page by Bill Pagel
Review by Marcus Thunich
The first of a three night Toronto stand at the recently renovated (this
was the first concert in this new building) Ricoh Coliseum proved to be an
average, if mundane at times, Dylan gig. By the time the band took to the
stage just after 8:00pm, the 10K seat building looked to be ~95% full with
the g/a floor being (thankfully) only 1/3 filled with bodies. This made it
very easy to get close to the stage if you had a floor ticket. Rather than
do a song by song breakdown of the entire show, I'm going to just point
out a few random things that come to mind:
- The sound/mix. Standing 25 feet back dead center on the floor provided
an outstanding stereo image with the mix being dialed in superbly from the
first note. Hats off to Zimmy's sound crew.
- Girl From the North Country. A reworked version with a very different
feel. Zimmy's reworking almost gives the tune a strange gospel-like feel.
- Ballad of a Thin Man. My personal highlight. Nice to see this tune make
an appearance. Dylan sang it with great aplomb and the band played their
collective asses off.
- Floater. Nice interplay between Koella's excellent violin work (the only
time he impressed) and Larry's killer work on the Gibson.
- The reworked Baby Blue was hideous. Aside from being nearly
unrecognizable, Dylan's extreme over enunciation of the lyrics didn't do
any favours to this top shelf Dylan classic either. Easily one of the
worst re-workings of a Dylan tune by Dylan I think I've ever heard.
- Dylan himself. After attending a so-so gig in Niagara Falls last August
which featured a seemingly burnt out and bored looking Dylan, it was nice
to see Zim back in fine form looking energized and smiling occasionally.
He did however, speak not a word the entire night aside from intoducing
-Larry was definitely the MVP on this night. Killer solos on Summer Days
and Highway '61. The man was a force to be reckoned with.
- The band looked really BORED while having to play the umpteenth
CatsRollingWatchtower show ender. I bet the band (esp Larry and Tony)
wishes Dylan would retire the always-the-encore tunes Rolling Stone and
Watchtower as much as I would. Shake up those encore tunes Bob!
- The second drummer that played probably 2/3 of the show : Why he was
there only Zimmy knows. He added *nothing* to the sound and played exactly
what George was playing 95% of the time. He seemed really out of place up
there staring at Bob the whole night with this goofy grim on his face as
if he was thinking "wow am I really onstage with Bob Dylan!".
- Freddie Koella still does not impress me at all. In fact I find his tone
rather unpleasant and playing to be bar band pedestrian at best. I also
don't care for the way he likes to move to centre stage a lot and play
rather un-exciting if flashy solos. A poor choice to replace Charlie
Sexton, who's loss was *huge* to this band. I surely missed his presence
- Toronto blues legend Paul James (who played onstage in Toronto in '01)
was side stage the whole night but didn't get the nod from His Zimness to
All in all a decent show (and a fun time) but not nearly in the same
league as some of the monster shows Dylan played during the Fall of 2001
(a Never Ending Tour (tour) yet to be surpassed IMO). Tonight's gig
promises to be special if only for the fact that it's in an 800 capacity
club. Here's hoping the intimate surroundings elevate the band to play
above and beyond the average-ness of last night's show.
Review by Jerry Tenenbaum
The band came on promptly at 8 PM and launched into "Drifter's Escape".
I was amazed at the sound at this hockey arena. I expected a muted
muffled below average noisy barrage (usual at most hockey arenas I attend)
but instead got a relatively crisp clear sound. Congratulations to the
sound man. Some of the regular songs already presented at these concerts
followed. "Ballad of A Thin Man" was welcomed by all. The new
arrangement of "Girl of The North Country" was the highlight for me. What
I really liked though was the hard sound of this excellent band. It
really complemented the harsh vocal presentation of the rock sounds. I
haven't been present for better presentations of "Highway 61Revisited" or
"..Memphis Blues Again". "Floater" was most enjoyable and Freddy
Koella's talents are formidable. There was a 'mystery' guitarist behind
Dylan on at least two of the songs. (Who was that masked man?). The
novices were concerned about the gruffness of his voice (the seasoned
veteran's have come to expect this) and some would have liked the guitar
to have appeared with Mr. Dylan front and centre where they felt he
belonged. Dylan looked like he enjoyed himself and was decked out in
black suit with sidestripe and white cowboy hat. He really seemed to
enjoy playing with this band and was obviously highly involved in the
music. This was not a man 'going through the motions' but someone who
cared about what was being presented. That is refreshing for those of us
who still feel that what he is doing is important.
Review by Mick
To my knowledge this is the first big name act to play the Ricoch
Coliseum. Lots of cops and security for some reason but they were not
needed. A pretty good venue, size wise, not too big not too small. Floor
was half full and there was still seats available. Good to hear that the
two club dates Saturday and Sunday are sold out, more about that later.
Dylan came out to standard opening speech and into Drifters Escape. Good
crisp sound. Whole show was rocking, highlighted by a blistering Highway
61. Standard encore for this tour. Saturday and Sunday sees our hero
playing very small venues, 800 and 1500 respectively. All I can say is
that was the talk of the show. Everyone seemed to view this show as a warm
up for the more intimate club gigs to come. People seem to think it is
Dylan's SARS contribution for the city. A sort of opposite to The Rolling
Stones 500,000 person show. I know am very excited for Sunday and will
write a more in depth review of setlist and atmosphere.
page by Bill Pagel
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