Reviews

Dallas, Texas

House Of Blues
Main Hall

February 23, 2008


[Steinar Daler], [Mitch M.], [F. Wright], [J.T. Kent], [Alan Dean], [Gavin Garcia], [Trevor Townson]

Review by Steinar Daler



I did not expected Bob and the band to be better than last night, but
indeed they were. During the same old introduction a lady fainted just in
front of the stage and the security people got there to help her. That
gave room for another woman to jump up on stage, suddenly standing right
in front of Bob. Baron soon took her away, but Bob just smiled and started
a very good Rainy Day Woman. I said he was ON from the start the first
night, but to night he was more ON than I have seen him in a long time.
Lay, Lady, Lay was next up, to everybodys delight. And then JUST LIKE TOM
THUMBS BLUES. I write it in capital letters, because I have never heard a
better version of that song. To me this was the number one highlight of
the 3 shows, but soon there where more highlights to come. As in Tom
Thumb's his singing on Senor was something we have not been used to in
recent years. Just beautiful! Donny's lap steel work was tremendous. The
fourth song was also new for this tour, a real great version of The
Levve's gonna break. The best version I have heard, much more dynamic than
usual. Then on to a song he had played the previous nights - Spirit on the
water. Good and nice harmonicaplaying from Bob as well. Then another
highligh - Positively 4th street. A really great imrovement on last years
versions. He sings it clearly - no barking at all. Til I fell in love with
you - another new one for the tour was more like rock'n roll than I have
heard it before. Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll - another new song for
this tour, was warmly welcomed by the audience but more like usual. Even
Honest with me was great tonight. Bob's phrasing and drawing out the lines
made it not boring. When the deal goes down was bak to normal, but
beautiful of course. I do not know how many times I have heard Highway 61,
but tonight's version was something that reminded me of the versions at
the time J.J. Jackson was in the band. Maybe it is because Denny Freeman
is from Dallas that he added so much greatness to those three concerts,
and not at least to Highway tonight. Then for the third night we had
another great version of Workingman's blues. All three nights better than
the great albumversion in my opinion. He changed some of the lyrics.
"Shall I tell you my whole story and wheep" was a line I have not heard
before. A lady next to me had asked me earlier on why I took notes and I
explained why { she had not heard about Bill' page, so I told it I wrote
far a fan-site}. After workingman's blues she said, withe tears running
down her cheeks " Tell them that Bob's lyrics are so beautiful that it
makes us cry". Summer days was not as inspired as yesterday, but that's OK
after this fantastic concert. Another great version of Ballad of a thin
man followed and the encores started as the nights before with Thunder on
the mountain. A thundering great version, also better than I have heard
before. And to everybody' satisfaction Watchtower. I can not believe that
anyone left the concer without a smile. Bob even said "Thanks everybody"
before the band introduction. I have not heard him say that in a long
time.

Well, I'm going back to Oslo city - after three great nights. Nice to meet
a lot of old and new friends too! 

Steinar Daler        

[TOP]

Review by Mitch M.



These have been three phenomenal shows at the House of Blues in Dallas. 
Being from the Bay Area, this was my first time flying somewhere to see 
Dylan and it was very well worth it, to say the least.  I heard from an 
apparently well-connected fan that Dylan and his band practiced for a few 
days in Dallas before the first show, and you could tell.  They played a 
wide range of songs during these three nights, with very sharp 
performances on just about all of them.  Overall, Dylan's musical mood 
seems to be very aggressive and intense, with an enormous amount of 
emphasis through changing the length of syllables, volume, and tone of 
voice.  It's wonderful because he seems totally involved in every line.  
The stacatto rhythms and intensity remind me a bit of his tone during that 
unique 1974 tour with The Band ("Before the Flood"), except now he is 
varying his emotional expression alot more and is more musical.

