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Review by Todd Rychener
First, I will give a cowboy nod to Asleep at the Wheel who played a great set of
boogie-woogie (for one couple anyway), rock you back on your two-tone bootheels,
hoot and holler country-swing. I especially will remember their "Red River
Valley". They do go a job setting up Bob and his Band, especially since Bob and
his Band played, not one but two, Nashville Skyline songs for us.
Bob's first song, "Roving Gambler", was perfect and new for me, with great
delays in front of the three accoustic guitars in the chorus -everyone was
already standing up, smiling and on their heels. During the next song, "My Back
Pages", Dylan stepped back to grab his harmonica -his only harp solo of the
night -and everyone cheered at the sight of it. I loved the "thank-Yoooouuu"s he
shot out after the first few songs.
The crowd was happy and loud through the whole show, including the opening
band, but there were lots of empty seats and people showing up a half hour into
their set. There are 10 rows of seats behind the stage at the Civic Center, and
they got a lot of attention from Bob and the band throughout the night.
As far as the songs, I was more than satisfied. TUIB and AAtW got the
loudest cheers in the first set, but everyone loved MakeYFMLove, too, and I was
glad to hear the back-to-back Nashville songs and Gates of Eden. I'd been
looking on this site to see what sort of set to expect. I almost regret it,
since the last shows have been pretty similar it looks like -especially the four
or so encore pieces. I loved hearing all of them, I'd never heard BITW live,
and "Not Fade Away", just as my brother (hi) who saw it in Missoula put it to me,
definitely Rocked. I could see a few activist-minded people not really falling
into the general enthusiasm for the "Rainy Day Women" closer. I expected it but
much preferred the "Girl of the North Country", played to a silent, awed,
Minnesota crowd. Just about cried, myself.
I don't see Bob Dylan shows every day (it was my second) and this is my first
post to this page. While I'm sort of tired of hearing some people pick apart
each show solo by solo (I know what they mean about lyrical phrasing, and sound
quality but sometimes...), it turns out I'm left somewhat speechless, so the
joke's on me. If you're headed to one of the upcoming dates, expect a good
time. Tonight, Bob was moving around a lot and played quite a few great
accoustic solos (I thought), ducking down a bit, striking a pose, and getting
into it. It would have been great if he'd asked the audience for hometowns or
reminisced for us a bit, but I'm not from Minnesota anyway. I have taken a job
in the North Woods working as a cook for a spell, though (Bemidji, Concordia
Lang. Villages). I am going to go buy NSkyline soon, finally, since I'm so far
from dad's tape. I am going to bed, now. Nice talking to you Graham (I'm that
Ole), keep on listening to Bob, wish you well.
this was from Todd Rychener, firstname.lastname@example.org
Review by Brian Keenan
Oh me, oh my! Bob's return to his home state was yet another resounding
triumph. It was my 9th time seeing our hero, and he never ceases to
amaze. About 8:45 PM, the lights went down which led to the most magical
words in the English language, "Good evening ladies and gentlemen, would
you please welcome Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan!" A solid "Roving
Gambler" got things off to a good start, then Bob wove his magic with
"My Back Pages". During this song he started to do little tentative
dance steps, and I thought, "it's going to be a good night, Bob's in a
good mood". He gave a nod of acknowledgment to the three sections of
people seated behind the stage, before launching into the night's only
harmonica solo. It was a pleasure to hear Larry on fiddle for this song,
although it wasn't as up front in the mix for me. Bob gave a big "Thank
you" after this and almost every song. After a straight-ahead "Masters
of War", Bob brought out an up-tempo "This World Can't Stand" from his
seemingly endless repertoire of covers. Then it was time for "Tangled",
an awesome tour de force that I actually never tire of, I don't know how
he keeps finding new things to do with this song every night. A new
twist for me was the stretching out of the title line at the end of each
verse, "taaaaaaangled up in blue". Bob then brought the crowd back down
for a thoughtful "Gates of Eden"; after the wildness of the previous
song the crowd might have been a little restless for this one. The
