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Review by Adam Cantor
Bob Dylan rolled into Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois after
having a day off the previous day. He seemed to have much more energy than
Sunday and started with
Duncan and Brady (acoustic): The vocals on this song were better than
Madison and the band kept pace with Bob's vocals. Very nice opener as Bob
To Ramona (acoustic): Again Bob's vocals were strong and the excellent
acoustics helped a great deal. Bob put a lot behind each vocal and he had
a serious stern face on. Larry showed great skill on the mandolin as well.
Desolation Row (acoustic): Again Bob let his vocals shine here. You could
definitely tell he enjoys playing this song.
Girl of the North Country (acoustic): Very nice to hear. I thought he
might be doing the same set list as Sunday and was relieved that he
changed it around. Very mellow version and the band complemented Bob by
arranging a very sweet background arrangement.
Tangled Up in Blue (acoustic): A faster version than usual but it was nice
to hear Bob speed it up. He changed a couple lyrics around which he
usually does and the guitar solos were great. I was hoping for the
harmonica but it did not come.
Searching for a Solidier's Grove (acoustic): Nice slow song. Kind of
brought everybody down after Tangled but it was a nice arrangement. Larry
once again was great on the mandolin.
Country Pie: Began the electric portion with a nice tune here. Good segue
way into the electric portion of the show.
Tryin' To Get To Heaven: This song had a different arrangement than the
album version. It was my first time hearing it live but I wish he had
played the album version of the song. This arrangement was too slow imo
and would have been better if it was a little faster and more emphasis
from Bob on the vocals.
Memphis Blues: Great to hear and played very well. Bob was moving around a
lot on this song and the band provided great backing playing.
Not Dark Yet: Able to see Bob relate the darkness. The vocals were moving
The Wicked Messenger: I really enjoyed this song. The band seemed very
tight and together on this song. Bob brought out his harp and played a
nice solo. He thought it was over and the band kept looking at him to
continue playing so he took one more harp solo. Awesome to hear Bob on
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat: Rocking version of this song to close the set.
Charlie Sexton took some solos and played loud and furious here.
Things have Changed: Each time I hear this song I like it more and more.
Bob really let the vocals ring out on this one and it was nice to hear.
LARS: Very rockin version of this song. Bob letting it all hang out. The
band backing him with great solos.
If Dogs Run Free(acoustic): Good jazz song. The crowd started to clap and
I felt this may have made the song a little more difficult to hear. Nice
to hear a jazz song in the mix.
Watchtower: Another tight rockin version. Bob showing great vocals and
Charlie playing tight solos.
I Shall Be Released(acoustic): Great harmonies on this one. Always nice to
hear this song. Bob and the boys were occasionally not in the same mode
but it worked on this song.
Highway 61: Another great rock and roll song. Charlie getting down on his
knees and playing his guitar. Bob looking very animated and having a great
Blowin' In The Wind: I really love it when he ends with this. Very
emotional and the lyrics rang through the arena.
Overall a really good show. The band seemed more tight than at Madison and
Bob's vocals were excellent and showed a lot of emotion. As we were
walking out his tour bus was pulling out. I looked through the window and
thought I saw the top of Bob's hair. The rest of the tour should be great.
Review by Stuart Levitan
Boy, what a difference two days makes. Bob was definitely on tonight, far
more focused and energetic than Madison. This was the whole package, with
strong vocals and guitar throughout. Yowza!. Six songs not played in
Madison, all killers. The jazzy If Dogs Run Free a highlight again, along
with the North American debut of the sweet new arrangement of Tryin' to
get to Heaven, which really had people guessing. And a great new
arrangement of Girl From The North Country, which had a DEFINITE touch of
Boots of Spanish Leather to it; in fact, a number of people called it as
Boots before the vocals started. And what vocals they were, all feathery
and light and lovely. One quibble - why the hell didn't he sing this on
Sunday in Wisconsin??
Bob was like a champion athlete, on his toes all night, ready for action.
I swear, the left heel of his amazing black and white boots barely touched
the ground; a couple of times, he practically knocked his own self over
from the intensty. Sometimes he'd dance for the length of his guitar
breaks, in motion all the while with his toes and knees, and never move
his feet. Then close the break with a little swipe of his right foot,and
back into the vocals. Couldn't take my eyes off his knees and feet.
Sold out show (they opened new sections on the side), very appreciative
and well-behaved crowd. This was my seventh show in the last year and a
day, and was one of the two or three best.
Other notes - so what's with the yellow lights on TUIBluuuuuuuuuuuue?
Still? A great guitar break, which Bob ends with the Rock Guitar Pose,
circa '66. Very hot Charlie work in Country Pie. Trying To Get To Heaven
another beautiful vocal, filled with sorrow; you can tell by the look on
his face that he really means this one.
