Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 09/05/99


Charlotte, North Carolina

September 5, 1999

Blockbuster Pavilion

[Mykle Mariette and Jeff DelVecchio], [William Robertson]

Review by Mykle Mariette and Jeff DelVecchio

Two friends return from yet another Bob Dylan show and offer their 
semi-dialogue for your amusement and perusal:

 It was a rainy night. It had rained all day (much need, drought-quenching 
rain) spawned off of a lingering, turning and returning 12-day old Hurricane 
Dennis, swinging back inland to dump its ladden'd-moisture salvation upon the 
rest of the state (after battering the coast) before turning North to tease 
and please Virginia.
So, welcomed though it was,it Was Raining.
    But moisten'd earth does not a dampened spirits make, and the crowd was 
Ready For Bob, cheering when the lights went down;cheering wilder when Larry 
walked out onto and across the stage to take his place before his amps and 
axes, the other following , all teeth and waving arms, greeting the crowd, 
the tour followers, the curious and all, as an old familiar rumble from in 
front as they play. The first of the evening's white paper confetti, left 
over from the raucous ending to the night-before's Motley Crue show shower of 
confetti ending, drifted down from the rafters and overhead catwalk as the 
cheering shook the hollow hall.
    And Bob,as well,  was in rare spirits for tonight's show: opening for 
Paul Simon, his recent tour-partner.
  Rovin' Gambler opened the show, masterfully played, and set the tone for 
the rest of the evening's performance,friendly,happy,glad to be playing,but 
always on the mark, keen to the beat and off the beaten at the same time. 
Cool, Rare; like a flower and plantfilled garden in the Himalayas. the crowd 
was his/theirs, right from the beginning. PoW!, done.
  On the second song,Tambourine Man, they slide smoothly into a sweet, slower 
jam-version of this classic. Sweet but powerful.. Next, It's Alright Ma (I'm 
Only Bleeding); an otherworldly, Morrocan-styled guitar riff played by Larry 
( who was splendid all night as well) started this, and by its end,even the 
Simon fans in the seats behind us were saying, "Bob Dylan has some new fans!  
This guy is really good."  A Splendid rendering earned a spendid response 
from the crowd - It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) as powerful as we'd 
ever heard ( some murmured nearby).
  Slowing down, a beautiful version of To Ramona , with folkstyled 
fingerpicking that was as sincere, clear and clean as the lyrics. They 
followed with an up-beat Tangled Up in Blue. Bob starting to glisten,working 
the crowd as the ZenBusker, playing them as if strings on his guitar, and the 
bandmates cutting a backup groove so large it's the only net that anyone 
could need, allowing Bob to soar musically, like an eagle, snapping 
glittering riffs from some hidden place rarely seen by others with duller 
eyes. the crowd was Hypnotized by their awe for Dylan the Musician, 
Riffzilla, leadslayer and LewisandClark of Lyric fame, Live!, in person, 
playing the living needs from his classic Tangled Up In Blue; ladies and 
gentlemen, Columbia Recording Artist,Bob Dylan...When they finished people 
whooped, the man behind us exclaimed aloud, "They're cookin' tonight !!!" as 
if it were a revelation (perhaps, to some, it truely was).
 A 10 second switch from the all-acoustic to their electric gear, and the 
band, as one, cut a clear swath with a razored edged All Along the 
Watchtower. Silver beams send shimmering moonlets on the amber washed 
curtains behind the band as they launched this Rock-et of Roll on the 
already-too-willing audience as the band was a rythmn entity as Bob took a 
centered stance at his microphone, delivering his lyrics and guitar 
fingerings as clean and accessible as they were wont. Rare. Fine. Emmiently 
  Bob soothed the audience into their seats with his styling and choice of 
Lay,Lady,Lay as the next effort. It was slower, as well as an unusual 
