page by Bill Pagel
Review by James Hope
First, I was a bit worried going into the show because of talk that the
"piano" blocked the view of Dylan for many in the audience. I figured
he'd be at some giant upright with only the top of his head showing, and
his body completely obscured. Not to worry. Dylan plays a dinky little
electronic keyboard that provides a full view from everywhere in the
place. To be more particular for those planning where to stand, he is to
the far left of the stage (from the audience view), and his guitar mike is
also there to the left; he is looking towards center stage for all the
piano numbers, so if you want him singing directly at you, be center
stage. People all the way to the left will get the right side of his
head, or worse.
We were treated to the now-famous "long" introduction, but frankly I could
barely make out a sentence. Something about "...in the 70's..." and
"...in the 80's..."
The first song was, as always, just a warm-up to get Bob's voice going,
and the sound levels into place. By the second song ("I'll Remember
You"), you can see that Bob was going to be singing with feeling, and good
concentration, which he did all night. By the third song ("Stuck Inside
Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again"), like they say in auto racing,
the dance was on!
To me the high point of the show was "Things Have Changed", which Bob
nailed, and the excellent hard-rock version (if you will) of "High Water",
which took the album version to a new level. "Bye and Bye" didn't seem to
work well with the sound system (although I was with my chest to the
stage, and can't say how things sounded further back in the audience.)
Another critique I had was that the slow numbers (e.g., "I'll Be Your Baby
Tonight" and "it's All Over Now, Baby Blue") seemed to sound a bit the
same. Also, "Summer Days" has definitely lost something with Dylan on
the keyboards; He was here in Orlando just this 5 months ago and played it
on guitar, and it really sizzled then. Not to sound too down on the show,
but lots of folks wish that out of 500 possible songs, "Wicked Messenger"
(or when played, "Drifter's Escape") would be put to rest in favor of
Last of all, it would have been nice to send the band off stage for just
one solo guitar number (you know, maybe a "Forever Young" or "Girl From
The North Country" type thing).
So there you have it. I'd rate the show a solid B to B+, with Bob giving
a great effort with perhaps a less than inspired song line-up. And for
those of you who keep track of such things, other than introducing the
band the only words the man spoke were "Thank you", uttered just one time.
Uh, but that grin...
Review by Rebecca Lynn
'll tell you everything I remember, but it's not going to be very linear.
The memories and music and images have been dancing around in my mind and
even my dreams for about 14 hours now.
I was about 35 feet from the stage, directly in front of Dylan's mike. A
great view of his classic, one of a kind profile, and yes, by the
beginning of Stuck In Mobile, I could've counted every fat drop of sweat
coming off that hooked nose.
The Waifs opened, and played 5 songs. They were very good, but I had no
idea they would be there, and was rather disappointed. But, I think that
chick actually inspires Dylan to play more harp. She did a long, long
excellent solo, that was actually scary. Where the wind came from, I don't
know. She's really tiny, and I'm telling you, that solo would've made a
grown man pass out.
Nap22 did an excellent job of reviewing this show (see bobdylan.com
concert reviews and setlists). I, too, noticed that on To Be Alone With
You and even on Stuck in Mobile, Bob (that's right, it's "Bob" now) wasn't
articulating very well, and his facial expressions were fairly stone-like.
When they broke into Things Have Changed, however, it was like he was
spitting out some words, and was very articulate and emotive.
I'm skipping around, I know.
It took me a few seconds to recognize To Be Alone With You, I was
expecting Tweedle Dee, and then when I realized it wasn't, my confused
mind tried to recognize Maggie's Farm...But when he started I'll Remember
You, I knew immediately what it was. I literally bent over and moaned with
joyous surprise. The tears started flowing. I don't remember what I saw,
water was flowing from my eyes without a sob, but the song has been
playing in my head ever since. That was the highlight of the evening for
Nap22 was right on about the outfits, although in certain light, Dylan's
shirt looked gold instead of silver to me. He had a white scarf, and the
shirt had white piping around the collar and the front pockets. Very
cowboy-ish. The drummer had a beret on, and the bassist had a black cowboy
hat. While he was at the piano (most of the evening), his legs were apart,
one in front of the other, as if he were pushing forward on the keyboards,
full of energy.
