Seeing Bob Dylan in November was such a regular part of my life that, as we reach the end of November 2020 without the typical Fall tour, I decided to take a look back at all of those shows.
November 5, 1998, College Park, MD: the first show that I took a small notebook to. We missed Dave Alvin, the opening act, due to traffic. Joni Mitchell was the support act, and she started with Big Yellow Taxi, encored with Woodstock. I think my dad drove, and we went with his friend Jonathan. Our tickets were ordered through a short-lived mail order system, à la the Grateful Dead, and our seats were fantastic – left side, lower in the stands. My notes detail every song that Dylan performed, whether or not he moved around on stage, and other comments like “has it ever been this great?” (and that was just after the first song!). But the highlight, the moment that this show will always stand out for me is how he chose to play Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat instead of Rainy Day Women as the second encore song. I jumped up and down, all but freaking out over this unexpected change to the pattern of previous nights. Then, either after the song or before leaving the stage, he saluted in my direction.
November 9, 1999, Philadelphia, PA: My dad and I almost didn’t go to this show. I was in the middle of my jam band phase though, and at a Strangefolk show in September a random guy asked me if I was going to see Phil, meaning Phil Lesh, who was opening for Dylan on this tour. I took it as a sign that we needed to go, and our seats were way up high as a result of our delay. The set list from this show might be the ultimate set list for a Dylan show that I attended, featuring songs that he stopped playing years ago and indeed, a song that he has only performed live one time ever: A Satisfied Mind.
November 20, 1999, Newark, DE: The last show of the tour, a make-up date for a University of Delaware show that was cancelled back in 1998. I went with a boy named Lou and his roommate Matt, and really don’t remember much about the show. That’s a shame, since I love the song Joey and forgot that I’d ever heard it live.
November 5, 2000, Ann Arbor, MI: My cousin Rebecca’s first concert. I still remember calling up my uncle and asking if I could come visit in order to see this show. The highlight of this show was G.E. Smith as a special guest. Earlier this year during the height of the quarantine, I listened to a bootleg of this show and was wowed by how great it sounded.
November 8, 2000, Bethlehem, PA: the day after the election. I went with my dad and we stayed overnight with my grandmother.
November 19, 2000, Towson, MD: This show was general admission on the floor, so I drove down from Lancaster early to wait in line. I was 3rd row back, left of center, and had a sign with me that people in line discouraged me from holding up. I left the show before the second encore in order to try and see Dylan exit the venue, but I don’t recall having a good view. I then waved at the tour bus as it was leaving; this was the last show of the tour. A full review that I wrote at the time is available on Bob Links.
November 17, 2001, Philadelphia, PA: I was busy in 2001 with grad school and couldn’t afford to go to as many shows, so this was my only Dylan concert that year. I was living in Philadelphia, and took the subway down Broad St. to get to the show. It seems odd that my dad didn’t drive down to join me, but he also didn’t go to as many concerts back then. Once again, I submitted a full review to Bob Links, but I see my count was off. This was my 7th November show, not 6th. Not mentioned in the review is that during the show somebody near me lost a lot of change. Since I was a poor grad student, I was quick to pick it up after the show was over, and people started helping me, thinking it was mine!
November 15, 2002, Philadelphia, PA: Still in grad school, but living outside of the city. My dad and his friends came to this show, but I was standing on the floor and they were in seats. The interesting thing about this tour was the cover songs: Dylan performed Don Henley’s End of the Innocence, the Rolling Stone’s Brown Sugar, and Warren Zevon’s Mutineer.
November 1, 2003, Rome, Italy: I did not actually see this show, but I tried. I was in Rome visiting my brother, who was studying abroad, and I scheduled the trip to coincide with Dylan’s European tour. I did not buy a ticket in advance, probably because I wasn’t sure how it would all work out. When I got to the venue that night, it was after the show had started and the guard wouldn’t let me in the gate. (I didn’t speak any Italian, and he didn’t speak much English, but we understood each other.)
