takes advantage of it, ripping off some incendiary leads. I use the space between the end of the regular set and the encores to take a much needed rest. Love Sick see above for my remarks on the TOOM songs live... Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat Rough and tumble, but the perfect choice. Loud, fun. Bob making great faces. BlowinÕ in the Wind IÕm not one of those who rate DylanÕs early anthems as his best works, but the fact that they are performed fairly infrequently makes them a treat to hear. This was a great version. After Natalie MerchantÕs set, a guy in his 50Õs was proclaiming to disinterested people around him, myself included, that he saw Dylan "back when he was good, in 1967," and was claiming that Bob ÒhasnÕt written a great song since 'BlowinÕ in the Wind'." ItÕs a pisser that this guy decided to leave during Blind Willie McTell, a crying shame. Hee. Not Fade Away Great show closer, but Larry Campbell should not be allowed anywhere near a microphone. The guy simply canÕt sing. It was somewhat noticeable on other tunes, notably FOTD, but it was unavoidably obvious during this song. His voice dominated the vocal mix. Not good. Not Fade Away is a welcome relief to Rainy Day Women, though it prevents me from beating the crowds out of the building. A great show, well worth the drive. later, John -- John O'Brien "I can tell your future, just look what's in your hand" -R. Hunter
Date: 06 Mar 1999 00:47:00 +0100 From: (Carsten Wohlfeld) wSubject: February 25, 1999 - Portland, Maine - a review Bob Dylan & Natalie Merchant Portland, Maine, Cumberland County Civic Center February 25, 1999 A review by Carsten Wohlfeld Wanna know why I like America so much? It's just for the little oddities you wouldn't anywhere else. Like a Dunkin Donuts that's situated virtually *inside* the men's restroom at the Boston's South Station. Anways, thursday brought us *alot* of snow in Massachusetts and Maine, more than a foot actually. I can't remember the last time I've seen that much snow. Must've been ages ago. I quite liked it, but at the same time I was happy that it wasn't like that all week. Didn't get to see too much of Portland due to the weather conditions, gotta do that next time. I found a pretty nice hotel not too far away from the venue so I walked over to arrive just in time at 7.30 to see Natalie start was was to be her last show with Bob. And it wasn't only her last, but also by far her best. After she had played almost the same set for the whole week, today she proved that she can do the 'Bob thing' as well and just make up a whole new set on the spot. After starting with the familiar "Ophelia" and "san Andreas Fault" we got the first real treat of the night: A rocking, note- perfect rendition of the late Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye". You might have seen her do this song on the ecent VH-1 live gig, but this version was better. A lot better in fact. I was very impressed indeed. She also did another a-capella 70s cover and made a comment about doing a whole weeks worth of Bowie covers before launching into "Space Oddity". She also won the price for the funniest conversation with the audience during a song. She had stopped singing halfway through songs before, but tonight, two thirds into the lovely (and very catchy) "Life Is Sweet" she just had enough to look at the stone-faced people in the front, who didn't move an inch. "Does anybody know this song" she asked. "Somebody must know it. It's my new single" she added before bursting into laughter. "Stockton Gala Days" rawked and Natalie did her best and wildest pixie dance to go with it. "Wonder" turned up late in the set tonight and was unfortunately missing the awesome solo intro (beacuse Natalie was out of breath after her dance, I assume), but it still was the best version of the song that I've heard! Just amazing! Please get me a tape of this show :-) The second to last song was a one-off as well, a rendition of the traditional "When They Ring The Golden Bells". Natalie brought out a very special guest for this tune - non-other than Larry Campbell who played his violin! "You'll see larry later playing guitar for Bob, but he's also and accomplished fiddle player" said Natalie to introduce him. Larry even got to play a solo and did a very good job. He also made quite a few men in the audience jealius when he was payed for his work with a kiss. "Kind And Generous" closed proceedings and somebody in Natalie's crew brought out a big balloon and Natalie actually paid more attention to catching it than to the lyrics. Halfway through the song she said: "Did I mention I love Portland. I wanna move up here sometime... I wanna move up here in June!". An announcement that - needless to say - was very well received by the crow. She encored with "These Are The Days" and took the baloon with her after the show, cause "I don't know if Bob would like it..." So there is was, the last out of seven Natalie shows I'd seen on this trip. I don't think I ever had so much fun watching a support/co- headlining act before. Even Patti Smith had some weaker songs, but for one reason or another I just loved every single tune Natalie played. Thanks for being so kind and generous to us, Natalie! I remember seeing Patti Smith in Townsville, Australia and after her support set, which was every bit as exciting as tonight's performance by Natalie I thought: "If Bob wants to top this, he has got to play 'Visions'". He didn't and, quite frankly, his show sucked that night. So tonight I had the same thought on my mind while I was grabbing a coke during the intermission. If he wants to do better than Natalie, he's got to do "Visions Of Johanna". And he did. More of that later. Shortly after nine pm the familiar introduction was followed with yet another Gotta Serve Somebody this first song already indicated that Bob was 'on' tonight. You always know it'll be a good show if she sings "you gotta serve somebody [very loud] YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH you gotta serrrrrve somebodyyyyy"... I'll Remember You was a nice change. Maybe it only sounded so good to me because it wasn't "illion Miles", but I really enjoyed it. They killed the song every time they played it up until last summer, but now that they do it more often they actually do it quite well. It had a new ending which I thought was very good indeed. Can't Wait Slow and subdued, not sure if I liked it all that much, but at least it sounded a bit different than usual. And you're bound to appreciate that if you see many shows. Positively Fourth Street This song already made the night for me. I couldn't imagine it would get any better. Spoken/sung beautifully, very much like the awesome summer '96 versions. Very slow with great guitar work courtesy of Larry. This one made me very, very happy already. The last verse was a real killer! Silvio As I mentioned before, it now has the stop/start parts again, which improve the performance, well not a great deal but slightly. Also they cut short the noodleing part at the end and just finish the song after the last chorus. Now that's what I call a welcome change. Masters Of War (acoustic) Again with the spotlight on Bob which makes him look like a 60s flashback. Tonight he sung the song very much differently, he sounded like a wise old man, telling a tale. Very impressive. What totally made the night though was the song that followed. I wanted to hear that song more than anything and it took me 68 shows and eight years to finally get to hear it. 68 shows, that makes it roughly 1100 songs that I've heard Bob play live, and every single time (well, almost) I hoped it would be this one. I spend a lot of time - while sitting on the train for 17 hours en route to Bob's Stockholm show, on the 24 hours planeride to his Oz tour - thinking about what would be on my mind the second he starts the song. Would I holler, would I start to cry - I didn't know. It would be something along those lines though, I was sure of that. Of course, none of that was true when the big moment finally came... As soon as they started the song I noticed that this was a tune I hadn't heard before. For a splitsecond I thought it would be "Rock Of Ages", another song I would've loved to hear and which was on the cuesheet a few times. Then I thought: "oh well, it's gonna be 'Desolation Row', they just messed up the intro." But then Bob stepped up to the microphone and sang "Ain't it just like the night..." At that point I was rattling my brain... "which song does start with that line again???" It was all very weird. I know some other people had the same experience. Then it finally dawned on me: F*cking hell, it's Visions Of Johanna (acoustic) and what a beautiful performance it was. Probably the nicest band-version of the song I've heard, on tape that is. (well, I thought so anyways, but then again I'm very biased, see above). It really sounded a lot like "Desolation" and Bob mixed up the "ghost of electricity" verse but did I care? No, I didn't. Not sure if he sang three, four or five verses, but i seemed to be pretty long, especially the guitar solo by Bob at the end. Bucky added some very nice melodies on pedal-steel. It was the first time in almost three years that he did this song in the US and again it was in Portland. Wonder what the connection is? Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic) oh my god, he just did "Visions Of Johanna"!!!!! Friend Of The Devil (acoustic) Another great choice. Not as amazing as "Fourth Street" or "Visions" but still pretty good. Had a new ending, a slow fade out, which was a cool way to end a pretty perfect rendition of this great song. Pledging My Time Another long-lost song! The intro sounded a lot like "Train To Cry" badly done, but the rest was actually pretty good. A raw, heavy, powerful blues. After that Larry was to change his guitar. Tommy handed him another electric but Larry shook his head and I knew what was next... would Bob ever stop pulling out my alltime favourites tonight? Larry reached for the bouzouki and it was time for: Blind Willie McTell The first verse wasn't too hot due to some technical difficulties, but the rest was as gorgeous as ever. Bob always sends shivers down my spine when we reaches the "St. James hotel" line. Band intros followed Highway 61 Revisited After a show like that even "Highway" sounded terrefic, though I'm not sure if it actually was better than usual. (encore) Love Sick Well, he would've needed to pull out something very special again to make the encores anything but an anit-climax. He didn't so it was merely four more songs done nicely. Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat Bob enjoyed singing it and everybody was happy for him. After all he had given us "Visions". Now it was time for him to play whatever he liked. He knew that and messed up the solos badly. Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic) You wouldn't believe me anyways if I'd say that this was a pretty good version, so I won't say it! :-) Not Fade Away The usual end of show madness. Great fun. 100 minutes after it had started, the show was over. With the possible expection of Dortmund '95 and the first Miami Beach show last year it was the best Dylan show I've ever seen. And I don't only say that because it had "Visions". The "Fourth Street" was pretty amazing too and I very much liked the rest of the song selection as well. I for one went home to my cozy hotel room very happy. Thanks for reading this long rant. After a days rest in New York City it was time for me to travel on to Atlantic City. reviews from those shows will be on a newsgroup near you soon. Goodnight! carsten wohlfeld -- "i go to the bakery all day long cause there's a lack of sweetness in my life" (jonathan richman) ## CrossPoint v3.1 ##

1998: May - June - July - August - September - October - November - 1999: January - February