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Review by Peter Stone Brown
It wasn't that easy to go to Madison Square Garden with the Tramps show
still in my mind, figuring that Dylan would resume the typical Simon
tour setlist. At 8:30 most of the crowd had settled in and the lights
dimmed and Dylan and the band started off with a pretty strong "Cocaine"
with Larry playing slide on his acoustic. Unlike Tramps, I could see
everybody at once on stage. The one downside of Tramps was trying to
find a comfortable line of sight between various heads and shoulders and
of course the minute you found one someone would move and you'd have to
start all over again.
"Tambourine Man" followed with the crowd going nuts when Dylan picked up
the harp and then a more than masterful "Hard Rain" with Larry and
Charlie singing harmony on the chorus. On the second chorus Dylan all
of a sudden became really alive and started leaning into it and
continued that way through the night.
A more than fine "Love Minus Zero" came next with Larry on steel, but I
started feeling ok, this is what I thought it was gonna be a good Bob
Dylan concert. Throughout this song and just about all the others
Dylan's left leg seemed to have a mind of it's own, bringing to mind
early Nat Hentoff and Shelton articles where they'd talk about how he
couldn't sit still talking and his leg would always be moving.
"Tangled" took things up a notch with Dylan starting to play around with
the phrasing and repeating lines somehow almost getting two lines into
the space of one. When he turned around to get his harp doing a little
Dylan dance over to where his harps were on the amps behind him the
audience sitting behind the stage erupted and Dylan acknowledged them
with more of his dance and played the first few bars of the solo to
The lights went down and when they came up Dylan's acoustic was replaced
with his strat, and Charlie still had his his cherry red Gibson J-200
and Larry had a mandolin. They started playing something unfamiliar and
strange and I was trying to figure out what it was. Dylan kind of
mumbled the first line but I caught the second and Oh My God, it's
"Highlands!" Once I got over the shock of him actually doing it I
quickly followed along. As various people reported about the Chula
Vista version, he did the whole thing, making little changes here and
there. Hard boiled egg became soft boiled eggs and stuff like that.
Without the "Charlie Patton guitar riff" that haunts the studio version,
the song had a different feel (but what Dylan song performed by him live
doesn't have a different feel than the studio version) but Larry's
mandolin the territory of Sleepy John Estes when the great blues
mandolin player Yank Rachell accompanied him -- Tennessee blues instead
of Delta blues. I'm not sure how much of the audience knew what was
going on. Many did. The Neil Young line received a burst of applause
and seemed to draw a lot of people into it. The guy in front of me
appeared to me checking his answering machine on his cell phone. And
there was a certain tension in seeing if he'd make it through the whole
song, but he did, and then wondering if he'd take a guitar solo, and for
once I almost wanted him to take a solo but after the last line he
signaled the band and brought it to a quick conclusion.
There wasn't much he could to follow that, but rock and rock they did
into a blistering "Watchtower" with Dylan resuming his thing of
repeating lines, "And the wind/And the wind began to howl."
"Just Like A Woman" with Larry on steel came next with a pretty good
harp solo at the end which ended with a trick ending where after the
between verse riff you almost thought he was going to play a whole other
solo, but he just blew a few more notes and they ended it.
Sylvio followed with Charlie singing strong gutsy harmony and they left
the stage. There were no band introductions and there were no jokes.
"Like A Rolling Stone" with Charlie stepping out on lead, and "Blowin'
In the Wind" were the encores. Then Dylan said, "I'd like to bring on
someone who I hate to say it has been around as long as I have" (or
something like that) Paul Simon. And Simon came out to a big round of
hometown applause and into "Sounds of Silence."