electric guitars came out for a fun country-rock "Country Pie"; I have
no idea how Bob decided to pull this song out this year after it
gathered dust for 30 years, but that's just why we love Bob so much. But
Bob wasn't done as he pulled out the best surprise of the night, "Tell
Me It Isn't True". What a special treat! Bob's stage movements were
really getting bizarre at this point as he did a kind of ballerina-like
tiptoeing back and forth across the stage with his guitar held high. A
hard-rocking (but too short for my taste) "Watchtower" came next, then
it was back into country mode for "Watching the River Flow", nice and
bouncy, a lot different from the shuffling arrangement of this tune that
I had been used to the last several years. Bob followed with a
restrained "Make You Feel My Love", then after introducing "some of the
finest players in the country", it was a down and dirty "Highway 61"
that saw Bob bending his knees and Tony and Charlie swaying back and
forth in unison. After a couple minutes Bob came back out for the usual
encores: "Love Sick" (nice lyric change: "I feel like I'm plowed under"
instead of "I want to take to the road and plunder"); "Like a Rolling
Stone" (which probably got the most ecstatic reaction of the night),
"Girl of the North Country", "Not Fade Away" which had everyone dancing
Dead-style in the aisles, "Blowin' in the Wind", and an incredibly
rocking "Rainy Day Women", which was ringing in my ears all during my
90-mile drive back to Minneapolis. I don't know how Bob can go to town
after town, night after night, year after year, and play his majestic
music for 1 hour and 45 minutes, and keep on keepin' on, but the man is
Superman. If anyone out there taped tonight, I'd love to hear it again.
Bob, from the bottom of my soul, thank you for what you gave us tonight.
Review by John
It was a healthy, happy Bob Dylan who appearred in Rochester, Minnesota,
on Friday night. The 'Conscience of a Generation' seemed fully half of
his fifty-six or fifty seven years. The five piece band, in formal
suits, played with the intimacy and comfort of a jug-band
in the living room for the first half of the show; the 'acoustic' part.
During this first half of the show, Dylan & Company provided insight
into the Bluegrass and Appalachian Gospel sides of Dylans' lexicon.
He was every bit the preachy troubador of the 'Truth' on His own
'Gates of Eden' as on the confessional, Soul-searching 'My Back Pages'
or the Country-Gospel '_________'. There was no nostalgia present
on-stage, although He has been playing some of these songs for thirty
or more years.
The 'electric part' was essentially a 'Greatest Hits' package,
and 5000 fans, from Slacker-Generation 'Phish' Heads to Bearded
Old Folkies seemed to appreciate it. 'All Along the Watchtower',
'Highway 61' and a few surprises, most notably 'Country Pie', and 'Tell
Me that it isn't True' from the 'Nashville Skyline' album.
Dylan was animated and clearly having fun, strutting absently
like an odd combination of Chuck Berry and Charlie Chaplin, as He
carefully plucked on a Fender stratocaster. The ability to solo on the
guitar is a new sensation for Him, and He obviously loves it.
The opening act, veterans 'Asleep at the Wheel' were in very fine form,
a Texas-style, (as opposed to Nashville-style) CountrySwing band. Their
years of barroom experience didn't much
sway Dylans' audience, but this is a band to be relished the next time
they come to Your city. They never stop or even slow down, so They'll be
in Your town soon. Don't miss them.
And don't miss Dylan, either.
Review by Justin Seningen
After a very good forty-five minute set, Asleep At the Wheel left the Mayo
Civic Center stage at 8:12 p.m. The house lights all came on and the crew
immediately began their work at moving Asleep's gear off the stage, and
sliding Bob's forward from its dark hiding places in the rear of the stage.
I had a good vantage point from my seat above and behind the stage. I saw
a guy light rolls of about a hundred sticks of incense apiece and put them
in the back of the stage, and then light three for himself and put them by
his chair in the "control center" to the right of the band. At 8:49 the
lights went out, and the audience went wild. A few spotlights were
sporatically shining in circles in front of the drum set to add to the
excitement. The band took their place, and Bob was the last to come out.
He knelt to pick up his acoustic guitar; I was surprised that he didn't
have a crewman put it on him for him.
