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Bob Dylan 951217 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Electric Factory

From: Seth Kulick (     
Subject: Philadelphia 12/17
Date: Dec 18, 1995

Songs in caps were the ones actually played

SENOR/Man in Me
DARK EYES (w/ Patti Smith)
She Belongs to Me/MAGGIE's FARM
SHE BELONGS TO ME/Maggie's Farm (I guess he was really intent on playing these)
For the encores, the set list had:
Heaven's Door
God on our Side/Back Pages

And actually played was
HEAVEN'S DOOR (w/ Patti Smith)
RDW (w/ Caesar...I forget his last name - his previous guitar player, I guess?)

A strange show but enjoyable overall.   I thought the beginning of the
show was, quite frankly, pretty horrible.  Flood was good, and I enjoy
this arrangement, but Senor bored me completely.  The only sign of life
from Bob was when he sang, with emphasis, "This place don't make SENSE to
me NO MORE!" which didn't strike me as a very good omen.  Watchtower was
musically okay, but he mumbled through it completely - one of the worst
versions I've seen in a long time.  Every Grain of Sand is one of my very
favorite Dylan songs, but I was again completely bored, as his singing
seemed completely lifeless.  Things got better in a hurry with Pillbox, which
I thought was just great.  Silvio was pretty typical I guess, but good.
Acoustic set was very fine.  Great Baby Blue in particular, I thought.  
Dark Eyes is just unbelievably great, and they changed the ending a bit
tonight.  After the last verse, Bob put his hand out for Patti to go back
to the mike and she sang "A million faces at my feet..." and then Bob joined
in to finish.  I actually enjoyed Maggie's Farm - I can't quite figure out
why!  She Belongs to Me was okay, but a rather strange way to end the 
show.  Just when I was thinking "I don't want to hear Alabama Getaway" again,
he comes out with a different Garcia/Hunter tune, and does a great job
with it.  Deadheads seemed particularly pleased.  I still think that Dylan has
rather poor taste in Dead songs, though.  And, unbelievably, Heaven's Door
was one of the highlights of the show, and of all three nights.  Patti Smith
came back out, and for a while she and Bob were just sort of improvising
on the four words of the title, and it was, well, very intense, at least
for me.  Smith sort of shyly, slowly walked off stage after, and Bob 
started singing stuff that sounded like (could somebody verify this)
"I've been there so many times before" and then "I'm not going to be there
anymore"  Anyway, that's what I thought I heard.  RDW, well, who cares,
but Bob seemed to be enjoying himself a lot.  No acoustic encore, though,
but I couldn't get too upset after that Heaven's Door - still, "With God
On Our Side" was on the setlist - oh well.

What a miserable place to see a concert.  Goddamn general admission.

Seth Kulick                        "There are no kings inside the 
University of Pennsylvania          gates of Eden" - Bob Dylan     

Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 22:11:36 GMT From: David Eaton (deaton@HAVERFORD.EDU) Subject: Setlist 12/17/95 Electric Factory, 12/17/95 Sunday 1. Crash on the Levee 2. Senor 3. Watchtower 4. Every Grain of Sand 5. Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat 6. Silvio 7. Tangled Up in Blue (a) 8. Desolation Row (a) bob:"those were depressing songs...this one will cheer you up" 9. Baby Blue (a) 10. Dark Eyes (a) w/Patti 11. Maggies Farm 12. She Belongs to Me ------ encores: 1. West LA Fadeaway 2. Knockin' on Heavens Door w/Patti Rainy Day Women w/special guest on guitar, not sure of name My highlights: a smokin' Silvio, the entire acoustic set, and a crazy rockin' Heaven's Door.
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 09:52:48 GMT From: Sonia Gilliam (bobfans@IX.NETCOM.COM) Subject: Re: Philadelphia 12/ Show EVER!?! I've seen Bob nearly 200 times and the show on 12/17/95 was the most moving performance I have ever witnessed. Most of my tourin' buddies agreed that it was a special show. After discussing the performance with a member of the crew who has been with the tour since DYLAN/PETTY we both agreed that 12/17/95 was the BEST SHOW EVER! Keith
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 21:51:31 -0800 From: Thad Williamson (thwilliamson@IGC.APC.ORG) Subject: Philadelphia Story: Review dec 16-17 It was great to come up to Philly for the Saturday and Sunday shows. Here follows my own review and thoughts: Saturday the 16th: Jeff (blair) Rosenberg and I came over from the diner two blocks away at about 6:30, which put us about 8-10 layers of people back for the show. I didn't see the much-remarked upon stampede when the doors opened as we were around the corner (along with Sorabh). It was plenty close though for just a one hour wait in the cold. Patti Smith blew me away on Saturday night. I loved her version of wicked messenger, and ghostdance and rock@roll nigger are just kick ass songs. So is the new one (the one she wrote, not the other one). I liked not knowing at all what to expect. Her bass player just embodies masculine rock and roll energy, he was really into it. Of course, it hard to describes exactly what Patti embodies but it was pretty compelling. On to dylan. The main overall impression with Saturday is how the band continues to improve--even better than my last shows 6 months ago. Mainly, JJ Jackson continues to get better and better on lead. Not just competent anymore, but creative and totally confident too. And he loves playing with Bob. The best move Dylan has made in a long time was to go with young people who still have plenty of libido and rock and roll energy going, especially with JJ and Winston. Even though the material is mostly the same they're not repeating themselves artistically, everything except watchtower has a new twist. The format for these shows in each song was to emphasize dynamic contrast, most songs starting quietly and ending raucously, with a loud jam followed by a quiet one during the instrumental section. a little predictable by the second night but still very effective. Jeff and I were pleased he open with Down in the Flood, nice strong start. I haven't got sick of that opening riff yet. I Want You was wonderful, bob really got into the lyrics, this was one song that was quiet all the way through. JJ was doing a little slur on the signature lick that was sweet. I usually don't attempt to to delve into the highly arcane art of distinguishing watchtower from one night to the next, but this really (I'm serious!) was the best I've heard in 8 shows from the last 14 months. Some inspired jamming, good vocal. Bob and JJ really going at it. Shelter from the storm was notable at the beginning for bob's near a cappella vocal and at the end by some loud playing by JJ. It didn't particularly move move but it was there, you know, he did it and it was good. Just Like Tom Thumb was a step up, GREAT vocal right from the start, excellent last verse, good music. Silvio was virtually transcendent, the instrumental part. The band at it's best without question, really fired up the crowd. This is Bob's song of the year IMO. Acoustic set. Mr. Tambourine Man was quite good, including the "laughing, singing" verse but not the "magic sailing ship". Only harmonica tune of the night, again the start soft at end manicly. As Jeff says, he plays the harp these days like he would not mine having a heart attack and dying on stage. His body movements and contortions are about the same intensity as the back seat of a car at a high school makeout site. masters of war did have strong vocal but I wasn't all that into it. jeff liked it much better. I was into the last verse, i've been having some hateful feelings towards the masters recently too. love minus zero was right on. Dark eyes. I love the way Patti sang it, very straight up. Dylan's duet portion in the first verse seemed a little off but the end they melded exquisitely, with dylan singing an almost unnatural bass line. What I'll always remember is Dylan and Patti sharing the mike with Bob tilting his head at that exact same angle as in all the photos and videos of bob with joan baez from rolling thunder and before. It was damn damn good. what an underrated song brought to restoration. maybe bob could give a recording of it to patti for a b-side for a single. Then Bob's immortal words "this is my song about the slave trade" leading off Maggie's Farm. Enjoyable stuff, good jamming, it's benefitted from some fresh air after being beaten into the ground every night in 94. Then the first real surprise of the night, Forever Young. (Jackson had to go over and ask Tony Garnier what the song was during the intro, though it was on the setlist.) Really and truly wonderful. I feel so privileged to have seen him sing that one. Alabama Getaway is a riot, nice that Jackson gets to sing a little backup. Definitely a fun and catchy one. Also nice to hear bob again the way a real person does (i.e. not already anticipating all the words--i'm no deadhead). Then the next big surprise hard rain's gonna fall. wow. I was thrilled once it became clear that's what was going on, saying aloud "hard rain?", and then Dylan just stepped right up to the microphone and gave a masterful performance, building slowly to louder and higher-octave vocals (starting with the end of the 3rd verse), spacing out the "it's a hard"s just enough to keep the audience from singing along (they gave up after the first 2 verses and let bob do it himself thankfully). By the end he was belting it out, and then he withdraw to a soft "it's a hard" in the last refrain before belting it out again. I was absolutely spellbound. It's my favorite song, that one thats influenced me the most, and the one I've always got to come back to when I think about dylan's effect on my consciousness. And it was great. I was wishing he would end the show right then and let us all go him in an inspired daze. But he did rainy day women, of course, and JJ's shameless horsing around (he was eating a candy cane the first half of the song before spitting it out) almost made it worth it. it was a relatively brief version. But it still felt to me like it would have been more courageous not to take the edge off hard rain by