Oakland, California

Fox Theater

August 24, 2010

[Mark Stevens], [Trevor Townson]

Review by Mark Stevens

At the front for my 20th show.First third of show a bit subdued
energy-wise, no doubt due to the high temperatures throughout the day that
made even the well air-conditioned venue hotter than normal, band sweating
like mad. 

Bob in an unusually upbeat mood tonight, laughing along with the band at
the fun they were having right around "rollin and tumblin' and through to
the end of the show. Bob on guitar more than usual, which held Charlie
back a bit-Mr. Sexton still in stellar form, however, with a couple of
really beautiful leslie-effected passages. CS's pedalboard did appear to
act up a few times, causing him to have to crouch down and correct the
problems mid-song (I know how he felt, my whole rig went down once during
a nightclub show-aaack!) 

Surprise of the night was how nicely "highway 61" took off, best version
I've heard in years with a lot of riffs being thrown back and forth
between Sexton and Dylan, even George threw in some new fills-very off the
cuff, the guys were pushing each other throughout and Bob was grinning
like a cat by the end. At one point later in the set George ended a song
early (and cleanly) while grinning at Bob the whole time, it was clearly a
musical prank and BD was actually laughing out loud when it happened.Stu
was his usual solid and low-key self, and was especially tasty on the
acoustic tonight.I just wish they'd turn him up a bit. 

Donny's trumpet on "nothing" was a bit low in the mix, but what I could
hear was nice and smooth despite a bit of confusion about which key they
were all in in the very beginning. Was close enough to get into a staring
contest with B this evening, you can really get him going on some nights
and this was one of them-if you throw in a random head gesture at him
he'll mimic it to let you know he's watching. It's also fun to mouth the
lyrics, he'll change the phrasing to try to throw you off and he nailed me
in the middle of "61". Dough Rollers did a commendable set of old time
blues songs, Byrne has done his homework on the guitar and was outstanding
on the john lee hooker tune they did-Ford throws everything he's got into
his vocals and it shows, these guys aint' fakin' it.

Mark Stevens 


Review by Trevor Townson

So what happens now, where am I going to?

Oakland CA!

Heck, Heck. This should not be happening I was thinking as I sat there
attempting to do that lady skill thing by multi tasking. Yes I was trying to
explore cheap flights and struggling to find anything near suitable price
bracket wise whilst I was also listening to Barrowlands 2004 which was playing
into my head phones. I was using head phones whilst checking out the travel
sites in order to spare the neighbours as they may not appreciate Bob quite as
much as I do, not that they spare me any when they decide to argue with each
other through the wall at full blast . What a day the 24th June 2004 had been I
was reflecting. After having been sat on the pavement for the best part of ten
hours I get inside the doors only to have my ticket rejected by a guy standing
at the foot of what seemed like a mountainous set of stairs that we all had to
somehow run up without apparently running. Not that I was allowed to start my
run as I was refused further entry and got directed to an old lady sitting at a
small wooden desk way, way, way away off to the side in order to get my ticket
checked out.

She pondered over my very expensive but apparently very probably forged ticket
for what seemed like an inordinate amount of time. The sound of wind seemed to
whistle above my head and I had visions of tumbleweeds rolling past on the
ground beside us as time was apparently standing still. I stood before her small
stall thinking whether or not I could get away with killing her and even at one
point deciding where to hide her body whilst away to my side I see shadows of
what seemed like Olympic runners dashing by me in a blur of speed. Eventually
after having spun the ticket around a few times in her hands whilst intently
staring at it and then some she looks up at me with a friendly but strange
smile, it was a smile that seemed to be coming only from her eyes whilst she
said to me slowly in Glaswegian accent

“Well, it does say Bob Dylan on it”.

