Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 09/15/99


Austin, Texas

September 15, 1999

University Of Texas
Frank C. Erwin Jr., Special Events Center

[Bernard Vasek], [Jimmy Lee Hannaford], [Mike Hanlon], [Mike Forgey], [Bennett Brier]

Review by Bernard Vasek

Dylan was in  exceptionally fine form tonight. He wore a black suit during 
the mini-set with Simon. He changed into a white suit for his set and looked 
great. He seemed to be really enjoying himself tonight. He was smiling 
throughout his set. The entire band was cooking tonight. Of course Charlie 
Sexton was really good in front of his home town audience. Dylan gave a 
couple of thank you's at the beginning of the set. He introduced the band 
right before Highway 61 Revisited. Charlie especially received a thunderous 
applause at his introduction.

When Dylan exited the stage during the encores, he put on a white felt cowboy 
hat.  We were laughing when he returned to the stage for the encores, when he 
was adjusting his hair from wearing the hat earlier. A funny Bob moment 
indeed. He is quite animated these days in concert since the last time I had 
seen him in November 1995 and October 1996 here in Austin. At times, when he 
stood there with his legs spread and singing, he seemed to be striking an 
ELVIS pose.

I was quite surprised at the encores which differed from the usual during the 
September southern leg of the tour. Like a Rolling Stone was performed first 
as expected. The acoustic number Girl From the North Country was the first 
time to be performed on this leg. He closed the first encore with the usual 
Not Fade Away.

After seeing Dylan and his Band leave the stage, we thought it would be over. 
But wait, they return for a second encore of Blowin' in the Wind. They leave 
the stage for a second time and return for a final third encore of Rainy Day 
Women #12 & 35. It was an awesome, rowdy version and the first time the song 
has been performed on the Dylan/Simon tour. This was a fitting finale to a 
near perfect night.


Review by Jimmy Lee Hannaford

Bob was in the guitar hero mode again, playing lead on nearly everything 
song. And he was having fun, obvious from his grins and the bouncy spring in 
his step, the Elvis shimmies and what was almost a Chuck Berry duckwalk.

It's likely that Austin fans have never seen Charlie Sexton play so little 
during a show, but that's his role on this tour, and he played the role 
perfectly. He held down a solid rhythm all night and when he did finally 
step out with a lead, it sparkled. Larry Campbell's playing was fine also. I 
wondered if these guys were frustrated with their leader taking all the 
solos, though.

But this was Bob's show. Looking cool in a white Western tuxedo and 
black-and-white boots, Dylan led the band through five acoustic songs before 
turning on the juice for "Watchtower." The set was studded with classics, 
including "Tangled Up in Blue," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "It's Alright, Ma" and 
"Stuck Inside Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again."

For me, the highlights were a cool electric take on "Just Like a Woman," a 
moody, moving "Not Dark Yet" and a gentle, acoustic version of "Girl from 
the North Country," which followed "Like a Rolling Stone" to end the first 
of three encores. As the band came back later for "Not Fade Away," I noticed 
of Joe Ely and Ray Benson enjoying the show from the wings.

The hardest-rocking tunes were "Not Fade Away" - with great harmony vocals 
from Charlie and Larry - and "Highway 61," in which Charlie got his first, 
much-awaited chance to solo.

It was obvious that the crowd knew it was seeing something special, despite 
the cold, steel-and-concrete atmosphere of the Erwin Center. In many places, 
a basketball arena is the norm for a rock show, but Austin fans are spoiled 
by constant crowded, sweaty club gigs where they can literally feel the 
presence of greatness.

Dylan's mini-set with Paul Simon was not as impressive. Tentative at first, 
then sloppy. I honestly was thinking Bob and Paul should've had plenty of 
time to smooth out these songs they're doing every night. Instead, "That'll 
Be the Day" was haphazard and lifeless, and it was hard to even recognize 
"The Wanderer" until the second chorus. And "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" as 
reggae does nothing for me. During the break, the chatter outside was on the 
uneasy side. "Oh man, what are we in for?" said one. Another said "I hope 
Dylan sobers up before the next set." I came to the defense, saying, "Just 
wait. You're in for a treat."