Having seen both bands back the duets, Dylan's band was easily the more
sympathetic one, and once again "Sounds of Silence" was the standout of
the duets, with Tony bowing the string bass and the band paying
attention to the dynamics. The "I Walk The Line"/"Blue Moon of
Kentucky" medley was easily superior to the "That'll Be The Day"/"The
Wanderer," but not by all that much, though Larry played killer fiddle
on "Blue Moon." While a lot of people have commented that Dylan is
restrained on the duets (and he does let Simon pretty much take the
leads) I had the feeling at this concert that for whatever reason he is
just being really careful with his singing, almost to the point that he
seems uncomfortable. While Larry and and Charlie provided really nice
falsetto oohs for "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," this version remains
pretty much of a joke stripping it of whatever spooky feeling it
The duets kind of brought things down a notch, but otherwise a very good
concert and obviously, "Highlands" made the night.
"Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times."
Peter Stone Brown
Review by Andrew Klewan
Just a few thoughts to share on the stellar performance given last evening
by Bob. Having been spoiled by the fifteen foot proximity to Bob from
Tramps the night before, I was expecting to enjoy, but not be overwhelmed,
by the show. I was wrong. Tambourine Man was lovely with a beautiful
harmonica solo, Love Minus Zero, Just Like A Woman, Watchtower, all very
fulfilling. However, Hard Rain was, quite simply, majestic. The band was
extraordinary, the dynamics of their crescendos rising and falling with
Dylan's vocal and guitar cues. If you can acquire a tape of this show, do
it for this song alone. Also, Highlands was not only a very welcome
surprise, but a gas. It seemed that the band was looking to burst but also
having to contain itself at the same time. Talk about conveying a lyric in
musical terms. Hard boiled eggs became soft boiled eggs. That's alright.
I like soft boiled eggs. Rolling Stone and Blowin'In The Wind were nothing
short of well played and sung. Having not gotten to any of the Dylan/Simon
shows prior to this (scheduling, no time to think), I thought the duet
section was really nice. Sounds came off real well, even though Dylan was
hesitant with the harmony. His harmonica on this and throughout the night
was superlative. I love the sight of the one handed solo with the guitar
slung over the shoulder. Anyway, this was show #38 for me, in the venue
where I saw show #1 (9/29/78), quite possibly the last New York City show of
the century, and the man is going into the year 2000 at the top of his game.
To be a part of this man's evolution, even as just a witness, means the
world to me. To see him and hear him be so exceptional, when only a few
years ago we weren't sure where it may go, is too rewarding for words. God
bless you Bob. Come back home soon.
Review by Wendy Gell
The Daily News says in big letters HOTTEST JULY EVER and John F. Kennedy Jr.'s
face is on every magazine cover .The New Haven line at Grand Central station I'm
heading home. Business was so slow in July, I kept waiting to get the tickets,
I just couldn't spend $150 or whatever for a ticket. I figured one of my friends would
call and invite me. July 24th comes and I'm at a party, moaning, Bob is playing in
Hartford and I'm not there. I had downloaded the play list for the night before , and
knew I might be missing "Visions of Johanna".
The next day thru MadisonSquareGarden .com I purchased whatever two seats they
had left. I met my cousin Jessica at the Will Call window at the Garden. Up up up we
went, to a high place in a glass enclosed moving escalator from where you could see
the street below, the walls covered with big posters of sports heroes. Concrete walls.
Up further and further to a place near the ceiling overlooking the stage behind where
the band would play. I never went to a Dylan concert I didn't enjoy, but we were in a
dead air space. The sound came up like frozen orange juice concentrate, and I could
hardly hear anything or see any of the band. Two German tourists were jumping
around and enjoying the show on my right. The seats were so close together, like bad
airline seats, I was stepping on the long hair of the girl in front of me. Behind me two
women sat chatting like they were at a bridal shower. When I heard the first few
chords of "Highlands" I turned around, and said "Excuse me but this is a 17 minute
song that Bob never sings in concert and I would really like to hear it." The women
looked at me in shock. Eeeekkkk. They quieted down and I was glad to hear that
song, feeling very neglected in that nether land hole of sound. Well, Madison Square
Garden should only sell those seats for basket ball games if they can't make the
acoustics work for concerts.
