page by Bill Pagel
Review by Noel Mayeske
Life is good! I saw the first of Dylan's three shows at the Tabernacle
tonight, and will be back for the second show Tuesday.
I'd give tonight's show a 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10: compelling with a
handful of highlights, but not mind-blowing.
The Tabernacle is an interesting old converted church that holds about
3,000. It's a fun place to see a show, with folksy dairy-queen-cone-shaped
clouds painted on the blue wall behind the stage, red walls on each side,
and high white ceiling with folk-art patterns painted into it. It's near
where many Olympic events were held in Atlanta in 1996, and used to be
called The House of Blues.
Tickets were still available before the show, but the place seemed full by
show time. Dylan and the boys came on at 8:20 and played exactly two
hours. Bob was in surprisingly strong voice at the start, but his vocals
faded later. I was about 40 feet from Bob in this intimate venue. He
stayed behind the keyboards all night as usual. They have to be
purposefully under-mic'ed, because it's too noticeable to simply slip an
engineer's attention. I think Dylan just wants something to do with his
hands while the bandmembers make almost all of the music.
The five standout performances for me were: Don't Think Twice, I'll Be
Your Baby, Long Black Coat, Highway 61, and I Believe In You. Let me touch
on those five:
Don't Think Twice was nice mostly just because it's an unusual choice; but
the country-blues stroll arrangement tonight (Tom Thumb's Blues had a
similar arrangement tonight) can't improve on the original's simply
I'll Be Your Baby had the best guitar work of the ballads. Nicely
interwoven play between Larry and Freddy. (Or "Fuzzy" as Bob introduced
him after LARS, also remarking "Fuzzy comes from a broken family..." with
a laugh, to Freddy's stunned glare.) I closed my eyes when they did Baby,
and got taken away.
Long Black Coat is not one of my favorites on record, but I loved the
performance tonight. The performance had a spooky chill of reality --
quietly compelling. Hearing it in an old church added depth to the grim
reaper story of the lyrics.
Highway 61 was the night's best rocker. Freddy's guitar work is often
maligned, and there's justification in that. But Freddy had his moments.
Those occured either while dueling with Larry, or when he seemed to forget
himself for a minute and just get into a nice little riff. He often seemed
to be trying so hard to sculp notes all around the central theme, like a
sculptor motioning all around the space he wants to fill later with his
sculpture. But after all that waving, many times, there was nothing there!
Freddy seemed so afraid of playing something obvious, he ended up just
slipping and sliding downwards into a creek of musical mush. But on
Highway 61, Freddy shined brighter than Larry, which is saying a lot.
Freddy soaked his slide solos in exactly the type of scarifying,
chillbumpy sauce that song needs. He actually had that guitar sounding
ghostly! In fact, I'd call that a revelatory live version. I'd never
gotten the pentacostal brimstone-meets-otherworldly evil of that song
until tonight. Kudos to th I Believe In You was so lovely. After hearing a
lot of country-blues strolls or rockabilly 4/4 time numbers tonight, I
appreciated hearing a gospelly R&B number -- what a moving piece of music.
Bob sang it well, and again, it was cool hearing it in a church.
The weakest performances were the rote-blues of Honest With Me (that song
does nothing for me) and the woefully rearranged It's Allright Ma. The
latter really suffers in its clunky new slow-blues arrangement. It lets
the music overwhelm the words, and that's one where I really want the
words to stand out sharply.
Tom Thumb is my favorite Dylan song and it was a treat to hear it live,
but the arrangement was too bland to draw me in. Frankly, I've become
smitten with Bill Kirchen's recent cover of it on the 2002 UNCUT Magazine
Dylan CD, and I really like that version now! That's one of the
performances tonight where Dylan's staccato vocal delivery kept me away
from the center of the song, unfortunately.
Watchtower was nothing special tonight. But LARS was actually quite
compelling; surprisingly active vocals by Dylan. In fact, if he didn't
play it every livin' lovin' god-forsaken night, I'd probably be raving
about it right now.
Interesting distribution of songs tonight: 9 from 1962-1968; just 1 from
1969-1988; and 7 from 1989-2001. So it was almost ALL early and recent
Thanks for a fun show Bob, here's looking forward to the second night of
Review by Philip Covin
Last night was the first of three shows at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, and
I plan to be there for all of them. This was my sixth Dylan show overall,
and I would have to say it was better than average. I stood on the floor
and enjoyed meeting the nice folks around me: the father & son from
Colorado who collectively had seen Dylan around 100 times, the other big
Dylan fans on the other side of me (one who worked for CNN; sorry, can't
remember names), and then a young guy who was attending his first Dylan
show (much more enjoyable than Marilyn Manson, right? I know you'll be
back for more Dylan shows). Anyway, it was good to all make friends
before the show began. Hope to see some of the same faces tonight.
