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Review by Darrell Lea
The Dylan/Lesh road show rolled into Greater
Kansas City on a hot and steamy Friday night, but one
wouldn't have known that from the appearance of the
lower parking lot at the venue at 7:15pm. Fifteen
minutes prior to showtime, and the reserved seat lot
was not even a quarter full. However, it quickly
occurred to me that, since this was a Grateful Dead
related event, the vast majority of ticket holders
would choose to enter at the top of the hill, so they
could perhaps check out the traveling marketplace that
follows around anyone remotely connected with The
Dead. At any rate, the situation made for a very
comfortable arrival for our party.
Bob Dylan and band took the stage at 7:30
promptly, opening with "Oh, Babe, It Ain't No Lie", in
an up-tempo, country-folk inspired arrangement. The
mainly Dead-Head audience was into the music from the
beginning, being familiar with the version Garcia and
band sang on the Dead's acoustic live album,
"Reckoning". "To Ramona" followed in short order, with
some fine mandolin work and a nice waltz feel. Song
number three was "Desolation Row" , and the Dead-Head
crowd whooped it up just a little too much for this
writer, screaming in agreement at the end of each
verse. However, this show of approval seemed to loosen
up Dylan a lot, for he noticeably started playing to
the crowd and dancing a bit by the time the song
A traditional sounding "Mama, You Been On My
Mind" was next, featuring some fine flat pick style
lead work from Larry Campbell. "Tangled Up In Blue"
got the dance party rolling again, the song having
once again returned to the original key and
arrangement as the "Blood On The Tracks" version. For
this performance, Bob sang the first three verses in
3rd person narrative, skipped verse four("she was
workin' in a topless place..."), and sang the
remaining three verses in 1st person narrative. The
song ended with Bob's first harmonica break of the
night and a drum fill that could only be described as
a joyous train wreck.
The acoustic set ended with another traditional
sounding number I didn't know (Searching For A
Soldiers Grave) that complimented the other choices
well, and the electric set cranked right up
immediately with "Country Pie". This band really plays
as a tight, well-oiled machine these days, and the
lead guitarists were really enjoying themselves with
the stops and starts in the arrangement. "If Not For
You" had a bit of a swampy groove feel to it, the
guitars sounding as if they were in a drop-D tuning.
"Seeing The Real You At Last" and "Born In Time" were
both well appreciated surprises, as if Bob was taking
his own requests for a change. "Drifters Escape"
sounds like one of those riffy-type songs Hendrix used
to come up with in its current arrangement. The guy
five rows behind me seemed to be shouting the words as
loud as Dylan's voice coming out of the PA, which was
just a bit strange. To wrap up the set, Bob introduced
the band, working in the corny "hole-in-one" joke, and
strolled through "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat"
For the encore, "Things Have Changed" made a
great start, and could possibly pass as the motto for
this tour. "Like A Rolling Stone" sounded welcome,
with Campbells' electric guitar tuned down to C,
country style. Bob left out the third verse, as usual,
but sang the others with conviction. The acoustic
waltz arrangement of "My Back Pages" featured some
fine violin work, and was definitely a highlight of
the night. "Highway 61" rocked, "Blowing In The Wind"
sounded true and right, and as the band retired for
the night, it seemed that an hour and forty minutes
had passed by like a blink of an eye. It was really
Phil Lesh and Friends took the stage after a very
low-key half hour intermission, during which most of
the Miles Davis classic "Kind of Blue" was played over
the PA. This particular configuration has been
receiving some very mixed reviews from Dead-Heads on
this tour, but, to my ear, last night's gig showed all
the promise and potential that a band with musicians
of this caliber should deliver. Opening with a
nameless jam, the group quickly got down to business
with a well focused "Playing in The Band". Paul
Barrere and Robben Ford traded lead vocals on the
verses, and the jam that followed changed keys
comfortably for a nice segue into the Peter Gabriel
tune "In Your Eyes". Phil's first lead vocal of the
night was spirited and confident, making up for an
arrangement that was still a bit rough. Paul Barrere
handled lead vocal on the Little Feat standard "Fat
Man In The Bathtub", which also sounded slightly
ragged, probably due to the fact that they had changed
the key (from G to B) after playing the tune almost
every night for twenty-some-odd years. However, it
still had a good beat.
