page by Bill Pagel
Review by Bill Carruthers
I know by most standards I have not seen Bob a lot of times (just a little
over half a dozen) but let me say this, Dylan in Dallas at the Granada
Theatre was something special. Seeing Bob, who is larger than life, in
such a small venue (holding just over a thousand people) will be a
highlight of my life. My brother and I arrived at the show an hour and
half early to get in line for the general admission, standing room only
show. When we arrived we found that there were already at least 350 people
in line. The line wrapped around the front of the theatre, all the way
down the side and behind the restaurant that was next door.
The wait was worth it. Bob came out and played for about an hour and
forty-five minutes. To my surprise - and thrill - most of that time was
spent with Bob behind the keyboards playing piano! He opened the show with
a spirited run through Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Bob and band were into
it from the very first note with Bob and Tony smiling at each other
through out the show. After completing the edgy opener Bob shifted gears
and went into a reflective Tell Me That It Isn't True. This would be a
formula that Bob and band would follow through-out the night. They would
get the crowd rocking on the verge of insanity and then shift down into a
melodic, melancholy number.
After Tell Me That It Isn't True, Bob started banging again on the piano
and blowing his harp and the crowd's mind again, this time with a very
nice version of Tomstone Blues. The band was on fire with this number this
was definitely the first sign of things to come. Freddie Koella is a
fantastic addition to the band. His guitar playing blows away anything Bob
has had with him since G.E. Smith. The way that Koella and Campbell play
off of each other is really a treat. Tombstone Blues was awesome.
Bob dramatically changed gears again for the next song, his tribute to
Good Friday, "Saving Grace". It had a nice slow country feel to it with
Larry playing the pedal steel, but it seemed like most of the crowd was
wondering why Bob stopped rocking after whipping up everyone into such a
Next came another high moment in the show ... Things Have Changed. This
one was so good that it put a stupid grin on both my and my brother's
face. We loved how Bob got so into it and his phrasing was dead on, "lot's
of water under the briiiiidge, lot's of other stuffffff tooooooooo." It
was really great.
For the first time in show Bob came back with another crowd pleaser in
Just Like a Woman. It was during this song, that I think that Bob actually
first realized how much the crowd was loving his performance. He seemed to
smile a lot at the crowd during this one and have extra energy with the
piano and harp. It was really fun to see.
Drifters Escape and Never Gonna Be the Same Again, were nice and had their
moments but could not compare to the energy that came with the next song,
which was Dignity. Everyone from the band to the crowd seemed to love this
one. I have always loved this song and this was the first time that I got
to see it live in person.
Bob then did a cover which I must confess I think that only a couple of
people in the crowd knew. It was Easy Lovin' by Freddie Hart. It was a
really raunchy version (raunchy being a positive review). I think a lot of
people enjoyed it, but most silently enjoyed it due to hearing it for the
Bye and Bye came next and this once again got almost everyone dancing. It
was great to see the band group together at center stage around Tony's
stand-up bass. Once again everyone was having a good time.
A very strange performance on Honest with Me slowed the pace down a little
but Bob's phrasing kept it interesting. Then came one of my favorites from
Bob's recent catalog, "Standing in the Doorway". Because I love this song
so much, I doubt that he could do a bad version.
SUMMER DAYS WAS THE HIGHLIGHT BAR-NONE OF THE ENTIRE NIGHT!!!! I never
really thought much about this song in the past but Dylan and company's
rendition of this in concert will forever change that opinion. Everyone
was smiling and dancing to this one. First everyone was very impressed
when Freddie and Larry were trading off rock-a-billy licks. But then Bob
quit playing piano and grabbed his guitar and joined the scene. I must
admit I was nervous that he wouldn't be able to keep up with Larry and
Freddie, but man did he! Suddenly all three guitars were jamming out the
rock-abilly that I have ever heard. This is a must have on bootleg!!
Please someone give me a copy!
After a brief break Bob came back out for two encore songs, Like a Rolling
Stone and All Along the Watchtower. It was a wise choice to go with those
two songs because the crowd really was enjoying the rockin' songs much
more. I think that now that this group has Freddie Koella on lead and
George Recelli hammering the drums, Bob will find that pretty much
everywhere is going to prefer the rocking numbers the most.
Review by Dave Ferman
Bob Dylan in a tiny theater -- it sounded to good to be true to North
Texas fans. In recent years Dylan has played sheds, arenas, and smaller
halls, but he hasn't played a place as small as the 1,200-capacity Granada
Theater in -- well, nobody I knew could recall when he'd played a place
this tiny in Dallas//Fort Worth. Maybe back in the '60s. It could have
been the show of a lifetime, but it wasn't. Dylan and his band were good.
Not great. Good. Sometimes too sloppy, sometimes dead on the money.
