Review by Bert Samuels
Its late and I do need to get some sleep so I can get to work in the
morning. Just got back home frm the San Diego show. It was my third show
this week (San Fran Monday, L.A. and San Diego). This was far and away
the best one. Bob just keeps getting better and better.
It started off kind of disappointingly - looking like Friday night redux.
But then he debuted Spirit on the Water and it got realy good from
there. Really good debut performance of Spirit - as usual with debuts,
he stayed true to the album version. Nice vocals. He followed that with
the best rendition of Highway 61 of the three shows. Man I just never
tire of that one - they rocked like crazy. Denny and Tony were so into
He followed that up with three big surprises - Sugar Baby, Cold Irons
Bound and Every Grain of Sand. Sugar Baby was a new version - very bluesy
and really good. Nice crisp vocals. Cold Irons Bound rocked like crazy
and had me on my feet. Eevery Grain of Sand was the high point for me.
I just love that song and loved singing it with Bob tonight.
Then he did a great rendition of Desolation Row. Much better version
than San Fran (which was also pretty good). Really good guitar work from
Denny and Stew with Bob nailing it on vocals and keyboard. I'll be
humming that one all week.
Rollin' and Tumblin' was better than it had been at the two previous shows
- liked it better tonight - though still not my favorite song. Then he
did Working Man Blues. I was hoping for another showing of Nettie Moore
but this one was good - really good actually. Bob nailed the vocals. My
wife said it is her favorite of the new stuff. - I havent chosen favorite
yet - I like too many of them.
The rest of the show was solid and realy rocked. And the crowd just
loved the show and showed it at the end. Bob had to crack a smile at that
One last note. Bob kept messing up the vocals - it was pretty funny.
The band was just watching him trying to figure out where he was going
next. But he always recovered - pretty cool.
Thanks Bob for another round of great shows - come back soon!!!!
Los Angeles, California
Review by Tim Lindgren
This was the fourth time I've seen Bob and, as usual, he put on a great
show. He was in really good voice from the start with "Maggie's Farm" and
quite animated behind his keyboard. I liked the new organ sound he was
using and he's seemed to have obtained some kind of an affinity for the
keyboard that he really didn't have when he first started playing it in
2002. It was much better, at the very least. The songs were all presented
in a solid format and we were all treated to the debut of "Spirit On the
Water". It's a song that I haven't paid a lot of attention to on the new
album, but they did a really nice rendition and it came across much better
live. When he got to the last verse... "You think I'm over the hill You
think I'm past my prime Let me see what you got We can have a whoppin'
good time" ...the crowd gave a loud cheer. It was pretty awesome. Having
said all that, I was a bit disappointed with the band itself. Part of
that may have been the mix. Donnie Herron's efforts were all but
lost...but mostly...the band just didn't seem to have any "presence". Not
necessarily that it wasn't loud enough..that was fine. But, from where I
was sitting (on the floor about 60 ft from the stage) the bass and drums
seemed a bit down in the mix. Bob's voice was strong and clear and he
sounded terrific. I think most of my disappointment came with the new
guitar player, Danny Freeman. I kept hoping they'd give Stu Kimball a
chance to cut loose like he did on the last tour through here in 2004, but
it was not to be. I thought Freeman was mostly just workmanlike, if not
pedestrian. As a unit, the band worked well together, creating a good
solid performance. But, sometimes I think it needed that something extra
during the instrumental breaks and this particular guitarist was not up to
the task. Oh, well... Thanks again, Bob! See you next time around!
Review by Ed Kosakoski
San Diego Cox arena was my 4th Dylan show in the past 7 years. I have
loved his music since college, and I'm 55 now, but my career involved lots
of travel , and my concerts were on hold. I have all of his CD's and get
on a Bob "kick" regularly. Never get tired of listening to him. Music AND
Since 1999, however, I am a concert fiend, and I always see Bob when he
comes to San Diego. I love just being there, I like to rock to loud music,
and I enjoy the new arrangements and the unexpected songs. I agree with
previous reviews of the show. It was great.
That said, I must disagree with the other reviews in one critical respect,
in that I thought the sound was not good, for the most part. I was center
floor about 10 rows back. It was too loud, and by that I mean it lacked
clarity and I could not really make out the indiviual instruments, and I
could only make out perhaps one in three of Bob's word's. Since I do not
have the lyrics memorized, as I would say most attendess do not, this
really takes away from the poetic impact that Bob should have. Having
listened to Bob for years, and having all his CD's, I could pick up a some
of the vocals. My friend said he didn't get a word! That's really too bad.
