Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 09/18/99


Dallas, Texas

September 18, 1999

Starplex Amphitheatre

[Susan Staggs], [W.T. Pfefferle], [Jon Miller]

Review by Susan Staggs

This was the first time I've seen Dylan. I debated whether to go. I had lots 
of Dylan CDs, and I didn't want to taint my love for his music with a 
disappointing concert experience, seeing someone who had become a caricature 
of himself, as so many older performers have.  I was afraid Live 99 wouldn't 
measure up to Live 66. But I missed Miles Davis a few years back, shortly 
before he passed away, and I promised myself I wouldn't do the same with 
Dylan. So I went. 

And I am so glad I did. It was really amazing. You guys will have to tell me 
whether this is accurate, but it seemed to me that his band on this tour was 
just as tight as The Band on Live 66. 

The first thing I noticed was the crowd of aging hippies. About which my 
concertgoing friend quipped "Uh, I think I just saw Mama Cass."  During the 
concert we were treated to a couple of leopard-skin pillbox hats, some really 
long, white beards and some truly inspired interpretive dancing by a woman 
who was probably celebrating her 30th anniversary as a high school English 

He mumbled a bit at first, but the beauty of the instrumental portions of the 
songs in the acoustic set more than made up for that. It was clear from the 
onset that these were serious musicians playing serious music, interested in 
musicianship rather than performance art, which is a rarity in these days of 
music video and heavy reliance on technology. This show was definitely 
low-tech, and I mean that as the highest compliment.  

"Boots of Spanish Leather" was hauntingly beautiful. "Not Dark Yet" showcased 
Dylan's still-sharp lyrical ability - there is no one else in music who can 
articulate difficult-to-express human experience as he can, in the way he 
does - empathetically universal, intellectual yet wholly visceral. We all 
know how it feels to be standing alone on one side of a simple twist of fate. 

He is still a chronicler of the times in a most vital way. It's just that now 
he's writing about the mental, physical and emotional aging process instead 
of how it feels to work on Maggie's farm. 

Silvio was fantastic. The hits were the hits. Highway 61 was anthemic. 
Everyone onstage looked to be having fun. The guys in Dylan's band seemed 
elated to share the stage with their elder statesman. Needless to say, they 
made the concert a once-in-a-lifetime experience just as much as he did. 

You guys will have to tell me whether this is accurate, but it seems to me 
that music like this is the essence, the core, of what rock and roll, or 
opera, or any other musical form, is all about. 


Review by W.T. Pfefferle

As my wife and I walked into Starplex Amphitheater in Dallas, we were running 
down all the times we'd seen Bob over the years here. Those 5000-seaters he 
did during the late 80s and early 90s seemed about right to us. Bob up pretty 
close. 89 or so we remember being the loudest damn show we'd ever seen. The 
much reviled GE Smith with the big red Gibson for Watchtower...the lyrics 
that night just a long, even, slur of sound. 

We remembered a pretty sparse Starplex sometime in the early 90s when Bob was 
touring with The Alarm (!). There was the breathtaking show in 97 at the 
Bronco Bowl.

But when Bob started tonight, the bowl at Starplex was about 2/3rds full, and 
the grass looked to be about the same. The bowl filled up by about halfway, 
and the place seemed comfortably full by the time Paul Simon arrived for the 
last of Bob's encores.

1.I Am The Man, Thomas 
It's always just nice to see that Bob's still alive, you know? He could play 
anything first and I'd barely notice the difference. Cool suit. Wish Bucky 
was over there at the steel, oh well. Charlie has short hair. I like that the 
boys get to sing with Bob sometimes.

   2.Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic) 
Okay. The crowd likes it because it's one of THOSE songs. People know it. 
Even dumb people know it. Like the people who keep going in and out of the 
row we're sitting in. Is this Row J? Is this Row K? What section are you in? 
Uh, I'm sorta listening to the MUSIC. Etc. Repeat and rinse, etc. It goes on 
all night.

   3.It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) 
I haven't heard any full band version of this since, I guess, the Budokan 
album. I'm so used to the solo version that it takes me a while to catch up 
with it. But it's great. 

