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Review by baja
Here are my random thoughts. Soon after 8 p.m. as people were still finding
their seats in the cavernous hockey/basketball arena known as the garage in
these parts, also known as GM Place, the lights dimmed and flickered.
Shortly thereafter, my favorite voice uttering my favorite words in all the
world, yes, you know what I mean, "Ladies and gentleman....." On his
bobness came looking as if he just walked off the MTV unplugged set, in a
black suit with that shirt with the big black dots. The new look of the
band is not much different than the old look. Facing the stage, you have
larry far left with a pedal steel beside him, kemper directly behind him,
hiding behind his sun hat, dylan is centre stage, tony right next to him,
and the new kid on the block to the right of Tony. Charlie seemed like an
outsider or a guest player mostly just playing rhythm guitar. Bob barely
looked at him all night. Bob really focuses on larry and tries to play off
of him. Bob took the vast majority of leads all evening. I do miss bucky.
Bob was in great form but the band has lost its focus. I really liked that
ethereal country feel that bucky added to the band. Larry played pedal
steel on one song, I think baby blue, and it was really good but he has a
very different feel for the instrument than bucky. Larry just does not have
the depth of feeling for the instrument that bucky has. I do not think bob
is sure what direction to take or what use to make of his new ensemble. The
highlights were the TOOM tunes and the opener which had larry and charlie on
back up vocals. It was a country gospel tune. Like others I believe it is
time bob mixed up the setlist abit and maybe added some tunes from albums
between 1968 to 1996 besides tangled. From what I recall there were a few
other good tunes during those years.
Bob was confident, smiling and at times belting it out. Always worth seeing
if you got the chance but in large venues you are not going to experience
the full potential of dylan performance.
Briefly re paul simon. I've read some comments from rec.music.dylan people
who found paul to be arrogant or egotistical, that is certainly not my
impression. In fact I perceived him as humble and genuinely appreciative of
the overwhelming response he received from the audience. Paul was in great
voice, mixed up his tunes really well, had a hot 11 piece band, and did 2
encores ending with a soulful rendition of the boxer.
Review by Sam
GM Place in Vancouver is big, but it was quite full. i went not knowing what to expect at
all, not even whether bob or paul would open (i was hoping paul would, of course). there
was no usual pre-show Mozart symphony in G minor, either... instead it sounded like ashley
mcisaac or something. strobe lights started to flash and then without ANY intro, bob and the
band just walked onstage! (maybe they were tired of waiting for the intro guy to say his
"good evening..").... anyway, he did say it after a bit, and then they started.
i was NOT ready for "Hallelujah! I'm ready!" they just jumped right in and the song was
already over by the time you could take in bob's presence, the band without bucky, charlie
sexton belting out harmony, and the whole thing. but it was a very attention-grabbing
opener. Bob said: Thankyou! thankyou ladies and gentlemen! then they went right into
Tambourine man, with a long jam at the end almost remniscent of those long arrangements they
were doing in 95-96. at the end of which, bob played some very energetic harp, blowing long
hard high notes and dancing around. but an ENERGETIC performance is not the same as a
"heartfelt" one... i didn't get the feeling from this show, as with some performances i've
seen, that bob was really committed and involved with what he was doing; just once in a
while throughout. however, bob's performance oozed adrenalin and he really communicated that
to the crowd, getting everyone on their feet by the sixth or seventh song. since they
started with an acoustic set the dancing-energy took a while to build.
masters of war was third (well received), and then baby blue in which bob advised us all
with arch earnestness: "You better use your sense!!!" he also played with the rhythm,
drawing out certain words and cutting others short, as well as making long dramatic pauses
between phrases (So long sometimes i was sure he had forgotten the next line, but he was
always bluffing). he used this technique throughout the show, and especially during baby
blue, exaggerating and emphasizing words for effect, like: "..is drawing CRAAAAAAAAAzy
patterns on your sheets!" this made tony laugh. he ended this one with one of his little
pick-a-picky solos and then said: Thankyou ladies and gentlemen. You're so kind. Thankyou.
The last acoustic number was Tangled up in blue - i admit grudgingly that Larry has really
got that opening riff down to sweet perfection. during the instrumental near the end, bob
reached for the harp again, and then came one of those amazing bob-moments: bob playing
harmonica WITHOUT his guitar on him, so that he's completely exposed and vulnerable. and
magnifying this effect was his costume last night, which was just a black jacket and pants
(with white pinstripe) and cowboy boots, with a white-on-grey polka dot shirt (little dots,
not like newport). anyway, during this long solo his jacket hung open, and there was bob
without even a bolo tie between himself and the crowd. just the man. that's a very cool way
to see him perform.