Bob opened and sang "Cocaine Blues " then "Mr. Tambourine Man," but I couldn't
hear anything . I was watching from the back , he put his cowboy hat down behind
the amp upside down, and I just looked at that. "Hard Rain" sounded so inviting I
began to relax. By the time Bob got to "Love Minus Zero No Limit," I was having fun
and was able to enjoy the music. When he followed with "Tangled Up in Blue," I
started feeling Tangled Up in Glue.
Bob did a harp solo so close and personal it was like a whispered secret that went
every where, touching every one in that stadium. He went over the rainbow and
straight on till morning.
The drummer wore a white cowboy hat .The audience roared when they did "All Along
the Watchtower." Every time a song mentioned New York City the crowd screamed.
The only time Jessica and I could see Bob was when he went to pick up his harp
behind the band. When he did "Just like a Woman," his voice wrapped around the
room like a big hungry snake and when it got up there to us we heard "I was hungry
and it WAASSSSS your world!" Then there was a screamin' guitar solo.
Then the band met in the middle of a the stage in a short huddle as though they didn't
know what song they were going to do next, "Silvio" burst out in the stadium "When
it's time to go you got an open door," Bob rocked, so far I hadn't heard him say a
word to the audience.
Paul Simon joined him after "Blowin in the Wind" which I can't even remember, and
together they did "Sounds of Silence," and the room was filled with awed faces, and
harmony like light and shadow falling. When I came to, they were doing some Johnny
Cash Walk the Line with a way out fiddle, and we couldn't stay in our chairs.
"Knocking on Heavens Door" was a great place to end Bob's set , and he picked up
the cowboy hat that he never wore as he walked out, and waved it to the people in
back in the north country fair .
Walking downstairs, Jessica and I wended our way through beautiful young girls and
boys buying beer and souvenirs and familiar looking bearded heads and old hippies.
The music started again,and we decided to see if we could get some better seats,
leap frogging around until we arrived at some lavender colored seats main floor behind
the soundboard in the middle of the room, from our tower the seats had been empty
through all of Bob's set. No one was there but one guy so we sat down.
Paul Simon was so wonderful everyone was spell bound. The music was fantastic,
Paul was casual and cute and his voice very beautiful, holding his arms out, doing
every song we loved, "Mrs. Robinson," "Still Crazy After All These Years," "Bridge
Over Troubled Water," "Slipsliding Away," and "Diamonds on the Soul of her Shoes.
"Further to Fly. A guy danced with me.
He had three drummers and everyone was up dancing and never stopped. It felt like
the concert would have no end. I always get sad when Bob plays "Rainy Day Women"
because it means the show is over. But tonight there was none of that, and Paul
just got better and better.
I knew Bob wasn't coming back after Paul's set . I went to buy some posters and
told Jessie I would meet her outside. The posters are a great design, Two Trains
Coming (not too slow) kind of deco, red and black. I wondered how I would make it
into some Gelastic Art and put it on my website or on Ebay. Someone told me this
is called gorilla marketing. I have a bunch of my Dylan inspired art work from my
website gallery on e bay . Even the dolls, "Absolutely Sweet Marie," and "Oh Sister
Wen," and an oil painting of Bob . They all have ticket stubs. My ultimate Dylan piece
is called "Oh Wendy Saints Go Marchin' In", where Dylan plays a rhinestone guitar
in a parade in wenDYLANd with a New Orleans looking Jesus, and my doll Beast
playing the saxophone. Angels upon angels. His white cowboy hats flies above.