While the first show was excellent, the second was the most explosively 
phenomenal for me.  The set list was probably the best I've experienced in 
about 25 shows, including "Visions of Johanna," "I'll Be Your Baby
Tonight," and a chilling, swamp blues version of "Masters of War."  Around 
midway through the show, Dylan seemed to lock in and elevate, with his 
singing merged almost unconsciously into the music, as if they were 
seamlessly driving each other to greater heights.  This is what always 
happens when Dylan's shows are exceptional.  The grand finale, "Blowing in 
the Wind," rode a high tide to almost symphonic proportions -- an 
astounding evolution from its origins on "Freewheelin'".

Tonight was also excellent, with a superb set list again, including 
"Senor," "Ballad of a Thin Man," "Stuck Inside of Mobile" (easily the best
live version of this song I've ever heard him perform), "Lay Lady Lay," 
and  "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll."  The finale was the wonderful 
mayhem of "All Along the Watchtower."  These shows featured many songs 
with that sense of explosive mayhem, such as all three performances each 
of "Highway 61," "Honest with Me" and "Thunder on the Mountain."  What 
seems a bit better than the few shows I've seen the last year and a half 
is that there are more layers of varying sound, Denny Freeman has become a
much more expressive lead guitarist, and Dylan has ramped up his intensity 
another notch.  He seems to be driving the band very hard, and they seem 
to love being as dominating as they were these few nights in Dallas.

After the first show, I said to my friend that Dylan came across like a 
demon.  That must be a pretty apt description because the headline in the 
Dallas newspaper the next morning was "Demonic Dylan."

This added fury and almost anger in the delivery of most of the songs 
was especially interesting because before the show started on the second 
night, three late middle age guys sat in front of me in the first row of the 
balcony.  The one right in front of me wore a "Hibbing Hockey" cap.  I 
thought it must be a Dylan souvenier.  After a bit he and I started talking 
and he told me that he actually grew up in Hibbing.  I thought he looked 
about Dylan's age so I asked whether he knew Dylan back in Hibbing.  He 
told me that he went to high school with Dylan, his father was in business 
with Dylan's father (Abe), and he was the leader of the rock band at 
Hibbing High that competed with Dylan's band at talent shows.  His 
brother, sitting next to him (also with a Hibbing cap), is close friends 
with Dylan's brother.  Confronted with this very unexpected opportunity, 
I went right to the heart of the matter and asked him the main question 
that's been on my mind about Dylan since I became a fan almost 40 years 
ago.  I asked him what made Dylan so angry back in Hibbing?  Even on 
"Freewheelin'" in 1963, there is a pronouced element of anger ("You just 
kinda wasted my precious time;" "I'll stand over your grave 'till I'm sure
that you're dead") and this emotion has been a continuous strand 
(among many othes) in almrost all of his albums.  

He answered right away, showing no doubt.  Dylan's schoolmate said that 
Dylan was very angry back then because Hibbing in the late '50's was a 
horrible place to grow up.  It was very violent, full of juvenile 
delinquents, and Dylan "got bullied alot."  I asked him if he ever actually 
saw Dylan getting bullied.  He right away said yes, he can clearly 
remember some guy punching Dylan in the face.  He said that anyone 
with some "creativity" got bullied, and a short, skinny kid like him got 
a big dose.   But he said that just about everyone who graduated 
Hibbing High back then grew up real angry, because it was a horrible 
place.  And just about everyone did everything they could to get out. 
 (This fellow joined the Army and has been a musician in Austin, Texas 
 for many years.)  This all made alot of sense, and I wondered why I 
 hadn't read about Dylan being bullied in any of the biographies or 
 articles about him.

I told him that I had read some speculation that Dylan had a cold and 
distant relationship with his father, and that may have been a wellspring 
for some of his anger.  This schoolmate rejected that notion out of hand.  
He said that he knew Abe Zimmerman very well and that he was a great 
guy in every way and his father had an excellent relationship with him.  
He noted that Abe was a "stern Jewish father" to Dylan, but not in any 
way that would cause lingering anger.  He assured me that Dylan was 
full of anger when he left Hibbing because of being bullied for many 
years.    

He also mentioned that Dylan's high school girlfriend, Echo Helstrom, was 
very strange looking, with very white hair.  He seemed to want me to 
add that to the picture of what Dylan was like back then.