That was good enough for me as I grab my key through the door, that bought in
good faith ticket right out of her hand relieved that I no longer needed to add
murderer onto my CV in order to cover the ten year career blank that the act I
had briefly thought of doing at one stage would no doubt have caused. Not
running but walking briskly I return to the guy at the foot of the stairs who
was apparently now grilling someone else so I boldly march past him waving my
ticket as I say to him

“She said the ticket is fine”.

Turning into the shadow of an Olympic runner myself I dashed up those previously
prohibited stairs as fast as my heart could pump me up them to arrive in the
music club proper and to see before me to my absolute amazement the rail still
with gaps on it. Fairly central spots too as most people had headed towards the
left of the stage where Bob positioned his keyboard at that time so people were
tending to bunch a little in that area instead.

Standing there I felt like I had been through the equivalent of a serious car
crash by surviving and getting through against all the odds without incurring so
much as a scratch. Time had indeed slowed down as the adrenalin in me had kicked
in thereby greatly speeding up all my senses making time around me do strange
things. Time had now returned back to normal as it spit me out gasping for air
and clutching the rail.

Being at the front at that show was as close as you could possibly get to a live
Bob Dylan concert without getting onto the stage yourself, it was a low stage
about level with the rail and close up to it. Bob, band and instruments were all
full size and the area seemed set in a strange lighting glow. All this just gave
everything an unreal appearance like watching some kind of futuristic 3D
hologram performance, a “Bob Dylan in your living room“ kind of thing. It
all looked and felt like if you had been on stage and tried to touch anything
your hand would have gone right through as nothing appeared solid or real.

You can always take something from a Bob Dylan concert but you just cannot beat
that added value that you get at the smaller venues. This was my reason for
choosing Oakland as the only venue at the time on this tour that proved
appealing and fit in. I have been to see Bob in the States a few times
previously but this was the first time I was going for just one show which did
feel a little bit of a crazy thing to be doing so I paid for insurance on top of
my ticket purchase as I felt that surely I will pull out of this at some stage.

Whilst it looked quite a distance to travel between the Oakland show and the
next I was thinking seeing the time gap between them that there was still time
to put on another night especially as the first night was now sold out. The San
Francisco show was a long way off being announced at this stage but something
was driving me to go all the same so I find myself shopping for a flight. Once I
buy a flight ticket then I am definitely financially committed to go but the
Omens at the time seemed against it!

Usually when I am planning to go see Bob things just fall into place in a kind
of meant to be sort of way but this time it was different as what a problem I
had getting a flight. Not that there were no flights just the cost of them, I
sure know now why Richard Branson is a multi millionaire. I thought I was seeing
business class prices not my usual price for my sardine class seat in coach.
This was going to be my second time flying into San Francisco the first time
being back in 2006 to see the two concerts there plus the one in Sacramento. OK
this time is more summer time when flights are more expensive but my usual
ticket routes for flights were way off the price I was expecting to pay.

Time to move further into the search engine where I find a telephone number
promising flights at my price so I ring it up. I end up engaged in conversation
with a guy who could hardly speak English and sounded to be working from under
his stairs or something. “How much you wanna pay” he says. God knows I
thought, I am not used to bartering like this and I am no good at it so I say to
him “I have no idea really but probably about half the price of the prices I
have already been seeing, what is the best you can do?”.

We struggled through a long conversation and it was difficult enough trying to
understand from him where I would actually be flying from never mind what the
flight times were going to be. Eventually he proposes a flight that was not far
off the mark price wise but it turned out to be from Heathrow and I had been
trying to stress but without success all through my conversation with him that I
wanted to fly from Manchester so I leave it there. Twenty minutes later my phone
rings and it is him again saying “Manchester, same price”. Deal done.

Well at last I am HERE or am I THERE. 

