Reviews

Los Angeles, California

Hollywood Palladium

October 14, 2009


[Robert Salo], [Tony Anderson], [Falling James]

Review by Robert Salo



Wasn't going to write another review but after my last review of the
Diamond at Lake Elsinore show in August I promised I would review the
Hollywood show and since no one else has yet.....here goes:

I'm not going to do a blow by blow of each and every song and share
my innermost feelings as the evening wore on. Rather I'm only going to
comment generally.

Cold Irons Bound, Highway 61, Beyond here, Man in me, Twiddle Dee ,
Honest with me rocked with a renewed vigor and intensity not seen by me
from Dylan in a long time. Or should I say Dylan's band - Dylan is
ALWAYS on (imho) - but I must say that Leopard Skin Pill Box and Jolene
had me almost in tears of joy - it sounded so good and tight (and loud!)
. I noticed that the crowd tended towards the younger/hipper Hollywood
crowd and they FREAKIN LOVED HIM!!!!! I personally observed young guys
and girls some of which looked to be 16 years old approximately, dancing
and totally rockin out to live Dylan sounds. And they weren't there with
their parents!!! They were there with their friends. They paid their
money. To see Dylan. It amazes me how Dylan can without a word but a
song , connect with so many different generations of listeners.  Just
think, TDDWE (the day Dylan went electric) was almost 45 years ago!!!
And look at his influence up to that point back in '65.
At the Hollywood Palladium there were the grey haired old guy fans and
their wives like at every Dylan show. But they were in the definite
minority last night. Mainly young to very young fans. And another thing,
usually after the third or forth song at a Dylan show, people who were
expecting an "oldies" act will start leaving and that begins a steady
stream of disappointed concert goers walking out early (which I never
get...). I see it at every Dylan show. Not this one. All those young
fans stayed until the last drop. And then they hung around the sidewalk
in front of the venue in big groups after the show.
Another really great Dylan concert. Don't know when I will see him next
but I hope Charlie stays with him.
John Doe (X) and his band opened the show and didn't offer much other
than a poor quality sound system. I read that Johnny Rivers was great
the night before.

Another unexpected high point was the high speed police chase that
ended across the street from the Palladium just as the concert let out.
I stopped counting at 35 police cars. Even though it was midnight I put
on my dark glasses and tip toed around the corner to safety (the police
scare me).
Now you all have yourself a merry little Christmas!

RJ Salo

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Review by Tony Anderson



Wanted to mention a few quick thoughts on the shows so far at the 
Palladium.  Both nights have been really well attended, and the 
band is definately on a new lease. " Gonna Change My Way of Thinking "
almost belts out like a " Solid Rock " as opener. Charlie seems to be
bringing out some moxy in Stu, letting him shine here and there and
he's is getting more room to stretch out, (the least stiff I've seen
him since he joined.)

Both the openers have been really great so far. John Doe Brought
out EXENE CERVENKA, (female singer from X, who apparently has MS now)
and they sang " White Girl " L.A. appreciates X,..thought I might see
Ray Manzarek,.but I did spot Johnny Depp, the first night up in the
balcony before it got too crowded. 

Forgetful Heart was really convincing and for the new songs had my
ear. Po Boy had Donnie and Tony craining their necks watching bob's
chord changes, extra carefully. Bob played more guitar the first night
than I've seen in years, coming center stage playing the guitar upright
almost, - jamming with Charlie, trading licks on " Highwater"

For those who care about the gear, Stu is primarily using a Fender
Bassman amp top and 212 cab. He also has something that looks like it's
made by the " Divided by 13 " company, though the model 412 and amp top
are called the " Royal Albert 65 " where the 13 usually is. Tony is
playing Epifani Bass Cabs, with several Bass heads in a rack unit next
to him, mostly Ashdown heads (EVO500 & EVOII) Charlie is playing
two combos. Vox and a Fender Bassman or Blues Deville? Bob is on the
Korg CX3 organ through the Leslie speaker. Good times.

Thanks Bob & band : ) and thanks Bill Pagel

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Review by Falling James



Like a snowflake, each Bob Dylan concert is special. No two are alike, in part 
because he changes the set list at every show. At Wednesday's gig, the 
second of three consecutive nights in Hollywood this week, he and his band 
played a total of 17 songs (just as they did on Tuesday), repeating only eight 
tunes from the first evening.