Right before Summer Days, Dylan started to introduce the band, starting
with Freddy (who was fucking awesome, by the way). Right before he called
out the last name, Larry Campbell, Larry broke into the beginning licks of
the song, cutting Dylan off. Dylan muttered something about getting it
right before he started singing, but he was laughing. I spent a lot of
time watching the band, how they interacted with one another, and with
Dylan. They all show immense respect for him, and even the older members
of the band seem to emit a sense of pride and honor for even being on the
stage with him, as if they know they are participating in history.
Back to the music...
Just Like a Woman was (I'm having so much trouble finding the appropriate
words)--shining and tender and wistful and worldwise. The pedal steel adds
so much to this, and this was the first song Dylan played harp on.
He played guitar throughout Wicked Messenger and then picked up the harp
at the end. It really rocked. Then, what a treat to see him pick up the
acoustic guitar for It's All Over Now, Baby Blue. He sang very clearly and
High Water--what can one say. Yes, we all know it rocks. But they added
something to the arrangement that made it almost funky. Once again, the
words were very clear, sometimes almost staccato. "Can't you see I'm
drowning too?" he wailed.
Highway 61 Revisited is so special to me. Every single time I hear it (and
I'm sure that number is in the hundreds by now) I remember--I RELIVE--the
first time I ever heard it, when I had my own Dylan epiphany, and, yes, my
life changed. I could keep on saying that the vocals were clear and
strong, but that's getting redundant. I think he skipped the verse about
the 2nd mother and 7th son, however.
Then, after that rush, the chords for Make You Feel My Love. I could not
believe it. At first, I just put my arms around my lover, and my head on
his shoulder, and with my eyes closed, we swayed back and forth. Of
course, after a couple minutes of that, I had to open my eyes! I did
manage to find a way to keep my arms around him and my head on his
shoulder and still watch Dylan. Oh my god. What a crooner. He can really
sing a love song. Nothing like a man with 40 years experience in love, let
me tell you (I'm talking about both of them now).
Honest With Me was driving rock and roll. I must've been losing it at that
point, because I don't have harp marked down for any more songs, but I
know that it was this song or Summer Days that Dylan played the best harp
of the evening. Previously, he was only playing one handed, but the last
time he played, he held it in both hands, cupped the mike, and did a short
but very impressive solo.
Bye and Bye was smooth, sweet and lilting, but almost anti-climatic in
context. Up until that point, the back and forth, fast and slow pace
worked very well. Like I said, I think I was losing it by then.
What can I say about Summer Days that hasn't been said before? Probably
nothing. But, I want to reiterate that Freddy Koella is awesome. During
the whole show, I tried to think of another guitarist to compare his sound
to, but he really is very unique. At times, his playing was so soft and
subtle and jazzy, he reminded me of an understated Knopfler. Other times
(like on Summer Days) he was absolutely nasty! Very, very much watchful
and in tune with what Dylan is doing at all times...
I think this is the song during which someone threw something on stage. I
couldn't see what it was, and I wasn't looking at Dylan at that point. But
Freddy and the bassist made some very funny faces for several seconds.
Freddy made his eyes go real big (he's kind of bug-eyed anyway) and the
bassist did an exagerated open mouthed expression of shock. They both were
cracking up. It was a priceless moment. nap22's description of Dylan's
reaction really completes this moment for me. All those boys knew who that
bra was for.
