List of Concerts I Saw

Bob Dylan

5/30/95, Eugene, OR, Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Our first Bob concert. We happened to talk to Baby Gramps outside before the show, wacky old man, potentate of palindromes. (Here he is plunkin’ out St. James’ Infirmary) Said he’d been backstage to see Dylan, said he was a saint, a divine presence.

7/8/96, Passariano, Italy, Villa Manin. Seriously. It was amazing. (cue sheet). Napoleon took his mistress(es?) there, they say. We went without tickets, just believing that there would be some way to get them there. Eventually they started selling them an hour or so before the show. It rained all day, and since it was outdoors there was the threat of cancellation; but then the clouds cleared when Bob came on stage. I remember “Jokerman” well. I tried to tape the show but some Italian thug saw me and confiscated my tape. But surprise, I had already changed tapes! He only took the one in the machine. We ended up getting a ride to the station from some locals, then getting stuck overnight in Udine. But we hung out with a crazy Albanian guy who was shocked that he hadn’t been able to get in to see Dylan. He wanted to invite him to Albania to be on his radio show and do a concert there. (This was just months after the Dayton Peace ended the worst of the war in that part of the world.)

2/18/98, Bethlehem, PA, Lehigh University Stabler Arena. The crowd was brutally cruel to Natalie Merchant who opened. The acoustics in the place were terrible.

2/27/99, Atlantic City, NJ, Sands Casino, Copa Room. Very nice. 750-seat lounge act venue. There were two short shows back-to-back. We saw the late show. “Friend of the Devil” was a memorable treat.

7/27/1999, New York, NY, Madison Square Garden. Double-billed with Paul Simon, who played second, but came on and sang “Sound of Silence” with Bob, and then “I Walk the Line/Blue Moon of Kentucky.” We had nose-bleed seats, but it was a good concert. Cocaine Blues sticks in my mind. (They just released a live version from 1997 on Tell Tale Signs disk 2.)

11/9/1999, Philadelphia, PA, Temple University, The Apollo of Temple. Good show, double-billing with Phil Lesh and Friends, who opened. We went with friends, fellow dead heads, and got good floor spots right up front so we were up close and personal the whole show.

11/13/1999, East Rutherford, NJ, Continental Airlines Arena. Also with Phil and Friends, who again opened, and we went with the same friends and more. Since it was a Saturday we had a nice-but cold-day of dead-head tailgating. Song to Woody, in second place, was the highlight. The Help on the Way / Slipknot / Franklin’s Tower that finished Phil’s set was really hot.

7/28/2000, Camden, NJ, E-Centre. With Phil and Friends again, Dylan opening this time. I like the E-Centre for the atmosphere and the backdrop of the Delaware River and the Philly skyline, which I remember well in glowing sunset during “Ring Them Bells.” “Song to Woody” was again good to hear. We went with our Dead-head friends again and the Phil and Friends was a fun set.

[Bitter Irony Note: 11/11/2000 Princeton, NJ, Dillon Gym, Princeton Univ. We’d been in Princeton for three years, then left to Portland, OR for a year. As soon as we left Dylan shows up! I heard the acoustics were abysmal anyway.]

11/15/2002, Philadelphia, PA, First Union Center. The Spectrum is the worst of arena-rock venues. Our first show after “Love and Theft” came out. “High Water” was an amazing rocking transformation. (They released a live 2003 version of High Water on Tell Tale Signs, disk 1.) Bob sat front and center playing his keyboard, our first show of this sometimes unpleasant change to Bob’s setup.

8/15/2003, New York, NY, Hammerstein Ballroom. (No setlist.) I bought tickets for this show on e-bay (my first and only e-bay purchase which I nearly botched by bidding on them accidentally instead of doing the “Buy Now” option. But we got the tickets in time and also got lucky, because the Thursday show was moved up to Friday due to the massive blackout in the city and the Friday show canceled (so I guess we had tickets to the Thursday show.) The opening act, the Waifs, were good. The venue was small but loud and we were crammed up against the rail on the floor under a noise-creating low ceiling. Not the best show.

3/31/2004, Philadelphia, PA, Trocadero Theatre. Very nice show in a great, crumbly seedy venue.

6/16/2005, Camden, NJ, Campbell’s Field. With Willie Nelson and Family. Willie was, for lack of a better word, adorable–waving and winking at the little kids dancing up front on the grass, like the lovable old (weed-smoking) grandfather he is. Bob played his keyboard, unfortunately at the side of the park we were on, so his back was to us most of the time. We were pretty free to move, though, so we went down to the grass for the last songs. I liked the reworking of “Girl from the North Country,” very melodic and poignant. The benighted baby-boomers behind us, jabbering on their cell phones, couldn’t figure out why Bob didn’t sound like he did in 1965, and why they didn’t recognize any of the songs. “Time will tell, just who has fell, and who’s been left behind…”

4/7/2006, Las Vegas, NV, Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts. Merle Haggard opened; he must have been late getting out of the shower, or the casino, or something, because a guy came on and played a couple songs and we didn’t think it looked or sounded like Merle Haggard, but we just weren’t sure. Then Merle appeared, thankfully, because if THAT had been Merle, he would have been disappointing. Instead, he was fun and tight (except, strangely, because he was running short on time he stopped one song after they’d already started and decided to do a different one instead!). A pretty quick concert (because the casinos want you back out there at the slots and tables and restaurants ASAP). “Cold Irons Bound” is a constantly permutating song, and memorable in this iteration. I recall on the last number, “All Along the Watchtower,” Bob returned to the first verse to close, which kind of twisted things back around and up onto a whole other level.

That was the last time since the babies were born. Don’t know when we’ll get to go to another concert again….


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