Posted in music | pictures on August 13, 2008

Bob Dylan in Prospect Park

After seeing Bob Dylan for the second time a few years ago, I decided there was no reason to see him anymore - it's old news that Bob sounds nothing like he used to. That doesn't make him any less legendary though, so of course I stuck around last year when he headlined the Austin City Limits festival that I was already at. I left that one early though. There were too many people, I was too exhausted, Bob sounded like he does, and ultimately I just didn't feel connected to the performance. Then plans stayed the same. I wasn't going to go see Bob anymore. But then he announced a Brooklyn show and I decided I had to go.

It's hard to say how last night's show was. I had a ticket for a so-so seat towards the back and I didn't stay in it very much. Instead I walked around to try watching and listening from different areas of the black-tarp-fenced in park. It was a completely different experience depending on where I stood. I also realize I was lucky to be on the inside of that fence. There were plenty of people listening from outside. It's unfortunate that the park puts that barrier up during the not-free-shows, but I guess they are worried people won't buy tickets if they don't. That probably wouldn't have been a problem for this show, but anyway...

I watched the show from my seat, from the left side of the venue, from the right, from the very, very back corner, from the food area, and finally from very close up in a center aisle. From the very back I could hardly tell a show was going on. Most people were sitting on blankets. A lot of people were talking. A lot of people looked they were paying attention because they thought they should. People that were really rocking out were few and far between. Even if you couldn't see Dylan from the back, it was still cool to know that he was making the background noise. And it was even cooler watching all the 'old-timers' (many in their hippie gear) smoke pot. I heard one woman say, "everyone from back in the day is here". I'm sure she was right, though there were many from this day there too.

Watching the encore from the very front was the best part. At that point in the show it wasn't hard to just walk down an aisle and stay there. It made breaking my 'not seeing Dylan anymore' rule beyond worth it. Now I need to stick to the rule so that the final moments of the Brooklyn show are in fact my final live Bob memory. The memory includes an in-focus, fit looking Bob, his band, and a loud enough volume to make my deaf ears react in an excited way. I was close enough at that point to make it feel like a club show and the songs were three good ones. He closed with "Like a Rolling Stone", "Thunder On The Mountain" and "Blowin' In The Wind". I was also able to sneak a few quick pictures. More of those pics and the whole setlist below...

Bob Dylan in Prospect Park

Bob Dylan in Prospect Park

Bob Dylan in Prospect Park

Bob Dylan in Prospect Park

Bob Dylan in Prospect Park

Bob Dylan in Prospect Park

1. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
2. Lay, Lady, Lay (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)
3. Lonesome Day Blues (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
4. Girl Of The North Country
(Bob on keyboard and harp, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
5. The Levee's Gonna Break
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin, Tony on standup bass)
6. Spirit On The Water
(Bob on keyboard and harp, Donnie on pedal steel, Tony on standup bass)
7. Honest With Me (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
8. John Brown (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on banjo, Tony on standup bass)
9. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
10. Beyond The Horizon
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on pedal steel, Tony on standup bass)
11. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on banjo, Tony on standup bass)
12. Nettie Moore (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on viola, Stu on acoustic guitar)
13. Summer Days (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on pedal steel, Tony on standup bass)
14. Masters Of War
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)

(encore)
15. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on pedal steel)
16. Thunder On The Mountain
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)
17. Blowin' In The Wind
(Bob on keyboard and harp, Donnie on violin, Stu on acoustic guitar)
Neil Diamond played a show in NYC the same night.

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Comments (57)

well written but when did kurt loder start playing lap steel?

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:35 PM

never thought i would live to see the day where bob dylan performs in track pants

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:38 PM

Great write up. Thank you.

Posted by C | August 13, 2008 3:39 PM

Dylan sporting the Stewart Copeland Rythmatist look!

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:40 PM

he looks like a bobble head.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:46 PM

...bob played keys on every tune?

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:46 PM

Unlike BV, I catch Bob every chance I get and still plan to do so in the future. If you have not had a good time at last night's show, chose to walk around, observe people or do something else, then you're probably not a fan of Bob Dylan and not seeing him again live is the right choice. ("you" being the complainers here, not BV in particular) I have seen lackluster performances from him, rarely. Last night was not one of them. Head to New York Times for an alternative opinion.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/14/arts/music/14dylan.html

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:47 PM

"well written but when did kurt loder start playing lap steel?"

good one

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:50 PM

Uh, well written? No offense to BV or our anonymous commenter here, but no one visits this site for the quality prose. It's the best place to find out about shows and ticket on sales but even the columnists make rather trite, tired use of the English language. That Dylan review is nap worthy.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:51 PM

I wonder if Bob rides the train like Neil Diamond
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rlindsley/2760680210/

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:53 PM

please dont discourage BV from writing actual reviews in addition to the usual spouting of tour/ticket info. i found it informative and entertaining. keep up the writing BV!

