Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 02/14/98


Cleveland, Ohio

February 14, 1998

Public Hall

Review provided by Matt Fulco

To be perfectly frank, Bob Dylan played an outstanding concert on Valentine's
Day. No gimmicks, no phony antics, just his music, straightforward and
impassioned, and at times downright inspired. Going into the show, a nasty
thought refused to leave my head: Would Bob be intimidated by playing in such a
large venue? Sure, he's played Madison Square Garden and the Great Western
Forum, but that was back when the drinking age was still 18. These days, he's
much more comfortable in the intimate settings of small theaters. The Public
Hall in Cleveland seats 10,000, about 5 times the amount of people Bob is used
to playing in front of. Fortunately, the experienced Mr. Dylan did not
disappoint. After Kenny Wayne Shephard's hour long set of searing blues rock,
Bob took the stage around 8:45, decked out in a suit which my friend said
"he looked like he picked off a dead waiter." Hell, he's Bob Dylan; he can get
away with it.
 The opening notes of "Absolutely Sweet Marie" hit my ears. Granted,
this was not the "Not Fade Away" that blew me away as the opener in Hartford
last April, but it was the best version of this song I have heard in concert.
Dylan and his band were tight, and he crooned the lyrics wryly, singing them
with a newfound subtelty. Next was "Senor", exploring a theme Dylan would follow
up on throughout the night, one humorous and or sarcastic song, followed by
something decidedly more apocalyptic. Ice-like chills traveled through me as he
delivered the line "Can you tell me where I'm headin', Lincoln County or
Armageddon?" I expected to hear "Cold Irons Bound" in the third slot, but
instead we got "Can't Wait." Powerfully delivered, this tune is continuing to
evolve. Bob sang the lyrics more precisely and more convincingly than in
Columbus last November. After "Can't Wait" came the first of several
highlights, "Simple Twist of Fate."
 Bob and his band came close to perfection with this song. Dylan sang it
beautifully, softly delivering the line "And wished that he'd gone
strayyyyyt..." He gave it new meaning. It shared the  eloquence of the album
version, but Bob sang it in a sadder and more reflective manner, which was
greatly aided by Bucky Baxter's phenominal work on the pedal steel. 
 "Silvio" came roaring at us like a buffalo stampede. Bob and his band
were so tight during this tune that the music was playing them. Larry
Campbell's leads decorated the song in dazzling streaks, adding the needed
touches to a masterpiece. Last April, this song lacked alot of punch because
Campbell had not worked his way into the band's chemistry and Dylan was playing
lead. Hey, I like Bob's guitar playing, but for Silvio, you can't beat the
sound of a blistering lead guitar. Dylan also acted very animated throughout
the song, doing his now patented (it really oughta be by now) duckwalk around
the stage and giving a few jerks of his head here and there.
 Unfortunately the acoustic set was disappointing. Not that it was
uninspired. No, the song selection left much to be desired. The January
concerts included acoustic sets featuring the likes of "Desolation Row" "Hard
Rain" "Girl From the North Country" "Love Minus Zero No Limit" "Boots of
Spanish Leather" and "John Brown." We got "Cocaine Blues" and "Masters of War"
plus the obligatory "Tangled Up in Blue." Superbly played, but I don't
thik  anybody
would have complained had Mr. Dylan subbed in "Hard Rain" and "Desolation Row"
 Next they played "Million Miles," a first for me. Dark to the point of
apocalyptic this song amazed me in concert. And the showstopper followed it. I
had hoped for the next one, and maybe because it was Valentine's Day, Dylan
delivered, with an impeccable "Queen Jane Approximately." One of my all time
favs, I've wanted to hear this one in concert for some time, and this version
was superb. Laid back, but still retaining the sardonic wit of the original it
was surely the highlight of the show for me.
 The encores were predictable, but still good fun. "Til I Fell in Love
With You" and "Don't Think Twice" were both very solid, but "Lovesick" was
outstanding. The rhythm of this song reminds me of drops of rain slowly falling
on the decrepit shingles of somebody's home, while the speaker of the song
trudges down dark, empty streets. Dylan catapulted us into the speaker's world
with ease, before the mood was somewhat broken by a girl who jumped on stage
to hug and kiss Mr. Dylan. "Rainy Day Women" was good considering just how beat
it's become, and it was a good end to a great show.
 Dylan is playing better than ever these days. The band continues to get
tighter and tighter, and a good deal of the aimless jamming of recent years has
been eschewed in favor of more focused playing. Dylan's voice may be shot, but
he's singing with inspiration and that's all you can ask for from the guy. He
even wished us a Happy Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day to you too Bob.

