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Bob Dylan 991106 at State College, Pennsylvania

Subject: penn state
From: Peter Stone Brown 
Date: Sun, 07 Nov 1999 17:15:56 -0500

There must be some way out of here I thought to myself as
downtown Philadelphia was completely gridlocked and every road
heading West was a parking lot.  „Big trouble on Philly
highways,š said the guy on the traffic report.  For some reason
on a preposterously warm November Saturday afternoon, a bunch of
different people in various key locations decided to crash into
each other.  10 minutes later the traffic guy said, „What is
going on today?š  And I tried all the roads and every shortcut
and no matter where I went I ended up sitting taking almost an
hour to drive what should take 20 minutes.  Finally I made it to
the meeting place in Valley Forge and picked up my friends the
double-D couple who had come from even farther from somewhere in
the middle of New Jersey.  We hopped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike
which prides itself on being the oldest such road in the nation. 
About the only thing that‚s changed since it was built sometime
in the beginning of this century is the price of the tolls and
occasionally the speed limit. This year in the annual trucker‚s
poll Pennsylvania came in third for worst roads in the country
only because Arkansas and Louisiana roads have apparently
deteriorated over the past year.

The turnpike was miraculously free of traffic and for the most
part state troopers and my car was in the mood to go a good 15
miles above the speed limit. Stopping at the last rest area we
exited the car where we were playing my more or less „Dylan
Countryš tape which is Self Portrait and Dylan along with other
stuff thrown in in a different order to notice the temperature
had dropped a good ten degrees.  Then off the turnpike for a
short hop on I-83 to the gravel, up-hill wonders of US 322 West,
a mostly two-lane road made out of some sort of gravel material
so every 10 feet the wheels go bumpety bump.  By this time
Dylan-in-Nashville had been replaced by live Otis Redding  and I
was never able to get the bumps to synchronize rhythmically with
the music.  75 miles of this. But it was a nice day and we were
in good spirits.  Soon we were met by the hundred mile Winnebago
caravan coming from the Penn State football game.  „Serious
tailgating,š said Mr. D.

And then the caravan ended, but as we got closer there were
Winnebagos everywhere in fields in ditches, thousands of them and
finally there we were in line for the lot with plenty of time to
scope out a space for the all-important quick exit.  We chose the
Winnebago lot.  We got out of the car to find the temperature had
dropped again, about 20 degrees, maybe more.  It was freezing. 
Time to pull out the hooded sweatshirts. „The hood is up, don‚t
talk to me,š said Mr. D.  In the distance loomed the Bryce Jordan
Center like some great Spielbergian spaceship landed in a
cornfield in the Pennsylvania blue mountains.

„Never seen no place like this before,š I said quoting a rambling
gambling evangelistical song traveler, who said the same thing
when centuries ago he played a similar edifice also located next
to a giant football stadium located in the middle of what
everyone knows is the Mafia burial ground of the state where
anything is legal as long as you don‚t get caught.  Hoods up and
not talking we were more or less blown towards the spaceship box
office as some wicked Canadian wind appeared to make things even
colder.  Obtaining the tickets with lots of time we headed for
the congregation in the parking lot to secretly partake of the
sacred plant.  „Are we there yet?š  someone might have said.  „If
you have to ask, you‚re there,š came an answer.  We stood up and
all of a sudden we were back in 1968.  Someone had gathered all
the Volkswagen busses that had been in hiding for the past two
decades and plop them all down together in the Bryce Jordan
Center.  Bongos were bonging and drums were drumming and all
sorts of items grey flannel dwarfs would prefer to see banished
were in display in decorated cases like treasures from pyramids
embedded in ice.  There were people everywhere.  Music in all
directions.  Lots of hair.  Dreadlocks, too-long floppy flappy
jeans, a circus-meeting of the tribes.  There must be some way
out of here I found myself thinking for the second time that day,
as from out of nowhere some authority loudspeaker boomed, „keep
the passageways clear.š

It wasn‚t getting any warmer, so we headed for the great looming
spaceship arena, check out the souvenir stand, hamburgers for
only 3 bucks and into our seats.  The floor is maybe almost half
full, the soundboards enclosed by a fence.  Warren Haynes comes
out to check his gear to huge applause.  Finally the lights come
down and the band comes out, „Viola Lee Blues,š and Derek Trucks
is immediately noticeable on guitar and Haynes echoing him and
off into some more or less blues-based jam and it‚s really okay
and somewhere in the middle they find „My Favorite Thingsš and
leave that and come back again  and Phil is right there digging
in and I suddenly realize I‚m really hungry and go out to wander
up and down the lonesome town of the spaceship perimeter ‚cause I
can‚t see a thing anyway because the people in the next section
are standing up especially this 7 foot tall guy who‚s not even
paying attention to the show and I don‚t understand why when
there‚s a whole half a dance floor not being used these people
have chosen to get seats.  Something just doesn‚t add up here.