The meat-and-potatoes of the show was next, with
some very well rehearsed and well performed Grateful
Dead tunes. "Here Comes Sunshine" and "Unbroken Chain"
almost sounded better than the originals, with crystal
clear vocal harmonies and focused lead work by all the
players. "Terrapin Station" at first seemed to be a
gratuitous crowd pleaser, but the latin-style groove
behind the "Inspiration" portion of the song was a
very welcome and creative addition to the piece. The
set wrapped up with a version of "Cold Rain and Snow"
which was more reminiscent of the Dead's 1st album in
tempo and feel than anything else, as if the players
wanted to test themselves to see just how loud and
fast they can still get after all these years. A
bluesy version of "Sugaree" was the lone encore, and
those of us who made it to the end of the show were
sent away happy.
All in all, this night made perfect sense to me
as a presentation of modern American music. Dylan's
set worked great in the light of day, and Lesh's set
proved that these sixty year old rockers still have
much further to go, assuming we all live that long.
See this tour if you get the chance.
Darrell Lea, Lawrence, KS
July 8, 2000
Review by Ryan Staker & Kathleen Steele
It was somewhat surprising to see Dylan open the show. Bob and his band
walked on stage to a half-full, stirring and somewhat inattentive crowd.
It wasn't until the 3rd song (Desolation Row) that things began to settle
down. The band was sharply dressed with Dylan wearing his traditional
black attire and his signature "star-embossed" black & white cowboy boots.
Charlie Sexton had his cool black shades on as the late afternoon sun was
beating down, heating up the entire Sandstone Amphitheater...band and
Bob broke out the harmonica on the 5th number (Tangled Up In Blue) which
seemed to capture the crowd's full-attention. The show flew by with a few
lessor known numbers, wonderful nonetheless. The crowd was on their feet
cheering while Dylan closed the show with an electrifying rendition of
(Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat).
The die-hard Dylan fans continued with their approval of the show until
the band returned back on stage. At this point Dylan introduced his band
which even included a short unpredictable joke to the delight of everyone.
The highlight of the 5 number encore was the Dylan/Sexton jam on (Highway
61 Revisited). Bob & Charlie rocked on this number trading lead back and
forth like two great guitar warriors. A performance not soon forgotten!
Bob and his band brought the crowd back from the frenzy by ending the
evening with a passionate version of Blowin' In The Wind. Overall the
entire show was both riveting as well as powerful. Bob Dylan a "true
legend" did it again! Thanks Bob!!
Ryan Staker & Kathleen Steele, Wichita, Kansas
Review by Martin Abela
We were among the thousands who gathered in a hot Kansas field for the
travelling Bob and Phil roadshow. The contrast between the cool weather
we have been having in Toronto, and the oppressive heat and humidity of
Kansas was striking.
The venue is almost in the middle of nowhere. There are
no nearby restaurants, bars or motels. It is across the Missouri
River from Kansas City, and a few miles south of Leavenworth, with
it's legendary federal penitentiary. The site could have been
the Kansas farm where Clark Kent ploughed his father's fields before
heading off to Metropolis. Actually, it is where Amelia Earhart grew up,
before finding fame, and a mysterious fate in the Pacific.
After hearing the warnings of Bob's early starts on the tour,
my friend Edwin and I arrived in the parking lot early.
We relaxed in the lot, and enjoyed a beer in the sunshine.
Around us were scores of Gerry's kids, with tie-die shirts,
barefoot children, and dogs. Great to see some many people together
for a common purpose of fun and music... but it was very hot to
be travelling with dogs. Their free spirits were infectious, and
added to the positive atmosphere. One shirtless fan was wandering
around with a blender of Dacqaruis, and plastic cups. Others
were barbecuing, or selling various crafts.