       -Matt Fulco 2-15-98


Review provided by Carsten Molt

Wow! i was in Cleveland last night to see Bob Dylan at the public hall.
i thought i'd give my review of the show. First off,
there is no place i'd rather be then with my girlfriend at a Dylan show
on Valentines Day.

 The venue was large(10,000 seats and i worried about the echo but my
worries were laid to rest when the Kenny Wayne Shepard band gave a very
rocking hour set that got the very excited crowd pumped up for Dylan.

 Dylan and co. took the stage at 8:54 pm. Dylan was dressed in his now
average "country-gentleman" outfit. He had no hat but his hair was
really fluffy. My girlfriend said it looked blowdried. 
Now for the important stuff.

1. Absolutely Sweet Marie- Dylan sounded refreshed and relaxed from the
first note. Just a classic performance. Lots of eye contact with the
crowd already and big smiles from the whole band.

2. Senor(Tales of Yankee Power)- Wow! Dylan had every word enunciated
perfectly and powerfully here. He seemed really in that magical groove
where he has the audience in the palm of his hand and fed off their
collective energy.

3. Cant Wait- i was hoping for Cold Irons Bound but this was amazing.
If the show ended her, i would have been satisfied. Much better than the
album version.

4. Simple Twist of Fate- i was really impressed by Dylan on this tune.
He caressed every word and floated the lyrics just right, never
oversinging or slurring the words. This band is as good as the Band if
not better. They had awesome interplay and seemed really into the show.

5. Silvio- No surprise here. Dylan was playing lead here. great version.
The energy in the room was incredible. All ages and races on their feet
through the show. Lots of posing and more smiles by Dylan. Between
songs, he and Larry Campbell were joking with one another. It was cool
to see Dylan enjoying himself.

6. Cocaine Blues(acoustic)- i was really pumped up for this and Dylan
did not dissapoint me. i had never heard the song before but found
myself singing along by the end of it. Really, really nice.

7. Masters of War(acoustic)- nicely played. crowd going nuts. Event
staff kicking me out of the aisle in the middle of the song was a
bummer, though. Bucky Baxter has a cool goatee. i just noticed it during
this song.

8. Tangled Up in Blue(acoustic)- really nicely played. Pretty much like
all the other versions. Maybe, he should retire this for a while. The
crowd went crazy for it though. Maybe, this is his"Keep the Customer
Satisfied" song.

9. Million Miles- Woo-Hoo! Powerful with great vocals and cool phrasing.
Words can not describe the energy that he had. More playing the crowd
and broad smiles. 

10. Queen Jane Approximately- A nice surprise and Dylan nailed it. The
acoustics of the hall were excellent. The entire show was in excellent
sound. No flubs or distortion audible from my seat in row z.

11.Highway 61- Before the show, i told my girlfriend that if he played 
Highway 61, i was going to the restroom. When it started, i didn't
recognize it. i started dancing and if it were not for the crisply
delivered lyrics, i would not have known it. Gone are the overloud,
boring versions of when i previously heard it. This was stunning. Dylan
was dancing around and did his duck-walk thing. Awesome.


12. Til i Fell in Love- Dylan leaning into the vocals. The vocals were
front and center all night. No crowding of the instruments over the
vocals. This was a little faster than the album version of the song.

13. Dont Think Twice(acoustic)- Never one of my favorites but i really
enjoyed it. Dylans voice was really strong and vibrant. There should be
great tapes of this show out there since there was no security at the

14. Lovesick- i now know what the fuss was about. This was the biggest
surprise for me. Not that he played it but the arrangement. Much more
intense than the album. No words can describe how great this show was.

15. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35- House lights up and Dylan and Larry
Campbell trading awesome licks. The entire crowd was on their feet
dancing and singing. The best Valentines Day i ever had.

