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Review by Todd Sattler
After a flawless, riveting show in Bismarck, Bob Dylan continued East in
his tour of the backroads, 200 miles across the prairie to Fargo. The
venue here -- Civic Memorial Auditorium -- is a small (3300), downtown,
multi-purpose hall with a generous grassy area out front. The great
set-up, and the 60 degree, sunny weather, made it a perfect day to hang
out, throw a frisbee and talk about the fantastic stuff that's been going
on with these shows.
The doors opened at 6:30 and, due to general admission seating, there were
probably 500 people already in line. Inside, the open floor got filled
back to the light board after about 15 minutes, then the bleachers on the
sides and the seats up top. But not a bad seat anywhere. The place was
sold out but not oversold. Plenty of room all night to move around --
even on the floor.
Asleep at the Wheel played a nice six song set. Hot Rod Lincoln and
Cotton-eyed Joe were the highlights. Lead guitarist Ray (that's what it
says on his guitar strap) has a great understated style. I'm not sure
why, but he made me think of Dick Dale and his surf sound. Hot Rod
Lincoln and Cotton-Eyed Joe were the highlights. A fine band, worthy of
high praise, but still not what we came for.
The lights came up, the set was changed, the incense came wafting, and it
was time. Church opened with Somebody Touched Me and I thought we all
might be in one of those big revival tents, waiting to be saved.
Tambourine Man sounded good and then gave way to It's All Right Ma. The
groove to this one always gets me going and the "don't answer to anyone"
message -- at least the one I get -- resonates long afterward. Love minus
Zero/No Limit was next with the pedal steel adding a nice texture.
Tangled Up in Blue smoked and as usual, put the crowd into a frenzy.
Then, back to church with Rock of Ages, followed by a quick Country Pie
and The Man and Me, played for the first time this tour. A few bars into
Rock of Ages, Dylan made a face and blasted a chord from out of nowhere
that got the quick attention of everyone on stage. The rest of the song
was out of sorts and it carried over to All Along the Watch Tower where
Dylan changed the tempo on one of the breaks, seemingly to make sure
everyone could follow. They did. Everything that was wrong was righted,
and the heavy blues of Watching the River Flow was superb. In fact
everything was so good that Dylan decided to introduce the band and tell a
very bad joke. Bob: You know, Tony's been here in Fargo before. Tony: ?
Bob: Yea, he came to get a car for his wife. Not a bad deal. Everyone
was nice and laughed.
Not Dark Yet was soulful and heartfelt. The arrangement seemed very close
to the recording on Time Out of Mind. Highway 61 was pure joy with
Charlie Sexton taking advantage of the rare chance to show his stuff.
Dylan nodded his approval and then traded in his own killer solo at the
end. Magnificent. Supreme.
The encore started with the sad Love Sick, then Like a Rolling Stone, with
a great last guitar jam and a slowed-down ending. Girl From the North
Country was very different from the version on Freewheelin' but just as
beautiful. Nice that he played it for Fargo. Not Fade Away, a Buddy Holly
song that became a Grateful Dead touring standard, rocked hard. Dylan's
nod to Jerry. It took me back.
The three-part harmony of Blowin' in the Wind was wonderful. And then the
standard closer, Rainy Day Women, brassy and blasting.
These North Dakota shows -- Bismarck and Fargo -- were as good as I've
ever seen of anyone, anywhere. Get to this tour if you can.
Review by Anne Karakasoulis
Collegeville, Mn. is halfway between Fargo and Rochester. Since we
spending the day there on Friday, it worked out great to go to Bob's Fargo
concert on Thurs. night and then Rochester on Fri. night.
I kind of wish every Dylan concert could be in Fargo. The venue was
perfect - there was seating in the stands and standing on the floor, and
it only held 3200 people, which was for me the right size. The security
guards were these big sweet beefy guys - probably the local football team
- and they maintained control in a benign authoritarian way. The weather
was perfect for sitting outside waiting to get in - warm and sunny and the
people were really really nice.
There were probably only a few dozen baby boomers on the floor and
were junior high, high school and college-age, and they were Dylan fans.
They knew the words to the songs and knew more obscure songs like 'The Man
in Me'. Most that I talked to had never seen Bob before. What a testament
to Bob that he can inspire such devotion and excitement in yet another
generation. The songs stand alone for people who haven't seen him, but
then they go to one of his concerts and Bob's got the best musicians one
can find, and add to that Bob in his glory doing something wonderful
with his and others' songs at every concert. It makes for an ecstatic and
joyful experience for the audience. Bravo, Bob. Poetry is good for the
It's funny how every venue is different, and that changes the dynamic
of the crowd. At Rochester the next night, the front row of seats
was right up to the stage and the people in that row understandably
were not about to share their space, so there was no room for the
determined fans who felt the need to get up to the stage. That
caused some trouble which distracted to an extent from parts of the
performance. I think the solution is simple. Bob should play more
concerts in Minnesota, and then maybe the poeple would calm down a
bit - or maybe they wouldn't. I don't know. Ofcourse, I have no
agenda when I suggest this. I also liked the fact that an
entertaining but not highly expensive or egotistical band like
'Asleep at the Wheel' was the opening act. They came on, played a
tight 45-minute set, got the crowd warmed up and promptly left. I
can understand Bob wanting to reach a wider audience, but it can be a
drag waiting through Joni or Paul or Phil or whoever to finish a full
set before Bob comes on, especially when there is an opening act
before them. It was just so great to go to a smaller venue like
Fargo and Rochester where the audience was all Dylan fans. There was
a young guy at Fargo who had come from Montana for the show. I
mentioned that he must have been at the Montana shows and he said
he'd gone to all of them and Montana was in shock that Bob had played
4 shows there. He said, "I think half the population of Montana has
dropped everything and is now following him around." How does a band
that good keep getting better all the time? I liked the electric
acoustic bass. You could really feel Tony's bass as much as hear it.
The guitar interaction was just dazzling. Charlie was on his knees
at the end of RDW at the Rochester show and felt inspired to tug at
Bob's pantleg like a little child. It was funny and neat. Bob did
the joke about Larry's need for a tow truck in Rochester, and told
one in Fargo about how Tony had been to Fargo before and got a bike
for his wife. He thought it was a good trade. Thanks, Bob, for the
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