for the electric set, there was a constant switching of guitars as larry and charlie sexton
alternated acoustic and electric. they played watchtower, trying to get to heaven (a bit of
sound trouble), stuck inside of mobile, not dark yet (hooray!!) and highway 61. from left
to right, larry, bob, tony and charlie sexton made up quite a group: four lean men in black,
each with a guitar: it was a very striking image. the visual effect of coherence, though,
was a bit more successful than the group sound, i think. charlie sexton spent the show
either watching bob or watching his own hands at work; he didn't seem completely at home
yet, although he exchanged some laughs and dance moves with tony. and he also seemed to copy
some of bob's knee-wiggles. i have to confess i didn't expect charlie sexton to be.. sexy!
bob's band has really changed since the days of jj jackson, when every band member was a
motley, colourful, cool-but-a-bit-goofy character. now with larry and his lovely blow-dried
locks, as well as charlie's tall-dark-and-handsome look, it almost seems that the band is
trying to "achieve an image" or something. anyway, what matters is that they SOUNDED good.
by the end of the electric set, the crowd was dancing madly and the place exuded HAPPINESS
(bob makes so many people happy for so many different reasons... that amazes me every time).
he came back for 3 encores: lovesick, like a rolling stone (crowd loved it) and it ain't me
(with harp again). then bob thanked us all again and said: Now prepare yourselves!!!! for
one of the greatest artists of this age or any age, mr. one and only paul simon. so paul
came and joined the band for 4 numbers, the sound of silence; i walk the line; blue moon of
kentucky (larry playing the fiddle, what a versatile fellow he is, that country boy) and
knocking on heaven's door. for the last 3 tunes they were just having fun, but for the sound
of silence the feeling in the stadium was really electric. the two men, each with guitars,
stood about 5 feet apart, staring at eachother throughout the entire performance so that the
audience saw them in profile. the way they tiptoed through the song made everyone hold
their breath. maybe they're still getting used to performing together (undoubtably), but
they each proceeded so cautiously, respectful of the other's part (bob sang harmony) that it
was really fabulous to see. very cool to see two wonderful performers, each of whom put on
an amazing show in his own way, stop in the middle and hold his own natural style in check
for the sake of a shared performance. the overall delivery of the song was not so
successful; it was the energy of the two hugely-concentrating men on the stage that made it
work. there was really, actually, SILENCE in the enormous stadium as they sang the last
verse, as everybody hung on the respective lips of bob and paul. WOW!
well- i've certainly rambled enough. if anyone wants to hear about paul's performance, just
ask. for now, suffice to say that it was a very amazing show (after which paul casually
walked out the back door of GM Place with a couple of security guys and strolled over on the
way to his rental car to talk, shake hands and sign autographs for the bewildered 20-odd
people who just happened to be near that door. crazy!). my one comment: i always find it
hard to figure out the right thing to do after seeing bob - it takes hours and hours to come
down from that high. now, i discovered that one good suggestion is to watch another
high-energy performance by a world-famous icon, surrounded by 20,000 manic people. it was
just the right level of activity to bring me back down to earth quite pleasantly. maybe bob
should make a habit of getting other rock-gods, etc, to "close" for him, just to be
considerate to his fans after they realize bob's show is over and they're left hanging on a
well, no! who ever wants to come down from a bob-dylan-high!
love to all. see you at some shows later this summer i hope.
"LSPBH-girl" Sam from Canada.
Review by Roland Guasparini
Paul Simon was great in Vancouver and had us all up dancing and clapping for
encores....First time I've seen him live. His ensemble, especially the percussion section,
was really incredible, better than I remembered from the African tour video). Wanted to say
this right away because I have to say something not so complimentary about Dylan.
Warning: Do not read on if you just really love Dylan no matter what.... Just attended the
Vancouver concert at GM place (where the Vancouver Grizzlies try to play basketball) where I
tried hard to hear any of the lyrics from Dylan, almost left out of frustration (I was not
alone judging by the folks around us and at the customer service desk at intermission) but
stayed because I really wanted to hear Paul Simon. Dylan had the backup band sound way too
load which is the hopeful interpretation of why his singing was totally unintelligible,
usually one could make out the few chorus lines which reminded me which tune he was being
played. Sounded like he was humming through a kazoo instead of singing. Orcus Productions
customer services said there was nothing they could do to influence the sound people that
come with the tour (I was afraid that there was some technical thing happening that was
going to ruin Simon's set also, so at intermission I tried to 'blow against the wind' and
see if there was some way to influence the sound controllers. Even though customer service
wasn't helpful the very nice woman checking tickets at the floor did speak to her manager
who did talk to the sound people who apparently just laughed).
Simon's set was great, and the instrumental composition is unique and rich. Still, when so
much of what a lot of us like are the poetry in the lyrics it is a shame that the sound crew
can not sort out how to ensure that Simon's voice mike sound is clear and raised above the
instrumentals ...for the most part it was pretty good which makes me think that in this day
and age it could be perfect. And also makes me wonder what was going on during Dylan's set.
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