“Tonight as I stand inside the rain” – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan 2006 Tour with Junior Brown, Alana James and Jimmie Vaughn

The rain in New Britain. Connecticut could not keep 5,000 plus Bob Dylan fans, young and old, indoors.

They came to hear the 65-year-old Dylan do 14 of his old songs to new rock and blues beats.

The night was a family affair with people from 6 months to 70 years rocking to Dylan, who did not do any tunes from his new album “Modern Times”.

Built in 1996, the New Britain Stadium is a fair weather ballpark. The overhang is only for the rich and the few. Everyone else is subjected to the elements which last night included a steady rain and a real downpour at some points.

Provisions for disabled access are poor but the staff makes up for the designer’s flaws with great accommodation, if you ask.

The Bob Dylan Show could best be called a musical revue. It’s like Rolling Thunder without the cocaine. Dylan headlines and a changing guard of blues and country performers entertain before him. Last year he had Willie Nelson, and this fall the Foo Fighters will join him for a west to east swing.

Junior Brown

Alana James and the Continental Two, a Texas swing band, are growing on me after the third time. She sings well, plays the fiddle to beat the band and swings her tunes with verve. They don’t vary their set which is OK if you don’t realize that Dylan fans attend more than one concert. Do they know anymore songs?

Junior Brown also grows on you. He can swing, he was not slurring his words and music and his set ended with some Duane Eddy and rockabilly material. All right.

Jimmy Vaughn seemed to get his groove tonight. The music had everyone swaying. The R&B sound was solid. LouAnn Barton started sounding decent and I waited for each line of “Natural Born Luuver” and “In the Middle of the Night”. Lou Ann is working on her raunchy performance. She makes me want to see Etta James again. Why does Jimmy Vaughn not play any Stevie Ray Vaughn material – that’s what you’d expect.

Bob Dylan on stage

By the time Dylan came on at 9 pm or so, the crowd on the field was wet, slightly cold and getting tired. Nonetheless, the field was full of people, with more enduring the rain up in the stands. These people are tough.

669_img_3264Dylan opened his set with a rocking “Cat’s in the Well” as he has for the past three nights. The crowd roared, thanking him for showing up and performing. About half the songs were repeats from the last two nights.

You Ain’t Goin Nowhere” is a fun song from the basement tapes which brings a smile. The 65-year-old security guard was singing along with Dylan to “Positively 4th Street”-  “What a drag it is to see you.”

He sang “Forever Young” with tenderness, the sadness of age. “It’s All Right Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) has a rocking arrangement that kicks the song into high gear.

Simple Twist of Fate” was played effectively as a medium waltz. A couple was dancing in the upper deck where we had collected under a canopy. It had that feel, a love song.

Highway 61” is one of the great rocking blues songs Dylan does and he punched it out tonight with energy. No repeated verses, just rocking. Where on Route 61 can I find that those people: Louie the King, the 2nd mother, Georgia Sam, and Abraham? Easily done: get on down to Highway 61. Yeah.

When Stu Kimball started those familiar chords on the acoustic guitar while the stage was dark, it sent chills up my spine. I thought for a second we were going to get an acoustic song like the old days. Then the band breaks into a rocking “Tangled Up In Blue” Oh well, this one is great too.

The crowd roared as Dylan ripped into “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Rainy Day Woman”. Those are two great songs to end the night. “How does it feeeeel?”

The band and Dylan came out one more time for the line up and bow. The crowd milled out to the parking lot to wait 30 minutes in the traffic. The music and the night fade away as we drive off in the rain.