He said that a few years later a mutual friend brought him a copy of
"Freewheelin'" and told him to listen to this new album that Bobby 
Zimmerman had recorded.  He told me that he couldn't believe his ears.  
He was utterly shocked that these incredible songs were coming from 
his schoolmate.  He said he never imagined that Zimmerman would 
produce anything like this.  He still knows the coffee shop owner in 
Minneapolis who gave Dylan a try out during his year of college there 
but wouldn't even hire him to perform at that humble venue.

This conversation stayed with me during the shows last night and tonight.  
("Everyone of those words rang true and glowed like burning coals.")  As
I watched his awe-inspiring and yes, demonic, performances, individual 
lines of anger and revenge popped out, like a new line he has added to 
"Workingman's Blues," singing,  "I couldn't believe/they would kick 
me/when I was down."  There was, "I'm going to create an imperial 
empire."  And I thought of: "If ever I catch my opponents sleeping/I'll 
just slaughter 'em where they lie," (from "Ain't Talkin'") and the flow of
anger weaving through large segments of his body of work.  And then I 
started to watch him on stage with a bit of a different eye.  His 
demeanor was that of a gunslinger, a super tough guy.  At the end, 
when he knew he had totally conquered, he pointed both hands at the 
crowd cocked as if they were pistols, as if saying, "I am really bad, and I 
just kicked ass."  It was exaggerated toughness.  After that conversation 
with his old Hibbing schoolmate, I saw it as perhaps overcompensation
for years of being a victim.  

During the Halloween concert at Carnegie Hall in 1964, Dylan said, "I'm 
wearing my Bob Dylan mask."  I have to believe that he is having a bit of 
fun with his tough guy act, and is probably very aware of all that it 
conceals.  It must feel very good to him.  He played these three nights 
in Dallas as if he still has lots to prove.  Whatever pain he suffered back
in his early years, he has turned it - along with all the other aspects of
his mind - into works of searing honesty that will live on long after we 
are all gone.

Post Script
 
While I flew back home today on a Dallas-Denver-San Francisco route, I 
had some more time to contemplate the new information from Dylan's 
Hibbing schoolmate.  As recounted in my review above, before the start 
of the second Dallas show, the Hibbing fellow told me that the main 
reason for the wellspring of anger that Dylan has tapped into throughout 
his career was that he was bullied growing up in Hibbing.  Certainly, this 
cannot be viewed as the reason for his ample anger -- we are all very 
complex -- but especially due to the lack of other explanations (e.g., he 
was from a stable home), it is very plausible that this bullying is a key.  
With this information from his schoolmate and family friend, I offer the 
following interesting quotes from a few of Dylan's songs (in chronological 
order) which came to mind as I scrolled through my iPod on the flights 
home today.  They involve both being physically persecuted and the 
desire to fight back and get revenge.
 
"I was shadow boxing earlier in the day
I figured I was ready for Cassius Clay
... Gonna knock him clean right out of his spleen."
(I Shall Be Free No. 10)
 
"I ... ducked as he swung at me with all his might.
... He said he's going to kill me in two seconds flat ...
(Motorpsycho Nightmare)
 
"Well, there's fist fights in the kitchen
They're enough to make me cry
...  Then you ask why I don't live here
Honey, why don't you move?"
(On the Road Again)
 
"Well, they'll stone you when you walk all alone.
They'll stone you when you are walking home.
They'll stone you and then say you are brave.
They'll stone you when you are set down in your grave."
(Rainy Day Women #12 & 35)
 
"He just smoked my eyelids
And punched my cigarette."
(Stuck Inside of Mobile)
 
"Well, my world's exploding and my body's tense
I feel like the whole world got me pinned up against the fence
I've been hit too hard; I've seen too much
Nothing can heal me now, except your touch.
*****
When I'm gone you will remember my name
Gonna win my way to wealth and fame... ."
(Til I Fell in Love with You)
 
"When I left my home the sky split open wide
I never wanted to go back there -- I'd rather have died.
****
I'm glad I fought; I only wish we'd won."
(Honest With Me)
 
