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Review by Steve and Mary Clare Kersten
The 12,000 capacity hall was almost sold out except for some of the most
distant seats far up and in the back. The audience was a mixture of mostly
students, some kids, and a few old-timers (50+) like myself and my wife,
who gladly drove the 5 hours to witness what promised to be another magical
evening with Bob and friends (our first was at The Gorge, last summer, with
Paul Simon). We were not disappointed.
Asleep At The Wheel opened the show with their polished, highly stylized
version of country swing. The crowd was obviously impatient for Bob, but
the energy of AATW was inescapable and it got everybody tapping their
feet and ready for a great show. After 45 minutes, they said good-bye and
promised Bob’s would be out in a few minutes. The change of instruments
and set-up took about 15 minutes, and then the show began. The band
consisted of a drummer, 2 acoustics, a base, and Bob on guitar.
Bob walked on the stage dressed in black shiny pants with a white stripe
on the side of each pant-leg, a dull black jacket and a light blue satin shirt
with a black cravotte. He did not speak, but started right up with
“Hallelujah, I’m ready to go!” – a fast-paced opening act that seemed to bring
the band together in a way we didn’t see last summer. They went right into
“Mr. Tambourine Man” with Bob singing it low, with a gentle acoustic guitar.
After that, it was “Desolation Row”, continuing Bob’s low, quiet whispering
of the lyrics and Bob doing some superb fingering on his acoustic guitar.
Next Bob and band cranked up an insistent, proud “The Times They Are
A-Changin'”, with great guitar duets and Bob vocals. After that came
“Tangled up in Blue”, and the crowd all got up on their feet as the band
was really rocking and loud. Bob flashed his smile, moved his eyebrows,
and almost strutted around the stage as the audience went with him, as if
the connection with Bob was being shaped before our eyes.
The next couple of songs were less familiar, “Pass Me Not Oh Gentile Savior"
(including a beautiful mandolin solo by Larry Campbell) a driving
“Country Pie” (Oh me-Oh my), Bob’s gravely voice making the a fine
accompaniment. Then Memphis Blues, another tight, rolling electric
guitar lead that really got the crowd going again.
Then he sang a romantic ballad “Born In Time” – a wistful recap of
loves lost and sad memories. Very moving although it seemed either a
new song or a very old/obscure one.
The quiet, reminiscent ballad gave way to a rollicking “Watching the River
Flow” with Bob on a mean electric guitar lead and the slide guitar of Larry
Campbell doing its magic. Bob was smiling as was the crowd as the mood
switch from melancholy to the happy abandon of the song.
"Not Dark Yet" was another soulful, sensitive interlude that touched
everyone in the stillness of the hall. Then Bob really got down with the
audience, swearing “I was born here and I’ll die here, against my will, with
a fervor and a tension I’ll never forget.
Bob introduced his band – Charlie Sexton on guitar, Tony Garnier on base,
Larry Campbell on slide guitar, and David Kemper on drums. They all took
bows and went right back to their work of playing for Bob on “H61R” –
a rockin’ version with a strong lead by Bob.
They said their first of several good-byes, and came back on for encores of
“Love Sick”, (a soulful electric rendition full of feeling and pain, much more
accessible than on any recording we’ve heard), the classics “Like a Rolling
Stone”, “Girl of the North Country” (acoustic, once again wistful and quiet), “Not Fade
Away” (loud and boisterous), Blowin' in the Wind” and finally, “Rainy Day
Women #12 & 35) which had the whole audience joining in. It was a
thrilling finale that reached back to the youthful enthusiasm of the entire
From beginning to end, Bob Dylan connected with everyone, giving his loyal
fans all they long for, thrilling students with legendary songs. Most touching
for us was the rapture of a seven-year-old girl when he sang Blowin’ in the
Wind; how many of us have sung this song to our own children?
And, on the most positive note, let’s squash all this loose talk about Bob’s
imminent retirement. He has never looked or sounded better. This was not
the kind of performance an artist gives when he’s about to toss it all in.
Wow, he just caught his breath!
Review by Eben Hensby
I attended the March 21st performance in Pullman, Washington.
