Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 10/25/98


October 25, 1998

Chicago, Illinois
United Center

[William Shaw], [Glenn McMurray]

Review by William Shaw

Ever since he first used it for an opener earlier this year I've been
hoping to see this one.  So when Bob and the band came out and broke
into "Gotta Serve Somebody" a sly smile of satisfaction came across my
face.  I don't think anyone in the well-packed United Center noticed
though, either they were as pleased me or watching the ghosts of
Jordan, Pippen and Rodman being temporarily chased from the gym,
stadium or hall, whatever you want to call these multipurpose
facilities. The sound stayed a little muddy so the words Bob chose
tonight didn't come through too clearly.  "I'll Remember You" followed
but never seemed to entirely mesh.  After this one Dylan gave us the
second "Thanks everybody" of the night but included a seemingly
half-unbelieving, "Chicago, ummm, ummmm."  "Cold Irons Bound" hasn't
lost any of its intensity but his vocal articulation has changed. 
It's a loud warcry delivery, instead of the foreboding refrain from
times past.  The arrangements for "Just Like A Woman" followed the
Blonde on Blonde model with Bob throwing in a harmonica part very
similar to the one he played for the album recording.  At the end of
the song Bob fooled around with his own solo until the last run where
he finally got it and both he and Larry shared the final solo duties. 
"Silvio" continues to rock but the same problem that plagued the band
on "I'll Remember You" got them here too.  They didn't seem to be
together, throwing off the light guy for the slow part.  It's
interesting to note in this song how the lights work in Dylan's show
because I don't usually notice or hear much about it from others.

No surprises in "Ain't Me Babe" and "Masters of War," but "Don't 
Think Twice" got me thinking.  It started very slow with Larry's 
acoustic work as if it were to be the sensitive ballad it sometimes 
comes to us as.  But in the end it became a romp.  It became clear in 
Dylan's phrasing.  By the time he got to the chorus and "it's all 
right" the tone seemed to more like a high-five kind of "all right."  
This started in the beginning choruses, but as mentioned before, by 
the end the whole song followed suit.  I believe that the band 
reacted to Dylan's take on this number by hearing his vocal delivery, 
and followed his lead by turning it into the song he chose to sing 
that night, not the one they've played countless times before.  
"Tangled Up In Blue" pleased the crowd and belied a little 
sentimentality in the way Bob sang, "you know I've paid some dues, 
gettin' through."  His voice lowered and the words were like the ones 
forced through a choked up throat.

Garth Brooks got his plug for the night after "To Make You Feel My 
Love" and Dylan gave the "he did it so well" line.  But he seemed to 
realize how canned this line may seem and changed horses in 
mid-stream.  Instead of saying something along the lines of "he did 
it so well I figured I better give it a shot," he stopped after, "he 
did it so well" and said, "regrets, well I've got a few, quite a few 
actually," and then continued to mumble something off mike.  "Highway 
61" continued its heavy way.  I think it's the first time I've ever 
seen Bob do a power-chord thing.  His rock and roll antics have come 
this far.

After a fairly long buildup to the encore, "Lovesick" came next. 
 Dylan said hello to one of his old drummers after this song.  The
 house lights came up, you know what's next, then my first contact
 with the newly arranged "Blowin' In the Wind."  Many of the people in
 the audience, heavily represented with the older Dylan crowd, had
 begun to leave before this.  A steady steam contined for the rest of
 the show.  The vocals of Bucky and Larry in the chorus make this a
 fine tune.  Though surprisingly quiet most of the show, except for
 the crazy way he moves when he plays the mandolin, Bucky had an
 interesting steel part for "Til I Fell In Love With You."  It sounded
 backwards.  He's always contributing new things to the sound of the
 band.  That steel never sound the same way twice.  I'm always happy
 to be sent off with "Forever Young," but a version as good as the
 Letterman 1994 didn't happen tonight.  

