Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 02/15/98


Toledo, Ohio

February 15, 1998

University Of Toledo
John F. Savage Hall

Review provided by Bill Shaw:

   The University of Toledo Daily Collegian of Thursday, February 12,
 1998 hailed it as "a great
post-Valentine's Day date apportunity" and  I could just imagine the
newly-emergent, lovestruck collegiate couple being introduced to our
beloved lovesick troubadour for the first time.  So I got a cheap seat
and headed to John F. Savage Hall on the university campus for Dylan's
Sunday night show.

Pre-Show Observations
 [Skip this if you just want to know about the performance]
        Have you ever sat back and listened to the buzz around the
tour buses before the show?  One guy jadedly complained how the bus
drivers were paid to lead inquirers astray as to the whereabouts of
the performers.  Two other women sat on the curb waiting for Bob to
emerge and sweep them off their feet. (Supposedly they had been in
Cleveland the night before and he had wished them a happy Valentines
Day) Nobody even noticed when Bucky Baxter walked right through the
crowd for a lap around the facility and a smoke.  To the amazement of
the several stragglers who had waited patiently for a chance to catch
a glimpse of Bob, Kenny Wayne Shepherd emerged from the staked-out
tour bus at around 7:00 pm.  In fact, Bob's bus hadn't even arrived on
the scene when Kenny Wayne broke into his hour-long set a half hour
  Savage Hall, a modern multi-purpose facility, adapted very well into
a Dylan venue.  Sound and staging seemed to be well-attended to and
that echoey-gym thing wasn't happening.  While the floor seats filled
up quickly the faces were sparse in the bleachers which wrapped around
the sides.  The hall may have had room for 10,000 but they didn't
show.  Seeing as the security at the door laxed a bit and the music
filled the hall quite distinctly, we might expect a good copy of this
show in circulation soon.
   Kenny Wayne gave us his Stevie Ray Vaughn meets Pearl Jam thing
which culminated in a spirited approach to "Yellow Lead-better" by the
young bluesman. He finished with "Voodoo Chile(Slight Return)" that
called upon the ghost of Hendrix that Bob had left back along the line
last year with "All Along the Watchtower."  Kenny's a great guitarist
but there's not much evidence of his own original style. It's great to
see someone play like Hendrix and Vaughan but their shoulders should
be used for elevation, not stagnation.  On the other hand, Kenny's a
very young guy (he actually could have been mistaken for the oldest
Hanson brother when he stepped out of the tour bus) and should have a
long future to come into his own as a player.  [I can imagine someone
as in the dark as me leveling the same charges at Bob back when he
sang like Woody in the beginning.]  His latest single, "Blue on
Black," while sounding a bit like Bad Company, indicates he has some
vision.  The jury is still out on the Danzig like frontman and body-
building drummer.  I remember thinking of how the timekeeper made me
appreciate the difference between Winston Watson and David Kemper in
Bob's show. 

Columbia Recording Artist...
  At 9:55 the lights went down and that familiar introduction went
out.  Dylan jumped right into "Absolutely Sweet Marie."  Again, the
sound at Savage Hall impressed me as the vocals were so clear and loud
that I could hardly hear the instruments at times.  ASM didn't start
off muddy or forced like it sometimes does but instead gave a clear
indication of Dylan's purposes for the evening.  He articulated all
the railroad gates and persian drunkards with a concise and clear,
very efficient treatment.  Blonde on Blonde  continued its hegemony in
the touring repertoire with a second-slot "I Want You."  I'll try not
to harp anymore on the sound again but it made this song stand out a
bit because of a phrasing option Bob seemed to stumble across as he
performed the song.  You could hear the progression in verse and
chorus as Bob tinkered with the delivery of the words until he reached
a resolution point in the song where the "you" in the chorus was sung
real low and deep, in a way that probably wouldn't have gotten picked
up with the poor acoustics in many venues Bob frequents.  We got the
almost obligatory, "Thanks everybody," after this one.  The intensity
of "Can't Wait" over and above the album version testified to the
skeleton, blueprint relationship of album to live performance, but
this song seemed a bit tired and overdone by the band. "You're a Big
Girl Now " was straightforward and solid.  Dylan livened up with
"Silvio" and started the number with a right-footed, toe-tapping
shuffle.  The tempo was really quick and the band seemed to break down
at one point when they were getting ready to transition into the slow,
mellow break after the last chorus.  This transition wasn't smooth at
all but was more like a crash resulting from a temporary
miscommunication.  Actually, nobody probably would have noticed except
those who have heard this song every night for many moons now.
  The acoustic set seems to be fairly rigid recently.  Bob started
 "Cocaine" unaccompanied while the
rest of the band donned their instruments and he took more solo time
on this tune than on any other version of it I have heard in the last
few months it has been in the lineup.  Saddam, Lewinsky, "Masters of
War,": this one's been curiously present lately.  Bob's whispery
deliver and the almost subterraneanly-subtle instrumentation of this
song combined to empower it.  Of course, the crowd went wild with the
first chords of "Tangled."  At this point Larry Kemper's presence in
the band really struck me.  Over the course of hearing him in the last
year with Dylan, I don't think he has played the same thing or the
same way on any night.  He's constantly changing and constantly
adapting his style to keep the songs fresh.  That Winston Watson
comparison came to mind again and the wisdom of Bob in seeking out
this man has proven itself.
 In comparison to "Can't Wait," "Million Miles" sounded fresh and
 important to Dylan and the
band.  The fact that it hasn't been in the rotation as long probably
accounts for this.  I may be wrong, but I think he skipped the "Rock
me pretty back, rock me all at once..." verse.  Bob introduced the
band and elaborated on Larry Campbell telling the audience almost
matter of factly, "He's been playing with me a while."  "This Wheel's
On Fire" reinforced the model of the evening's show by consisting of
punctuated vocals and minimal instrumental work.  The raves I've heard
about recent versions of "61" came into my mind as tonight's version
played out.  It came across sharply and powerful to end the show which
oddly enough checked in at about sixty-one minutes total.
  "Till I Fell..." came across more like "Can't Wait" than "Million
 Miles" and reinforced my theory
about set-list play time.  With Bic's flicking in the crowd ala Before
the Flood album cover, Bob ended "It Ain't Me Babe" in the half-time
shuffle he used to use pretty frequently.  Bucky's organ, or I mean,
pedal- steel, improved "Lovesick" from the last time I had heard it
back in the windy city of  Chicago and the many heads of reality.
There goes my theory about set-list play time and the quality of the
TOOM tunes. By 10:25 Bob was done with "RDW#12&35" and on his bus
heading out of the parking lot with a towel wrapped around his head
like he might have appeared after his fabled shadow-boxing days with
Cassius Clay.  

