Return to Current Tour Guide page
Review by Roderick Smith
Here it comes again.
He looks more bird like with each spin of the wheel. His skin hangs
over his bones like some ancient sage. His wooden face has turned into
wax. He at one looks older than time and against the light seems to be the
last child among us.
Ah the stars have turned cherry red.
The Roseland is an old dance hall on a second floor. Small stage with ten
row balcony on three sides. Christmas lights hang along the rail. It
seemed like some inverted riverboat, whooping it up on the Yukon.
Dylan the wild captain steering into the Northern winter his merry crew in
This show sizzled.
Now we see the old Jewish peddler with all his wares, glistening and
polished, a ding here or there perhaps, but laid out for all to see, and
turning the village on it's head.
Surely his body is made of finely jointed maple. He moves with puppet like
precision. Not a wasted nod. He delivers his astonishing character without
hesitation. The suspension of disbelief, that's this old man's game. And
he is the master of it make no doubt. No wonder he is so "shy." He must
never be seen. He is the puppeteer AND he is the puppet.
The old boat sails up the river, lights flicker against the night, the
distant sound of horns and beating drums.
You keep thinking, how long can this go on? Waiting on the dock, a few
bucks in your hand, a gamblers heart.
The river boat captain... he knows our fate.
Review by Mitch Rath
I despise references to the number of shows seen, as it really makes
little difference; you either get it, or you do not regarding Bob Dylan.
And I have seen only fourteen Dylan shows since '78, which pales in
comparison to so many out there. However, I have seen many different Bob
shows, with many highs and a few lows....
Last night at Roseland was, without question, the best show I have ever
The tiny Roseland Theater is apparently where Little Feat recorded their
last live album, and Bob, with band in tow, were there in Portland all
week practicing for the upcoming tour leg with Lesh & Co. This place is
tiny, with a shiny black floor and semi circle ring of a several level,
bleacher style I believe, balcony seating along the sides and rear of the
The show started off keenly with a very sharp "Duncan And Brady", that,
next to "Delia", was a personal favorite to open with.
To Ramona was simply beautiful, and so well backed and sung by Bob.
Masters Of War got a big ovation at the outset, and was potent, with some
real fierceness of phrase, as well as some convincingly angry expressions
on Bob's face. He really delivers the mood on this one.
Ring Them Bells was the first of several treats last night.
Unfortunately, Bob really was struggling with the lyrics. You could
almost see him trying to pull the verses out of his memory as he stepped
back from the mike stand between verses, but he did seem to salvage it
decently, with a few mumbled "new" words he placed impromtuly here and
Tangled Up In Blue was excellent, and built more strongly to a rollicking
crescendo with each passing verse. Bob mixed up the phrasing on the line,
"tangled up in...........blue" to great effect.
Searching For A Soldier's Grave I did not recognize, but it was a great
tune, and I must find the lyrics to this added treasure to the BD
repetoire. I had that lovely, old time, but ageless sound. It was
Country Pie was a hoe down treat. I would have loved to hear it go on and
Standing In The Doorway was one of the best of the night. Bob sang it
perfectly, and I remember a wonderful vocal and facial effect when he sang
"I got nothing to go back to now".
Crash On The Levy was AMAZING. The energy Bob put into this was really
something. My favorite version of this song ever. A fabulous riff
accompanied Bob's searing vocals, which were always so clear.
Things Have Changed I recall as being well done also, but the next real
peak for me was
Drifters Escape. This was the first harp solo, and another sizzling job
by band backup. Since this little review is from my very imperfect
memory, I can't recall if it was at this point, but Bob threw a hand in
the air to hush the band as he crouched at the back of the tiny stage and
began to wail, I mean WAIL on the poor little harp. He just played the
Hell out of the harmonica all night long. I watched his face redden with
intensity while he blew that instrument.
All night long the master just poured sweat off his face. Seeing sweat
beads form at the end of his nose reminded me of the "Hard To Handle"
video. I stood against the stage railing, just feet away for this show,
and it really helped me gain more understanding of how much enegry he puts
forth during a performance. Finally, I too can say, "and he LOOKED at
Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat was another smoking performance punctuated by the
harp. There was a woman in attendance wearing a very nice leapard skin
pillbox hat, and I looked about to see her particularly enjoying this song
from her perch in the side balcony.
All Along The Watchtower was reworked with a new arrangement which I had
not heard yet, and it was refreshingly different and completely well
Of the final tunes I can only remember enjoying them all. I must mention
the Doug Sahm tune, "She's About A Mover". It was a lovely tribute to
Doug Sahm, and just a house rocker. The floor of the Roseland (it is a
second floor room) was bouncing hard to this one. We had heard the sound
check as we baked in the hot sun in line earlier that evening. And this
was one they had worked up, but not with Bob on lead.
Finally, Bob and band stood together for their final ovation of the night,
and it was louder than I could have imagined that many people getting....
Quite honestly, I hope everyone gets to hear this one. I hope somebody
caught it on field recording.
Review by Jay G.
This review starts with the happy crowd circling the block outside the
Roseland Theatre, on a sunny evening in Portland, a city where they
appreciate sun more than the average town. Lots of people were looking for
tickets, but I saw none change hands. At 7:15, doors open and we cruise
upstairs to a "black box" type of room, 30 foot high ceilings with a small
open floor (except for the poles holding up the ceiling) and a three row
balcony 10 feet above. It never felt crowded. We drank, milled, and then
got 15 feet from the stage, without trying.