I waited outside Madison square garden watching the faces . My eyes wandered thru
the crowds, up the street of yellow cabs to see a colorful neon sign, "Wendy's",
the hamburger place. Instantly the old man who had been playing his jazz trumpet
behind the cement wall begins to play "Oh Wendy Saints go Marching in oh Wendy
Saints Go Marchin' in, oh Lord I want to be in that number when the Saints Go
Marchin' in." I laughed out loud standing alone in the hot New York night, and the
heat felt very good. My imagination-driven life was satisfied. I had to hear that song
for the night to be complete. It didn't have to be Bob or Paul singing, but I just had to
hear it. Then the old man played "Hello Dolly." I was still laughing when Jessie
found me and we went to have a drink down the street. The moon was almost full.
She said she thought they leave seats open for the people who have to dance and
can't stay in their seats so they won't rush the stage. I was just glad we got there,
I wish we'd gone earlier. The music was clear, loud and brilliant and we danced like
crazy people, and there was so much room, no one was there. I have to be careful
when I dance because my big heavy wristy bracelets could break someone's nose.
But there was plenty of room like a vortex.
A guy at the bar near our table said he just shook Bob Dylan's hand." "Well sit down
let's hear about it", I said and he sat down . We had fried calamari and I drank kier.
This guy Joe had a back stage pass because he knew one of the musicians and he
gave it to me for a collage. He liked my funny purse which is made out of a stuffed
animal, a camel with jeweled eyes and a cherub on its head named "Josephine
Camel," she smokes and reads mythology . After a long night I start to look like
Shari Lewis with it. Lots of the kids in the concert stopped me and asked about it.
It was too late to go home so I stayed in the city at Jessie's near the 26th Street
On the train, I'm going home to my sanctuary, my computer, the glue gun, the little
white dogs and Rosie the parrot, and the Quiet. I'm dreaming and singing to myself,
"There's a lonesome freight at 608, headin' thru the town , I'll soon be homeward
bound. I'll be homeward bound."
People on the train talk on their cell phones so loud, and one guy just wants everyone
to know his business, but I'm trying to concentrate and write my review. On the other
side, a stage mother and child actress I can't see are practicing the dialog from an
audition they must have come from.
I feel a wave of Tennessee Willams or Woody Allen, the characters are here. Is there
a script? A concert is so in the moment, every heart beat in the moment, can't be
recaptured by memory. "Memories of God" sang Paul. While the train rolls I think
of the train posters. The little girl goes to the first seat in our train car . She is
performing her act with a plastic water bottle as her microphone. She must be about
7. She sings, she vamps, makes faces and holds back the sounds of the words so
we can't hear them. The landscape outside now is salt marshes and then parking lots
and train stations and small towns. I was thinking of the guy we met at the restaurant.
He said he owned a recording studio. He didn't talk about Bob, but about a guy named
Charlie . I was talking about my website. Jessie was talking about her life in New York.
Jessie said I might be the biggest Bob Dylan fan there was and I said maybe but there
are people who love him as much, I just can express it with my artwork. If not for glue.
So the sound was bad where I was, it was still a W'endessential experience, I'll be
inspired for months. I hope Bob will come to the Palace Theater in New Haven where
he sounds so great and the seats are so nice and comfortable and you can really see
each other. I like flashing my wristies at Bob and the band on stage, I know they
sparkle, I know he couldn't see them from way up there last night. And I like looking
at things reflected in there mirrored facets while I listen to the songs, sometimes I see
reflections of the band.
For Halloween buy her a trumpet and for Christmas give her a drum. BD
I went swimming when I got home and worked on my review and
a dragonfly landed on my toe and my pen, a dragonfly in wendyland.
Review by Josh Steinberg
Bob Dylan hit the stage after 8 with his tight, four-piece band, with an
acoustic "Cocaine Blues". The way Dylan enunciated and moved around, you
could tell this was going to be special. He pranced around the stage, smiled
once or twice, blew his harmonica in the general direction of the audience
behind the stage, and held up his guitar while strumming more than once. The
highlight of this show was clearly "Highlands". The closing track of the
amazing Time Out Of Mind, and a live rarity, the performance was a nice
surprise. A rocking "Like A Rolling Stone" and nastolgic "Blowin' In The
Wind" (with subtle, reminiscent lyric changes from "..too many people are
dying..." to "too many people have died") closed the set. Dylan then spoke
(!): "I'd like to bring on
someone who, I hate to say it, has been around as long as I have."
