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Review by Rachel Klugman
Phil's set from 10/31 at Chicago's UIC Pavilion [with Little Feat, John Molo,
and Derek Trucks as Friends]: St. Steven> Jam> Blue Sky Jam> St. Steven
Reprise> New Potato Caboose> Jam> Jazzy Jam> Mountains Of The Moon> Fat Man in
the Bathtub, Wolfmans Brother> Viola Lee
E: Casey Jones.
General Impressions of the show:
A long-time fan of Phil Lesh, I came to the show primarily to see Phil and
Friends and was surprised at how weak their set was in comparison to the recent
Summer Sessions shows. Perhaps this was due in part to the departure last week
of Steve Kimmock, but there clearly needed to be a bit more practice between
Phil, the members of Little Feat, John Molo, and Derek Trucks. But with that
said, a good time was had by all on a beautiful Spring-like Halloween night in
Chicago. Fans were even treated during intermission to dead-pan comic Steven
Wright, who helped warm up the crowd for Bob.
Dylan's set was probably one of the most inspired shows I've seen. First off,
Dylan and his four-piece band are remarkably tight, playing off one another's
strengths with finesse; making it all look easy. Clearly enjoying himself,
Dylan smiled, danced, and controlled the crowd for his entire hour-and-40-minute
set, taking numerous impressive guitar and harp solos. The set started
acoustically, with standards like "Mr. Tambourine Man," "It's Alright, Ma (I'm
Only Bleeding)," and "Tangled Up In Blue," and made a smooth transition to
electric with "Watchtower," "Highway 61 Revisited," and other crowd pleasers.
With the audience clearly in hand, Dylan initially took three encores: an
inspired "Love Sick," "Like A Rolling Stone," and "Don't Think Twice, It's All
Right." Dylan surprised many by coming back for a fourth encore, a rendition of
"Not Fade Away" that smacked of the Grateful Dead and had the entire place
hopping. Dylan seemed to fully appreciate the love this crowd was giving him,
and put on one hell of a show. He is clearly a legend, and made a few more
devoted fans last night through one stellar performance.
Review by Peter kirstein
For the sixth time in three years and the third time in 114 days, the
peripatetic Bob Dylan has toured Chicago on his never-ending, Never
Ending Tour. One senses perhaps a tinge of desperation as America’s
greatest lyricist assumes a spotlight rarely accorded a fifty-eight year
old solo-rock performer. Having just completed his successful Paul
Simon-in-tow tour this summer-not to mention two recently unscheduled
performances at Park West-Dylan returned, at the beginning of a sold-out
nationwide tour, with Phil Lesh and Friends, the Grateful Dead’s former
bassist, for a stirring, brilliant Halloween night show at smoke-filled,
noxious UIC Pavilion.
Performing with an enthusiastic ebullience more reminiscent of his
earlier years, Dylan delivered an impressive fourteen-song set that
covered thematically and instrumentally many of the diverse strands of
his immense repertory. A rollicking hard-rock version of “Highway 61
Revisited” and “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” Bringing It All
Back Home (1964) with its prescient phraseology—“But even the president
of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked”—demonstrated
that Dylan was in very-fine form this evening.His first five songs were performed with acoustic guitar with Dylan
fronting an all-acoustic quartet that is emerging as one of the rocker’s
best since Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: the great Larry Campbell,
guitar, steel pedal; Tony Garnier, bass, also on the Grammy winner Time
out of Mind (1997) and MTV Unplugged (1995); David Kemper, drums, also
on Time out of Mind (1997); and Charlie Sexton, guitar. They
effortlessly moved between acoustic and plugged-in rock and evoke when
Dylan seeks it, a bluesy-country-tinged musicality.
Their acoustic version of “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” Bringing It All
Back Home one of his great love songs—“My love she laughs like the
flowers”—was played with a delicate, almost lyrical softness as the
normally standing-enthusiastic audience sat and appeared to reflect on
what was emerging as an extraordinary evening of music.
Dylan’s greatest album of the 1970s, some say the signature album of the
decade, Blood on the Tracks (1975), was written when he was experiencing
marital problems with Sara Lowndes whom he eventually divorced. The
album is essentially a jeremiad of lamentation of a marriage gone bad.
“Tangled Up in Blue” and a “Simple Twist of Fate” were stirring-rock
renditions with Dylan doing a harmonica cadenza and Larry on steel pedal
on the latter.