All hell breaks loose on Memphis Blues; Bob's left foot a good two feet
off the ground during parts of his solo. Dancing like the Devil with his
knees, his feet never move. Scorching. Bob smiles. Same thing on Wicked
Messenger - scorching, with intense podiatric action. The souls of his
feet, I swear they were burning! And the best one-armed harp you've heard
in a while.
Didn't think possible, but things went a notch higher on Leopard Skin.
Completely blew the roof off the sucka.
The Formation. Bob's face was of a void, totally expressionless. I mean,
nothing registering. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Amazing.
Things Have Chaaaaaaaanged. Another great vocal, with a couple of big
smiles for good measure.
LARS. Not my favorite version, a pounding almost plodding outing. But
still a remarkable effort. 35 years man, 35 years. Thunderous applause
(very good crowd throughout)
Dogs Run Free. Another beautiful, feathery vocal, Bob as Cool Jazz
Hipster. This has Grammy Vocal of the Year written all over it. Something
new - audience clap-along for the ENTIRE song. Don't really think I would
encourage this - fingersnapping would be much more appropriate. Still,
shows an impressive degree of audience involvement for a song they'd never
Watchtower explodes. "The wind it began, it began to howl." Some good eye
I Shall Be Released - very strong vocals. Gives full import to ALL the
words : "Shouting .... out .... that .... he'd .... been .... framed," all
drawn out. Nice counterpoint harmony from Larry and Charlie. Bob stock
still, still on his toes during guitar break. Then a subtle sweep of his
right foot, and back into verse. Very cool - now he's giving band signals
with his FEET!
Highway 61 - big emphasis on "I got to run." Bob so into it he actually
skipped! No jive - he skipped!
BITW - here's what he does after each verse: steps back and goes down on
his left knee for a little guitar work. Yep, he's as overcome with the
majesty of this effort as are we.
Y'know, this Halloween concert in Illinois thing is getting to be a lot of
Review by Dave Harris
Halloween night. My friend and I made it into Northwestern University's
McGaw Hall just in time. Not too many people in costume. I liked the two
college girls who came as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. McGaw Hall isn't really
the best place for a concert, but it was certianly the place to be in
Chicago last night. Bob got on stage around 8:00. Our seats were at second
row to the left of the stage. We had a pretty good side view of Bob during
the show. He was wearing all black attire with cowboy boots, and to me,
looked especially thin. Because I was so close and to the side of the
stage, I could see Bob reaching for kleenex and blowing his nose a lot
between songs. Especially at the beginning. He might have a cold comming
on. Either that, or it's just from a lot of cigarettes. That's assuming he
still smokes. He began with a great acoustic set starting with "Duncan And
Brady", then on to "To Ramona", during which I thought his singing was
fantastic. "Desolation Row" seemed to get the crowd going a bit. "Girl Of
The North Country" was alright, although I've heard much better versions
before. Then he started off a bit mellow with "Tangled Up In Blue" for the
first few verses, then kicked up the tempo on it and the crowd went wild.
I thought "Searching For A Soldier's Grave" was a nice one into "Country
Pie". I never thought he would ever play that one, but Bob on tour is full
of surprises. I didn't really care for his choice of playing "Tryin' To
Get To Heaven". I could sense the audience too was kind of just putting up
with it until he got into something better. And that he did. On to "Stuck
Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" which has always been my
favorite song. Tonite's was one of his best versions. Really rockin! Then
he did "Not Dark Yet" and no real surprises there. I really like the way
he's doing "The Wicked Messenger". I think it's so much better then the
way it was first recorded. And at last, we get Bob on the harp at that
point. Then Bob went into a powerfull "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat".
Bob and the guys stood center stage to take in the applause, then left for
a few minutes. I wonder what they do for those few minutes. I started to
laugh when I then remembered the first Dylan concert I ever saw in Iowa
City in Noverber 1990. I actually saw Bob and his band walk only about
halfway down the stage, and then turn around right away for the encore!
They went into a wonderful "Things Have Changed". Then "Like A Rolling
Stone", during which I thought his vocals sounded great. It seemed even if
the average person listened to it (by that I mean one who wasn't familiar
with Bob's voice), I think he or she would understand every word he was
singing. Then there was "If Dogs Run Free". I was really looking forward
to hearing this one because I always liked New Morning. But I was a little
disappointed. I wasn't sure why last night, but thinking about it now I
realize why. The song really needs the woman's voice like on the album.
That's what makes the song unique and strange. The song is kind of like an
absurdist work of art. It's supposed to sound weird. And last night, it
came off a little dull.
