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Bob Dylan and Leon Russell pack 'em in

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It was another win for Waterfront Concerts Saturday night as a sold-out crowd packed the Waterfront Pavilion to see Bob Dylan's first Bangor performance in more than 14 years. As of Saturday morning, 7,000 tickets had been sold and further seats were made available that day according to Mark Braveman, Waterfront Concerts ticket agent at Mark's Music in Brewer.

The next-to-last stop on this leg of Dylan's "Never Ending Tour," the concert was both thrilling and frustrating. He tours with a stellar band, including ace guitarist Charlie Sexton. They appeared to be having a blast cranking out Bob's songs, many of which were written when some of the band were in diapers.

Eight of the 15 songs that comprised Dylan's set list came from his classic 60s period, including the show opener, "Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35." "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Simple Twist of Fate" from 1975's "Blood On The Tracks" were set highlights as was a rolling, chugging arrangement of "Things Have Changed," a song that scored Dylan an Academy Award for best original song in 2000. Dylan spent most of the show seated at an organ that was mixed too low while his vocals were much louder than they should have been in the overall mix.

As for his voice, that is sometimes a hit and miss affair at a Dylan show. Since the "Never Ending Tour" began in June 1988, Dylan has played nearly 2,500 concerts and you can hear it in his vocals. His voice sounded ravaged and very gravelly but nothing like the "asthmatic frog voice" he subjected fans to at an October, 2007 show in Portland, ME.

With a back catalog so rich, he could fill 10 concert set lists with crowd pleasers. Instead, he threw some curves in the form of "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" and "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" (Both appeared on his 1964 album, "The Times They Are A- Changin'"). I'm sure some Dylan fans in the crowd loved hearing those songs, but their appearance seemed to usher in a weird lull in a show that had been mostly excellent to that point. Just a hunch, but I'm guessing the majority of the crowd would have preferred hearing "Just Like A Woman" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" instead.

Dylan fan Cody Roach of Bangor loved every minute of the show. "He could sing his grocery list and I'd go see him," Roach said. Roach's mom, Cathleen of Dexter, brought six members of her family to the show and was very happy to see "the man" in concert once again. "He's Bob. He's the one and only. It all stems from Bob," Roach proclaimed. Longtime Dylan fan Bob Reece of Houlton traveled to the show with his daughter, Alison. "I thought Bob was in great form, and it was a super show. His band, especially Charlie Sexton, really knew how adapt to Bob's sometimes quirky re-imagining of his material. I feel like we won the lottery, and got Bob at his best. I've been kicking myself for 30 odd years for not going to the Rolling Thunder Review when it hit Bangor. This made up for it," Reece told me.

Bob's old friend Leon Russell opened the concert with a 45-minute set primarily consisting of well-chosen cover songs including The Beatles' "I've Just Seen A Face" and The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses." Russell's lead guitarist, Chris Simmons, was one of the highlights of Saturday night's show. With a sweet, slightly overdriven tone, he revealed himself to be the perfect sideman. While never upstaging his boss, he dug into Russell's material like a hungry man and received applause following several of his solos.

Bob Dylan and Leon Russell go back more than 40 years. On Aug. 1, 1971, they played the legendary "Concert for Bangladesh" with George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and others. In the same year, Leon co-produced and played piano on Dylan's single "Watching The River Flow." On the banks of the Penobscot River Saturday night, it would have been very cool to see the two of them team up on that song.

Next from Waterfront Concerts: B.B. King on Saturday, Sept. 3. Tickets are available at www.Waterfront Concerts.com and at Mark's Music in Brewer.

Mike Dow is part of 'The Mike and Mike Show,' mornings on Kiss 94.5.Catch up with him at www.Facebook.Com/MikeandMike or www.MikeDow.net.

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 13:42

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