To avoid unabashed hagiography, a rather mechanical rendition of “Stuck
Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again,” Blonde on Blonde (1966)
and a needlessly up-tempo, too rapid version of, “Not Dark Yet,” his
most recent love classic from Time Out of Mind, were presented. Yet
Dylan for his encore delivered a straightforward version of his greatest
song, “Like A Rolling Stone,” Highway 61 Revisited (1965) and “Don’t
Think Twice , It’s All Right,” also with harmonica, with a
country-tinged delivery. The latter originally appeared on The
Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963) and was played with a three-finger
picking-guitar style that Dylan was to, alas, abandon.
Maybe gone is that remarkable experimentation that brought us
Folk-Dylan, Talking-Blues Dylan, Folk-rock Dylan, Country Dylan and
Born-again Dylan. Maybe gone are those confrontational concerts (Newport
Folk Festival in 1965, “Royal Albert Hall” England in 1966 and
Fox-Warfield Theater San Francisco performances in 1979) where Dylan
courageously introduced new music despite his audiences’ resentment of
his evolving artistic experimentation. Maybe diminshed is that voice
which—while always gravelly in delivery—peaked on his live albums Hard
Rain (1976), and Bob Dylan at Budokan ( Japan, 1979) and, while
effective, is ravaged and range-bound by decades of concertizing and
smoking. Definitely gone is the poet’s reclusiveness when Dylan went
tourless between his Triumph 500 motorcycle accident in 1966, and his
epochal 1974 Chicago Stadium comeback concert: interrupted only by an
occasional surprise appearance with The Band, the greatest back-up
ensemble in rock history, at SIU-Edwardsville in 1969.
What remains is one of the great musical geniuses of the twentieth
century whose songs shaped a generation and transformed forever folk,
rock and, perhaps, rap music—“Subterranean Homesick Blues.” At the March
on Washington, Dylan was there; at Civil Rights demonstrations in
Greenwood, Mississippi, Dylan was there; at the Concert for Bangladesh,
Dylan was there; at Farm Aid concerts which Dylan inspired with his
international call for helping America’s farmers, Dylan was there; at
protest marches against war, imperialism and napalm, Dylan was there.
Now, as Chicago approaches the millennium, how fortunate we are that Bob
Dylan so frequently is here.
“And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it”...“I will
sing it loud and sing it strong, Let the echo decide if I was right or
wrong”… “May your song always be sung”… “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,”
“Silvio,” “Forever Young.”
Peter N. Kirstein
Saint Xavier University
3700 West 103rd Street
Chicago, Ill. 60655
Review by Matt Stroshane
After barely surviving the near-fatal attack of boredom from Phil Lesh and
friends in Milwaukee, we arrived in Chicago just as PLaF finished their set.
The University of Chicago Pavilion didn't seem like the ideal venue. There
was limited parking available and when we entered the arena the heat was
stifling. Instead of general admission on the floor, tonight we had seats in
the upper bowl (thank you ticketmaster) and the hallways and aisles we so
packed that we nearly didn't make it to our seats. The arena was filled to
capacity, including the upper deck and the area behind the stage (who would
end up getting more that a lot of attention during the evening). The sound
quality was very poor but it was nice to have a different perspective of the
Dylan had on a similar suit to the one worn in Milwaukee but the coat had
lots of white embroidery work stitched on both the front and back as well as
down the sides of his pants. The boots were just black tonight.
The lights dimmed and that old familiar voice started up "Ladies and
gentlemen, would you please welcome ....." Only it wasn't our favorite
Columbia recording artist. Instead it was comedian Steven Wright. I should
have known when the roadie placed the stool out there next to Bob's mic but
you can always hope....
So after about 8 minutes of semi-funny jokes the announcer came back on and
did his job and the place went nuts. After hearing 'I am the Man, Thomas'
the audience was treated most of the acoustic side of Bring It All Back Home
as Dylan and his band played Mr. Tambo Man, It's All Right Ma, and Love
None of them were exceptional, though It's All Right, Ma was performed well.
Very similar to Milwaukee. The acoustic set ended with Tangled which also
was very similar to the evening before, done well with similar phrasing but
not spectacular. Watchtower followed with no microphone problems this time.
The biggest surprise of the night was Simple Twist of Fate, though the sound
quality in the Pavilion was so poor that I couldn't tell if Dylan was
singing poorly or it was just the acoustics. Must have been the
acoustics...The song seemed really down tempo and Dylan ended with a great
harp solo and played part of it to the row of people on the balcony behind
the stage. He had been playing parts of his solos to them but seemed to give
someone extra time and even pointed up at
Memphis Blue Again followed and got the audience moving again after the slow
Twist. Charlie had some nice guitar. Not Dark Yet followed and was done
beautifully again. Band intros followed but like last night, no jokes.
