August 26, 2008
Review by S. Pittman
It was just another summer afternoon as I waited by the river in downtown
Memphis before heading out to see Bob Dylan in Little Rock. We hit the
road about 4:30 crossing the mighty Mississippi. Clouds floated to the
east as we headed to the west; high in late August sunlight. Off again
to see Bob with my good friend, K.W. Senior and then I'll Remember You
playing on the car stereo. Cypress trees standing and waiting for fall.
Clouds, mystic and majestic, offer distant dreams and thoughts of
nostalgia. We pass a sign that reads "They're back. Triumph
Motorcycles!". We arrive in Little Rock around 6:30, park in a familiar
area and grab a quick bite at The Underground Pub. It's exciting to be
among Dylan fans with anticipation rising for another great show.
I love the Bob crowd. Excited teenagers feeling the pull and promise of
the sixties. Older Dylan fans feeling the excitement of youth. Everyone
feeling the expectation of another unique Dylan experience. A "V"
formation of geese pass overhead beneath a soft pink and blue sky.
Seating is reserved this time and we find ourselves on the first row of
the second section of seats. Excellent! The floor looks a lot smaller
than when we were here last to see Bob in 2001. At 8:21 the introduction
begins and there is Dylan on electric guitar for Cats In The Well dressed
sharply in Gray hat and coat with black trim. Red ascot. Black pants
with red stripe. Blonde, baby blue, honey sunburst and black telecasters
across the stage from left to right. I feel like Bob is looking directly
at me; a feeling I've had more than once. An old lady shakes her head in
front of me in delight as the familiar Baby Blue begins and is played in
a steady, march-step rhythm. Strong, fluid vocals with Dylan placing the
words perfectly and hitting the lows with a deep gravel charge followed
by high staccato verses. A neon crown of hats and glow sticks passes
between me and the stage. Tony now on standup bass for Summer Days -
"Hogs out in the mud" played for Arkansas.
I have seen Dylan some 30 to 40 times now and can tell you that the John
Brown from this night was one of the most intense songs I have ever heard
any artist perform. The song being driven by the banjo and an almost
native tribal beat. The master of Americana. Direct, distinct, vocal
mastery. Dylan nearly possessed, hammering the words home. A song about
mothers. And then a beautiful...Shooting Star and a nice harmonica solo
by Bob. The last radio is playin', all good people are prayin', you know
what I'm sayin'. Stuck Inside of Mobile...cascading, repetitive blues
guitar with a western swing feel and George playin' double time. Sharp
blast from Dylan for his second harmonica solo of the evening. A look
and a swift kick of the boot heel from Bob to end the tune. A powerful
This Wheel's on Fire followed with Dylan really hitting his stride. I
had never thought of this song as a war song before but tonight it seemed
to be with thoughts of roadside bombs exploding. Harmonica again. Dylan
seemed to be sending a message all night especially when he followed
Mississippi with Masters of War. Both songs beautifully played with
total control of the lyrics on Mississippi with a "sink...ing...fast" and
"I...know...that" deliberate pace. Bob was up in the mix all night and
this song is always a treat, especially for us.
I stepped out to get a beer during the North Mississippi Hill Country
guitar driven Rollin' and Tumblin'. Highway 61 featured great body
language by Bob but this band leaves just a little to be desired on these
harder guitar driven songs. Don't get me wrong, it was still very good.
Beyond the Horizon was a bit of a downer but It's Alright Ma put us back
in good form with a High Water (for Charley Patton) tease to begin the
tune. Nettie Moore was one we had hoped for and brought yet another
Mississippi reference with "I'm goin' where the Southern crosses the
Yellow Dog" verse; a place very near where I was born. Thunder on the
Mountain got a big crowd response and was a great way to end the set.
Rolling Stone kept the crowd into it as we slipped down front for the
final song. Blowin' In the Wind was a treat as always. I could never
tire of this song and Bob delivered as has done so many times over the
past 11 years since I first saw him in concert. I always hope that this
time will not be my last. Following the song he stood with his band,
warmly accepting the extended applause from the crowd. We were
20 feet away and then he was gone again.
