page by Bill Pagel
Review by Reid Evans
Well lets see,
I got in town early this morning, sleepy as all get out. So I rushed to
the Hotel, to get some sleep. Yeah right, I was wired for sound all day.
No Sleep (no coffee either, thats weird....just kinda hit me)....
Anyway, I ordered some food, prayed a while and then decidedto "leave
early" to get to the show.....getting there 2 hours "early" placed me at
about the 604th person in line....
But that was ok, (I guess) I met some nice people in line. One of the
people I met talked me into buying a ticket for the Sunday show too.
Talked me into, you know I really wanted to go home tomorrow, I even told
the guy I better notbut he kept pushing it on me. Finally I decided that
he was right, and that I did need that ticket after all. Talking me into
buying a Dylan ticket is kind of like (not kind of, more like exactly
like) talking a crack addict into buying some more crack while he is
So I got in the Theatre and decided that I'd do the balcony tonight, front
row tomorrow. I met a really cool guy and his son while we waited, he was
probobly late fifties and his son had never seen Dylan before. I was like
"oh, I really think you'll like the show" (when in my mind I was more
like....."its like doing crack leagally") I dont know How I got off on
this crack tangent. Anyway, Me and His old man talked Dylan for an hour. I
tried to be humble when he said "you know he got booed off the stage when
he was at this folk festival once" and not say that I already knew it. I
dident try too hard though.
So about 10 after eight the show started and WOW!!
1. Drifters Ecsape... A really powerful rendition, Bob blew harp the best
I've ever heard (in person). It set the tone for the night. (Oh and I
think the Guy sitting next to me was hooked from the get go).
2. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue....Stong, Bobs Voice sounded like it had
reversed in age 15 years. Honestly, He sounded great. Maybe he can always
sing like that and just puts us on. Its not that his voice is not always
great, but you know what I mean. Nice Arrangement of the tune too.
3. Cry A While....while I have never really loved this song, I did enjoy
it. Freddys and Larrys guitar work shining at its best.
4. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll.....this one got started with a
guitar riff I just couldent place, but by the end of the tune it was
5. Things Have Changed......Excellent, Smoking Guitar work. I have been
struggling alot lately about jut trusting the Lord with situations in my
life, especially when Satan is harrasing me. When I heard the Lyrics,
"some things are too hot to touch, the human mind can only stand so much,
you cant win with a losing hand" The Lord spoke to me and said, " You
know, He's right there....theres some stuff thats just beyond you and your
capabilities as a human, and trying to win yourself without trusting me,
now thats a losing hand, so Just trust me". I'm still working on that.
And for those of you saying "whats this kook talking about....The Lord
spoke to him" Well, he does speak to people. Otherwise how would he have
told Abraham, next time you see me coming you better run!
6. Tell Me That it Isn't True..... one of my all time favorites. A
veyalbum like performance of this one.
7. Down Along the Cove..... I liked this one too. Great guitar again.
8. It Aint Me Babe......probobly the highlight of the night, just awesome
Larry played this weird Bozouki riff and Bob gave it a whistfull reading.
9. Tweedlie Dee And Tweedilie Dum......was great George and Richie had
this awesome intentional off time beat thing going on. Wow. It was at this
time I realized there was a special gust in the crowd. The Soy Bomb guy
was there. Or at least someone who danced exactly like him.
10. Girl from the North Country.....Solid, I was still ting to interpert
the arrangement and the Song ended.
11.Mmost likely you'll go you way and I'll go mine......Great, the first
time I've ever seen it performed, Amusingly enough...as Bob was singing
"you'll go your way and I'll go mine" security was kicking out this girl
who wouldent stop sitting in the aisles and well, thats ironic.
12-17.....awesome awesome awesome!!!!! (I'm pressed for time, maybe I'll
finish this sometime.
most notable in this stretch of songs is Bob trying to do his "lounge
singer" impersonation and the mic not turned up enough to pick him up.
Anyway, I'll se ya'll tomorow
Review by Pat Rathburn
No long review here but just wanted to note that in my opinion Bob and the
Band absolutely nailed "It Ain't Me, Babe" tonight. Far from my favorite
song, this live version was dead on perfect and perhaps the best thing I
have heard live so far. I noted that this acoustic, (Larry on cittern)
version showed up on the set lists from last summer and fall to no great
rave from most of the reviewers. Maybe it had not been perfected yet or it
has to do with the venue, I don't know. But the crowd seemed to like it as
evidenced by the whooping going on during the performance which, I don't
know about you, annoys the hell out of me during an acoustic rendition.
But the crowd did show it's appreciation appropriately at the end with, I
thought the loudest applause of the night. The folks at Columbia would do
well to consider this one for inclusion on a best of live disc. Oh, and
the rest of the show was good too. The spell checker suggests I change
Ain't to Isn't. Ain't that funny?
Review by Ross Collins
I must confess to being less than enthusiastic about this show. I managed
to score a ticket on TM after they had sold out so I figured, well maybe
it's a good sign. While I do realize that Bob likes to re-work his music
and his piano playing seems to be the standard now, I haven't been
terribly impressed with many of the shows I've heard from the last year
and a half. So with low expectations and tremendous fatigue (23 hours in
line waiting to sign up my son for pre-school) I headed to the Riviera in
the north side of Chicago.
I arrived about 4 hours before show time and although a little chilly, had
a fine time in line with some great people (Hi Dave & Nicole!). It's my
opinion that the people you meet waiting to see Bob are some of the nicest
and most interesting people I've ever met at a concert. Anyway, doors
open about 6:15 and in we trooped. I headed for the balcony mainly due to
being a little tired from standing in line most of the day before and
actually, the Riv is small enough that I had a terrific view of Bob from
the front row of the balcony.
The show started about 8:10 and immediately, I could sense that Bob was
"on" vocally and seemed to really be in a great, playful mood. While the
show setlists don't seem to be varying a lot in the early part of this
tour, I thought Drifters Escape was a great opening. Bob really seems to
be more comfortable behind the piano and did a great job on a song I've
never been crazy about. "Baby Blue" had a nice new arrangement which I
enjoyed and again, Bob seemed to be really in to his phrasing and
performance. I have always disliked Cry a While and last night didn't
change my mind much except for Freddy's guitar work. Freddy has been
bashed since joining the band, but I think he's really grown into the role
and made it his own. No one could replace Charlie but I think Freddy
brings something unique to the band that Bob seems to enjoy.
Hattie Carroll had a nice new arrangement which I think completely
transforms the song. Love or hate the new arrangements, I think Bob is an
absolute master at keeping his material fresh and let's face it, who would
want to do the same songs the same way for years and years?
Things Have Changed was the first highlight of the evening. Freddy and
Larry traded licks throughout and this was far and away, the best version
of this song I have ever heard. Tell Me That It Isn't True is a song I
have always liked and the new arrangement is extremely listenable.
Highlight number two was Down Along the Cove. Pretty different
arrangement but once I figured out what it was, I thought it absolutely
rocked. The dual drummers really cooked this song into overdrive and Bob
seemed to have a ball singing it. It Ain't Me Babe, totally re-worked,
was next. I found it a very interesting rendition. Larry's mandolin
playing was sublime and I thought Tony's bass cello work really added to
the feel of the song.
Far and away, the highlight of the evening was Tweedle Dee. I fell in
love with this song the first time I heard it. It has an irresistible
beat and the lyrics just complete what I think is one of Bob's best songs.
This has been slightly re-worked with much more guitar work and it was
definitely longer than I ever heard before. Absolutely blew the roof off
the house and Bob was dancing up a storm behind the piano.