November 6, 2004, Grantham, PA: A show at Messiah College, where my dad’s friend Jonathan was the head librarian. Dylan played a somewhat rare gospel song, Saving Grace, although it wasn’t specifically for the Christian crowd – he’d been performing it regularly in 2003 and 2004. A longer review can be found on Bob Links.
November 20, 2004, Amherst, MA: I took the bus from New York City, where I was living at the time, and I stayed overnight in a UMass dorm-like building (not quite a hotel, more like a hostel with single rooms). The show was not memorable, but the town certainly was!
No US tour in Fall 2005.
Fall 2006 tour: I took an extended trip to Massachusetts and saw Dylan in Boston two nights in row (November 11 & 12), followed by Amherst again on November 15th. Since I had a couple extra days, I rented a car for the first time and drove around western Mass, where I found the site of Alice’s Restaurant and visited Arlo’s church. Jack White’s band the Raconteurs were the opening act on this tour, and they were a big reason why I saw so many shows. I also saw the show in Philadelphia, on November 18th, with my friend Thea, my dad and his friend, my “uncle” Jeff. Stretches of shows like these blur together, and I tend to only remember before and afters, not during, although the notebooks and set lists help.
After a couple of years living in California and no November dates, I picked things back up when I moved to Cleveland in 2010.
November 2, 2010, Akron, OH: I recall that I had a very good seat, I think 7th row right side. I had been in Ann Arbor a few nights previous to this show, and by this time in my life I’d largely stopped taking notes. I’m pretty sure I asked a security guard to take my photo by the stage afterwards, but I can’t find it right now.
November 7, 2010, Pittsburgh, PA: Nothing too special about this show either, because the set lists were becoming more standard and featuring more recent songs (meaning less room for surprises).
November 19, 2012, Philadelphia, PA: I have photos from this show! They are rather blurry, given the quality of my phone’s camera at the time, but better than nothing. Of note was the opening act, Mark Knopfler, and our very good seats as you can see below. I had to do some research to determine if this was the only November show I saw this year, and it was for Bob Dylan, but I saw Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers that month as well.
November 12, 2014, Cleveland, OH: Hooray, Dylan played in downtown Cleveland! I think I splurged for a VIP package, or if not, still had a very good seat in the center orchestra. I sent my dad an email during intermission and noted that Tangled Up in Blue had substantially different lyrics.
November 23, 2014, Philadelphia, PA: Night 3 of 3 at the Academy of Music. I found a couple of photos, taken before the show started, since by now Dylan had a strict “no photos” policy. This was also the night that my dad’s old Camry hit 200,000 miles.
November 2, 2016, Charleston, WV: This was a fun trip, and Charleston was the closest stop on this tour to Cleveland. I had a little time beforehand to find dinner at a diner, but service was so slow that the waitress gave me a free piece of cake to go! Unfortunately I can’t find any emails or notes about the show, and the only photos are of the BBQ sandwich I had, and the yarn store I went to the next day. However, I do remember watching the Cleveland Indians lose the World Series after the show was over…
November 3, 2017, Akron, OH: This was the third time I saw Dylan at E.J. Thomas Hall, and another great seat, as evidenced from the ticket photo below. But all in all, an average show with too many standards for my liking.
November 13, 2018, Youngstown, OH: And now we’re getting to where my memory is better. The standout song from this show was Like A Rolling Stone. I always meant to go back and find a recording to listen to, but part of me would like to simply remember it as being an excellent rendition. For some reason that only he knows, Dylan treated us to a few bars of the Freddie King song San-Ho-Zay that night (he played it again the next night, but not again on the tour). Here’s a photo of the stage before the show, taken in part to document my seat’s location.
And that brings us to the three shows in November 2019, which I’ve already written about in another blog post. If I counted correctly, this means I’ve seen Dylan in November 25 times, which out of 70 is 35% of the time!