page by Bill Pagel
Review by Don Ely
"Everybody's misused him/Ripped him up and abused him/A terrible blow/But that's how it goes/Ain't
nothing said/'cause Freddie's dead"
...not dead,precisely, just...passed on. Those folks who derided the skills and execution of Freddie
Koella on his guitar can raise a glass in celebration,'cause he's done got outta town. I was not
among the naysayers, however, as I thought he began fitting in nicely by the time this spring's
shows rolled around. The new apprentice of the strings is one Stu Kimball, and it appears we'll
be in for another lenghthy transition while he gets up to speed. Bob Dylan And His Band's set at this
year's fabulously fun,outrageously hot, and massively muddy Bonnaroo festival was a mixed affair of
genuine surprises, subpar performances, and missed opportunities.
Things started out well enough.The band took the main What Stage in front of happy, partying patrons
eagerly awaiting the legend in the sweltering Tennessee sun. I met a young couple from Colorado and
we passed the ganja with other good people. "Down Along The Cove" was a spirited opener, and by the
second tune, "Tell Me That It Isn't True", it looked as if things would move along nicely. "Samson
And Delilah" was the first of four surprises that made the show, and I enjoyed it. I'm not familiar
with the song, but new arrangements and songs you haven't seen before are what you look for in a Dylan
set. Cracks began appearing during a lacklustre "Watching The River Flow", completely without verve;
it just laid there like carrion on hot asphalt. A quick check of the internet reveals Stu Kimball
has worked with Peter Wolf, and possibly toured with Eric Clapton. There was no evidence of any
skills of that caliber here. Strictly bar-band solos at this point. That was revealed as well on
the positively worst "Hwy 61" I've ever seen, hands down. Great performances of this song can
transport listeners to a backwoods jook joint deep in the Delta; this one was like a sloppy night of
stale beer down at the local casino. "Seeing The Real You At Last", though unexpected, was
good-not-great, and "Honest With Me" was played like the fire was slowly dying out.
The selections that meant most to me were the previously mentioned "Samson", along with "You Win Again",
"Sing Me Back Home", and "Pancho And Lefty", all good renderings. These songs I imagine the band worked
up in anticipation of the upcoming Bob Dylan/Willie Nelson tour (if in fact that does take place what
with Willie recovering from surgery). Hank Williams' "You Win Again" was the only tune in this group
that I was truly familiar with. I thought this reading was superior to the duet with Willie on his USA
Network birthday special, taped May 5. The only thing notable about that one was seeing Bob play guitar.
Still though,these are all mostly ballads, and the pacing of the show was not adequate for the average
festival-goer, many of whom I'm sure were seeing Bob for the first time. There were instances after a
slow number was played that there was total silence amongst the crowd. And though I'm not advocating
Bob pander to his audience, where was "Rainy Day Women"? Sure,it's an obvious choice, but it would
definitely help convert this large crowd, who might leave with a more favorable impression than I
believe they did. By the time of "Summer Days", another straight-line average version, they were
indifferent. Bob definitely didn't have this audience tucked away in his pocket because this performance
just wasn't good enough.
I'm not aware of the reasons for Freddie Koella's departure, and Stu Kimball must've been hired on short
notice, but here we are with another under-rehearsed, and perhaps under-confident guitarist to bring
this great band down. I think it would be an improvement if Larry Campbell learned the leads and the
new guy moved over to rhythm. Our European friends should bear in mind that on the upcoming tour they
might not be in for the stellar nights they're accustomed to. This gig was one for the hardcore only.
That said, this was still Bonnaroo, and laden with many great sets from the likes of Calexico, Patti
Smith, My Morning Jacket, moe. and Steve Winwood. And The Dead had a killer night that included "Me And
Bobby McGee" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". Woo hoo! Rock on,Brothers and Sisters!
Review by Adam Rossi
Hey gang...just pulled back into Western PA and got my first good cleansing since Wednesday...Aside
from the severe fluid retention in my legs after the 4 day affair followed by the 12 hour car ride
and the 8 total hours of sleep that I've had since Wednesday, on to the highlight of the whole
festival...Mr. Bob Dylan
After skimming Billy's review (where were you on the rail, man?), he seems to have nailed most
everything. I myself was one of the first lined up for the gates to open earlier in the day, but
chose to stand about 5 people back from the at LEAST 10 foot high stage (good thinking on my part!)
