Bob Dylan 991105 in Pittsburgh
Subject: 11/5 review and grovel for a tape From: ROM285
Date: 06 Nov 1999 20:48:30 GMT I'm still completely in shock from the show last night in Pittsburgh and still not over the show Wednesday night in Columbus. This may sound extreme, but the show last night was better (in my opinion) than any official Dylan album or bootleg of a show that I have heard. He was in perfect voice and he was more energetic than I have ever seen him. He really seemed to be enjoying what he was doing. In other words, if anyone has a tape of this show I would be willing to do almost anything to get it. So e-mail me please. The same thing goes for the Columbus show. So here's some details from what I remember about last night. I took my parents to see the show, even though neither of them are Dylan fans. Fortunately they have learned to tolerate him, due to the fact that I play his music constantly around the house. So we went out to eat before the show and we were discussing what songs we'd like to hear. And the one song I wanted to hear more than anything else was Desolation Row. So were were kind of joking around and when our food arrived, I said that we should all pray that Dylan would sing Desolation Row. My family normally does not pray before eating, and I don't pray at all normally, but it was fun. But needless to say, someone was listening. Phil Lesh was alright. I've never listened to the Grateful Dead, so I don't know enough about them to either praise them or criticize them. But personally I found the music to be good, but a little redundant. Seeing them the first time in Columbus was interesting because it was my first time, but the second time seemed to drag. But then again I was so anxious for Bob to come out last night since I had just seen the 11/3 show, that I would have found just about any opening act to be a distraction. Ok, so the incense was burning, the lights went down, and then came the familiar introduction. And Dylan was wearing white! The other 3 times I saw him he wore black, so this was a change for me. His hair was pretty high, but not as messy as it was in Columbus. In Columbus, when he first came out, he looked sort of tired at first, and gained momentum as the show went on. Last night he was ready to go. I was expecting I Am the Man Thomas, but hoping for something different. It was great to hear Roving Gambler which was a perfect opener for last nights show. Nice guitar work and clear vocals. Honestly I think Dylan's mood last night was the same mood he was in at the end of the show on Wednesday, really energetic and confident. Next came Love Minus Zero/No Limit, another song that I really wanted to hear. In fact last night's list contains about 8 songs that I would put on my list of top 20 Dylan songs. Again the vocals were beautiful, probably better than they have ever been. Then during the introduction to the next song, I wasn't quite sure what it was. But then I heard the words, "They're selling postcards. . ." and I was completely astonished. My prayer had been answered. So I'm pretty sure that God exists, either that or Dylan is God. I haven't figured that part out yet. His articalation was great and he seemed to be having fun with it, playing with the phrasing and lengthening certain words. It was very Dylanesque. If the show had ended right then, it would have been well worth the price of admission. But it didn't stop there. Next came Cocaine Blues which I really didn't expect to be song four. At this point you could tell that this wasn't going to be a normal concert with a predictable set list. Dylan and the band were conferring inbetween songs, obviously deciding what they wanted to play. (I had hoped to hear A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall which was spectacular on Wednesday. For the Wednesday show, I was in the second row on the floor and hearing eveyone sing along was really cool. People were singing all the words not just the chorus, and you could tell that Dylan was kind of impressed.) Next came the obligatory Tangled Up in Blue, which amazingly sounded fresh and exciting. He put so much energy into it, singing loud and clear. And the harp solo was indescribable. He put down his guitar and and it was just him and his harp. What a pair! If anyone ever forgets how good Dylan is, listen to TUIB from this show and you will remember. Then he got his electric guitar, and I was thinking Please no Watchtower. And then he played Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues. I really wasn't expecting this one, but it was great. It was slow and sort of sad. After that song, I said to my dad that no matter what Dylan chose to sing for the rest of the show, it would be great just because of how on fire Dylan was. (This proved to be true later during Cats in the Well) Next was Shelter From the Storm, one of my favorites that I'd wanted to see live. It was great and sort of mellow. It had a brief harp solo, that sounded pretty good, but didn't fit that well. I think the 11/3 featured