Reviews

Orlando, Florida
TD Waterhouse Centre

May 9, 2006


[Howard Weiner], [Tampa Steve], [Holly Knowles], [James Hope], [Tom Thoeni], [Ken Dorchak]

Review by Howard Weiner


Spring break Ď06

What a great tour, prior to tonight excluding the encores, I saw
three shows and 36 songs without one repeat. Las Vegas and Memphis
were beyond belief. I knew there was no way Dylan could top
himself in Orlando, it wasnít possible. Tonight was solid,
possibly great if you havenít seen him this tour, but to me Bob
mailed in tonightís show. I canít blame him, this ďcityĒ is lame,
especially this venue which was very empty.

Oblivious to the conditions, Merle kicked ass. I usually donít
review Haggard, even though I love his music. I think Merle is
ready for his own Never Ending Tour. Heís getting better all the
time. Better, betterÖ.. better,Ö.getting so much better all the
time.

While Iím referencing The Beatles, Maggieís Farm from this tour has
a trippy sound that would fit well on Magical Mystery Tour after
Strawberry Fields. She Belongs To Me was sensational tonight, again.
That was the song of the tour, pure magic. Bobís down-singing on
that is spectacular. The band picks up the beat for the
instrumentals before downshifting and throwing the spotlight on
Dylanís new vocal inflection. A lot of songs were solid tonight, but
nothing was miraculous and there were no surprises. The crowd and
venue were so lame that itís a tribute to Bob that he finished the
show. Mr. Tambourine Man, 4th St. and Masters of War were very
strong. Orlando is a wimpy place. Donít take your kids here; make
them listen to Bobís version of Froggie Went A courtiní over and
over. I could see someone chiming in with a good review of tonightís
show, and I canít blame. Me, Iíve been hit too hard, and Iíve seen
too much. I still cant get over how great those first three shows I
had the pleasure of witnessing were. The advertising posters for
this tour promised : ďThe Bob Dylan ShowĒ All new show! High Grade Ė
Future Perfect. Come to town early. Bob lived up to that advanced
billing, and I took the advice. Looking forward to a post Europe
tour with Willie. Thank ya, Bob.

[TOP]

Review by Tampa Steve



Thanks to the superb, old-time country show put on by Merle Haggard, the
room (if you can call it that) had a retro vibe as BD and band took the
stage.  Yes, the ever-present Nag Champa cloud was wafting through, but
the stark, white lighting and plain, red curtain backdrop lent a certain
mid-20th-century flavor to the proceedings.  This was 180 degrees from the
scorching, outdoor rock show played only a few days earlier at the New
Orleans Fairgrounds.

There were few surprises in the opening tunes.  But if you haven't heard,
Dylan is sporting a new keyboard patch that sounds something like a Vox
organ.  The effect is miles away from the dull, almost-inaudible electric
piano twonks of earlier outings.  In fact, although this is the same band
he used last year, the overall sound is much different.  Denny now gets
virtually all the solos, while Stu had lots before.  This is just me, but
I miss some of the angular, ripping string work that Stu is capable of. 
Denny is obviously a fine player, but sometimes I just need some extra
rock.

Tambourine Man was the first tune that really caught my attention.  High
Water has a really groovy arrangement now, with Donnie playing some
non-traditional banjo and Masters of War yet again turned a corner into a
whole, new, sad-sounding realm.  It seemed even the Merle fans that had
curiously stayed around were won over.  While I would not trade this show
for the one in New Orleans, it warmed up into a swell bonus.  Let's see
what Tampa brings.

Tampa Steve

[TOP]

Review by Holly Knowles



The times, they are a changiní. A fistfight occurred at a Dylan concert.
Yes, a Dylan concert. Iíll get to that in a moment. Our seats were on
the floor. I was afraid I would not be able to see, because Iím only 
5ft 1. First, Merle Haggard played. People stood the entire time.
Everyone loved him. I have never heard him before, so it was a nice
introduction to his music for me. 

Bob Dylan came on about an hour later. He began a fast version of
Maggieís Farm. I liked it better than the original. Next, he played She
Belongs To Me, then Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. Everyone was standing and
dancing. There were lots of young people there, and they were having a
great time. I was glad to see they were enjoying Dylanís music. During
Positively 4th Street or so, everyone sat down, except the kids who were
dancing and having a great time. There was a guy in the row in front of
who didnít like the kids standing and dancing. He looked like Chris Penn
during Footloose, with a cowboy hat and everything.  He kept yelling
out, ďSit down!Ē

The kids didnít seem to care, and continued to enjoy themselves. The
Chris Penn Footloose guy started to throw plastic cups at the kids. He
even left his seat and had words with them. I was quite confused
because I thought people were supposed to stand and dance at a concert.
The kids sat down for a slow song. The cowboy man was relaxing a bit.
Then, when Mr. Tambourine Man came on, the young people stood up and
danced again. They danced through Highway 61. 