Bob came out (20 minutes late, much to the dismay of the majority of the crowd) in his "it's too damn
warm for a suit" outfit, complete with the shades. He looked his normal antique-prudish self--not
acknowledging the crowd in the least. I was expecting Maggie's for an opener but we got "Down Along
the Cove"--a treat indeed! Bob wasn't into the second verse before he started cracking a smile.
To save everyone a song by song critique, just know that Bob was in the best mood I've ever seen him
in...he was animated, he was talkative (if telling the crowd that Tony was having bass problems and
that they were going to "do something that's not too bass heavy" was indeed talkative). He DANCED
BIG TIME during the breakout part of "Honest With Me," twice he jumped back from the keyboard
mid-verse in "Cold Irons Bound" with his hands held straight out as if he were either casting a spell
on the instrument or had just discovered that a cobra was ready to strike. He strolled the huge stage
as if he were Charlie Chaplin; the right arm cocked upwards and little steps and hops all over the
place. Smiles were abundant. I'm telling you, he was digging it--BIG TIME!
I, too, thought that we'd be treated to a greatest hits show--after "Down Along..." and "Tell Me..."
I kind of thought something special was going down. Indeed, it did. The huddle after "Tell Me..."
produced a jammy-sounding tune that did not have me thinking anything at first--I couldn't pick out
any special chords that would give me a clue as to what it was. Then, Bob started singing: "Well
Delilah, she was a woman fine and fair...She had good looks, God knows and coal black hair..." Being
a life-long Dead fan, I was amazed! Well Holy Shit, it's "Samson and Delilah!" The over-abundant
Dead/Phish/Dave Matthews fans that made up the crowd had no idea what was going down until Bob got to
the "if I had my way" refrain. As soon as they heard that line the 2nd time, they KNEW!
"You Win Again"--for Ray...had to be...wasn't noted, but ya just KNOW!
"Sing Me Back Home"--probably for Reagan--my guess, anyway
"Pancho and Lefty"--well, shit, he has to advertise for the Bob and Willie show coming in August!
All of these neatly squeezed in there with a re-worked band cut-out type deal with "Seeing the Real
You At Last" which was amazing considering it was the first go at this new version.
A few notes:
1) Technically, the show was by no means perfect. Perhaps this was why Bob was so late getting on,
with all of the "new" tunes--working on arrangements backstage, Bob? No matter, the mood was key
here--again, Bob was delighted to be playing in front of the largest crowd since...(???)
2) I really like Stu. From my vantage point about 15 feet from the stage, either Stu has a really big
upper lip, or he sticks his tongue out when he plays. Also, for those of you who are fans of the
Howard Stern Radio Show on E! Television, Stu looks like Jeff the Drunk (no offense Stu!). Honestly,
though, Stu did amazing work...better than Freddy? Can't judge that--two totally different styles. I
think Stu mixes better because he is not as erratic as Freddy--you can't have both Bob and Freddy
both out in never-never land (not for too long anyway) and expect to get spot-on renditions of tunes.
Bob is too spontaneous for Freddy, but Stu is spot-on and thinks ahead of his actions which makes for
a tighter sounding band (again, only my opinion).
3) I, along with many others expected the hits; stuff that even a non-Dylan fan would know and would
applaud him for--not so. That's fine by me! I heard 7 new songs at this show--my only hope was that
he would have done something like this at a previous show so more die-hards would get to hear them
(as long as I was there, too!) But, then again, he's Bob...about as predictable as the weather which,
incidentally, decided to drop a billion gallons of rain on the farm both Saturday and Sunday evening
turning 600 acres of farm land into a 6 inch deep mud puddle.
4) I took pictures with a disposable...don't know how good they'll be, but I'll try and post them ASAP.
Any questions? Post under and I'll try and answer them throughout the day.
Thanks for reading! Sorry for the length, but it's Bob!
Take care everyone
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists