page by Bill Pagel
Review by Noel Mayeske
For a longtime Dylan fan, this was especially sweet: my baby son's first
concert! At just 17 months old, he's starting early (I was 10 years old
for my first concert... laughably, Little River Band in 1977 with my Mom)
and on a very high quality level, too. For my wife, this was also her
first Dylan show, and she had a terrific time. It was my 11th time seeing
Bob since 1989.
These minor-league ballpark shows are a great way to introduce kids to
live music... there were dozens of kids there, and quite a few toddlers.
I'm happy to say the performance not only lived up to, but surpassed my
hopes for my son's first concert. Here's how I'd rate the different
The band: A-
The band is watertight, and rocks like mad, with an almost metallic sheen.
There's a sharp edge to it... like aged cheese that has more bite than
you're expecting. The edge is softened a bit on many tunes by Donnie
Herron's slide guitar. (I especially noticed it on Summer Days, which
sounded more Bob Wills than Count Basie - swing-with-a-twang). But the
playing is still crunchy and hard. While there's no standout like Charlie
Sexton or Larry Campbell anymore, that may be a good thing; all contribute
equally to a huge wall of organized sound.
Bob's vocals: A
Probably the best I've ever heard Bob sing in concert. Very clear
phrasing, lots of power, emotionally vested in the words.
Sound quality: A
The sound was mixed almost perfectly throughout the stadium - amazing
Set list: B-
No huge surprises. But he did do a fabulous version of one of my faves ("I
Don't Believe You"), and the one-two punch of "Hollis Brown" and "Highway
61" was one of my most memorable concert experiences ever.
Overall performance quality: A
Everything was powerful and clear. Throw in a few more unexpected song
choices like he'd done at the Beacon in NYC, and this would have been a
show for the ages.
This was a show that generally kept things rocking along genially, choosing
not to delve into "difficult" songs. Except for the surprise version of
"Ballad Of Hollis Brown." I actually didn't know this song before - I've
always been more of a fan of his electric stuff - and it knocked me out.
In my 11 Dylan shows, this stands as one of my top 5 individual song
performances. With the inky-black night surrounding us, it was a
bone-chilling performance. You could hear the emotion in Dylan's vocals.
The prowling, patient understatement of the arrangement emphasized the
creepiness of lines like "There's seven people dead/On a South Dakota
The next choice ("Highway 61 Revisited") really added to the poignancy.
All hellfire and brimstone, this pulsating wall of sound sounded even more
manic after the restrained "Hollis." "Highway 61" has never been a fave of
mine, because of that absurd whistle arrangement on the studio version
that almost mocks the song's power. But live performances of it have
galvanized the song for me, revealing the monster of a rocker lurking in
that goofy studio arrangement. I closed my eyes and got swept away on the
guitar comets swirling above, swooping dragon-like above the crowd. Dylan
was caught up in the performance and was moving around a lot. No one else
in music today could play a two-song segue like this with as much
bone-chilling conviction as Dylan and his band. He is in a category of his
own in that realm now. His only competition - the old voices you hear on
Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music - are probably all dead.
It's that segue I'll remember this show by. But there were plenty of other
highlights. "Maggie" eschewed the song's darker undercurrents and became a
strident barnyard boogie. "I Don't Believe You" lived up to Dylan's claim
that the blues should lift you out of sadness, not take you into it; pure
liberation for all who've ever been scorned. "I'll Remember You" was
tender and poignant, featuring one of three excellent harp solos by Bob
("Girl Of The North Country" and "Don't Think Twice" the other two).
"Don't Think Twice" is so lovingly played and such a welcome recent
addition to the set-ending twofer. Even "Watchtower" always kicks up the
cold wind and sweeps me away, no matter how many times I've heard it.
The only missteps? The boring "Honest With Me," and the lack of a couple
more set surprises. But I'm not complaining. Having my wife and son's
first Dylan show unfold so wonderfully filled me with pride and excitement
- like betting on a race horse, then seeing him pull out from the crowd
early and never look back.
I was so tempted to try to drive to Birmingham for tonight's show, but I
plan to try for Tuesday's Greenville show instead. Don't miss Bob and
Willie and the Greencards on this tour - it's a blast. (The latter two
were fantastic as well - I don't want to make this review even longer, but
trust me, Willie is in much better voice and spirits than some other
reviews here have reported. He'll play everything you want to hear, and at
our show he did it all with a lively smile. And take off your shoes and
dance in the grass to the Greencards - they're excellent.) What a real
pleasure of a show!
Review by Jim Kavanagh
Storm clouds gathered over charming Grayson Stadium as the charismatic Greencards took the stage
to begin the proceedings Saturday night in Savannah. The roof of the old grandstand soon came
in handy as a hard rain began to fall, but nothing could dampen the spirts of all involved tonight.
Thankfully, the rain tapered to a drizzle as Willie Nelson and Family took the stage shortly after
7 to rousing applause. The flag of the Lone Star State unfurled as the band launched into Whiskey
River, and any torturous memories were to be purged for the next 4 hours. Willie's beard from
last week was gone, and he was in great spirits from the opening through the closing number, his
hilarious new song about the perils of pot and pain killers. The highlight was when a man in the
first row hoisted his little daughter onto his shoulders and Willie tossed her his bandana. She
caught it and wore it for the rest of the set. That image sums up the vibe.
The rain had stopped completely by the time Bob Dylan and band took the stage, Bob looking
resplendent in a Stetson. Bob and the band struggled a little to find a groove through the first
few numbers, - Maggies Farm, I'll Remember You, Lonesome Day Blues - then Bob called a quick huddle,
and went into a very slow Positively 4th Street. A guilt trip for the band? Probably my
imagination. Anyway, things really picked up after that with the great crowd vibe crossing over
to the performers. I Don't Believe You was a first for me, and Summer Days continues to be a
highlight. It was not a perfect, magical performance, like the one in Kissemmee, but a great
concert and time for all, surfing audience members certainly included.
Final affections have to be extended to the beer girls on the 3rd base side who got drenched in
the rain but kept pouring with smiles all night long. I'll remember you!
Review by Jeff Bridges
We missed most of the Greencards seeking shelter from an afternoon
cloud burst. It lightened to a drizzle as Willie took the stage. The
stage was set up in dead center field and we worked our way down to
about 40 feet away. It was nice to hear Willie and his band again. They
seemed to be enjoying themselves and produced a spirited set. Bob and his
band took the stage around 9:00. It was my first chance to see the new
lineup. They were all dressed in what appeared to be white on white
bowling shirts with dark pants. The only difference was in hat styles. Bob
was in his black suit with silver piping, and lots of it. Around the
collar, around the breast pocket and down the pant legs. He wore his white
I've followed the posts regarding the new band, and I must agree that
they are getting to be an extremely tight group. The sound was excellent
and Bob's voice was clear and cutting all night. His harp playing awesome
as usual. I'll Remember You is still playing in my head. The band can
really "put it in overdrive" when it's time. I noticed that Tony moves
around the stage more than he used to, apparently helping to keep the band
in line. The reworked Watchtower was a nice change. Bob didn't crack a
smile all night. At the line up at the end, he went to his harp rack and
brought one front stage with him. He fiddled with it as the applause
rained down. He looked down at it one last time before they made a left
turn and were gone. I've said before that the best Dylan show for me is
the last one I've seen, and that remains the case after Savannah.
page by Bill Pagel
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