Reviews

San Diego, California
San Diego State University
Cox Arena
October 22, 2004


[Tom Kirby], [Tim Lindgren], [Andrew Johnston], [Eric Bier], [Anthony Creamer]

Review by Tom Kirby



Bob had another very solid show at San Diego Cox Arena. His show at Irvine
2 nights prior was also very good. His voice was clear and strong, and he
is playing the harp on about 5 songs each night -- but not just at the end
of songs. There were 2 or 3 songs each night where he would open with the
harp, play it again between verses, and then again at the end of the song.
I've seen about 20 shows since 1978 and I've never seen him play so much
harp. Often times he continues to play the keyboard with his right hand
while playing the harp. 

Bob is just pouring his heart and soul into these shows. I don't recall
him ever being more focused, more fired up, more determined to perform his
best. He comes on strong from the start, and stays strong throughout the
whole show. The amount of sweat that just pours off his face, starting
about mid show, is just amazing. He's giving these shows everything he's
got. I don't recall any smiles in San Diego, but there were a few at
Irvine. His attitude is mostly just pure focus and determination.

Neither show had Bob raising his voice at the end of verses like he often
does in recent years. It was refreshing to get the straight delivery from
him. But the arrangements have changed a bit, as usual, to keep things
fresh.

Pill Box was a fun opener in San Diego, with the whole band coming on very
strong. At Irvine Larry looked a little road weary at first (but sounded
very good). In San Diego Larry was very energetic from the get go, and he
just tore it up on Pill Box. Baby Blue almost sounded as country as this
band used to sound, with Larry on pedal steel, but Stu was on electric.
Stu played electric every song in San Diego. These were my first shows
with Stu, and he was very animated, obviously very glad to be tearing it
up with this great band. I like his style, and he seems a much better fit
than Freddie was last year. He's not quite as sharp as Charlie was, but
he's more animated, more excited, more pleased to be there than Charlie
ever seemed to be. Tell Me That It Isn't True had Larry back on pedal
steel, where he was for I think at least 5 songs in San Diego. At Irvine
Larry played the cittern on about 5 songs, but we didn't see the cittern
at all in San Diego. I guess that all boils down to the different song
selection. At Irvine we got a lot of Larry and Stu trading leads between
electric and cittern, back and forth and back and forth again. It was
great fun, and very interesting contrast. We also get a lot of this
trading off of leads when they are both playing electric, but less so when
Larry is on pedal steel.

Cox Arena seats 12,000, but Bob's show was set up "half house" with the
front of the stage at mid court, so the capacity was about 5,000. It
looked sold out, but I checked and there were still reseved seats
available that afternoon. Seats were reserved and it was GA on the floor.
I love these shows without seats on the floor. Bob seems to feed off the
energy of the standing audience crowded around the stage, and it only
takes showing up 2 hours early for a good close spot. I was 15 feet back
of center stage at both San Diego and Irvine, and the sound was pretty
good at both shows. 

One last word about Irvine - Every Grain of Sand has a great new
arrangement that starts with the harp and has a lot of harp throughout.
What a treat that was, and what a treat to see Bob year after year. 

Tom Kirby
 

[TOP]

Review by Tim Lindgren



This was my third Bob Dylan concert and it was awesome.  I have yet to see
a mediocre, let alone bad, show by Bob.  I had a pretty good spot on the
floor, just right of center stage and about 20 ft back.  And, except for a
couple of oblivious "dancers" in front of me, no problems enjoying the
show.

The band looked and sounded great.  Bob came out in a black suit and black
Stetson and was wearing what appeared to be an emerald green satin shirt
that had some kind of sparkling embroidery on the collar.  Stu Kimball -
also in black hat and long coat - looked and sounded like the prototype
roadhouse guitar player.  I think he's a really good addition to the band.
He plays like he really means it on each and every song.  It's also nice
to see Larry get more of the limelight.  Absolutely impeccable work by him
and it's hard to imagine the band without him.

