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Review by Shawn Pulver
I arrived at the beautiful Palace of Auburn Hills right before the start of
Joni's set. I have to say that her show was a bit of a dissapointment for
me. The crowd was not in to it and she looked distracted numerous times
due to the shouting from members of the auidence. She even started and
stopped a few songs.
Bob took the stage around 10 pm, mainly because Joni's set appeared to have
gone on longer than anticipated.
Serve Somebody: A great opener, the sound was prettty good right from the
start, especially for the large venue. Bob seemed to be in to each line.
Not much of an instrumental, the song just kind of stopped. By the way, Bob
and band were all dressed in black.
Million Miles: A surprise since it hasn't been played in a while and also
because it was played in the number two spot. Similar to the NYC version I
heard in January.
Stuck Inside a Mobile: Another surprise mainly due to its placement in the
set list. A great choice which got the fans off their seats.
You Aint Going Nowhere: An increadible performance which even included the
"Boots" verse which I had never heard him sing live before.
Cant Wait: No silvio was fine with me. Always good to hear this.
Tommorow Night: Biggest of the surprises. As soon as Bob started playing
harp I recognized the song and told my friend what the song was - he was
pretty amazed I picked up on as easy a I did. The performance was very
similar to the '94 arrangement. Very slow and some amazing singing!! After
the song he mentioned something about it being an old song?
Baby Blue: A very different version than recent summer performances. A
long instrumental with Bob really strumming hard on his guitar throughout.
Masters of War: Very ordinary performance, but still enjoyable.
Tangled: Before the song Bob made one his most interesting pre-song
comments I have ever heard. He said something to the effect of: "This is a
song. pause. About a guy. Pause. Who has a boat. And likes going fishing.
He then said something else that I couldn't pick up. Anyways, the
performance rocked and included an unreal harp solo. He really seemed to
be enjoying playing the harp.
Near the end of the song a atage rush occured and I found myself about five
feet from Bob.
Make you Feel my Love: Good performance, the intro sounded like a mixture
of Blind Willie and Wheel's on Fire.
Band intos included a reference to the "late great Jerry Garcia" when Dylan
introduced Kemper and explained some of his musical background.
Hwy61: It sure got the crowd going.
Till I Fell
It aint me babe.
Blowin and Me babe were both great. The crowd seemed to enjoy them as
well. All in all, a great show and I am really looking forward to seeing
what Bob will play in Toronto!
Review by Todd Sevig
First the context of my thoughts: I have followed him for over 20 years,
have all the albums (I still call both albums and CD's "albums" or "big
CD's" as my children call them), have his songs in my head almost every
day, etc. Also, I'm originally from northern Minnesota with relatives in
Duluth and Hibbing and was planning on going to the Duluth concert
and make it a 'pilgrimage' of sorts, but couldn't do it.
All of us know to expect the unexpected. This happened -- I had followed
this web page on the set lists for the last two weeks -- it seemed since
the mid October start of this leg of the tour, it appeared it was very
similar night to night and so I expected the same during the Detroit show. I
had made a tape of this set list for our good friends who went with my
wife and I to the concert. What happened of course, is that he didn't play
these songs and the ones he did, in different orders.
There was the usual mix of people: young and old, people up way past
their bedtime (like us), those who usually stay up later, and those with no
bedtime at all; professors and bikers; sober people and people falling
down the stairs spilling beer on the way.
Dave Alvin group opened and played for a 1/2 hour -- it was alright yet
seemed to fit better in a small, smokey, rock and roll bar.
Joni Mitchell was a mix of it being wonderful to see her in concert, her
great voice, her amazing arrangements of songs, and yet disappointing in
that the sound was not great in the Palace (where women's and men's
professional basketball is played), there possibly being a sound mixing problem,
which all contributed to muffled sounds, some instruments louder than
others, etc. However, she is amazing in her breadth of folk-rock and
jazz/jazz-rock melodies and rhythms. She played mostly new stuff from her last
two albums (I think) in her 1 hr and 15 min. set. As in other shows,
apparently, she started giving some people in the front row a hard time before
the song "Sex Kills" -- is this a pre-determined part of the act? She
ended with a nice solo version of her song, Woodstock.
At around 10 pm, the familiar "....Columbia Recording artist, Bob Dylan"
was announced. As in other recent shows, he started with a 4/4 rock and
roll version of Gotta Serve Somebody. This was a great opener and ranked
right up there for me in terms of openers, right next to Buckets of Rain
which I heard in 90 or 91 at the Fox Theatre in Detroit (and a song which my
4 yr old son and I are singing together a lot now). The sound
mixing/acoustics problems were not at all evident as they were for Joni Mitchell --
a great relief. The next song was Million Miles from Time out of Mind.
The TOOM songs sounded just great during this concert. Next was "Stuck
Inside...." which had a great guitar solo in the middle from Bob. Then, You
Ain't Goin' Nowhere was next with a nice a capella touch from the band at
the end. Can't Wait was next which really sounded good.
Then the acoustic songs came -- he started with Tomorrow Night from Good
As I've Been to You. This was a surprise as I don't think he's hardly
ever performed a song from either that album or World Gone Wrong in concert
(that I know of at least; of course, I had told people ahead of time he
will never perform a song from either of these albums). After this song he
said something to the effect of "I did it my way" although it was very
difficult to hear all of his words when he talked -- surprisingly not because
of him but because of the acoustics in the venue when he talked. Then
came one of the highlights of the show for me -- a 'marchlike' version of
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue with a unique, wonderful guitar rhythm and
sound from Bob. This sound continued on Masters of War (Tony G. switched
from upright bass to bass guitar at this point) and also Bob was singing the
words very clearly. Then came an extremely fast version of Tangled Up in
Blue, but the whole band and Bob were on every note playing and singing
with precision, and with a bit of harmonica at the end. Even though all of
us have heard this song a million times in concert it always sounds great
to me -- for me, this version was a bit better than the last couple of
years and Bob's solo guitar work sounded better than recent shows. After
the acoustic songs, came Make you Feel my Love (with it's great line --
"when the whole world is on your case") and Highway 61 which I have to admit
I'm growing a bit weary of -- however, it was nice for me to actually not
have all the people on stage dancing around to give the band a chance to go
through the whole song.
The encores: Love Sick sounded great, especially the vocals. Rainy Day
Women was about the same as in the last 2 years. Another highlight was
the next song -- Blowin' in the Wind (a song which my 6 yr old daughter
learned in school and anxiously came home to tell me she learned a Bob Dylan
song). Others have said this and I'll say it too -- there was something
special about the performance of this song. Maybe part of it was his singing
soft and loud at key moments, maybe his phrasing, maybe the guitar
playing -- whatever, it all came together into a great concert moment. The
audience which had been up and bouncing to Rainy Day Women, were all
noticeably quiet and hanging on every word and note during Blowin' in the Wind.
After that was 'Til I Fell In Love and then a final highlight for me -- It
Ain't Me, Babe. The tone/mood/feel of this soft, acoustic song was a
wonderful ending to a great show. He "slipped back into the night" and ended a
great performance at around 11:45 pm.
He seemed energetic, moved around a lot, talked more than usual. The
band was great. I really enjoyed David Kemper as the drummer and I wonder if
he has had a positive effect on the whole band. The band seemed stronger
tonight than in recent years.
Of course, there were the "Bob-isms" -- the awkward dance steps, the
"half Chuck Berry moves", the recently acquired knee-bends, the white boots
that stood out among all the black clothes, the odd looks at other members
of the band, the one-note harmonica solos, etc. Also, instead of "Thanks
everybody" he has added a word to make it "Thank you everybody". A very
funny moment came when Bob introduced the band and when he came to Bucky
Baxter, he said something like "Bucky is still learning how to play the
slide guitar -- he's getting close".
It's hard to say how this show compares to others -- it's never that easy
of an answer -- it's never an overall, constant, thing. It's always a
few great, ethereal moments, a few funny moments, a few awkward moments
(there is always that moment after a few verses of a song when you think his
guitar solo is going to start, and he's just standing there not playing).
But that is what a Bob Dylan concert is; that is what is great -- the
unexpected, the history, the living history, the catalog of songs, the
mystery, the interpretations and the re-interpretations/re-inventing of the
music, the playing of his guitar which seems as natural as moving his arm, all
coming together for about 2 hours while we watch and are taken to another
place (he has said, 'music elevates the soul') -- in short, seeing a
living legend standing in front of you simply playing some songs.
Ann Arbor, MI
October 29, 1998
Review by Chris & Ian
Despite attendance reminiscent of a mid-season Tigers game, another
fine show for Dylan and company. For those who found their seats early,
Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men got things off to a rollicking start (for
those of you still in the parking lot, you'll just have to take our word
on this one). One criticism: Joni needs a new script writer as her
between song banter has grown tiresome after just one show (see the
review from the previous show in Indy) with her snarling at what we can
only hope are real hecklers and not figments of a creative mind. Her
fear of "critics in her eyeballs" brings only one thought to mind, "get
over it". Furthermore, why does a strategically timed cigarette
inevitably send a crowd into a frenzy? Remember Joni, smoking, like sex,
But a more important issue remains. Namely, the fine show put on by the
headliners who, for the second time in three nights have turned their
formulaic set list on its head. Where is Silvio? Where's Forever Young?
Who cares. What with the surprises the last few nights, you forget that
the number five or six spot hasn't got a Silvio in it. This evening
featured a band dressed top to bottom in black, with the one noted
exception being Bob's white shoes. Dylan, more confident and playfull
with each passing day (he now has taken to thanking the crowd after each
song - at least that's what I think he said), rolled through numerous
fan favorites although he took advantage of many opportunities to insert
new songs as well. Also, it appeared as though the band were wearing
their name tags as there were no mistakes during the intros.
Highlites: the acapella ending of You ain't goin nowhere, Bucky's fancy
new mandolin, and Mobile, Baby Blue, and Tangled - just because.
See you in Toronto.
Chris and Ian
Review by James Schaller
I must begin by saying that the Dylan I saw last night was a completely
different person than I saw at the February 15 show in Toledo. Bob was
quite animated last night: dancing throughout the evening - even clowning
around a bit. He was smiling throughout the night and he and the beand
went into extened jams between verses. The highlight of the evening for me
was the fact that he played harp - not once, but four times!
The evening started off with a rocking version of Gotta Serve Somebody.
Nothing really different here than what I've heard on tapes of recent
shows. At this point Bob just launched into the song. I was thinking that
it would probably be a typical show where he just plays straight through
the songs, not really making any contact with the audience. But by the
time Million Miles started, I could tell something was different. I do
believe, this could be the most smiling Bob has probably done in years. We
may never know for what - but he was happy about something.
Taking a look at the setlist you can see that it was pretty much a
"Greatest Hits" show. But the addition of lesser played songs such as You
Ain't Goin' Nowhere, Tomorrow Night, and It's All Over Now, Baby Blue made
for some nice changes. If the selection was your standard fare, then what
was extrodinary was the fact that Bob used his harp on four occasions - a
quarter of the songs! This was another indication of his cheerful mood
His delivery on most of the songs was perfect, except on Tangled. He made
some sort of spoken introduction to the song, but I really couldn't
understand. This is probably what threw him off. But they made up for it
by the long jams and Bob taking the harp at the end. Nearly the entire
Palace was dancing to this one.
The band was pretty solid, although Tony seemed to be behind all evening.
On Masters of War it took him almost two verses to put down the standup
bass and pick up the regular bass. He also had problems with his bass in
Blowin' in the Wind and put it down and played electric while the rest of
the crew was playing acoustic.
I had heard that security was pretty tight at the Palace, but once I got
there I saw no reason anyone wouldn't be able to get a tape recorder
through. I am hoping that a tape does surface and I can get my hands on a
copy of one of the best shows of the year. Another security note: two
people got on stage. First was a big long haired guy without a shirt.
Security just took him by the arm and led him off stage. The second person
on stage was some high school hippie with curly red hair who ran across the
stage. The guards in front of the stage took him down and he nearly fell
on me in the front row.
Review by Jeff Knorek
This is the time of year that Kish and I usually hit the road to chase
down the last days of warmth in the Appalachian Mountains and get in a
few Bob Dylan shows. This year, however, we are doing some deep, deep
nesting here at home; painting the house, building a new storm cellar
door foundation, and vaulting the ceiling in our bedroom. So we decided
to skip the Syracuse and Rochester shows, focus on all these chores, and
see just one show...at the Palace.
Now then, the Palace of Auburn Hills is where the Detroit Pistons play.
We are used to seeing Dylan in smaller halls, so blowing off the two
Upstate New York shows that we had hoped to attend meant that we were
going to be taking a big leap of faith here at home: Would we even be
able to hear the show? The acoustics at the Palace are actually better
than most venues of it's size, but that's not saying much. It is still
rather boomy. Most sound crews make up for this deficiency by simply
turning the volume WAY up, which means that if you are in the wrong
seat, you won't be able to hear any nuances because it is just too loud.
On the morning the tickets went on sale at Ticket Bastard, our buddy
Mike T and I were first in line and we bought a block of ten of the
almost-cheap-seats ($40) which placed us in the first row of the upper
bowl slightly forward of the stage. Our bet was that most of the stacks
would not be aimed at us and so the volume would be fairly reasonable.
It turns out we hit the mark.
On the afternoon of the show, the ten of us gathered at a friends house
in the woods not far the Palace. We all took the day off from work and
enjoyed the soft sunshine of late October and the last brilliant leaves
of Autumn, driving the highway and back roads to Dave's house. After a
few bottles of wine, a potluck supper, and dancing to Little Feat, it
was time to head on down the road to The Palace.
Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men were much, much better than any of us
anticipated. That boy Dave Alvin can play guitar! If Texas 'Billy is
your thing, you'll really like him and I strongly urge you to check him
out. He'd be great in a bar or some other venue where you can swill a
bunch of Lone Stars, suck down some barbecued brisket, get your clothes
all good and smoky, and dance like Hell.
Joni Mitchell was also much, much better than any of us expected. Her
band is REAL tight and has that slick LA feel to them. At times her
music actually took me places. She impressed all ten of us, which is a
VERY significant feat since we all have varied music tastes and a few in
our number are unashamed Rock Snobs. I was rather unimpressed with her
need to repeatedly scold somebody in the front row...that drags the
whole audience into her angry trip about the lack of respect in the
music business and all that crap. I guess that makes me even less
impressed with selfish little Dylan fans who feel the need to harass her
while she is onstage. If they don't like her, then they shouldn't even
bother to show up to her set. I have to wonder if they took the time to
fuck with Kenny Wayne Shepherd
During the break I went to the men's room to rinse someone's beer out of
my hat after both hit the floor (long story). Along the way I saw one
of the neo-hippie floozies who danced around the stage all evening and
ruined the November '96 Hill Auditorium show at Ann Arbor. She was the
one who looks like Wednesday Adams, and was with her boyfriend or
whatever. I silently hoped that she would break one of her legs if she
tried to get onstage tonight.
After a short while, Dylan came on and opened with:
Gotta Serve Somebody
Ya' gotta love how different from the LP versions his openers sound. And
although _Drifter's Escape_ will forever be my favorite opener, I always
take an open mind to this particular slot in the show. It rocked,
he rocked, the band rocked...in that bluesy kind of way. Good shapes for
the rest of the show.