   4.Boots Of Spanish Leather
This is the highlight of the night for me. When it starts I think I may get 
another North Country (which would be fine), but this is better, a stronger 
song. And Bob's PLAYING is brilliant. He plays delicate lines that are so 
much more MUSICAL than most Bobguitarcritics would have you believe he's 
capable of. And the singing...gentle, like it matters. Enunciating each line 
like it's a piece of fragile glass he's sending us. Everything is great 
except for the continuing stream of late arrivals. Uh, is this row I. Is this 
row J.

   5.Tangled Up In Blue 
As I told my wife later on, I HATE this song...haha. Please cut me a break. I 
liked it once, in about 75, but it wore on me. BUT, the good news is Bob's 
grooving version of it tonight surprised me no end. What a terrific band. I 
think of them as kids, of course, in comparison to the great man, but they're 
smart and flexible. So much better than other bands I've seen over the years. 
And, the lighting cats! In the intervals between verses, the white lights 
come on at the bands' feet, and shadows them all shady and 40 feet tall 
against the backdrop, spooky and beautiful. What an effect.

   6.All Along The Watchtower 
I never get tired of it. I played in bad bar bands for about 15 years and 
probably played the damn thing 50-75 times a year all during that time. We 
never got it right, of course. We never even came close. So hearing Bob do it 
always feels right...he's schooling me. If I ever play it again, maybe I'll 
be better. The standup lap steel Larry does gives it a very late 70s the Budokan one, or really any of the 78-era versions on boots. 
Oh, and the crowd knows this song, too. One lady in front of me looks at her 
husband and says. "Okay, now THIS is a good song." Eeeesh.

   7.Just Like A Woman 
Hey, I love how Bob lengthens these lines...delaying the payoff until the 
band is already into the interval. He does it in Tangled up in Blue a lot, 
too. Makes us wait.

It always amazes me how old-time fans seem to hate this song so much. Some 
just hate that he plays it so often. But shit, he really seems to like it, 
you know? And sometimes that's enough. I love the boys singing along. Nice 
and democratic.

   9.Not Dark Yet 
When Bob toured last year he skipped Dallas. At about that time he was doing 
4-5 songs a  night from Time Out of Mind. Of course that's over and tonight I 
just see one, but it's my fave from the record. Like Spanish Leather it's 
told achingly and beautifully...and the crowd knows it...thanks Grammy folks.

  10.Highway 61 Revisited 
Zowie. As good as the titanic version at Woodstock 94. And that's plenty good.

  11.Like A Rolling Stone 
Overheard: "I hope Paul starts soon. This is so loud." It's the groovy 
version. Too slow, IMO, but the people like it, and that counts for something.

  12.Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic) 
Again, the boys are singing and it adds a lot, I think. Bob must like these 
kids. Also, as the show is winding down I have to give props to the fabulous 
Tony Garnier. As Bob's longest-standing sideman, he's clearly got 
recognizable gifts as a bandmate. He must be a major reason for the 
resurgence of the live shows. As my wife and I drove home we talked about the 
different bands we've seen behind Bob, and although I miss JJ a great deal 
still, I'll take this combo over the rest of the modern-era combos.

  13.The Boxer 
By now I'm restless. I've seen all I've wanted to see. I just want to get in 
our fast car and drive with the windows open. Get some ice cream. Kiss my 
wife. We stroll out of the bowl, let some kids take our seats. I watch The 
Boxer on closed circuit TV and then we're rolling home. I talk about November 
79 when I saw Bob for the first time, in Phoenix at Grady Gammage on the 
campus of Arizona State. The infamous show. 

But that's not what I'm thinking about. I'm thinking that in 79 Bob was the 
same age as I am right now. And in those 20 years that have passed, he's 
become better. A better singer, a better performer, a better guitar player. 
He knows what he's doing. It gives me hope for all the little things that 
make up my life. I want to be 58 and still on an incline somewhere, life, 
love, career.

In my head I make promises to be smart and strong, eat my vitamins, pick up 
the guitar, stay in the world until someone tells me I have to leave. Gotta 
see Bob next year. And next. Check in with him. Make sure he's still got 
those great suits. Wave at him once at the end of the first encore, even 
though he doesn't see me. Just to say hey. Thanks. Thanks for hanging in 
there. Thanks for stopping by.