On to a great "All Along The Watchtower". Excellent guitar by Bob on this
one. There was nothing all that surprising about "I Shall Be Released".
His last two songs "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blowin' In The Wind" were
fantastic. Great wrap up to the show! Then after they took in the
applause, they left from the right side of the stage. My friend Stu and I
could see part of the hallway from our seats. About 30 seconds later, I
caught a quick look at Bob and the band walking swiftly down the hallway,
closely guarded, and heading out of the stadium. We too started heading
out. In the lobby we asked girls around about any Halloween parties. After
all, we are single. We never did find any parties, but we did find a
little bit of greatness in Bob Dylan's performance last night. I can't
wait to see him again.
Review by Peter Kirstein
There are many aspects to genius including the ability to simplify the
complex. Thoreau wrote that “simplicity, simplicity, simplicity” should
govern our actions. One has to be impressed with the basic simplicity of
Dylan’s genius particularly when communicating his message in concert. His
dress is rather traditional in a basically black suit with modest sequin
appointments on his trousers. His band also dresses in what can be
described as near-business suits or jacket and matching pants. From my
fourth row “Halloween night” seat at McGaw Hall at Northwestern
University, (I had never been quite this close to Dylan before) I was
struck during this two-hour concert by his understated emphasis on
A messenger and a poet who sparked a generation of consciousness to end
American apartheid and genocide in Vietnam, Dylan knows full well that his
words of greatness require little-dramatic fanfare. Dylan himself eschews
stage histrionics. There is very little prancing or gesticulating, and his
killer band—now approaching legendary status—reflects their leader’s
restrained movements. The music is performed and sung in a straightforward
manner mixing blues, country, rock and acoustic folk. One merely observes
continuous eye-contact between Dylan and the great Larry Campbell, and
some brief conferring between songs with their backs turned to the
audience. But their mission and Dylan’s rai·son d'ętre is to communicate
directly without excessive physicality or artificially produced stage
While I have seen Dylan more animated and energized in other venues, his
second Halloween performance in a row in Chicago was inspiring, tightly
presented and musically impressive. It appeared that Dylan, who generally
avoids direct eye-contact or oral exchanges with his audience, was
unusually affected by this audience’s cheers and applause. After a
rollicking version of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,” one of his favorite
concert songs from Blonde on Blonde (1966), that completed his pre-encore
set list, there was the usual applause and roar of approval. Dylan,
however, refused to leave the stage. He just stood there with his band
staring at the audience with obvious relish and pleasure. While just
gazing at the audience, the response grew more vocal, the cheering
escalated in volume and hand-waving and clapping intensified. And yet,
Dylan merely stood and stared. There were “no thank you very much,” or
“all right” or waving. This minute-long non-verbal exchange was
interrupted only by Dylan fumbling with his starched collar by trying to
tuck it back under his jacket. This obvious preoccupation with neatness,
despite a rock-concert venue, is in keeping with Dylan’s purpose and
lifelong objective: To communicate without fanfare. Perhaps, a folk
singer, who made his mark on Twentieth Century music in a manner not seen
since Bach or Beethoven, has never forgotten that folk-rock is still folk
music at its soul.
Review by Christopher Dunn
Bob seems to have a "thing" for Chicago on Halloween, having played at
another college on the same day last year. This year, the venue at
Northwestern University was smaller and more intimate. Many of the
younger people in the crowd were definitely in a party mood, being dressed
in all kinds of crazy costumes. But even so, they seemed a little
subdued. The older bunch (among which I number) was also anticipating
something special. And there really was something special in the air.
At 8pm, the lights finally dimmed, and Bob and band sauntered onto the
stage to a thunderous ovation. The cigarette lighters were already coming
out! Predictably, he opened with "Duncan and Brady," followed by "For
Ramona," and "Desolation Row." I say "predictably" only because the set
list was, by and large, as expected. However, there was nothing, and I
mean nothing, predictable about his performance. Here is a man who, like
his namesake Dylan Thomas, is "not going gently into that good night."
That said, he nonetheless played and sang with an unusual amount of
pathos, reflectivity, and resignation. The entire acoustic set (see the
set list) was incredibly poignant, touching, and reverential. Some Bob
"fans" bemoan how he turns and twists songs, and experiments with them.
He himself has said that a song is just a blueprint. However, tonight, he
often went back to his original "drawings" and played these gems with a
gentle passion that was spine-tingling.
The feeling of getting older was pervasive. And as one gets older, we
tend to look back. I felt that this was what Bob was doing. "Searching
for a Soldier's Grave," was juxtaposed with "Trying to Get to Heaven" and
"Not Dark Yet," leaving me with a feeling of a gentle, quiet acceptance of
age. During the encore (really just a second set), his version of "I
Shall Be Released" reinforced these feelings. This was the most
beautiful, haunting, and hymn-like version of this song I have ever heard.