I was very pleasantly surprised to hear this one since it is one of my
favorite live songs from TOOM and it hadn't been played on this
particular tour yet. Last February at the Cleveland and Toledo shows he
placed this song in the slot after the acoustic set, which is my
favorite slot of the show. Back then it was coherent and hit a very
desrenable groove. Tonight, however, Bob and the band didn't seem to
know where to go with it, as if they, well, hadn't played it in too
long. Some of the older songs come back to them quite easily, but the
new ones off of TOOM appear to need the repetition of a constant slot in
the show if they want it to groove.
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
Our friend Mike S was going to be very disappointed that he wasn't going
to be getting his dose of _Cold Irons Bound_ tonight. Any time that Bob
changes the third slot song, it catches my attention. This is one of
those older songs that seems to come back quite naturally to Bob and
the band, but it sure is an oddball choice for the third
slot...nevertheless, the crowd dug it, and with two song selection
surprises already, the night was shaping up to be an interesting one.
By now the sound crew had fiddled with the mix and we could hear all
instruments quite well, which is unusual in my experience. Larry
Campbell's place in the mix was good and loud, and Bucky's was rather
muted, which is exactly how I want to hear the two. Normally it is the
other way around and I can't hear Larry's nuances, so I was perfectly
stoked and rather shocked. The LAST thing I expected at the Palace was
to be able to separate out all the instrumentation.
Kish and I remained seated for the whole show. Since we were in the
very first row of the upper bowl, we would have blocked the view for a
lot of people had we stood up to dance. Normally we head off to the
rear of the hall and dance back there but tonight we were with 8 of our
friends and had a great view with great sound...so we bopped in our
seats, or rather, Kish did because during _Memphis Blues_ my neck and
entire left side of my torso got real stiff and I could hardly move at
all. I suspect that all those weird angles and contortions that I'd
placed myself into while painting the sophettes and peaks on the house
finally caught up with me....ow!
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
Ohh-wee! Bob finally finds a groove...from up high we could see the
folks down front swaying back and forth with a little bop, almost in
unison. "Tomorrow's the day ma' Bride is going to come"...I love the
upbeat and positive vibe of this song. Everybody up where we were was
really happy and enjoying themselves. Security came over to our spot to
find the source of a big ol' coal that they spotted, but it was
extinguished by the time they arrived and so they left us alone.
This is another one of the TOOM songs that I really wanted to hear.
When Bob went to the double bill thing with Joni in Minnesota, I noticed
that he shortened his set by one tune, and that this was the one that he
deleted. To my absolute delight he instead deleted _Silvio_ this
evening and came up with a smokin' _Can't Wait_. Songs like this is
where Larry Campbell really shines, he makes his guitar just growl. I
could not see any foot pedals for him to use, so I reckon that he is
using whatever settings his amp and axe have to get the sounds that he
produces, in addition to his fingers and heart and skill. If you listen
to the live version of _Cold Irons Bound_ on the _Love Sick vol 1_ EP,
you'll hear what I mean (right before Bob sings "The wind in
Chicago..."). And I can say all of the songs from TOOM, with one
glaring exception, are just SUH-MOKIN' when performed live. This one
just rocks. Every time.
Tomorrow Night (with harp)
Not only are we getting a bunch of songs that I was not expecting to
hear, we get one that I have never even heard of before. Where does
_Tomorrow Night_ come from? THIS SONG IS BEAUTIFUL!!! Bob is even
By now it seems that the whole band has returned to the womb, are
feeling so comfortable being there, that it is the only place they want
to be, and that playing this song is all they want to be doing. Moments
like this are the reason we like to go see live music. I feel
privileged to be able to have the health and resources that enable me to
experience this, and the friends with whom to share it.
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (acoustic)
This is one of those songs that he needs to do right if it is going to
fly, and he does not always get it right. But tonight he did. I keenly
paid microscopic attention to the way he sang "And it's all over now,
Bay-bay Blue". Oh man! It was so heartfelt, so penetrating, so
here-and-now...and I wanted to reach over and slap the neighbor on my
left who insisted on singing along.