They quickly went into "Roving Gambler". His vocals were the strongest
I've ever heard live. He was very accurate on the low tones; he wasn't
fishing for notes at all. The harmonies were excellent, creating an
unexplainable warm rich sound that you wanted to last forever. Next was
"My Back Pages", with Larry (the man of many strings) playing fiddle. Bob
went back and picked up his harmonica towards the end of the song. It
seemed like he only meant to play it for one verse, but the crowd urged him
on and he took another verse on harmonica, and then signaled to end the
song. Thus, he didn't finish all the verses to the song, but he couldn't
really top the energy of his harmonica solo. Next was "Masters of War",
starting out very bare; the band gradually came in. After that came "This
World Can't Stand Long", again with the rich harmonies like on "Roving
Gambler". Bob then played "Tangled Up In Blue", really drawing out the
"taaaaaaaannnnnngglllllledddd". His guitar solo was very long at the end
of this one. Wrapping up this acoustic set was "Gates of Eden" with Larry
playing a really bizarre instrument (bazouki) appearing to have twelve
The opening electric riffs of "Country Pie" were almost exactly like on
Nashville Skyline. I thought this song could have gone on a little longer,
so Bob could have done some more of his stage moves. Also from Nashville
Skyline, the next song was "Tell Me That it Isn't True". Larry sat at the
pedal steel on this, but his playing was very sparse. He played a few cool
suspended-fourth releases with the pedals, and a few slide transistions.
But to be honest, his playing here wasn't on par with the rest of the
concert. It's got to be really hard to fill Bucky's shoes, but I really
wasn't impressed by Larry's work here. On a different note, Larry played
the coolest licks on a yellow Fender stand-up steel on "All Along the
Watchtower", the next song. But at the very end, while the band was
holding out that minor chord, either Charlie or Larry played the major
third of the chord, resolving the minor to a happy major sound. I did not
expect this twist at all. The bluesy "Watching the River Flow" came next,
Larry stayed on that chest-high steel guitar. After that, Bob announced
that he was going to slow things down a little, and went into "To Make You
Feel My Love". Bob came in a measure late on the vocals; no big deal.
There was no steel playing on this song, but the tremolo effects pedals on
the guitars added a very tasty touch. On the last verse, he appeared to be
looking at one person in front of him in the audience, raising his eyebrows
on "..there's nothing that I wouldn't do". He could have even been
flirting and giving some innuendos to her. Bob then introduced the band.
The joke this night was about Larry. He apparently had a problem with his
toe, and they had to call the "toe truck". Ha Ha! "Highway 61" closed the
set, with very long solos at the end. Bob kept fidgeting with his hair
too, as if it wasn't frizzy enough for his high standards and he had to
keep fluffing it out. At the end, he took off his Fender and the band left
Review by Jon Erickson
My 10th Dylan concert in a little over ten years was another
beautiful, memorable experience. I've had the privilege of being pretty
close to the Great Bob at some of those shows. The last time I saw him on
October 30, 1999 in Milwaukee I was blessed with being front and center
with a hand on the security wall, so pulling into Rochester with a ticket
labeled "Limited View" was a little hard to swallow, but it was a SOLD OUT
SHOW and my good friend Mark and I were damn glad to be in the house.
We found our way to the assigned seats; they were ok, a profile view
of Bob, but we were concerned the sound might be a little thin so we
decided to take matters into our own hands and see if we could improve the
situation by positioning ourselves somewhere on the floor. As we made our
way through the crowd, I yelled to my friend "I think the zero hour is
rapidly approaching." That was the last time I would see Mark until after
the show in the parking lot; having lost him in the shuffle.
The lights went out and that oh so familiar "Would you please welcome
Columbia Recording Artist Bob Dylan" rang out over the arena and the show
was on starting with "Roving Gambler". This was the opener I was hoping
for so I quickly made my way up to the walkway between the first and
second levels. It was a great view with great sound, and with my
binoculars in hand I was back in the front row.