"If I had one last precious hour
I'd avenge my father's death and then step back."
(Ain't Talkin')
 
As a finale, I should mention that I also talked a bit with the Hibbing 
brothers' friend at the show.  He was from Texas but said that he had l
ived in Hibbing for two years.  I was confused.  He explained that he met 
the guy that I talked to first in the Army.  Later he moved to Hibbing for 
two years mainly to see what it must have been like for Dylan.  He said 
Hibbing struck him as a decent town, but it was very cold.  This certainly 
sets a new standard for Dylan fan dedication: moving to Hibbing for two 
years.  That's pretty extreme.  I think I'll only move there for one year.

[TOP]

Review by F. Wright



Of the 20-plus Dylan shows I've seen, this was the best. Great venue,
great crowd, great sound, but two things stand out---the band was hot and
Bob was jazzed. I've never seen Bob so animated. Instead of just one
6-shooter salute at the end, we got one after almost every song. Maybe Bob
got an extra jolt of energy when a woman ran onstage to hug him during the
opening song, but whatever it was, Bob's facial expressions and body
language showed why the Never-Ending Tour exists---Bob loves that moment
where music is made. It was definitely made tonight. It wasn't exactly the
"wild mercury" sound of the 60's but it was something almost indescribable
because it's like nothing anybody else is doing. On the slower songs,
Bob's voice sounded the best it has in years and his phrasing was sweet
and swinging. The fast songs were absolutely rocking tonight. With a nod
from Bob, songs like Levee Gonna Break, Stuck Inside of Memphis and
Highway 61 were kicked into blues fueled supercharged overdrive. About the
only thing I can compare it to is Cream's "Crossroads." That's the kind of
pace and attack I felt. Terrific playing all night by the band and Denny
Freeman has become the star of this band. He can swing, he can shred and
his solos are unique---almost turning inside out the solo we might expect
on standards like Watchtower. All in all, this concert shows why Bob is
the best---you just gotta be there when the magic happens. Thank you, Bob!

F. Wright
Chicago, IL

[TOP]

Review by J.T. Kent



First let me say that this was my first Bob concert.  Iím only 19 and a
freshman in college so I havenít really had the chance to go until now.
Being a poor college student , I was general admission.   That being said
Iím 19 and canít really imagine sitting down at a concert so that was
fine with me.  In fact, since I ended up all of ten feet from the stage I
would say I preferred it.  The House of Blues was an amazing venue.  I
mean a max capacity of 1600?  It was pretty much the perfect place to see
Bob in.  Any way here are some of the highlights for me.

Rainy Day Women #12 and 35- perfect opening song.  Starting off the
concert just like Blonde on Blonde (my favorite album) was great.  It got
everyoneís attention and really had most of the crowd into it.  Oh and a
women jumped up on the stage.  She slipped through like a two foot hole
between the bouncers back and the wall.  It was pretty amusing.  Bob
jumped back and his eyes got big then he just sat there playing the guitar
until security dragged her off.  Now why you would get yourself kicked
during the first song I donít know but hey- whatever.  

Lay Lady Lay- Just a great song to see preformed live
Spirit on the water- I enjoyed every single song he played off of 

Modern Times tonight.  It was a great song.  It was the band that 
really made this one for me.  They couldnít have played it better

Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again-  For me- this was the
highlight of the show.  It is my all time favorite bob song and the one
song that I was hoping he would play.  I really just loved this whole song
from start to finish.  It was really well done and with near perfect
vocals.  The band was on fire. I just couldnít believe it.  After the
song I saw Donnie (The Steel guitar player) give Bob this smile that said
ďwe killed itĒ.  You could see it in his face.  

Highway 61 Revisited- I know that to a lot of the older fans this song
might seem like itís on permanent repeat but hey- this is my first Bob
concert and he nailed it. I Loved every minute of it.  He had an awesome
energy to him on this song.  

Ballad of a Thin Man-  Wow, just an amazing performance.  Vocals were
great  and the band was fantastic; Just an amazing rendition.