Finally, the cowboy hat man got another man in my row to accompany him
to make the kids sit down. I couldnít believe they actually doing that.
I mean, this was a Bob Dylan concert! I wondered why the cowboy hat guy
didnít stand up. I donít think his legs were broken. Anyway, the two
guys went to the young people who were dancing, and a bar-like brawl
ensued. It looked like the whole row was punching one another. I was in
shock. I was sad, and embarrassed, in case Dylan was to look down at the
crowd and see it. Security kicked the dancing kids out and congratulated
the cowboy hat man and his friend. I still donít know what that was all
about. Just because two guys didnít want the kids to dance, they got
kicked out. 

After that, I was afraid to stand up and dance, in case security felt
like throwing us out. I never saw such a thing. After that, I was a
little distraught. It kind of ruined the mood for me. I liked the show
last year in Kissimmee much better. Everyone danced and had a great
time. Everyone enjoyed the show and actually LISTENED to the music.

Dylan did a great job, and my personal favorite of the night was High
Water. The banjo was superb. Dylan finished with Like a Rolling Stone and
All Along the Watchtower. It was awesome. I just wish the people sitting
around me were as awesome. 

"The ole days are gone forever and the new ones ain't far behind," -Bob
Dylan

[TOP]

Review by James Hope



Bob brought his hammer to Orlando tonight, Pretty Baby, and the nails were
definitely going down.  In fact, Summer Days continues to be a stand out
in the repitoire, as strong (and as much an Orlando crowd pleaser) as when
Bob first took it out of the box here back on May 5, 2003.  Tonight Bob
smiled throughout almost the entire song, unmistakably satisfied to have
this strong closer in his catalogue.  It was a good thing, too, because at
times the show was in need of some mouth to mouth recussitation.  No fault
of Bob's, no fault of Tony's.  More about that, below.

Maggie's Farm was the opening number, and although it is far from my
favorite song, the revised arrangement has less bite to it, yet ironically
the song seems improved with a gentler presentation.  One thing that was
crystal clear from the get-go was that on most numbers Bob is actually
making an effort to SING this time around, even more so than last year's
baseball stadium tour, which was excellent.    

She Belongs To Me was second, and Bob went to the harmonica, which was
difficult to hear all night long in the sound mix. I was about 30 rows
back on the floor, dead center, and it was a sweet spot for the sound
otherwise. (In fact, Merle Haggardís sound mix was much better than
Bobís.) Also, I expected Bob to take his harmonica to center stage a
couple of times (like last year) pose for some Elvis type solos, but all
his solos were one handed, while fixed in place at the keyboards. Oh well.

Tweedle Dee was Tweedle "Dumb"... what more can I say? Maybe I took the
hit, and now some fortunate folks wonít have to hear it in tomorrowís
set. Hereís where things got ugly:

Positively 4th Street was absolutely ruined by "up" singing. (If you
donít know what up singing is in Dylan lingo, think of a nursery rhyme,
like "Hickory dickory DOCK, the mouse ran up the CLOCK", and overlay that
onto a masterpiece like Positively 4th Street. Even that analogy doesnít
describe the problem adequately. The good news is, Bob limited the up
singing to this one number. But there was more trouble ahead:

You Go Your Way, Iíll Go Mine was a virtually unrecognizable muddled
musical mess-- which I couldnít even identify for about 1/2 a minute,
even though I have about 70 Dylan CDs, many of them of live concerts. This
is where the "new" band performed at their lowest ebb. Apart from Tony,
who is a saving grace, someone in the band was playing the songís main
riff as a domineeringly loud monotony, that at least finally gave away
which song was being played. I am a huge Dylan fan, but as the English are
fond of saying, this one was "simply dreadful". From here, things took an
abrupt turn for the better (applause, please!):

Mr. Tambourine Man was tonightís best example of Bob playing around in
an experimental way with the contours of his voice, using even greater and
more meaningful soulful inflection than he is famous for. He often dropped
a few octaves to an extra low key, which punctuate the song in a way that
the crowd appreciated. A nice, nice version, and one in which the band
also played softer to allow Bobís voice to stand out better in the mix.

Highway 61 is a "canít miss" Dylan scorcher, and it came at the right
time to build momentum. Thanks, Bob.