The show started at 8:15 with a strong Drifter's Escape. Highlights for
were these four: It's Alright Ma, Don't Think Twice, Standing in the
Doorway, and I Believe in You.
First, It's Alright Ma was a different arrangement than any of the other
live versions I have listened to. Although it did seem very slow compared
to other versions, it had a new funky blues rhythm which I really enjoyed
and which created a new dynamic for the lyrics.
Next, Don't Think Twice was a great acoustic version. Dylan really sang
well on this one, I thought. Loved the different instrumentation on this
Standing in the Doorway was one that I had mentioned to some others
the show that I was hoping to hear, and my wish was granted by Zimmy.
He's been doing a lot of Time Out of Mind on this tour leg, and it is a
great album to pull from.
I Believe in You from Slow Train Coming was wonderful. Dylan stayed
faithful to the original melody, and it was really special.
Others that were great were a rare performance of Unbelievable, a nice
treat of Man in the Long Black Coat from Oh Mercy, and rocking versions of
Hwy 61 and Summer Days. Both of these tunes nearly brought the house
I'll also mention that the crowd was really into it, and during the break
before the encore, stomped and clapped loud enoough to be heard blocks
away in order to get Dylan back on stage.
I CAN'T WAIT for show #2 tonight! See you there!
Review by Michael Fink
"Drifters" - solid strong opener,
"Tom Thumb"- good phrasing
"Unbelievable" - pretty rare, tight
"it's alright ma" - plodding bluesy arraignment got in the way
"moonlight" - up-tempo, band sounded like they weren't used to playing it
this way "long black coat" - spooky vibe "I went down to the river, but I
missed the boat..." "honest with me" - to be honest with you, I was
waiting for the next tune "i believe in you" - good treatment, larry got
some good licks in "summer days" - lots of energy, crowd dancing "cats in
the well" - on the verge of collapsing at several points "lars" - high
point of the show
drums weren't mic'd... dylan's voice was WAY up front... which is fine
with me.. keyboards conspicuously low ... larry was all the way right,
freddy all the way left.... the whole thing just made for a wierd-ass
These guys looked tired to me. . all in all I got the feeling it was just
another day at the office for everyone involved. it's the end of the
current run and it shows. Dylan cracked a smirk once or twice... but I
don't think I saw a hint the band were enjoying what they were doing- not
that I expect that.. but, and I absolutely hate to say this, but to me the
show lacked spark or inspiration. maybe that's why so many people (in
general admission at least) were hitting the ganj. But hey... let me say
this... ANY night you get to see Bob is a FANTASTIC one...
Review by Adger
This may be a sacrilege to write about one of Bob's shows, but Monday
night's show was average. Let me note that I have seen Bob probably 20 to
25 times with my 1st show in 1978. However, we have all seen these same
shows for about 15 years now. Bob would do well to add something
different to his routine. Perhaps adding some backup singers would be an
idea as he clearly has trouble with his voice now. I have read that the
piano is more of a necessity than a desire to change the show.
Of interest: I made it to the sound check where Bob was inside with the
band. As me and a couple of folks were listening through an open door, a
manager (probably with Bob?) looked at us and the next thing we knew had a
slew of guys taping up a black plastic tarp so that we couldn't see Bob
exiting the stage door en route to his bus. As it happened, Bob did come
by at 6:30 and I did see him. He was walking with another man and seemed
in good humor and conversation. They stood outside his bus for a minute
and laughed and talked. Bob was wearing blue jeans and a skull cap with
blondish hair sticking out over his eyes.
The next interesting thing occurred right before the show. I was seated
on the 1st row in the balcony right above his piano. An usher came over
to me and said "do you mind if I ask a favor?" He pointed over to the 1st
row to my left and said "you see that those seats are taped off and were
not sold." The seats had yellow police tape on them and were empty. He
then said "Bob doesn't like people looking down on him as he walks over
between songs" he asked me to please not stare or shout at Bob when he
came over to this area. I did watch the between songs exchange and the
only thing Bob did was come over and look at this harmonica case. He
carefully picked out one before the song where he played, but later I saw
him simply throw one back on top as if he didn't care.
Overall, an average show with some interesting non-show tid bits.
page by Bill Pagel
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