styling, that changed it and the audience's tone. Just as he could calm them, 
he roused them with his Next song and version of Stuck Inside of Mobile with 
the Memphis Blues Again. Bob at the top of his edges, really doing it up neat 
for the gathering, all those come to see whomever, Seeing the Dylan; why we 
travel, see multiple shows of the same tours, covering distances to hear all 
the now-familiar words and chords, newed nightly by the Bard of Our Day, Our 
BillyS., Our Lochlear, our voice, the artisian mind of one self-named poet 
who enjoys calling himself Bob Dylan, as do we. It was a jaunty, jovial, 
jocular rock version of Stuck..., in many ways, and it wove a magic on the 
crowd, setting them up for the soothingly soft rendering of Not Dark Yet that 
followed. A version that almost turned this current futureClassic into the 
lovesong it is at its heart., a loveletter to life even in its grit.
 He introduced  the band, LarryCampbell, Charlie Sexton (the new guitarist, 
now a seasoned cog in this wonderous musical train), David )o the Beat 
AlwaysOnTime Drums,and Tony, perfect on bass, before lauching into the 
jamfilled Silvio that he often enjoys playing with such gusto.They scorch 
this everytime, but this delivery is spirited, with Bob smiling, standing by 
the mic with his guitar neck up straight, held high as he picks and sings 
with clear punctuation, grinning to the throng who lap it up, giddy with 
found delight, Belivers all now.
   Then they are done, and the instruments are down and they are gone, 
walking to the stage rear, upstage , away from them all, into the wings. The 
stage goes dark as the wild cheering continues...The darkness holds but the 
cheering is a Thank You as Much as a More and it stays constant,othen 
increases, as the lights flash on and off and the respected ones return.
They start the grand encore with a journeyman version of his classic reminder 
of potential come-upance Like A Rolling Stone, and the crowd are again their 
puppets of joy, pulsing to the beats and rythmns as if connected to the same 
power amps that swell the sounds throught the venue into the greedy ears of 
all in attendance.
Even if you had not come to see Bob, you were at least partly his now, if not 
a delirous drone, called moth-like to his lamp, lit by the fire of his 
mission, his path, his place in music lore and leadership by example, his 
skill, This Night, This Show, This Song, Thses Notes, this holding of this 
word and turning, again turning of that one, chosen long ago; he's only 
reminding us of it all tonight, This Now, reality, the moments we were 
   It Ain't Me, Babe, a soft, sweet rendering that sought to inform gently 
some mis-assumption in the listener's thinking, cast itself over the lulled 
crowd like a goodbye, a shadow reminder that the visitors were passing by and 
to remember they had been there with you, even if the fantasy would not stand 
against the coming dawn. Bob and Larry riffed against each others skills, 
trading ingerpicked harmonies up and down the necks of their acoustic 
guitars, shimmering a musical weaving several years in the loom now, and 
wearing well. As it ended, the assembled throng bellowed their heartfelt 
approval and Dylan quickly springboarded it to his intro of Paul Simon. The 
crowd Loved it, as they launched into a duet on Simon's The Boxer. Cheers 
greeted Dylan's harp, soaring and slithering around the melody,playing 
beautifully against Larry's efforts on the pedal steel guitar. Laughing, Bob 
Playfully 'punches' Simon's shoulder at the songs end. They launch into I 
Walk the Line after some conferring, and Larry rips a fine fiddlelike solo 
that leads this number into a great Simon lead Blue Moon of Kentucky that was 
almost over the top ( a bit, perhaps, if you agree ).Big laughs and a blue 
stage lends itself well to the closing Knockin' On Heavens Door, a collective 
songfest to end a particularily fine set by Bob Dylan and the current tour 
bandmates in Charlotte, N.C. on September 5, 1999.

