September 4, 2008
Review by Robert Sommers
Bob Dylan played a 1200 seat amphitheater up the road last night at the
Indian Reservation. Tickets sold out in 12 minutes but I felt obliged to
go due to the proximity and intimate location of the venue. Managed to
score the only ticket available on ebay ( only one to the consternation
of the spouse) and showed up about an hour before the show. On the heels
of my great fortune in Vegas, I played a few hands of blackjack, paid for
dinner and a tip and made my way to the hall, which was cold as a
freezer. The ushers assured me that things would heat up with the
incoming body mass so I chilled. Literally.
As is usual, after the obligatory intro on the neverending tour
celebrating his coming to jesus, Dylan was fairly punctual and
launched into his set. I am a huge Bob Dylan fan, a major fan of his
songs and occasionally his performances. I have probably seen about 20 or
25 shows of his which makes me a lightweight in some circles but have
managed to spread those out across a lot of years.
This night left me a little cold. The three guitars set up a loud
impenetrable sonic wall of sound that left few spaces. I personally felt
that I heard very few if any moments of virtuosity from the band of
clearly accomplished musicians. Much more from the old days with Charlie
and Larry. Three guitars was too much. The band and Bob had the dark "Big
Pink Band" era confederate schtick apparel thing going and the whole
production felt really male. The gunslingers storming the town and all
that. But it felt like they mailed the show in, another hall to be
The songs were of course revamped so that they could not be followed or
recognized too easily by the casual hummer. Much of the music had a
1,4,5, twelve bar root and I started going crazy with all the
turnarounds. As a great musician once remarked about Dylan, "he ain't no
Segovia". It started to get real sing-songy and I thought how tired some
of the idioms were from a musical nature and also about the complete
absence of polyrhythm. Or musical freedom. Or real emotion for that
The crowd as usual was ecstatic, with a great mix of old and young, the
latter being very pumped and jazzed. It was almost an intellectual
exercise for me. Maybe I was tired.
The memorable Dylan shows for me, like Albuquerque on the Lesh tour or
the great nights with Santana, were the nights when he delivered
something real from the heart. Something that went beyond the act. Yes,
he's a genius, but I don't think that he particularly feels comfortable
as an entertainer. Or really likes people. He is the most acute writer
the age has ever known at pointing out human foibles and idiosyncrasies.
But he seldom talks during his performances and rarely delivers anything
that's not tightly woven and pinned down. So I hate to say this, he can
be a real drag. Apostasy. Heresy. But neither he nor his band look like
they are having any fun at all. Nor was I. Except on some academic level.
Hit the tables again on the way out. Won five or six straight hands and
said goodnight. Paid for the show anyway.
Review by Iris Seifert
Home Stretch Show 2 Temecula/ Pechanga Resort
Last night the wind was whisperin' somethin' - I was trying to make out
what it was/ I tell myself something's comin'/ But it never does.
(Lonesome Day Blues). Well, it came that night. It's worth following the
sound of the whisper and forget about all else. Fate had a seat for me.
If Santa Monica seemed to be agony (the review by Roderick Smith says it
directly in a nutshell, luckily music and sound is not the only reason
for many of us to come to these shows), the Temecula show was ecstasy.
The transformation was awesome and it reached a level beyond words ok, a
few words. And: only one song played both nights (Hwy 61).
The sound was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious cubed; that elf must have
been put in a cage tonight...or else ignored, for at the very beginning
the sound was so soft that the vocals sounded like a whisper, which was
immediately adjusted and we had an incredible treat of sound definition
The set list deserves an A1 for content, thread, and showcasing all
players equally tonight, and they delivered. Music (and more) was
happening here at its finest; communication between the guitarists,
trading off solos, and most enjoyably Mr. Heron's guitar solos! Mr. Dylan
introduced the band starting with Mr. Freeman, and then saying: "Mr.
Donnie Heron playing along with him", and Mr. Kimball's acoustic parts
(and e-solos) it made me so happy for them because they play every
night, and people can't appreciate it properly when it's lost in the mix.
Of course, Mr. Freeman still shone brightly, such soft touch; and Mr.
Garnier: wowie, and yippie for the precious bass line definition; and Mr.
Recile almost was pushed into the shadow a little with all this; however,
the subtleties of the brush etc. came really over so well in the mellow
Mr. Dylan seemed to be happier than he could ever say, but it was
showing in his once again exquisite harmonica and organ playing (the sound
was even so clear you could hear the actual organ parts), in his singing
in so many colors, dancing, and laughing a couple of times with Mr.
Garnier about missed or repeated lyrics as he sang himself: "I'm glad
I'm still alive" in the truest sense.
The night before "Things had changed" (enough of this sugar coating, blast
'em); in Temecula "Times were a-changin' ", and if that includes as a side
effect more sound quality like this: two thumbs up, but really more if I
had more hands, maybe Tom can lend a couple...
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