I had seen Bob do "Roving Gambler" once before in 1997 and it really
stood out in my mind. Later, I was able to listen to it on the internet,
so now I knew all of the words and could sing along, although I was a
little distracted periodically scanning the crowd in search of my lost
friend. As Bob and his band rolled into the second selection of the
night, "My Back Pages," I accepted the fact that I was on my own and
intensely watched Bob's every move. He pulled out a harp on this one, it
would be his only harp blowing of the night and it was sensational. At
the end of his harmonica bit he gave a little pause and a nod of his head;
like he was considering adding more, but then decided no, that was
sufficient; like a master artist knowing just when to put his brush
"Masters of War" was definitely one of the highlights of the evening.
I had never seen it done acoustic before and Bob's clear voice laid
heavily on the crowd. "This World Can't Stand Long" was another one on my
wish list having also discovered it on the internet. (I sure wish
Columbia would release this stuff on disc.) It was a brilliant
performance with a great deal of texture enhanced by Larry Campbell's
mandolin playing. "Tangled up in Blue" was terrific as always, but the
big score for me came next with "Gates of Eden." Having never seen it
live before, it put images in my head of a young Bob and I thought about
all the places he has been and people he has seen. It's truly mind
From having been religiously following the set lists on "Bob Links," I
was anxiously anticipating "Country Pie" and it was every bit as fun as I
expected it would be. "Tell Me That It Isn't True" was a beautiful
surprise. Bob sang it with real heartfelt emotion. "All Along The
Watchtower" is one that I always like to see and the last time I saw it
the microphone went out and we lost the second verse, so this time I
really soaked it in.
"Watching The River Flow" was a good time. I had listened to it on
the ride to the show. "Make You Feel My Love" made me think of my wife;
she's a big Garth Brooks fan, we find common ground with this one.
"Highway 61 Revisited" was electrifying as ever; Bob was very animated
with his facial gestures. I knew we were heading into the encores next.
With the crowd loudly cheering, stamping feet and clapping hands in
unison, Bob reappeared on stage and cuts into a captivating "Love Sick."
"Like A Rolling Stone" I've seen Bob do many times before but I must say I
believe this was the best yet. "Girl From the North Country" was another
big score for me to add to my "I witnessed Bob list." "Not Fade Away" was
great. Buddy Holly must be smilin' in heaven. "Blowin' In the Wind" was
really done well with great harmonies; the crowd loved it."Rainy day Women
#12 & #35" with the house lights on is a fun timin' way of ending the
night. Towards the end of the song, Charlie Sexton seemed to be doing an
exaggerated impersonation of Bob's facial expressions, Charlie looked a
little like Jim Carey while he was doing this.
The song and the show ended with Dylan and Sexton in a laughing
embrace. Bob then stood briefly center stage, allowing the crowd a few
more seconds to cheer and adore him, then he turned to leave, heading down
the ramp at the back of the stage. I watched closely with my binoculars
until he disappeared behind a black curtain.
As all times before, I was sad the show was over and I hope for the
day when I can see Bob Dylan again.
God Bless you Bob.
Review by Rosey Gates
I drove down from Apple Valley, MN to Rochester the city of one of my
great grandfathers. A Dylan lover since the mid 70's. In and out of sync
with his works through the years, I have found that what I have seen of
him lately and what I saw last night truly knocked my socks off!
It was a full house in the civic center arena at 9:00 when the lights went
down. The master himself stepped onto his stage with band members taking
their places. Oh how precious he was. A regular little Jack in the Pulpit.
Only fancier. All dressed up in his exquisitely designed black coat and
tie. Someone complained about his coat, but I found its length and fit to
be absolutely perfect.
He played every song with precise measure fingering and pickin on his
guitars. He was very upbeat, rocking and rolling, steppin in his boots,
gettin down to the sound of the other instruments played around him.
He smiled down upon us many times over last night, seemingly happy to be
alive. Not one person was disappointed except perhaps security who could
not control the front rows of the crowd. Everyone was jammin - wanting Bob
to see their pleasure to see and hear his songs played live in Rochester.