songs that were sadder, more somber songs, like Girl From the North Country, If You See Her, Say Hello, Hard Rain, while the 11/5 show was a little more upbeat in my opinion. They were both great shows, just in different ways. Maybe someone else who saw both shows can explain what I mean a little better. Ok at this point I was so happy that I found it kind of difficult to concentrate on the show. I don't know if this has ever happened to anyone else, but I was so happy to have seen so many great songs that I couldn't stop thinking about the one's I had just heard. I can't remember whether Tombstone Blues or You Ain't Goin No Where came next. Tombstone Blues was the best live version I've heard. And for You Ain't Goin' No Where he brought out the harp first and played off and on during the song. I'm not sure, but I think he fumbled the lyrics of the first verse. I really was'nt sure what song it was at first, but later it became clearer. It sounded pretty unreheared, but it was a lot of fun. So at that point I was thinking, this is as good as it gets. But just when I thought that, he pulled out another surprise with Blind Willie McTell. It was very lyric intensive and powerful. Wow! I really can't believe I heard all of these songs last night. Then he sang and played a loud and rocking version of Highway 61, my ears are still ringing from that one. It was awesome. Then for the encores. I wanted to hear Love Sick again and I wasnt' disappointed. It was such a spooky version. I love the guitar on that songs. Then I was expecting RDW which I sort of enjoy seeing live. I never would have guessed that he would play Cat's in the Well. UTRS is not one of my favorite albums, so I never paid a whole lot of attention to this songs, but it was excellent with lots of cool guitar work. I think I'll have to give that album another listen. I'd have to say that Dylan had more fun with this song than with any song all night. He smiled through most of the song and the audience really responded to it. Then came Don't Think Twice with a great harp soloing, making it four for the night, all outstanding. And he closed with Not Fade Away which ended a perfect concert. If anyone has a chance to catch any of the shows on this tour, do whatever you can to go. You won't regret it. In fact, if it's at all possible I am going to try to catch the Nov. 15 show. I'll have to drive 8 hours and skip school and work, but it will be worth it. Please, if anyone has a tape of either the 11/3 or the 11/5 show please let me know. I know we can work something out. Hope you enjoyed the review Lisa
Date: Sun, 07 Nov 1999 21:23:59 -0500 From: Carsten Molt
To: email@example.com Subject: Pittsburgh review There was a definite magic in the air as Jillsy and i entered the Pittsburgh civic arena on November 5th. We managed to get right up to the barricade that seperated the crowd from the stage. Phil Lesh and his Friends came out at 7:35 and played a jam packed hour and a half that featured a solid "Dark Star" and a "Help on the Way" Slipknot Franklins Tower set closer. Of special mention was the slide guitarist Derek Trucks who was phenomenal. At approximately 9:30, the houselights dimmed and Dylan and his band took the stage. Dylan was dressed in a white suit with thin black trim along the sides and his country squire black tie. After a quick discussion, they launched into... Roving Gambler(acoustic)- The first tune of the night was the first surprise(it wouldn't be the last) Dylan's vocals were strong and true from the first note and he looked fit and trim and in good spirits. i was expecting "I am the Man, Thomas" but this was very nicely done. Love minus zero/No limit(acoustic)- Larry sat down at his pedal steel and after a few seconds of tuning, the band broke into a very sweet version of the tune. It seemed to be the first tune that the majority of the crowd knew. Dylan was already dancing around quite a bit and smiling. Desolation Row(acoustic) - Another pleasant surprise as i was waiting and hoping for "It's alright, ma" but i can't complain about this pick. It was briskly played and Dylan nailed every line with conviction and intensity. He evidently knew that he had nailed it since after the tune was finished, he fluffed his hair and smiled broadly. Cocaine Blues(acoustic) - another surprise. The harmonies were a bit ragged at times but they were clearly having a great time. Tangled up In Blue(acoustic with harp) - There was no surprise in this slot but it was nicely played as always and the crowd was very into it. Dylan played a lengthy and inspired harp solo at the end of the song which redeemed hearing this song again. On to the electric set... Tom Thumb's Blues (Larry on pedal steel) - The first big surprise of the evening. It was very loose and raw but it was a lot of fun. Dylan did a bit of dancing and leaned into the lyrics with a lot of passion. He was definitely enjoying himself by this point. Shelter From the Storm(Larry on pedal steel and Dylan on harp)) - Another surprise and a very welcome one