I had heard less than glowing reports about the new arrangement of Girl of
the North Country and I would tend to agree. It's hard for me to imagine
a better version than the Boots/It Ain't Me arrangement of a few years
ago. Still enjoyable though. Most Likely was decent enough and Bob
played some nice harp throughout. Honest with Me was given a very
energetic treatment which Bob seemed to have great fun with. Every Grain
of Sand continues to be a highlight for me, has Bob ever done a bad
version of this song (other than the barking dog version)? Summer Days is
still a rip-roaring good time to see and hear. The encores were fairly
unremarkable. I have always liked Cats in the Well although judging from
the comments before and after the show, I seem to be in the minority.
Rolling Stone has an interesting new feel, very stripped down and raw.
Watchtower was great with Freddy playing some amazing solos.
This was easily one of the best shows I have ever seen. I thought Bob was
in fine form and the band is absolutely great. I cannot say enough good
things about Larry Campbell. He is easily one of the great musical
geniuses of our time and I think he and Tony are an essential part of the
While Bob seemed to stumble around quite a bit, he is clearly doing it as
a "bit", sort of Chaplinesque, that he and the band seem to really enjoy.
I cannot say enough about this show. Beg, borrow or steal to get a
ticket, but GET a ticket!
Review by Nick Pappas
After Friday's show i was excited to go to the riviera. The place was smaller than Aragon and there
seemed to be a crowd that was eager and excited about what was to come. Bob came on with his cowboy
hat and his black suite with white piping. They launched into drifter's escape, which was a good
opener for bob. The crowd loved the harp at the end. Next it was It's all over now again...not as
good as the night before but still entertaining. Hattie Carroll, another repeat was well sung, but
again bobs's mike was too low in the mix. Things have changed was the first new song compared to
the night before, and it was sung in a focused, rocking manner. Next came tell me that it isn't true,
with larry on pedal steel. I like this song and i think he did a pretty good job...i just think this
version is too short! Down ALong The Cove was next, and this got everybody rockin. Bob sang it strong,
and the solo's were a lot of fun. Huge response from the crowd. Next came another suprise, a totally
reworked It ain't me babe...kind of with a masters of war riff to it. Very dark and spooky with a
nice build up to the chorus. The crowd loved this one and bob was excited to sing it. I think it was
awesome, except for Freddy's solo, which just seemed not to fit. Tweedle Dum...i've heard too many
times, but it was ok. Nothing terrible, just a "good" version. Girl of the north country i thought
was better than the night before. Sung clearer and better Harp. Most Likely...was fun as well...with
a new modification from the night before. Right when bob says "When you go your way and i go mine" the
band stops playing, then when he finishes, slams into the riff. The crowd loved that and george and
richie were smiling as they slammed on the drums. Honest With me, was fun, but nothing spectacular.
Maybe time to find a new song for the 12 spot. Still, the crowd loved this one. Every Grain of sand
was a mess at first. Bob played harp from the center mike then started singing from center stage, but
looked so uncomfortable and awkward, he put the mike back and walked over to the piano neglecting the
rest of the verse. This killed the song i thought, which was otherwise well done. Summer Days was
shorter than the night before.
The encores were fine, Rolling stone got the crowd pumped up again. There was some confusion at the
begining of watchtower...bob started to sing at the center mike again, but go uncomfortable and walked
to the piano, only singing 2 lines of the first verse. Other than that it was rockin...but it was the
second time he started singing at the center mike then changed his mind mid verse and went back to the
piano neglecting to sing the rest of the verse or missing the lines.
Overall i thought it was a good show. Better than aragon. Down along the cove and it ain't me babe
were worth the price of admission alone. A couple of observations: I like george a lot, and i don't
really think there is any need for richie. George has a flare to him, and he really adds to dylan's
song. With richie (who played the drums alone on some songs), there really wasn't much drive behind the
drums. Also, once again, i think that bob's vocals need to be turned up higher in the mix. Some people
were complaining about understanding the lyrics; i know it is hard to understand bob, but his mike was
very low. I know the songs so it doesn't bother me, but i think it would be beneficial to turn his
vocals up a bit. Thirdly, while i loved the show, i was kind of disapointed that he repeated 12 of the
17 songs. One of the reasons i love bob is that he has so many songs and no 2 shows are exactly the
same. I wish he had done more different songs. But complain as i might, i still loved the show and
wouldn't trade going to dylan concerts in for anything. I've been to over 50 now, and i know thats
nothing compared to other people, but i'm only 20! I have tickets for all 3 nights in Boston, and
whether he plays all the same songs, all different songs, or somewhere in between, i'm excited as hell
to see him again.
