page by Bill Pagel
Review by Don Fischer
I'm not sure what constitutes "acoustic" but Bob did nothing in Fresno I
would remotely consider acoustic. All in all it was a good show with the
band playing really inspired at times. For my money, the heart of the
show with I Don't Believe You, The Ballad Of Hollis Brown and Highway 61
was the high point. Bob seemed to pick up the energy on those numbers and
the band responded accordingly. He turned Mr. Tambourine Man on it's head
with a chilling reading that deserted the buoyancy of the original
arrangement for a grittier rendition with more razor sharpness at the
edges vocally and musically. Either the placement of Forever Young in the
set or the fact that I hadn't heard it in a while made it a welcome
addition to the set. Bob seemed to treat it with more reverence than I
would have expected. The crowd at the Save Mart Center was almost too
laid back in its response for a great deal of the show although Bob seemed
to be enjoying things. This was the second show that I have attended in
the last two years where Bob did not pick up a guitar. I left again,
wishing he had. Stu Kimball is an excellent addition to the band and
provided some pretty incendiary guitar work at times. The interplay
between he and Larry Campbell on All Along The Watchtower was especially
pleasing albeit much too short. For some reason when Bob introduced the
band prior to the encore he forgot Larry Campbell.
Review by Mike James
Although Iím a big Dylan fan, I simply canít compose a
song-by-song review because thatís way too complicated
and it simply takes away from the fun of watching a
concert. My dad and I drove up Highway 99 from
Bakersfield to Fresnoís Save Mart Center. Not the
best venue for a Dylan concert because it lacked an
intimate setting, but there really wasnít a bad seat
in the house.
The fact that Dylan started off performing very strong
was, by itself, a highlight to me because Iíve noticed
it usually takes him a few songs to warm up and get
into a grove. Highwater was my individual song
highlight of the evening. I also enjoyed hearing
Forever Young for the first time live. The up-tempo
selections from Love and Theft seemed to score with
the audience because of the extended jam sessions they
provided. The set list was pretty balanced and well
Dylan launching a harmonica to the ground in disgust
after failing to have it play to his satisfaction
caught me by surprise because he rarely shows any
emotion during a performance (or in general for that
matter). However, Iíve been to seven shows since 1992
and Iíve noticed a lot more energy and enthusiasm from
him as the years go by. His voice may have more of a
growl, but it blends extremely well with the
supporting band he has put together, which appeared to
be playing very tight. I can see why Dylan adds the
ďAnd His BandĒ to the concert promoting these days.
He flirted with the guitar numerous times, but opted
not to use it. I can see the logic in sticking with
the piano considering the supporting cast of two great
guitar players that he has. Whatís the point in
trying to compete with them? However, Iím starting to
forget what it looks like to see him play guitar, so I
was a little disappointed.
Overall, I give the show high marks because of the
great set list and Dylanís consistently strong
performance. I hope someone snuck some recording
device into the arena that will produce a CD version
of the concert very soon!
Review by Jim Davis
Anticipation and incense were hanging heavy in the air as Dylan and his Band
hit the stage just after 8 p.m. (was very happy to be seated in the 6th row,
just in front of Bob as he sat and played his trusty electric piano!).
Dylan's set started off with a strong and moving version of "Maggie's Farm",
which was somewhat of a surprise, as I don't remember Dylan opening too many
shows with this tune. The guitar chords coupled with Dylan's electric piano
(which was balanced very well in the mix-unlike some of the other show
reviews that I read where the piano had been drowned out) drew me in.
Dylan and his Band moved into a fresh version (after all of these years!) of
"The Times They Are a Changing". I wanted to attribute my enjoyment of this
song to my close proximately to the stage, but there was an ample amount of
apparent earnestness in Dylan's delivery of the song that rang strong and
true. I listened and was amazed how Dylan can breath new life into songs
that are literally decades old!
Dylan played a rousing and fun version of "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum"
Although not one of my favorite songs from L & T, Tony Garnier's bass pulsated,
Larry Campbell and Stu Kimball guitar work was hot, and George Recile's steady
drumming provided the a great backbone for the song, with Dylan's piano playing
topping it all off very well.
Another flashback to the 60's: "Mr. Tambourine Man" was performed and sung with
freshness that I have not heard in some time. Dylan's careful phrasing of each
line made it sound as if he just written the song and couldn't wait to share it
with the audience (maybe I am reading too much into his intentions, but the
performance of this classic song was nothing less than great-even thought I
have probably almost as many live versions of this songs as I have of "Like a
Back to the L & T album as the band ramped up for "High Water (for Charley
Patton).". There was a sense to all those that I spoke with that this evenings
show was indeed something special, an event that each of us present would
appreciate for a long time (would love to get a CDR copy of this show, anybody
out there that has a copy please contact me so that we can arrange a trade!).
Dylan turned in an excellent performance of "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" from
his "The Times They Are A Changing" album; IMHO, this song has never sounded so
good. Tony Marnier's bass was provided the foundation for this song, and Dylan's
clear and crisp vocals (he sounded good all night long) and steady/strong piano
playing carried this tune very well. In fact Dylan's piano playing sounded so
good in the overall mix that I almost didn't miss his guitar playing (this may
also be due to the fact that he played a great deal more harmonica than I have
heard him play in a long time).
Highway 61 was hot; this evening's performance reminded me of the scorcher of a
version that Dylan and Band turned in for the Woodstock '94 concert. I thought
to myself, "What more could I ask for in a show?"(This performance could have
easily served as an encore to an already strong show).
The crowd was thrilled as Dylan moved into a very powerful blues tinged version
of "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again". Tony Garnier's bass
playing and the blistering guitar work of Stu Kimball were very clear and strong,
helping to push this song over the edge.
The crowd was elated as Dylan slowed things down again and wooed us with a
smooth and heartfelt performance of "Forever Young". Tonight's version was sung
with a great deal of emotion, making the performance of this familiar "Planet
Waves" album song memorable indeed.
"Honest With Me" rocked with strong power and fury as Dylan pounded away at his
electric piano's keyboard and guitarists Stu Kimball and Larry Campbell traded
guitar licks back and forth (sort of an electrical game of catch).
Along with his choice of several songs from L & T Dylan gave the crowd a very
healthy dose of songs from the '60's. His offering of the "Positively 4th Street"
was blues/rock at Dylan and Company's best; I was blown away at the strength of
this performance. Up until this show I thought that unless this song was
performed with the organ that it couldn't fly, but with the fervency and
conviction of Dylan's piano playing, my prior thoughts about the need for the
organ quickly vanished.
Just before Dylan left the stage he tore the house down with Summer Days. I have
always enjoyed this song as performed on the L & T record, but the version that
Dylan played tonight was nothing less than awesome. This evening's performance
this song was a testament to the life and power that Dylan, even at age 63, can
breathe into a rock and roll song.
Dylan came out from behind his electric piano and joined his fellow band members
for a bow and then he was offstage. The crowd immediately began a chant of "More,
more, more", and would not stopÖ.
After a relatively short break Dylan and his band took the stage for the encore:
the familiar chords of "Like a Rolling Stone" busted out like a bull kicking its
way out of the shoot at a rodeo. This evening's version of this very familiar
fully lived up to expectations, and left the crowd cheering for moreÖ
Dylan and his band closed the show with "All Along The Watchtower". Tonights
show turned out to be a sampling of some of Dylan's best songs from the 60's,
coupled with an ample portion gleaned from Love & Theft; I don't think that
anyone walked away from Save Mart Center disappointed.
(For a complete listing of all songs performed at this show please see the
"set-list" link on this web site).
page by Bill Pagel
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