at that. This was high on my list of songs I'd love to hear live. It was a minor disappointment as the band seemed to fall out of sync as Kemper was off in his own world pounding away like mad on the drums. A couple of mean glances from Dylan did nothing to soften Kempers pounding. Dylan attempted a harp solo after the last verse but gave up when it was evident that Kemper was going to bang his drums as hard as possible no matter what the rest of the band was doing. (Side note) After "Shelter", Dylan walked over to the front of Kemper's drums and mouthed what seemed like "simmer down" or "settle down', maybe "slow it down". It was something like that. Dylan said to the crowd "We're tryin' to get it together" but before he got all the words out the band started the intro to ... Tombstone Blues - This was played loud and fast and totally redeemed the minor disappointment of "Shelter". Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell were both given ample room to play some great guitar leads. Sexton definitely seems to be the lead guitarist now that Campbell sems to be filling in the color that was missed when Bucky Baxter left this spring. Blind Willie Mctell (Larry on Dobro) - Another high one on the list of songs i hoped to see live and it didn't disappoint at all. It was played very slow and passionate with great vocal nuances by Dylan. His vocals were very strong and upfront all night long and especially on this tune. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (Larry on pedal steel and Dylan on harp) - This was great to hear and this was played very tightly and the vocals by Larry and Charlie were angelic. Their voices blend very well together along with Dylan's deeper growling sound on the chorus. Highway 61 (Larry on steel) - As usual, this was a great set closer and always a great time for band and audience. Charlie Sexton played some very good solos while Tony and Garnier laid down a very rocking groove behind him. Dylan was hamming it up with his hopping around and leg wiggling. The song raged loud and strong leaving the crowd in rapture as they left the stage. (Encores) Lovesick - After all but abandoning this tune over the summer, Dylan reworked and reintroduced it with a few vocal changes("i want to take to the road and plunder" became "i feel plowed under") and a slightly darker groove. Dylan was singing very loudly and distinctly into the mic and grinning at the first few rows of the crowd between verses. Cat's in the Well - Wow! Another surprise and a terrific one at that. Lots of soloing and fiery fret work from Sexton again. He was really taking charge in the instrumental passages all night. They played the song as tight as if they had played it every night. It was that technically perfect. Dylan also was leaning hard into the vocals and interacting with the crowd. He was very animated and did several little dances between verses. He did quite a few knee bends and his head bobbing was working overtime. The biggest highlight among a night of highlights! Don't Think Twice(acoustic with harp)-Anything would have been a let down after "Cat's in the Well". This was decently played but nothing special. It was played slower than i remember it being played earlier this year. Not Fade Away- It brought the house down and Dylan was dancing wildly. Campbell smiled for the first time all night as his pick went flying during the instrumental bridge. He half shrugged at Dylan who didn't seem to notice. The crowd was singing along for the whole song and it was as usual a great way to end a great show. Tomorrow, we'll be attending a show at Penn State and after a show like tonight, we can only dream of the possibilities. I'd love to get a copy of this show. Onward to Happy Valley, Carsten Molt Jokerman@bellatlantic.net
Subject: Pittsburgh Reviewed (long) From: Tom and Liz Lace
Date: Tue, 09 Nov 1999 22:49:42 -0500 Pittsburgh 11/5/99 review: I arrived (with cadre of Dylan friends) around 8:30 (Phil and Friends were scheduled to start at 7:30) and found the place swarming with Deadheads. This brought back many a good memory, as I had the chance to experience the real deal several times in the past. I got a chuckle out of watching the security types try to deal with the impossible. I remember the ŅoriginalÓ Deadheads as being more benign, more thoroughly mellow, friendly, and non-pushy. They seemed to be self-absorbed and lost in a personal and soft frolic. The modern day Deadheadoids to my eye are more frenzied, more antagonistic, almost defenders of their ŅrightÓ to be Deadheads against the rest of us. At any rate, there were lots of them and it was good to see them out in force, and to see security types spinning in perplexity. Having seen the Dylan-Simon show in Pittsburgh this summer (Dylan was second that night), I was expecting a similar time allotment--about 70-90 minutes for each act with a 20-25 minute break. Thus when Phil and friends kept going until 9:30 or so I was surprised. My Dead memories were of great tunes, fun lyrics and