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Review by Andrew Neuendorf
Stop the presses! Art Garfunkel has nothing on Bob Dylan! After Paul Simon's enjoyable
opening set, Bob came out and blended rather nicely during "Sound of Silence." He seemed a
little cautious at the beginning, but eventually settled in and did a good job on the
"harmony." It was pretty powerful to see two of the 60's biggest icons sing this song
together. Dylan played a great harmonica solo, which really excited the crowd. The energy
level really picked up from that point. It was fairly clear that most of the crowd of 15,000
plus had come to see Bob. Not that Paul wasn't good, but this was definitely Bob's
territory, and he really delivered. "Sound of Silence" was just the beginning of what turned
out to be an excellent night for Bob fans.
After the "I Walk the Line" medley and "Knockin on Heaven's Door," the set was changed and I
was more than anxious to find out what we would hear from Bob tonight. I found myself ready
to scream at the roadies to hurry the hell up. The guy standing next to my dad must have
been equally nervous because he was smoking his stash like it was going out of style. (His
attire, on the other hand, had gone out of style some time around 1969, but you have to
expect to see the throwbacks at Bob concerts. The crowd was a good blend of youth and
experience. Good example: I came to the concert with my dad. I am twenty and he is...older
than twenty, and we're both avid Bob fans.)
Anyway, Dylan came on and opened with "Hallelujah, I'm Ready To Go." It was a rocking
bluegrass tune (I hope that isn't an oxymoron) and although I think the lyrics seemed to
indicate that "ready to go" means ready to go to heaven, using the song as an opener gives
it an entirely different meaning. Bob seemed to be saying "I'm ready to kick some ass."
Larry was on mandolin and Charlie Sexton on rhythm guitar. In fact, I think Bob played lead
guitar during the entire five song acoustic set and most of the electric set. He really
impressed me with his guitar work, which isn't as good as Larry on lead, but it's still
pretty good. It made for a really tight sound during the acoustic numbers, which were
definitely the highlight of the show.
After the opener, Bob stopped fooling around with the cover songs and gave us two of his
masterpieces: "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Desolation Row." The former was great (it included a
wonderful harp solo), but the latter was out of this world! "Desolation Row" was really
up-beat, and he sang the words with a sardonic tone, almost as if he was mocking the
inhabitants of the Row. It created a completely different effect than sorrowful version from
"Live 1966." He cut out a few of the verses, but it didn't matter. This number was
definitely the "big one" of the show for me. The "making love or else expecting rain" line
got some applause from the audience considering the fact that we were all expecting it to
pour at any moment. Bob kind of paused before that line, looked at the sky for a moment, and
then sang "or else expecting rain." It was a nice touch.
He followed with "Don't Think Twice" and "Tangled," which included another harp solo. Bob
was really jiving up there and whenever he played the harp, he would take his guitar off and
dance. Now he isn't what you would call a "good" dancer, but his style is unique. He kind of
points his right hand off to the side and jiggles around like someone is above him pulling
his strings. Once or twice he even dropped down to a squat. It was fun to watch. His harp
playing was really good as well.
The electric set started with Watchtower. It rained during this song and during this song
only. It was kind of odd considering he claims that he wrote this song during a storm and it
makes references to an approaching storm of some sort. "The wind began to hooooowwwwwwwl!"
(and of course every verse is followed by a storm of guitar work from Larry).
"Not Dark Yet" was probably the highlight of the electric stuff. It's a great song and his
version tonight was every bit as good as it is on the album.
The encore was exciting to watch. "Like a Rolling Stone," while a little muddy in the
vocalizing department, was still a thrill to hear. "It Ain't Me Babe" featured some more
great harp playing, and "Not Fade Away" is always a great song. I thought maybe Bob would
come out and play another song, but it was not to be. That's okay though, because It was a
great show and it ended with the comforting thought that my dad and I were going to be at
Duluth for the next night's concert.
Review by Anne Karakatsoulis
Bob's big tour blew into Minnesota on Friday at Canterbury Downs in Minneapolis
and Saturday at Bayfront Park in Duluth, and gave us a lot for our money.
The Bodeans are a really good group and got the crowd going, Paul Simon the
performer gave a very good show with fine musicians and much enthusiam from
the audiences, and then Bob the prophet came on and blew them all away.