Dylan's voice was fair -- better than several years ago when he played the
Fair Park Music Hall (capacity around 3,000) but not as good as when he
played Reunion Arena last year. Going on right about 8:10 p.m., he and the
band played just under 90 minutes. He said ``thank you''' several times
early on, but didn't introduce the band. He didn't mention the war or
President Bush, and sometimes looked a bit distracted. The drummer totally
overplayed and was mixed up far too loud. A new drummer would be good,
Bob. The set list was interesting -- is this the first time he's played
``Easy Loving''? -- but couldhave been stronger. ``Dignity'' was a nice
touch; too bad he didn't sing it very well. ``Tombstone Blues'' and
``Things Have Changed'' and ``Just Like A Woman'' were excellent. As were
the final three songs of the regular set, ``Honest With Me,'' ``Standing
in the Doorway'' and ``Summer Day.'' Heady stuff. ``Like A Rolling Stone''
was weak -- he didn't build on the verses going into the choruses, and the
song just sat there. However, ``All Along the Watchtower'' was very strong
and brought the show to a satisfying end.
Review by Brent Riffel
Well, I have to agree with Dave, this could have been the show of a
lifetime. It wasn't, but it offered some interesting moments. I won't
repeat what these other reviews have said, except to agree that the
Granada is a wonderful venue with warm sound. I stood dead center, about
thrity feet away from the stage and about ten feet in front of the
soundboard. A small room.
Bob didn't introduce the band (so I didn't know who he was) but Freddy
Koella, the new guitarist (what happened to Billy Burnett?) played quite
well, with a lot of energy. I have to confess, I miss Charlie already (so
does my ex-girlfriend, but for different reasons), although Freddy
shredded on Watchtower and Honest with Me. But he seemed downright lost
on other numbers, and stood as close as he could to Larry, watching for
chord changes and trying to learn his way.
Saving Grace was wonderful. I listened to the 4/20/80 version on the way
to the show, and the one played tonigh at the Granada provided a beautiful
contrast. Bob gave a moving rendition, with nice backing from the band.
Standing in the Doorway was, as Bill mentioned, excellent, with nice Bob
phrasings. Bob's solo on Summer Days. Bizarre. He picked up his guitar late
in the number, turned the treble all the way down, and proceeded to blast out
nothing but deep bass in a dissonant burst of sound that soloed around the
beat but not quite on it. I loved every second of it. It was an
anti-solo (reminded me of the old English band Gang of Four). Larry
grinned and Freddy looked on in amazement.
Weird or new things:
They have a new stage set-up with Bob on the far left. Also, no acoustic
songs tonight. With the new line-up the emphasis is on rock/rockabilly.
It's definitely entertaining, and perfect for the summer festival
schedule. But the lack of acoustic guitar meant there weren't many
intimate, stirring moments that left you speechless. This was still a
great, memorable show, but I always want to hear Bob on acoustic.
Finally, no war songs tonight. Where's my John Brown? Where's my phatty
Master's of War? Sure, I was dreaming Bob would play Lenny Bruce, but I
guess I just assumed what with the current political situation, that the
band would break out some war songs. Nope, not tonight. Oh yeah, no
backup vocals either. Larry had a mic but never used it. Freddy had no
mic. So Bob covered all the vocals, which is great, but I've really loved
the harmonies of the last few tours.
All in all, a great evening, spent with some good friends of mine of whom
I don't get to see enough. The Fall '02 tour had lots of great shows with
interesting setlists. If this show is any indication, spring 2003 will be
a fun one. See you at the tour closer...
April 19, 2003
Review by Kathleen Aisling
How fortunate can you be to get to have Bob opening a tour in your
hometown! My spirits were already soaring the two days before the show
when the wagons filled with friends from near and far started circling the
venue and we were able to all hook up to start our journey together. The
day of the show dawned cool and overcast (actually, we were in line quite
awhile, then the day dawned) and many of the gang were there. The
logistics of the wait were near perfect–food, bathrooms near, nice
temperature, clean and pretty quiet street plus very cheery, fascinating
people in line! The venue people were wonderful to us all week, letting
us see inside the venue for days prior to the show, letting us use the
bathrooms in the a.m., and responding to all of our reasonable requests
throughout the day. (Holding things we couldn’t take in, roping off the
front of the line.) It was a pleasure to be in a place where the
organizers’ first impulse, though they were busy and a little stressed,
was to be human to us and say, “yes” right away, instead of “no” right
away. Bob’s security people, though worried (hopefully for naught, seemed
like a mellow crowd), were also very civil.
So, onto the show and more about the venue later:
I had an incredible view from dead center of the first tier (yes, I
waited all day to not go in the front) which was about 15 feet from the
stage since the pit is so small. I could see everyone clearly, and with
the new set-up and my wide angle view, I could see everyone all at once.