Review by Michael Smith
The Aragon and The Riviera are two very old (some would say historic)
Chicago institutions located practically across the street from each
other. Before Dylan took the stage on Friday night, a DJ from the local
station WXRT (who was sponsoring the concert) introduced the show by
reminding us that Benny Goodman used to play the Aragon. Aesthetically,
they are both intimate and very faux-opulent – like some American’s idea
of a European opera house. The interior of the Aragon has been better
maintained, complete with cheesy fake twinkling stars on the ceiling, but
the Riviera, with plaster and paint crumbling everywhere, has the better
acoustics. Go figure. They are also both within walking distance of my
Both shows gave us Dylan and his band at a very high level of their
performing artistry. Dylan was engaged and energetic and his singing was
very strong, much like the fall European tour. There was no “upsinging” to
be heard and there was none of the rasping, gasping,
one-syllable-at-a-time delivery that marred some of last summer’s shows.
If the setlists weren’t quite as adventurous as one would’ve liked
(especially given the size of the venues), Dylan more than made up for it
with two solid shows and, at the end of the day, that’s all you can really
It’s difficult to compare these two shows because they were so similar
(only five songs difference from one night to the next). Right now I’d
have to say I preferred the first, if only because it was the first show
I’ve seen on the tour and thus, the new arrangements didn’t delight my
ears in the same new way the second time around. But both shows saw Dylan,
similarly attired in black suit and white cowboy hat, having a lot of fun,
rockin’ and boppin’ behind the keyboard, leaning into his lowered
microphone to croon and snear and snarl, then stepping back and attacking
the keys with wild abandon, looking like some mad scientist mixing up his
Highlights and lowlights from the shows included:
Drifter’s Escape – believe it or not this was arguably the best vocal of
the first show. Dylan’s voice was very strong and every syllable landed in
what felt like exactly the right place.
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue – Yes, a new arrangement, very fast tempo.
Probably the fastest this song has ever been, but it works. This is the
first song to feature two drummers. It’s difficult to imagine Richie
Hayward being anything other than an understudy for George since they’re
both playing the same beat at the exact same time. No poly-rhythm (or
steamy cauldron of drum theory) here. At the first show, Dylan ends the
song by walking out to the center of the stage and blowing a harp solo
into the vocal mic that’s been set up there. When he’s done with the harp
solo, he whips the mic off the stand and sings the last verse with the mic
in one hand and the mic cord in the other, gently swaying to the music.
The crowd loves it.
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll - This was a highlight of the first
show. The same lilting arrangement from the fall Euro-tour. Dylan sang it
so beautifully and carefully that my girlfriend remarked it was as if Bob
were really telling us the narrative of the song for the very first time.
Unfortunately, the performance on the second night was marred by some
forgotten lyrics in the second verse.
It’s Alright Ma – As far as I’m concerned, he can give this song a rest.
This is basically the same arrangement he’s been playing since fall ’02
(with George pounding the bass drum once between each line Dylan sings to
maintain a sense of rhythm and the band playing a swampy, swinging, bluesy
part between each verse), but this song never really comes off for me as a
whole. Frequently there are parts of it that are awesome - with Dylan
sneering out the lyrics in an impressive and appropriate fashion - but he
never maintains it for the whole song. Even when he gets all the words
right, it seems like his phrasing will eventually fall too far ahead of or
behind the beat, which will lead to him playing catch-up and/or sounding
tentative and uncertain.
Down Along the Cove – This was a highlight of the second night. I love
this new arrangement from the Euro tour. The guitar parts sound very
similar to something the Dead would have done (not unlike, say, Alabama
Getaway) and Bob sings the hell out of it. We also got a new lyric last
night – “Down along the cove, I feel as a high as a bird/ I said “Lord,
have mercy, AIN’T THAT THE SWEETEST THING YOU EVER HEARD?!”