Out in the perimeter it‚s gotten very strange.  Barefoot guys in
skirts are dancing.  I get a burger and a no-coke pepsi and
wander around. Every ten feet there‚s someone with their eyes
closed moving around in some sort of trance-like circle.  It
seems the same people are passing me over and over again and I
can‚t figure out how they got around the entire spaceship so
fast.  Security guards are chasing some girl who is totally
ignoring them wandering right back into the seats after they just
got her out.  I suddenly realize I‚m back where I started and go
back to my seat.  „He just sat down 10 seconds ago,š Mr. D. says
and wow, I can actually see the whole stage where the band will
soon be arriving at Terrapin Station and back into Viola Lee
Blues and Mr. D. says, „It‚s called a sandwich.š And they
actually stop playing and start „Box of Rain,š and Phil can‚t
exactly find the melody but he means it so it doesn‚t really
matter and they leave and come back and do something else or
maybe they did something else before, but now the lights are up
though they‚re still on stage.  And soon they are rolling away
the equipment and rolling the Bob equipment on.

And soon they take the stage and there he is looking damn fine in
his best riverboat gambler clothes with a Lester Flatt or Colonel
Sanders tie depending on whether you‚re coming from a bluegrass
or chicken perspective and they‚re into „I Am The Man Thomas,š 
and it‚s a fine upbeat bluegrass/gospel thing and Larry
especially sounds a little stronger on it than Bob does and the
lights go down and they‚re taking their time before going into
the Mexican cantina rendition of „To Ramonaš that‚s almost a
little too cantina-ish but still okay and the nights go down and
apparently another huddle and before the song starts I hear Bob
play this tiny 3-note blues lick that could mean „It‚s Alright
Ma,š but they decide to do something else and the rhythm starts
and it could be „Desolation Rowš or it could be „Visions of
Johannaš and Dylan or someone is pushing the rhythm and he‚s
alternately singing it great and okay searching for that
indefinable place where he can really drive it home and sometimes
finding it, singing maybe half the verses and I wonder if he
picks and chooses from different verses each time he does it, but
I‚m not that much of a statistician.  They‚re right into „Mama
You Been On My Mind,š with Larry picking out crystal clear like
water running Doc Watson-ish leads until Bob takes over after the
2nd verse and he kind of seems more into playing it than he is in
singing it and another verse and he goes back and picks up a
harmonica and actually looks at it to make sure it‚s the right
one and goes into a really great but two short solo where instead
of playing the usual two note thing he‚s been doing lately to
start (like check out the harp on „Trying To Get To Heavenš on
TOOM for an example), he‚s playing some really crazy up and down
stuff, but it‚s over too fast and he gave just enough to let you
know he can still do it.

Then into Tangled and again he‚s searching for that thing singing
one verse or maybe even a line high and the next one low and on
the „She lit a burner on the stoveš verse he hits it and it‚s
that moment where he just nails the song right through you in the
that way that only he can do and the show is going by really fast
and it‚s into Watchtower with Larry on lapsteel and it‚s okay but
nothing really special and another lights-down huddle and the
intro to Just Like Tom Thumb‚s Blues appears and this one of
those songs that he really cares about and sings every verse
except „up on housing project hill,š getting in his best electric
solo of the night.   And then Shelter with yet another
arrangement, kind of moderately paced which leads to a burning
„Real You At Last,š with great nasty guitar from Sexton followed
by the night‚s show-stopper, „Tears of Rage,š carefully done with
beautiful back-up vocals from Larry and Charlie with Larry
reaching way back summoning the spirit of those Basement
recordings  and especially Richard Manuel.

And then after another huddle, and a fairly crazy intro, they
bounced into a rolling roller coaster of „Leopard-Skin Pill-Box
Hat.š  And at the end, Bob lingered on-stage after the rest of
the band had split and turned around to deliver a classic Bob
Dylan-styled bow.