Masters Of War (acoustic)
Now that we have an all-volunteer military, the impact of this song has
been greatly diminished, IMHO. Every culture has the leaders who assign
young men to go off to war and die a painful, lonely death. The
unbearable part is when the causes for the conflict are avoidable and
pointless. The man who builds the factory that build the weapons to
Kill and profits from their use is as integral to the whole process as
are weeping mothers and homeless, shivering refugees. If we are going
to hold The Man accountable, then we must also at least give
consideration to making The Man's shareholders accountable as well. And
at some point we'll need to consider The Man's workers who actually
labor to build these weapons. And if we are going to give them a hard
time about producing the tools to Kill, then we need to consider the
reason that these tools are built and why they are put to use. And
perhaps we can give it some thought when we are at the gas pump on our
way to see a rock concert.
We are all as culpable as The Man.
Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic) (with harp)
Yeah, we fueled up the car to come see this one, AGAIN.
I guess he did it okay enough. I was very pleased to hear the harp so
much in one show, and hope he makes more of a habit of it. If you listen
to tapes of the spring '96 shows, you'll notice that the jams which
really seem to blister your mind are the ones with smokin' harp grooves.
Make You Feel My Love
Small wonder that Garth Brooks picked *this* song to cover.
Bob does an extended introduction of the band. All night long he seems
to have been in a great mood, very gregarious, and just diggin' being
there. He was not in the least bit aloof or distant from his audience,
talking to us between almost every song.
Highway 61 Revisited
Charlie and I were watching a lot of David Kemper all night...we had a
full front-on view of him, which is hard to do given the offset angle
his kit is placed onstage. What an amazing drummer, and in this band
yet! They all compliment each other so well. Kemper lays down the beat
and comes up with some fantastic fills that can prod the rest of them
into action. Tony Garnier is always focused on how the arraignment is
going, swinging and swaying and grooving, noting to the band where the
changes are. He and Kemper are the platform from which the rest of the
band can spring, and upon which Dylan stands. These guys really enjoy
playing together, and there appears to be a mutual respect and trust
that is the bedrock of their presence.
Bob Dylan has to feel great these days, not only can he play with guys
who can interpret his songs well, but can do so as an organic system
that is as original and personal and fluid as he is. I submit that this
is the best band that Dylan has ever played with
He just screamed it: "And they were both out
on Highway SIX-TAY WHU-EEEEE-UHHHHN!"
I never tire of hearing this song, it always just rocks so hard. We
notice that some kids try to rush the stage but are immediately tackled
by security. Bozos who want to share the stage with Dylan are selfish
little punks with nothing to say, nothing to show, and nothing better
Larry Campbell has a way crushing lead here. This song has matured, and
I have to wonder when he'll get sick of singing it. Until then, I'll
enjoy it just fine.
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (with harp)
The harp blow was at the end, and was almost like a circus act. He had
already slowed the tempo down. It did nothing to make me want to hear
this song ever again, again.
Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic)
This one was pretty. But by now I am impatient with the acoustic noise
and want to hear:
'Til I Fell In Love With You
Once again Larry Campbell shines. This is yet another TOOM song that
they seem to really like performing. I think it makes for a better set
closer than being plugged into the encore, but I'll take what I can get.
It Ain't Me, Babe (acoustic) (with harp)
Way-ell, it sure sounded like it was going to be _Boots of Spanish
Leather_. Indeed, if you stripped away the beautiful lyrics, left the
melody, and grafted on the lyrics from _Ain't Me_, then you would have
the version of _It Ain't Me, Babe_ that we got tonight. All the while
wishing that he would sing it like an anthem instead of like _Boots of
So, I would rate this Dylan show as a strong 7 out of 10. The sound was
remarkably good. Three acts and all were great. In fact, Dylan was
hard pressed to do better than both Joni Mitchell and Dave Alvin. This
tour package is a real treat, ya'll should check it out while you can.
I can't wait to see Bob again sometime when we're not as preoccupied
with other concerns.
"Music is the arithmetic of sounds
as optics is the geometry of Light"
"You just pick a chord, go TWANG,
and you've got Music"
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