Billings, Montana

March 25, 2000

Shrine Auditorium

Review provided by Fred Robinson.

        A sign in front of the Shrine Auditorium announced simply "Bob
Dylan----Live on Stage".  It was absurd.  The Shrine might have been
appropriate for a local grunge act or perhaps a Grand Funk Railroad
reunion, but Bob Dylan?----sheeesh!  The Shrine Auditorium the location of
my high school senior's all night party decades ago.  To see Bob Dylan
there was unreal.
      I cannot believe Billings.  They have the biggest (The Metra) and
best (The Alberta Baer) concert facilities in the state yet they host Bob
Dylan at the Shrine Auditorium.  The outfit that produced the show
actually sold three or four hundred tickets more than the building would
accomodate under the fire codes and those people were turned away the
night of the concert!  It was general admission and most of the people
that got in early took the bleacher seats around the gym floor.  That left
the floor where there were no seats!  I know how uncomfortable those
bleachers are and I knew we would be standing anyway so we elected the
floor. It was hot and sweaty and crowded but the music and performance
made you forget all of those problems.  Janet, who is vertically impaired,
was allowed and even encouraged by the people to work her way up to front
center.  She was ten feet from  Bob  and was pleased. I stayed back
because I could see very well from where I was.
    The acoustics were not good and generally there seemed to be problems
with the sound and stage setup.  Because of these problems it was a little
difficult to follow GOE.  Still, the crowd was dancing from the start and
when Bob snarled "Taaaangled Up in Blue" things went crazy. Then Bob
picked up his harmonica and breathed new life into this great acoustic
version of this great crowd pleasing song.  It was like Bob knew how
uncomfortable things were for the crowd so he decided to make it worth
their while.  The Band did WTRF again in Billings so I guess maybe my
thought that that song was Missoula's special treat was a little
oversstated.  However, Billings is on the Yellowstone River, so make your
own decision.  Between Asleep at the Wheel and Bob I heard someone say to
a woman behind me that she had really danced up a storm.  She responded
that she figured that "Dylan would be cerebral, so she decided to take
care of her physical needs during the opening act."  Well....I guess she
was right about Dylan being cerebral, but she was wrong if she thought she
wouldn't be dancing to Bob AND THE Boys. The more I think about it, the
more I like the understated sign about Bob being live on stage.  He was
live on stage, and he was also in our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls. 
Despite all the problems with the venue, it was a great show!
    I  love this band.  Bob is already a legend, but the shows these guys
are putting on now are the stuff of which legends are made.  Charlie let
loose a little more than in Bozeman or Missoula.  We also got to see Larry
on violin and show his versatility. We finally got a good look at David
whose face has been blocked from our view by cymbals.   He still has that
hat and those glasses on.  He may have dropped a stick once but who cares.
Tony, as always, provided the steady solid bass.  By the way, these guys
do the best BITW I have ever heard.  Forget Stevie Wonder.
    Each of the Montana shows were special and different and I wouldn't
missed any of them.  I wish like hell that Janet and I could have just
kept on going down the road with the shows.  It is back now to life in
Helena, but I will all remember the four days that Bob Dylan and his Band
were in Montana and helped us watch the river(s) flow.  Hallelujah, I'm
ready to go.

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