Thunder on the Mountain-  Awesome way to come back for the encore.   I
donít think anyone was able to sit still on this song.  I know I was
dancing and singing like a fool.

Overall I thought it was an amazing show.  I saw it mentioned in a 
review from one of the earlier shows how Bob was doing some great stuff
with his voice and the phrasing of his lyrics.  The way he was stressing
syllables was really interesting.  It really drew you in.  A couple of
other notes- Bob had a great energy to him.  You could tell that this was
the beginning of the tour and he was ready.  He was lively and bouncy and
really throwing himself into every note he played.  Anyway- I am so glad I
went.  It was a phenomenal experience.  I am still walking on clouds right
now.  After the show I just started laughing from the sheer joy of seeing
him in concert.  It was amazing.  I can honestly say that this was one of
the greatest experiences of my life.  I was not disappointed in any way
shape or form. 

[TOP]

Review by Alan Dean



It's Saturday night-On my left-Mike, 37 from Austin who is in town for his
76th Zimmy Concert. On my right-a young couple-law students-who have
driven in from Louisiana for their first ever experience. On stage: the
leader of the "Never Ending Tour" rockin' the house with his Cowboy Band
on the opening song, Rainy Day Women 12 & 35-when right smack in the
middle, during the chorus of "everybody must get stoned", a young female
30 somthing who has flown in from San Francisco for the show, pops up on
stage and gets nose-to-nose with the man himself! Dylan can't help but
break out with a shocked smile, but continues to play his guitar as if it
was a part of the show. Surley, he flashed back to "Soy Bomb" interupting
him on the Grammys in '98 during the live performance of Love Sick. The
security guys immediately escort her off stage, never to be seen again and
for the next hour and fifty-five minutes Robert Allen Zimmerman did not
disappoint the remaining 1600 in the House of Blues. The acoustics in the
Main Hall are stellar and you could clearly hear every word of every
lyric- of songs from his storied past and from his latest Grammy winning
album, Modern Times.Dylan played guitar on the first 3 of the night: Rainy
Day Women, Lay Lady Lay and Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues, then slid over to
his trusty keyboard, which for this tour he has sounding like a B3
Leslie-compared to the "carnival sound" from his Nokia show the last time
he came thru town. It was a welcome change. Dylan's guitar playing was his
best in years- a perfect compliment to Denny Freeman-the real lead
guitarist of the band. Bob's vocals were fresh and sung with conviction.
Some of the musical highlights were: 
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
and a "swampy-funk" arrangement of Til I Fell in Love With You. Immdiately
following this was the most unique version that I have ever heard of The
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. It's great to hear Bob start a song and
you are asking yourself, "what is that?" and then once you are able to
recognize a song from 40 years gone by-it takes on a whole new freshness
and meaning, and it's as if you are hearing it for the first time. On
Thursday and Friday he closes the show with Blowin in the Wind, but tonite
after the first encore of Thunder on The Mountain blowing the roof off, he
gives the Saturday crowd a change with Watchtower and everyone loves it.
Mike is all smiles for completing his 76th Dylan concert and the couple
from Tulane have hooped and hollared all night with pure delight. As for
the "stage hopper"? Well, she missed it, but has a lifelong memory of a
smiling Dylan and maybe a story he'll tell on a future Theme Time Radio
Hour.

[TOP]

Review by Gavin Garcia



Bob Dylan finished the last of three Texas "rehearsal" dates for the
upcoming Latin American tour before a rambunctious sell-out audience. Soon
after the first bars of the set began with Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35, a
20ish year old women in a blue sequined dress rushed out from behind a
curtain stage right and startled Dylan in mid-sentence. Reflexively, Dylan
pulled back from the center microphone and eyed the young lady warily.
Once the fan was escorted off stage, Dylan turned with a grin to bassist
Tony Garnier and dove into the next line with a piercing leer into the
dark. Lay, Lady, Lay was hauntingly elegant with a focused Donnie Herron
carrying the melody. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues found Dylan sauntering
with his Fender and like most of the night's tunes, was lyrically on the
mark with every phrase intact. 