The band was focused all night long.  No smiles or much joking going
on..but neither were they subdued or going through the motions...far from
it.  They were there to play some serious music.  I think Bob must like
San Diego.  Judging by the very few shows I've seen and comparing..he
tends to favor us with rarely played tunes.  A couple of years ago it was
"If Not For You" and Van Morrison's "Carrying a Torch".  This night we
were treated to "Tell Me That It Isn't True", "If Dogs Run Free" and
"Forever Young".  I know that others who have seen the band a number of
times have grown weary of "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum".  And, while it
isn't one of my favorites in general, this was the first time I'd heard it
played live and their spirited rendition won me over.  They played
everything great!  "Cold Irons Bound" was one of the biggest highlights
for me.  Bob has once again changed the accents within the song to great
effect...and when he finishes the chorus "...I'm 20 miles out
of town, and cold irons bound.." the guitars started raving!  You could
see the sweat dripping off his face onto the keyboard during this song
and it was sheer heaven.

At the end (before the encore), Bob did that little "nothing up my
sleeves" move to the audience that someone else mentioned in a review.  I
know there has been a lot of speculation about why he doesn't play guitar
and such...but in this instance, his hands looked OK (to me).  He extended
them out palm-first to the crowd - fingers outstretched.  And, even though
you couldn't often hear him during the show, he appeared to be playing the
piano in earnest all evening long.  So, who knows?...

Just a great, great show!

Tim Lindgren

[TOP]

Review by Andrew Johnston



Well, I've read a zillion of these reviews and figured it was time to
contribute one. It's been a year since I saw Dylan and, as always, well
worth the wait.  The venue seemed ok. Typical sterile, relatively new,
college athletic venue. Half of it was closed off. It seemed as though it
was about 85% filled which sort of surprised me. My wife says 90%. The
biggest surprise for me was Dylan playing harp from the first song!  He
kept it up through several songs, more than I've ever heard him do live.
Awesome. I was a bit worried about his voice. During the first two or
three songs I half expected to see Tom Waits somewhere stage right. It was
awful. Painful, even.  Then he got warmed up and was business and voice as
usual. The song selection was great. A couple from TOOM and a few from
L+T. Opened with Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat!  Did a nice jazzy If Dogs Run
Free. The band was rockin'.  Those guys played great together.  I still
miss Charlie Sexton but Stu Kimball was pretty darn good.  I thought Larry
seemed a bit distant from the others that night. All in all, a great show.
The biggest treat was the extensive harp playing.  The second biggest
treat was a great Highway 61 Revisited.  The biggest letdown was that it
ended.  The second biggest letdown was either that I felt too old to buy a
Tshirt or it was the guy sitting next to me with B.O.

Andrew Johnston

[TOP]

Review by Eric Bier



Bob Dylan may not be Forever Young, but I was amazed at the effort and
stamina this poetic genius displayed at his San Diego concert on October
22, 2004.  Dylan enthusiastically and masterfully played the harp on
several songs, one or two times grabbing it and putting it down after
realizing it wasnít time for a harp solo.  In fact his harp solos were so
good that I wished he hadnít put it down at all.   This would have kept
his hands off the electric piano, which combined with his band to create
an asynchronous cacophony requiring earplugs to prevent ear damage.  My
wife enjoyed the concert, but she was grateful for the earplugs, while the
woman next to me sat through most of the concert with her hands over her
ears and a pained look on her face.

At times I observed Larry Campbell playing the guitar like he had
forgotten the chords, adding to the chaos.  However, the band settled down
for Standing in the Doorway, which sounded tight along with Dylanís
harmonious, powerful singing.  Stu Kimball was consistently right-on
technically, but often sounded mechanical, until he let it rip for a great
rendition of All Along the Watchtower.

I wish Dylan would get rid of the electric piano, turn down the volume,
and make more use of his acoustic guitar and harp.  My wife saw him in
1964 when he sat alone on stage with his guitar and harp and brought down
the house. Forty years later, I believe he can still do it. I wish he
would.

Eric Bier

[TOP]

Comments by Anthony Creamer



I found myself on a business trip in SD with a Friday night layover and
caught my fist-ever (in 30 years of Dylan concerts) west coast show.  It
was really great, as always.  Has anyone commented that the encore for
Watchtower now begins with a 5 to 10 second rockin' snippet from the The
Magnificent Seven soundtrack (Yul Brenner), obviously a homage to the
recently deceased Elmer Bernstein ?

[TOP]

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billp61@execpc.com

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