It Ain’t Me, Babe – The absolute highlight of both of the first two shows!
This isn’t just a new arrangement; this is a brand new song that happens
to share the same lyrics with a certain song from Another Side of Bob
Dylan. This is unquestionably the most dramatic re-arrangement of this
song ever (more so than Rolling Thunder, more so than ’78) and it is the
most drastic re-working of any Dylan song I’ve ever had the privilege to
see in concert. NOBODY in the audience knew what it was when the band
started playing it. It sounded very dark, ominous and weird with Freddy
and Larry playing the same sparse, choppy chords over and over. At first I
thought it was a new arrangement of Masters of War. Or perhaps a new fast
version of Love Sick? Or a cover of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger!? Anything
but It Ain’t Me, Babe! Even after Bob started singing and I recognized the
lyrics, I had no clue what song it was because my mind was scrambling to
place those words within the context of this strange music! Bob is singing
“You say you’re looking for someone . . .” and the guy next to me says
“Just Like a Woman?” . . . and, for a second, I believe him that that’s
actually what we’re hearing! Midway through the first verse, everyone
finally realizes what the song is and goes apeshit. Then, there is a very
loud crescendo, courtesy of Larry’s cittern and Freddie’s guitar, and
we’re into the chorus with Dylan enthusiastically singing the familiar
refrain. This new It Ain’t Me, Babe is the reason why you see Dylan in
concert. It’s one of those strange, beautiful, perverse, what-the-fuck?,
mind-twisting, soul-thrilling moments that only Dylan can give you. I
really want to hear this again.
Most Likely You Go Your Way –On both nights, Dylan starts off by
uncertainly singing some dummy lyrics, then pulls it together and starts
belting it out. By the end of the song on the first night, he’s so
confident that he again walks out to center stage where he plays another
harp solo and then sings the last verse to us without a guitar or piano to
hide behind. He’s really into it, crouching down on one knee, while
singing most emphatically. An awesome spectacle.
Million Miles - Another highlight of the first show. This was very similar
to the album version with Larry’s guitar replicating Augie Meyers’ organ
part. There was some epic singing from Dylan on this one, where he really
stretched out the words and made you realize how elastic his voice can
still be. The instrumental jam that concluded the song was likewise great
with some fantastic interplay between Bob’s keyboard and Freddie’s
whacked-out guitar solo. Freddie, I should add here, has finally become
fully-integrated into the band. (It actually probably happened during the
Euro tour but, having not seen those shows, I can’t say for certain.) Love
it or hate it, he knows the songs inside and out and knows exactly what
he’s doing with those spare, discordant solos. And, more importantly, it’s
obviously a sound that Bob wants.
Highway 61 Revisited – Freddie on slide guitar! Very nice. When did he
overtake Larry’s job on this?
Floater – Very well done. Unfortunately, I was distracted by the fact that
Freddie’s violin was totally inaudible during the first half of the song.
At one point he looked off-stage and indicated (with his thumb) for
someone to turn up the sound. Fortunately, the sound of the violin came on
before the instrumental break and he played a really wild solo. Dylan’s
singing on this was very good also.
Every Grain of Sand – This was a disappointment for me on both nights.
It’s the same arrangement as before but the tempo is a little faster and
it rocks a little harder. I would even say it rocks too hard. I don’t
think this song was meant to rock. With Freddie and Larry playing dueling
electric guitars, I don’t think it gives Dylan the proper framework to
sing over. He needs to sing this one tenderly, which he certainly didn’t
do on the first night. The second night was better but wasn’t nearly what
it should have been; this time Dylan started off the song by playing a
harp solo into the center stage mic. It was obvious that he intended to
sing the whole song from this microphone but then changed his mind midway
through the first verse. It looked to me like he perhaps felt too
vulnerable and that’s why he moved back behind the keyboard. What made the
whole thing really bizarre was that he walked from center stage back to
his position behind the keyboard in the middle of the first verse, without
a microphone, while STILL SINGING. Of course, you couldn’t hear him but
you could see his mouth moving. Bob, couldn’t you have at least waited
‘til the verse was over?!