Concrete Reflection
  On the whole this show was razor-honed in its efficiency, just as it
had begun with ASM.  Instrumental breaks were disciplined and clean. 
Bucky took a lot of solos and Bob tended to refrain. While there
wasn't a sense of hurriedness or a rush one could definitely tell
Dylan intended to get on stage, do the job properly and head on out
for another joint.  Actually, this show was what one might expect from
an experienced road band with performer such as Dylan in the lead. 
There was no wasted time, the solos worked, the arrangements were
crisp and disciplined, and the whole of his performance lasted 90
minutes.  There were no surprises in the set list.  Since the Grammy
buzz started a little over a month ago, Bob has dropped "Cold Irons
Bound" in favor of "Can't Wait,"  included almost religiously "It
Ain't Me Babe" as the closing acoustic number and generally kept the
set list as consistent as a Dylan set list can be.  It's as if he's
telling everyone who's looking to bestow more honors upon him to look
elsewhere, or at least in light on the added publicity to observe what
he's doing right now, not 30 years ago and judge him by his current
incarnation: a performer who goes out every night, knows his songs
well before he starts singing, and does his job well; a model of
quality and integrity.  As he illumines us in the liner notes to World
Gone Wrong, if you want to know what tour he's currently on, just
check the set lists.  
  By the way, if anyone from the Toronto/London area reads this,
 tell Margery, "Thanks for the chat and yes, the shooting star over
Wrigley field was beautiful; as were you."   

    Bill Shaw
  comments to:


Review provided by Brian, Jill, and Beth:

First of all I must admit this review will be a tad bit biased in
Bob's favor, considering the fact we had front row seats for the concert.
These seats were well deserved though, we had no connections with
employees of Savage Hall, we camped out for tickets. So here goes. Bob
began with Sweet Marie (as he did during most of last summer's tour), for
the gearheads reading, he's using his Fender Strat rather than the Les
Paul he had last summer. The set was pretty standard for the current tour,
there were no surprises. I had my fingers crossed for "Not Dark Yet",
"Trying to get into Heaven" or "Roving Gambler", but was denied. Maybe
with a little luck he will play those on thursday in Cinnci. "Your a big
girl now" sounded great, I had never heard it live before with the
electric band. The highlights were "Tangled", "Silvo", and the entire
encore. We danced, the girls threw flowers, winked, and smiled at the band
throughout the entire show. (Has anyone else noticed that Bob seems more
friendly in recent years than he did 6 or 7 years ago?)     
Unfortunately, Dylan does not have too big of a following in
Toledo. The hall was about 3/4 full if that, and I heard through friends
that the radio DJ's were bashing the show this morning. But for those of
us who prefer something rather than "disposable rock music", Dylan remains
the artist of choice. I am beginning to think that some people
expect Dylan to have some kind of laser light show, or a "remember the
60's theme", or perhaps the usual cliche "Are you ready to rock and
roll!!!!???" stage presence.....Not in a million years, these concerts
are about now - the present. So if you get the chance, check out the show
its a good one. But then again, we were in the front row.

Brian, Jill, and Beth

Return to Current Tour Guide page
Return to Bob Links
Go to the Set Lists (by city) page
Go to the Set Lists (by date) page 1997 Tour , 1996 Tour , 1995 Tour, Pre 1995 Tours
Go to the Cue Sheet page