Even when Dylan plays the same song, it rarely sounds the same way twice, 
since he's constantly cracking open its spine, spilling out its guts and 
rearranging the entrails. Over the years, he's taken a standard like "The 
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" and experimented with it in varying 
musical contexts, giving different inflections to the lyrics, and transformed 
it from a reproachful folk anthem into a deceptively perky pop song.

Of course, Bob Dylan shows also have their familiar rituals. As much as he mixes 
up the set-list medicine, there are certain songs he tends to perform every night, 
such as "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Thunder on the Mountain," along with the 
usual encores of "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower."

Apart from introducing the band at the end of the show, Dylan rarely talks to 
the audience (which some newcomers find quite unsettling). It's nothing 
personal, but what he has to say is already contained in his songs, which come 
fully loaded with hidden meanings, portents, jokes, wordplay, divined wisdom, 
romantic propositions, literary allusions, Biblical references and historical 
shout-outs. Dig in.

As for iconic stage props, an Academy Award is always perched on top of the 
cabinet that houses the Leslie speaker for his keyboards. It's supposedly the 
actual Oscar he won for Best Original Song for writing "Things Have Changed," 
from the 2000 film Wonder Boys, although it looks kind of small from out in the 
audience.

It's difficult (and probably pointless) to attempt to quantify the subjective 
emotional experiences of disparate Bob Dylan concerts. Even if he sometimes 
seems indifferent, and acts like he'd rather be in Memphis when he's actually 
stuck inside of Mobile, he still might stumble into a song that has deep emotional 
resonance for you. Forget about what the song might mean to him. You've been 
listening to the song since you were a kid, and filled its shell with your own 
lifetime of possessions and meanings. For you, every word of "Tangled Up in 
Blue" is specifically about your life, with a few of the names and places 
changed.

So you really don't need a weatherperson to tell you whether or not Bob Dylan 
blows, but, for what it's worth, I feel that his singing at Tuesday night's show 
was the best and most consistently melodic I've heard over the course of the 
half dozen of his shows I've seen in the past four years.

But that was then. What has he done lately? Believe it or not, his vocals were 
even stronger, warmer and suppler tonight. The band, who had a couple of bumpy 
patches and tentative moments on Tuesday, were more assured as well. It's not 
like you can call Dylan a late bloomer, since he's been certified as a legend 
practically since his debut album in 1962. But is it possible that he's only now 
starting to peak?

Tonight's concert commenced with a canned introduction by an unseen narrator 
who recited a list of obvious factoids about Dylan (he was a legend in the '60s, 
then he found Jesus, etc.) as the musicians walked on stage. Last night, the 
corny intro was left out. I'm not sure why it was brought back this evening, but 
it doesn't matter. Within moments, Dylan & His Band were rummaging through 
the opening song, "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat," which had a souped-up and 
electric Chicago blues feel. It got a good response from the crowd, which was 
somewhat louder (and drunker?) than the audience at the first show.

This time, the band were dressed up in matching black suits and shirts, while Dylan 
wore a black suit, with a yellow shirt underneath. His black hat sported a small 
yellow feather in the brim. (His black-&-yellow ensemble looked exactly like the 
outfit he wore at his Lake Elsinore concert in August.)

The next number was the first of several unusual choices on the set list. "The Man 
in Me" is a relatively obscure song from 1970's New Morning, although it's probably 
better known for its use in The Big Lebowski. Dylan contrasted its easygoing pop 
vibe by resting his gruff voice against a bed of clean guitars and Donnie Herron's 
trumpet. The historically streaky singer was really on top of the beat tonight, and 
moved easily among his vocal alter egos (raspy bluesman, foggy-bottom smooth 
crooner, melodically yearning pop folkie) like a pitcher who has all three of his 
pitches working.

"Beyond Here Lies Nothin'," an undulating groove of late-night romantic blues 
voodoo from this year's Together Through Life, was the first repeat from Tuesday. 
It was just as sultry, but with more of a sour and bittersweet twist of Herron's 
trumpet. I don't understand why, but much of the crowd cheered again tonight 
when Dylan growled a relatively innocuous line, "Beyond here lies nothin'/Nothin' 
but the moon and stars." Maybe it's something only lovers understand.

