Aside from passing (and laughing at) the busses stopped at a toll booth, the drive up to Maine was uneventful. The next day would prove to be anything but, however, when security spent the day alternating between, “yes, two doors for admission, 100% guaranteed” and “no, only one door for admission, 100% guaranteed” giving half the crowd some great exercise, down and back up the stairs a hundred different times. Once they got that straightened out though, the wait proved to be far easier then the day before, the sun was shining and a light breeze was blowing. In the line I was at, the folks behind were mainly locals who’d never seen Dylan before, making for vastly different conversations (though I still managed to “discuss” the band again w/ my friend from the day before. One of our main points was Denny’s lack of acoustic playing, that will be relevant later on). The local attitude reminded me of the steel town from The Deer Hunter. And I mean that in the nicest possible way, I have nothing against the setting for DH and the folks in line seemed to be really cool people.
The door I was at was a straight shot in, and afforded me the opportunity to watch all of soundcheck. They checked Tweedle, To Ramona, Not Dark Yet, and Senor, along w/ a lot of other things unrecognizable from where I was. (Of those, only Tweedle was played). Like I said, this was a straight shot in, the door opens, my ticket is scanned, all that required of me is that I run at the slightest angle to the left to get in front of T and Denny, no stairs or anything, easily the most peril-free run in I’ve ever had…….so of course, I take it upon myself to trip over the ONLY possible thing to trip over; the cable housing, not even an inch above the ground. I go flying, and out of the corner of my eye, I see 2 security guards begin to run over to me. I was the second guy in, but I have no idea how close behind the crowd is. The security guys are either running over to a) prevent me from getting trampled, or b) hold me for running, neither of which seem like pleasant out comes, so even before my momentum brings me to a stop, I leap up, take a step back for my hat (which had blown off on impact) and race w/ newfound urgency to my spot.
When the lights, at the last possible second go down, we are surprised to be hit w/ River for the opening number. The next 3 are standards again preformed at an above average level, the month-plus long break hadn’t slowed them down at all. Shelter is absolutely, mind blowingly beautiful. Denny slayed that song, just took it and dominated it. Even the band-hater was impressed. Easily in the top 3 songs I’ve ever seen live!
The show continued to crank, nothing a let-down, or even anything but a privilege to see. The slide on Rollin may have even been better then the previous night, not an easy accomplishment. They were doing some really interesting things w/ the lighting, which included a really sparely lit Workingman. They only had a couple of rotating small spots for that one, the rest of the stage was black, which I thought worked to a certain degree, until I looked at the rest of the audience. One of the moving lights was behind Dylan, and since everyone else was staring at him (gasp! What a concept, looking at the man whose name appears on the ticket! haha ) the spot was just cruising around blinding everyone. I’m sure from stage, it looked like synchronized waving as everyone shielded their eyes.
Its Alright Ma was another highlight for me. I never had great luck seeing it before, but always dug it, and I was really impressed w/ it. Great thumping bass groove, Donnie on banjo (can never find fault w/ that), just everything came together for it and while its still one of the more commonly played songs in the last couple of years, it was really one of the standouts for me that night.
Only 2 songs later though, and we were about to see history in the making, though I don’t know how many people it actually registered w/. DENNY FREEMAN PREFORMED ON ACOUSTIC!!!!!!!!!! Now, I always knew he had and could play on acoustics, to think that he couldn’t or didn’t own one is just insane (though I’m willing to be the one he played was Dylan’s). However (as some of you may have figured out) I consider myself to be a fan of Denny’s, I was unaware of any studio tape, or live tape, or really any recorded evidence of him ever playing on one, so imagine my shock when the techie handed him a big old Gibson!!!!!!! I had seen it there the night before, on the stand behind his Tungsten, but I just assumed it was Dylan’s, and it was only hiding out behind Denny because the stage was so small, but no, this was for Denny to play!!!!!! (And I was here to see it!!!!!) My friend saw it too, and we both began to freak out. This is history! haha
A big selling point of the anti-Freeman faction, here coughJoeycough and in line was that he never plays acoustic, that w/ him in the band, you lose those all-acoustic numbers from the Larry-Charlie days, which, yeah, is a valid point, and I understand where they were coming from. Not anymore! In all honesty, I could not hear Denny as well as I would have liked, his seemed a bit lost in the mix (where I was standing anyway), but those times when I could here the slide, it really seemed to work well w/ the rest of the arrangement. I was directly in front of security (not to mention just excited to be seeing this) but I managed to get one blurry photo, cause I knew Joey’d never believe me if I didn’t have photographic evidence to back it up. Denny didn’t seem particularly enthused to be on the acoustic, but lets hope that Dylan does decide to being back at least one all-acoustic number per show in the coming weeks and months.
Ain’t Talkin’ was a great way to end the regular set, again, never heard a bad version of it, and the standard encore was received no complaints. I checked w/ the folks around me, but no, none had pics of the acoustic The ER crowd (all great folks by the way. Meet them, hang out w/ them, place bets w/ them (they pay!), they’re great people) broke into smaller factions and ours retired to the hotel, affording the security not one, but twochances to share in our post-concert joy.
I personally couldn’t have asked for a better experience over the past couple of days. I got my favorite spot both nights, the shows were insane (as I told a few friends before I left, I was actually more looking forward to seeing Freeman this time then anyone else), Denny played acoustic right in front of me, the setlists were awesome, I had a great time in line, the two folks I was hoping not to run into weren’t there (or, at least, I didn’t see them), and although “I don’t remember” was ANYTHING but the answer I’d been waiting years to hear, I finally was able to talk w/ my biggest musical idol! There’s no way he could have known how much that meant to me, but I do, let me tell you.