page by Bill Pagel
Review by Wiley
I was 10-12 back from the stage directly out from Denny. There was a
driving rain throughout that, as mentioned elsewhere, did indeed subside
when the band kicked into Hard Rain and only then did the realization of
physical coldness set in. Standing in that wind blown rain with drenched
clothes, every mention by Bob of rain or water really jumped out. It
honestly seemed at the time as if he'd designed the set list to reflect
the weather - Times, JLAW, River Flow, Visions, Hard Rain. Probably
nonsense but it sure made sense at the time. Alas, no High Water. The
crowd was really into it up front, at times even wildly exuberant - an
insane scene with pockets of young fans dancing ecstatically. Even two
young females crowd surfing during Master of War - never seen that before.
And people were throwing all kinds of shit at the stage - hats, shirts, a
cup (or bottle) directly at Bob that ended up right at his feet. Really a
Anyway, here's the blow-by-blow filtered through the weak eyes and feeble
mind of this correspondent.
Greencards - I only caught the last song, an instrumental. Sounded good.a
little ragged.but I like that.
Willie - was GREAT. I've seen him a number of times and I just don't think
he's capable of putting on a show that is less than GREAT. They might all
be the same, but that doesn't make them any less GREAT. The crowd loved
him and he gave it right back smiling, waving, blowing kisses, throwing a
hat and two bandanas into the crowd and playing what seemed to be a longer
show than usual this tour in appreciation of the drenched fans. Highlights
Pancho & Lefty - always great and Willie effortlessly ripped an amazing
guitar bit to close out the song. How does he do that? Even without the
history of carpel it would have been amazing.
Blue Eyes Cryin In The Rain - not a favorite of mine but a stunningly
Angel Flying Too Close - such a great song and wonderfully performed.
Always On My Mind - literally brought tears to my eyes, as it also did
last summer. Call me a sentimental sap - and I am - but Willie's live
performances of this song always get me right where it counts. Beautiful.
A non-musical highlight: The woman who removed her shirt (leaving on her
lacy bra) and sat on someone's shoulders with her very ample and
splendiferous bosom bouncing in perfect tempo to the song. I definitely,
ahem ahem, have no clue of what that song was what with being utterly
transfixed by the aforementioned vision.
I don't care what anyone says about him, Willie is a supremely consummate
performer and showman. Great songwriter and singer. Truly a national
treasure. Merle is actually much more my cup of tea and I would take him
over Willie any day but I cherish these opportunities to catch Willie and
Bob on the same stage. A Willie show could never equate to a bad thing in
That being said, I'll admit I was glad when Willie relinquished the stage
for the brilliance that was to follow.
First the heavenly nag, the long intro and then:
To Be Alone With You - was not a warm up at all. The band and Dylan ripped
right into it. Nothing spectacular but nicely done. A hatless Bob wearing
a nifty black get up with an unbuttoned bright yellow shirt over a black
collarless shirt and under his black jacket. Couldn't see the footwear.
Times - and the vocal gymnastics commenced. "You're old road is
raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapidly aging." Very nice to hear this old warhorse.
Cry A While - I really liked the stop/start arrangement and Dylan really
started having fun now even laughing at/with George at one point.
Unfortunately, though I really tried, I couldn't make out Donnie's banjo
JLAW - a highlight of the show, this also had a really neat stop/start
thing going on with Bob - just prior to singing the titular (and no I'm
not still thinking about that girl) line each time - slamming down on the
keyboards and stopping the whole band cold, cocking his shoulders to the
left (or his hips to the right?), snapping his head around directly to the
audience - and then pulling the trigger on JUST LIKE A WOMAAAAAAN! A "weak
in the knees" moment each time for sure. Way, way, way cool move by the
coolest man on the planet. Honorable mention to Denny on this one for
playing a simply wonderful acoustic guitar part that really added
something special to the song. Donnie was also very good on what looked to
be an electric mandolin.
It's Alright, Ma - One of my favorite songs and I never tire of hearing
it. Good arrangement and performance. Added bonus of no lyrical flubs, at
least that I noticed.
Watching The River Flow - This really rocked hard with Bob again smiling,
nodding and generally having a good time with George and Stu. Great fun
and another sterling vocal by Bob.
Visions - Oh, my. This was stone cold brilliant. After having been
fortunate enough to see this, my favorite song, on four (or maybe even
five) previous occasions, Bob finally nailed it to the wall. For the first
time, it did not seem rushed or almost even tossed off. Bob sang it with
great care, slowly and gently, not like 1995 slow and gentle, but still
Bob took great care with the vocals and tempo. A perfect performance of
this masterpiece that on its own merits carried the show up to a whole
Highway 61 - A very powerful version with Bob really having mad fun and
even laughing right into the mic while singing: "welfare department
wouldn't give him no clothes, HUH! HUH! HUH!"; "I got forty red, white and
blue shoe strings, HAAH!" And then pointing at George after one of the
verses - not just a normal point mind you but one of Bob's bizarre and
eccentric little moves. It's just a gas to see Bob having so much fun and
the crowd really went wild during this one. Bob did muff the first two
words, one of only two minor lyrical mishaps all night (that I noticed).
Stu ripped it up on this one too but even if he stays in the band as long
as Tony's been, he'll never ever EVER make me not wish Freddie wasn't
still in the band. He really bores me. (Sorry, just had to get that in).
Masters of War - not a personal favorite but Bob sang it brilliantly. Very
atmospheric and moody instrumentation.