We headed into the venue early, and were one of the first in.
It was an obvious error, since there was almost no shade, and
beer was five U.S. bucks for a cup of draft.
Most people stayed out until just before the show. We wandered
around, and found a sheltered beer garden, where I managed to
convince the bartender to give me a cup of ice, along with my
beer. Although most of Sandstone seemed unfinished, with no
shade or cover over the seats, and an unpaved parking lot,
the area with the beer garden was nicer, with shade trees,
flowers, and a water spray area to cool off.
We had a chat with fellow Bob-fans Steve and Kent from Birmingham, who
drove eight hours to be here to see the show. We waited in the shade
until just before the scheduled start of 7:30.
My ticket indicated an aisle seat in row X, but even this close to the
show there were many empties, so I strolled down to six rows from the
stage. Before I could smell any incense, and before the usual intro, Bob
and company strolled out and took their positions.
This caused a reaction, and people started streaming down from the
cooler areas to their seats. As they did, we heard the familiar "Ladies
and Gentlemen, please welcome Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan" and the
band started to play.
They opened with "O Babe It Ain't No Lie". They were not very
animated at first, which is not surprising given the heat and humidity. I
found it intense wearing shorts and a T-shirt, but Bob had his usual
attire - black suit, with white piping on the legs. He had a blue tie on,
with some kind of pattern I could not make out.
Tony, Larry and Charlie all had black or dark grey suits, but no ties.
Considering that they were staring into the setting sun, I was surprised
to see that only Charlie wore sunglasses.
After the opener, they went into "To Ramona", which was kind of
muddled, and a bit disappointing. Things improved with the next
song though. After a nod to David Kemper, Bob started into
"Desolation Row". He started to get more animated here,
with eyebrows arching as he sang the lyrics.
Bob's wiry hair looks long and frizzled. Between songs, he
would run his hands through it, and shake out the sweat.
As hot as we were in the seats, they were up in the direct
path of the setting sun, with black suits on, performing for us.
The band looked hot and uncomfortable, which is not surprising.
Tony looked glum, and rarely smiled. The only exception was
Charlie Sexton, who looked cool in his gelled hair and dark
After "Mama You Been On My Mind", the band tore into "Tangled
Up In Blue". This caused a great audience reaction, as usual.
Bob played off this, and started to become more animated.
To my great pleasure, he picked up the harmonica. As he played
the melody, he bent his knees and did a bit of a duck-walk
towards the front of the stage, past the microphones.
The crowd loved this, cheering, hooting and applauding.
Bob closed the acoustic set with the more sombre "Searching for
a Soldier's Grave". Not many people recognized this song. I wouldn't have
if I had not read the previous set lists. A good song, serious, and
performed with feeling.
Great idea to follow this up with the first electric number,
"Country Pie". Bob sure had fun with this one, smiling as
he sang the lyrics "...love that country pie!".
Next up was "If Not For You", which always makes me
think of George Harrison and Olivia Newton-John. Bob's
version was harsher almost barking out the final word
in "If not for YOU".
After this song, Bob said "Thank yooooouuu, you're so
The next song was a nice surprise: "Seeing The Real You At
Last". When Bob performs this on stage, he really brings out
the humour in the song. As he sings, he gives the audience a
knowing look, as if he is sharing a joke with us.
As he sang "..the real you at laaaaaaaaaaast", dragging out
the last syllable, he arched his eyebrows, and made eye
contact with people lucky enough to be in the front.
He also had fun with the guitar during this song - holding
it almost vertical, and flashing his smile
as he played.
"Born in Time" was next. Bob sang this song harshly,
almost barking out the words. He put more care into
"Drifters Escape", expressing the words clearly. As he played,
he crouched low, and smiled. More harmonica here, again
with knee bent, as if he was genuflecting.
When he introduced the band, as has been his habit lately
he include a joke at David Kemper's expense. This time it was:
"David went golfing today. He wore two shirts, in case he got
a hole in one". Bob is clearly getting pumped up for his
big variety show in the fall. I imagine it being something like
the Sammy Maudlin show from SCTV!