Highway 61 followed the intros and Lovesick and LARS stuck to the places of
the night before. The major highlight of the night though was Don't Think
Twice. I think it really fits into the encore slot a lot better than being
close to the front of the setlist. The crowd loved it, and had been fired up
from the H61R and LARS which really rocked the house but still felt a bit
stale. Dylan ended with some great harp work and again played part of the
solo to the rear balcony.
The blistering Not Fade Away followed and the crowd went nuts. After Dylan
had taken his bows, he walked to the back of the stage. My friend and I just
looked at each other and yelled "No Way" when his Bobness turned and threw a
silver harp into the rear balcony on his way out. He must have recognized
someone he really liked but to see Dylan toss that harmonica into the
audience just made my heart stop.
12.Like A Rolling Stone
13.Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (acoustic) (with harp)
14.Not Fade Away
Review by John Metzer
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 1999
Concerts that are held at UIC Pavilion always seem to have a
little extra magic in the air. At first glance, there really isn't
anything special about this place. It's your typical 10,000 seat
sports arena. Yet many bands -- including Phish, Widespread
Panic, and Blues Traveler -- have given some of their finest
Chicago-area performances at the venue. Halloween also tends
to send an extra jolt of electricity through both performer and
audience, making a co-bill of Phil Lesh and Friends and Bob
Dylan quite the treat.
Since undergoing a liver transplant in 1998, Lesh has
performed a series of rather successful concerts, appearing
regularly with an ever-changing line-up of musicians. Until a few
days before the UIC Pavilion show, the former Grateful Dead
bassist's regular sideman had been Steve Kimock, who for
some unexplained reason left this tour after the first night.
Taking his place is slide guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks, who
remarkably held his own, given he had very little time to prepare.
Rounding out the latest incarnation of the group were drummer
John Molo, and two members of Little Feat -- keyboardist Bill
Payne and guitarist Paul Barrère.
All of Lesh's bands of friends have managed to defy logic. Put
together, often with short notice, they have consistently
managed to deliver dynamic sets full of tight-knit jams that
wander through a myriad of open-ended excursions. It's the type
of music that is more customarily performed by those who play
together frequently and therefore fully comprehend each other's
unique style and have established an unspoken code of musical
communication. That Lesh has been able to pull this off with
such regularity is a testament not only to his ability as a band
leader but also to his special knack for selecting accomplished,
talented, and truly gifted musicians with which to work.
In a set that spanned 105 minutes, Lesh and his ragtag group of
melodious gypsies demonstrated to groove rock fans exactly
how a true jam-band should interact and sound. A mere six
songs were scattered through the set, and each served as a
comfortable resting place between lengthy musical
conversations. With amazing effect, the group seamlessly
juxtaposed several of the Dead's earliest recorded material (St.
Stephen, Mountains of the Moon, Viola Lee Blues, and Casey
Jones) with songs by Little Feat (Fat Man in the Bathtub) and
Phish (Wolfman's Brother).
Starting with a blank canvas, the band painted a musical portrait
with an impressionist's eye for light and mood. Each song
provided a new set of colors with which to work, and the band
sampled freely from their painter's palette, combining and
recombining the variegated hues of blues, jazz, and funk in an
endlessly fascinating array of mottled motifs.
Lesh's set would have made for a satisfying evening, but this
was not an ordinary concert. Sharing the stage was just about
the only person who could possibly close out the show without
bringing it to a screeching halt. That person, of course, is the
legendary Bob Dylan, who just completed his blockbuster
summer tour with Paul Simon.
Since rearranging the format for his concerts, which now open
with a series of acoustic selections, the pacing of Dylan's
performances has only improved. The acoustic set allows him
and his band an opportunity to gradually warm-up, building in
intensity and making a smooth transition into the electric half of
Opening with I Am the Man Thomas, an old bluegrass song
written by Ralph Stanley and Larry Sparks, the group leisurely
rambled through classic Dylan selections like It's Alright Ma (I'm
Only Bleeding) and Love Minus Zero/No Limit. By the time the
band launched into Tangled Up in Blue, they had gelled
considerably, allowing the intricate triple guitar attack of Dylan,
Larry Campbell, and Charlie Sexton to draw the acoustic portion
of the program to a rousing conclusion.
