Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 01/18/98


New York, New York

January 18, 1998

The Theater At Madison Square Garden

Review provided Jim Windolf:

It was my first show since April 95, so I was just happy to hear that
Bob Dylan road-band sound at the beginning of Abs Sweet Marie. Bucky was
up in the mix for this one and the next one, I Want You. The people in
the audience who got dragged there by friends were a little worried they
had stumbled into a George Jones concert or something. Anyway, they were
just warming up, and Bob hadn't thrown himself into the show yet, but
the sound was beautiful.

"Cold Irons Bound" knocked me out. A guy seated behind me, who had come
to see Bob-the-Legend (as opposed to Bob the performing artist) said,
"This is actually good!" But forget him. Here Bob started to give
something of himself. "I'm beginning to hear voices, where there's none
around." Singing about a heartbroken guy on his way to prison--what
could be better? My God, the band sounded great, like some Memphis
beast. Bob seemed immersed in the music. He wasn't yet playing to the

On "You're a Big Girl Now" Bucky and Larry were quoting Little Anthony's
"Hurts So Bad." (When Bob was enamored with Dire Straits around 1980, he
called them "the first rock and roll band since Little Anthony and the
Imperials." That quote always cracks me up. I think of it often.)

Silvio was next. Larry Campbell sounded a bit slick to me in places. I
think he is sometimes great, but sometimes soulless. I imagine Bob will
be trying to knock the rote, flashy stuff out of his playing. Bob seemed
happy with him from where I was sitting way in the back, but how long
can he allow him to play that way until he drags him down to the Delta
muck? Didn't really matter--I enjoyed Silvio. Bob seemed to enjoy it
too. In fact, all night he seemed to be interested in rocking and
rolling more than anything.

You could hear the death in Desolation Row. It's ALl Over Now was nice.
Bob threw in some crazy guitar notes to keep everyone on their toes. I
liked the fast driving version of Tangled. It emphasized the story over
the heartbreak. Felt like a folk story song. Bob kept trying to outrun
the people singing along in the seats. The security guards gave way here
and the audience rushed the stage and Bob got playful and hammy.

"A Million Miles" was killer. I think Daniel Lanois is a little
overbearing in his production of the album version--sounds a bit like an
Angelo Badalementi/David Lynch record. Here Bob took it back and made it

Bob was dancing for the stage rushers during Stuck Inside. He looked
confident. He looked like, Hey, I have a gold album, how ya like me now?

I was knocked out by Til I Fell in Love With You. Larry made that riff
work. Then he crawled into the muck with Bob in the guitar break in the
middle. I didnt want it to end, but it did and they left the stage.

They came back for the encores--Highway 61, Knockin', and Rainy Day
Women. And Love Sick in there too. I'm not a Love Sick fan. Man, that's
a tough song. To me it's just bleak, with no melody, no lyrics. I'm
still stunned it's the opener for TooM. I liked it better in concert.

Overall, it was a safe, rockin' show. The mix was great, the playing was
great, but Bob seemed immersed in it only a few times--the instrumental
breaks in Silvio (oh, by the way, love that tempo change in Silvio, like
the train got derailed) and Til I Fell and Cold Irons. As a singer he
seemed fully engaged only by Cold Irons Bound. His voice was low and
gruff and you could hear every word. Bob didn't have the melancholy that
I've seen in him during other shows. He was almost like Bill Haley or
something. Still, only a fool could complain. It was a fine show. I
think he plays it safe in New York sometimes, esp. given the hit album
and the fact that the house was packed with people who'd paid $75 and
$45 a ticket. A good show for fair weather fans, and just a decent show
for maniacs like me or anyone who has bothered to read this far.

--Jim Windolf

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