Also, during Summer Days, Larry and Freddy lined up and lifted their
guitars together on certain repeated licks, and the bassist brought the
stand-up bass out there and tried to lift it up with them, and just shook
After Summer Days, the band stood in a row, no smiles, all seriousness,
and Dylan stood a little in front, just basking in the applause, holding
his cowboy hat in front of him, very serious. Through the whole concert,
he struck me as very grandfatherly, even when he was playful. His
playfulness in particular reminded me of the way a grandfather plays with
his grandchildren, sort of silly, and exaggerated, but gentle, hard to
describe...But for one brief portion of a second, while they were standing
there, and we were all pouring out our appreciation, he cracked a smile
that transformed him into the man-boy of Don't Look Back. It was startling
Now for the encores. Man. I just don't know what to say without sounding
like I am exaggerating. After what I saw last night, it is very hard to
believe that he's been playing these two songs as his encore every concert
for how long? The songs were fresh, vibrant and full of energy and
Like A Rolling Stone. The song I woke up to yesterday morning, before I
even put clothes on, I pressed "play" and pumped up the volume on this
one. They played it at almost exactly the same tempo, but he sang it
without the anger and sarcasm. The anger was replaced by something like
righteous pity, very hard to describe. Still very emotional, he was
wailing. During every chorus, the stagelights were pointed onto the
audience. It was very bright and disconcerting, to me, almost blinding. I
don't know if it was supposed to be our cue to sing along, or if it was
some kind of statement, as if the words "How does it feel?" were directed
All Along the Watchtower. I've heard it said that this is Dylan doing
Hendrix doing Dylan. Not at all. Yes, it is a far cry from John Wesley
Harding, but very much Dylan's own. An incredible ominous, threatening,
almost apocalyptic sound, very driving, and just fucking awesome.
"Awesome" is an overused word nowadays, but last night was absolutely
awe-inducing, in the true sense of the word.
Way before the end of the concert, I was in a lot of physical pain. My
calves were cramping, and I was having spasms in my lower back. I wish we
had had seats in the balcony; it is such a tiny venue, I believe I
could've seen everything as well, and probably the big picture even
better. We only had three assholes in our immediate vicinity, I guess
that's good for where we were.
Of course, I'd stand up for him again tomorrow.
Review by Lance Bunda
Anyone reading these posts has probably already decided to see Dylan. If
not don't be swayed by some negativity expressed in some reviews. The Hard
Rock Live show smoked from beginning to end. It is a venue whose only
purpose is for concerts and the acoustics are excellent. Dylan was
relatively animated and seemed to be having a very good time. He
smiled,danced (a little) and played guitar on two songs. The two Strat and
Telecaster attack on Wicked Messenger was blistering. Overall,the band had
a hard rocking edge on most songs. Lightened a little for a semi-acoustic
version of Baby Blue and took on a jazzy roadhouse flavor for the Love And
Theft numbers. I was a bit concerned about some previous comments
regarding the new guitar player, but they were unfounded. Maybe he had a
rough start on the tour,I don't know, however he did a fine job. He did
look to Bob and Larry for occasional guidance, which is understandable.
I'm sure as the tour progresses he will continue to loosen up. (if he
wasn't worthy,he wouldn't be there) As for Bob playing piano for most of
the concert, it's just another facet on the Dylan diamond and detracted
nothing. So if you had any reservations about seeing this tour... 'Don't
Think Twice,It's Alright'. In fact it's better!
Review by Scott Barlow
Let me start off by saying that bob dylan never stops reinventing his
THE ORLANDO SHOW WAS SUCH A PLEASANT SURPRISE!!!!
The night started off for my wife and myself at jimmy buffets
margaritaville drinking 2 for 5 dollar coronas with the temp hovering
around 90 degrees. After a cheeseburger in paradise we made it over to the
hard rock bar for a few more drinks before our 16th show. Our last show
was MSG front row last Nov. so we new we had our work cut out for us. We
were not to be denied..................................................
Bob came on around 9pm to a modestly filled hardrock live. the limit is
2000 and i would estimate that the house crowd was only half full.
Switching the date from sat to Mon. was heaven sent. We stood too the left
of the soundboard with much space to our surprise and delight!
Alone with you was very open with more of a country feel then last year.
