page by Bill Pagel
Review by Scott Bauer
The last time Bob Dylan stepped foot in Lincoln's Pershing Auditorium he
was 24 years old and unveiling a new amplified vision of his music.
That tumultuous night in 1966 it was rumored that Dylan ended his
less-than-enthusiastically-received electric set with a curt, ``Fuck you
Now approaching 60, when Dylan returned to the aging auditorium Monday
night, he avoided any such insults. In fact, he didn't say a word in
between songs. Even the band introductions were made as the band continued
playing ``Leopard-skin Pill-box Hat.''
Continuing his critical and musical renaissance-du-jour, Dylan, almost
certainly without any knowledge, gave a nod to his 1966 performance by
playing five of the same songs Monday that he did 35 years ago.
This time the reception was markedly different.
The typical Dylan crowd with age ranges from 7 to 70, stood during the
entire show, not really singing along but instead craning to catch a
glimpse of the enigmatic singer and the Oscar he had neatly sitting on an
amplifier at center stage.
Judging from the fan reaction to old familiar tunes, most in the
audience only had a cursory knowledge of the deeper recesses of Dylan's
There was no denying, however, that he hit his stride for the night
early on with a lilting version of ``Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues'' that
led into a dramatically slowed down, mournful take of ``Trying to Get to
Skipping over the riff-driven ``Seeing the Real You At Last,'' the
concert hit its zenith with a triumverate of triumph: ``Boots of Spanish
Leather,'' followed by ``Visions of Johanna'' and capped off with ``Don't
Think Twice'' (replete with harmonica).
After hearing ``Boots,'' I was so satisfied I told the person next to me
that Dylan could read the phone book the rest of the night and I would be
happy. To have that followed up by ``Visions'' and ``Don't Think Twice''
was not only surprising by downright shocking.
Add into the mix the disappearance of ``Tangled Up in Blue,'' even if for
just one night, and things were looking up.
Contradicting my theory that he had tired of ``Things Have Changed,''
Dylan brought it back for another decent outing.
The Dylan newbies seemed a bit shocked by the frantic run-through of
``Drifter's Escape'' and even Bob seemed a little lost in Charlie
Sexton's guitar manifestations.
The seven-song encore set was predictable. ``If Dogs Run Free'' just
gets better and better and even ``All Along the Watchtower'' had some
virtues this night.
The wild card acoustic spot brought another stand-out, this night in the
form of ``I Shall Be Released.'' The band wasn't even thrown when Dylan
began the first chorus proclaiming that the light was shining from the
east down to the west, instead of the other way around.
Following the always-crowd-pleasing ``Rainy Day Women'' Dylan and his
bandmates did the familiar stand and stare at the audience routine. In
1966 such an action would have been interpretated as being disrespectful,
rude and downright wrong.
But with the wave of applause rippling over him, Dylan looked perfectly
proper standing there, soaking it all in. One has to wonder if he
remembered ever being on the same stage all those years ago and if he was
thinking about how things have changed.
Review by Carl Martin
Long lines outside & my thirst for beer caused me to miss Duncan & Brady
(OUCH! That's never supposed to happen!). I'm taking consolation in the
fact that I caught it Saturday night in Topeka & assume he handled it well
I've caught several shows in the Midwest over the past year or so and
consider Topeka 4-21-01 the tops (Awesome 4th Time around, Cold Irons
Bound was spellbinding ...excellent show). But Lincoln was certainly one
more in Bob's string of top notch shows. Highlights for me: Tom Thumb's
Blues, a personal favorite I always hope for, great lyrics and the pedal
steel fits the song perfectly.
Tryin' to Get to Heaven, best of show for me. Totally reworked from album
version, it was haunting, sent shivers down my spine. Time out of Mind is
getting better & better once I've heard the reworked concert versions.
Makes me appreciate the studio versions all the more.
Seeing the Real you at Last. The lyrics seemed so appropriate, sang with
conviction. Things have Changed - glad I got to hear it live.
Drifter's Escape - heard several people asking what it was, surprised more
people aren't familiar with it. I've heard it rock hard at other shows &
didn't think I liked it this much. Rocked it as hard as he's been on Cold
Iron Bounds as of late. Great harp solo to close.
All along the Watchtower - !!!!
The crowd loved If Dogs Run Free and just about everything else. I mostly
prefer the songs I haven't heard before, personal favorites, etc. But the
last several shows I have been pleasantly surprised to gain a new
appreciation of Highway 61, Rainy Day Women, Mr. Tambourine Man, Like a
Rolling Stone, etc.
Bob did have one interesting rewrite on I shall be Released that went.."
I see my light come shining, from the east down to the.....east". I wish
I'd have been just a bit closer to see the looks on the faces of the boys
Sorry to see Bob leaving the Midwest but certainly feeling fortunate that
he plays here at all. Anyone considering seeing a show on the southern leg
of this tour should buy tickets immediately. He will not disappoint.