We were.

Most seemed to enjoy Simon's set, too, which included a range of material 
from "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to "Slip Slidin' Away" to "Diamonds on the 
Souls of Her Shoes." Though his 12-piece band was fantastic (including 
greats such as Randy Brecker and Steve Gadd), there was no spontaneity at 
all. When Simon puts down his guitar, he becomes this odd little cheerleader 
rapping philosophical poetry. I'm sure many would disagree, but I liked him 
better when he was a folksinger.

-- Jimmy Lee Hannaford


Review by Mike Hanlon

Okay, I waited for more experienced reviewers, but there really needs 
to be more said about last night's show.  Herewith, my humble review:

The duet portion was pretty bad, IMHO, but kind of fun just to see Bob's
facial expressions, especially during the first song.  (Some one said
he looks like a kid forced to come out and sing something cute for
his relatives -- that description stuck in my mind last night.)
He tried a little harp during The Boxer, but it really didn't fit.
I think the Paul Simon fans were thinking twice about whether to stay
for his set, and I noticed the couple next to me did leave during the
break.  Too bad, they missed a really good show.

I'll comment on each song, using the set list from Bill Pagel's page
to help me remember:

I Am The Man, Thomas (acoustic) (song by Ralph Stanley and Larry Sparks) 

A great way to start the show!  Beautiful, clear sound and singing.  Tony's
stand-up bass gorgeous.  The drums add a lot too, and fit with the acoustic
arrangement very well.  Everyone is standing (at least so it seems from my
toward the back of the floor).  For the rest of the acoustic set, people 
mostly sit, some of 'em standing to applaud at the end of the songs.

Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic) 

He really rushed the lyrics on this one:
for each line, and then there is a pause before the next line, for the 
music to catch up with him.  They're great lyrics, doesn't he think so?
His lead guitar is pretty good.  And other than the rushed lyrics, his
singing is nice too.

It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (acoustic) 
Oh man this was good.  One of the best performances of the night.  Very
arrangement, lotsa tension.  In contrast to many other songs, he takes great
care with these words.  

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (acoustic) 
Another throwaway.  

Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic) 
Nice sound, good use of stage lighting. Words not quite as clear.  

All Along The Watchtower 
The crowd gets excited during this song, the 1st electric one.
A few of us are standing and dancing now.

Just Like A Woman (Bob on harp) 
Good, and the harp is a nice break from the lead guitar, which is starting
to get a little tiring.	People sit back down, I guess coz this song
is not so fast.

Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again 
Not very inspired.

Not Dark Yet 
At the end he says something like "that's off of my latest record...
you can get it at Jupiter Records (laughs) Get all your records at Jupiter
Records."  Jupiter had taken a little ad out in the paper welcoming Bob
to town.

Now he introduces the band, no jokes (sigh).  Charlie gets alota applause.

Highway 61 Revisited 
Really cool, now Charlie and Larry get to do some fancier guitar work,
and the song really cooks.  Everyone on the floor is up and boppin'.

He leaves the stage and the crowd goes nuts!
(encore 1) 

Like A Rolling Stone 
Hmmm.  Well, the crowd got into it.

Girl Of The North Country (acoustic) 
Ohh this was good.  I had to close my eyes it was so good.  He's almost
whispering the words.  The crowd likes it too, people are standing
despite no electric guitars.

Not Fade Away 
A rave!  Charlie and Larry get to sing again!

He leaves again.  The crowd goes nuts again.  

(encore 2) 

Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic) 
Again, Larry and Charlie join on the chorus, a little awkward at first,
'cuz Bob's improvising a little.

He picks up his hat and leaves a third time.  The crowd ain't gonna go
home -- they think they can get another encore and they turn out to 
be right (this is kinda a source of pride in texas -- we'll stomp and
clap and yell as much as needed -- man my throat and hands hurt today.)