They returned to launch into „Love Sickš notable for „take to the
road and plunderš being changed to „Feel like I‚m being plowed
under,š and into an okay „Rolling Stone,š and then „Blowin‚ In
The Wind,š and we looked at each other and with 200 miles for me
to drive and another 75 or so for my companions made a quick exit
into the even chillier Pennsylvania mountains night for the steep
downhill drive discussing whether Charlie‚s being under-utilized
or not as we cruised by the run-away truck ramps.

"Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times." 
--Bob Dylan
Peter Stone Brown 

Subject: Phylan Pitt/Penn State Review From: Marcus Thunich Date: Sun, 07 Nov 1999 23:56:50 GMT Phylan Pittsburgh/Penn State Review The Scene: The scene outside both shows was very chill. Extra tickets were in abundance and it would've not been difficult to get in for below face at either show. The Pitt Civic Arena was around half full while Penn State was a near sell out. I'd figure the crowd makeup to be about 50/30/20 % Deadhead/ Dylanhead/ curious folk. The Shows: I had g/a floors for both nights and for both shows I was standing 15 feet from the stage dead center for both bands with lots of dancing room. This fabulous vantage point provided the feeling of being in a club (until you looked behind you) and besides the a+ viewing spot, we also got an excellent stereo mix as most of the sound we heard was coming from the on stage amps and not the p/a. Both shows found the floor area to be very undersold (fire regulations?) and Penn State's floor looked barren anywhere behind the board. Phil & Friends- Overall there was some fire (UBC Jam, Franklin's, Fav Things Jam, Post Terrapin Jam) and also moments of pure dullsville (Viola Lee Blues, Dark Star, Mountains). More often then not though, I found myself thinking that they were playing competently but there was very little of IT happening. IMO, Steve Kimock's departure has left a gaping hole in the appeal of P&F and his contributions are sorely missed. Perhaps the bar has been raised too high for me after seeing three *incredible* shows at the Warfield in April. Pitt/Penn State certainly aren't even in the same ballpark as the April shows or even the fab 8/98 ones. For my money the Pitt show was about as satisfying as a primo '94-'95 Dead show(very good) and the Penn State show was as exciting as seeing Ratdog(ho-hum). Overall, both were fun and musically decent but failed to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Bob Dylan- Once again Zimmy proved himself to be one the most exciting and consistent acts in music today. With a song catalog that speaks for itself and a stunningly excellent band, Bob's Pittsburgh gig was probably the finest I've ever seen from the man. Bob was in superb form moving about in his classicly Bob-like way and pouring his heart and soul into every tune.Where the rare Blind Willie McTell was played to gorgeous perfection, the even rarer Cats In The Well raged and rocked. The Penn State gig though found me harping on Bob's ever present syndrome of repeat-itis. Why with having such an awesome repetiore to draw from, does Zimmy decide to play so many of the same songs so often.? A minor beef though as this night was yet another fine evening on the Never Ending Tour. Reports from folks I've talked to who've seen a number of shows on the tour seem to indicate that Phil & Friends seem to be slowly gaining momentum with each show while Bob has been the consistent anchor throughout. Word is also going around of Jorma now signed to play the final four dates. Marcus
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999 17:38:49 -0500 From: Carsten Molt To: Subject: Penn State review As Jillsy and i steered our way into the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot on Saturday evening, we noticed that there were a lot more Deadheads there than at the Pittsburgh show. It also became clearly evident that the crowd was definitely there to party. It was a very young crowd and the fact that Penn State lost a few hours earlier didn't seem to dampen their mood at all. Phil Lesh and Friends were much better than the night before. Their set contained among other tunes a great "Terrapin" and a beautiful "Box of Rain". Derek Trucks was phenomenal again. At age 19, the sky seems to be the limit for him and his singing slide guitar. Dylan came out on stage wearing his black suit and white shirt. He was wearing a Lester Flatt tie so far that i could tell from my center stage seats. We were kind of far back but after last night, we were content to be able to sit tonight. They began the set with... I am the Man, Thomas(acoustic)- The first time i have ever heard this played. It was nicely played but didn't leave much of an impression on me. It was very short and over in a hurry. To Ramona(acoustic with Larry on Mandolin)- This was very sweetly played. Dylan was singing at a mid tempo pace squeezing the emotion out of the lines. He added little vocal ticks to the words "your cracked country lips, i still wish to kiss, as to be by the strength of your skin.'