I was more fascinated by the lyrical bread crumbs, and where they led, in "Po' Boy," 
a mellow soul-pop portrait from 2001's "Love and Theft," which featured a gorgeous 
harmonica solo. "Time and love has branded me with its claws," Dylan sang in a clear 
voice against Charlie Sexton's clean, sparkling guitar. "My father was a traveling 
salesman, I never met him."

Jack-of-all-trades Jack Frost even essayed a Michael Jackson-like spin during the 
uptempo roots-rocker "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum." Dylan can dance? Then he 
cradled his harmonica and dueled with Sexton in short feints and parries until they 
built up enough steam for an Aerosmith-worthy rave-up.

Dylan's singing was at its softest and gentlest on the slowly unwinding "Sugar Baby" 
(another song from "Love and Theft"). "You went years without me/Might as well 
keep going now," he advised between butterfly flutters of his harp, while Tony 
Garnier pumped his upright bass.

Despite telling a woeful tale of heartbreak and betrayal during the rocking "Cold 
Irons Bound," Dylan allowed himself a few quick wicked grins of delight, surveying 
the crowd as the band smashed down the walls of the Palladium. Then it was 
time to calm down again, so he pushed the soothing ballad "When the Deal 
Goes Down" (from2006's Modern Times) along with playful swirls of ballpark 
organ.

The hard-cranking blues rocker "Honest With Me" (from "Love and Theft") was 
already the ninth song of the set, with its urgent, evil riffs climbing the neck of 
Sexton's silver guitar like spiders. While they played, Dylan and Herron showed 
Sexton a subtle bending sound they make on certain accents, which gave the 
song kind of a woozy tilt.

Sexton has a long history with Dylan, but he only recently got involved again with 
this lineup, when the tour kicked off about a week ago in Seattle. He fits in great 
already, and gives Dylan a musical -- and visual -- foil to play against onstage, 
especially since the other His Band-ers tends to lurk in the background.

"Forgetful Heart" (from Together Through Life) was another bittersweet interlude, 
a romantic ballad layered with Herron's consoling violin. Maybe it was one of the 
chord changes or perhaps it was just the general mood, but it reminded me a little 
of B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone."

Sexton and Dylan got into a tangled back-&-forth debate on guitar and keyboards 
during another epic version of "Highway 61 Revisited," which was a little heavier on 
keyboards than on Tuesday night. Alternating between lion-hearted rockers and 
lamblike ballads, Dylan segued into another slow one, "Workingman's Blues #2," a 
sad and simple love song that just happens to set against a backdrop of worldwide 
economic devastation (and quite prescient, considering that it came out in 2006 
on Modern Times).

Another cut from Modern Times, "Thunder on the Mountain," has quickly become 
a live staple and is something of an instant classic. Sexton pried out more piercing 
solos from his guitar, and Dylan issued organ blasts that were half-churchy and 
half-circusy. Just as the singer muttered the line "Gonna raise me an army, some 
tough sons of bitches," Recile hammered down an appropriately aggressive and 
rattling drum fill.

For all of that, the set-closing "Ballad of a Thin Man" might have been the most 
intense song of the night. It certainly was a worthwhile rival to the wild version on 
Tuesday. Dylan coaxed heart-rending cries from his harmonica, while Sexton tapped 
on his guitar's neck to create a molten, bubbling effect during an improvised buildup.

While the crowd on Wednesday was livelier than the group on the first night, it still 
took them a long time to make enough noise to get an encore. Tonight there were 
increased cheers echoing down from the balconies, and eventually Dylan & His Band 
returned for the same three-song encore they played on Tuesday.

"Like a Rolling Stone" seemed perfunctory at first. The tempo was a tad slow and 
Dylan's singing was a little blasť, until the crowd started to sing along, and the 
energy picked up. Dylan introduced the band again ("Tony Garnier? Well, he's on 
bass guitar!") but didn't otherwise speak to the crowd. (He also didn't take a stab 
at any of the holiday fare from Christmas in the Heart, even though the charity CD 
came out just two days ago.)

The merry new song "Jolene" followed, with Sexton whittling out several nicely 
spiky, economical solos. "All Along the Watchtower" closed the set like the 
inevitable windstorm that it is. Recile reprised his furious drum rolls, and at one 
point Sexton manipulated his guitar so that it sounded like a trumpet blast. There 
was a final bow from the band, and then they were gone.

Submitted to Bob Links by Falling James
LA Weekly Blog

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