Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 01/14/98


New London, Connecticut

January 14, 1998

Garde Arts Center

Review provided Dennis Cleary

Last night was the cleanest, tightest Dylan show that I have ever had the
pleasure of attending. He played -count 'em- SIX Time Out Of Mind tunes.
But it was also far and away the lamest crowd I have ever been in, and
perhaps the most frustrating show I have ever been to.

I got my tickets just last week from the good folks at the Bob Dylan
Ticket service. I found out on the day of the show that tickets to this
concert never went on sale to the public- they were, except for the mail
order tickets,	for Garde Center subscribers and supporters. "Uh Oh",
said I!

So I get to the venue- it turns out I had pretty much the worst seats in
the place. I couldn't even see David Kemper, the drummer, at all. But
since I only sent my money to BDTS last week, I could'nt expect much.
Worse, though,	was that in the ENTIRE section I was in, I saw only one
person who looked like he was a  Dylan fan. The rest looked like they had
gotten lost on the way to the Opera. So already, I was not really that
excited about this show.

But then Bob and the band took the stage. Everyone was wearing the same
thing that they had had at Avalon in December, except Bob who was in a
black suit with a bolo tie.. ANYWAY, they launched into a tight
"Absolutely Sweet Marie." The sound was excellent for this show. When I
saw Bob at Avalon last month, the vocals were difficult to understand and
the sound just seemed overboosted. Not so at this show. Dylans lyrics
were _SO_CLEAR_ throughout the evening.

For the second song, Dylan surprised me with one of my favorite TOOM
tunes, "Not Dark Yet".	Unlike at Avalon, the lyrics were as clear or
perhaps even clearer than on the album. The play was exceptionally tight.
It seemed very well rehearsed. Next was one of the highlights of the show
for me: Cold Irons Bound. I really am not even	that big a fan of this
tune- but last night's version was exceptional. Nice guitar work, VERY
SOLID singing.

Dylan said a pretty clear "Thanks Everybody!" after it. Well, it was sort
of clear. :)

In the pause before I'll Be Your Baby Tonight, some fan yelled "YOU'RE
THE GREATEST, BOB!" At that moment, I really agreed with him. Here he is,
so long after so many people wrote him off, playing some of the best
music of his career!

 Anyway, "I'll be you're baby tonight" was good. There was a nice lyrical
change. I don't remember how it went exactly, but it was something like
"Tonight I'm going to make it last ALLL night" - That's not right, but
trust me- it was cool! And unlike "Love Minus Zero/No Limit", this tune
didn't really conflict thematically with the rest of the show (more on
this later)

Can't Wait: What can I say? This was excellent. There was one verse that
just gave me shivers:

"If I ever saw you comin' I don't know what I might do
I'd like to think I could control myself
But it isn't true
That's how it is
When things disintegrate"

So blunt, so harsh, so bitter. If you've been there, you know.

Now at this point I was just psyched. But the crowd just SUCKED. No one,
except for the lucky souls in the orchestra pit, was even standing. Even
though there were people there who knew Dylan (the new songs would get a
cheer at the first line) most didn't.

My resentment of these people was building. I mean, its not like you
should only go to a Dylan show ONLY  if you are huge fan, but you should
at least get into it. These people were sitting like statues. Most were
40-50 year old 'support the arts' types. I'm sure they were nice people;
but they really pissed me off. These were the fans (if they ever were
fans) they stopped listening to him long ago. I don't go to classical
performances and clap at the wrong time. If you are going to come to a
rock concert, GET UP AND DANCE!

Next was "Silvio". I still am not a big fan of this song; I just don't
connect with it. But I have seen it live 5 times in the last 12 months,
and I enjoy it more and more each show. The part in the middle when
everything falls apart and then comes back together is magic. During this
song, I couldn't help but dance. But I was the ONLY person standing in a
sea of lameness. I sheepishly sat down after a couple of minutes.

Dylan then switched to acoustic. First was "The Times They Are
A-Changin'". I mistook the beginning for "My Back Pages" which would have
been better and more appropriate. When he started singing, I could see
all the geezers around me remark something to the effect of "ooh I know
this one." GRRR....Not my favorite song, but clear and pretty good.

Here was the strangest part of the concert. To have just heard Dylan sing
his heart about and lost love, I could help but find irony in the lyrics
of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" (acoustic)

"She doesn't have to say she's faithful,
Yet she's true, like ice, like fire."

I couldn't help but wonder if this song was directed at Sara, or whomever
the bitterness of TOOM is aimed at. Thankfully, Dylan didn't let the
irony effect him- he blasted an emotional rendition. He also did a really
cool thing on the guitar solo. He did these quick machine gun strokes-
sort of like Richie Havens does on the 30th Anniversary tribute. Very

The last tune of the acoustic set was "Tangled Up In Blue". I still
really like the acoustic version of this song, but they got rid of my
favorite thing about the current version: the wicked cool drum fill in
between verses. It was a bit much for an acoustic version, but I really
loved it.

Dylan plugged back in for "Million Miles" and boy was it a ride. I heard
this tune live at Avalon, and was kind of unimpressed. This time, I was
blown away. It was reworked, rehearsed,  WAY fast and really intense.
Great material played well- it doesn't get better.

Next, Dylan played This Wheel's On Fire. The version at Loon Mountain
last summer was so much more enthusiastic- Even though I love this tune,
if I had to pick a low point, this was it.

After this song, Dylan introduced the band. And true to form, he said "As
everybody knows, Bucky Baxtor is the former mayor of ____burg West
Virginia. I can't remember the place, but it really doesn't matter, since
it's BS! Very funny stuff.

Even though I couldn't see the band from the isle, I decided to go dance
in the Isle so that I wouldn't block all the sitting people's view. An
usher naturally told me that I would have to sit down. I reminded him
that this was a rock concert. He yelled something else at me but then
went away. Dylan then closed with  "'Til I Fell In Love With You". This
tune was sweet. very nice.

The encore featured a relatively nondescript "Like A Rolling Stone", and
then a brilliant acoustic "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"  It had
this very high pitched solo that put me in another world.

As much as I hated the crowd, even they were cheering wildly afterwards.
Hell, even the 70-something usher next to me was cheering!! It was cool.

Next was Love sick- Even though I love this tune, it works better on the
album, in my opinion. Last came the obligatory closer "Rainy Day Women"
Ho hum- I wasn't that into it. I was looking for the disposable camera
that I brought, but of course found it under my chair JUST as the concert
ended. Oh well.

In conclusion, even though this concert was not the most fun I have had
seeing Bob, it was _clearly_ the best he has played in the 5 concerts I
have seen since May. And he is playing as well as he has _EVER_ played. I
know that may seem ridiculous, but Dylan is at one of many peaks of his
creative career, and he knows it. At one point during the show, he just
squinted and stared down the audience. He knows whats up.

Please Email me any comments or reactions at

I would LOVE a tape of this show. PLEASE email me if you have one! While
I'm at it, I am looking for a copy of Sundown Studios Rehersal Tape
(from 1978, I think) It is great, but I lost it!

-Dennis Cleary
P.S. Thanks to Bill Pagel for the setlist!

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