The next surprise was the duet section of the show. That they did a duet was
not a surprise, but that the blend of Dylan's raspy voice against Simon's
grace worked as well as it did. If the Simon & Garfunkel recording of "The
Sounds Of Silence" was dark, Dylan & Simon's arrangement was like a black
hole. A medley of Johnny Cash tunes ("I Walk The Line" and "Blue Moon Of
Kentucky") followed, with the duet set closed by a moving "Knockin' On
Heaven's Door". During the end of that final song, Simon improvised with the
line "I hear you knocking, but you can't come in"; it was a chilling ending
line, and Dylan joined in, and it sounded like two poets of a generation
sentenced to more time on Earth. That can't be all bad, because Dylan and
Simon both walked off smiling.
Simon returned to the stage with his band after 10. Did I say band? I
meant, half of South Africa. Simon's band was filled with an amazing group
of players who all excelled at their craft. If Dylan was on fire, Simon was
explosive. Opening with a tender "Bridge Over Troubled Water", Simon played
material mostly off of Graceland and The Rhythm Of The Saints. The music
sounded as fresh as it did when it first came out, and Simon was having a
ball being in front of the audience, often frolicking around the stage,
holding his guitar over his head or out into the audience strumming
ferociously, and wearing an ear to ear grin. Simon was also playing
conductor, orchestrating the actions of his large band. Sitting on the right
side of the stage in section 220, I could see he was having great fun
directing the musicians.
After Simon completed his set and encore "Still Crazy After All These Years",
I expected the show to be over. Afterall, that was the official ending song
for his show, and the other tour dates I had read about ended after that.
Still, I was having such a great time seeing Simon live for my first time
that I was unwilling to accept that the show was over. People started
pouring out, and then, the stage lights came back up, and Simon walked on
with a couple of guests. Noticing that many people had left, I ran down into
section 72 and sat there for the remainder of the show.
Simon introduced Rueben Blades and Danny Rivera, cast members from his
Capeman musical, to the audience, and they all did a song titled "Born In
Puerto Rico". Despite harsh criticism, Simon's album of Songs From The
Capeman was a fantastic album, full of rich imagery and vivid storytelling,
and this performance was no exception. After the song had finished, Simon's
guests walked offstage, and Simon picked up an acoustic guitar. Then, a call
into the microphone: "Harper, if you're out there, come on up." Past me runs
Harper Simon, Paul's son (who must be in his mid-twenties), and they play a
tender duet of "The Boxer", which was strong enough to hold up to the
original Simon & Garfunkel recording. All evening, Simon had been giving of
himself, playing with such energy and life, and giving out such happiness.
The act of sharing his son with the audience was such a generous gesture that
it was felt everywhere in the house. For those few moments, Madison Square
Garden felt as intimate and as warm as Paul Simon's living room. I can't
think of a more fitting ending for the show, or a better way to end this
review than that.
Review by Carsten Wohlfeld
It was an almost impossible task to follow up the tremendous Tramps show
with an equally exciting gig a the Garden, but hey, Bob wouldn’t be Bob
if he could manage it somehow. And so there he was, taking to the stage
at the sold out Garden (they even sold the seats behind the stage, so
there was no curtain behind the band and a scaled down lightshow) at
8.20pm. And even though they opened with my least favourite coverversion,
tonight’s take on
was actually quite enjoyable with Larry and Charlie singing back up.
Larry played acoustic slide guitar and put in a very fine solo.
Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic)
followed inevitably and was pretty lame at the start but halfway through
Bob woke up and it got better, only to end with a quite long harmonica
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (acoustic)
Very good version despite the fact that he almost sang too loud a couple
of times. This spring Larry and Bucky always had trouble to singi along
with Bob during the chorus, cause he’d change the phrasing so much, but
tonight all three fortunately could agree on how to sing it.
Love Minus Zero/No Limit (acoustic)
Wonderful version with Larry on pedal steel. Sung very gently, and just
at the right pace, it was just perfect. *swoon*
Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)
was nothing special apart from the fact that it included the rare
"italian poet“ verse. Bob forgot the words to the seond half of that
verse... And we got yet another harp solo, this time partly played facing
the people behind the stage. First standing ovation followed. Then I
thought „the greatest song ever written is next“, obviously referring to
"All Along The Watchtower“, but then again, they don’t do "Watchtower“
with David on drums, Larry on mandolin, Bob and Charlie on electric
guitars and Tony on double bass (!). So it must’ve been time for:
I do like the version on the record, but this was soooooo much better.
Especially the mandolin and the more varied drum part really improved it
and it wasn’t boring at all (even though Bob seemed to do almost, if not
all of the lyrics, it was shorter than on the record). And his vocals
were just perfect. It sounded as if he’s singing the song every night -
twice! Bob just never stops to amaze me...
All Along The Watchtower
Ahhh, the greatest song of all time after all, with Charlie on acoustic.
Much better version than Hartford, despite the fact that Bob forgot the
first lines of the last verse! The ending as really loud, fast and
dramatic and very good indeed.
Just Like A Woman
Larry on pedal steel. Not exactly a killer version, though it got better
nearer to the end and included a harp solo that never really took off.
Probably the lowpoint of the show, but then again it is of course almost
impossible to top "Highlands“ and "All Along The Watchtower“. And without
band intros (Bob didn’t say a word apart from one „thank you ladies and
gentlemen“ and the Paul Simon intro later on). they went staright to the
Featured an all new, improvised first verse (or he was mumbling so bad
that I thought it was new) and apart from that it was the usual
riff-o-rama and a fun way to end the show. Especially since when you
heard him do „Highway“ as the last song for like 25 consecutive times.
Like A Rolling Stone
1965 revisited, the twangy guitar sound and all. Great version though
still slightly too slow (but too fast for Dylan to sing the ending of
certain lines nonetheless). It’s great to see how much fun the band still
has doing the song though.
Blowin’ In The Wind (acoustic)
was "Blowin“. Then he mumbled something as a way of introducing Paul
Simon, I didn’t get it at all, but then Simon walked on stage, got a
standing ovation and they did:
Sounds Of Silence
as gorgeous as the version I heard in Hartford, even though Bob’s voice
was not as strong/loud this time. Larry on pedal steel, Bob on harp
halfway through. Looking forward to hearing that song again tomorrow,
which is to say I liked it a lot.
I Walk The Line / Blue Moon Of Kentucky
Still a very silly idea to do these two songs together and the
arrangement is very, um, stripped down, but as long as the two of them
are having fun doing the songs, I’m happy for then.
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
was a carbon copy of Hartford’s version. Love Minus Xerox.
All in all a very good show much better in fact than I expected it to be
after the very unreal, dream-come-true set at Tramps. Hope he can keep up
the pace in Holmdel. Actually, I have no doubt that he will. :-)
"i could bitch, i could moan, say i want to be left alone, but that’s not
really true, because I like my time with you“ (jill sobule)
Review by Christopher Kundl
I've always thought that Bob's best moments, in the studio or live,
have come when he's searching for that funky, soulful kind of moment,
rather than just trying to sing or play well. This past weekend at MSG,
I think he found that groove, that painfully honest yet knowingly sly
mood he's in when he really connects with his work. I haven't heard any
other shows from this summer's tour, so it might just be the way things
have been going lately… In any case, I was impressed indeed.