There was a hush to the crowd, many of them quietly mouthing the words,
but not wanting to sing over Bob. There were tears, too, some of which
was of happiness at hearing such a searingly touching song played so
lovingly, and others at the memories of the lives and loves we were
involved in when such classics were the rage. It was a "homecoming" in
His electric sets (one is the first set and the other during the "encore")
were certainly electrifying! But even here, he was a little understated.
And again, I felt him looking back. LARS and H61, while played with the
choke completely out, did not burn rubber. Rather, he held back the
reigns a little and let the songs speak.
As in the acoustic sets, it was not so much that we were watching Bob
performing, as feeling his songs being communicated. Here was pure,
intense, and quiet emotion. I have heard him play many times, going back
to the late 1960s, and have never, ever been so moved and touched. I
anticipated a wild and raucous evening, and at times it was. But I left
feeling emotionally drained, and very deeply touched. It was almost a
spiritual experience. As his buses pulled away from the arena, many fans
stood in quiet reverance, while others, literally, clapped and shouted,
"the spirit lives on." Wow.
Review by John Gaughan
On a night like this, surprisingly mild for autumn in Chicagoland,
it was a perfect night for a show. Attendance was substantial, and the
presence was mellow. We passed through the gates smoothly by the 7:30 show
time, only to sit and stare until the lights went down just after 8:00.
We had a good view in the cozy college stadium, though being on the upper
left stage side did not promise a clear shot of Bob for the entire
The band came on strong, bringing us to our feet with a jumpy
acoustic Duncan and Brady; a faithful standard opener. Ramona sat us down
quickly, but Larry was sweet on mandolin. Desolation provided some
feel-good shivers as Dylan slid perfectly from a solo opening to the band
thundering in. As Bob repeated a verse and skipped to the end, the stage
was set for the band, seemingly a bit rusty from a three-week break.
North Country and TUIB were in classic modern -Dylan style and
sweet,...but fairly unappreciated along with Soldier's Grave which put an
end to the tangible acoustic undertaking. A refreshingly electric Country
Pie brought faith to the evening with it Grateful-esque riffs and rhythm.
The quick, hasty ending slammed that door shut, as did most tunes, with
Dylan appearing to tire of them. The brow-wrinkling Tryin' to Get To
Heaven came off as an under practiced product of wedding band style
experimentation.Mobile proved equally confusing when Dylan took his guitar
solo's for a walk on a different street than his band was playing on. I
actually enjoyed Not Dark Yet as it hasn't changed too much, whereas
Messenger has found an interesting new home. The only appearance of the
harp at the end of this one didn't last long, as Bob missed a bar or a cue
and just decided to put it down. Leopard-Skin did not have much to offer,
neither new nor exciting,....And then, something happened......
A clearly frustrated Campbell set his guitar down and walked over to stand
beside an equally upset Dylan and stare at the bunch. Campbell's end of
show "wave" was absent and Bob stood there with his hand on his hip!...The
band walked off stage to a "all right, we'll be good" roar from the crowd.
They came back after a minute or two with an in-your-face Things Have
Changed , following with a faithfully tight Rolling Stone. Dogs Run Free
was a quiet, groovy shocker, with Bob staying solid on acoustic, rousing
audience participation which got old pretty fast. The hand-clapping
flickered the candle Dylan had lit with his quiet strums, quite
reminiscent of the original studio track. A powerful I shall be released
had to tie with Dogs as the highlight of the evening...With Bob cleverly
singling himself out, singing at his own pace, during each chorus. Hwy 61
did not do what it has in the past, and after a Blowin' as good as any
other the band has done recently, Bob and Larry resumed their "Is that all
you've got?" pose. After that large gym seemed to give all they had,
Dylan walked off stage, put his hat on, and hit the lights. At $40 a
ticket, the band made par, leaving most with high "better luck next time"
Review by KC WInd
Upon hearing that Bob was playing my hometown, Chicago, on Halloween, one
of my favorite holidays, I decided not to miss that show. So I found
myself a ticket to fly home from San Francisco to drop in and see where
things were at - hoping that the magic of the season would be present.
Bob and the band arrived on stage somewhere around 8:00 p.m. Bob looked
fine, perhaps a little more elfin than usual, decked out in an appropriate
Halloween-yellow shirt and the usual dapper black suit. I was farther
away from the stage than usual and definitely not where Ticketmaster led
me to believe I would be sitting. My friend and I found our seats which
were rather good in Row A of the wooden bleachers just off the floor where
all the privileged boys and girls of the university were seated. I was
pleased that the people were standing around our seats. Being sort of
small and pixie-ish, I actually got away with standing on the bleacher
seat without any harassment - on the same plane as Bob and his band -
great for eye contact and also very good position for guitar and finger
picking viewing. My costume was the chopping of my long hair which rolled
and flowed ... up until an hour or two before the show.
