Who was that man in the white-striped pants and the black Zorro hat?

Here’s the set list from Bob Dylan’s performance on Sunday, Aug. 17, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center:

  1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
  2. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
  3. Rollin’ And Tumblin’
  4. Desolation Row
  5. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
  6. Million Miles
  7. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)
  8. Highway 61 Revisited
  9. I Believe In You
  10. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
  11. When the Deal Goes Down
  12. Thunder On The Mountain
  13. Ballad Of A Thin Man
  14. Like A Rolling Stone
  15. Blowin’ In The Wind

My son and I pretty much agreed on our reaction to Dylan’s show — this after seeing him perform twice in Philadelphia in recent years: He’s still great, he’s still Bob Dylan…but probably one-third of his performances were fair-to-poor, in part because he’s singing songs he just can’t and shouldn’t sing anymore, in part because someone needs to figure out how to tweak arena sound systems to tone down and smooth out Dylan’s vocals, and in part because the black pants with the white stripes on the side and black Zorro hat are starting to lose their charm…

Anyway, “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,”  “Million Miles,” “I Believe in You,” “When the Deal Goes Down,” “Thunder on the Mountain” and “Ballad of a Thin Man” were pretty good. All of the other songs were either pretty much just OK or pretty much really sucked (“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” was especially hard to endure).

An old friend, as it happens, went to see Mr. Dylan perform a few days earlier, at the Foxwoods casino in Connecticut. The set list for that show sounds a little more inspiring and intriguing:

  1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
  2. The Times They Are A-Changin’
  3. Things Have Changed
  4. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
  5. Can’t Wait
  6. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)
  7. High Water (for Charlie Patton)
  8. Chimes Of Freedom
  9. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
  10. I Believe In You
  11. Honest With Me
  12. Just Like A Woman
  13. ‘Til I Fell In Love With You
  14. Nettie Moore
  15. Thunder On The Mountain
  16. Like A Rolling Stone
  17. All Along The Watchtower

In any event, she describes her experience with a little more charity: Nice concert. He still can sing, but not a lot of interaction with the audience. It was hard to hear the words. Could have been how loud the music was or because we were in front of massive speakers. It was a spur of the moment tickets, but an enjoyable evening.

Another thing working against Dylan at Saratoga Springs: He walked out on stage eight hours into a festival that had already featured good performances by Steve Earle, Raul Malo and Gillian Welch, very impressive and very memorable performances by Conor Oberst and his Mystic Valley Band and Glen Hansard and The Swell Season, and an absolutely transcendent performance by Levon Helm and his band.

In the interest of fairness, though, here are links to mostly complimentary reviews that appeared next day in a couple of local newspapers:




A final note: The reporter for the Poughkeepsie Journal writes very entertainingly about how the performers all hung out near the stage and interacted with the audience. Very true and very accurate: Gillian Welch was right out there in a side aisle after her show, chatting with fans, and so was Glen Hansard. And Conor Oberst and friends were indeed hanging out right near where we were sitting for most of the performances by Helm and Dylan, clearly enthralled. AND I did indeed see Dylan’s tour bus pull up and thought I spotted the man himself — but not a clear and confirmed sighting (right down to the sidestripes on the pants!) like the one reported by John W. Barry.