If this part of the set was intense, once the band plugged in they
were truly formidable. The overpowering magnitude of the guitar
trilogy turned All Along the Watchtower into a raging inferno
worthy of Jimi Hendrix or Neil Young, and they shredded
Highway 61 Revisited with the muscular grit of a Chicago blues
band. Just as easily, the group turned songs like Simple Twist
of Fate and Not Dark Yet into emotionally haunting snapshots of
Adding a surreal treat to the center of the show was none other
than Steven Wright. His unique comedic perspective allows him
to skewer common concepts and objects, turning them into
hilarious one-line observations.
Review by Tom
Phil Lesh and Friends Opened (Alias Toofeats Two Trucks ;*D) featuring
Paul Barrere and Bill Payne from Little Feat on guitar and Piano and
Korg Keyboards respectively, John Molo on Drum Workshop Drums, and Derek
Trucks, of Allman Bros, Frogwings, and Derek Trucks Band playing a
Gibson SG, I do believe. Mr Lesh picks his six-string Modulus electric.
preshow and venue notes:
The UIC Pavilion is located in the downtown area of Chicago, close to
where Interstates 90 &94 intersect when you're coming from Wisconsin.
It's a city-type show, but has one parking lot right across the street,
the rest of the parking is nearby ramps and surface lots. In Milwaukee
the previous evening, the venue seemed to have had no exclusive parking
of its own, everyone parked nearby and crowded onto the sidewalk
adjacent to the building. At the UIC pavilion, most of the frenzy before
the show was confined to the lot across the street, whilst the area
nearest the building was primarily occupied by people waiting or holding
places in line, and folks trying to meet up with friends. Our party was
in the latter group, and we found it simple enough to meet at the large
LCD light-up sign on the corner of Racine and Harrison, I believe.
Because most of the bizarre halloween tour-lot randomness was across the
street, our meeting area was easy to navigate, and by the time we
quickly met up for our pre-concert tailgating and ticket adjustment-
when we went to get in line for the floor, there was no line, just a
brief wristband check. Arriving so early, we positioned our variously
costumed selves somewhat in front of the soundboard. I noticed that
John Molo's drums had a regular DW head, not the custom-painted Michael
Everett Drumhead present in Champaign on October 27, the first night of
Phil and his friends' opening set began with a bang- St Stephen is
a beloved tune for the deadheads, and hearing Phil sing this once-rare
melody is a special treat, considering Phil is cruising on a recycled
liver. During the Wolfman's Brother,a Phish song, the left side of the
PA system was crackling loudly, and the right side shut off for several
seconds during the music. It must have been a very small problem to
cause such a large crackle. It sounded like it may have been the
capacitive element in one of the stage microphones, possibly Phil's
vocal, leaking charge, and causing a fizzing crunch sound which was, at
times, painfully loud. I put in my hearing protection and did my best
to enjoy what they were playing. The Wolfman's>Viola was marred by
nasty noise, as was the Casey Jones encore. It was really a shame
Phil's audio was crudded up so badly, but I enjoyed Derek Trucks'
playing pretty much. I thought he had plenty of confidence up there,
just hanging front-centerstage jamming with Phil, Molo, and the Feats, I
bet he gets into some good stuff with Warren and Phil over the next
fortnight. I hope to hear good reports of their shows, and I hope there
is some level of intermingling between Phil's camp and Camp BobbyD.
Tony and Phil in a big bass duel on trampolines? Molo and Kemper on
Runaway Drums? Derek, Charlie, Larry and Warren onstage together?
There could be some massive musical experimentation here. One's
imagination could run amok. . .
Ladies and Gentlemen- From Boston, Columbia Recording Artist- Steven
Live comedy is a hoot, and Wright took us near the edge with his
material. He told some good ones, and some strange ones. I even think
he did one line that wasn't funny whatsoever, just to see if we were
understanding him, or patronizing him, or simply laughing at his
delivery, or his hair. I'll type you some samples, and you can see if
your computer screen is as dry as his wit: I poured spot remover on my
dog- He disappeared. They should have Osh-kosh-B-Gosh Straightjackets
for kids. I almost broke both my arms trying to open a revolving door.
Teachers always ask you what animal you'd like to be- I said a bird, my
teacher said "why, so you could fly?"- but I said no, I wanted my shit
to be white. Ba-dumm. Our treat Wright was the funniest thing I heard
in an arena since Steve Martin's 1978 tour. (Now for those of you in the
back of the building: the hidden dime trick- which hand? -SM)
Bob Dylan's set:
I should start by mentioning that "I am the Man Thomas" seems to be,
from the lyrics, a gospel tune, sung from the perspective of Jesus.
