Review by Martin Abela
Jann Arden was the opening act. She is a talented songwriter, and a very funny
woman. Her songs all have emotional depth to them, although they tend to be in
rather the same emotional tone. There were groups in the audience here and there
who were obviously there to see Jann only. Occasional shouts of "We love you Jann"
were heard throughout the set.
Jann reminded us several times that she was very excited to be opening for Bob.
She described it as "the high point" of her career. Just before her last song
she jokingly asked her band if they wanted to do "Mr. Tambourine Man".
Jann's excitement at opening for Bob was infectious, and did have an effect
on the crowd. After her 45 minute set, the audience was ready.
After about a 20 minute wait, the house lights dimmed, and the band ran out.
A quick intro from an announcer: "Ladies and gentlemen, Columbia recording artist,
Bob was dressed in black pants and jacket, with a silver glitter tie, which
was difficult to see from my 23rd row seat. The band opened with "Gotta Serve Somebody".
Bob brought a sense of humour to this song. The band were singing the background line "gotta
serve somebody..." during the chorus. One time as they sang this, Bob growled "What??" into
the mike, turning it into a dialogue song.
Next up was the quieter "I'll Remember You". Here Bob began performing somewhat,
occasionally bouncing up and down on his knees, to good crowd reaction.
With "Cold Irons Bound" the perfomance became more dynamic. Bob contined bouncing, and
also began raising one leg as he was playing. He and Larry shared the guitar work, playing
almost a duet. THe melody seemed to weave back and forth between them. They were both cleary
They audience reaction was strong to "Just Like a Woman". To some of the
older members of the audience this song had a lot of meaning. In turn, Bob responded
to the reaction, and continued dancing as he played the guitar, and even began
mugging, reacting with his facial expressions to the melody of the song as he played it.
"Can't Wait" and "Silvio" followed in their usual position in the set. Little
reation to these songs - no dancing to "Silvio" as there often is.
One of the highlights for me was "It Ain't Me Babe". A beautiful, soft,
acoustic version. It is amazing how much the dilivery of a song affects the emotional
impact. When Johnny Cash sings it, it sounds bitter and sarcastic. Bob tonight
made it sound sad and regretful, quite poignant. This classic song also
produced a good reaction from the audience.
The band picked up the acoustic instruments, and played "Masters of War".
Bob put emotion into these powerful lyrics, sing as if he was doing it for the first
time, and wanted us all to feel his bitter anger. The emotional contrast between
"It Ain't Me Babe" and "Masters of War" is striking. THe emotional range Bob can
cover in a set is one of the treats of seeing the show.
"Mama, You Been on My Mind" was notable for the inclusion of a brief harmonica
solo. Bob layed down his guitar, leaned over the the drum platform, and just picked
up the haronica and played it breifly, for the only time during this show.
The accoustic set contined with "Tangled Up in Blue". A good version, sounding
slightly differant from the version on the album. However, the lyris were idential.
None of the occasional twists which have been reported in rec.music.dylan.
This song was very popular with audience, and got a lot of fans up and dancing.
At the end of "Make You Feel My Love", Bob again mentioned the Garth Brooks version as
being his inspiration for playing the song in concert. Someone in the audience threw Bob a
bouqet of red roses. He picked it up, and took a deep bow, as he held the flowers close to
The band left the stage, but returned for the encore in a few minutes. By this time
I had made my way to the front of the stage. A much better position for watching,
and dancing. And a good dance song too - Love Sick. I would say there were about
20 people standing in front of the stage for the encores. There were plenty of ushers, but
none of them seemed to mind. This is in direct contrast to the previous night in Edmonton,
when no one was allowed to get near the stage. I did not hear any complaints from people
behind us (I did turn and look), and Bob seems to enjoy it, so why not.
Each song in the encore produced enthusiastic reactions - especially "Rainy Day
Woman" of course. Even though , like many, I have long since tired of this song,
the enthusiatic playing, and strong crowd reaction and dancing made it an enjoyable
experience. One young woman who identified herself as "Gemini" reported that she loves
these songs, even though the all came out before she was born! She said it was her
parents music, but she loves it too.
We were treated to one song at the end not listed on the cue sheet "Forever Young". The
audience contined cheering after the band left in the hopes of more music, but after about a
minute the house lights came on.
Still 17 songs was not bad. And what a great perfomance. I was very glad I made
the trip up to Edmonton, since the show was much more exciting than Calgary.
I now have two weeks to wait until I see Bob again in Toronto, and I am looking forward to
it very much!
Review by Stephen Scobie
Jann Arden came on as a warm-up act and played a lovely, melodic 45-minute
set. Arden is from Calgary, so enjoyed a little tweaking of the Edmonton
audience. Standing on the stage of the Edmonton hockey arena, staring at
the five Oilers Stanley Cup banners, she cheerfully announced, "I hear your
hockey team sucks." She also admitted that playing for Dylan was the
highlight of her career so far: "I feel like a stalker! I'm at the venue
at 8am each morning looking for him. Thought I saw him today, but it was
just the janitor." The crowd (about 8,000 - 10,000) loved it, and gave her
a standing ovation.
Bob was looking pretty good. The country-gentleman outfit is more
elaborate than ever: the white piping on the trousers; a long black jacket
with leaves embroidered on it, black on black; a silver spangled bow-tie.
All this year's moves were there: the knee bends, stage glides, raised
eyebrows, mugging to the audience. The one very brief harmonica solo of
the night was delivered at the back of the stage, one knee up on the drum
riser. The voice was strong, ranging from a very rough growl on the harder
electric numbers to some surprisingly mellow tones for the acoustic.
Gotta Serve Somebody
I'll Remember You
Cold Irons Bound
Just Like A Woman
It Ain't Me Babe
Masters of War
Mama You've Been On My Mind
Tangled Up In Blue
To Make You Feel My Love
'Til I Fell In Love With You
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
Blowin' in the Wind
Highway 61 Revisited
That is, a very standard late-98 set list, no real surprises except perhaps
the unusual placement of "It Ain't Me Babe" at the beginning of the first
acoustic set. (And it was a lovely, tender performance of the song.) For
me, one highlight was "Just Like a Woman," with the choruses sung in a deep
nasty growl -- especially since, a few hours earlier, I had been listening
to Bill Frisell's very mellow, laid-back instrumental cover, from his album
"Have a Little Faith," courtesy of my friend Doug Barbour. And I was
delighted with "Mama," which I'd never heard live before, and which
featured the one harmonica solo of the evening. "To Make You Feel My Love"
was dedicated to Garth Brooks, ahem, "my favorite country singer. He did
it so well I felt challenged to do it myself," oh yeah. The crowd was
enthusiastic all night, and finally got to its feet for the entire encore
set, singing along "Everybody must get stoned," and roaring with approval
when they recognised "Blowin' in the Wind."
So: a good show, very well performed, solidly entertaining -- but without
the deeper, more personal inflections of the best European shows from back
The advertising poster for the show, of which I was able to nab a copy,
proclaims "Bob Dylan and his Sensational 4 Piece Band": so I guess that's
what they're now officially called: The Sensational 4 Piece Band.
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