After the intro's, the band tore into "Leopard-Skin Pill-box
Hat". After, all five musicians stood at attention, with their
hands at their sides. The paused for a moment, and stared out
at the crowd as we applauded. Larry moved first, stepped back,
and walked off stage. The others followed.
After a minute or two of applause, the band came out again.
This time I could see Bob laying down his black cowboy hat on
a platform behind his spot on stage. He had the hat, but I did
not see him wear it once tonight.
The woman beside me in the sixth row had been dancing all
night, obviously enjoying herself. It was her first ever Bob show,
although I am sure she was buying records when Bob was first
recording them. She did not know all the songs - but she recognized the
first song of the encore right away. She asked me if it was "that song
from the movie soundtrack". She was correct - "Things Have Changed".
I was happy, since this made six songs tonight which I
have never heard live before! Worth the trip down for sure!
This live version was rougher, with some different phrasing.
"I used to care but.. things have..... channnged"
More crowd pleasing, with "Like a ROlling Stone". Bob
is clearly aware that every time he plays, there are many people
for whom it is their first concert, so he has to play some of the
old favourites. It is no burden to him though - he clearly enjoys
the reaction songs like LARS bring out in the crowd.
They switched over to the acoustic instruments, and Larry
picked up the violin for "My Back Pages". A beautiful song
with Larry's tender violin playing. He plays quietly, as Bob
sings the lyrics, making for a beautiful sound. Bob also played
the harmonica, accompanied by Larry's violin.
After this song, the band looked at Bob to take their cue.
He paused for a bit, perhaps trying to decide if he had what it
takes to keep going. However, by this time the sun had at least gone
low enough that it was not shining in his face, and the electric fans on
stage were keeping him a bit cooler, so he picked up his electric guitar,
and started into "Highway 61".
That is good news for me, since it is one of my favourites,
far superior to the alternate for this slot, "Rainy Day Women".
But - also a bit of bad news for me here. As I mentioned, my ticket
was in row X, but I had been hanging out in Row E, dancing
with the blonde woman beside me. However, just as this song
started four young women wearing almost no clothes were in the
aisle, turning down towards our row. Normally I don't run away
from young women, but sometimes discretion is required. I excused
myself, and thanked my erstwhile dancing partner (never did learn
her name) and moved out to the aisle.
Security had been tight. Occasionally people gathered in the
aisle right in front of Bob, but after a few minutes of dancing,
they were politely asked to take their seats by the burly attendant
in the aisle. I could have headed back to my row X seat,
but I thought I would instead go all the way. I went straight to
the front of the aisle, right at Bob's feet, and danced my
heart out to Highway 61. Although no one else was in the aisle
(all were on their feet at there seats though) no one asked me to
stop, or move back. I put all my remaining beer-fueled energy into
dancing to the rockin' Highway 61. Amazingly, Bob acknowledged me
by eyeing me, smiling and nodding a few times as he played.
This just encouraged me, and I kept at it for the whole song.
I sure enjoyed it, and Bob seemed to have fun as well.
After the song ended, the attendant said "where is your
seat anyway?". I told him "row X", and he said, pleasantly,
"well get back there". I thanked him for his kindness,
and did so.
My aisle seat was still empty, although there was a nice
big blue water bottle under it. Next to me were two women, with
two small children. The kids had Band-Aids and cotton over their
ears, although the music was not all that loud. As Bob sang
"Blowin' In The Wind", and I sat in my seat a bit
worn out, the little girl on the woman's shoulder next to me
kept flashing sweet smiles. A nice mellow way to
end an amazing concert.
After it was over (and before I could have a sip) a beautiful
young women in tie die walked up from the front. She flashed me
another sweet smile and said "I stashed my water bottle under your
seat". One mystery solved. I handed the bottle over to her which
got me a "thanks, man" in return.
After several beers, lots of ice, gallons of sweat, it
was one good show. Two more to follow I hope, in St. Louis and
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