Shows I'll Never Forget: Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan, Aug. 8, 2004

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In Cooperstown, N.Y.: First of all, it was cold. I myself kinda liked the spate of very, very early fall weather we were having in the northeast, but having to sit on a metal bleacher for over three hours with the temps hovering in the 50s … well, that’s pushing it a little. But anyhoo … Openers Hot Club of Cowtown played a smokin’ set of Western swing. They were just too much fun.

Next up was the adoration of Willie Nelson. I wasn’t really all that hot on Willie’s band. The whole set had a kind of let’s-run-the-list feel to it. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t fun. Heck, no. They started with “Whiskey River” and then proceeded to play a fricken’ ton of hits. I tend to listen to Red Headed Stranger and Stardust a lot, so I kinda forget just how many tunes Willie has put out there. It was easy to put aside my thoughts on Willie’s band though, as his voice still appeared to be in fine form. I would just love to see him play at one of those dive bars he shows up at in Austin.

After a fairly long break (with much equipment thrashing onstage), Bob Dylan and his band hit the stage after the usual silly intro (” … poet laureate of rock ‘n roll …”) announced over Aaron Copeland’s “Rodeo.” This show was very much like the one I attended the summer before up in New Hampshire. Dylan stuck to keyboards and harmonica all night. His band is muscular and rock solid. And, as the wife said, Dylan’s voice: he has his low note, his medium note and his high note. This is a little perplexing because Dylan has managed to sing some melodies on his two most recent recordings. Maybe it’s harder to do this in a live setting, having to belt it out over a loud rock band. Dunno.

In any event, it was a great show. Some may not like the way Dylan has rearranged his songs, but I thought they were fun. The show ended with a blistering version of “All Along The Watchtower.” Bob Dylan may be ‘getting up there’, but he still likes to rock.

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Setlist for Bob Dylan/Willie Nelson, Aug. 8, 2004:
Drifter’s Escape
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
Seeing The Real You At Last
Girl Of The North Country (acoustic)
Cold Irons Bound
Make You Feel My Love
I Don’t Believe You
Honest With Me
Forever Young
Summer Days
(encore)
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (acoustic)
Like A Rolling Stone
All Along The Watchtower

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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