I am a big fan of Bob Dylan but am only 17 so I have, therefore, missed
out on watching him throughout his career. I do, however, own all but 5
of his albums and I really do love his work. I managed to get 15th row
seats for this concert. By the way, I live in Vancouver, B.C. and had
to endure a 9 hour drive to get to Pullman in order to watch the first
Dylan concert I've ever seen.
After Asleep At The Wheel finally got off of the stage, Dylan started
off with Hallelujah, I'm Ready To Go. He may have done a good job or he
may not have, I was too busy being overwhelmed by the fact that I was
actually seeing Bob Dylan live! ...he sounded good to me. He then
moved into Mr. Tambourine Man which I thought was good but too much like
the original version. But he then knocked my socks off by doing a
fabulous version of Desolation Row. The Times They Are A-Changin' was a
nice classic song to play and it had everyone shouting out the chorus
line. Tangled Up In Blue was absolutely too much! It was great!
Everyone (in the floor section, anyway) was on their feet, dancing
away. After this version, I don't know how I'll ever be able to listen
to the CD version again! Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior came next and
this was the last accoustic song, for now.
Dylan strapped on his electric guitar and jumped into Country Pie,
followed by Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again. I was
struck by the odd way he appeared when he held the electric guitar, as
he held it more vertically than most people do. It was also sort of
funny when he then sung Born In Time because everyone had been cheering
and shouting during Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
but almost no one recognized Born In Time, so it was quiet. Not to
worry, Dylan got the crowd back into it with Watching The River Flow.
Not Dark Yet gave us another mellower song before he really blew the
crowd away with Highway 61.
After a minute or two of loud clapping and cheering and lighters waving
in the air, Dylan came back for the encore. He gave us Love Sick, Like
A Rolling Stone, and Girl From The North Country, which were all fairly
well done. Girl From The North Country had a beautiful guitar part to
it done by the guitarist of the band. Not Fade Away was next, and this
song was great fun. A beautiful Blowin' In The Wind followed.
For the final song, Dylan performed Rainy Day Women #12 & 35. There
were several joints being passed around and security was quickly putting
them out! The crowd had great fun with this song as people were dancing
and shouting out "Everyone must get stoned!"
The concert was, overall, great. I was kind of disappointed that he
didn't use his harmonica even once, but the rest of the concert made up
for it. I was also disappointed when the show finally came to an end.
It's fun trying to sing along but not being able to because he changed
the pace or phrasing or whatever.
Being on the floor was great; we were all standing up and dancing for
quite a few songs and for the entire encore. By the end of the concert,
my hands were numb from clapping and my voice was gone for shouting and
singing. If Dylan tours near me, you can rest assured that I will
definetly be there!
Review by Boyd Benson
Beyond the reviews already posted, I'd like to add some personal
observations. I first saw Bob Dylan nearly twenty years ago at the
Paramount Theater in Seattle during his "Slow Train" tour. As he refused
to play any of his older songs, relying instead on his newer material,
many in the audience reacted aggressively. Some walked out. Heckled and
booed in between songs with catcalls of "traitor" and "hypocrite," it was
a brave and supremely confident Dylan who I observed that night.
Eventually, he turned to some of the malcontented audience members.
"Ya' might as well be howlin' at the moon," he said, turning back to
piano for a solo version of "When he Returns." So alone.
It was one of the most impressive, affecting experiences of my life.
Though, assured and defiant as he was, at the time Dylan also seemed quite
encumbered, tragic, and old.
This was not the Dylan that I saw Tuesday night in Pullman. From the
opening bars of "Hallelujah, I'm Ready To Go" to the last notes of "Rainy
Day Woman ...," Dylan had a ball, jigging and mugging for the audience.
Especially nice were the ensemble vocal/acoustic versions of the opening
song and "Pass Me Not, Oh Gentle Savior," where Dylan seemed much more
serious, paying homage to his musical origins, and transporting the
audience back to a time before country music was a consumer commodity -
but rather as honest as a bowl of beans. It would be nice to see him
record some of these older traditional songs in an ensemble format. The
band was excellent. We missed his harmonica, though. Creating a
caranvalesque, timeless space (countering what those twenty years have
bestowed and taken of us) Dylan brought it all back home.
(Note: This morning, I caught my wife, who swears she can't stand
softly singing "Them Times They Are A Changin.")
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