Review

Atlanta, Georgia
Philips Arena
February 9, 2002


[Bill Killen], [Randy Ory], [Hamp Nettles], [Adam Selzer], [Ric Harwood]

Review by Bill Killen



Its been 35 or so years since my older syster first played me a Bob Dylan
album and I've heard his stuff on and off since. And my wife has been
listening to a few of his albums/tapes/cd's since the early 1980's,
especially remembering "the Sundown Song"? that fueled her bicycle rides
from Atlanta to Savanah back then. So , having never seen him, it just
felt like time to see a legend when it was announced hw was coming to
Atlanta for a show right before Valentine's Day. I'd heard he had put
together a great little band and was giving some really good shows in the
last couple years.Little did we realize.... So after a few weeks of
fussing with that annoying Ticketmaster, I finally gave in to the brokers
and scored 2 great seats in Section 117, just off the floor right near the
stage. And then I searched the web and found your great site yesterday
before we went to the show tonite in Atlanta(just got home). I thought you
might like a "non-fans" perspective.

In a word or two... immaculate, awesome, spectacular, tasty, tight. A
maestro with a well oiled machine to fuel him. We were absolutely amazed
at how fast 2 and a half hours could go. The band is one of the finest
playing machines we've ever seen assembled. Boy do they enjoy playing. And
did we enjoy listening.!! The new drummer seemed really fine, really into
it and just right. The bass man in the hat just as solid and driving as
can be, and hanging back there with the "new drummer" keeping him on point
and into the nuances. The electric guitar cowboy looks like he's been
around the block a few times but boy can he play.  The tall singing
troubador fellow, playing every manner of accompanying rhythm, acoustic
etc guitar, hanging right with Bob. This band is phenomonal. It can cook
or simmer, cry or laugh. A beautiful well oiled machine.  And the maestro
out front. Wow.

We can't rattle off the set list or anything the true believers can do.  A
few highlights for me though was a sterling Lay Lady Lay with exquisite
pedal steel. I was aching for more steel but that was the only one they
got around to. Like A Rolling Stone really hit a tasty driving groove. And
5 or 6 songs  thru 2 encore sets including All Along the Watchtowere as a
final final.

But about that Sundown song my wife remembered?. Wasnt that it there
towards the end of the first encore set.? She really liked that, whatever
it was, and wasnt it a bit of magic that he played it for her right at the
end?

But what is that  song.? We'll read the True Believers set list when it
gets posted tomorrow and find out I guess.  It couldn't have been the old
Union Sundown? Nah, he never plays that one(or so say the old set lists on
your site).

What an evening .
Can we join the True Believers?

[TOP]

Review by Randy Ory



This was my fourth time seeing DYLAN in concert. The first was a memorable
show at the venerated venue The Warehouse in New Orleans in the mid 70s
with the Rolling Thunder Review. Next was in early 80s, somewhere between
Street Legal and Saved. Finally a very unremarkable appearance at the New
Orleans J&H Festival in mid 1990s. (The outside venues at J&H Fest are
terrible for an artist like DYLAN)

This fourth and most recent experience was much like the first show in the
70s, at least with regard to the kind of memories it will generate. 
Certainly separated by 25 years, this show's set list and approach was
radically different, but the energy was similar. 

The band that DYLAN has assembled is tight. Couple the musicianship of the
band with the incredible sound quality of Philips Arena and you know
something special can occur. Enter DYLAN....with a new swagger. 

The setlist was incredible, though I must reluctantly admit I am
unfamiliar (at least for the moment) with the material from the new album.
(which I trust from all the reviews is very good). MY BACK PAGES was
incredible. Never thought I'd hear one of my favorite DYLAN ballads live.
My wife and I had cranked up Bringing It All Back Home on the car CD
player on way to show, so I was well prepared and really appreciated his
reprised version of ITS ALRIGHT MAMA, I'M ONLY BLEEDING. Then in rapid
succession, IT AINT ME BABE, MASTERS OF WAR and TANGLED UP IN BLUE.
Incredible interpretations that were powerful and memorable. I agree with
previous reviewers that I could see dropping TUIB for something like
Buckets of Rain or Meet Me in the Morning from Blood on the Tracks.....but
not complaining!!

Closing out set with Drifter's Escape from JWH and Rainy Day Women #12 and
#35 was another touch of reworked nostalgia. RDW1235 got the place
rocking.