   Hope you were there.

                                            of Earth


Review by William Robertson

The concert in the Southern banking town of Charlotte Sunday began in
a somewhat unpromising way, as it was not dark yet, and many seats
were unfilled.  But at about 7:30, Bob and mates came on stage and
kicked into Roving Gambler.  I supressed a bit of disappointment, as I
would have liked one of the gospel songs, but this was well-delivered,
and I was pleased that the sound system was flawless.  Tambourine Man
came next, as expected, and was done very well, featuring a very nice
harp solo by Bob (one-hand style).  It's Alright, Ma filled the next
slot, then To Ramona, very nicely done, with Larry on mandolin.  First
spoken words here:  "Thank you, thanks, everybody."  Bob was a man of
few words tonight, and in fact his manner throughout the night was
somewhat more reserved than in the mid-summer shows, to my
observation.  He appeared healthy and relaxed, but less, shall we say,
expansive.  All the moves were more subtle-no mugging or hamming, but
rather the nudge of the hip, bend of the knee, or tilt of the head. 
Very cool and Dylanesque, IMO.  Tangled was next, well crafted; I have
to work a bit on this one, as I think it may need a rest, but Charlie
and Tony in particular seemed to enjoy it.  They interacted frequently
all evening.  By now, the seats have filled up, it's beginning to get
fairly dark and the electric instruments are brought out for a very
powerful Watchtower, the version with the short ending.  Larry was on
lap steel, and Charlie on the black and white Strat.  Very, very good
version of this great song.  Larry moved to pedal steel and Charlie to
brown Strat for Lay, Lady Lay, which was beautiful.  A great version
of Mobile/Memphis follows; not the country shuffle like at Nashville
in February-more of a rocker, but still wonderful.  I think you can
say that the primary discernable effect of Bucky's replacement by
Charlie is that this is a bit less of a country band and a bit more of
a rock band.  Anybody agree with that?    Mob/Mem featured Larry on
cream Telecaster, Charlie on that pretty red Gibson hollow body.   I
noticed here that Bob spent about half the evening with his left hand
held somewhat high while holding the guitar, the way I remember Bill
Wyman doing.  I think that's supposed to relieve strain on the wrist,
so Bob can play comfortably when he's 80.  Bob said "Thank you" and
coughed after M/M.  Next came Not Dark Yet, interestingly enough right
when the last bit of light was fading from the sky.  Charlie's parade
of pretty guitars continues, and now we see the black Epiphone.  NDY
was a big highlight as has been the case recently, and it was a happy
moment as there was now a very mannerly (Southern style?) stage rush,
accomodated graciously by security and the nice folks on the front
row.  Band introductions were next, without jokes, followed by Silvio,
which rocked and everybody enjoyed.  Now comes the moment of the
night, yes, the old warhorse Like a Rolling Stone, which happens to be
the best rocker ever written, and they just tore it up.  The three
guitars blasted away a wall of sound that I could have stood in
happily for at least an hour, not to mention Bob's fine vocal
delivery.  The guitar blend was truly wonderful, with Charlie playing
a great version of the Bloomfield part (Charlie back on Strat since
Silvio, I think, but now it was too much fun to take notes), and Bob
and Larry just cooking along beautifully.  The whole show was good,
but this was worth the trip.  All the band members interacted nicely
with the folks up front, but as I mentioned before, no showboating.  I
think each musician makes eye contact with the barrier-hangers, so you
can flatter yourself into thinking they remember you from last time
you were there!  They left briefly, then returned with acoustic tools
for It Ain't Me, Babe, followed by Bob's introduction of Paul Simon. 
The duo did some interesting work on The Boxer, with Bob looking very
alertly at Paul as they sorted out the harmonies.  Larry played a
great pedal steel part, Bob played harp a bit (two hands this time),
and Charlie took this moment to show off the pretty red Gretsch.  Bob
and Paul had a cordial exchange of words off-mic, then I Walk the
Line/Blue Moon of Kentucky with Larry sawing away nicely on fiddle. 
Knockin' comes now, well-done, IMO, featuring a brief but powerful
lead run by Charlie (Strat), and I also was impressed by one perfect
ooo, ooo shared by Paul and Charlie while Bob had the lead.  They left
to a strong ovation, and the house lights were left down  just long
enough for us to hope the pattern might be broken by a return, but it
was not to be.  As the lights came up, I noticed that most seats were
full, except on the fringes, and there was a substantial crowd
standing in the mist upon the hillside.  I should mention, although I
don't know all the technical terms, that Bob wore a black suit with
darker black, maybe velvet, half-moony decorations down the sides of
the arms and legs-sharp.  Charlie wore a nice undecorated black suit. 
He's a nice-looking guy, as you may know.  Tony wore a green or
olive-colored suit with the familiar black bowler, while Larry had the
longer black pinstriped coat over black pants.  All I could see of
David was the big white hat and shades.  I noticed when Bob walked off
stage, he was wearing a white cowboy hat, also, whether borrowed from
David or picked up, I don't know.  So it was a fine program, the rain
slacked up enough not to be a problem, and the venue is remarkably
comfortable to be so big.  Twist my arm for a complaint, and I guess I
would ask for a more adventuresome set list, but everything seemed
fresh anyway because the musicians were committed to the songs.  I've
been fortunate to see Bob within a few hours of my home several times
over the last three years, but it looks like that may change as Bob
heads north.  Thanks for being in the neighborhood, Bob and friends;
when the winter turns cold, I will warm myself by hearing and feeling
Like a Rolling Stone from Sunday night.  That was an incredible
moment; I don't think anyone else could do anything even close to it. 
Press on, brothers; enjoy the road, and may God's light shine upon you

Respectfully submitted by William Robertson (   


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