Bob Dylan’s Electric Factory Show Sure Did Stink!

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to attend Bob Dylan’s “Electric Factory” concert in Philly on August 8th, 2008. We had feelings of the old “Fillmores” — (East and West): as this is one of those places reminiscent of yesteryear where there are no seats in front of the stage, only standing room. That means if you get there early enough, you’d have a chance for front-row center, no matter who you are and how late you got your tickets. The “Electric Factory” has some unique history; the original "Electric Factory" venue was a converted tire warehouse at 22nd and Arch Streets, which opened in 1968 and closed in 1973. The first performers, on February 2, 1968, were the Chambers Brothers. The building was torn down and replaced with condominiums. The "Electric Factory" was resurrected circa late 1994 or early 1995 and now stands at the current site (located at 421 N. 7th Street between Willow and Spring Garden Streets).
Some of the caveats we faced by armchair critics on the Web were that the sound system is lousy, the staff is rude and to “beware” of the folks flagging you down to park in lots that do not belong to the “Electric Factory” and can be several blocks away. But armed with this helpful knowledge, we were prepared for what we might experience.
Not only did we wind up with a spot right in front of Dylan with only the folks who got to the stage’s rail obstructing our view, and aside from being ‘in the know’ and getting the right parking spot, we didn’t encounter any other problems. The sound was lousy, but not unforgivable — it was hot as a sauna, but look at the Cavern Club where the Beatles first played; who can complain? There was one big problem though — even as Dylan and the band put on a great show, the “Electric Factory” show did stink. Flatulence, back door trumpets, wind, someone ‘cutting the cheese’, gas, farts, stink bombs!! Ladies and gentlemen, there was somebody very near us, and I pray it was a man, who stunk up our spot something awful. To overcome the heat alone, I decided to use my Tai Chi breathing, deep intakes of air to the diaphragm, but every time the offender released one of ‘his’ grenades, it was awful. It stunk of the drunken bum variety — if you know what I mean — pure rot folks. What a stink!
But what about the show? Did Dylan stink? Heck no! He was sublime! Watching him turn his classic songs around into update versions was a learning experience only few can appreciate. Having the liberty to be so close to him was a one-in-a-lifetime experience to be treasured.

The set list for the evening included:
Cat's In The Well (Under The Red Sky)
Lay Lady Lay (Nashville Skyline)
The Levee's Gonna Break (Modern Times)
Moonlight (Love and Theft)
Tangled Up In Blue (Blood On The Tracks)
Things Have Changed (Wonder Boys: Music From The Motion Picture)
Spirit On The Water (Modern Times)
Honest With Me (Love and Theft)
Beyond The Horizon (Modern Times)
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (Bringing It All Back Home)
Trying To Get To Heaven (Time Out Of Mind)
Highway 61 Revisited (Highway 61 Revisited)
Nettie Moore (Modern Times)
Summer Days (Love and Theft)
Ballad Of A Thin Man (Highway 61 Revisited)

The encore included two songs that would have made appropriate, if not better, titles for this very article: Thunder On The Mountain (Modern Times) and Blowin' In The Wind (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan).

Interesting asides include that the band used Buddy Guy’s soulful rendering of Lay Lady Lay behind Dylan’s updated vocals. Dylan used the phrase, “You can eat your cake and have it too” in place of “You can have your cake and eat it too” in the aforementioned song. He also grinned to himself many times as he altered song lyrics and allowed us to experience what he is known for. Plus we caught him doing a few deep knee bends and stretches in between tunes, perhaps a form of Dylan Tai Chi for the wishful thinking of an East Meets West style blogger. I wish I knew where he got his hats from, I'd love to get one like it!
Mr. Dylan, we wish you well and thank you for a great show! In more ways than one, it was truly a gas.
Philly Show Photo Courtesy of Zack Shapiro and

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Let It Be Released!
(An Open Letter To Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr)

Dear Paul & Ringo,

How could you? You've gone too far! How could you deprive us, your loyal fans - many of who have been waiting years with baited breath - for the release of your masterpiece film Let It Be?
Sure there is bickering in the film, but that's what makes it great. It shows us fans that the Beatles were people too! Just like the Anthology series showed us the Beatles making mistakes, goofing up lyrics and so on, Let It Be tells us that nobody is perfect and even the Beatles had arguments. It's a healthy thing for us to see. Would you want us to think that the Beatles were flawless and that we can never be like them? What happened to your spirituality? I don't believe that John and George would ever make this decision.
Aside from the few times that there was arguing in the film, for example Paul: George telling you that he'll play whatever it is you want him to play, or he won't play at all - “Whatever it is that would please you” - there are also glorious moments in the film. These are life-lessons that we can all benefit by. Or again, when George brought in the late, great Billy Preston to help raise everyone's spirits by bringing a non-Beatle in to perform with. Finally, the concert on the rooftop; it's a masterpiece — the last time we get to enjoy the Beatles playing together live! How can you not release it?
The thought of holding back the release of Let It Be is almost as sad as the thought of another death in the Beatle family. We've already lost Brian, Mal, John, Linda, Maureen, George, Neil and many others. Please, do not make us lose a cherished film like Let It Be.

Sincerely Yours,

Master Zhihui
July, 31, 2008

PS: We still love you!

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