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Bob Dylan 991114 in Worcester, Massachusetts

Subject: Dylan in Worcester--Highlands! Revi
From: Thad Williamson 
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 21:33:13 -0800 (PST)

Hi RMDrs,

Long time, no post. Anyway, though I've seen Bob four times in
'99, tonight in Worcester is the first I feel compelled to post a
review. Let's cut right to the chase--what was a very nice show
turned into an exceptional, borderline-transcendent show with the
brilliant, brilliant performance of HIGHLANDS midway through.
Here's the set list:

Somebody Touched Me
To Ramona
Mama, You've Been On My Mind
Hard Rain
Don't Think Twice
Stuck Inside of Mobile
Not Dark Yet
Everything is Broken
Love Sick
Like A Rolling Stone
Girl of the North Country
Not Fade Away

Comments: The first two songs were a little flat--perfectly
enjoyable, but Bob just warming up his voice, really. The
arrangement of Ramona is interesting, a cute little waltz, but
not really an arrangement that matches the meaning of the song,
and hence I though the performance fell a bit flat of the song's
potential. Mama was very good, Bob began to get focused. Hard
Rain saw Bob very sharp, the song was well-paced, richly
delivered, not an all-time Hard Rain but very impressive
nonetheless. Don't Think Twice was perfect, Bob picking up
harmonica for second time in the show (also briefly on Mama.)

No comment required on Watchtower. Then Highlands--the band
started playing that riff and what could you do but slap your
mate on the back and say "omigosh!" It was a version distinct
from the hypnotic quality of the TooM recording, instead quite
bluesy, with Bob really spitting out the lyrics, keeping you on
edge with use of syncopation and rhythm. Every word and phrase
was exquisitely enunciated, you could hear every consonant. I'm
not kidding! And every verse in the song was there too, a few
words played around with .Even a stumble or two near the end over
lyrics (one forgotten line, one word that had to be repeated)
could take nothing away from this--a scintiallating Dylan
performance, an example of him being fully present in the moment
with the audience, giving his all, leaving no doubt he wanted
listeners to be able to keep pace with the song, get sucked into
it, and almost believe one's self to be floating away to the
highlands...well done. Worth price of admission.

From then on, Bob was in a zone--good Mobile, very good Not Dark
Yet (that had me thinking how grateful I am Bob is still with
us), and excellent Broken (with Bob singing "seems like
Everythiing is Broken"). For the encore, Love Sick  was very
sharp, North Country a model of plaintive sweetness. Rolling
Stone was sung with real conviction, a powerful performnce, best
I've heard in a long time. Finally, in the macho matchup of who
has the more rocking Not Fade Away, Dylan dusted off Phil Lesh
(who closed with the same tune) easily.

A terrific evening, my last chance to hear Bob in the '90s and a
great one to remember the Dylan of this decade by---

Thad Williamson

Subject: Re: Dylan in Worcester--Highlands! Revi From: Jay Clark Date: 15 Nov 1999 08:43:56 EST Hi, I was there too, and enjoyed every second. I am, however, astounded that you think Dylan's NFA "dusted off" Lesh's, "easily". Not only is it a gratuitous slap, but it makes me wonder what concert you heard. Lesh & Friends were immense last night, perhaps a little more focused because it was Derek Trucks' last night. I thought their performance of NFA (coming out of Dark Star > St. Stephen > The Eleven) would have musically answered certain Dylan partisans who have claimed Dylan now "owns" Not Fade Away. Both versions were great! (Forced to choose, which noone should have to, Phil's was better.) Among Dylan's performances, my faves were "Mama", "Hard Rain", "Highlands"(!!!), "Not Dark Yet" (always a highlight to me, on this tour), "Broken", "Love Sick", and NFA. On the other hand, his desultory phrasing on "Don't Think Twice" ("it's all...... riiight") and "Memphis Blues Again" took the air out for me. Maybe it was because I wanted him to show the younger Deadheads around me his best, so perhaps I was listening more anxiously than usual. Needless to say, Dylan's band was tremendous, start to finish. Great night all around. Regards, Jay
Subject: Worcester highlands (mini review) From: Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 18:34:08 GMT I was at the show and was really in shock at highlands. I just couldn't believe it was happening. There were really two very special moments for me at that show. Highlands was the first. It struck me how he band, other than Kemper, were all in kind of a straight line across the front of the stage. All playing so delicately. Bob's voice was crystal clear, you could pick out every word. The audience was very quiet, almost reverent like in the 'don't look back' days. Kind of a 'this is too good to miss anything'. People were hanging on the words the way you would for a comedian, where if you miss a word you may miss the joke. And with the humor in Highlands, which was very evident, the analogy to a comedian makes sense. Bob was spellbinding during this song like I have never personally witnessed. Makes me wonder if he can just turn that on and off and he usually leaves it off. The 2nd moment was 'Girl from the North Country' in the encore. Same thing. Spellbinding. Some fools hollered at times, but the silence of the majority was so intense you could not help but feel it (assuming that you could feel anything). Again, I believe the band fronted the stage and the playing was just so sweet. During the first few songs I was a bit disappointed in that the sound seemed kind of muddled where we were standing. I was a bit disappointed in no Tangled too, as one of the people I was with had never seen Bob before and is not a huge fan and I thought she would have really liked it (she did love the show anyway). Another almost disappointment was that I was hoping for Blowing in the wind in the encore, since I have not ever caught that one live. But Girl more than made up for it. Not dark yet was also a standout. My favorite from that album of great songs. It was special to hear. But Highlands and Girl were something out of this world. I wonder if they will come across as such on tape, or if it was a 'had to be there' thing. (Or maybe it was just me...). Hey Bob, how'd you do that, huh? Never mind answering, just keep doing it if you'd like... ;-) Bill Burns
Subject: Re: Worcester highlands (mini review) From: JefBaldwin Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 11:26:42 -0800 I was at the show and I'm in total agreement with you. "Highlands" and "Girl From The North Country" were the two highlights and sent chills down my spine.
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