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Review by Shawn Badgley
July 6, 2000: The Superhuman Crew
It all started, for me at least, after the closing chords of a crisp,
El Rey-esque "Oh, Babe, It Ain't No Lie" left shards stuck in the ears of a
nearly capacity Zoo Amphitheatre crowd, one of the best & most energetic
non-club throngs I've ever seen or heard (prolly because of the GA &
smaller size of the place). It was about 7:15, & the sun was as fierce as
it had been hours before, beating straight down on the boys, including the
sprite in the middle of it all, blinking his eyes & smoothing his rumpled
black suit, wiping the sweat from his pale brow ... but more on him later.
To his right, Larry Campbell shook his head & mouthed "I'm all right" as
Al Santos tried to hand him what I believe was a violin for "My Back
Pages," rehearsed during soundcheck along with "Tough Mama," "She Belongs
to Me," "If Not for You," & "Somebody Touched Me," among others. No, it
wouldn't be "My Back Pages" or even a stately waltz-through of "To
Ramona." Not tonight, & not in Oklahoma.
"I'm ouuuttt heere a thousand maahhls from my home, walkin' a road other
miin have gone down..." It was almost a whisper, albeit a clearly
enunciated one, & it left most of his eager listeners clueless. But it got
louder, hitting its raspy peak at the spot that demanded it:
"Heeeeyyy-HEY, Woody Guuuuthrrie, I wrote you a song," those last five
words tumbling down upon each other, iwroteyouasong, almost as an
afterthought. Almost as if saying, in retrospect, "And I've written a hell
of a lot more too, some for you & some not, but ya know what, ya old Okie,
it doesn't really matter right now." It was poetry, the whole fuckin'
story captured in about two seconds. & the crowd goes wild. & Dylan
absolutely nails the song & he knows it, & his band nails it too & they
know it, Tony's quick-smile expression rigid & humorless in concentration,
his fingers dancing slowly across his battered stand-up fret & strings;
Charlie's boyish visage all solemn & awestruck at the same time. Dylan's
inflection & timing with the song strikes me as the same inflection &
timing he would have used if performing the song live in 1962, with his
mournful, brittle voice constructed for the sole purpose of singing lines
like "well it looks like it's a-dyin' & it's hardly been born" & "the very
last thing that I'd want to do is to say I've been hittin' some hard
travelin' too" ... oh, it was beautiful ... so perfect ... Dylan glances
around at the band afterward, knowingly. Tony smiles. Kemper adjusts his
cymbals to block out the sun. And together, after a brief consultation,
they launch into "Desolation Row," a tough tune to pull off, what with its
scattered absurdist verse & bitter sarcasm, after an emotional investment
like "Song to Woody." But apparently not, man, 'cause they handle this one
too. Bob, to my ear, does not miss an attempted lyric, & does not allow an
instrumental break until before the "I received yer letter yesterday"
final stanza (yeah, it's a damn poem, obviously), where it should be.
Throughout the song Dylan scrutinizes the crowd & flashes them a million
different expressions ranging from skepticism ("Romeo, uh, he's
a-muuuhhoooanin', 'ya belong to me I beliiieve'") to scorn
("yesiknowthemthey're quite laaaaame") ... by now there's a gorgeous
woman on her man's shoulders, right near centerstage, smiling & laughing &
singing along & waving at Bob & Dylan's up to his old tricks again ...
Now is when I'm thinking, man, it's hot as hell out here ... & we just
drove from Texas! How are they doing it? Bob is a 59-yr.-old man. He has
no sunglasses & his hair isn't quite as springy as usual, Larry is soaked
through, Tony is positively sheeny. The sun is just a bastard today,
scorching the crowd since they lined up & now causing Bob & the Boys to
cut down the acoustic set, with the customarily well-received "Tangled"
sneaking into the four-spot. I see a pretty young girl who had been
chatting away during Dylan's first few songs gripping the chainlink fence
separating us from America's greatest artistic contribution & staring,
spellbound as he spits out "she never escaped his mind," "burning coal,"
"mathematicians," "truckdrivers' wives," "another joint" & other secret
passwords in a swirling map of America. Tonight, "Tangled" is not just
"Tangled." It's a revealation, & he sings it for the billionth time, & for
the billionth time he means every word.
"Searching for a Solider's Grave" followed, really fucking with the
audience's head. Dylan obviously loves the song, & he renders it with such
tenderness & conviction, & garners polite applause for his craftmanship
... I'm really glad I was able to hear this one ... Larry's mandolin is
wonderful. Dylan is working up a solid sweat by now, probably from proving
his RMD critics wrong once again with some stirring guitar work, which
provides a few priceless moments of him leaning back in bliss, back
straight & head turned gracefully upward as he strikes clean on the
strings. When he returns his gaze to his admirers, he looks very tired,
eyes unfocused, as if he went to Heaven for a while & came back to finish
the show, to give the crowd its money's worth, you know?.