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:56 PM

i was looking for a review of the dylan show earlier & all i found was the lame ny times report that didn't even have any pics. you rock harder than a lo-fat spicy black bean burger w/cranberry ginger relish !

Posted by man_ray | August 13, 2008 3:58 PM

i thought it was well written.

opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:58 PM

To annon 3:47. Did you ever see Bob when he was a great performer? (and before he stsrted playing keyboards live?) He is a pale imitation of his former self. The last few time that I have seen him, including last night, I was VERY disapointed and almost bored. I think "lackluster" would be an appropriate term! Just because he's Bob Dylan does not mean he a decent live performer.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 4:00 PM


actually bob was walking around park slope before the show and grabbed coffee on 7th Ave.

very cool neil diamond photo!

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 4:03 PM

Nice write up of the evening's atmosphere -- thanks BV.

Posted by drewo | August 13, 2008 4:05 PM

i actually really respect/understand where bv is coming from. i put a lot of thought into this recently...and last night it really clicked.

ive seen bob 3 times - one with the raconteurs, at acl show (i too left early), and last night. all in the last 2+? yrs. last night i was pretty fortunate with a presale 3rd row seat.

that said, i cant speak about shows from 10 - 20 yrs ago - i just know those shows ive seen. u just have to go into the experience knowing it's not gonna be a young iconic dylan. he's old! his voice is raspy! and he's been touring an incredible amount in the past 2-3 yrs? but i think his older voice works...it's different. and while some of you may disagree, i think it's got a certain level of class to it.

i also agree w bv in that he was disconnected from everyone...he didnt say a word while on stage (i dont think - i took a breif detour to the back to smoke a splif). but will i go so far as to say i wont see him again? i dont know. i too feel this was a great show to close out...it left a good taste in my mouth and i doubt ill ever get seats for dylan that were that good.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 4:07 PM

"Uh, well written? No offense to BV or our anonymous commenter here, but no one visits this site for the quality prose. It's the best place to find out about shows and ticket on sales but even the columnists make rather trite, tired use of the English language. That Dylan review is nap worthy."

Nap worthy for you maybe. I thought it was a solid, restrained concert review full of interesting detail. Not every concert write-up needs to be Christgau to communicate accurately and with emotion the kind of experience the writer had. BV's writing did exactly what it was supposed to do. Most music blogs are full of over-ripe music-writing; it's nice to see something economical and subtle as an alternative.

So snarky napper, what's your music blog? Care to share instead of snipe?

Posted by C | August 13, 2008 4:07 PM

nice write up, bv. really gave me a sense of the event - people, set-up, etc.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 4:09 PM

Yeah 4:00 I have seen truly great Dylan and recently at that. I've also seen mail-ins. Last night was in between for me.

By the way,he's only been full time on keys for a few years, so having seen him before that isn't much of an accomplishment.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 4:15 PM

I think BV's review pretty much summs up my view and that of every person I've talked to about the show. There was a disconnect. I'm glad I went, but it was almost like background music.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 4:22 PM

I only went because I wanted to see him before he dies. Otherwise it was the worst show in recent memory. So fucking boring and his voice is done.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 4:29 PM

I thought it was a thoughtful review and I hope you continue with them. I believe that Dylan is the best songwriter of the last 50 years and really can't do no wrong as he is an iconic figure. Well, let me modify that statement.

I have seen him about 15 times over the last 30 years and have seen some great shows (Tramps, 1999, Radio City 1991, Roseland, 1993 or 94, New Haven, 1978) and some shows that made me give up on seeing him live (Hammerstein, 2003, Beacon 2004).

He has the right to reinterpret his material as he sees fit, much like an artist modifying his artwork, but the problem is for the most part his voice is shot and his physical condition (good for a guy his age) hinders him from playing a guitar.

He reminds me of seeing Miles Davis just before he passed away. An opportunity to see an iconic figure who has had an incredible influence on musicians and culture. If you have not seen him, you really should have.

Then again, I felt that way about seeing Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Link Wray and so many others. It is a privilige to have seen these guys.

Was really tempted to go last night as I oculd have gotten in for half price. My position was that I have seen him so many times, there was no point in seeing him do much of the same stuff he has been doing this decade.