I have been incredibly fortunate to see Bob and the band at various
westcoast venues over the past year. So when I say that the show was
so-so, please note that I am comparing it to the Santa Cruz California
shows which were mind-blowers and the New Mexico show which was really
tight. I suspect that Bob and the band were partying hard long before
they took the stage, like the rest of us having a good time and
celebrating the holiday where America recognizes the mystical world of
spirits, spooks, ghosts and so forth. The band seemed to find short
moments of tightness (a tightness I have gotten used to hearing with
consistency throughout a show over the past years), but last night it
would fade into so-so, before rallying back again into that tightness.
Bob's guitar sounded particularly good and his harp solo in Wicked
Messenger was so there that it sounded more like chanting or howling. I
thought I heard an interworking of riffs from the Doors Roadhouse in this
song which was incredibly fantastic, reminding me of John Lee Hooker's
recently released version of that song, which I heard for the first time
on Chi-town radio on my way to the concert. As always Kemper kept the
beat opening the door for those of us who can dance and keep rhythm in
movement to do so. I was surprised when I opened my eyes sometimes and
very few people were dancing.
There were "highlights" in each and every song.
I got home from the concert late and jumped a plane back to SF to get to
work on time this morning.
Thanks Bob - you and the band rule! Please come back to the bay area
SOON, a couple nights at Applejacks?
Review by Alex
This was a wonderful concert supported by the festive,upbeat vibe of the
crowd--a large contingent of Northwestern U. students out on a Halloween
night. This backup band is very hard to match--both Sexton and Campbell
can rock or mellow out almost in the same breath. The big surprise: those
two guitarists can also sing pitch perfect harmonies, which led a rich
texture and exuberance to "I Shall Be Released" and the closer, "Blowin'
in the Wind". Sexton's fine blues guitar work on "Leopard Skin Hat "and
especially on "Highway 61" was fitting for this Chicago crowd. And for
some reason, Dylan sang much better than when I last heard him with the
Paul Simon tour at the Hollywood Bowl last year. All in all, a splendid
time was had by all. Alex
Review by Mark Harrison
What a magnificant show this was.......Bob showed us once again how
creative he is with his 40 years worth of songs......"wicked messenger"
was truly a jam with bob playing a great solo in the end......."tangled"
was rocking as hard as ever......but "Memphis Blues" really blew me
away....this song had so much power. I swear, David Kemper was dead on
perfect with the rolling beats and symbols on all his songs.......he was
banging away and crashing those drums.......his drums really bring out the
great back beat to his songs......Charlie was magnificent on "leopard
skin" and "country pie"....great solos on those two........"ramona" was
very beautiful and sad the way bob sang it.....same goes for "north
country"........"trying to get to heaven" is nothing like the studio
version...this one is really slowed down with the lyrics being more
emphasized...great song......"highway 61" was the major jam of the night
and "blowin in the wind" was a great way to end the show.........overall
a great concert. I have read other reviews about this concert and alot of
people are saying the crowd wasnt into this show......first of all, about
80% of this crowd were students. I would bet that most of them never saw
Bob in concert.......I would also like to say that about 90% of the crowd
was on its feet during the entire show.....I also think it didnt help that
Bob has the crowd on a roller coaster by playing a very uptempo song and
then following it with a quiet slower song.....i am not complaing though
but the crowd was young and they had to get use to Bob....when the first
encore started the crowd was roaring away....and when he finished the last
song of the show the crowd roared even louder and when the lights came up
they all booed......I didnt see one person leave this show either..i sat
by the exits...........I hope Bob never quits touring because this band is
unbelieveable.....it is amazing how many of his songs they can play. God
bless you Bob...............Mark
Review by Michael DePilla
DYLAN ROCKS MCGAW HALL
It has long been Bob Dylan's style to unexpectedly change the rhythm and
melody of his songs when he plays live. Maybe it's because he doesn't want
to be predictable. Maybe it's to give variance to the same songs he's been
playing long as 35 years. Or maybe it's just because he resents that most
members of his audience possess a singing voice better than his very own.