Which brings us to the electricity.
A rollicking "Country Pie" was a treat, Dylan crouching to his knees &
tilting his head at the mike ... "raspberry, strawberry, lemon, & lime,
whaddddooo i care?" Save for getting a little tongue-tied & pronouncing
"plum" "plume," Dylan pulls this off well, winning the crowd back after
the "downer" "Grave" ... I especially dig his phrasing with
"Coooooooouuuuunnnnttttrrryyyyyyyyyyyy PIE!" ... He held "country" for
like five minutes at one point, I swear. Rock & roll fun, ladies &
gentlemen, all baked golden brown down on the farm.
I was hoping for "Tough Mama" at this point, but got "If Not for You"
instead ... not bad, not bad ... Bob had a few problems with the lyrics,
repeating, & mix-n-matching, & poor timing ("I'd be lost" was cut out
'cause he mistimed the bridge a bit), but the melody is liltingly
trance-inducing, & the boys of course executed it very nicely.
"Down in the Flood" just rocks, for lack of a better term. He stares at
the faces bobbing below the lip of the stage & offers only "you gonna miss
yer best friend nooooooOOWWw/you better go & find yerself another best
friend somehoooooOOOWWw," grimacing as the sweat skitters down his eyelids
& drips from his iconic nose. Twice he strums a heavy, repetitive chord
that builds into a cataclysmic instrumental from the band, once holding up
his guitar for all to see. Quite a moment. Quite a song.
It's not harp yet but it's getting there.
Bob speaks with Tony & Tony speaks with the rest of the band ..."Tears
of Rage" maybe? No, "I Don't Believe You," which sounded a little
half-assed ... the song is over before it even seems to begin, Bob jumping
back & forth between verses like he really wasn't prepared to do it, but
it's all right ... the short harp closing covered the tracks a bit, but I
wasn't really moved by the performance ... I'll have to check the tape,
though. The next song more than made up for it, as I finally heard
"Drifter's Escape" live ... by now Bob is visibly exhausted, but his
phrasing is riveting, the jingle-jangled melody is spine-tingling, & the
harp solo is so perfect for the song ... a breeze is blowing now, &
Dylan's mane is blown to one side of his head as he stands leaning on one
leg with his back to one side of the crowd, his guitar stabbing straight
into the middle of the horizon, his profile severe & sincere ... "the
trial was bad enough, but this is 10 times worse" ... everybody knows what
happens to the drifter, man, it's in the title ... but I pretended I
didn't know, & when Bob yelled out the word "escape," the song just got me
in the gut ... so much going on in that tune, it's hard to keep track.
Bob introduced the band & hesitated before telling another joke about
Kemper. He finally said something I only partially heard about golfing &
strokes or tee-shirts or something ... I dunno ...
"Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat" finished off the set with a stunning solo by
Charlie (my brother called him a great American bluesman after the show) &
nimble prancing by Bob Dylan, who sang with vigor & humor on this one,
which the crowd loved ... it was really fuckin' loud. As the song ended,
Dylan whipped off his guitar flamboyantly & held it at his side, & the
band stood like soldiers around him leaning on their instruments, staring
out into the crowd. Their return saw "Things Have Changed," which was very
cool (I swear Bob sang "'I'm' a worried man... & he definitely sang
"sapphire-tinted" instead of "sapphire-tempered"; just an aside for the
obsessives) ... the crowd knew the tune, which must feel good for a guy
whose latest single has occurred almost 40 years from his first ... "LARS"
was a singalong from the crowd, & Bob noodled off into a semi-solo that
amused the hell out of Tony, who looked at his fellow players like, "where
the hell is he going" but that amounted to a nice instrumental bridge that
brought another smile to his face (someone earlier in the crowd had
complimented him on his hat, to which Garnier gave a thumbs-up & big
grin). "Girl of the North Country" was gentle & well-sung, Bob again
showing good work on his axe ... "RDW#12&35" finished things off, & it was
the best version I've heard at a show ... Bob was all smiles during this
one, chatting with Tony as he played & laughing at the joints thrown on
stage ... he whipped off his guitar again & clutched it to his chest
tightly, & then actually placed his hand on his heart & stared out into
the wild crowd, eventually flirting some more with some chick to whom he
kept pointing ... classic ... people are not overestimating the 2000 tour,
folks ... Bob is truly in his third or fourth prime, & I have seen it for
myself ... on to Kansas City ...