going to rainy day, that this was bob as usual not willing to fully commit himself to his most profound statements, instead saying "okay that's the serious stuff, let's all have a good time now". Not willing to a let a deathly serious statement stand on its own, but having to instead inject some irony into the occasion to take the edge off, in other words. I don't blame him but I wish he hadn't, you know. We sort of had an EDLIS gathering outside the diner but our plans to go down 9 blocks to a pizza place fizzled. Nice to meet Seth Kulick, sorry he didn't like the venue or the general admission arrangement (more on this below.) The next day Jeff, his friend and I got to see Mike Tyson leaving lunch in downtown philly surrounded by shrieking women and tons of cops who were psyched to see him too. by pure luck. nice little piece of street theater. Then we ran into the roadie J.R., who tunes the basses and and pedal steel guitar. Jeff spotted him, I shouted "Bob Dylan!", he turned around and politely talked with us for about 3 minutes. He's from Nashville, doesn't get to talk to Bob much, and doesn't get told when the next tours are in regard to 1996 plans. He was a nice guy. Jeff was pretty wound up after this (we mused how we blew our chance to buy him lunch, get him drunk, and have him confess all the inside secrets.) While Jeff went home to get the tickets, I jogged over from 16th street to the Electric Factory and joined the line outside at 4:10 p.m., preceded by about a dozen folks. It was pretty cold to stand outside for 3 hours in 30 degree weather, but there was lots of nice conversations and 90% of the folks were cool. What sucked was that the roughly just line (each person with a reasonable amount of friends trading spots in line) was thrown out the window when the venue people sealed off the first 60 or 70 people in line and said "now form two lines" about 10 feet over from where we had been, which meant that the former carefully held order was lost. And who was in front? Yes, the late-coming groupies mentioned in other posts (allegedly a group drove up around 3:30 and said "we're not going to wait in the cold but we're going to get in line in front of you anyway"). People can be just real jerks, that's all it is. And it's impossible to prevent unless you're willing to start a fight, which noone is. Anyway, I did end up in the very front off on the nearly far left of the stage, but gave that up to be closer to Jeff and near the center in the second layer back. I ended up getting pushed back about 3 or 4 feet by the time bob started, which of course is trivial but seems like a big deal psychologically when you've been in the cold for 3 hours. but by the end i was closer. can't complain, but i probably wouldn't go through all that again any time soon. Patti Smith was a little off on Sunday compared to Saturday, or at least that's my perception. Still some real great stuff. Now bob. Down in the Flood again was fine if not outstanding. I really did enjoy Senor, never having seen it live. It's just always nice to bob performing a song you haven't seen before. I wouldn't claim it was the definitive performance though! Watchtower on this night merits no further comment. Every Grain of Sand, on the other hand was exquisite. I liked JJ's playing and mix of riffs on this one. Too bad Bob didn't play harmonica on this one. But you gotta like seeing the man lay himself on the line, which happens every time he does that song. (You could also a little bit more of bob's body on sunday--his shirt collar was a little lower than neck level showing a tiny bit of chest.) Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat was terrific in all aspects, the band really smoking, bob spitting the lyrics out with some fire. Silvio again got me excited, and I tossed a little stuffed bear I had bought with a yarmulke and a little holder saying "Chanukah gelt" at the end. One of the roadies showed it to bob, who looked at it (in the dark), and then the roadies took it away. Good tangled up in blue. Absolutely wailing harmonica at the end, prancing around like a monster from a 60s b-movie that's been hit by a bullet and is about to fall to the ground dead. Saw some smiles from Bob at the end of this one. Desolation Row with this arrangement just doesn't do it for me anymore, but I have to admit the vocals were strong at the end of the song. It's All over now baby blue was surprisingly strong, I didn't like at all the version I'd heard on the tapes from the last 2 years but in person it was damn good. And the harmonica again was great great great! The band members and bob were openly grinning by then. Dark Eyes again powerful. Patti came out in a black dress. They sang they final lyric twice to close it out. Maggie's Farm sailed along, and we got to Bob's Christmas reference song (after he'd been showered with hanukkah gold chocolate coins for a second straight night), she belongs to me which was great. But the encores made this show. An epic version of West LA Fadeaway with serious jamming on them guitars. Knockin on heaven's door with Patti, some nice and awkward improvisation vocally between patti and bob as they did a couple of rounds of alternating "knock, knock" on and on. Then bob comes up and sings "like one too many times before", then a jam later "and there ain't gonna be no more" with a big sly grin. Add those to the official lyric versions of heaven's door, nate! Then garnier motions to jj, "go and get him" and Bob says "on guest guitar tonight we have an old friend who's been around the block a few times", and out came ex-band member Cesar Diaz looking cool in his shades. Dylan asked for a louder applause after a tepid initial response. (Jeff and I of course earlier in the day had covered the subject of Cesar Diaz in conversation so we yelled the first time). Then Rainy Day, only 3 perfunctory vocal verses and then about 6-7 minutes of jamming (it's fun during the jams to watch the band members trying to figure out what Bob's gonna do. Tony's the one who gets the signal and he gives it out. Lots of times JJ will be soloing looking away and not knowing at the end of the verse whether it's the end of the song or not). And that's all there was. Great time and great experience, the end of the line for bob in 1995 one the best performing years of his life. I'm not sure how long bob came keep this band cooking at this level without expanding the repertoire, though....Jeff suspects this might be the last show for a little while. The options are: 1)dig out some different songs from the catalogue (i.e. desire, nashville skyline stuff). I think there's only so far you can go with this, most of the ones he doesn't play now are for good reasons. 2)more covers, reviving the folk album material, etc, 3)write some new songs man! While the band does evolve and has kept dylan's music from being anything but a museum piece, I just don't see how it can be taken much further with the same 50-60 songs for another year...and he not busy being born is busy dying. so here's thanks to bob and the band for a great 95 and hope for the energy keep pressing on to a higher level, with some new material for next year. cheers, Thad
SadieJane's story. Nate's story. Paul Williams' story.
Dates 1995