Bob was far stage right with his piano rig (steel in front with music);
then George, on this stage closer and more center than usual; Tony pretty
far foreground; Freddie and Larry snuggled together over on stage left. No
mike for Freddie. (Their arrangement, while good for several reasons did
tend to muddy the guitar sound, but more on the sound coming up.) Larry
had a pedal steel instead of the steel from last U.S. tour, brown, eight
pedals. I am not sure if it is new or the one he always played. Very
notable in the set-up: no back drop or black and white tile or any Dylan
decoration/logos on the stage.
No change in the incense, intro music, intro words. Then, there he
was!!! Bob looked lovely and distinguished with his black suit, shiny
taupe-colored shirt with a black and white cravat, the black pants with
the white piping (shirt also with white piping), white cowboy boots with
black tips (I think, we were all too close to really see his feet). His
hair was longer and maybe a little fluffier (it was really humid)–looked
nice. Band was out of uniform (kind of a fun change), all dressed
differently though everyone was himself (usual hats, facial hair and
accouterments). Tony had a snazzy dark suit with shiny threads and some
texture running through it with a white ceramic bolo–band member
best-dressed for the night. Larry’s hair was shorter (seems they always
get haircuts then you check in later in the tour and their hair is longer)
and it flipped up on the ends (humidity, too?) Freddie was clean cut,
you’ll see him sometime. (Camera confiscation was going on the audience
near me, don’t know if any photos will materialize.)
So, how ’bout some details on the show itself? Well, in general, Bob
played piano, adding harmonica to some songs where he usually doesn’t
(three or four songs.) No one played an acoustic guitar at all. Bob was
relaxed and seemed to have some fun, especially right off. He did his
piano leg things at the beginning, his Elvis leg moves during his guitar
playing, and at the end, some walking-away-from-the-piano, band-leading
finger-clicking. It was heartening to see him having some fun.
Here are some minor notes on the songs from what me with a little help
from my friends can remember (no notes, so don’t hold me to it):
Tweedle Dee: Upbeat opener, typical arrangement, Bob on piano.
‘Plagued with some sound problems in the feedback family, and maybe too
high in the mix drums and bass. (Sound in this venue was horrible
everywhere according to all my scouts who can tolerate being away from the
stage, placed strategically around the venue–no one seemed too thrilled
with the sound except those literally in the back of the balcony and the
place could probably benefit from some acoustic ceiling treatment.)
Tell Me That it Isn’t True: Fairly typical of recent versions. Nice
pedal steel work by Larry who played all sorts of guitars all night.
(Will put this here for lack of a better place, Larry never misses a
note and was great all night, as usual. I just cut and paste that from
review to review.)
Tombstone Blues: I heard people with varying reports on this one, but I
liked it. This was pretty much the only Bobtalk of the show, reported all
over as something like, “I wrote this before I knew anyone here.” Freddie
seemed to be adding to it, though the sound on this was fairly muddy,
especially up close. The proximity of the two guitarists to each other on
this small stage made it so that the guitars sounds did not have much
separation. I’ll spare you our car discussion on phase cancellation, and
getting them apart so we can hear the space in between the monitors.
Saving Grace: This was beautiful. Terrific song choice here, sung
articulately and with feeling. From what we have to compare (only
hearing recordings of the last tour leg), this is more together than in
Things Have Changed: This seemed to have some variation from the
standard one, maybe a little slower, or maybe Bob was on automatic
pilot. Still, ‘very glad to hear it.
Just Like a Woman: This was the most expressive version of this song
that I have ever seen live. Bob was dripping with poeticism with every
line. His phrasing was different with large breaks between phrases. He
also did a sweet harmonica break. Larry on pedal steel, of course. The
audience loved this one, though in general it was a pretty Dallas group
and not very Bob group (lots of talking, not much dancing during the
show). One thing that was great during this song is that when Bob sang,
“I believe, it’s time for us to quit” everyone started screaming and
shrieking, “no!” I haven’t heard that before, made me somewhat proud to
live here in Texas with the hooters and the hollerers.
Drifters Escape: Another typical recent version. It was very loud as
usual which doesn’t do well in a venue with questionable acoustics. I
think they should just drag out the Marshall amps and play really loud to
get it out of their systems before the show, so they can tone it down
enough during the show for it to be listenable. Or maybe just bring
Marshall amps to the show and just jam instead of trying to play this as a
recognizable song. Perhaps this will get better in the outdoor venues.