Review by Rev'd John Wm Klein, Michael Roeske and Anne Yakle
The three of us traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska from La Crosse, Wisconsin
with full expectations that we were going to see the greatest and we
weren't disappointed. John had seen Bob three times last year. Anne had
seen him at Rochester, Minnesota in 2000 and this was Michael's first
"Live and in Person" experience. None of us were disappointed. Our group
was "theologically inclined" to say the least. John is a priest in the
Episcopal Church and Michael soon to be one. Anne is the daughter,
granddaughter and great granddaughter of Episcopal Priests and a lifelong
fan of Bob Dylan. Our ages are 55, 39 and 43. We were excited as we
collected our tickets and even more enthralled to hear the band warming
up. The entire City of Lincoln, Nebraska was aware that a very famous
artist was in their midst. We stopped into an excellent bookstore right
next to Pershing Auditorium and found the clerk getting ready to attend
the concert. The excitement was electrifying; so was the concert.
Bob began with Duncan and Brady, "...been on the Job too long," and
swiftly moved to an acoustic rendition of "Mr Tambourine Man" followed by
"It's Alright Ma" which received a marvelous ovation from the crowd over
6000 strong. Then came, what for us, was truly captivating music with
Bob's rendition of "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" which, incidentally, we
had been listening to on the seven hour journey from La Crosse. Looking
back with some recollection, John was struck with how important is the
sequence in which art is portrayed. The order in which we see paintings,
read poems orr hear Bob Dylan's music is terrible significant. This piece
set the tone for much of what followed. The audience was keenly listening
to the lyrics; the power of the music, and it was powerful, was
subservient to the meaning of the lyrics. Michael who was from" New York
City" found the last stanza haunting: "I going back to New York City, I do
belierve I've had enough." That which followed impressed upon all of us
the power this music has to silence as well as to arouse. Slowly,
deliberately in sequence Bob played "Tryin' to Get to Heaven Before they
Close the Door" with all listening intently, then "Seeing the Real You at
Last", which was a treat for Anne and John who had never heard it before.
Then came the sublimely mystical "Boots of Spanish Leather" sung with such
clarity that no one could fail to hear the "story told" - one wonders if
Homer had that sort of power around the megaron campfires. By this point
all were listening; what would come next? "Visions of Johanna" danced
through our minds. Jaye Ott of Lincoln was seated next to John and he
asked what the lyrics might mean? A difficult question at best. John
ventured that he had never quite gotten to the core of it but Johanna (or
Joanna) was after all the wife of Chuza the steward or domestic
administrator of Herod Antipas. She helped Jesus financially in Galilee.
As for her vision it was of the Empty Tomb of Christ ( Luke 8:3 & 24:10).
And Jaye quickly said "And it's Easter time too!" It was then that we
remembered that in "Tom Thumb's Blues" it was "Eastertime in Juarez" too!
That's exactly where we had started this concert! The sequence was
powerfully significant to us. Saint Luke's words about Joanna's's Vision
are: "...and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven
and all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna's, Mary the mother of
James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But
these words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them."
(Luke 24:9f) It was Eastertide at Lincoln too.
"Don't think twice it's alright" found a recognition among the entire
audience; no one missed it's meaning. It was a fitting transition to
"Thing's Have Changed," incidentally just think of the sequence, and by
this time the almost meditative crowd was roused to genuine appreciation
especially when Bob picked up the Harp, the audience went wild!
"Drifter's Escape," which we had been listening too on the road was at
first almost unrecognizable, except the words were crystal clear to Anne
and John. This simple tune, reworked by Bob, proved "electrifying." It was
John's favorite of the evening and once again Bob played the harmonica.
He was literally dancing as he played; we thought Bob appeared very, very
happy. "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat" proved to be little more than the
crescendo ending the first part of the concert.
The First Encore began with the most portent rendition of "Love Sick."
"Like a Rolling Stone" predictably had everyone moved to the rhythm. "If
Dogs Run Free" had the Jazz / Blues feel that recent performances have
given it, except, if we remember correctly, Bob was on acoustic guitar
backed up by Larry and Charlie on Electric guitars. It was beautiful. All
evening long some of the students had been yelling "Watchtower" and they
weren't disappointed in the performance featuring Larry on steel guitar.
It rocked! All of us thought "I Shall Be Released" was at the top of the
evenings performances. "Blowin' in the Wind" was the greatest thrill for
Michael who couldn't believe he was actually hearing Bob sing what he
described as a "Hymn or Anthem," indeed, everyone did join in on the
refrain. As Bob exited the stage for the second time, our applause was out
of profound appreciation. Little did we know he would return for yet one
more encore, "Rainy Day Women 12 & 35" which had us and everyone up and
dancing. What a glorious evening. As we left to excited to sleep on the
way home to La Crosse, we replayed "Drifter's Escape" and marvelled at the
creative improvisation, and quite frankly just the "fun" this master can
create out of simple folk melodies. But it was the lyrics that left it
usual indelible mark; the sequence was masterful; the lyrical quality of
the 5th through 8th numbers, "Tryin" through "Visions," that struck home
with indelible force. Bob Dylan's poetry, his genius for composition and
his immense capacity to entrance or enliven were the keynotes of this
superb concert. Thank you Bob Dylan and "It was Eastertime too..."
page by Bill Pagel
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