>From the way Bob and his band rip this number to shreds, I had figured
it was a Johnny Cash or Merle Haggard-style tune, but the content of the
lyrics is fairly non-secular. Thanks to SW who mailed me these:
Here are the lyrics, not sure if Bob plays them exactly.
1 They drove me up the hills Thomas I am the Man
They made me carry the cross Thomas
I am the Man
I am the Man Thomas I am the Man
Look at these nail scars
Here in my hand
2 They crowned my head with thorns Thomas I am the Man
They nailed me to the cross Thomas
I am the Man
3 They pierced me in the side I am the Man
I died on the cross Thomas
I am the Man
4 They buried me in the tomb Thomas I am the Man
In three days I rose Thomas
So it's hard, as much as I love Bob's music and his voice, for me to
make out what lyrics he sings in concert. I know I've got hearing loss
from exposure to loud sounds, but when Bob's group gets a-rockin', It's
a struggle for me to catch his every drift. It's not that Bob sings
unclearly, actually his voice is as strong as I've ever heard it, and
his memory capacity seems uncanny as well. My guess about the vocal
intellegibility is that that electric guitars are really good at making
sounds in the same frequency range as that occupied by the human voice.
Bob, Charlie, and Larry's guitars, Bob's voice, and the reflections of
these sounds in the room are all in the same audio bands. I love Bob's
style, but I will admit that Paul Simon's vocals this summer and fall
were amazingly easy to understand. Now, perhaps having several
opportunities to hear the same set of tunes gave me the repeitiion I
needed in order to comprehend the thoughts behind the rock and the roll-
Simon's band cooked, but rarely changed up anything from show to show.
On the other hand, Simon's band had a nice variety to its
instrumentation, and had a pleasing overall sound. Dylan's band is
somewhat more limited, but by limiting themselves to "only" acoustic and
electric guitar rock, they have an unbelieveable depth of material they
can whip out. Since active listening is required in order to understand
his lyrics, Mr Dylan's concerts are that much more compelling- the
audience's concentration is rewarded with breathtaking thoughts executed
elegantly and at top volume by our living treasure.
After Bob took the stage in a flurry of strobe lights, the acoustic set
was highlighted by a very well-sung "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only
Bleeding)" to make up for the less-perfectly executed model the prior
night, and a touching "Love Minus Zero/No Limit". Bob and his band
pulled a radical variation on the music during the "Advertising signs
that con you into thinking you're the one. . ." verse of "Bleeding"
which reminded me of Tom Lehrer's "Vatican Rag." It was really quite
The second four songs of Dylan's set were familiar material to the
Deadheads. Jerry Garcia Band often played "Tangled Up" and "Simple
Twist", and Grateful Dead used to play "Memphis" in their first sets
after 1987's crossover tour, and frequently would come back from their
sonic exploration known as "Space" and proceed to romp all over
"Watchtower." Bob set up the show closer with Not Dark Yet, which just
keeps getting stronger. I guess Bob just can't seem to go wrong with
Highway 61, but it would be cool if he had some other tunes he wrote
that rock so hard he could use them to close a headlining show.
(warning NDC for next 1/2 paragraph) Grateful Dead and Phish used to
have the same problem- they could hook ya, but couldn't boat ya with an
original very often. In their late years, "Standing on the Moon" and
"Morning Dew" could be used to close shows, but I recall a lot of
Holly, Pickett, and Redding-penned tunes from the boys to close shows.
Phish finally is using their anthems to their advantage, ending shows
with "Slave to the Traffic Light" and "Harry Hood", the first a 1-4-5
rocker, the second bearing close similarity to a Brubeck version of
Louie Louie. They have also realized the need for more anthemic
originals, and have come up with Guyute and Character Zero, for
instance, as big finish-type numbers. Rock and Roll concerts have to
end with a bang, and I hope Bob Dylan can keep it fresh- if he can do
it, he has access to the most loyal and loving fan base of any in music,
sports, or religion today- the tourheads!
The encores: When Bob sings of the silence that can be like thunder, he
is expressing a similar sentiment to Miles Davis's assertion that it's
the space between the notes that matters. . .bweeep. . . I think the
tourheads know as well as any how to get used to living out on the
streets. If any Phil Phans didn't like Bob when they started, but
stayed and listened with an open mind and still didn't like Bob, it's
alright. My friends who were new to live Dylan have had to put up with
me listening to and thinking about Dylan practically non-stop for the
past year-and-a-half. Now they've seen why my excitement will not fade
away. Bob rocks, Tony swings, Charlie shreds, Larry gets down, and
David Kemper kicks some serious &%#@!
That's my humble fiftieth of a USD. . . -tom
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