Never Gonna Be The Same Again: We at first had a lot of trouble
discerning this from up close (sound and newish arrangement), but once it
got going, I think it was very interesting. Perhaps the start was the
same as recent shows, but it went into this great stop start stage where
Bob and Freddie were trading rock guitar lines with not much else going on
(so you could hear what each was doing very distinctly.) This was
fascinating to me because it was barely hanging together (Tony did his
usual keeping everyone together with his forceful bass playing.), but I
was on the edge of my non-seat. I liked Freddie’s guitar lines a lot, his
approach and the very rock (as opposed to blues) solos. Bob was great as
the conversation leader.
Dignity: Not much memory about this except disbelief that it was added.
Easy Lovin’: Ya-hoo. This was a totally straight up version, a direct nod
to us in Texas and the Lone Star brigade especially enjoyed it. ‘Well
played. It’s a treat to have Bob be the vocalist on an old standard tune.
(My friend who hadn’t seen him in 10 years or from up close called the
show the “second coming of Elvis.”)
Bye and Bye: Bob slowed it down some more. I would say it was a
standard arrangement, but nice to get harmonica. It lost the audience,
lots of people near me started turned around to have conversations after
this many slow numbers.
Honest With Me: I had lots of time during this song to look/listen for
positive things to distract me from the monotony, and, naturally I found
two, one very major. I’ll put here that George was very right on, loud,
forceful, directive, elevating of the stringed instruments and tight with
the rhythm percussive ones in this song, and all of them. (Except for
maybe the first song, his sound was not affected by the poor acoustics.)
He was terrific all night–I have thought this before, probably written it,
but now that we can really see him in the new stage position-- see his
interaction with Bob and his smiling all the time, he is even more of a
treat. Go, George. Also, Freddie had a little interlude on this one that
made me take notice.
Standing in the Doorway: Slow, not a good one for me to review.
Summer Days: The gamut of reaction to this one ran the spectrum from
Dallas people who were clueless and were standing still, to diehards who
really liked some of the differences from the past. Bob started on
keyboards, went to guitar (had some problems–guitar up too loud–it kept
going whomp whomp whomp on a certain string), went back to piano. Though
it was pretty cool for Bob to fit in with what was going on in the middle
on guitar, and though he did an excellent job of negotiating the keyboards
with a guitar strapped on in a boppy song, I missed the usual long jams
and massive guitar sound in this short version. Solid work and
puzzle-piece fitting interaction from the other guitar-players who lined
up right next to each other (touching) to do some southern rock band
stances. This one may be one to watch for some interesting developments.
Like A Rolling Stone: Always a crowd and a me-pleaser. More deep
expression from Bob. I know I wasn’t hallucinating the expression,
since I have been so close so often in the past eight months. Made me not
miss Blowin’, it was so good.
All Along the Watchtower: Bob stayed on piano. Freddie took a unique and
fitting solo after getting the nod from Larry.
I don’t remember any band introductions...wonder if I was just spaced
All in all it was marvelous to see Bob looking so well and rested
(looked a little haggard to me in the November portion of the last U.S.
tour) and obviously having a good time. And when I weigh relatively
minor sound troubles and some first night bloopers, physical discomforts
of the wait, and even songs I don’t care for against the magic that
happens around Bob and a Bob show, it follows that I come out way ahead in
the happiness department.
Bonus Freddie Paragraph: Freddie seems to be a very real person–focused,
but not expressionless. ‘Had the imagination and the chops for all the
songs, and also seemed pretty relaxed considering. He kept an eye on
George and everyone–very competent. He played an orangish dented up strat
(60s?) with a Vox amp that sounded just right for every song. Did a lot of
vibrato things with his left hand and making his right hand be like a
whammy bar. Bob smiled at him and even seemed to say “alright” to one of
the solos. I just had a good feeling about him. He seems like he is
Larry’s soul guitar brother already. They had several smiles, a few
directive words exchanged, some shoulder bumping and arm patting and
punching, and at the end they had their arms around each other as they
bowed. They lined up several times to either trade licks or make a
combined sound. Sorry for the words guys, but very cute. Like others I
was a little worried about missing Charlie so much I would not be open to
the new person (a Texas sentiment), but I think it was a solid first
showing for the band/Freddie. One other observation: on Tombstone Blues,
Freddie had a black guitar pick in this mouth (unless he has a black
tongue?) and it was really distracting seeing it move around and thinking
that it is likely an adult choking hazard. I’m about the least maternal
person I know, but I was worried the entire time he would swallow it.
Freddie, find some other place for the picks. People are watching you.
I am taking grief in the enroute to Austin--apparently my words per mile
(who’s counting?) are not very high because we are listening to an
exquisite Telluride 2 (thx Tom)... will write more soon, I hope.
Epilogue: The band members past and present are warm, gracious,
friendly, and have excellent taste in post-gig music–an asset to the
planet besides their musical contributions.
page by Bill Pagel
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