Bob played relatively few songs, but several of them were long ones,
making for a pretty standard-length set (for a double bill as such).
Things got underway with
COCAINE BLUES: This was a bit sped-up, which made it more appropriate
for a groovy opener, IMO. The first thing I noticed was Bob's singing;
rather than the split-level "high-end airy/low-end growly" voice he was
in the last time I saw him (2/23/99), there wasn't a noticeable break
in his register, kind of like his spring '98 performances (and with the
same subtle vibrato carefully placed at the end of certain phrases).
Very nice, indeed. Charlie Sexton's backup vocals are a little beefier
than Bucky's. Good audience recognition, from a crowd that spent the
bulk of the show at perfect attention. After a subtle intro, I
MR. TAMBOURINE MAN: The first real highlight. And what a highlight it
was… Bob achieved a perfect build in the vocals over the course of the
song, until the last chorus found him belting out every syllable. He
then picked up the harp for the first of four times over the evening,
playing what would be the finest of the solos. A real treat… If his
illness really did restrict him from playing his harmonica, it's
certainly no longer a factor. Way to silence those naysayers, Bob. A
little conference, then
A HARD RAIN'S A-GONNA FALL: You had to love the backing vocals on the
chorus, they really did complement the song nicely. Charlie's vocals
are strong and blend well with Larry's. For the last chorus, Bob
ditched the dragged-out motif of recent years and sung it at the loping
speed of the original recording. Little tweaks like these do wonders
for the evolution of his songs. Lots of nice subtle softness… "I met a
young girl, she gave me a rainbow…" Next, we have
LOVE MINUS ZERO/NO LIMIT: I can't remember if this was the exact song
that Larry first sat down for the slide guitar for (I believe it was),
but in any case, he's a hell of a player. He made the catchy riff that
follows each phrase sound as smooth as silk, and Bob's vocals seemed to
follow suit, affecting and emotive. Larry played four instruments
during the show, guitar/slide/mandolin/fiddle. What a talented,
versitile musician he's proven to be. I hope he stays with Bob for many
shows to come. They close out the acoustic half with
TANGLED UP IN BLUE: IMO, he sang this true to the tone of the song
itself; changing, shifting, twisting and turning. At the end of one
verse in particular, he really leaned into the BLUUUUUUUUUUE… Like he
was taking a well-known folk tale and twisting it into his own funky
vision of road ennui. This song was full of life. And, to top it all
Now, I'm not sure if this is that big of a deal or not, but he sung the
"She lit a burner on the stove" verse. I haven't heard him sing this
verse in a LONG time (barring the two Mansfield shows that I have yet
to read reviews for). Can anyone clue me in as to the last time he sang
the verse in concert? The song finished with harp solo #2, strong and
Pick up the electric instruments for… Wait, Tony's still on double
HIGHLANDS: Worth the price of the ticket itself. Again, with the
possible exception of the Mansfield shows, I believe this is only his
second performance of this TOOM epic. And it was a masterpiece; Bob in
his best storytelling mode, the band sounding smooth and bluesy, and
every line just ringing in your head until the final, climactic verse
which found Bob not thinking "that's good enough for now" (as he does
on TOOM), rather, "that'll have to be good enough for now". Bob is
getting up there in years, and he's accepting it, but he's still
unsettled, as he seems to have always been. A profound, moving
statement about what Robert Frost called "a lover's quarrel with the
world". How do you follow it up? By letting it all out into the
ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER: This Watchtower was sharp and right on the
money. And the crowd knew it, the response wasn't a "whoo-hoo" for
nostalgia's sake, but a consensus that they were seeing some killer
musicianship. Again, a good climax by all… If there was a key word for
this concert, it was dynamics. Larry's guitar distortion was a little
peppier or brighter than on other recent Watchtowers. Bob's phrasing
was better on this number than other recent recordings I've heard of
it. His phrasing, esp. on TUIB, LARS was fresh and inventive. On to
another summer '99 standard:
JUST LIKE A WOMAN: Always a pleasure to hear; Bob seems to have
maintained a better grasp of this song over the years than many others.