Whatever the reason, those among the 6,500 fans trying to sing along to
hits as recognizable as "Like A Rolling Stone" were sadly embarrassed and
out of synch during Dylan's Tuesday night concert at McGaw Hall. But
despite the inability of the audience to sing, and the standard
inaudibility of Dylan's own nasal voice, the nearly two hour, 19-song set
more than reinforced Dylan's status as one of the world's most respected
The set kicked off at around 8:00 with Dylan nonchalantly
walking up to his spot on center stage and launching into the
acoustic "Duncan And Brady" with his band of two guitarists, a
bassist, and a drummer. During the first few songs of the set
Dylan had some noticeable troubles with his vocals but once
his 60-year-old pipes warmed up, he was in much better
voice-or at least as good as is to be expected- for the
remainder of the evening. As the night went on the acoustic,
mandolin-flavored style of the first songs faded into a full,
electric sound with the emphasis shifting from country to pure
rock and roll. Songs in the encore like "All Along the
Watchtower" and "Highway 61 Revisited" showcased great guitar
licks and high energy from the band as Dylan himself impressed
with some sizzling solos.
The regular set was balanced with songs old and new, like his
mid-70's hit "Tangled Up in Blue" followed a few songs later
by 1997's "Not Dark Yet." The band left the stage after the
12th song of the night, "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat," for what
would better be described as "halftime" as they returned
minutes later for a generous seven-song encore. The encore
kicked off with the new song "Things Have Changed" before
firing up "Like A Rolling Stone." The rest of the night
alternated acoustic-electric-acoustic as the band closed with
the 37-year-old masterpiece "Blowin' In the Wind," featuring
solid harmony vocals from Dylan's backing guitarists.
When Dylan finally left the stage for good, the audience was
left with memories not of some hoaxy, laser light show but
instead something real: the profundity and wisdom of perhaps
music's greatest living icon. No synthesizers, no hollow,
shock value antics, just a timeless, hearty sound coupled with
meaningful, reflective lyrics. And Dylan, soon to be sixty
years old, is still the epitome of cool, taking the stage with
his black, studded pants, black suit, butterfly collar, and
dauntless demeanor, as if unfazed by his almost forty years or
superstardom. Yes, Things Have Changed since 1961, but Dylan
continues to be every bit the icon he once was, and his
brilliance gleams as brightly as ever.
Review by Chad Vandemark
Great show on Halloween. Twenty times better than the show I saw at Alpine
Valley over the summer. "Trying to get to heaven" was beautiful. "If Dogs
Run Free" was stellar. I missed "Duncan and Brady" due to overconfident
friends that think they know where they're going (and don't) but what I
saw was super. Dylan seemed to be in a good mood and definitely was up to
his old tricks on a couple songs. Larry gave him a look like "What key did
you just change the song to?" during "Desolation Row." In fact the only
letdown of the night was my seats. For $37.50 my seats were in the front
row...to the right side of the stage directly behind the ten feet high
stack of stage amps and the sound mixing board! A major letdown- not sure
who's fault it was but the seats should never have been sold- certainly
not for the top price. Luckily we got no grief for standing in the aisle a
few feet to the left of our seats where we could see everyone but the
David Kemper. Great great show. Bob was on fire!
Review by Mike Stillman
Spooky! I just returned from Dylan's Halloween show at McGaw
Hall in Evanston, Illinois. It was only the second show on
his college tour. After taking almost a month off the road
after Europe, it bodes well for the rest of the tour that
he is playing so well this early on the tour. This wasn't
a great show, but it was a very good show, somewhere around
the 80th percentile for shows in the past five years or so.
It began with DUNCAN AND BRADY, same as Madison, one of a
handful of songs on which Larry Campbell and Charlie Sexton
sing backing vocals. This was a fine rendition, with all
three guitarists playing acoustically. Then came TO RAMONA,
which has been played frequently in recent years, but it's
a song that obviously means a lot to Bob, and always performed
with emotion. Larry played the mandolin on this song, but
gave it back to a roadie before the next......
.....which was DESOLATION ROW with a slightly different
arrangement that was new to me, beginning without drums
and bass, hushed and dramatic, and not until the first
occurrence of the title did Tony Garnier and David Kemper
begin to play. I don't know if this arrangement was entirely
new; I see about 2-4 Dylan shows a year, so I'm not as
encyclopedic as some of you, but I know they didn't play
it this way last year. Then came one of the highlights, a
....of GIRL OF THE NORTH COUNTRY with the band quiet
and poised, and Bob seeming to look inward with memory.
"Remember me to one who lives there, for she once was
a true love of mine." Larry picked the intro and played
a wistful, intricate guitar line all through the song,
while Bob and Charlie played rhythm and fills. The crowd
tonight was very young, probably 80% of them were college
age or early 20's, and it was a very intelligent, listening
audience. During the quiet songs, there were a lot of open
ears and very little chatter.