I wonder what it feels like for Bob's co-headliners to hear the reaction that
Bob gets from the crowd. One of my daughter's friends emphasized that she was
there because of Paul and enjoyed his set very much, but when Bob came on she
said "I'm going to cry" and proceeded to try to edge me out of my space during
the entire set. I understood. I gave her as much room as I could.
I always come away from Bob's concerts with a renewed affection for the
human race, because he sings directly about our real struggles and somehow
dignifies them and makes one feel empathy for the human condition in general.
I especially appreciated "Not Dark Yet". It seemed that no one in the audience
moved a muscle when he sang it the first night. Bob's vocals were so clear that
I'm sure anyone who didn't already know the lyrics could hear every word.
What an incredible existential statement it is of someone older, no illusions
left, facing his mortality, without grace. If that doesn't make you think,
The second night he sang "Masters of War". I always see the last verse
of that song as a good old-fashioned curse, which he seems to renew every time
he sings it. I noticed that the audience sang parts of the song here and
there, but sang the whole last verse with him - the curse magnified. Hope it
I love the way they do "Blowing in the Wind" - when all three step up to
the mikes to sing the refrain. It gives the song intensity and makes "the
answer is blowing in the wind" sound like a statement, rather than a dismissive
"Highway 61" rocked and rolled, and I always like to hear "LARS" - it
reminds me of the bad old days. They did a great job with "Not Fade Away",
a song Bob certainly heard Buddy Holly do that night at the Armory, which Bob
possibly could have seen last night from where he stood on stage if 1) it were
still there, and 2) fog hadn't socked in Duluth.
Dealing with the weather took a lot of thinking in Duluth because we were at
the Bayfront from 11am until 11:30pm. Duluth oscillated constantly between
sunny and 80 and foggy and cool and some rain and a cold wind off the lake, all
day long. It occurred to me that I would never normally be outside in such
weather, so even tho I live in Duluth, I'm not used to it. But it was worth it.
I wondered if maybe we keep things under too much control normally. Bob rattles
your cage. I like that about him. Some people get tired of "AATW", which he
sang, but I never do, because it never fails to move me.
The bands were facing a NE wind off Lake Superior when they played, which can't
be good for you. If we're going to get quality bands here, the Bayfront folks
have to plan events there better and not crowd the place with piles of dirt and
carnivals, and they must never face the stage towards the lake. Hello!!
I'll have to toss off a letter to the DECC about that. We're not used to people of
Bob's caliber coming here, so maybe Bob could just come to Duluth to perform
more often, and we can learn to get it right.
The other two songs from Time that Bob sang were "Tryin To Get to Heaven", which
was more spoken than sung, and "To Make You Feel My Love", which he sings very
gently. I like it that the album's getting so many performances. I think in
concert I've heard every song except "Highlands" and "Standing in the Doorway".
People loved Bob's comments in Mpls and Duluth. In Mpls he said, "I have to
get a hammer and hit the sack". Here is the quote from the Duluth Tribune of
his comments here. "I was born on the hill over there. Glad to see it's still
there. My first girlfriend came from here. She was so conceited, I used to
call her Mimi." I think he also said "She still lives in those hills", but we
were laughing over Mimi, so I'm not sure.
Thanks, Bob, for two great concerts. Please come back real soon. We'll
miss you until then.
Review by Matt Stroshane
First off I would like to say that all criticisms are relative and that
if Dylan walked onstage with just a guitar and sang Old McDonald Had a
Farm, I would cheer just as loud as if it were Maggie's Farm, so take
the review with a grain of salt. Just a few quick notes from the
Simon opened and as no surprise, Dylan was introduced and the two played
Sounds of Silence, I Walk the Line ( I couldn't tell of Blue Moon of
Kentucky was in there or not) and the reggae version of Knockin on
Heaven's door with Bob contributing harp on Silence and Knockin. It
appeared that during Silence that Dylan was mumbling something while
Simon was singing that didn't get picked up by the microphones but
generally the two seemed to be enjoying each other's company on stage.
When Dylan's proper set began, he started with the acoustic set which
was a nice change from the pre-Simon shows. He started with a rowdy
Hallelujah, I'm Ready to Go and also played Tambourine Man, Don't Think
Twice, and Desolation Row, which was a rare treat before playing Tangled
Up In Blue. It got a very standard treatment, and through the crowd
loved it, it sounded too straightforward and very much like the BOTT
version. But he came back with a solid version of Watchtower that woke
up everyone. A slow Not Dark Yet followed and then Dylan mumbled
something about a "hammer and then hitting the sack" before mumbling
more about having some of the greatest musicians in the world on stage
with him. As a light rain started to fall between songs, Bob whispered
something to Tony, probably to change from the setlist, and the next
song became Make You Feel My Love with special emphasis given to the
"when the rain is blowing in your face" line. Highway 61 closed the set
and felt tired in the slot. (I think the last three shows played in the
area closed with H61R.)