Lots of repetition in the choruses: "Well, she takes… she takes just
like a woman…". The final verse, "when we meet again, introduced as
friends…" revealed a lot of tenderness. And, as he's done in other
recent performances, he let loose a howling yeahhhhhhhh just before the
final "but she breaks just like a little girl." Very cool. Harp solo #3
followed; it was appropriately delicate. His regular set closes up with
SILVIO: Believe it or not, this is the first time I've ever heard
Silvio live. The guitar work was nice and crunchy, the choruses were
blasted out solidly, but the verses (for the most part) got a little
lost in the mix. However, one phrase, as you may suspect, rang out loud
and clear: PAY FOR YOUR TICKET AND DON'T COMPLAIN. Amen, brother Bob. I
must once again recognize Charlie's backup vocals, which sounded just
right. He didn't play enough to really convince me one way or another
about his guitar talent, but his singing was good. They leave for what
seems a brief moment, to return to
LIKE A ROLLING STONE: This was, in every way, triumphant. The crowd
reaction was stunning and unanimous, with Bob receiving help on each of
the choruses. Speaking of the choruses, they weren't snipped off
phrases, they were full-fledged sneers… "How does it…
feeeeeeeeeeeeeelll?" The great singing, combined with some LOUD,
searing guitar work, made for a terrific show-stopper. At 58, Bob makes
all the teen angst of Nirvana and co. sound like a bunch of old lady
church gossip. Nothing better than listening to Bob playing a REAL song
with a REAL band at the top of his game. His only other encore was
BLOWIN' IN THE WIND: Nicely done. One good point I recognized: they
cleaned up the ending nicely. It didn't just scatter all over, everyone
who was singing was together, and it made the last guitar flourish much
more stable and conclusive. Good work. Before Bob introduced Paul, he
turned around and recognized the people in the seats behind him; a nice
touch that was obviously met with great enthusiasm. There were one or
two additional times he did this over the course of the concert. While
introducing Paul, he noted that the two of them got their start around
the same time, although he doesn't like to admit it (or something to
that effect). Paul comes out to a warm reception, and they begin
SOUNDS OF SILENCE: This was exceptional. The two of them sang very well
together, with an evident amount of care. Bob played his final harp
solo in the song. I've heard bad reviews of this song, of it's
thrown-togetherness and sloppy singing, but it was nowhere to be found
that night. Truly a wonderful performance. Directly on to:
I WALK THE LINE/BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY: I'm glad they played this medly,
as I believe I wouldn't have enjoyed That'll/Wanderer as much. This was
rollicking and fun, the way some of the Basement Tapes are… Who cares
if it's not polished to perfection? I was dancing, along with thousands
of my neighbors. A fitting tribute to two roots performers I'm sure Bob
and Paul have in common (Cash/Presley). Finally, they wrapped things up
KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR: Haunting and moving. One bright point with
having Bob open: his band plays on the duets. Rather than a reggae
flavored reading, this one jumped right out of "Pat Garret…", right
down to the haunting oooo-ing chorus of Paul, Larry, and Charlie. In
the final verse, Bob sang of wiping tears away, rather than blood. And
I am of the slice of Dylan fans who enjoy the ending they're giving it,
almost sung in rounds. Very ethereal, almost spooky. A nice note to end
I didn't stick around for Paul's set. Although I generally am a
fan of his work with Art, and even Graceland, which I thought was a
very good album, I think he's taken serious missteps since with the
sounds he's tried to achieve. It would've been a letdown after such a
strong showing by Bob. I mean, I'm sure he puts on good show, but
there's an adage about trying to improve upon perfection… Touche, Bob,
touche. If anyone has a tape/recording, get in touch.
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