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Review by Fred and Janet Robinson
As I left Missoula this morning I looked on one of the grassy Mountains on
the east edge of town. I noticed that the large white rock L for Loyola
High School had a D, a Y, an A, and an N added. I hope Bob and the boys
saw it when they arrived in their bus. Probably not.....but I was still
happy to see the tribute after such a great debut concert in Montana. Bob
seemed to enjoy the crowd and I like to think that "Watching the River
Flow" was in honor of the Clark Fork River which he and the band cross to
get to the stadium. The song took me back a million years when I attended
school and used to try to study on the banks of that river and that song
would go through my head. Anyway, I took the song as Bob's tribute to
Missoula as I have not heard him do the song at any of the other concerts
my partner, Janet, and I have seen, except maybe at the Gorge 10 years ago
or so. The crowd was a little tight at first maybe because nobody of
Bob's stature had ever been their before and also perhaps because they
took awhile to realize just how outstanding and talented this band is. The
crowd was interesting. There was an Einstein desguised as Robin Hood;
there was a cowboy angel (at least he had wings on-nice ones too); there
was a guy in a rain suit obviously expecting rain; etc. We cannot wait
until Bozeman and Billings, but Missoula was special because we brought
our kids (16 and 20) and they loved it! Our parents would never have taken
taken us to see Elvis--they preferred Lawrence Welk. Besides Elvis never
came to Montana, although I think he did appear in Rapid City. However, I
am beginning to think that was just a hoax. What our family and the rest
saw in Missoula last night was no hoax! Bob and Tony and Larry and David
and Charlie are alive and well! and they are rockin! and they are in
Montana! and we love them and we showed it. And even though WTRF reminded
me of college this is no nostalgia tour! Janet told someone she works
with who had seen Three Dog Night in Montana last summer and thought it
was great that she (Janet) was not into nostalgia. Neither am I and
neither are our kids. Bob and his Band are the best, and Bob has never
been better. He is more believable now than when he was young, he is a
better guitar player, his band is better, and I even think his voice is
better--even more of an edge to it, just like his music. Bob transcends
popular culture and there were all types at the show last night. Those
expecting nostalgia were disappointed. Thanks, Bob. Thanks to the never
ending tour band. See you in Bozeman tommorrow. Fred and Janet Robinson
Review by RocksOff99@aol.com
It's midnight Mountain Standard Time and right now Bob Dylan is rolling east
on Interstate 90 having just put on a transcendant show in Missoula, Montana.
Dressed in a dark grey suit with white cowboy boots, Dylan took the stage
just after 9 p.m. after his opening act Asleep At The Wheel (with suprise
guest Huey Lewis as in "and the news") left the stage.
Missoula was the first town Dylan ever played in Montana, and more than 5,000
people greeted him with shreiks and yells. Me, I was in the third row no
more than 50 feet away from the Great One himself.
Dylan stomped into "Glory Glory" with dizzying three part harmonies on the
chorus. Immediately he slowed down into a poignant "Song For Woody." The
blue lights on his frizzy hair gave him a supernatural look as he sang of the
way he sees the world.
The crowd roared when they heard, "Hey Woodie Guthrie, I wrote you a song,"
they did the same when Dylan sang, "It's alright ma..." The song started off
stripped down--with single note picking making out the "Wake Up Little
Suzie"-ish riff in the tune--but crechendoed into blasting roars with the
drums pounding after each stanza. Dylan's eyes got buggy and wild flashing
his beautiful blue irises when he sang the "It's Alright Ma" lines--it was
his first intense physical animation. The crowd hollered. Dylan had
Dylan sang "It's All Over Now" very sweetly. By this time, he'd started to
loosen up a little bit--just a tad. At the beginning his face was stoney and
his movements limited. Dylan began to loosen up just slightly during the
soft groove of this song--much different than the famous
"eat-your-heart-out-Donnovan" version in "Don't Look Back." As in all his
songs, Dylan changed the melody live and nobody could sing along with him.
Still, he made music with his voice and played a beautiful version of this
song complete with an extended, laid-back jam.
For a touch of drama, the security goons were kicking people back into their
seats for dancing in the asile. It depressed me to see the stadum forcefully
seated as Dylan was onstage. However, when Dylan jangled into "Tangled Up In
Blue," the crowd hit critical mass and leapt from their seats, into the
asiles, and danced like banshees for the duration of the song. The song was
at once more bluegrass and more rocking than the original. It sounds like
something at a souped-up Grateful Dead show. Dylan slap-rapped the lyrics
(leaving out the one about meeting her in a topless bar), the drums rolled,
the bass rocked and Larry's mandolin gave it a wonderfully danceable
Appalachan feel. At the end, Dylan blew some amazingly versitale harp. His
notes were fast, presice and rich. He tucked his acoustic guitar under his
right arm, held the harp mike in his left hand and blew. He even showed some
fancy footwork in kicking the cord out from under his left leg. This was a
true high point of the concert.
Oh shit, call me a Dylan-Knave, but I don't know the title of the next song.
It had a beautiful melody, a laid-back country feel. The chorus, featuring a
pretty harmony, went "This world it can't stand long...before it is too full
of hate." For the ending, the instruments cut out and Bob and the two
guitarists sang the chorus a-capella. Another lovely, lovely song.
Then Bob Dylan plugged in. Though I tried to tell myself not to be so
Dylan-cliche, I thought "yeah, Newport Folk Festival Revisited!"
Dylan kicked into "Country Pie." The first two bars sounded like "Man of
Peace," and through the first lyrics, the song sounded straight off
"Infidels." Then, thanks to some twangy guitars, it got a much more country
feel. The song bounced and flounced. A good time tune.
To my AMAZEMENT and THRILL, Dylan played "Things Have Changed," next. I
think it's the first time he'd played the song live in concert. I know all
the words thanks to my Wonder Boys soundtrack. His live version was more
down and dirty and grungy sounding thanks to the three electric-guitar attack
on it. Larry played some great slide riffs, Dylan's lyrics were hot.
The next tune, Watching the River Flow, rolled with a chunka-chunka groove
reminiscent of Dylan's best stuff with the Band. As the show progressed,
Dylan got more and more animated and into it. He'd bounce on his knobby
knees, slide on his cowboy-boot covered feet, jut his head out like a duck.
He even began showing some teeth when he played solos on his fireburst
stratocaster like on "Watching The River Flow." His voice improved too.
During the first half of the concert, his voice stayed low and didn't have
much range. It got wilder, higher and more powerful as the show progressed.
Larry kicked off "Maggie's Farm" sounding like Robbie Robertson. It was a
scathing and biting guitar sound. Dylan wasn't scathing with his lyrics,
just matter of fact. The drums kicked and pushed the tune along and it
sounded great. Like it had a touch of swamp boogie.
I raised my hands in Hallelujah when Dylan started playing, "Not Dark
Yet"--my new favorite song of his and the one I was hoping he'd play above
all others. The tempo was slightly faster and the sound was more stripped
down. But those chord changes were still so powerful. The crowd yelled after
each lyric. Dylan held his stratocaster straight up, like Bill Wyman played
his bass with the Rolling Stones, for much of the show. This was another
example of that. He made beautiful runs on the bass notes and sang the song
with touching phrasing. Charlie Sexton, the handsome guitarist on Dylan's
right played a gorgeous, big, black Gibson guitar throughout the song. The
lights were blue green and at one point the stage flashed big, yellow lights
on the crowd then slowly faded them away. The crowd especially responded to
the lyric, "I can't even remember what I came here to get away from."
It was Larry Campbell's birthday.
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