Like a Rolling Stone lead the encores and Dylan enjoyed mixing up the
phrasing and listening to the crowd shout out the words to him. The band
went acoustic again and Dylan led the band into It Ain't Me, Babe, which
was outstanding and featured great, if delayed, harp at the end, as
Dylan curiously took extra time with his back to the crowd trying to
pick out his harmonica. Not Fade Away, which has got to be the perfect
ender, closed out the encores. The great harmonies by Charlie, Larry,
and Bob were outstanding and the call and response guitar between Bob
and Larry make this a tune not to be missed. During the show, Bob seemed
to take almost every opportunity to play lead and Larry threw in great
fills (never played the pedal steel though) and Charlie seemed assigned
to only play rhythm on a big acoustic.
After they were finished Dylan took a bow then stood for several seconds
obviously contemplating whether or not to address the crowd. Alas, he
did not and the last I saw of him was a black figure picking up his
white cowboy hat and disappearing behind the stage.
Review by Comrade Trotsky
A quick review for those who give a damn. I'm going to the Duluth show
tomorrow too. Overall, a good show and my first time seeing the new line up.
As opposed to Simon's set, Dylan's is very guitar heavy.
Also, for those who care, Dylan wore a black suit with a long black tie.
Tony Garnier wore a purple suit and black hat. Charlie Sexton wore a dark
blue suit. Larry Campbell was dressed in black with that long jacket on,
with a aqua-sort colored shirt. David Kemper was wearing a new Texas cowboy
hat about the same color white as his old Panama Jack hat.
During Simonís set, Kemper could be seen dancing around a little.
For my review, forgive me if I am a little vague. Iím trying to remember
each song and the performance. I am also, a bit tired. This my first
Sound of Silence (Bob-harp)
When Dylan walks out, he sort of puts his hand on Simonís shoulder, like
hey, but he nearly knocks him down. Simon is kind of, on the shorter side,
and Dylan towers over him. Dylan's cowboy boots probably donít help either.
Dylan whips out some licks that depart from this songís tender and delicate
structure. A good harp break though.
I Walk The Line/Blue Moon Kentucky
Very quick. It seemed more like a blur. Itís hard to hear Dylan when they
Knockiní On Heavenís Door
This reggae version is interesting. After third verse, Simon forgot to jump
in and there was some laughing and awkward glances. Dylan gives Simonís
guitar player some weird glances too. The guy's pretty good and looks like
Sideshow Bob with this tuff of red hair.
Hallelujah (Larry Campbell on mandolin)
As the band strode on, the guitar tech asked Campbell whether it would be
the mandolin or guitar. It was the mandolin. A very quick song. Kemper kicks
it off with a trotting rhythm. Great mandolin work from Campbell. Heís a
real nimble player. The concert both starts and ends with great vocal
sing-along type songs. Sexton and Campbell form a nice vocal blend with
Dylan. At the end, Kemper took off his hat, which is something, Iíve never
Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob-harp)
A slightly different arrangement. A great harp break for Dylan. A great
Before starting this one out, Dylan told Tony Garnier and shouted it to
Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell. Though it appeared before the tour took a
break, it was a surprise choice to me. A great vocal delivery. No lyric mess
ups, lots of intonation and Dylan put a lot feeling behind it. Betty Davis
style got a little laugh from Dylan.
Donít Think Twice, Itís Alright
Some good guitar interplay on this one but within the confines of the song.
Sexton is staying steady on the rhythm. He must be the most overqualified
rhythm guitarist there is. Great playing by Campbell. He played the finger
picking part that Dylan played on the album version while Dylan and Sexton
mixed it up a little. Standard vocals.
Tangled Up In Blue (Bob Ėharp)
Like usual, Campbell starts this one off. But when youíre waiting for Bucky
Baxterís mandolin to come in, it never does. Instead, Dylan starts to play
the second guitar part and that merges with Campbell. Throughout the night,
you got the feeling that Dylan really likes Campbellís playing and they have
quite a synergy, if you will. Though Sexton's supposed to be the main
guitarist, Dylan doesn't seem to want let Campbell go. Campbell took a
majority of the lead work tonight but he often would play rhythm lines for
Dylanís lead stuff. Campbellís guitar parts were simultaneously supportive
to Dylan and interesting flourishes for the song overall.