I don't blame Bob for this. Acoustics in an enclosed arena are horrible,.
They were even worse when I saw Bob at Cox last year, seated way on the
side. This will be my last concert at Cox.
By far the best sounding I have heard him was at Coors Amphitheatre
(outdoor), and at San Diego State Outdoor Amphitheater. Outdoors may be
My suggestion to Bob and his manager is to concentrate on the sound and
acoustics. Go back to smaller venues, or choose larger OUTDOOR venues like
Coors. My preference would be to see him at Humphreys!! Wow, that would be
something. They know how to put on a concert there.
My last complaint about the venue, is that Cox' policies do not allow the
ushers to ask those standing in front of others to please sit down. I'm
all for getting up for a rocker, but most folks really don't want to stand
for 2 hours, including me and the two friends I came with. Unfortunately,
the folks standing in front of us didn't care, except to direct an obscene
gesture at our request for them to please be seated. So, we and many
others missed a lot of the show when we sat down. My strong opinion is
that if the arena does not provide for dancing in some out of the way
spot, then attendees should remain seated, for the most part, (and,
excpting the encore) out of respect for others right to enjoy the show.
This subject was the focus of many letters in a recent San Diego
Union-Trib series of letters to the editor, and public opinion came
squarely on the right of the "sitters". You CAN rock out in your seat!! By
the way, HUMPHREYS WILL ENFORCE THE NO STANDING IN FRONT OF OTHERS ,
which, other than acoustics to die for, is the reason that is about the
only venue worth the price of admission. Oh, yea, we paid $190 to "stand"
at our seats at Cox!
Bob, geat job! PREVIOUS Campbell/Sexton band - much better. Cox and
quality of sound - POOR.
Comments by Jeff Relth
Last night was very dissappointing. The opening act was bad. Lots of
people left the theater wait outside and have a drink until Bob came on.
Then Bob and the band came out. He never said hello, he never talked to
the crowd and never said goodbye or thanks. He constantly hid under his
hat and faced sideways. No crowd interaction except to say the band's
names at the end and then didn't even interact in any way with the
His voice is old. By the end it was gone. It certainly was not the old
Bob Dylan. The band was great, but they were so loud you really couldn't
tell if Bob was even playing the keyboard, but you could hear the guitar
on a few numbers. Without the band, it would have been a mess. Bob is
trying to reinvent himself, but I'm not sure it will work with his old
Review by Lori Zook
As it happens, I did head south for the weekend after enjoying the SF
shows immensely. What was originally a whim became a full-fledged
hare-brained reality as I found myself heading to LA in a craigslist
rideshare on Friday. I opted to skip the Forum and head straight to Long
Beach. Saw that show and took a train the next morning to San Diego, my
home town. Actually, the hometown for 4 generations of my family. I've not
been to many shows there over the decades - having left in '83 - and I've
never seen Bob there. I had a nice time visiting my brother and my
I was not optimistic about the venue and reserved seating. I pictured
myself being required to sit the entire show, with my head and shoulders
bobbing uncontrollably when the music called for it. I was lucky enough to
find seats on the floor, 14 rows back, on the house left side, thanks to
my friend Michael who lives in So Cal.
A bit about the venue...the audience enters through a gate to an outdoor
concourse that runs the perimeter of the building with restrooms,
concessions, merchandise, etc. Next, doors open into an aisle-way that
runs the top perimeter of a very deep bowl, steep with risers and the
floor seating and stage at the bottom. I'm not sure how far down the floor
is, but the stairs are quite steep. It was somewhat disconcerting.
At any rate, as the beginning strains of the Overture began, people stood
up and began cheering with excitement. The band entered, and Maggie's Farm
began. I fully expected the people in the audience to sit down at the
beginning of Tom Thumb, but they remained standing - and some of them
dancing - for the remainder of the show. OK, maybe I was the only one
standing for Desolation Row, but what a great version! Hearing it in SF
was a treat, but this time it really came together, as did most of the
songs in this show. In fact, I was completely blown away by the music and
the voracity with which the songs were played. The band seemed really
tight - and yes, let's have more banjo! It was great to hear High Water -
it's a thrilling song. Spirit on the Water was lovely and sweet. The whole
show was amazing and in the end , it didn't really matter what songs were
played - the band was just on it. Bob seemed to be rocking and enjoying
himself, and I was proud of my San Diego homies for being so enthusiastic.
