Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 09/23/98


September 23, 1998

Portland, Oregon
Rose Garden Arena

[Dave Gation], [Ward Serrill]

Review by Dave Gation

This was Bob's first Portland appearance since June of 1995 though he
was just recently at the Gorge Amphitheatre last May (4 1/2 hour drive
from Portland).  That show was simply electrifying.
The evening began with a decent performance by Lucinda Williams.  Next
came Van Morrison.  After seeing Van with Dylan last May I was really
looking forward to this.  He definetly did not disappoint!  His set list
was basically a chronology of his career.  He began with "Baby Please
Don't Go" and "Here Comes The Night" from his Them days.  From there he
went into his 70's hits "Domino", "Tupelo Honey / Crazy Love", "Jackie
Wilson Said" & "Moondance".  The crowd loved these but I found his
energy somewhat lacking though the performances were good.  He then
launched into his 80's era and his vocal performance and energy really
took off in songs such as "Real, Real Gone", "Cleaning Windows",
"Vanlose Stairway" & "Whenever God Shines His Light".  His show finished
with songs from his last decade including "Raincheck" & "Fire In The
Belly".  The show came to rousing close with "Gloria" which had the
house up and dancing.  One other note: the backup singer he had last
spring was thankfully not part of the current band.  I found this guy
very annoying at the Gorge. 
Next it was time for Dylan to hit the stage!  He got the crowd up and
dancing right away with a good performance of "Maggies Farm".  Next came
"I Want You" which I was quite happy to hear.  From there on though the
crowd, from my viewpoint anyway, did not seem to appreciate what it was
seeing.  "Can't Wait" was, in my opinion, the highlight of the evening. 
Energy was high and Bob sang it with emotion.  "Silvio" was quite a bit
different than at the Gorge, not as fast but with some great guitar work
from Bob.  "Mr. Tambourine Man" was enjoyed by all though you could
barely here the harp solo until somebody figured it out and turned up
the mic (or at least that's how appeared to me)!  I thoroughly enjoyed
"Tangled Up In Blue".  Once again substantially different from the
Gorge, more uptempo and relatively close to the Blood On The Tracks
version.  Next came, for me, the surprise of the evening and the second
highlight.  "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll" has always been one
of my favorite Dylan songs and this version I found to be not only well
played but quite emotional.  Maybe it was just me though.  The main set
then ended with "Make You Feel My Love" (good, but short) and "'Till I
fell In Love With You" (excellent).  The crowd applause was modest but
when the band left the stage it became quite thunderous, for a boomer
crowd that is :(. It was at this point that some real irritation began. 
Our seats were on the end of the row which was great for view but bad
for people walking by.  During most of the Dylan show I noticed people
leaving here and there.  Well before Bob reappeared for the encore
people were filing out enmasse!  I couldn't believe it.  For me I
thought the best was yet come!  The band came back on stage for a
fabulous "Love Sick" followed by a rocking "Rainy Day Women" and
excellent "Blowin' In The Wind".  Problem was though when he launched
into "Rainy Day Women" the house lights came on(!) which exposed the
fact that about a third of the crowd had left.  And more were filing out
during this song.  Worse yet the lights stayed on during "Blowin'".  I
don't know if that is the norm but I found it rather irritating and took
away from what was going on on stage.  After "Blowin'" Bob waved
good-bye and left the stage.  I was a tad disappointed not to get
"Highway 61" and very irritated by the crowd filing out while Dylan
finished his show.  I found that akin to the crowd leaving early during
the sermon on the mount!  All in all though an excellent show, energetic
with Bob appearing to enjoy himself, though not quite as electrifying as
the Gorge show.  I think part of that had to do with the set-list though
as most of the crowd just simply didn't know songs like "Under The Red
Sky" and alot of the new stuff.  That's the problem when a good portion
of the crowd is there to see another act (Van Morrison) and just doesn't
know Dylan's less "popular" tunes.  I hope Bob returns to Portland soon
but in a smaller venue with a house full of Dylan fans.


Review by Ward Serrill

I met my friends Seawolf and Laverne before the show. Had such a good 
time at dinner I didn't even bother with the opening act-Lucinda Williams. 
I saw her in Puyallup and wasn't much up for another visit. I like her a great 
deal. It's just that I have seen her in small clubs and she is so powerful there. 
It lost a lot for me to bury her tremendous voice amidst all that electric bass 
and guitar. And her sound guy should have to endure hell listening to 
Myron Florrin Accordion music played continuously and way too loud. 
I am of the opinion that at least half the sound guys out there have no 
worthwhile ears left. They think that louder is always better. Like it just isn't 
right unless the bass drum rattles your ribs and the bass guitar drowns out 
any vocals. 

I wandered to my front section seat for Van the Man.  Van Morrison again 
joining Bob for a short tour. He looks like a Mafioso Don from Chicago with 
his dark suit buttoned up, his dark glasses and gangster hat. And I got to tell 
you Van the man put down one of the greatest sets of music I have ever 
witnessed. He came onstage playin' harp and went right into the great blues 
classic Baby, Please don't go. Then into Here comes the night, Domino, 
Tupelo Honey, Crazy Love, Jackie Wilson Said and Moondance. Then he 
followed with some of his eighties and nineties stuff before and incredible 
encore of Gloria.  Whew. Van the Man!  

Dylan was good but in my mind was overshadowed a bit by the heights that 
Morrisson hit. The great hits for me in this show was the acoustic (naturally) 
Stone Walls and Steel Bars, which I have never heard before and don't even 
know who wrote it. The harmony vocals of Bucky and Larry joining Bob on 
this were transcendent in a deeply grass roots American way. I appreciate 
Dylan the rock n roll God, but when he taps into that deep vein of Americana 
in his folk stuff, it brings 100 years of history and feeling alive for me. Next 
came Mr. Tambourine man (with harp) And another great surprise: 
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.  After this it was back to electric and 
the usual encore which I have definitely grown tired of. Overall the electric 
jams on this mini tour continue to be first rate. Bob and the boys are really 
hitting an instrumental roll. I'd say more but I want to get on to Eugene!


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