Review by Bess Sanditen
the price of admission was worth the song for woody during which the
authenticity of the place and time came flowing off stage and into the
audience. i actually thought bob and his band had been to okemah that
afternoon...phrases and songs during dylan's set continue to prove he
plays for us and for that lost connection to a meaningful past of making a
difference. the total dedication of this tremendous band makes one realize
the biggness of each moment in the show. bob continues to carry the tourch
lit by cassidy, kerourack, ginsburg et al and carried for years by
garcia....lesh was fun and the spirit endures due to thier efforts....the
vibes are a true reflection of americana and music history.....one should
not miss this show for a piece of amerikan history may slip by that may
never be witnessed again. we shared this moment with our 22 year old named
dylan who was impressed to say the least. teach your children and take
them too before this no longer exists .... not dark yet....but...
Review by Donna Ables
As I travel down I-35, leave the Kansas flatlands and converge upon the
rolling plains of northern Oklahoma, I begin to reflect on this town that
I’m visiting, this man that I’m seeing, and the songs I’m hoping to hear
this evening. Oklahoma City has experienced more than it’s share of
tragedy in the recent years and I was happy to visit my neighbor to the
south on a happy note, that being the arrival of Bob Dylan and his band.
The Zoo Amphitheater, which is located in the northeastern quadrant of the
city and sits on the western edge of the zoo is an older venue with open
lawn seating. Because this venue is general admission only, I arrive
early, hoping to claim a good location for me and my lawn chair. When I
turn into the parking area, I realize hundreds of fans have the same idea,
as the nearby park is filled with vehicles and fans are meandering about
until the gates opened at 5:00.
I quickly take my place in line, hoping they will let us in during the
latter portion of the sound check, but that didn’t happen. Waiting in
line, I feel a carnival type atmosphere in the parking lot, with booths
lining the drive, tailgate parties and young people working the crowds,
selling an array of articles, among them jewelry, posters and beverages of
all kinds. I love it!!
While I didn’t see one person selling tickets, there were several wanting
buy tickets, a sign of a sold out concert.
The gates are opened, and the crowd begins its descent down the sloped
seating area. I find a perfect spot…and position my lawn chair front and
center, about 30 feet from Bob’s mike and right behind a red rock ledge.
As I look back, I see the only shade available are from the trees lining
the outer perimeter of the venue…and realize that Bob and the band will
have to fight not only the heat, but the fierce rays of the sun. Al comes
out and removes the reflective blankets that cover the instruments and
equipment, so we know the time is getting near and the temperature
continues pushing 100 degrees.
The famous announcement is made, out walks Bob and his band and they head
straight for their microphones. Their faces are void of any emotion; they
are here for business, and Bob is truly focused on his work. He’s here
to sing his songs, and not for the commercialized hype so many musicians
are obsessed with today. Bob’s attire is the traditional black western
suit, with white piping down the leg, white shirt, and white and black
boots. The rest of the band are clothed in their gray and black
suits…..and then I realize there’s something different about Larry…..his
hair color is definitely darker than when I saw him in April! Has he
been playing around with Miss Clairol lately!!! I check Charlie out…and
his hair seems darker too, but it may be the gelled appearance, or maybe
Bob’s opening song, Oh Babe, It Ain’t No Lie, was well received by this
energetic crowd...the area in front of me was jammed packed with everyone
hanging of Bob’s every word. Yet Bob seemed oblivious to the crowd….he
was there to deliver a message, and he was doing just that.
The next selection, Song To Woody, was a pleasant surprise and a very
fitting tribute to his hero in the state of his birth. Woody Guthrie was
born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma. Bob sang this song with
conviction and the crowd responded. Dylan is obviously pleased with this
number as is the band….here’s where we receive our first "thank you"
Bob then started off with Desolation Row….and then followed with TUIB…..I
will have to say both of these were absolutely the best I have ever heard
during a live performance… The instrumentals on both were outstanding,
with Dylan taking the lead and making that guitar talk to the people…..
and his articulation on the lyrics were precise…..while, again he scopes
out the audience, as if to evaluate our responses. At the conclusion of
TUIB, Bob takes his right hand and places it to his chest as he looks out
in the crowd…….as if to control the pounding inside… OMG…it takes your
The next selection was Searching For A Soldier’s Grave….a beautiful
bluegrass number with Larry’s mandolin performance adding the melodic
background to Bobs superb guitar work. This was the first time I’ve heard
Bob do this…..but loved every minute of it. It was as if he reached
within and pulled the words right from his heart…..and shared them with
us. Now, I’m looking for the lyrics…lol
Country Pie is a great transition number for the electric portion of his
set…..he seems to enjoy it too…..as he gets "down and dirty" with the
instrumental, with his knees touching the stage floor, and tipping the
neck of the guitar forward and down…almost touching the floor…..he’s
really into this with both the phrasing and guitar work.