I knew from reading previous setlists, that we were in for a long encore,
with 5 or so titles. It did not disappoint. A great mix of new material
and a searing version of LIKE A ROLLING STONE (with no harmonica solo at
end, c'mon man!!!) Bookending HONEST WITH ME, with FOREVER YOUNG and
BLOWIN IN THE WIND was a brilliant stroke of past and present. But the
biggest surprise was about to be revealed. After reading about 10
setlists, I was content with DYLAN's anthem BITW to end a memorable
show.....but the lights stayed down too long.....expecation led to a
brutally brilliant rendition of ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER....The band had
not been this tight all night. Now, it is time to go!!  Highlight of the
show, in my opinion. 

Sure I wish he would have played Tombstone Blues or Desolation Row. I like
some stuff from Street Legal or more from Blonde on Blonde. Would have
loved Leopard Skin Pill Box!!! (saw that on some setlists) But 2.5 hours
of DYLAN is gonna miss lots of stuff. Not a time for the half empty
interpretation. All the old stuff was reworked in a creative way. I like
everything I didnt recognize from new album. 

If you dont have tickets for an upcoming show....get off your butt.
Randy Ory 

[TOP]

Review by Hamp Nettles



[This time I'm really cutting the review short.  I drove about 10 hours
today, down from Winston, then down to Atlanta, then back up to Columbia,
and I am beyond exhausted.]

I got into town early and had to wait a while outside the Arena before
they opened the doors.  Before the show I chatted with a fellow outside -
it was his first show.  "Is he going to play 'Tangled Up In Blue'?" he
asked.  I, of course, laughed, and assured him that he would definitely be
playing it. "What about 'Lay Lady Lay'?"  I said "doubtful, he plays it,
maybe, 5 times a year out of a 100 shows, give or take."

Needless to say, I was in for a bit of a pleasant surprise later on in the
show.  (Because I'm keeping this one brief, my review basically begins and
ends with the performance of 'Lay Lady Lay.')  After a very good 'My Back
Pages' and a rockin' 'Lonesome Day Blues' I was getting ready for the
banjo to come out and for the 'High Water' to flow.  But when I saw Larry
take a seat at his pedal steel, I knew we were in for something different.

Larry's opening steel licks were soft, full, and beautiful.  The same goes
for Dylan's vocals.  His singing on this number was as good as, if not
better, than his singing the night before on 'Sugar Baby.'  Larry was
taking his queues straight from the album licks, but was adding his own
flare. During the break, Dylan took command and played a heart-wrenching
solo.  I was literally floored (stunned, bewildered, astonished) at how
perfect his solo was.  Not only was it full of emotion, but it was
technically brilliant as well.  He finished the song out with a tremendous
vocal performance.  The whole thing was just so good it hurt.  Hands down,
it was the best single performance I have heard live in person.  (I would
even go so far as to say this is the finest version of the song of all the
NET, but you're going to have to get the tape and decide that for
yourself.)  It is one of those rare moments where you realize that Dylan
isn't just great - he's the greatest.

As for the rest of the show, it just didn't seem to reach the heights that
the previous two had.  All the performances were still great, and I was
glad to see 'Like A Rolling Stone' back in the encore.  But it seemed like
Dylan and the band were always off a beat or two, here and there.  But
like I said, the concert was still a great one, and the extraordinary
rendition of 'Lay Lady Lay' certainly made up for any slack in the rest of
the show.

[TOP]

Review by Adam Selzer



So we took the trip to Atlanta to see what would be my
tenth Dylan show. Rode up to Atlanta with my friend
Mike, and met up with some friends of his who had
printed up some bootleg t-shirts with the slogan
"Using Maps as My Idea's" (sic and double sic). They
knew it was a misquote. "If anyone notices," they
said, "we'll just say that's how he sang it in '78."
"I wouldn't say that," I told them. "In '78 that song
was an instrumental; he didn't start singing it until
'87, and even then, there was no superflous
apostrophe." I think that being an English major is
starting to give me some sort of grammar-correcting
disoerder.

Anyway, our seats were on the side, about half way
back. The band came right out and charged into a
strong "I Am The Man." For once, the sound was great
from the first second; there was no warm-up period.

"My Back Pages" started the trend of Bob playing the
harp solo at the beginning of the song, a trend which
continued all night. The arrangement was a little more
fiddle-oriented than I remember it being before, and
it was downright gorgeous, though Bob missed his cue
and only sang half of the first line.

"It's All Right Ma..." Finally! I've been trying to
see this one since it came back into the setlists a
couple of years ago, and it rocked. Bob playing the
prophet Elijah on his chariot of fire, rolling into
town to tell it as it is. Understated instrumentals on
the verses, then a rollicking backup on the chorus
that would have sounded right at home on "Love and
Theft." The vocal rhythm changed enough on the third
verse to make it seem like a bridge.

"Searching For a Soldier's Grave" sounded great with
the harp solo, and the harmony was tight.