A bit about the audience...standing in the concession line during
intermission, a friend that drove down from Orange County for the show
remarked that there was no telling what show we were at by looking at the
people around us. Wide age range, fairly conservative dress on some,
groups of goth and punk kids, people who looked like they might be on
their way to the club for a few rounds of golf, etc. These were all the
same people who were partially responsible for the show being such a wild
rocker. Thank you people in the audience! Thank you Denny, Stu, Donny,
George & Tony! Thank you, Bob! If the California leg of the tour is any
indication, people are in for a treat when you arrive in their town.
Review by Drew Kampion
What a difference a few nights and a couple of states make. I was in
Seattle for the show at Key Arena on Friday the 13th and made some rather
harsh observations about Bob's band. Well, last night at Cox Arena the
boys sounded a good bit better, rocked harder with generous gusto, and
worked themselves up to a near-blazing finish. Maybe the tour was
gaining traction, hitting its stride ... maybe it was the warm San Diego
ambiance ... maybe it was something in the water ... but they were good!
(Still looked like furniture salesmen, though.) Then too, maybe it was
Bob. He was great again, but a little looser with a little more wiggle
in his play and a little more pizzaz in his play than in Seattle. But
what was especially intriguing to me was what he performed and how.
While Dylan seems to almost take a sort of pride in not linking his
performances and set lists to topical or geographical proximities, it
does seem he is more and more clearly addressing the general tone of
these "modern times" with his selection of songs and his narrative
emphases. So, as in Seattle, the evening here repeatedly directed our
attention to this unique and critical moment in history. As necessity is
the mother of invention, the pressures of increasingly obvious global
realities are calling forth those in positions of notoriety or power to
make their stands. Bob Dylan is one of these vital individuals who seem
to be sensing the current imperatives, if ever so subtly, and these
comments are sort of from that angle.
He opened with "Maggie's Farm," his paean to independence and ain't-
gonna-take-it-no-more rebellion, which (back in the day) was taken as
being an anti-Establishment manifesto. This was followed with "Just Like
Tom Thumb's Blues," his reiteration of the Kerouac "On The Road" take on
the individual as separate from organized society. Then came "High Water
(For Charley Parker)," with its apocalyptic colors and prescient lyrics
(i.e., "Highwater rising, six inches above my head, coffins droppin' in
the street like balloons made out of lead").
Batting fourth was "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum," which always strikes me
as a fable of capitalistic synchophants; then "Spirit On The Water," a
sweet and lonesome interlude before "Highway 61 Revisited" with its final
couplet referring to a promoter's appraisal of the possibilities of
creating a "next world war":
But yes I think it can be very easily done
We'll just put some bleachers out in the sun
And have it on Highway 61.
Even "Sugar Baby," which follows, reflects the mood:
Just as sure as we're livin', just as sure as you're born
Look up, look up, seek your Maker, 'fore Gabriel blows his horn
From there Bob and band busted out "Cold Irons Bound" ("Well, the
road is rocky and the hillside's mud, up over my head nothing but
clouds of blood") and "Every Grain Of Sand" ("I am hanging in the
balance of the reality of man") before pushing into "Desolation Row" with
its apocalyptic cast of characters in an everything-is-broken sort of
world. Even his lyrical rework of "Rollin' and Tumblin'" strikes that
minor chord ("The night's filled with shadows, the years are filled with
early doom"), and "Workingman's Blues #2" lays it all on the line like
few major artists have:
The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down
Money's gettin' shallow and weak
Well, the place I love best is a sweet memory
It's a new path that we trod
They say low wages are a reality
If we want to compete abroad
The set ended with "Summer Days," a sprightly tune that nonetheless has
its own ominous message that those "summer days, summer nights are gone."
Finally, the same powerful triad closed the show in San Diego,
beginning with "Thunder On The Mountain":
The pistols are poppin' and the power is down
I'd like to try somethin' but I'm so far from town
The sun keeps shinin' and the North Wind keeps picking up speed
Gonna forget about myself for a while, gonna go out and see what
This was followed by a tumultuous and symbolic "Like A Rolling Stone" an
the ultra-ominous "All Along The Watchtower," pointedly concluding once
again with a repeat of the first verse:
"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."
As squirrely, varied, and erratic as Bob Dylan's life and performing
career have been, his eyes have always been on the darkening horizon,
kicking off the handcuffs of authority, leaving all his own skins behind,
and continually rising to meet the inevitable doom that he's always known
the world was heading towards. At the same time, there is that spark of
wit and optimism there, naming the opportunity that is repeatedly offered
to us by some higher power, even if we don't deserve it.
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