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Review by Martin Abela
If you are attending a concert at Riverfront Amphitheatre,
make sure you leave your religious pamphlets at home. There is
a huge sign in the parking lot listing all the items which
are not permitted. One of them is missle (sic) like objects.
This amusing spelling error was symbolic of the oppressive
atmosphere in the Riverfront Amphitheatre parking lot,
a striking contrast with last night's Deadhead festival outside
Sandstone. Here there were no signs of the tailgate parties,
or roving Daiquiri vendors. No doubt this was because of the
numerous police officers on motorized mini-bikes who seemed to pop
up every few minutes.
There were long queues at the admission booths. Since we had
arrived about 6:30, this was a concern since we expected Bob
to be on stage shortly after 7.
The long lines were due to the fact that every patron,
(including your corespondent) was frisked by one of several
women at the gate. She did not object to anything I was
carrying (although I did have a small booklet - sort of
Missal-like!) so I entered without a hassle. My travelling
buddy Edwin and I were in our third row centre seats by
We were very excited about the concert in St. Louis, because
we were lucky enough to have third row centre seats. We
knew this would be a special night on our three day excursion
to the Mid-west to follow Bob Dylan.
However, we could not have foreseen our good luck. ONe of the
venue security staff informed us that Bob's people wanted to have
the first three rows of people to be standing at the rail,
sort of like general admission. Edwin and I quickly moved up,
and I parked my self right at the rail, where I stayed for the
The excitement built as the familiar smell of incense drifted
around us. Bob was soon introduced, and the band opened with the
same few songs as he has been playing lately:
Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie and To Ramona, which was nicer
than last night, with clearer enunciation. Third was
Don't Think Twice, It's Alright. Bob sang this one softly,
almost purring out the words.
Tangled Up In Blue again featured a harmonica solo,
with positive response from the audience. This song, although
played frequently, continues to please both those who have
seen a lot of shows, and newcomers to Bob's live performances.
Searching For A Soldiers Grave followed. Bob clearly takes
this song seriously, singing carefully and with feeling.
It does not get much reaction (since it is such a serious song,
I suppose) but does get good applause at the end.
"..love that Country Pie!" as Bob sings. I love this
song, and watching Bob play it. He is enjoying this whimsical
song. Charlie Sexton did some amazing electric guitar picking
on this one. Bob is really letting this talented guitar player
After Country Pie, Bob approached the microphone. He
said "I played St. Louis in 1959. IT was a place called
'The Laughing Buddha'. I want to dedicate that last song
to that particular place.".
I suppose the year is an exaggeration, but was there
really a folk club called the Laughing Buddha?
Next up was "..Memphis Blues..". Bob really started to get
more animated now, singing the lyrics with expression,
winking at people in the audience, and playing some
fine lead guitar.
This led into the only real surprise tonight,
"Simple Twist of Fate". Arching eyebrows, and
flashes of smiles to highlight certain lyrics in
Drifters Escape was the highlight of the show for
me. The song really rocks, and includes a great
harmonica solo. It is great to see Bob re-interpreting
songs from his back catalogue this way.
During the band intros, Bob delivered a
David Kemper joke: "David was going to be a
doctor, but he did note have any patience".
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat was the last song
before the encore. Things Have Changed, Like a Rolling
Stone and Forever Young for an encore, with
Highway 61 as a bit of an afterthought. The band members
were waiting for the word from Bob, before I saw him
mouth "Highway" to Tony..
Rollicking good song, as usual. Afterwards, Bob
and the boys stood at attention, while the crowd gave
a rousing ovation, and another show is history.
St. Louis, Missouri
July 9, 2000
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