Bobís harp solo was stumbling, sort of like a tight rope walker but in the
end, it was great. He sort of looks for something, a lick or melody and once
he finds it, he keeps playing and mutating it.
All Along The Watchtower (Bobóharp)
Campbell seemed to overdue it a little on this one. I think he accidentally
played one segment too long and interrupted a verse. He plays a PRS guitar
now and it has quite a thick and colorful sound. Despite the mess up, it was
really good to hear this song and was a good performance.
Make You Feel My Love
This song sorely missed Bucky Baxterís pedal steel. The steel guitar gave
the song a sense of loneliness and lonesomeness. In fact, though it looked
ready to go, there was no steel guitar tonight at all. A great Dylan vocal.
Some good melodic interplay.
Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
This was quite a guitar workout. It seemed the band was leading the train
and Sexton was sort of along for the ride. Good drumming from Kemper. Iíve
always like this song and Iíve always wanted to hear it. A different
arrangement. They donít all come back together hard at the end of the
Not Dark Yet
A magnificent version. Positively spooky. The intertwining layers of guitar
that permeate the recorded version are perfectly recreated. A lick sort of
appears out of nowhere and then evaporates. Some really good subtle guitar
work from Sexton and Campbell. Dylanís vocal was tender and
straight-forward, similar to the album version.
One of the highlights of the night.
band intros: Bob said, "I want to introduce you to my band. There some of
greatest players in the country. After going around he said, "We gotta get
out of here. We gotta get the hammer and hit the sack." Something like that.
It would make more sense to change it around but I pretty sure he said
hammer, not hammered. Dylan got a big laugh from Tony Garnier.
Highway 61 (Charlie Sexton on lead guitar, Larry Campbell on slide guitar)
On the last tour, this song was explosive. It had this intensity and
overflowing power. This version, though different, was equally so though
very different. Probably the best version of which was on Tonight Iím
Playing Here For You.
With Campbell playing slide on a road-worn red Gibson Les Paul (looked sort
of like one) Sexton played some interesting lead breaks. Campbellís loud
slide work was really great. Half way through, Sexton edged toward Dylan
trying to make eye contact or get him to do something. It was great to see
Dylan, Campbell and Sexton playing all at the same time. It was sort of a
blues jam session with each of them working off each other. Campbell took
the last solo, I believe, and Garnier puts his head right near his shoulder,
seemingly to just try to freak him out.
Like A Rolling Stone
This one got Dylan smiling. He seemed to laugh at the crowds reaction and
then quickly scowl and then laugh to himself. A longer version. Not quite as
effective as other arrangements theyíve done. Solid but nothing more. Near
the end, Dylan looked at Kemper to ask for a few moments before they ended
it, and Dylan launches into a great little solo, much to Garnierís delight.
It Ainít Me Babe
This song has become something of a speedy-little country journey. Garnierís
acoustic bass added a little punch to this one. There was plenty of picking
on this one. Some guitar weaving and a great Dylan solo.
Not Fade Away
A very funky version. Garnier was even slapping the bass a little. Again
great vocals from Sexton and Campbell. The song has a real crunching sound
too it. Sexton played a red Gretch guitar on this one (he played Strats most
of the night). I really like this version but youíd almost never recognize
it. Very different from other versions of the song. A great closer.
A couple observations on Charlie Sexton. He stood at the side of the stage
during the Simon/Dylan duet and got a weird glance from Dylan. He seemed to
get along well with all the band members and the roadies. Tony often leaned
over during the set and would whisper to him. He exchanged laughs with
Campbell and could be seen smiling at David Kemper. Kemper was hiding behind
his cymbals and couldnít be seen for comment. Though he has a limited role
so far, the next tour should be interesting.
The band has a different sound then before. Very familiar but nor quite as
rich as before, in my opinion.
With the departure of Bucky Baxter, Campbell has really stepped forward. He
plays a variety of instruments and his playing often dominates, though he is
very adept at playing supportive lines. Though I like Campbell and his
contributions, it seems they are missing something. Baxterís mandolin/pedal
steel playing was a nice color to add to the bandís mix. And since Sexton is
somewhat restrained, the sound is not quite as diverse and dynamic as it
once was, in my humble opinion.
Hope this is helpful. Now, on to Duluth.
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