Diamonds and Dylan
In a long, tight-fitting purple coat, a chilly mist blowing against the rim of his pale gray Stetson, Bob Dylan took the stage of FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood N. J., Thursday night (July 23) with his five-piece band, following two stellar performances by the evening’s triple bill co-headliners Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp (Nelson’s set preceded Mellencamp’s).
It rained hard during the first portion of the show— but it poured down even harder as the throngs of concertgoers were initially (and unbelievably slowly) lined up, searched (for cameras presumably, even though several members of the audience near the outfield stage snapped away on their respective iPhones throughout the evening; one guy even snuck in an enormous camera with an 18-inch lense!) and then ushered into the damp ballfield.
Dylan and his approximately five-year-old band took the stage as the sun was setting. Black leather coats for most of the boys (except drummer George Recile and steel guitarist/violinist Donny Herron) along with badass black hats. Along with his aforementioned coat, Dylan had on black pants with white piping down the sides and grabbed harmonicas off and on during his striking set from the top of a speaker system behind his Korg keyboard. He grinned a few times. He smiled at least twice. He slithered his way around a beautiful “Girl of the North Country” and a tribute (perhaps) to the crowd with an upbeat yet heartfelt versin of “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall.”
Blues and recent material ruled the evening with half of the set list comprised of tunes from his last three albums. From 2001’s eerily released Love and Theft (it hit the streets 9/11, 2001) the “poet laureate of rock” blasted out gutsy versions of “Lonesome Day Blues,” “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” and “Honest With Me.”
Dylan’s band closed the main portion of its set with selections from 2007’s Modern Times. “Workingman’s Blues #2” featured many highlights including Dylan’s crisp vocals and dirty harmonica solos as well as the band playing around with the song’s tempo, which added another dynamic edge to this very timely tune. Also from MT, “Ain’t Talkin’” was perfect for the occasion of a soaked, humid and rainy summer night. A rushed version of “Thunder on the Mountain” made me wonder why he still plays it nearly every night when he has hundreds upon hundreds of other songs to choose from.
Unlike during most other shows during this minor-league baseball stadium tour with Nelson and Mellencamp, Dylan barely referenced his latest studio record, Together Through Life (released at the end of April), slipping one of the album’s blues rockers into the middle of his nightly encore sandwich comprised of “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Jolene” and “All Along The Watchtower.”
Before Dylan and company wrap up the “Bob Dylan Show” tour on Aug. 16 in Stateline, Nev., there are more than a dozen dates remaining on the schedule, including tonight’s show down in Norfolk, Virginia’s Harbor Park. The show came to Aberdeen, Md., at Ripken Stadium, Friday night (July 24). By midnight, the show’s set list had already been posted by a “Fabe” on one Dylan fan site:
Set List July 24th – Aberdeen, Maryland
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
The Levee’s Gonna Break
Spirit On the Water
It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
I Feel a Change Comin’ On
Honest With Me
Highway 61 Revisited
Thunder On the Mountain
Like A Rolling Stone
All Along the Watchtower
The posting, discussing and uploading of set lists and recordings of Dylan concerts has become an eUniverse unto itself with up-to-the-song set-list postings spilling out onto the Web, right from the shows and usually from a Dylan die-hard’s hand-held device. All you could ever want to know about a particular concert during Dylan’s two-decade-plus Never Ending Tour can be found on the Dylan fan and news site Expectingrain.com. That’s where you can find out what Dylan chose to bless the crowd with tonight.
(Photo by “John” who also uses the handle TalesofYankeePower in the expectingrain.com discussion forums.)