page by Bill Pagel
Review by Stephen Darjeeling
We pulled out of Bramlage Coliseum at 10:00 right behind the two massive,
shiny, impressive buses and followed them for a mile or two through
Manhattan, affectionately known as “The Little Apple”. I looked as we
passed them by, heading south toward I-70 and then East to Kansas City.
There were no windows in the buses to peer into, as if the man himself
would be sitting in profile looking out and saying, “Hey, there goes two
of my most devoted fans.” I really am not that naïve. But as we left the
big wheeled buses in the Kansas dust, I thought to myself that this wheel
really is on fire; the wheel being the concept of Bob Dylan’s never ending
tour. I thought about my last experience on Labor Day in Kansas City,
Kansas and how lucky I am to have seen both shows even though they
exemplified both ends of the performance spectrum. You can read my review
of the Labor Day show, as well as the Lake Tahoe 2002 two night show, on
this website and compare them with respect to the resilience and
flexibility of this most amazing experience.
What a treat! The magical quality of this show is not to be compared to
any other. Bob and the boys were truly in the groove, hitting that
flowing energy that picks them up and carries them away to the absolute
heights of mystical ecstasy. They picked up the crowd along the way and
carried us with them. They smiled and even laughed as they consistently
gave us and themselves wonderful renditions of Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35,
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Lonesome Days and all the rest. I kept
thinking after each song, “This is the highlight of the show,” only to
have it supplanted by the next one. Bob’s voice was strong and clear and
he used his inflecitve ability at the right moments on the right song.
Like on Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You, turning some phrases up and
turning some down, masterfully articulating the lyrics to make them not
only musically pleasing but also meaningful, taking us on a lyrical trip
and an emotional ride and punctuating several songs with the most
incredible harp solos I have heard him play. Tonight his piano is up in
the mix and the sound is crisp and clear.
Stu Kimball, standing about as close to Bob as he dares, watched intently
to get the nod or the cutoff and he consistently and masterfully played to
perfection. I thought to myself, “OK, here comes Tweedly Dum and Tweedly
Dee, we’ll see how he handles that little riff that Charlie played
flawlessly.” Now when you play that ostensibly simple riff, two or three
things have to happen. You have to rock your chord hand back and forth
while simultaneously making the subtle fingering changes and you have to
nail the tempo. Stu set himself up for each time he played this riff and
pulled it off each and every time in the song. Later on, he would blow us
away with amazing solos, especially on Like A Rolling Stone, where he
pulled off one of the best performances of the night and even blew a sigh
of relief when he finished, looking at Bob and laughing then going right
back to work as Bob, the Master Magician pulled off trick after trick.
Larry played excellently, creating moods and electrifying sounds out of
the Sho Bud pedal steel guitar, the cittern, the violin, and vintage
electric and acoustic guitar. Bob introduced him as the virtuoso of the
band and virtuoso he is, intently focused on his playing and on the other
members of the band, especially Stu Kimball, whom he watched as if he were
helping him to play the impossible. In the trade-off guitar solos on
Summer Days, Larry played effortlessly, complementing Stu’s solo and
augmenting his own, building to a fantastic finish. This Summer Days,
minus one guitar, was better than Lake Tahoe 2002, which was, until now,
the best that I had seen and heard.
George and Toni, the backbeat backbone of the band laughed a lot tonight.
George, the Master of Rhythm, hit us with that machine gun tattoo and
Tony, the Master of Time kept the tempo upbeat and on time. Several times
they looked in awe at Bob as he nailed those long lyrical statements while
playing excellent harp and a piano that we could actually hear and
Bob, in his cowboy attire, accentuated by a red, rhinestone studded
bandana, black pants with red piping, and jacket accentuated with silver
buckles on the pockets and sleeves, stepped to center stage and spread his
hands as if to say, “This magic act is now about to end.” He introduced
the band and told the joke of the evening: “George lives in Louisiana,
he’s got a lot of snakes down there. When it rains he puts two of them on
his car. He calls them windshield vipers.” The band plays a five note
intro to All Along The Watchtower. If my memory serves me well, I think
it was the first five notes of the chorus of Ghost Riders In The Sky. The
end is crisp and exciting and we all look at each other after it’s over,
not really believing what we have just seen and heard.