Bob and the band came on at about 8:10 or so. The incense was burning, and
strobe lights were flashing. As I had hoped, they leaped into Duncan and
Brady, -- a nice fast, well sung version, faster than last fall. The
chorus, "I been on the job, toooo long!", got everybody jumping. Then a
quieter, thoughtful "To Ramona" I thought to myself that Bob is on the
second song and he is singing it like the last song of the show, milking
every word . In fact, he was barely warmed up. Masters of War put down a
good groove and Ring Them Bells surprised folks. Every line sung with
feeling, Bob looking the room up and down.
Now, as a background note, at every Portland and show in recent years Bob
has skipped the "she lit a burner on the stove" verse from Tangled Up in
Blue. On the drive to Portland, I assured my friend Ron, indeed, I
absolutely promised him that the verse would be there tonight. After
Larry started the song perfectly, Bob stepped up, sang each verse better
than the last, going right into the "rare" one and emphasizing it. After
guitars, he sang the verse again!, looking a little unsure as he started
it but then letting loose. I believe he realized that he owed us a makeup
verse. The version that emerged was just great - really powerful. The
crowd was deafening at the end. Bob looked gratified, and Larry looked
After this, they began an unheard bluegrass song, full Bill Monroe or
Stanley harmonies, about Searching for his Grave. (If someone out there
enjoys this review, kindly contact me with a recording of this song!) The
band loved playing it and so did Bob. He seemed so pleased at the end.
Then, the electric guitars . . and Country Pie - wow - it was completely
rocked out, but with that "vintage electric" guitar sound. Sexton took
amazing solos on his colorful telecaster (Bob, you gotta encourage this!).
Larry kept up, and Bob just grinned -the joy of this band seems genuine.
A melody from Time Out of Mind started up with Larry. It took me a second
or two, but oh my, Bob started singing this great version of Standing in
the Doorway. Some lyrical changes - his guitar was no longer gay, I think
(not that there is anything wrong with it). What a great heartfelt song!
At the end, Bob stepped over to Tony, shouted towards the others, and a
funky boogie began. It was a nicely reworked version of Crash on the
Levee. Very cutting and cool. I thought it was much better than those fine
95 versions when last I heard this song. Bob was totally into the song,
working the crowd. At this point, I began to think that maybe the scalpers
getting 100 to 200 outside had undercharged their victims. Then Things
Have Changed started, reminding me of the ominous sounds of Ballad of a
Thin Man. What an electric set! Then things got even stranger, with The
Drifter's Escape. Larry was playing fast guitar like Edge. Charlie playing
Robbie licks. Bob adding a dose of Hendrix noises, shooting the lyrics
staccato. Sexton hit a beautiful licks when that bolt of lightning hit the
courthouse. Bob then began a lengthy harp solo, holding his guitar to his
side. Up. On his knees. Chaplinesque shuffles. And it was more like
genuine blues harp than any Bob harp I had heard. I really liked it. After
Band intros, there was a barroom version of Pill Box Hat (with some more
bluesy harp). The crowd clapped at the end, but not at all wildly. It had
been 70 minutes, and they knew the drill - more was coming.
The first encore Watchtower sounded different, but can't say how. The
crowd loved it. Rolling Stone was excellent (it is after all one of the
world's best songs) although I think he skipped the third verse, although
maybe it was me. Then, another scramble by Bob around the stage while I'm
expecting Not Fade Away but no, another old rocker called She's About a
Mover. I asked myself "what was this song". They grinned all the way
through and laughed at each other at the end. Bob did sing it different
than the lyrics posted on RMD, saying "Hey big Bob" rather than "big boy"
a laughing. (maybe tapes will prove me wrong). Guitars were changed and
there followed a perfect Girl of the North Country. The crowd erupted
louder than any stadium show. Bob, Larry, Charlie, Tony, David stood side
by side stage front for 10 or 15 seconds. After looking at the wildness,
Bob nodded, they grabbed guitars, and played a version of Rainy Day Women
that makes you remember why originally loved that song. The solos were
spontaneous and the room enjoyed each note as it built and built.
Finally, Don't Think Twice, one of his best live songs, played with some
The crowd clapped and yelled for a long time, continuing long after the
house lights and background music began. But Bob left them both satisfied
and wanting more, reminding me of Springsteen back in 1978 (No, Bob did
not climb the speakers.). All in all, it was an extraordinary evening -
Bob showed that he's better today than ever. And a great band that seems
to love playing together. Thanks to them all!
Review by Agnes I.
What! Standing in the Doorway! With that extraordinarily expressive
face... My friend from the North Country sure wishes she'd had a ticket
for this one. She's going to get in her broken down car and hope it gets
her all the way to California, where she's hoping for a repeat
performance. I myself am hoping for Handy Dandy (now that would be the
song to add strippers to), or Blood In My Eyes (though the man would never
have to pay for it after singing it the sexy way he does). Of course, I'd
gladly settle for Forever Young- I remember the most touching version of
that from a concert a few years back. Then again, I'd watch that boy play
every night if I could, whatever the songs were. Ring Them Bells and Down
in the Flood were fine too...
Return to Bob Links
Go to the Set Lists (by city) page
Go to the Set Lists (by date) page 1999 Tour, 1998 Tour, 1997 Tour, 1996 Tour , 1995 Tour, Pre 1995 Tours
Go to the Cue Sheet page
Return to Current Tour Guide page
Return to Current Tour Guide page