I have seen Bob in concert a few times thruout the years and in the past
have been terribly disappointed for many reasons. Bob truly has polished
his act and his band. It appears that he is demanding more from them these
days and is receiving it. Great Job Guys!
The crowd as you heard so recently was again a much younger display of
people. I suspect that there is some Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers
interest amongst this younger group. But I find it suffice to say that I
believe that good songs, good writers, will live on from generation to
Review by Todd Winkels
What a beautiful concert. Bob painted a masterpiece tonight. He
had the Rochester crowd really going crazy! These girls that sat in
front of me pretty much danced the whole time. I must say I was
impressed at the Rochester crowd for giving Bob the great support! I'm
used to subdued crowds in Rochester. Well, their reaction really blew
my mind, and gave the show a glow. Leave it to Bob Dylan to know how to
loosen people up with that groove of his that reminds me of the steady
rhythm of a train. Especially on Highway 61, which was the biggest
highlight for me, as well as Not Fade Away. I really felt that Bob
conjured the spirit of Buddy Holly tonight when he pulled out that song.
It was a glorious sound. It was emotional for me to hear the crowd
roar after the first line was sung in that slashing three part harmony.
Bob's sun-burst statocaster became Buddy's sun-burst stratocaster during
the performance of this song! Wow! I'm 29 years old, and this was my
3rd Dylan show, and the best one I saw and heard. Hear are my other
-Bob's harmonica solo on My Back Pages (again, the crowd goes nuts when
Bob holds this pure note, the note hangs in the air so beautifully).
-The tender vocal performance on Make You Feel My Love.
-The spooky guitar sound on Love Sick really haunted the arena. The sound
of this song really puts me in a dark world.
-The grand harmonies in the chorus of Blowin' In The Wind.
-How Bob introduced the band. I wish I could understand all of what Bob
said, but I was blown away by the fact that I never heard him talk so much
on stage. Also, it seemed like he said "thanks" after every number, and
he made comments after some songs. Again, I wish I could"ve understood
what was being said!
-Its hilarious to watch Bob stand on one leg while he plays his guitar! I
recall him doing this a couple times!
-I liked the times when Bob acknowledged the people that sat behind the
Before I end my review I should mention that it was a real treat to
witness the happyness of a friend of mine at his first Bob Dylan
concert. He is from Bosnia, and has only lived in the states for a
couple of years. He grew up on Bob's records in the sixties. Listening
to Bob Dylan helped him learn english. Sadly, he had to leave his
collection of 3000 records behind (every record of Bob Dylan, plus
numerous records by other bands) when he left his worn torn country. It
meant alot to him to see Bob Dylan tonight. I remember how wide his
eyes became when he heard Like a Rolling Stone, and how he smiled when
he heard the opening sounds of Rainy Day Women. He was struck by Bob's
electric guitar playing, and he said it reminded him of the guitar
playing of Elmore James. Thank you, Bob Dylan, for a night of happyness
Review by Rick Egan
The Rochester, Mn. concert Friday night
March 31st, by Bob Dylan and his band
was a riveting performance. From the
Roving gambler opener until the Rainy
Day Women final encore, Bob rode a
wave of musical intensity that he engulfed the audience with throughout
the performance. Bob reached for the stars on the second song of the show
"My Back Pages" with an inspiring and truly moving version. I could sense
that the crowd completely bonded with Bob and his band, as they dug deep
into "Back Pages". Bob and the band completely tore up "Tangled Up and
Blue", with an extended and smoking jam to close out the tune. My first
Dylan show was in 1979, and I am amazed at how Bob continues to inspire
me with each performance that I see. My first thought the next morning was
Bob Dylan "where are you tonight."