Boots of Spanish Leather, like Mr. Tambourine Man, was sung poetically,
and with feeling. "Fantastic" would be a good adjective. If you are
keeping score, Bob nailed 3 songs in a row.

High Water was next, and it was the first song where the "new" band showed
a glimmer of promise that it could one day be tight and cohesive like the
"old" band. In any case, Bob kept up his end of the bargain on this one.
Now we are 4 in a row.

Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again is like Highway 61
(and Ballad of a Thin Man), in that it can resurrect even a failing show.
But by now the show had gained good momentum on its own, and so in the #10
spot Memphis Blues helped Bob and the boys ride a nice wave to shore. (For
those of you who like lyric trivia, tonight in Orlando, eye "balls" were
smoked, not eye "lids").

Masters of War was fantastic, and believe me I was worried that the plane
would encounter turbulence again (a/k/a, "up" singing) that would have
crashed this song right into the ground. Thankfully as it was, it was one
of the best songs of the night, and set things up nicely for Summer Days,
supra.

The encore numbers were not great, but extremely necessary (if I might use
that term) for any elderly Merle Haggard fans who waited like good sports
to at least hear two tunes they could recognize from the radio. (It was
the same for Willie Nelsonís fan base last year.) Personally, I feel the
musicians failed Bob on Like a Rolling Stone and All Along the Watchtower
much more than anything else. For instance, Paul Schaffer did a much
better job backing Bob on Like a Rolling Stone during a one-shot David
Letterman special, using stand in musicians like Chrissy Hines on guitar
and Carole King on piano. Bobís new band should have these classic
encore songs as tight as a drum. Perhaps they are still on the learning
curve.

Rating for 05-09-06, Orlando, Florida: B to B+

James Hope

[TOP]

Review by Tom Thoeni



I met a young woman just after the lights went up while we were both 
hoping to get a cue sheet.  No luck for either of us.  As we parted ways,
she mentioned it was her first show.  I felt bad for her.  What an
amazing night to see your first Dylan show.  Not a bad moment, missed
beat, or weak point.  Merle Haggard was a treat and could have held the
night by himself.  But he seemed to know he was warming us up for Dylan. 
From the moment Dylan took the stage and we could see him shuffling
slightly while playing, we knew we were in for a great night.  The
up-singing is almost completely gone and, as a friend of mine observed,
he seems to be playing with the crowd by ending the verses of She Belongs
to Me with ultra low notes.  During Masters of War and Mr Tambourine Man,
I was struck with the realization that no one covers a Bob Dylan song
like Bob Dylan himself.  Those are great reasons why I still go see
Dylan, knowing I may see him on a bad  night:  I just might see something
transcendent.  We did tonight.   One other thought occurred to me tonight,
it would not surprised me that his movement to keyboards was not from
arthritis or the like but was to allow him to more intricately and
effectively lead the band.   The interchange of the members was spot on
and his direction was as if he could hear 24 bars ahead of the band,
which he probably can.   Nothing by accident happens up there, only by
genius!

[TOP]

Review by Ken Dorchak



Bob hit the stage shortly after 9:00 and was given a welcome reception.
After a groov'in Maggie's Farm, Bob hit the first highlight of the evening
in She Belongs to Me which was sung in such a manner as to signal that Bob
would be in good voice for the evening, which eh was..  The next soaring
highlight was Tambourine Man.  This song has never been on my list of
favorites but this new arrangement was nothing short of spectacular.  Bob
use a kind of vocal inflection and cadence that I had not heard before and
the result was brilliant.  A steady drive down Highway 61 brought Bob to
the 3rd highlight of the evening, Boots of Spanish Leather which Bob
delivered with a clear and expressive voice.  Oddly though the tell tale
"Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather" line brought only a smattering of
applause from the crowd (it was during this song that the fight referred
to in another review brought out - an unfortunate distraction).  There was
no drop off from Boots to High Water, which to me is always great when
experienced live. Donnie's banjo was a standout here.  The final highlight
was Master of Wars which was stunningly great.  The lighting set the mood
and Bob, in great voice, delivered what can only be described as a
masterful performance.

In sum a fine performance.  Of all the tunes, Tambourine Man will linger
in my memory.  The band is clearly tighter and more layered than it was
this time last year which includes better and more meaningful keyboard
play from Bob and more confident playing by Dennie Freeman.  As reported
during the tour, Bob's voice is most definitely in finer form than the
past year or two.

I am looking forward to Ft. Lauderdale and the tour closer tomorrow.

Kenny D.

[TOP]

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