harmonies, interspersed with jams that often wandered afar but always snuck their way back to the tune at hand. Their shows were, while free-form in segments, rooted in the individual songs. The song sets kept the show anchored and the crowd roaring whenever the familiar melodic or lyrical phrases were recognizable. Phil and Friends have reversed the mix to heavy on free-form jamming and light on singing, words, or recognizable songs/lyrics. While this obviously suffices as a background metronomic for Deadheading, I found it a poor imitation of what I remember the Dead doing. It certainly didnÕt pick me up and carry me along like a real Dead concert did. When Phil and friends finished, the roadies of both sides did a great quick interchange of quite a lot of equipment. About 20 minutes after Phil ended, the lights went down--no warning flickers--and not more than 20 seconds later Bob and the boys were on stage and directly set into playing. It gave me the impression that they were more than ready to get started! They certainly hit their stride immediately--no warm-up time needed for voices or coordinated playing. They were ŅonÓ from the first note. The songs: Roving Gambler Having listened to many a live Dylan performance over quite a while, I still look for early clues regarding what quality of show heÕll give (anyone having attended shows prior to Ō95 knows what I mean). The strength and clarity of voice in this first number clued me in immediately to this being a good night. Love Minus Zero Larry played a long pedal steel intro--quite nicely--and it took most of it for me to realize the song. BobÕs voice was again strong and convictioned. He ended it with a pronounced THANK-youuuuuu! Desolation Row ItÕs usually a little further into a show when IÕll pinch myself and say what a good night IÕm in for. This was a first for me live, and of course a long admired tune. His delivery was stunning--somewhat reserved, not particularly animated, but with a commitment to communicating. I find Dylan so magnetic a presence that to catch details of the rest of the band and show I must consciously take in the others as I feel like staring at Dylan for the entirety of a show for fear of missing something. Even given this focus there are moments when I feel extra drawn to watching him--as if heÕs saying to us all Ņand now pay attention to this!Ó This tune had me locked in this way. Afterwards a second thank you. Cocaine Blues DylanÕs diction on this was near perfect. The tune was played in a laconic, mournful way--following Desolation Row it occurred to me how increasingly sedate the show was becoming. I also noticed how echoey this hugely high and round ceilinged arena was. Wished I could have heard this same show in some of the true music halls IÕve heard him in before. Maybe the tapes will be an improvement on this venue! Now itÕs thank you number three. Tangled Up In Blue This one picked up the tempo and mood quickly. Also the first time tonight use of the floor level spot lights that silhouette Dylan and band members onto back curtain in huge stand up form. IÕd love to see photos of this--a huge obviously Dylan silhouette overshadowing the small real Dylan performing--has anyone seen any such shots? The bass and drums revved up steadily with each verse, as did the crowd. Bob got out the harmonica for the first time on this one. He put down his guitar, turned his back to the crowd and approached the amp top where the harmonicas lay, flung his arms out in a sort of pre-harp warm up. He then turned and began blowing the thing, with body wiggles and shifting harp hand to hand as accessory moves. After this tune the applause was the loudest yet, which Dylan acknowledged with a small polite bow. Just Like Tom ThumbÕs Blues CouldnÕt nail down which song this was from the intro--again the pedal steel had me fooled into expecting something else. At any rate an enjoyable version. Shelter From The Storm Yet another ŅnewÓ version. IÕve liked this song fast or slow, electric or acoustic. This one seemed unlike others I can recall, but as good as any IÕve heard. His voice on this was nothing short of wonderful. Whatever it is we Dylan fans say is that almost inexplicable good quality his voice has, that elusive hypnotic hook it can put into us--that quality comes through in this song. And to think how in this very same arena IÕd heard several nearly unintelligible entire Dylan concerts--made me appreciate it all the more. He finished with another (short) harp solo, I got a good strong waft of sweet air and thought I was in heaven. Is this heaven? No, itÕs Pittsburgh, I mean Iowa... Tombstone Blues Dylan gave a short spoken intro on this but it was entirely lost to me. The band quickly spun into a loud and jumpin intro to Tombstone blues. This got everybody up and moving, especially the leftover Deadheads (much of that crowd left as this show progressed). Dylan seemed to make several lyrical mistakes on this one--all in all a crowd pleaser for itÕs energy but far from a perfect performance. Blind Willie