Review by Greg Wicklem
It's been about two years since last I saw Bob, so I entered Mac Court
on the U of O campus with lots of anticipation. Mac Court is the
basketball home of the U of O Ducks, and I was told the acoustics were
awful. Not a good sign. Bob can be tough to decipher on a good night.
I'd never seen a show in Eugene before, but it was one of the Dead's
favorite venues, so I remained optimistic. I was not to be
First came Lucinda, who brought the evening off to a righteous
beginning. Her drummer seemed to be finishing a little before the rest
of the band, but all in all, a very tight set.The acoustics didn't seem
to be much of a problem, but the vocals were a little "soft". Her lead
guitar player was on fire, and her singing had punch. The crowd seemed
happy, but they were a laid back crowd. I'd definitely check her out
Since Van was added, I expected him to be next, but to my suprise, Bob
and the boys took the stage. Bob looked, well, like Bob. Black outfit,
white trim and...the hair. I was still a little dubious about the
acoustics, especially the vocals, but from the first "Broken" in
"Everything is Broken", I knew this would be a great set, sound wise.
>From the opening song all the way to the end of the set, the crowd was
on its feet. The place rocked. It was a pretty typical set, as you can
see from the set list, but Bob and the band were in a groove all night.
Bob sang with passion, and looked like he was having a great time. I
could see him keeping his band on their toes with some of his old "I
think I'll do it this was tonight" tricks, but they followed
seamlessly. The new arrangements of some standards like "Positively 4th
St.", "It Takes A Lot..." and "Blowin'", were very fresh and we were
treated to a rocking version of "Blind Willie McTell". (That was a
highlight, in my opinion.) The acoustic "jam" on "Tangled" was
awe-inspiring. The biggest disappointment was the short duration of the
set, 14 songs (including encores) and about 70 minutes. After 2 years,
that just was not enough Bob for me. I've seen Bob enough times to
discern a great set from a good set, and in my opinion, this was one of
his better nights. The crowd seemed to agree with me. Judging from
Bob's smiles and bows, I think he thought so too.
Review by Ward Serrill
I rolled into Eugene at around 1:30 in the morning just in time to say
goodnight to the lovely and fascinating Debrae who lives on a peacock
farm with my friend Deanne, Matt and one year old Amiri Atta. The next
night Deanne and I found a couple of seats on the main floor along the
aisle with plenty of opportunity for dancing. We drank her holy bee
mead, which is just the best alcohol there is I have decided. A great and
instant high and no hangover later. Deanne and Debrae are witches
(truly) and everything they make has good earth power in it.
Dylan opened. Another surprise for me: Everything is Broken and right
away I knew this would be a special show. It was at Mac Court at the
University of Oregon, which is the college basketball arena. And nothin'
really nothin' is much louder than a college basketball arena when
everyone tosses open his or her throats and roars. Besides, Eugene has
a wildness in its folk and it came to play this night-a school night no less!
Another surprise next. The second song in his sets is nearly always
slower and sweeter than the first. This time If Not For you. And damn if
again I didn't marvel at the guitar pickin'. Really, if you ignored the lyrics
entirely during these shows and just listened to the instrumentals and let
them get into your body, you'd come away pleased. Next the predictable
Can't Wait, with pure guitar resonance. Bob wearing a slick and
lightweight gray suit with a black western swing tie was once again jivin'
and bouncin' around the stage. He even seemed to almost drop into a
Dylan impersonation of a Chuck Berry strut. Not as low, not as fast but a
strut no less. He even almost cut loose a smile from time to time. Another
surprise: Positively 4th street! Not as bitter and sardonically vicious as
the original but entertaining just the same.
I looked through the binoculars. Dylan's hair was buzzed out aflame and
backlit like those pshycodelic posters from the sixties portrayed him. And
it struck me that all those thin fibers of hair were really wires-antenna, and
it is through them that Bob is connected to the gallery of cosmic hosts
that inspire and alight him with energy and brilliance. It is through those
wires he is charged with the burden of the messenger. A burden he carries
and so plays night after night in order to stay sane. He has no choice
really. If he didn't play he'd burn up. The troubadour. The poet. The song
and dance man.
Silvio was next and by now Eugene was lit up. Deanne and I stepped into
the aisles to dance and a really uptight security guy tried to hustle us back.
I demonstrated to the guy that there was plenty of room and that it was,
after all, a rock n roll show. Just then Deann leaned across me and said
REALLY LOUD, "He's just on a power trip." The guy heard it; in fact it
blew him back visibly a few inches but he pretended he didn't hear her.
How could he miss it? 2000 volts of witch energy right in his face! He was
okay really, just new on the job and really uptight. Eugene hadn't yet had a
chance to properly train him. The best security guards let enough freedom
be expressed to infect the air with joy but maintain enough of a presence to
keep the aisles open consistently. The nineties are so weird. You go to
rock and roll shows and it is not okay to dance! Christ, what do they think
rock n roll was made for?
Now it came time for yes: The acoustic set. The low down old bluesy drawl
of Cocaine blues lead off. I tell ya, the old blues and folk tunes are worth
driving across the country for! Next came the highlight of this mini tour for
me. He laid down a Masters of War that had so much low-down truth in it,
the sound of Angry God talkin' to the priests of death from the center of the
earth. It was Angry God in all his power of righteousness hissing. Every
syllable, every chord resonated. Stunned me.
He slipped next into Tangled up in Blue, which had at least a six-minute
guitar jam within it. Incredible. I danced like there was no new tomorrow.
By now we had the nerdy security guy pretty well trained. We kept on
dancing incessantly despite his protestations and it finally wore him down.
He ignored us the rest of the night.
Before leaving on this tour, the song I wanted most to hear was the next one
to come along: Blind Willie Mctell. I was disappointed though that he went
back to electric to do it. It is such a powerful tune and to me needs the
acoustic sound to get you back there to East Texas with Willie in the thirties.
Another predictable one next Highway 61 and then Bob did a concert bow.
As he left the stage I witnessed an audience rise like no other I have ever
seen. Three levels deep every throat in the place opened and shouted. It was
a primal roar, bright deep and insistent. It went on for five minutes straight
without a letup. Eugene!
Bob came back and rolled inspired through Love Sick, Rainy Day Woman
and Blowin' in the wind. He bowed deeply to all three sides of the audience.
All in all a supreme show laid down by the master. These three shows gave
me a great lift to see once again a man nearly 60 years old amidst his joy.
As Arroz said to me between songs in Puyallup, "He looks like he likes his
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