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Acts hit one out of the park

Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe.
BROCKTON -- This city basked in the glory of the biggest concert ever to hit the sparkling, three-year-old Campanelli Stadium. The well-manicured park holds 4,800 for a baseball game, but close to 10,000 fans entered this field of dreams Sunday night -- more than double the crowd that came to see the B-52's and Scissor Sisters perform here recently. They took over the outfield in the same way that Bruce Springsteen's crowd moved into Fenway Park last year.

"This is awesome for the city of Brockton," said City Councilor Mike Brady. "A lot of people are coming to Brockton for the first time," said Tim Cruise, a campaign staffer for Mayor Jack Yunits. And maybe the most succinct words came from Ed Nottle, Brockton Rox manager: "A ballpark is made for entertainment."

The reasons for going this time were Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and Hot Club of Cowtown, who are playing 22 minor-league ballparks around the country. They started Friday in Cooperstown, site of the National Baseball Hall of Fame; Brockton was their third stop.

So far, the tour seems like a smashing success -- and Sunday night's show has to rank among the most relaxed, enjoyable nights of the year. All acts performed well on a stage set up in left field in front of the scoreboard; a family crowd paid general admission and moved around leisurely after having parked cheaply ($5 compared to $30 at Gillette Stadium), maybe tasting a beer ($5 compared to $8 at the Tweeter Center), eating a hot dog (only $2), and with little intrusive security in sight (what a pleasure to be treated like an adult for a change). The stadium spokeswoman, Danni Barrall, said they hope to do more shows next season.

The Austin-based Hot Club of Cowtown opened up with an invigorating set of Western swing. Nelson kept the accent on country as parents frolicked on the infield with their children and mingled with Harley-Davidson bikers who had come to see Willie. And he offered a history lesson of country covering gospel, mountain music, Hank Williams classics, biker anthems some pop standards, and some outlaw gems.

Many Willie fans actually left during Dylan's set, which was too bad because Dylan was on his game. The concert volume seemed to shoot up as he hit hard immediately with rockers "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" and "God Knows." Dylan dug out "Forever Young" and "Highway 61 Revisited," while also doing five songs early on from his "Love and Theft" CD, including a soaring "Honest With Me," which featured one of many sizzling guitar solos from new addition and Boston resident Stu Kimball.

Dylan stuck to keyboards, as he did during his Avalon club run in the spring, allowing him to focus more on his vocals, which had surprising nuance given his gravelly, time-ravaged pipes. And when he did the popular "Mr. Tambourine Man" as an encore, all was well in Brockton.

Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson
With Hot Club of Cowtown
At: Campanelli Stadium, Sunday night

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