McTell Despite having never heard it before live, not having a boot that includes it, and not having listened to the commercial CD in a long while, I recognized this one right out of the blocks. I had a moment of disbelief that I was being this lucky, but out it flowed in beautiful, moving fashion. Again his delivery was unpressured but firm, the words clear, his inflections revealing of sincerity, the quiet restrained use of electric guitar insinuating power withheld but still felt. The final verse about power and greed and corruptible seed (each word delivered with clear sounding teeth baring snarls) was breathtaking. The final ŅI know no one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTellÓ, with the heavy emphasis on the ŅIÓ and with direct eye contact with the center stage audience, made you want to think that Dylan really does know this to be true. He sang this out with such force of spirit, as if he knows heÕs on the mark and wants us to know it too. I was a bit stunned when this one ended, like IÕd just witnessed a moment IÕd like not to let go of. You AinÕt GoinÕ Nowhere A twangy countryish version--reminiscent of the Byrds. More harmonica playing and a smiling from ear to ear Tony Ganier. Larry Campbell really into the steel guitar on this one. The refrain was sung with increasing force as the song moved along. Finished with nice steel guitar solo. After this tune Dylan introduced the band in his typically clipped ill-timed way. He doesnÕt wait for the applause from the last name before announcing the next--some names clear, others lost. He really doesnÕt make a good MC. Highway 61 Full tilt rockin version. The crowd is up to full speed also. The security dicks displayed some backlash from the inability to manage the over numbered deadheaders during the earlier gig. The band left to genuine applause and returned after a minute (not long at all) and opened the encore set with: Lovesick Another first for me and an enjoyable one. At one point he dragged out the vowels in the phrase ŅhaaaaaanginÕ aaaaawwwnnÓ like they were bouncing around in those sinuses of his forever. Looking at him he looked loose, relaxed, thin, even agile in how he glided around the stage. He exchanged Ņbeing plowed underÓ for Ņtake to the road and plunderÓ. Like most of the night, this song was delivered with controlled intensity, but the final verse of this one was out of control despair and want--striking for someone so small yet strong, so in charge of his performance, so hip in every movement and breath, to bare his emotion so starkly for us all. After this another thank you. CatÕs In The Well By this time all betÕs are off as to whatÕs coming next. Fun to hear this in a rock and roll rendition. Dylan was bouncing and prancing all around center stage on this tune. HeÕd stop in front of the mike for another verse, legs spread, knees knocked, and belt it out--totally absorbed in performing. Tony Ganier caught another smiling binge, and managed to cruise nearly the entire back stage during the song. Sometimes it looks like he has more fun up there than any of the others. DonÕt Think Twice This one began with a slowly building intro, which increased in layers both of instruments and loudness. A country lilt to this, and ŅifÕnÓ in the lyrics--does he still use this form often?--seems to me he hasnÕt on the other live versions IÕve witnessed. The crowd quiets some during this song--more a rapt silence. I flashed back to my first hearing of this on Peter, Paul, and MaryÕs ŅIn The WindÓ album in 1963--Dylan tunes often send me off like that. I was in eighth grade then, and have a son in eighth grade now--a quick generational flash and condensation--with Dylan there through it all. I usually donÕt look forward to hearing Dylan perform his best known tunes--wanting the thrill of difference--but this one was another ŅnewÓ version for me. IÕve heard it a lot of different ways but this one was fresh and grabbed me as well as any version before. CanÕt wait to hear it again. He did another harp solo on this one, again going to the harp table with preliminary body movements which this time included a two handed hair fluff--seemed like the kind of move Tricia might enjoy--made him seem a bit endearing, even lovable--let's call is adorable preening. Larry CampbellÕs guitar was noteworthy on this one also. He seems a complete and relaxed part of the band now--when I first saw him in 4/97 he was rigidity personified--as if waiting for DylanÕs permission for every move. Not so any more! Not Fade Away Nice finale--nothing like unleashing a crowd full of rock and roll angst with a 50Õs original rock and roll tune--truly seminal stuff. After reading about the 11/3 Columbus show I was hoping heÕd continue form in Pgh 11/5 and to my great gratitude he did. I was lucky enough to follow him along to Penn State the next night and watch him with my other son (who matriculates there)--but thatÕs a tale for another review. Wish you all had been able to make this Pgh show--one of the best IÕve attended.