Then it hit! I'll remember you was the most profound dyan moment i have
ever experienced! His voice was strong and the arrangement was a strong
ballad with a very nice harp at the end. Stuck was a honkey tonk style
that had a little of Memphis in there,again with much more harp at the end
of the song then previous shows.Ill be your baby made me cry.It was such a
country feel to it with bob singing every line right on.Things have
changed was standard.Just like a women was much more loose then other
versions ive heard over the past few years.then ole bob decided to pick up
the tele and dive into a smokin wicked mesg.I me this song just blows the
fucking doors out!!!! three guitars all going at it with maximum power.I
love that song with power! Its unreal how bob can change gears by soothing
into a very mellow baby blue with a great harp at the end. High water was
funky without the banjo,but nevertheless very roaming.hwy 61 was a rocker.
Make you fell was standard then back into overdrive with Honest all guns
blazing.Bye and Bye reminded me of an old show tune very mellow and
smiley.Its amazing how many different styles of music he can play.Summer
days was again a slam dunk! What a rocker!They jammed it the same way with
a little more space to roam.the encores were standard.
All in all this show was such a great experience for us.Bob played a lot
more harp and the new guy is sliding into his position just fine!!! This
band will continue to get better (even in post Charlie stage) CAN'T WAIT
for this summer with the DEAD!!! Im counting the days!! Keep on
truckin,the music never stops!!!!!
Review by Tampa Steve
At the very last moment, I offered our spare ticket to my friend Jim. He
had not seen Dylan since the Rolling Thunder tour hit the Omni in Atlanta,
and so would have a unique perspective. I didn't see him during the show,
but afterwards he told me he had convinced a woman standing next to him
that Dylan was singing every other song in Japanese. "Kind of like a
cross between Liberace and the Iron Chef," he said. Fair enough.
Unlike my friend, I was all too aware of the goings-on in all things Dylan
in the 28 years since Rolling Thunder. I was looking forward to my first
"piano" show, and judging by the recent set-lists, I was sure to hear a
gem or two like Blind Willie McTell, Saving Grace, or Senor.
Well, I didn't get to hear any of the tunes on my mental A-list, but I'm
not going to complain. This was a solid show pretty much throughout, with
Dylan seemingly in fine spirits. The music aside, his dancing about
behind the piano was worth the trip. I had to think that he had come full
circle, back to his rock n roll days before the folk persona hit. He
looked like he was loving it to death.
The band was keenly focused, looking as always for curveballs from the
boss. For the first few songs, George Recile was positively subdued
behind the drums, as if someone had demanded that he play extremely
quietly. He came to life later in the set as the band played with
increasing abandon. The Wicked Messenger was a mid-show climax, with a
loud, messy jam punctuating each verse. Bravo. Still, a certain
electricity was lacking and I have to say I missed Charlie Sexton's
influence on the band.
Dylan sings passionately, even if he mangles some English and utterly
subverts his own melodies in the process. But he is committed to his
craft, and that is the one quality that comes screaming across. His
playing is similarly obtuse. (The bathrooms at this theme-park venue have
little speakers broadcasting the show to the peeing masses. I was among
them during It's All Over Now Baby Blue, and the tinny sound in there
accentuated Dylan's acoustic guitar to the point where every note could be
heard clearly.) He sings and plays the most unexpected runs. Backwards,
almost. Perfectly in-the-moment and at risk of losing even the musicality
of it all. At times, losing it. Very jazz. Very Zen.
One bummer: Make You Feel My Love. Pee-yew. Please drop that one. For
me. Let Garth Brooks have it forever.
The crowd reacted explosively to the end of the set -- a three song string
of Love and Theft tunes, ending with a sweet Summer Days. Dylan stood and
gazed out at his room full of admirers with an air of great appreciation
for the noisy ovation he was receiving. It was clear to me that this was
not a smug or pompous gesture. It rang true that he really meant to beam
good, humble vibes of respect for the folks gathered there on a Monday
night, (I would add: In the God-forsaken Hellhole that is Universal Theme
Park in Orlando, Florida.)
Not expecting much from Like A Rolling Stone, I was surprised at how fresh
it sounded. All Along the Watchtower was transformed (again) this time
into a half-time stomp that had a strange, slow charm. We tried to bring
him back after that one, but it was through. Yes.
page by Bill Pagel
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