After the three song start on guitar, now a staple of his sets, Dylan
moved behind the keyboard and began Senor and excited a strong response.
Suddenly, Dylan backed off to suppress a cough and spit a yellow gob some
ten feet back onto the floor. With a wink to the band he proceeded and
massaged the song deftly. The Levee's Gonna Break ripped with Denny
Freeman taking extended breaks, and Spirit on the Water was a mid set
highlight and obviously a favorite of Dylan's (and of course, elicits a
response to the line which asks if he's past his "prime." Stuck Inside of
Mobile and Til I Fell in Love With You were perfunctory and Dylan seemed
to be taking longer pauses to catch his breath. That or he's really warmed
up to the otherworldly playing of Texan, Freeman (who excelled especially
during Highway 61 Revisited). The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll found
Dylan reenergized and coupled with When the Deal Goes Down, highlighted
the back end of the set. 

Ballad of a Thin Man closed the set and after a longer than usual break,
Dylan returned with his Rolling Thunder era western hat tilted back,
giving him a rather boyish look (he was dressed in a black suit with grey
and white striped cravat, white collared shirt, black pants with a thin
white strip and black cowboy boots) but during Thunder on the Mountain he
rubbed his eyes vigorously and looked quite weary. With All Along the
Watchtower, Dylan headed out for Mexico looking a little worse for wear
but with his voice sounding stronger than ever.

[TOP]

Review by Trevor Townson



"England and America are two nations seperated by a common language".  
Maybe T S Elliot said that, or Abraham Lincoln. No, a Texan said that to me
with a chuckle, "Winston Churchill said  that". Not really knowing Winston
or the Texan too well lets drift on. The NET, well for me that started in
about 2003, probably 2002. If one ever got opportruntiy to tell Bob
anything my two penneth would have  been:- Take the advise that I believe
that you once gave and "TURN THE ORGAN  UP". Second, "SING DOWN, SING
LOW". Tonight and the two previous nights we got both. To me this was
brilliant Bob. Tonight and the previous two nights I heard the Bob that I
knew was there  but had just not come through previously, properly for me
yet. Never seen Bob better, never seen the band better, to all the critics
of  the guitars - eat humble pie. Myself, if honest I have always thought
really the album versions the  best. Tonight and both previous nights
walls were being smashed, I heared several  versions better than album. I
have heard people say, "cannot stand to hear him sing Stuck inside of.... 
one more time", they should have been in Dallas! This was fantastic, the
up singing all but gone, brilliant harp all over,  absolutely fantasic
harmonica. Who said Bob whether on guitar or keyboard not contributing,
seeing Bob  playing that guitar right in front of you is the best it could
get. Who ever voted 'Rolling Stone best rock song ever just never
considered  Highway 61 properly. Just does not get better than HW61 with
Bob and this band, feel that they  could go on for ever. For me HW61 is
easily the most unique and best rock song ever done, only  Bob can perform
it though. May be it was the venue that the sound was so good. Reason why
I went really as I thought that it would be so, dont  believe it totally
due to the venue though, Bob yet again had changed. Just always thought
with Bob that he hangs back somehow but these nights he  came out a bit
and boy was it enjoyable. The three nights for me finished with "Lonesome
death....". The crowd love it but I hate it, kills every concert he does
it at for  me. Very clever but somehow I feel it is so full of half
truths, Bob can leave  it in it's black and white box for me. Always
thought there was only one winner in that song and they are  probably
bragging about it somewhere. Anyway that is probably a personal thing, the
crowd seemed to love it and  heck Bob is there to entertain "the crowd".
Cannot remember too much after that however but no matter, more than
enough  had been given and I just kind of switched off. By that time I had
probably received enough and did not want or  need anymore at that time, I
had seen the best Bob shows I have ever  seen. Seen a few gigs but these
are going to take some matching, but it's Bob so  guess you got to keep
going as he may just surprise again. You got a lot for your Dollar in
Dallas. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT BOB

Trevor Townson

[TOP]

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