Review by Stewart McLendon
Let's get to the show... I took notes throughout the show to remember as
much as i could...
Cat's in the Well started it all off... With Bob on guitar! I know he
hasn't done much in 2008 on guitar so I was glad to see it. The band was
rocking. Not bad, Not great.
It's all over now, baby blue!!! Seriously the first 30 seconds or so I
thought we were getting Tom Thumbs Blues. The intro was beautiful and
lush... The band fills all the holes... Oh, Bob took to the keyboards for
the rest of the show on.
Summer Days. I finally get it... A sock hop/texas swing masterpiece! I
think I've heard this live 3 or 4 times and thought it to be pleasant
filler, never an important song in the setlist. But not tonight. This one
is my favorite version. Tony was on upright bass and filled the bottom.
He's spinning the bass around. Brent, this is going on the sockhop mix!
John Brown. About time! Thanks Bob. I've never heard it live so this
made the show... it was like a galloping march. Hey there is a banjo back
their... audible, but not high enough. Then Bob breaks out the organ
solo! I've never particularly enjoyed the keys of recent years. This time
I love it as I hear the arrangement as a whole and Bob getting some space
Shooting Star. Another semi-rarity! with the harp... WOW... Still
embracing the organ sound.
Stuck inside of Mobile. Bob growls fiercely, "AAAWWWWW, MAMA!...." Smoke
my eyeballs... hmmm. Bob does a mini-jig and gets on the harp again!
This Wheels on Fire. Sludgy swamp funk weirdness... more harmonica... I
feel like I'm in the zone with the band. The texture of this song is
becoming wonderfully alien. At the time I thought, Industrial Bob... Nine
Inch Nails of Country Folk... does that even make sense? Dinger says the
bass reminds her of "Shakedown Street". By the end of the song, Bob is
playing the harmonica with his left hand and keys with right hand and
really grooving... The outro is harmonica and band.
Mississippi. Never heard this one live before either... It took a long
while before i knew what song it was, but the journey was worth it. I was
feeling in total zone with the band. They were elastic in there ability
to play different sections with equal attention and focus. Who comes up
with the arrangements? Tony and Bob? I love them tonight!
Rollin and Tumblin. They were pushing the mood faster with this song.
Rockabilly Bob. This band is no bullshit tough... lean... By the way...
there was a girl behind us who has been twirling a hula hoop all night
long and she was working it during this song. George Receli has a great
touch and keeps the beat tight. This band is really tight... Freeman's
solos during this song are like electric snakes of sound.
Masters of War. Tony's upright is subtle and strong. Bob's organ sound
is blended well with the rest of the guys... I heard this in 2001 at this
same venue and felt blown away then. Tonight they did similar lighting
with the large silhouettes behind them. I felt like they were recreating
a masterpiece and doing well.
Highway 61. A proud stomp... WOOOOOO!
Beyond the Horizon. The remix is what i like to call it, since I hadn't
heard it live and only heard the album version. Patrick laughs out loud
it is so good.
It's alright Ma. Before I figured out the song, I thought it was a power
rock song. The sound level was a little high so the sound was a touch
muddy. But Damn! I feel guilty i slighted this band and after being
spoiled by the Campbell, Sexton band.
Nettie Moore. Like some beautiful gypsy violin music...
Thunder on the Mountain. The guys are getting after it! They are putting
whipping on that horse! Such a big sound. Freeman is shooting freedom
daggers... freedom because he's just wailing, playing something against
the grain building tension wonderfully.
Like a Rolling Stone. Intro to this was spacy... Space Bob -> Rolling
Stone. "How does it feel?" It feels good.
Blowing in the Wind. Some great lite-rock. Bob plays a harp solo that
sounds as if its asking questions of what will be. somewhat plaintive and
Summary: a great show... best i've heard in a while. NO WATCHTOWER!!!
YAY!. I've heard Watchtower at each of the previous shows. The band
redeemed themselves tonight and came together and were tight. Bob's voice
was rough AND comforting. Loved the rarer songs. Loved this show!
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