Posted by Adam | August 13, 2008 4:38 PM

thanks for this review. I was stuck in the cheap GA "seats" and was able to enjoy the show well enough. glad I got to see the man before it's too late (I was a first-timer) and my expectations were met.

that said, I'm pretty mystified why some people in the general seating chose to sit on their blankets and hold a full-on conversation through the entire show after buying tickets...why bother coming?

Posted by j | August 13, 2008 4:39 PM

This post reminds of BV back in the day when it didnt have ad's or fancy header design, when actual opinions of shows were given instead of link spam posts. I think there should be more of this.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 4:47 PM

NY Post review:
"It was as if parents were taking their kids to the zoo to see "The Dylan" before it's extinct".
http://www.nypost.com/seven/08132008/entertainment/music/the_dylan_is_chillin_in_bklyn_124218.htm

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 4:57 PM

damn...getting old sucks

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 5:03 PM

i arm wrestled bob at bar 13
surreal
i won
and i'm a girl

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 5:10 PM

I agree with anon 4:00. The show was boring. He was hard to understand and all the songs sounded the same (plus not played well). I saw him in the 90s and loved his shows. I wish I didn't go last night.

Posted by sj | August 13, 2008 5:18 PM

These photos are depressing, so I can only imagine what the show was like. Don't get me wrong, I like Bob but he needs to hang it up.

Posted by michaelways | August 13, 2008 5:30 PM

bv what did you think of the food options? I was stunned there was nothing non-meat to eat.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 5:30 PM

everyone's spooked by Isaac Hayes, and the fact that he did one of his last living gigs in Prospect Park, and the fact that Bob was not well. Last night it took him about an hour to start singing or moving.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 6:05 PM

I can only state what I thought of the show. When the music is put out there, you make a connection by seeing the colors of the music and hearing the sounds of the images.

I was on the lawn and really enjoyed the show. After slow and rough start, Bob & his band began liftoff during Lonesome Day Blues (which to me, was dedicated to Isaac Hays). And did the show soar. Yes, the setlist was typical of what Bob has been playin' but it was played very well...

I truly had a blast and definitely got my swerve on...

On a funny note, three girls behind us asked if we were going to stand for the entire show. We politely pointed out to them that the ticket specifically stated "GA Standing"

Posted by starchild | August 13, 2008 6:08 PM

BORED?? DISAPPOINTED??!!

Were you at the same show I was?????

Man, last night--to me anyway--was TOTALLY EPIC! Granted, when the show started I was on the lawn w/friends and moved immediately because the sound wasn't nearly loud enough. I had a seat in row R, but instead of going to that seat, I cruised up the aisle on the right side and was quickly 3rd row. No ushers and a very cool crowd around me. Bob and his band were ON! There was one point where the guitar player fell apart pretty badly, but that was the only flub in a very, very tight night of music. And at one point, as many were lighting up around me, Bob (I think!) said something about the "ganja in Brooklyn"...did anyone else hear that???

GREAT, GREAT, ultra-remarkable show last night. I'm completely amazed that people can have such different opinions on this one.

Posted by mark | August 13, 2008 6:48 PM

My mom & I saw him at Roseland in '94. He was excellent that night, but we saw him last summer and we left feeling kind of depressed about it. He's a legend, there's no disputing that -- I just don't want to see him just standing there on the keys.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 6:56 PM

I also found this to be a great write up. Keep 'em coming BV!

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 7:05 PM

I currently live in Alaska and was able to catch the show. I thought it was great, and even though I was stuck in the proliteriate section, I was lucky enough to get right up against the railing. I wasn't sure what to expect at the Brooklyn venue, as I grew up in Joisey and never had been to Brooklyn. However, it was a gorgeous night, the music was great and the crowd was appreciating the music, at least where I was. I thought Dylan and his band did a great job and I wasn't disappointed, even though I had to buy scalped tickets two months before the show. I was half tempted to see him again in Asbury Park tonight!

Posted by Kathy from Alaska | August 13, 2008 7:13 PM

Zimmerman!!!

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 7:34 PM

i got lucky with 8th row seats and the show blew my mind. but when i went to get food i thought the show just blew. you hit the nail on the head.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 8:14 PM

A friend of mine's band was scheduled to play at McCarren last night and it was cancelled due to rain. The Dylan show was blessed with no Hard Rain. My friend couldn't believe we had no rain at the park.

Watching the show I caught myself thinking that Dylan could still have another 20 years of career left as he continually evolves, somewhat like Picasso who made it to 90, I believe, and also did lots of shows....

And I'm not complaining at all. A guy who could put out Self-Portrait and also Blonde on Blonde is beyond explaining, worth appreciating.