Review by Sara Jaros
Bob was alive and singing at the Mayo Civic Center in
Rochester, MN last night. Rochester is a rather small city
and we drove from Minneapolis to see him and when we got
there, the whole surrounding area was so quiet - it was like
the opera was in town- not Bob Dylan. But due to the small
city and venue, the calm demeanor mood prevailed. The Civic
Center seemed more like a high school auditorium then a
stadium in comparison to where I've seen him before. It was
quite an intimate setting and the crowd was very there. The
sound was great and Bob was styling up on stage, he looked
as comfortable as an old hat. People were dancing the whole
way through the show on the main floor and the energy was
typical Minnesota nice. There didn't seem to be a grandiose
pinnacle in last night's show because from the get go,
everyone was jamming and had high levels of energy- it was
so fun. His selection of songs had a melodic transformation
to them. From My Back Pages, to TUIB, to the Gates of Eden,
to Tell me it isn't true, to Make you feel my love, to the
encore set. The theme flowed. Every set he puts together I
attempt to analyze his message. The choice of these 15+
songs put together into a little puzzle. What am I saying ?
It's all in the eye of the beholder. I am curious why he
rarely plays his music from the 80's live; I would sure love
to hear Tight Connection to My Heart some time live! When I
am at a Dylan concert I peruse the crowd and attempt to
scope out what is unique about humanity at that specific
show. As I gazed up, (I was in the 2nd row/2nd section), I
saw everyone's face contorted to some meaningful expression
known to only them. I learned nothing new this time, for I
had the same feeling that slithers up my spine and does a
180 back down my soul every show. Dylan touched every single
soul in that room in some shape or form that is so complex
and individually specific that the only vibe which can be
accurately construed as collective, is gratitude. When Bob
sang his last songs, and the lights came on, it was as if
the whole room was thinking aloud,
"Thank you Bob for making my life that much better!",
I know I was.
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
Review by Gary Baughn
The Mayo Civic Center was an intimate half-circle of all ages Friday
night in Rochester, Minnesota, as Bob Dylan and his amazing band took the
The crowd stood, and remained standing, until almost two hours later the
pre-recorded music and house lights signaled the inevitable end to this
This magic had five ingredients: first, my companions. I had come
from Milwaukee, picking up my daughter Julie and her friend Lynn in
Madison and my son Mike and his friend Colleen in Lacrosse. For some
people, Dylan is a link to their past. For me, he is always a golden
connection to my children and their friends. (How do you get your kids to
listen to Dylan? Let them listen to anything they want, but when they
reach a certain age, just hand them Blood on the Tracks.)
Second, the place. I've only seen Dylan live four times, but this was
the best location, a little over 5000 seats in a cozy half-circle with
room for dancing, located in the beautiful city of Rochester in Dylan's
home state of Minnesota. Nice room, great sound. If he's ever here
again, go see him.
Third, the band. I've read about those special days of old with Robbie
Robertson and the boys, and I feel like I'm seeing the same combination of
musicianship, chemistry and love of the music that must have existed then.
Plus, they are all so versatile. Bluegrass, ok. Hendrix-like
Watchtower, you got it. Country, no sweat. A Capella vocals, sweet. The
only thing I have not observed them include is brass, for which there is
not much call in Dylan's repertoire, but if he decides a song calls for
it, I would not be surprised to see one of them haul out his trumpet andbeat it with a few promises.
Fourth, the Voice. It has always been the most amazing instrument he
played, and now he has found ways to live within the limitations imposed
by age and use. And this night, for whatever reason, it was remarkably
strong. There is nothing more painful than seeing the emotion and
intelligence of Bob's lyrics subjected to the sometimes thin, weak voice
he has been left with, but Friday night in Rochester the dairy air, the
small room, the "hometown" crowd, his will, all combined to produce a
voice worthy of the anthem-like words "How does it feel?" I guess it must
have felt pretty good for once, or he sang through the pain.
Fifth, the Man. He is. He speaks; he plays. We of many generations
The highlights: I called "Blue" before my son did, and I won an easy
buck from Bob Reitman on some tour trivia.
No, really, the highlights:
My Back Pages was the best I've heard, including many bootlegs.
Country Pie and Tell Me That It Isn't True appearing on earlier set
lists had sent me to Nashville Skyline to re-listen to these songs, and in
concert they seemed incredibly alive. This band was born to play Country
Pie, and seemed to get as much of a kick out of the music as I get out of
the lyrics (you wonder if the inspiration for playing this was Dylan
seeing American Pie).
Watchtower smoked, Hwy. 61 rocked, and Blue, well, let's ask the
question, how can you remake the best song ever? I don't know, but he
has, several times. A year and a half ago in Chicago, I thought it was
country, and this summer and fall in Milwaukee I thought it had edged
towards bluegrass, but now, even in the abbreviated version last night, it
RINGS. I mean, as in "he could play his guitar just like ringin' a
bell." My words fail me, but the guitars during Blue have been turned
into bells, and Dylan and the others are ringing them like the Chimes of
Freedom. I hope to someday own this version, and all the others that have
been or ever will be. Tangled Up in Blue is the Canterbury Tales of rock,
and like Chaucer's work, this is a masterpiece and it is also unfinished.
And, the encore? It ended with the audience either dancing or agreeing
at the top of their worn-out voices that "everybody must get stoned," but
was highlighted by the righteousness of Blowin' in the Wind, the power of
Not Fade Away, the sentimentality of Girl of the North Country being sung
in Minnesota, and the beginning riff that everyone knows, Like a Rolling
Stone. Every one of these gems was inexplicably polished AND raw, both
at the same time, just like good rock 'n roll should be, but the surprise
for me was how well Love Sick fits here with these other songs. Not that
I don't like it, I do, not that it isn't a downer, it is, but it is, well,
recent. But he's already changed it. And, as a song, it fits his current
voice. And although that voice has lost some color, this artist can do
more in black and white than most others who have the whole unused and
little understood palette. Love Sick is a black and white song, just like
To Kill a Mockingbird is a black and white movie. This glimpse through
Dylan's lens, this cinema of his verite, belongs in the encore.
I have arthritic feet, and I stood for over 90 minutes. Afterwards, I
saw Bob Reitman, from WKTI in Milwaukee, a long-time fan and concert-goer
who was actually at one of the MTV Unplugged sessions, and he was almost
speechless. Well, that's an exaggeration, Reitman has never been
speechless, but he was struggling for which words to use todescribe this
night in Minnesota.
Thanks, Mr. Dylan, for being an Artist: you took the dark out of the
Review by Tom Lallier
A MASTER CRAFTSMAN
Over the last 25 years I've had the pleasure to experience a master
craftsman in his trade. Once again in Rochester, Minnesota, Bob Dylan
showed why he is one of the most vibrant Rock and Roll performers still
wandering from town to town. For all of you younger folk just starting out
on your journey, I really hope you get the chance to see Bob in full
formal attire with his long dark coat and big guitar. The band was tight
and the crowd was ready. Security at the show was there but mellow,
allowing those who wanted a close up view to reach the stage if you had
His first set was an acoustic blast for 5 songs beginning slow and steady
and finishing with the handy work of a true master craftsman performing
songs of intense beauty. Dylan's depth of performance and uncanny ability
to judge an audience is not matched by many of today's slap em together
and don't worry about whether they can really perform bands. The two
songs which really stood out in the first set were My Back Pages (great
harp piece) and Gates of Eden. The audience didn't overlook the
versatility of Larry on three different acoustic instruments during the
opening set. Over the last couple of years Larry has apprenticed at the
foot of a rare musician and his ability to judge the art of the audience
is improving. Larry is beginning to introduce his own unique and wonderful
sound to each performance.
In the second set the band went electric tuning up with a couple of nice
covers, Country Pie and Tell Me That It Isn't True. The gem of the night
was Love Sick. This song has emerged over the last couple of years as the
bed rock of the shows. Bob's slow deep blues and real connection with the
crowd are never better than in this song. He emerged from Love Sick with
a nice bluesy version of Rolling Stone which picked things up and got the
joint hopping. The bands performance of Watching the River Flow was
another big treat for me.
With the opening of the final set the band had the audience sweat soaked
and exhausted from dancing in the isles for the first 13 songs. The encore
set was typical of the last two years and really rocked with Bob switching
from electric to acoustic with the agility only few performers can really
match. The highlight of the last set was clearly Girl From North Country.
The acoustic intro with three great guitars fending for prominence ended
in a tender, soft lullaby. Thank you Bob and all the Band for another
masterful and truly professional performance.
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