Next was TANGLED UP IN BLUE with the same arrangement as
the last few years, rhythm section coming in at the first
chorus. But.....there were lyrical variations that I have
never heard before! Every other line of the New Orleans
verse was different: "Drifted down to New Orleans, working
night and day..." and I couldn't quite catch the rest.
The Montague Street verse had one different phrase also.
Was he doing it this way in Europe?
After TUIB came a dose of pure bluegrass, SEARCHING FOR
A SOLDIER'S GRAVE. This song was entirely new to me, although
I saw it on the setlists during last summer. Larry took
a couple of short mandolin solos. Charlie's high harmonies
worked extremely well on this tune; he reminds me of
Peter Rowan or Roscoe Holcomb with that "high lonesome
sound" of mountain bluegrass, even though he's from Texas.
All of the songs were short tonight, but well-played.
The roadies then took away the acoustic instruments, and
the front line strapped on their electrics for a delightful
version of COUNTRY PIE! This song is nothing but fun and
goofiness...."Raspberry, strawberry, lemon, and lime....
what do I care?" Bob was grinning on this one, and the
band absolutely ripped into it, more uptempo than
the album version. Charlie played most of the lead lines
and a short solo, that according to my notes, "kicked
Then came TRYING TO GET TO HEAVEN which was one of the
last TOOM songs to be played live, if I recall correctly.
Most songs from that album, when played live, are somewhat
close to the album versions, but this one had some differences
in both the vocal and the music. Bob was reaching for
something else during this one, but I'm not exactly sure
what it was, or if he was successful. I'll have to get
the tape and listen again. My notes, scrawled in the dark
with a leaky pen, say something like "mmfrbah8x%", and
if anyone here is into cryptography, then I hope they
can decipher that and tell me exactly what I was trying
There were many in the crowd tonight who were wearing
costumes, including Bob costumes of different eras,
the current Bob, the young Bob, the '70s Bob, etc.
Some members of the audience dressed as characters
from Dylan songs: there were a couple of Jokermen, at
least one cow, and perhaps the most imaginative, a
William Shakepeare with a garbage can lid strapped
to his back, who seemed to step right out of STUCK
INSIDE OF MOBILE WITH THE MEMPHIS BLUES AGAIN, a
strong uptempo tune with its signature riff perfectly
on target. Then came NOT DARK YET, as good as ever,
but fairly routine, and that's okay. Next was another
.....THE WICKED MESSENGER, which sounded a little
different than I've heard it before. The main riff
had an unusual phrasing to it, and Bob took his
only harmonica solo of the night, played one-handed
with his left hand while his right held the guitar
at his side. Not much of an instrumental interlude
though. Before the next song, Bob introduced the
band, and refrained from making jokes about any
of the bandmembers. Everyone was in black for
Halloween, except for Tony, who wore gray.
The main part of the show ended with LEOPARD
SKIN PILLBOX HAT. This song is always fun for
me. At most Chicago area shows, there's a certain
woman who wears the titular headpiece, but I
didn't see her tonight. Charlie took the ending
solo, concise and effective.
After the band took their bows, then left and
returned, we received no less than seven encores,
beginning with THINGS HAVE CHANGED. I like this
song a lot, as it expresses boredom in an interesting
way, which doesn't happen often. The song's narrator
used to care, wants to care, but now he finds that
he can't care anymore, because the world around
him has deteoriated in important ways. It's sort
of like a voter who looks at the two major candidates
and finds that each of them has major defects that
make them unworthy to lead the country, but the
entire system is structured so that these two are
the only ones who have a legitimate chance of
winning, and the voter thinks, "I used to care,
Next came LIKE A ROLLING STONE, and it was good
to see a lot of young people hearing this song
live for the first time. The setlist tonight was
well-balanced between the exoteric (Greatest Hits)
and the esoteric (Greatest Non-Hits). A large
portion of the audience is going to one of the
"finest schools", but to their credit, they're
apparently not "getting juiced in it" excessively,
as there weren't many drunk audience members, just
a lot of people listening intently, enthusiastic
but not overly so. The next song was one of those
esoteric delights that keeps us coming back....
.....IF DOGS RUN FREE, which I don't think had
ever been played before until the show in Munster,
Germany at the beginning of this month. Bob was on
acoustic guitar, and the rest were on electric,
with Charlie playing some very jazzy rhythm on
a Gibson hollow-body. Larry took a couple of
elliptical solos, phrased to suggest more than
was actually said. On the New Morning album,
this song seems to be a very minor work, but this
intriguing arrangement and Bob's more mature
delivery makes this song loom a little larger.
"If dogs run free, then why not we, across the
swooping plain?" Nothing else in Bob's entire
repertoire sounds anything like this, and I
liked it a lot.