Bob then gives us If Not For You….and dances with the guitar during the
number…..back and forth, as only Bob can do it. He stumbled some on the
wording here….but I didn’t mind. I’m just thankful watching him breath!
Next came a true highlight of the concert, Down In the Flood. I tell ya,
if a person was not moving during this number, check their pulse, cause
they had to be dead!!! During one instrumental portion, he held his
guitar up as though cocking it for action…pursed his lips out and let it
rip!!!! Oh man….I’ve never had it so good!!! After this performance, we
received our second "thank you" of the evening, and then Bob turned to
Larry and smiled…a concurrence of excellence between the two.
The next song was I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We’ve Never Met)……I
enjoyed the song, mainly because of the harp….but noted that Bob was
starting to feel the heat. One thing I haven’t mentioned, but have noted
was that Bob has taken off his guitar after every song….not to change out
to another one….but as soon as the number finishes, the guitar is
off…..does anyone know what’s going on there?
The next selection was another highlight of mine….Drifter’s Escape….and
again, Bob outdoes himself….his phrasing was effective, with the audience
hanging on each and every word. Charlie performs a very nice instrumental
in this number…..he is an excellent performer in his own right….and a
compliment to Bob’s band. Upon this completion, we receive our third
"thank you" of the evening and Bob proceeds to introduce his band members
and a joke about David Kemper wearing two shirts to play golf, cause he
thought he might get a hole in one….!!
Bob and the band go right into Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat…he really got
into this number…I know so, cause his tongue was sticking out as he was
really getting with the instrumentals…..he was in his own world….and what
an experience to witness that. At the completion of this number, Bob,
along with Larry, Tony and Charlie, stood before us, with instruments in
hand. No words were exchanged…only the energy from the applause and
shouts of approval passed from the audience to the band. It was
awesome!!! After approximately one minute, the band retreated to back
stage……but the crowd didn’t stop….the applause continues!!!
The band returns with Bob giving his black cowboy hat to Al, before
walking back up to the microphone, and shared with the audience his latest
creations, Things Have Changed. This was the first time I had heard it
live…and Bob sang this as a man who knew what he was talking about.
The crowd erupted when Bob started out with Like A Rolling Stone…..and
began to sing along with the enthusiasm that afforded this hot, sultry
night. Young and old alike…together with a common bond….the love of Bob
Dylan. What a performance!!!
The next selection was my pinnacle of the evening….Girl Of The North
I had listened to this song several times during my three hour journey to
this concert…..I love both the earlier version on Freewheelin’ and also
the version with Johnny Cash on Nashville Skyline. But both of these
versions will take back seat to tonight’s performance……absolutely
beautiful!!! He handles the words in this song as if they were fragile
glass…..softly and serenely…deliberate with his phrasing and sincere in
His final selection of the evening was Rainy Day Women #12 & #35….I
decided prior to the concert that if he played this, I would focus my
attention on the audience and their reaction….wow, what can I say!!!
Larry was on the stand up pedal for this number and did a fine job….as did
Charlie and Tony……but this was Bob’s show…and he was the shining star in
this number. He smiled to the crowd and played with them on this
number…..and the audience loved it!!! I turn around and scanned the
vast horizon of audience… and everyone, bob-heads and dead-heads alike are
up for this number….what a response…..as Bob sang his first "Everybody
must get stoned"……the hands were raised in salute, along with whatever was
in them…..joints, cigarettes, or whatever, wow, what a party!!! And Bob
was enjoying this along with everyone else.
After the last number, Bob quickly removed his guitar, and again the band
stood at attention before the audience….however this time, Bob brought his
hand up to his heart….yes Bob, we love you too!!!
This "girl of the north country" has just experienced the best concert so
far….but I’m not stopping here….I’m headed to KC and the Sandstone
tomorrow night…..as one night is not enough….and no, even two nights are
not enough, but until the next time…I have his music to see me through the
night. Thank you Bob!!
Review by Chris Williams
Dylan rocked, mostly everyone was expecting Phil Lesh to come out and
open the show, but Bob came out in his suit and tie and me and my friends
Reese and Mark were only 20 feet away from Dylan it was the best concert I
have been to Dylan suprised everyone when he put on his electric guitar
though and when the audience would try to sing along with Bob he would
change the speed of how he sang the song he through everyone off and then
he would smile. Over all it was a damn good concert it was worth it. ---
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