Reviews

Long Beach, California

Long Beach Arena
October 21, 2006


[Victor Nehring], [J. B.], [Lori Zook], [Norm Kelsey]

Review by Victor Nehring



Had a great time.  I had set the bar of expectations VERY low.  I'm not a
fan of the current line-up, and I'm not a fan of large venues.  I think
Bob sounds like death warmed over lately.  Surprise, they hopped right
over it! The sound was great, the security was lax, the arena sufficiently
empty to allow us to move to the other side to see Bob and not his ass. 
Folks, Bob has moved to the other side of the stage!  Other than that,
nothing new. Denny was awesome, Stu was unnecessary.  George was ok, 
Tony fine.  Donnie, fine.  Bob, fine.

What does Stu DO?!?!  A bit of little rhythm guitar that I could play.  
He needs to leave.

Very odd mix of people.  The usual aging hippies who look more and more
ridiculous, the usual young college crowd, but also lots of suburbanite
60-somethings out for a walk down memory lane.  Some folks look like they
may have gotten free tickets by booking an extra night at a hotel.  Odd
group.

I went with my wife, who had the quote of the night:  "The altered
arrangements confused me."  Still, she got to hear Tangle Up In Blue, so
she was happy.  The band is much more comfortable with each other and with
the "Modern Times" tunes.  They are a far cry from the
lost-in-the-wilderness sound that pervaded most of 2005.  There was
definitely a lack of "who's solo is it?" gaps.  Denny just jumps right in
and goes.

Fave moment:  Tony sneaking behind the cymbols to share a laugh with
George during some particularly odd phrasing coming out of Bob.

Viktor Nehring
 

[TOP]

Review by J. B.



Of the 25-30 shows Iíve attended in the past 13 years, this Long Beach
concert was definitely up there as far as quality of Bobís performance
goes. The only sour note of the evening was the opening band, Kings of
Leon.  What a God awful group.  Iím a relatively young (30 years old) and
enjoy numerous modern and diverse types of music/bands, both Dylanesque
and non-Bob-sounding.  So what Iím saying is that I can appreciate good
rockÖwhen itís good.  But these kids couldnít appear more bored to be
there, and their music -- in my opinion -- had no edge or appeal
whatsoever.  Iíd be curious if any other concert-goers felt the same way. 
Itís like they were trying to be bad asses (i.e. the guitarist playing
with a lit cigarette in his mouth for a song, the drummer smacking gum the
whole time, and the lead singer slamming the mike down at the end of the
set), but they just couldnít pull it off.  They didnít seem to have the
talent to back up their pomposity.  Not sure what Dylan was thinking when
he agreed to this opening act.  Maybe he thought if an opener was this
bad, it would make his set even more anticipated!  Anyway, enough about
that and onto the real show. We were standing close -- about 15 feet from
the stage on the left side (more-or-less facing Bob on the right), so I
could make out facial expressions.  Bob was in a great mood on Saturday
with lots of energy, including a few funny glances out to the crowd and
smiles and an audible chuckle directed at drummer George Recile. On some
songs he pointed his fingers like pistols at the audience and, at one
point, even wondered around the stage.  Fortunately, there wasnít any of
that ďup-singingĒ heís fallen into doing over the last couple years. 
Great acoustics and vocal quality throughout the show.  Some highlights
that stuck out: delivery and arrangement on Tangled was perhaps the best
Iíve heard in years.  And though Iíve never been too impressed with the
album recording or other tour versions of Watching The River Flow, this
tourís delivery is different, dynamic, and fresh.  I was also pleasantly
surprised with Hollis Brown as it was the first time Iíve heard it live. 
Nettie Moore, clearly a gem on the new album, was sung with passion and
tenderness. As for the encore, it was my first experience where the crowd
sung along so loud and synchronized with the chorus of LARS.  It was a
funny, when the crowd finished each line ďHow does it feelĒ, Bob was just
starting it. But it was an uplifting and engaging performance nonetheless.
A solid and memorable show overall!
 

[TOP]

Review by Lori Zook



I skipped the Forum in order to check-in a room at Long Beach, maybe 2
blocks from the venue. Last time I was at the Arena was over 20 years ago,
and things have changed. The waterfront and downtown area have become more
upscale, and the homeless people have been pushed to the Northeast. I know
this because I took the light rail back up to LA to pick up Amtrak to San
Diego and I was able to see the other side of Long Beach.

People got into line very early in the morning. I stopped by at about 8:30
on my way to get some coffee. I wandered down to the waterfront, found
some food and coffee and looked at the Marina. Went back to the line and
not too much was going on. I decided to rent a bicycle and ride up and
down the beach for a few hours just like I used to do in San Diego a
million years ago. It was a perfectly beautiful fall day; one that would
seem like summer in any other part of the country.

