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 the 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 have 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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