Posted by George Fiala | August 13, 2008 8:17 PM

I think that was a pretty thoughtful review, BV. Keep 'em coming.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 8:54 PM

this is an amazing review and bv is probably the best music journalist working in the biz

Posted by anonymous | August 13, 2008 10:29 PM

Did he drive up in an Escalade?

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 10:34 PM

Bob Dylan on keyboards. Does anyone have to say anything else?

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2008 11:44 PM

Came all the way from orange county,ny to see the show. I had no tix but it was a great ol' moonlit night and I figured, "oh, what the hell!" However, I was a bit disappointed at the lack of dancing although SOME of it coulda been due to the fact that it was a Tuesday night - but C'MON - Dylan in Prospect ?!! Had a good night all in all. Thanks to all that made it happen... :)

Posted by mike m | August 13, 2008 11:56 PM

"...but even the columnists make rather trite, tired use of the English language..."

unlike you i assume

Posted by Anonymous | August 14, 2008 1:59 AM

the bv review doesn't even talk about the music or the songs (aside from the encore). on bv, there is no litarate journalism of any sort or professionalism. anyone that disagrees probably can't read above a 7th grade level. bv's just for FYI ticket info and music/band promotion.

Posted by Anonymous | August 14, 2008 2:52 AM

Thanks and well done ... and lucky you to be at the show! Great pix and good write up. Again, thanks. Cheers!

Posted by Canute | August 14, 2008 6:13 AM

"the bv review doesn't even talk about the music or the songs (aside from the encore). on bv, there is no litarate journalism of any sort or professionalism. anyone that disagrees probably can't read above a 7th grade level. bv's just for FYI ticket info and music/band promotion. "

no shit, who cares?

Posted by Anonymous | August 14, 2008 9:10 AM

I had seats similar to the ones you had for the encore and for me the whole show was as good as the way you described the encore. I thought the band was tight and Dylan's phrasing was very good and clear. He looked great too. It's too bad it didn't come across that way for people in the lawn section.

Posted by Anonymous | August 14, 2008 9:10 AM

"on bv, there is no litarate journalism"

yeah, not all of us can be "litarate" like you...

Posted by Anonymous | August 14, 2008 10:26 AM

based upon the write up and the comments, it sounds like this concert was best enjoyed close to the front, and while smoking some quality pot. i would have loved that. then i could have just faded out the fact that he is old as shit and just going through the motions and instead be mesmerized by the fact that that is bob dylan, and hes gunna be gone soon. and here I am 20 feet from him. high as shit.

Posted by Anonymous | August 14, 2008 12:00 PM

The Asbury Park show last night was very good. Similar setlist to the Philly and Brooklyn shows. I thought Dylan's voice sounded strong for his limited range and the band really rocked. This was not a folk show!

It was my second time seeing Dylan (first was around '99 or '00) and I'm definitely glad I saw him again. The new arrangments took some time to get used to, but if you kept an open mind you should have been able to enjoy the music. What's the point in complaining anyway! ; )

Apparently, the Boss was in the audience (I didn't see him) but he didn't play any songs with Dylan. Oh well...

Posted by Anonymous | August 14, 2008 1:55 PM

"he is old as shit and just going through the motions" - anonymous, aug 14, 12:00pm

"I want to shoot you so bad my dick is hard."
--Nino Brown

Posted by mark | August 15, 2008 11:23 AM

I thought the big problem with the lawn seats
(besides people walking over your blankets
and people leaving after 3 songs just to say they
saw Dylan) was very much the PA System. It just
wasn't loud enough (or turned up enough) for the
lawn seats. I was sitting very close to the front
of the lawn (nearest the "my left" PA stack) and
it was simply not pushin'. The sound got better
or clearer thru the first 4-5 songs, but did not
get much louder. Maybe a wee bit, but not enough.
I didn't feel like i was having, seeing or feeling
the same experience as the peeps that had non lawn
seats

Posted by Anonymous | August 16, 2008 12:22 PM

Lovely review, BV. Thanks!

Posted by Blew Diamond "Phillips" | August 16, 2008 12:39 PM

I had a great time at this concert. The atmosphere was perfect, the people I was around were having a great time and I love his older voice. The band was amazing and I was transfixed the whole time. I was just so grateful to be there... it was my first and I know it coul dbe my last Dylan concert. Maybe what you're missing is gratatude to see such great musicians and such an iconic performer.

He never talks during his shows (i believe thats one of his things) and he doesn't play guitar anymore for probably good reason...arthritus perhapse? Its not his job to be the old (young) dylan its his job to perform the amazing music he's writen the best he can and he did an amazing job. I'm still thinking about it! I am so glad I got to go and feel privilaged!

Posted by AC | August 20, 2008 12:41 PM

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