Summer Days – A disappointment on the first night, much better on the
second. On the first night Dylan could not have looked more bored during
the instrumental break. He was just kind of resting on the keyboard,
chewing on a fingernail, while everyone else in the band was playing their
hearts out. At first I thought he was tired but when he came back out
totally pumped up full of energy for the encore, I could only chalk it up
to boredom. Perhaps he needs to find another song for this slot.
Like a Rolling Stone – Excellent on both nights. Not really a new
arrangement but the chorus is completely different with the guitars
completely dropping out during the parts where Dylan sings. The crowd
rightly goes crazy with enthusiasm even though (without the big riffs
being pumped out) it somehow sound less anthemic than before. During the
first night, he was laughing for some reason when he sang, “got it made.”
On the first night, we got some Bobtalk: “I want to say hello to my
friends at WXRT.” Then, laughing, he added, “I guess they play my records
All Along the Watchtower – Excellent on the first night with Dylan
actually singing the lyrics and really stretching out the words. On the
second night, he once again attempted to start the song off by singing
center stage but came in at the wrong time and abandoned the idea before
heading back behind the keyboard. He was so far off of the rhythm that he
looked back at George and just laughed. I can’t help but think that he
really wants to sing an entire song from this center stage mic but just
hasn’t figured out how to do it yet. Hopefully, it will happen tonight at
the Vic. And now, I’m off to join the line!
Review by Sandy Cramer
The Riv is a lovely place for a concert. Very old and ornate decor. We sat in the third row balcony
and the view was very good. We had been outside in line since 5:30 PM. Actually the doors opened
prior to 7 PM and that was nice because it was rather chilly up there near the lake. All the
attendants/ushers were extremely courteous and helpful. The Riv has a degree of class to it.
I am always unhappy when Bob doesn't play things from Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks....and
even more unhappy when at least half of his songs I have never heard. In addition, I could not hear
his voice. The band dominated last night...and that was not what I came to see. I go to Dylan concerts
to see and hear Bob Dylan. Two drummers??? For what??? People in the balcony rarely stood up. I saw
two people near us fall asleep. Was it the crowd? Or was it the setlist? The only good part of the
show was the encore, of course. It was a loooooooooooong wait to get to the encore. I saw some folks
walk out....others made frequent trips to the bar. Just not like other Bob concerts I have been to
recently. Something was quite wrong with Bob singing "Girl Of The North Country"... poor sound, out
of tune, jumbled up????? I think there were some sound problems as at one point some guy came running
on the stage behind Bob and then set up some more equipment???
I hope tonight and tomorrow are better... I could not get tickets to Vic and Park West and right now
I m not too terribly upset about it. Something was "off" about last night at the Riv....and I can't
put my finger on it.
Review by Mark Rothfuss
I needed a few days to collect my thoughts after this most perfect
weekend. We, (my wife, brother and his girlfriend(a first timer) ) drove
up to Chicago from Lexington, Ky on Friday. Sadly, I couldn't get tickets
for Bob's show at the Aragon. No great loss though, as my other hero Neil
Young was playing the Rosemont Theater that night. We did that instead.
Neil, the Horse and the whole crazy Greendale crew were just an
astonishing spectacle. Best warm-up to Dylan I've ever seen. (I use
warm-up in the least condescending way possible). I'll save my gushing on
that topic for the more appropriate newsgroup. Anyway, after a fantastic
night's sleep at the O'Hare Embassy Suites we drove into town for the
show. We got there several hours early and the line was surprisingly
short. We were literally right at the break, past the doors through which
his Bobness entered the building. What a fantastic time we had in line!