  14.That'll Be The Day/The Wanderer 
  15.Knockin' On Heaven's Door 

W.T. Pfefferle


Review by Jon Miller

We arrived about 30 minutes early and expected there to be long lines at the 
gat to get in.  We were wrong.  Obviously it wasn't the turnout I would have 
expected for two legends performing together.  The official attendance was 
around 13,000.  Well about the show...It was scheduled for 8 and Bob was out 
with his normal P.R. introduction at 8:10. 
He started the show off acoustically like he's been doing lately.  I Am the 
Man Thomas is what then name of the song was he started with I think.  Didn't 
care for the song too much but Bob's vocals were amazing.  I don't know if he 
has laid back on the cigs, coke,  or weed but he sounded sharp.

Mr Tambourine man followed and to be honest with you I didn't recognize this 
one right away.  He played with the phrasing and it was much slower than I 
remember the last time I heard it live.  He forgot several lyrics but covered 
nicely with inaudible growls and lyrics.  Still a great song to hear anytime. 
Brought out harp for the first time in the last 3 times I had seen him.

Next was It's Alrigt Ma-  Totally awesome. I had never heard this live.  On 
the line "even the president of the united states must have to stand naked" 
everyone went wild like on all the tapes from the 70's. This was one I was 
very glad to hear.

Boots of Spanish Leather was next and at first I thought it was Girl From the 
North Country.  I was glad it wasn't even though their arrangements seem to 
be the same.  He ennunciated all the words very clearly and played the lead 
on virtually all songs acoustic and electric.

Tangled up in Blue- What can I say.  This is when My girlfriend finally 
started dancing.  I don't know what is up withthe crowds these days but to 
tell you the truth the crowds have sucked at the last 2 shows I have beeb to 
: here and Bob, Van, and Joni at the Pond of Ananheim last year.  I mean for 
Gods sake it's Bob dylan, get your asses up because I don't give a damn ifi 
amblocking your way.  Anyway. this song rocked as always.  Hoping for the 
harp but didn't get it.  We did get the "she lit a burner on the stove and 
offered me a pipe" verse.  Still, shorter than usual because Bob once again 
could not remember the lyrics.  

All Along the Watchtower:  this one really got the crowd going too, opening 
up the electric set.  Personally i think he should pen up with the electric 
set like he was doing. Didn't forget a lyric on this one and it sounded 
better than the last couple of times I had heard it.

Just Like A Woman:  Beertime and bathroom break.  Not that I do not like this 
song, but it was very sped up and i think this song was meant to be acoustic. 
 Not very impressed.  Worst song of the night.

Silvio:  was Silvio, had the grat lights but definitely not near the best I 
have heard of this one.  He may be a little sick of playing this because it 
seems to get worse and worse.

Not Dark Yet:  My girlfriend recognized this one before I did.  I don't know 
how.  A very hush-hush version.  Probably the best song of the night.  I had 
never heard this one live and it was the only TOOM song played unfortunately.

Highway 61:  We were on row 17 and right when this song started we headed for 
the stage.  We got right up front, first row.  Now this was totally amazing.  
Bob was really enjoying himself.  He loves to play this song.  He kept 
looking over and smiling and doing his funny little guitar trick where he 
pushes the guitar up as if he were playing vertically.  He was sweating like 
a pig and Bob did most of the solos on this surprisingly.

Like a Rolling Stone:  Great encore. Great song.  Once again, the singing was 

Blowing in the Wind: Harmonies actually sounded great but i would have rather 
heard something else.  Not Fade Away, anything but this or Rainy day Women.

Then Bob introduced Paul Simon and he came out in his fruity little hat.  
They did The Boxer which the local papers gave bad reviews for but I honestly 
thought it was one of the best performances of the night.  they don't sound 
as bad together as everyone says. Bob played a beautiful harp solo. 
They followed with That'll be The Day and the Wanderer.  Not so impressive ut 
oh well
Knockin on Heavens door was last and they did it with Bobs band thank God.  I 
did not want to hear a reggae version of this masterpiece.  They did the 
"OOOOhhhhh" and it sounded awesome.

Security at this show was great and I thank them very much for my girlfriend 
and I getting such a great view of a living legend.  Hopefully he will be 
around again soon.  Great show and if you didn't go....I'm sorry.  By the 
way, Bob blew Paul Simon off the stage.  No contest.  Sorry Paul Simon fans. 
There is just no match.

P.S.  If anyone got a tape of the show let me know!

Jon Miller  (   


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