ő This is one of my favorite Dylan lines and he nailed it beautifully. Desolation Row(acoustic)-Even more beautiful than last night. It was well played and Dylan sang it with the loudest but very tender voice. This was a definite highlight. Kemper's drumming was very soft and understated here. His playing was good all night and not nearly as obtrusive as last night. Mama, you been on my mind(acoustic with harp)-The mellow mood continued here. Dylan as balladeer singing to that girl in the window hoping she'll ask him up. Larry Campbell playing slow sparkling guitar as Dylan retrieved his harp. The harp solo was slow and sweet. Dylan took a sweet but short solo that was amazing and could have gone on all night but he chose to end it short and the band seemed confused by the quick ending. Tangled Up In Blue(acoustic with harp)-The first upbeat song of the night and the Deadheads were up dancing and shaking their bones. Charlie Sexton played the most electrifying acoustic guitar that a human can play. Dylan letting his voice dance upon the words, sometimes pushing out a few words, other times letting the lines trail off into the ethers. The band had a full head of steam going and Dylan broke out the harp and played a pretty blistering harp solo that reaced to keep up with the music. This was unusual as the band usually adapts their playing to Dylan's tune on harp other than the other way around. All Along the Watchtower(Larry on Pedal steel)- Very quickly played and the crowd goes nuts and it ends without much jamming. It always seems cut short to me when it could go on for another minute or two. It was well played but nothing out of the ordinary. :Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues-A much better rendition than last night. Dylan delivered the lyrics with strong conviction and did quite a bit of leg wiggling. He was obviously immersed in the tune though i think he skipped a verse. Shelter from the Storm- oh, God Two nights in a row. An embarressment of riches Dylan can bestow on us when he wants. There are no words to describe "Shelter" the way he did tonight. I'll try to explain it as much as i can with the cumbersome words we use to describe emotion. Dylan at the height of his game adding layer after layer of emotion as the song progresses. The band laying back letting Dylan's voice room to stretch out and suspend time as if the song would last forever. Larry playing soft cascading notes in the background as Charlie and Tony lock into one anothers soft groove. One of those moments where nothing else matters except the next word, the next line. Soft and beautiful. Dylan seems to be saying "truth is not loud and aggressive but whispering and tender." Not just the highlight of the night but for me the highlight of the 12 shows I've seen. Seeing the Real You At Last- the intro sounded a lot like the Rolling Stones "Honky Tonk Woman. It was fast and fiery and a jarring transition after that heavenly őShelter" Dylan was pretty much yelling the lyrics, spewing them forth with great gusto. Charlie Sexton playing mean guitar propelling the song to it's great conclusion. Tears of Rage-A very fresh and moving rendition. Larry and Charlie singing in high harmony like a sacred choir. "Oh what kind of love is this, that goes from bad to worse" Such emotion. Such clarity. Dylan's voice rich with love and truth. A real show stopper if there ever was one. Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat(Larry on Steel guitar) i was expecting Highway 61 and was a bit disappointed at first but that disappointment turned to utter delight as the band found it's groove and Dylan leaned forward with legs splayed and roared through the vocals. During the end jam, the band musically became one musical entity and sent searing soaring sounds from their instruments that echoed around the capacity crowd and left our hearts pounding and our ears ringing as they left the stage. Encores Lovesick- Another good rendition of the lone Time Out of Mind track of the evening. Like A Rolling Stone - It was well played and a definite crowd pleaser. Dylan playing with his phrasing a little bit but it didn't make the song any better or worse. A pretty standard rendition but a little better than the flat summer versions. Blowing in the Wind(acoustic)- The crowd was excited but it didn't do too much for me. This seems like such a rinky dink song to me. It was o.k. for what it was. Not Fade Away- i never tire of this song. Everybody dancing and Dylan smiling and singing great harmony with Charlie and Larry. Full on rock-n-roll party time. Another great night of music. Not as many surprises as last night but very tight and empassioned playing and of course that breathtaking version of "Shelter" that was worth the price of admission itself. As Paul Williams would say "You've got to hear this tape!" ..And after you do, send me a copy. Carsten Molt
1999: January - February - March - April - May - June - July - September - October - November -