No matter, as I stand beneath the huge FOX Theatre sign I know with certainty
that I am definitely in the right place as looking up above the entrance and
seeing the huge art decor façade smiling as big, bold and beautiful as the
front of a ‘57 Chevy are the words of that other great American classic, BOB

The FOX theatre having been closed for most of the past 42 years was only
recently re opened in February 2009. Having at one time been given the title
“the largest out door urinal in the world” due to its increasingly shabby
condition, however after undergoing thorough restoration the theatre once again
stands proud as it did when the entrance doors first opened in 1928. Even in the
heyday of movie palaces the Fox Theatre stood out as it was in many ways quite a
mystical construction not least due to the two huge warrior statues sitting like
large temple Buddha’s one each side of the stage angled and looking out at
you. So once again I find myself standing in line in wait of Dylan Dharma.

I guess the queuing is the main part of the day for some and once again it is a
case with some of the people having been sat on the pavement from silly
O’clock in the morning. I wandered down to the Theatre from my hotel arriving
shortly before midday to check out the lie of the land before returning back
into the centre of Oakland for something to eat. Oakland by the way is not one
of the worlds safest cities and returning back from the theatre to town I hear
that there had been an incident and a man had been shot dead somewhere around
the junction of Broadway and Burger King. Gosh I thought, if this is mid morning
how bad is late evening going to be as I walk back!

In the end the craziest people I met that day were a bunch of Religious Jesus
freaks who turned up shortly before entry time to impose their religious beliefs
upon the crowd. They seemed to have it in for Dylan too as I was thinking “I
thought Bob was one of yours?”. No apparently we were all a sinning by going
to see Bob and they tarred all of us with the same brush without discrimination
and we were all guilty as charged without trial. The leader a guy firmly
grasping his bible in hand and taunting the crowd with it was in danger of
instilling anger in the crowd so it is a good job they arrived late just as we
were starting to enter the building or things could have got pretty hot with
some in the crowd. If this is religion I am shocked as it seemed as
confrontational as some fringe Nazi faction protest may be back home.

Banners were erected on the pavement announcing all our sins including
masturbation, abortion and even being a Buddhist. Strange I said to the guy
behind me as there is no mention of murder so may be it is OK to be a murderer.
The guy had been equally astute in studying the banner as he had found that it
must equally be OK to be a paedophile as that was not listed as a sin either. I
thought they were way out of order then by criticising the Buddha as well as
announcing mans most favourite and harmless pastime as a sin.

Leaving the crazy guys with their banners on the street we enter and I find
myself one back from the rail to be soon treated to two more crazy guys on stage
with their guitars as the Dough Rollers are first on the bill. We should have
had the lead singer outside with us earlier as we could then have used him to
confront with song the guy preaching to us with his bible to see who got scared
first. Boy could he dredge up some strange tones and facial expressions. What
their act was all about needs someone else other than me to tell you as I simply
do not know but it was quite interesting to watch close up and there was some
talent in there you could tell and thrown in for free it was an experience worth

Now it is time for an almost as close up Bob as the stage is quickly and easily
set up for him as the two Dough Rollers chairs get removed from the front of the
stage and Bob’s keyboard gets wheeled further forwards into it’s usual
position. Bob is in black suit with what seemed to me to be a little bit more
than usual intricate embroidery in red and being without his two flamboyant
bright sparkling diamond rings tonight as he opens up with Leopard - Skin Pill -
Box Hat.

Next up was a nice change and surprise to be treated to This Wheels On Fire.
During Just Like A Woman which followed later on Bob could not have spaced the
wording better for a crowd sing along but I think it surprised most as they were
probably thinking “but we are not allowed to join in, are we?”. Eventually
some did pick up on it and before the end there were some in the crowd joining
in but far from bringing the roof down like at Barrowlands, good job too really
as what a fantastic ceiling it was at the FOX. Masters of War was another nice
inclusion for me as I am not too sure that I have heard that one lately and he
did the emphasising of the phrase by repeating the final line twice. To end we
get the usual Rolling Stone but unusually before the band start up Bob plays
keyboard alone and just sings “Hey Jude”.

Trevor Townson 


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