Then came ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER which was
about the same as all the other times, but with
Larry on the rack steel, played standing up, without
the pedals. The pedal steel was there, but Larry
didn't touch it all night long with this particular
setlist. The acoustic guitars appeared again for
I SHALL BE RELEASED, with Larry and Charlie on
backing vocals, and it sounded to me like Charlie
sang a bit higher than the key of the song. I
thought about the late Richard Manuel during this
The penultimate encore was HWY 61 REVISITED,
revved-up as always, and finally BLOWING IN
THE WIND on acoustic guitars. I enjoyed myself
immensely, and so did the kid who yelled "Dylan
Rules!" as the song ended. Happy Halloween, everyone!
Review by Kevin Larson
Trick or treat night on the Northwestern University campus, Bob our host
was wearing "the" black suit with "Star Studs" on the outside of his slacks,
cream color dress shirt and two-tone cowboy boots…. On the SOUTH-side of
town, our little 2-year-old, (who can say BOBDYLAN) was in cowboy garb
trick or treating with PAAAA and Grandma.
As suspected from the recent set-list at the University of Wisconsin and
Europe, Bob stayed with the (19) song show that was well received from the
packed field house. Students were filled to the rafters and the
regulars/older folks were in close to the stage.
The first two songs had Bob getting his bearings; he appeared to be pacing
himself for things to come which happened with Desolation Row. This is
when the show really got going for Janine and I; we started to jump slightly
in place. Bob was animated and struck the pose with guitar held high and
tight tight. He started what was going to be a long night of hand-offs
between Larry and Charlie. Larry presented a warm smile, which remained
in place for the rest of the show. Bob was driving Desolation Row with
Larry closely on his wing
TUIB - The standard was not the standard. Bob pulled a chuck-n-jive groove
out that tweaked a bottom sound that was fun. I usually relish the "Tangled"
with bell like peaks but tonight Bob was feeling funky with only short and
steady machine like picks.
The first set lasted exactly an hour. The sounds had flavors of Jazz, Color,
and the occasional gold curtain that I first noticed in a picture from a show
in Germany. When Bob and Band left the stage, my buddy Marc noticed the exit
path, which would provide a few lucky fans with autographs and handshakes
after the show. BTW I was lucky but please read-on.
If the first set was the Larry and Bob show the encore seemed to be Charlie's
turn to have some Halloween fun. For example, Bob in the past would flag the
drummer to shut down a song. On this night, Bob gave Charlie the honors a
few times to wrap it up. Since watching Charlie as a new band member over
the last year or so I can see Bob is confident with the young guy. In net,
Bob lead between under and over the sounds of Larry and Charlie. Charlie's
added role might have been part of Larry's warm smile for the entire show.
Larry seemed to enjoy watching Bob's mugging the crowd and was more than open
to having Charlie expand his role to play some really strategic licks.
With the knowledge of where an autograph may be available, I could hardly
stay on task for the encore songs. When I was pretty sure we only had two
songs left I made my way to the side of the stage to hang with Marc and
Irene. Marc had identified the best way to meet Bob after and we were
comparing notes on how to get in close enough. Security was around but was
easy going a policewoman stood by the side and was asking us how old is
this man? Janine provided that Bob was born in 1941.
Highway 61 did not have the run-away train sound that we have heard at other
Chicago venues like the World, Alpine Valley, Park West, or the United Center.
It may have been the acoustics more than the execution. Blowing-in-the Wind
was the indication that this excellent show was coming to an end. Bob played
a steady show with great support from his mates. Earlier during the
introductions, he called them the "best players in the land".
So, I am standing right by the backdoor with the entire field house contained
with a barrier and Bob starts down the side stairs with Cowboy Hat now on.
This is the best part of the show. A pretty girl stuck to the post waiting
for a double wink from the band only surrounds me; she may need a ride to
INDY. I am holding the insert from BOB DYLAN OH MERCY with a new sharpie
and he walks right over and it is signed. Behind me is 7 or 8 guys from the
concession stands and one is trying to get his ball cap signed, another is
saying BOB CAN I SHAKE YOUR HAND? Bob is enjoying the moment with a smile
looking out past the small group. As time stood still I remembered that the
BLONDE ON BLONDE CD insert was in my pocket… I start saying BlondeonBlonde,
BlondeonBlonde, BlondeonBlonde; then I put the pen in Bob's hand and he signs
another autograph for me. Just then he is gone and the rest of the place
comes out of the crowd. Janine, Marc, and Irene come up with others to
inspect my collectable. What a great night!
Thank you Bob, our little boy who likes to say BOBDYLAN is going to grow-up
with the knowledge of your legend. We have a number of framed BOB concert
posters and now some autographs to help mark time for when BOB gave fans a
piece of history.
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