Surrounded by great Dylan fans. Our neighbors in line had the good sense
to bring a portable cd player. Our whole area danced and bounced around in
place trying to stay warm. My wife and my brother's girlfriend, spent a
lot of that time talking to Big Jim and other assorted Dylan handlers. We
got great photos of Bob's band entering. Even a posed photo with Larry.
And, believe it or not, a half shot of the Man himself. Dressed, by the
way, in the sun dance costume. Blond wig, with black snow cap. He moved
fast and slightly. It was as if he actually went into a shell he got so
small approaching the side door. A very, very peculiar sight. I also spent
a good deal of time listening through cracks in the garage wall to the
sound check. I didn't recognize one song they were playing, but they kept
working on it for most of the time they were rehearsing. Turns out, that
song would become the marvelous "It ain't me, Babe." We'll get to that in
a minute. Before beginning this review, I'd like to make one more
pre-show note. This felt like a very Neil Young oriented Dylan night to
me. Neil seemed to be on nearly everyone's mind I talked to. We knew he
had the night off and he was in the same town, so naturally there was much
talk of an appearance. It never came to be, obviously. But I have it from
good sources that he was there in the wings. Even if he wasn't, Sara White
(aka Sun Green) most certainly was. She was seated, in a Greendale High
shirt, along with several other Neil crew members in the opera box 10
feet above my head. As a 'Rusty' Dylan fan that made this show even more
memorable. Be the rain, Sun!
Now the show...what a show it was! This is from a row 2 facing Bob
Drifter's Escape. . .And they're off! What an entrance. As it has been
doing for sometime now, this old JWH number rocked with rumbling, nasty
abandon. Bob was in extremely strong voice from the second he opened his
mustached lips. Leaning into it, punctuating every word, just bringing it
to total submission.
Its all over now. . .Best arrangement I've ever heard! Gone is the slow,
loping, sludge I've so long disliked, or at least yawned through. Instead
we have another effective vehicle for Bob's staccato vocal gymnastics.
Anyway, tonight it was a blues-rock song...like modern arrangements of Its
alright ma sound blues-rock. Kinda sweaty and thumpin'.
Cry a while. . .same thing here. Bob was salivating over it. A wild fox
toying over prey. At almost every refrain, he looked up from under his
cowboy hat at the balcony. Using the occasional hand gesture to really
drive home a well delivered phrase.
Hattie Carroll. . .identical to the Euro 03 arrangement to my ears.
Tonight's was tenderly delivered in a stately, whispery grace.
Things have changed...they certainly have. This song has metamorphosed
over the last couple of years into a real live stinger. All acid and
vitriol. Focused and tight. Oddly anthematic, much in the same way as
something like 'Time's they are a changin'...but much more intense. I've
noticed the crowd's really responding to it at the last several shows I've
Tell me that it isn't true. . .this was probably the sloppiest arrangement
of the night. It just didn't 'souuuund riiiiiiight'. Still a little too
loose, or unstructured, to be great. Nice steel playing by Larry, though.
Down along the cove. . .major highlight for me. Great riff, held-over from
Europe. A childlike, lusty rave-up! This was so bouncy and so F-U-N-! Bob
was really firing out those new words. Hamming it up with hand gestures
too. I love the way it builds to a climax, stalls for just a micro-second
and then explodes all over the joint...but perhaps you need to hear it.
It ain't me, babe. . .there should be new words created for the sole
purpose of describing the experience of hearing this for the first time.
So, that said, linxoy murbles rass rass. I was literally paralyzed
through the duration of this. Our Bob didn't just tinker with the
arrangement. Instead he wrote the most sexual, pulsating, slinky,
haunting, epic song structure of his career...and then put the lyrics of
one of his old folk songs to it. I marvel at this stunning piece of
composition. Everything and nothing came to mind as I listened in awe. The
verses had traces of insistency similar to recent versions of Masters of
War, with a touch of the spooky, dry darkness of Love Sick. The refrain
had a similar feel to the dazzling guitars of the Early 2003 Dignity or
the chiming chorus of LARS. Yet, as said, it was none of those things.
