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After 41 Bob Dylan concerts, you come to appreciate the many incarnations
of "His Band" that you have been able to see. You also start to think
about your favorites & least favorites. Freddy Koella remains the worst
band member I have ever had the good fortune of seeing. But the best, my
favorite is, well, like asking what my favorite Dylan song is. Saturday
night @ Messiah College, Stu Kimball & George Recile competed for my most
current favorite.

Brubaker auditorium is smaller than my high school gymnasium (~800 people
in my high school, grades 9-12). The cement walls & lowe ceilings had us
worried that the sound may not be the best part of this show. We were
pleasantly mistaken - great sound throughout. With us seated at the top
row of the first set of bleachers (which was still only like 25-30 yards
from the stage), stage Bob, the men in black, all with hats (save Larry)
sauntered to the stage around 8:20PM, straight out of a mid-western saloon
(or Columbus, OH). Maggie's Farm was something I had expected, and it
received proper treatment. Stu picks up where he left off the last time I
saw him, his second show ever with the band in Uncasvile, CT. But, the boy
appears to have found his place, no longer the wide-eyed rookie in a
legend's band, but now an important piece of the puzzle. Blistering leads
were traded with Larry, the ever competent veteran, and Bob gave several
quick nods of approval to the entire cast.

Times was a welcome # 2, nothing different from the past few years (I
think this version has been played since the Fall 2002 tour, but now no
acoustic guitar, just bouzouki (Larry) & Electric (Stu). LDB was another
rocker, Bob seemed to rush through it, only stopping the vocals once, if I
recall correctly, for a guitar break. That came to a quick end, and they
stumbled through a disastrous Mr. T. They didn't seem to really pick up on
Stu & Larry's exchange during Maggie's Farm. I though that, combined with
George's driving beat during the opener, would really have launched the
show, but it took a little while longer. It's Alright Ma was standard
fare, and though the president's line got a nice applause, it wasn't as
near as thrilling as I had hoped. Then I remembered, Messiah College,
these people all voted for W, they don't want to hear that even he is

Po' Boy quieted things down nicely and, IMO, is the point where the show
took a turn for the better. This L&T gem made a rare appearance (2 shows
in a row, no less) and was nailed. Larry seemed to be coaching Stu through
it, but he really didn't need it, he was right on. And here is where
George Recile is due major credit. Too often I hear the complaint that he
is too loud, too Winston Watson. I, personally, love that about him. But
he also has this ability to lay back and drive a song with the audience
not even feeling that the drums are being played (ala Kemper). That is
what happened here, some great brush work allowed the focus to remain on
Bob's delivery of this hilarious lyric, and Stu & Larry's brilliant
acoustic work. Recile's reward?? The next 4 songs, Bob simply cut him

Mobile was something I had not heard in a few years. The treatment is
still the same, Larry on acoustic, Stu on electric, but we all know our
frustrations with Bob never really allowing Charlie to fly with a lead
(until his final tour). Bob has a confidence about Stu very early in his
tenure, something that cannot be said for most musicians that join "His
Band". Brilliant leads on Mobile, Dignity, Love Sick, etc., etc. with
Mobile receiving this neat little descending scale solo that ended each
break, very reminiscent of the beginning of UTRS. As for George, well, he
earned his keep last night, and made sure his boss did not have to worry
about losing his place at any point. But Dignity Love Sick, & Mobile
really stick out, as I think back upon it now, as the 3 songs where George
gave it his all, but never reached the point where he was drowning out any
other band member - great sound!

Saving Grace sounded as if it could have been Shooting Star, and all those
pundits who thought they'd get a treat tonight because Bob was playing
Messiah College, were relieved (despite that fact that this has been a
regular song on the setlist since Spring 2003, I still heard people
comment that it was because he was playing a "religious" school! Folks,
Bob doesn't know where he is night after night, and probably doesn't
care!). Sorry - great version, still mostly the same, the intro seemed a
little different, but very nice overall.

No surprises in the end, although George was given a chance (with Hollis
Brown) to prove that his delivery in Po' Boy was no fluke, and he rose to
the occasion. We received the standard band intros after LARS (with more
stellar lead by Stu), where Bob stands center stage with the mic like it
is Comedy Central stand-up hour. Only problem is, we all know the
"windshield vipers" joke, and all the others for that matter! I really
started to feel bad for the band after that, realizing they have to hear
it every night, AND laugh at it ("Ain't that right George?")

2 things other than Stu & George stuck out for me this evening in
Grantham, PA. Bob's voice was stronger than it had been in some time,
maybe due to the night off before. And he toyed with several different
ranges, proving yet again that he can still do it when he wants to. Hollis
Brown was a vocal standout for me, as was Saving Grace, but then, he was
also able to turn it around 180 degrees and scream it out, coherently and
well, like with LDB. Also, this was the first time that I have been able
to clearly hear the piano, during almost every song. AND, it sounded good,
in key, on time, a little ivory tickling offered some nice faux leads, but
generally it was just chord work, and it sounded better than I can ever

So, by about 10:15PM, the big black buses hopped on Rt. 15., passed the
glimmering waters of the Yellow Breeches (one of the best trout streams in
the entire US of A), and found their way to the PA turnpike, headed for
Pittsburgh. Good thing the Steelers won today, they'll have another reason
to be pumped up for a good show. Too bad the Grantham crowd couldn't be
more enthusiastic - my only complaint on an otherwise above average night!

The entire review text is re-printed above. The author is Alex Leik
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© 2004 Alex Leik - bobsboots.com