Back at line, things were pretty much the same. A few more people...the
people in front of me wanted to be right on the rail down front, as did
the people behind me. I was not headed for the rail but was aiming for a
spot 2 or 3 spots back - closer than I normally go, mostly because none of
my friends had ventured down south. I think things are different and more
tense in So Cal with regard to GA shows. After we'd gotten into the venue,
folks were really pushy. Particularly people that showed up at about 8:30
and just decided if they leaned on you hard enough, you'd disappear or
something. Anyway, I tried not let that wreck the show, which was pretty
enjoyable in it's own right. 

Cat's in the Well got things off to a rollicking start followed closely by
She Belongs to Me, which I always love. Have I mentioned how much I love
When the Deal Goes Down? It's beautiful and comforting, and was followed
by Tangled Up in Blue, which is particularly on target right about now.
The rest of the show went by in a haze of pushing and shoving, but was
highlighted by a moving Hollis Brown, Hattie Carroll and Nettie Moore.

It was also really fun to be close enough to watch the band interact with
one another. It adds a whole other dimension. I like watching the rhythm
section rock out, with Tony coming downstage to punctuate a measure or two
and George's solid, driving beats keeping things on track. While watching
Stu way back there on the other side of Bob, I was struck by how
underrated and unappreciated an instrument is the rhythm guitar. From his
acoustic strumming to the arterial electric work he does, the music would
lose a great deal of depth without his playing. Denny's leads are becoming
more well-integrated, and I really enjoy Donny's work, but would love to
hear him on some more leads - what with that cornucopia of instruments and
talent he's in possession of. And of course, Bob himself really seems to
be in his element right now. His vocal work has been amazing, and the
songwriting...Modern Times is a testament to that deep well of
inspiration. It's been great to hear the keyboards more and if the
Stratocaster is going to sit all by its lonesome center stage, I'm very
happy that we have the sometimes poignant, sometimes raging harp leads.

On a side note, some very young kids came up to the front and I had
assumed they were there for Kings of Leon. I put them in front of me since
they were about 1.5' shorter than I, and it turned out that the two
sisters had brought their brother to see Bob for his 12th b-day. They were
so sweet and genuinely seemed to have a great time. I had a fine time too.

Lori Zook
 

[TOP]

Review by Norm Kelsey



The Bob Dylan Show Goes LBC!
 
Hey Soul Mates,
dig that crazy rhythm? It's the Bob Dylan Show. Tonight's tour stop at Long 
Beach was hellacious! We had a fantastic time in the standing room/general 
admission floor area. I knew the last time I saw Dylan that it would actually be 
fun to dance at his show. There wasn't always room for cutting a rug, but 
there was plenty to shuffle and vigorously clap hands.

The Arena in Long Beach reminds me of the old Jacksonville VMC where I 
used to go to concerts in highschool. Capacity around 5000 on a good night. 
On top of an ice rink (though we didn't have that in Jax). Real Mom 'n Pop. 
Just a more relaxed ambiance than usual at an L.A. show. When tickets went 
on sale, I snatched some up. How often does any major act play a small 
venue with GA standing for the floor? Let alone THE major act of our 
lifetimes.

Dylan smiled throughout; playing organ and blues harp. It was a different 
experience this time, being less than 30 feet from him. Seeing him really 
move and sweat. Selling the performance. His band was cracking, too. I know 
he's said he wanted to be in Little Richard's band. Well, Bob was giving the 
audience quite a lot tonight. He was definitely feeling it.

So many favorite moments. But the one performance that moved me to tears 
was the sublime reading of Hattie Carroll. The arrangement was exquisite, 
great interplay between the guitarists and a crushing story-song. I've got a 
soft spot for Highway 61 Revisited and most folks sang along with Just Like 
A Woman. Even the teenage girls in the audience. Those were a few 
highlights, the songs that is.

The selections from Dylan's new LP Modern Times (currently my favorite album 
of 2006) were played with gusto and met with appreciative applause. Gotta 
love an audience that's done its homework. The tender When The Deal Goes 
Down and the raucous Rollin' & Tumblin' were even more fun live than on 
record. There was a knowing whoop from the crowd (including yours truly) for 
the line "I'm in a cowboy band," from Nettie Moore. Dylan acknowledged it 
with a grin. His back-up crew nodded and smiled. That's joy.

The crowd was quite varied. Truly fans of all ages. The openers, Kings Of Leon 
certainly helped bring in a younger demographic. KOL was much better, more 
polished than the last time I saw them in '03 opening for the Strokes. There 
set was tighter and rocked harder than previously. They also seemed more 
comfortable performing for Dylan's crowd than the Strokes' crowd, oddly 
enough. But kudos to them.

Norm Kelsey
www.rushhoursoul.com 

[TOP]

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