(encore 3) 

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 

Yow!  Good and rowdy.  Everybody must get stoned, at least when we're
young and irresponsible, right George?

Overall, a great show -- the best I've seen Bob play (but I've only seen 
3 others).  His band seems perfect for him, though maybe an organ wouldn't
hurt.  Some things I found remarkable: his voice is still in great form
(I was afraid, after I heard TOOM, that he has to use that low growl
all the time); there were only a couple of small lyric mistakes; all but
two of his songs were from the '60s (why?).

Bob seemed to have a good time, despite a pretty lowkey (i.e., seated) 
audience during most of the show.  His lead guitar work was okay,
but the repetition was tiring when he used basically the same licks in
every song.  And he looks great, very nice moves, very fit looking.
Oh and those clothes!  He did a costume change between his duet w/ Paul
(in black) and his set (white).


Review by Mike Forgey

Bob Dylan and His Band Make Triumphant Return to Texas!

It has been almost three years since Bob Dylan has performed in Austin, or
even in the state of Texas; and, it looked like this would be another
Bobless year for Texas. But near the end of the summer Dylan/Simon tour, it
was decided to extend the tour for a leg through the southern states. So we
are being treated in Austin, Houston, and Dallas this week to the final
three shows of the Dylan/Simon US tour.

During Bob's last two visits to Austin ('95 and '96) performances were done
at the Austin Music Hall; a rather small venue downtown, holding only about
2000-3000. Bob doubled up and did two shows during each of those visits.
Though the AMH has a certain rustic, warehouse appeal; I had hoped at some
point to have a chance to see him play here at the Frank Erwin Center, a
much larger venue with comfortable seats! Tonight was the night! The Center
looked to be about 95% full, with a supposed capacity of 17,900.

Paul Simon opened. His show was very good and well received. It has been
described in many of the previous reviews; large band - horns, three
drummers - lots of lights! I'm not a big Paul Simon fan, but I like his
songs. I don't really get why so many of the previous reviewers of this
tour have felt the need to come down so hard on Simon. I've seen this show
three times now. In my opinion, Paul Simon isn't Dylan, but what he and his
band do on stage is pretty damn good.

Of course, Bob came out for the closing encore set of Paul's show. Yeah,
this is OK, it's worth being there to see and hear; but, you wonder if
these two together couldn't be a whole lot better. Bob doesn't seem to
really even want to be there tonight; just sort of doing his duty. But
maybe that's just part of the act. The first song, The Boxer, everybody
playing on stage (about a dozen people) just sort of wander into the song.
Everybody looking at each other trying to find direction. Bob often sings
just the second half of a line; evidently doesn't know the words that well.
But then, it starts to pick up and come together, by the end of the song it
turned out pretty good. 

I really like the reggae version of Knockin On Heaven's Door that Simon's
band does. What I don't care for is the added vocal line, "I hear you
knockin, but you can't come in". Actually, hearing this tonight, I realized
this song is (maybe) about dying. Or at least could be about that. I never
understood it like that before. But I would have a problem with that
because ... well, maybe we shouldn't get into the theology of it.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Columbia recording artist ...." Bob
and his band take the stage at about 9:55pm. Everyone is dressed more or
less in dark clothing except Bob who is wearing a white, western, tux-like
suit with black collar and thin black highlights. He also wears cowboy
boots, dark with fancy white patterns. I didn't see it until he left the
stage after the show, but he also has a white felt cowboy hat which he
removed and left behind the amps while performing.

Tonight musically was a great show. The first half of the main set are all
acoustic arrangements. They open with a country gospel song which I had
never heard before, but one with which Bob has been opening many of the
recent shows. I didn't catch all the lyrics, but I could tell it is about
the apostle Thomas (doubting Thomas) who would not believe that Jesus was
resurrected from the dead unless he could see Jesus for himself. So Jesus
came to Thomas and showed him the nail marks in his hands and the wound in
his side. Then Thomas believed that God raised Jesus from the dead.