Tweedle - I have to really push myself to say something nice about this
song. On the whole it was performed well and Bob definitely sang it well
but Stu's guitar was way too far down in the mix and Denny was all thumbs
on the opening and recurring riff that Larry played so facilely that he
really made you believe he could play it in his sleep. I long ago hoped to
never see this song again live, although Sweet Mags set list creation
theory is very interesting, and there just might be more to this picture
than meets my less discerning eye.
Hard Rain - Phenomenal! Second greatest performance of the night (I think
I'd have to put JLAW third). Superb singing by Bob on one of the better
live versions of this I've had the privilege to witness.
Summer Days - Not bad at all. Long past its glory days but still has legs.
Forever Young - This is a tremendous song and I really like it and all,
but it was a let down for me as I'd really hoped that Don't Think Twice
would be reprised in this position or alternatively that LARS would have
stuck around. Don't like to be negative because it is a major piece of
song writing and there was nothing wrong with the performance at all, but
I'm just sayin'.
Watchtower - This anemic arrangement has really overstayed its welcome for
me. I miss the 1997-1999 kick ass punked up versions. In my opinion, this
song requires a much more aggressive vocal from Bob. Apologies to those
who think it's not our place to offer any suggestions to his Bobness.
Sorry I couldn't comment more on the band members. I can't help but focus
my attention on Bob and, as others have previously mentioned, no one
really stands out in this current band (except Bob of course). Bob's
vocals were nicely up in the mix, crystal clear and very strong. Very
little up-singing, not even enough to notice really and the up-singing
thing is something I really notice and dislike. A couple of center stage
harp solos - though I don't remember for certain which songs. And for
those offended by Bob's vulture-like perching over the mic (and I admit I
also found that a little bizarre), the mic is still way down but Bob was
facing it straight on with his legs alternately splayed out or in a lunge
This was a greatest hits set list, to be sure, but that doesn't tell the
true story of Chattanooga, 2005. I've been at shows where I was
comfortably seated inside out of the elements and felt that it just wasn't
worth it - the hassle of getting there, the money, being away from the
family, the lack of sleep - for yet another show with the same old tired
set list. Not often mind you, but it has happened and only when Bob has
seemed bored. When he's on and in a good mood, the setlist is really
irrelevant. And Bob was on fire last night. I never once regretted
standing in that cold rain with my back and legs aching; not even during
the long post show drive to Atlanta shivering in soaking wet clothes. Bob
really put it out there last night and if anyone's sitting on the fence
about seeing shows this tour - I strongly advise you to reconsider. As the
posters proclaim: "Don't You Dare Miss It!"
Review by James Hope
Humorously I ask, "Do you think Bob may have read my review of the first
show (5-25, Ft. Myers)?" Gone were the Band's "matching zoot suit bowling
shirts". Gone was the set-list skewed towards "Greatest Hits 1 and 2"
tunes. Still in the mix was the awesome, awesome, awesome, Summer Days--
now moved to the showcase slot of last-before-the-encore. Added was a
surprise substitution of The Times They Are A-Changin' as the first
encore, instead of a predictable Don't think Twice, It's Alright. And
kept in place was the show's closer, a super-high energy All Along The
Watchtower, which Dylan stretches out by repeating a verse, giving the
audience one last time to savor the notion that 'Elvis is about to leave
A few additional thoughts on the show: While it was nice to hear
Positively 4th Street, it is too incongruous to hear biting, sarcastic,
lyrics sung in Bob's "Mr. Nice Guy" mode. The treatment gave it the
feeling of "Happy Birthday to You...", whereas we Dylan fan's all know
"What a drag it is to see you!" If I recall, God Knows was also sung in
Dylan's less-favorable up-speak, where the singsong quality of the rhyme
is accentuated by singing every line's end as if it were a question. He
avoided this (lazy?) way of doing things on Love Minus Zero and Tryin' To
get To Heaven, both of which were excellent. Then too, Bob's passion for
the lyrics really came out in Lonesome Day Blues, where he sang with great
gusto, "Set my dial on the radio... I wish my mother were still
aliiiiiiiiivve!" (Similar to the intensity of Summer Days, where he
crooned the immortal line, "I've got my hammer ringing, pretty baby, but
the nails ain't goin' dowwwwwwwwn!") Drifter's escape-- one of my least
favorite songs, was actually very good; Down Along The Cove was
unremarkable. High Water was performed in a heavy rock style that was
kicked up 5 notches from the album version, and demonstrated that Dylan's
tight band is also a powerhouse of sound.
As 4 nights ago in Ft. Myers, I managed to be on the rail, directly under
Bob the whole night. As usual, he had his set-list placed flat on a slide
guitar pushed up against his keyboards, as a makeshift lectern. However
it also seemed inarguable that he had lyrics to ALL the songs, not just
the obscure ones, and appeared to be reading every line, even familiar
choruses. While this would account for the reason Dylan never makes eye
contact with the audience, does he really need this low-tech
teleprompter-like arrangement after literally decades of performing All
Along The Watchtower nightly? Strange.
For all those wondering about Willie Nelson's show (the Reviewer for the
St. Pete Times was hoping Bob and Willie were going to sing a couple of
duets... 'yeah, right'), Willie was certainly part of the night's allure.
However, the show-stealer for Willie was his young son's extremely brave
attempt at S.R.V.'s Texas Flood. It was endearing to the crowd to see a
13 year old looking 16 year old (my guess) belting out "Well it's flooding
down in Texas...", and scorching some guitar licks, ala a Jr. Stevie.
Papa Willie looked on approvingly. If at all possible, you need to
see this show, and take the next generation (son, granddaughter, etc.)
before this 64 and 72 year old combo just can't make it to the next Minor
League Ball Field to give you the best $49.00 general admission show on
the face of the earth.
page by Bill Pagel
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