We stop and pay our toll at the turnpike tollbooth and pull up right next
to the two buses. Somebody yells out, “Hey that’s Bob Dylan, Bam be Lam,”
and we follow them to our turnoff as Bob heads for Columbia, Missouri.
This wheel’s on fire, we will be there.
Review by Loretta Rocha
I have been a Bob Dylan fan since the early 1960's and he has always
been #1 in terms of a musician/songwriter. My husband and I saw him in
Topeka, Kansas in 1994 and that concert was fantastic! The acoustics and
band were also great but as always, Dylan stole the show and had a great
The Dylan concert last night at Bramlage Coliseum was a terrible
disappointment to both my husband and myself in that Dylan did not pick up
a guitar the entire concert. Sure, he has always been a great pianist but
he is by far a much better guitarist! His band was great but we kept
waiting for Dylan to pick up a guitar and it never happened. When we
brought the band back for an encore I was thinking that surely he would
pick up one of his guitars that were right beside him but he didn't. I
have never left a concert feeling so let down and disappointed.
People go through changes as Dylan has and as one of his true and
dedicated fans I am aware of this and have always remained a dedicated
fan. Most of the songs he performed last night were great but would have
been much better had he picked up his guitars and played for us!
Review by Cortney McKay
I am a Kansas University student, but oddly enough one of the best nights of my life turned out to
be a night in Manhattan, Kansas, home of those nasty purple Wildcats! Before I give my personal
spin on things let me start off saying how mad I was going into it. Here is the thing, I am a true
boblinks.org reader; it is practically my home page I am on it so much. I had marked the pre-sale
for tickets down on my calendar way in advance. However the night before the pre-sale I partied
just a little bit too hard at my friends birthday bash. I am the kind of person who is SO on top
of things, especially when it comes to something like BOB DYLAN!! But, unfortunately the day of
the pre-sale I did not set my alarm and woke up half an hour after the sale had started. I was
furious with myself. Me who had had it written down and was looking so forward to even purchasing
the ticket, had woken up too late! The fact I had the opportunity to get right on and have a chance
at the front row and I messed it up still brings cringes to my face now. Though, I did get my
ticket bought; I got stuck all the way in row five!! So, going in to the concert I was a bit mad
with myself, but let's just say it didn't take long before I was moving my head all around and
twisting my body every which way! Me, being the true Dylan fan I am feel like I have to get to
his concerts with plenty of time to spare even though they never start I time. Well my ride got
there pretty close to eight o'clock, so naturally I was quite a wreck, I would have died if I missed
the opening. Luckily, I am still alive. After the car was parked, I pretty much left the other two
people in the dust and speed walked toward the doors of the Coliseum. They didn't have to go
through my purse or anything; it was nice and quick; I was finally there! I went immediately to the
table to buy a poster of the concert like I typically do, and then headed in to find my seat! It was
really not all that bad, the fifth row! Sure it could have been better, but I could see the stage
just fine and the seats folded up so that you had quite a bit of room to dance and move around.
However, I was about the only one in my general area who seemed to move at all. The crowd was not
nearly as excited and enthused about it as I would have liked for them to have been. I mean this
was the one and only Columbia recording artist Mr. Bob Dylan!!! What were they thinking? I really
got stumped when about half way through, many people around me started to sit down!! Sit down?
WHAT?? I just thought who are these people, they have good seats, and they are not even standing
up? Way to show respect, gee! I even saw people in the SECOND row, right by the stage take a seat.