One thing that was interesting and kind of amusing tonight; Bob (quite out
of character) plugged one of the local record (CD) shops following the Not
Dark Yet song, Jupiter Records. I don't think I've ever been there, but
somebody told me they are big on Dylan, and ran a newspaper add welcoming
Bob back to Austin. So now we know where Bob "buys all his records". Or at
least so he said (tongue in cheek).

It's impossible to fully describe how good musically Bob and his band were
tonight, or how good they have been at least for the last several years.
One just has to be there. The acoustic songs are delicate, elegant, full,
rich, exciting; like rivers of sparkling water flowing in the sunlight; and
run deep with emotion. When the boys put on the electric instruments, they
rock as well as anyone ever has. A couple of my favorites are Silvio (not
played tonight) and Highway 61. One thing I like about Bob Dylan is he
doesn't try to sell it with hype. He just comes out and puts it out there.
It's the music and the inspiration of the moment of everyone involved that
make it a great night. 

And tonight was a great night!


Review by Bennett Brier

Saw His Bobness and some dude named Paul Simon at the 9/15/99 show at the
Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.  As expected, MORE than expected, it was an
amazing show!  Simon (appropriately) opened and tore through classics newer
and older with confidence and calm, chutzpah and pure joy, reminding all of
the greatness of his vision and career.  He had an incredible backup band,
particularly a three piece drum section and another three piece horn group
who added unbelievable yet fitting textures, power, and subtleness to his
Grande performance.  His set ended with a four-song set he shared with Bob.
Together they harmonized on "The Boxer" and "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"
along with a Buddy Holly and someone else's tune.  What true magic!

After a short break, the Man came out and proceeded to show Mr. Simon (in
his honest soul) what Art Garfunkle must have felt like all them years as a
sidekick.  Backed by his typically crack band including new member Austinite
Charlie Sexton (who I first saw, during his Li'l Charlie days, as an
amazingly talented and inspired 13 year old fill-in lead guitarist for Joe
Ely in 1983 or so), he started off kinda "MTV Live" -like, semi-acoustically
playfully (as always) reinventing tunes such as Mr. Tambourine Man, Tangled
Up In Blue, and Just Like A Woman.  As his set progressed, it grew more and
more raucous, classic kickbutt rock'n roll with the Man, smiling and
bopping, sharing lead geetar duties (quite impressively I must add) with his
younger (by far!) axemen.  He obviously truly enjoyed himself, dancing in a
strange way only a 58 year old rock and roller with his pedigree, style, and
gumption could pull off.  Towards the end, Betty and I infiltrated to within
50 feet of the Force and watched him rip-roar through a rousing "Rainy Day
Woman #12 and 35" (as in "everybody must get stoned!)!  

Ah, but the show was truly strange in so many ways.  In my best effort to
not break the any law regarding the use of too many oxymorons in a phrase,
much of the crowd seemed like they'd be more at ease at a Democratic
Governor's Convention fundraiser than at a Bob Dylan (and some dude named
Simon) show.  It was the oldest crowd I've ever seen at a non-orchestral
music show!  Too many folks talking stocks and bonds, computers and hair
loss.  Even though there were many obviously enlightened youngin's there,
there were just so many folks who probably almost still think that Mick
Jagger looks nearly young!  And the audacity, the sin!!!  Hundreds of these
old farts left during, let me repeat, left DURING (many early!) Bob Dylan's
set, I suppose to get home to catch the end of Ted Koppel or CNN business
headlines or something.  It was outrageous!  These folks paid up to $80 to
see Paul Simon as an opening act????  I'm not trying to insult Simon's
greatness BUT jeez, what kinda nuts surrounded me???

Alas, although I've benefited greatly from this type of opportunity, if I
were King, I'd carefully and stringently rein in the practice of old folks
or Gen-X too rich, too quick gotta-be-seen folks buying concert tickets.
After my observations at this show and after sitting behind a buncha of
snobbish, drunk, disinterested, there-to-say-they-were-there X-Gen
Dellionaires at a Lyle Lovett show, there oughta be a law against them
coming around!

Bennett Brier


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