"Lonesome Day Blues" was as mean a blues as I've ever
heard, Bob spitting out the lyrics with venom, every
bit the grown-up Huckleberry Finn-as-bluesman. The
song found it's rhythm better than it did in Nashville
a few months ago.

Dylan was clearly enjoying singing "Lay Lady Lady."
Even as far back as we were, we could see him grinning
the whole time.

"Floater" was a bit more coherent than it's been at
some shows, particularly on the solo.

"Highwater" was one of several highlights, similar to
the album version, only with a little more bite. Fits
comfortably in a set with "It's All Right Ma." Sounded
like no less than the absolute masterpiece that it is.

"It Ain't Me Babe" wasn't a fun put down, and it
wasn't a gentle, amused let down, it was a brush-off.
Maybe I'm just basing my interpretation on my personal
life, but I've never felt so much sympathy for the
person being addressed in this song. The delivery
positively hurt.

"Masters" was highly riff-based, as usual, with all of
the confidence typical of recent deliveries, as
opposed to the just-mouthing-off early versions.

"Tangled Up In Blue" is certainly a song I've heard
before, but this was certainly the greatest version
I've ever heard. The band was tight as ever, and Bob
sang his heart out. I needed someone to tell me to
keep on keeping on tonight.

"Summer Days" sounded more like a vintage rock-song
than before; the black and white tiles on the stage
re-enforced the malt-shop feel handily.

"Sugar Baby" was the highlight of the evening for me.
A gentle delivery, the lyrics sung softly and
carefully, and the instruments played so soft that it
could have nearly been acappella. Gorgeous, sad, and
hopefull.

"Drifter's Escape" rocked as usual, especially with
the harp. This marked five songs, out of what would
eventually be seven, which would have harp; far more
than I've ever seen.

"RDW" was a real party, Bob seemed to be playing with
the lyrics quite a bit.

"Things Have Changed" was fairly similar to the album
version, not quite as spooky as it sounded in
Nashville a few months ago.

"Like a Rolling Stone" was a fun reading, not quite
playing the soothsayer or the sympathizer, more like a
guy bumping into an old acquantance, and happy to see
her, whether she's happy or not.

"Forever Young" was a lovely arrangement, also, with
some fine harp.

"Honest With Me" was a hard rocker, and 

"Blowin' In the Wind" was a perfect closer. At the
end, Bob took off his hat for the first time in the
evening, and held his formation, bowing several times,
longer than usual, clearly enjoying the ovation he was
getting. At one point, he even pointed at someone, and
said something akin to "I know you," according to my
friend with binoculars, whom I guess is a better
lip-reader than I. Anyone know who might have been the
pointee?

I certainly hadn't expected another encore, but, to my
great surprise, the band came back for another great
rocking performance of "All Along the Watchtower." Not
quite as heavy as it was in Nashville, but still
great, with that great drawing out of the last word.

So it was a terrific show, and now that I've heard
"It's All Right Ma" and "Sugar Baby," I don't know
what I should be doing with my life, since I've
accomplished all of my major goals. Can't wait for
Augusta on Friday!

Adam Selzer

[TOP]

Review by Ric Harwood



I have had the good fortune of seeing Bob Dylan live in Atlanta about once
a year for the last ten years and have always seen great performances. 
Maybe because I bought the tickets so long ago, or because I had really
good seats, (thanks to bobdylan.com), but for whatever reason I was really
counting down the days to this show.  And did it ever turn out to be a
show worthy of counting down.

I'll try to keep this down to a few unique observations:

1) I swear he began My Back Pages with the intro. To The Times They Are A
Changin',  and then switched to My Back Pages at the last second.  He did
the same thing later with  It Ain't Me Babe, when the intro. sounded like
Boots Of Spanish Leather.  

2) Tangled Up In Blue and Rainy Day Women aren't songs I would have picked
for his setlist, because he's done them so many times. but  Bob can
apparently nail any song he wants to, because he absolutely brought the
place down with both of them with dead on attack performances.

3) Sugar Baby was played softly and quietly, but Dylan was snarling,
sometimes yelling out the lyrics while emphasizing and exaggerating every
word individually.  Unbelievable.

4) Floaters also was amazing.  Bob stared straight out at the audience,
grinned, and belted out "I'm in love with my 2nd cousin, I think I could
be happy FOREVER with her" in a way that was funny,  yet startling enough
to send Jerry Lee Lewis running for the aisles.

To me, Bob Dylan has always been arena sized rock, and last night in
Atlanta, he truly performed a show that could teach peace to the conquered
and tame the proud.  I feel fortunate to have been there.

Ric

[TOP]

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billp61@execpc.com

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