Very good show but "Ill Remember You" and "Silvio" characterized the
less than "on" quality of the band tonight.  While they showed their
strength on "Don't Think Twice," it was the exception, not the rule
for this show.  Bob didn't miss a beat with his guitar work.  Since
that point in "Just Like a Woman" when he seemed to seriously take up
the task of using it, the results were fantastic.  Not much of the
repetitive noodling that tends to drone on.  As for his stage antics,
he and Dave Alvin had to have had a little pre-show technique
conference.  The deep knee bends and the like were quite similar.  I
sure wouldn't mind seeing that guitar-slinger find his way back here


Review by Glenn McMurray

      The phrasing and tone of voice put the words in a different space then
any which had been sung all evening, and when the words hit-"I'm walking
through stereets that are dead" it was clear that it was these songs he'd been
singing that he was talking about, the following line "walking with you in my
head" was spooky enough to make me think maybe it was himself in his head that
was making him so uncomfortable.  And when he sang "This kind of love, I'm so
sick of it" he left not a trace of doubt that it was THIS love, between
performer and audience, which rose up whenever a much loved favorite was
played, was returned by the performer, only to cycle back again, that he was
so sick of.
True or False?
I couldn't tell you, after all it was a Dylan show.  Those lines are the ones
that stuck in my head, that gave such force to "Till I Fell In Love With You"
and the wonderful "Blowing In The Wind" and even the tossed off "Rainy Day
that came between them.  Not only an audience of course, I heard strains of
singing to creativity itself, which I hear all through his career, from
Tambourine Man to (maybe) Standing In The Doorway, hell, sometimes I even hear
Jokerman as dealing with the destructive forces it can unleash. And not only
that but...Suffice to say Sunday's show has had my mind reeling, I couldn't
help but think there was a conceptual overview tying it all together, and
though no one performance screamed out "this song's never been better, and
never will" the show as a whole worked
wonderfully.   The nakedness of RAH was, of course, nowhere to be seen, the
layers of protection long having won the day, but Dylan was, once again,
operating at a level rarely seen in pop culture.
The set list follows with a few comments, by and large things went as you'd
I'LL REMEMBER YOU (almost rocked and Dylan gave this one something I've never
heard it have before, or guessed it would-a seeming anger at the songs "you",
a revamped ending heightened the effect-I'm curious to hear a tape of this
JUST LIKE A WOMEN (very sweet harp intro, starting with the melody and
building in typical fashion, very well sung, similar to, but maybe better then
the El Rey version)
IT AIN'T ME BABE (great arrangement and some beautiful vocal timbres)
TANGLED UP IN BLUE (one of the best guitar solos I've ever heard Dylan do-I
should note that he was playing VERY well all night)
TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE (the delivery of "You ain't seen nothing like me yet'
was priceless, with the following lines "I could make you happy make your
dreams come true, no there's nothing that I wouldn't do" seeming more and more
sly each time I hear them, as though the second line comments back on the
first, if you can buy that!)
FOREVER YOUNG (sometimes he seems to sing this to his audience, tonight, in my
mind it was to himself, at any rate it was a beautiful performance af a song
that can make my sleepy)

I have a feeing the show was running late as the encores featured much less
guitar playing then on most tapes I've heard, also the band barely left the
stage before coming back out.
Joni Mitchell opened with Big Yellow Taxi solo...after a few songs her band
came out and very sweet sound seemed to float off the stage, too bad this was
a rock audience in a huge venue-by three quarters through her set call for
Dylan ewere ringing out.  I myself found the jazzy changes and almost new age
(I'm not knocking it) backing to get a little old after awhile, her encore was
Woodstock played solo and very slow-daring but it didn't really wake up the
crowd. By far the funniest (if you don't count Bob's circa 1956 stage moves-
which were too cool to be funny) moment of the evening happened during an
introduction of hers-she was explaining these Irish facilities which had only
been shut down in 1972, she said "where unmarried pregnant women and even
beautiful single women were taken and incarcerated for life"  WHOOO yelled out
some male in the darkness, it was, of course, sick, but absolutely hysterical!
I hear Joni's new album is good, and I don't doubt it, she stuck to her guns
playing sucj mellow music in that environment.  Not that she's known for
rock&roll madness-for that we had Bob.


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