They must have all been Dylan concert virgins or just owned the Greatest Hits or something. Anyway
I was not going to complain, all the people sitting gave me an even clearer view of Bob and made me
feel like I was that much closer to him. For some time 3 women next to me just got up and left for
a song or two, which pleased me because then I was dancing all over the place!! But honestly, like
I said before, the crowd did not seem to be overly excited. As I looked around from time to time,
I observed the turn out. The floor was full, but the stands could have been much fuller. There
just did not seem to be that many people there. In fact I don't think I have ever seen so few
people attend a Dylan concert. Maybe the turn out was low because it was located in Manhattan,
Kansas, or maybe because it was a Tuesday night. Now on to the set list! The set list was…
AMAZING!!!! This concert was incredible. I am now saying it was the best night of my life, and
I think I might actually mean it, because it was really that good! The vocals were clear, the band
seemed into it, and it was such a wonderful set list. I could not have asked to hear anything better.
My personal favorite of the night was "Girl of the North Country." When the music seemed to calm
down to this slower and gentler tune and Bob started to sing, I just thought I was heaven! It was
BEAUTIFUL!! It is a good song anyway, whether you like the just Dylan version or the Dylan/Cash
version, it is good, but oh man, this night it was REALLY good! When Bob played Tweedle Dee &
Tweedle Dum for the fifth song of the night, it was incredible as usual, although I particularly
enjoyed it when at the very end he kind of accentuated the words "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum," and
if that ever wasn't cool! He did the same sort of thing when at the end of It's Alright Ma, he said
"it's life, and life only." It made me quite happy! All the songs were just so good. The whole
time I just kept taking the lyrics and trying to apply them to myself some how or to find humor in
them, which is so easy to do. Dylan lyrics are like The Godfather to me; it somehow is the answer
to all my questions. The thirteenth song of the night "Masters of War," blew me away. I had been
waiting for that to pop up at sometime, and it finally did, and I got to hear it! Exactly one week
away from the biggest election of our lifetimes and Bob plays "Masters of War." I wouldn't expect
him to make any political comments or do any endorsing like good old Willie Nelson, but just him even
singing it was good enough for me. I take it upon myself to dedicate that to good old George Bush.
The last song of the night "Summer Days," was a prize to listen to as usual; I think I always dance
about the most on that one! The encore was fabulous! I find it hard to believe, that groovy Jimi
Hendrix himself could have done much better than Bob's All Along the Watchtower that night! It was
really rockin'! And oh Bob! His jokes crack me up, even though they are not funny, and I highly
doubt the band members think that they are great, but hey it is Bob, he can say whatever he wants.
At the end the man himself stood in the middle facing the crowd and put his arms up with his palms
facing us and just stood there. The audience, well let's just say by that point he had no chance
in "taming the crowd." Heck, if it were up to me, all he would have to do is walk out on stage and
say, "my name is Bob Dylan," (Cash did this once) and I would be screaming for half hour just cheering
him on. It was a great night, one that will not be forgotten soon! I sure had fun. One of my hands
has a nice purple bruise on it today, and is tender; I guess someone from the fifth row clapped just a
little bit too hard!
Review by Dee Starkey
8 weeks hence of performance w/ Willie & Hot Club in Wichita baseball park,
this was the best Dylan I've ever seen live (of a mere 6 times) Excellent
set list, with none of the weird stuff from the 80's. Am surprised so
little from Blood on the tracks is performed anywhere, but hey the Love &
Theft and 60's selections are what we came for, right ? "Girl of the North
Country" w. garnier's arco bass work and beautiful arrangement had me in
tears. Bob's harmonica playing all night was fun . The J-45 and Tele w/ a
Fender amp behind the "piano" was a great tease. After about 6 tunes and
light dimings you just knew a "tease" was all it was gonna be, and as a
Fresno reviewer stated w/ guitarists like Stu kimball and Larry campbell,
whats the point. Bob's functional yet auduble piano playing was ok.
Floater could have used a 2nd Freddy Green style guitar to help push it.
"Masters of War" was worth the whole evening, sung with such conviction in
such times, it's a shame we traveled so short a distance in 40 years !
"This Wheel's on Fire" was a most pleasant surprise sung with feeling for
the loss of co-writer Rick Danko.
The band Dylan had in summer of 2001 (L & T) was great, but this present
group is indeed the best band Bob's ever had. Communication, empathy,
dynamics, groove, timing, happiness, and such rockin' !
Thank you for comin' to Kansas again !
page by Bill Pagel
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