 Dylan was so full of energy, it was amazing to think that several
months ago, he was in the hospital. He announced the band, noting with
Larry Campbell" He's been playing with me for quite a while now. he
plays some guitar. Actually, he has played a lot of guitars."
Dylan also sent out Valentines Day wishes "Happy Valentines Day to you
and you and you and you."
 This was the best show i have ever seen. 8 of the fifteen songs,
i had never heard live before and there was not a dog in the bunch.
Bob Dylan isn't getting older, just better!

Carsten Molt


Review provided by David Davis

I will try to describe the venue and the mood and atmosphere, the
music speaks for itself, if you are reading this, you have been there
and know what I mean.

Had a ticket nightmare at the will call window and didn't get in till
after 8 pm. Had seats in the lower balcony a mile or so away from the
stage, but as we moved up to great seats in the lower balcony just off
stage right, it didn't really matter. My wife and I were dressed up in
full yuppie regalia, and while the ushers were checking deadheads
tickets we walked right down and never had to move. It was kinda a
L.L. Bean stealth seat upgrade.
We took somebodys seats just as Kenny Wayne Sheppard was finishing up
some "Voodoo Child " meets the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughn. It was loud
and they really worked themselves into some music frenzy. For all the
fans of Kenny Wayne, he and his band were very graciously signing
autographs and mixing freely with anyone who was interested, out in
the street at 5pm.
The venue was a large, double balcony, arena type place, high
ceilinged, with a big old stage at one end. It has lots of scrool work
and murals of Moses Cleveland stealing the place from the Indians and
guys building steel mills and ships and stuff. The venue has hosted
everything from the Cowsills to the Beatles, with some All-Star
Wrestling and Cleveland State Basketball thrown in.

At 9:50 the incense was lit, the house lights went down, (but not way
down) and we got, "Columbia recording artist....."

Bob in black suit with a white stripe down the leg, patent leather
boots and a black bow tie. He seems to have lost  weight since I saw
him in  last fall in Huntington WVA and Columbus. Carol was sure he
had a big haircut. The band was dressed sedately, and all had hats
except Larry who was hatless and had on a red coat. Bucky only had his
petal steel, no fiddle, no keyboard, all extra guitars and mandolins
stored off-stage. (Except the upright bass). The stage looked bare.

>From the first song, I don't know if it was the venue, my location,
the time off, or all of the above, but the vocals were crystal, best I
have ever heard from Bob.

Not much to say until CAN'T WAIT, Bobs vocals were outstanding, he
really hit "The air BUURRNNNSSSSS"

Silvio still in the 5 spot and I still like it, had some nice lighting
going on, and good crowd reaction.
Bob went right into playing the intro to Cocaine while the lights were
still down and instruments were being exchanged. He just flat started
by himself and everyone else had to catch up.
TUIB remains strong, we got truckdrivers, and the verse about the pipe
and Italian poet left out like always these days.
We next got Million Miles which featured some serious lead by Larry.
Then we got Queen Jane and the band intros, Bob said something like
"This is Larry Campbell who has been playing guitar with me for a
while, Lots of guitars." THEN he said "Happy Valentine's day to you
and you and you and you ." pointing at the front rows. Then the band
busts in Highway 61. Down on the floor, the security guys who had been
determined to keep the middle isle open, gave it up as bad business
and concentrated their efforts on keeping the deadhead snake dancers
from getting infront of the sound boards. Meanwhile Bob is mugging,
flirting, and enjoying the view in front of the stage. Highway 61 was
really loud. The song ends, Bob throws kisses, and leaves stage.

Several girls, and one guy, get up on stage, some dance,  some talk to
Bob, all are gently escorted back to the front row by stage crew (not

The venue was wide open up our way, with people openly taping, holding
microphones up and even running a VCR. Folks were smoking cigarettes
and drugs, and no one really seemed to give a shit. You could have
carried any kind of recorder in.

RDW with lights up and everyone went home happy. Overall, no suprizes
in the setlist but really good sound, Bobs voice is STRONG. as good as
I have heard in the last 3 years. Nice show.

David Davis

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