Pardon my pathetic poetics, but this was the sound of angel wings, magic
wands waving, a million diamonds glistening under a Technicolor rainbow!
It was a new color. Not just new to Bob, but new to music. Oh, my friends,
it was GLORY! Me, God and the lamp post will never be the same again. And
a special nod to Freddy. It was his axe that seemed to be spilling most of
the blood. (As a side note, I believe Bob began with the opening lines to
'Baby Blue'...which seemed like just an accident...however, it brought to
my consciousness a similarity between the two songs that had never
occurred to me before. Lo and behold, whoever she may be...she's gotta go)
Tweedle. . .I have no memory of this song. Still stopped dead in my tracks
from the prior performance.
Girl of the north country. . .probably still too dumbfounded to comment on
this one, but it seemed quite lovely. His attention to the details didn't
seem quite as sustained as it did in Hattie Carroll, but still superb. I
love this descending arrangement he developed over in Europe. Somehow I
like it better with Spanish Boots...though the only difference would
appear to be the words.
Most likely you go your way. . .beginning to thaw out. This was good. Not
great. Little bit unfocused. Some nice raunchy guitar work, though. And
Bob's two-step jigs were something to behold.
Honest with me. . .this was particularly good tonight. Really tight. Bob
was all over it. As with 'Cry a while' I noticed his looking out at the
audience on this songs refrain too. Is he trying to tell us something?
Every Grain of Sand. . .this also seemed to be better tonight than usual.
The difference apparently being his dedication to the mission. With long,
slow songs the ADD in Bob sometimes creates a half-hearted sound to his
performance. Tonight he seemed at least halfway interested in getting this
done right. The center stage harmonica was a treat. Leaning up on one leg,
into the mike, with both hands covering the harp like a hot cup of joe.
That was a sight. Then, if memory serves, he might have stayed there for a
line or two of the first verse. That was pretty odd as well. Anyway,
strong vocals and probably the best harmonica of the harmonica lovin'
Summer Days. . .solid. Got the job done, as always! Who would have
thought that Bob would have created such a durable live favorite at this
stage in the game? Well, me. You too, probably.
Cat's in the well. . .this was, like 'Down along the cove,' a really fun,
funky breakdown. Bouncy and blooooozy. Bob snarled. One hand on the
piano, one hand pointed at the crowd.
LARS. . .a little different than usual. The chorus is less anthematic,
more choppy, rockier, punkier. As such, Bobby grunts more than whines it.
(I mean that as a compliment). All in all, a pretty tough rendering.
Watchtower. . .Bob began this song at the center stage mic, sans
instrument. This was very weird. He couldn't seem to decide whether to
keep it on or off the mic stand. He sung a couple lines with it in his
hand karaoke style, then sung a couple more out loud to the band while
holding the mic down near his belt. He smiled a bit, perhaps even a
chuckle, shook his head and walked back to the piano for the rest of the
song. I don't know what explains this behavior, but it is an image I will
never forget. Very Chaplinesque, indeed. Pound, pound on the keys.
Growling out the words. This song was a very abstract, unstructured
affair. But ultimately it served its purpose.
Oh, what a perfect day. Show 53 on my never ending tour, and it just
keeps getting better. Thanks, Bob!
Review by Jeffrey Johnson
Show two moved a stones throw across the train lines to the much-smaller
Riviera, which slimmed down the chatty part of the crowd.
Down in the Cove was the show stopper and Bob knew it. He gestured with
each hook. It Ain't me Babe got a make over in a stop/start tempo that
astute believers received warmly. Some called it the showstopper. It was
certainly a one-of-a-kind performance (so far). Sad to say, some folks
More repeats tonight than normal, but due to splendid sound quality,
complaints were sparse.
Once again, Bob meandered to the center-stage mic during Watchtower, then
retreated to his piano mic in the midst of a lyric! But not before some
hysterical air guitar work! Nobody can do this better (or at all).
Great sound and energy left everyone eager for the Vic.
page by Bill Pagel
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