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Review by Ian Blagbrough
Expecting to hear "the town that I come from is called the midwest" as we
are surrounded by elephant's eye-high corn on the drive down from Indy to
the University town of Bloomington, on a day in which candidate Bush
visited Duluth. The IU Auditorium is rounded, beautiful, looks and sounds
well designed, I was somewhat surprised by the velvet up the walls, but
it was a deep red. Also scalpers at $60 USD were somewhat surprised by
extra tickets going on sale at 5.30 pm to keep to the genuine price. A
nice touch this I thought. The seating of 3700 includes a balcony far
back, from which the ants will be visible on stage, but the round well
designed auditorium has a good rake so all can see, and a few rows were in
the orchestra pit, but otherwise all could have been seated ...
7.30 pm comes and goes, nothing new, 500 jossticks (incense) burn away,
but otherwise the house no smoking rules seemed to be well obeyed in this
mid-west University venue. now 7.40, lights out, huge roar, Ladies and
Gentlemen please welcome Columbia recording artist ... (more banality), we
are all screaming now. The band take their positions, but then the
troubadour appears. Quite large for an ant, but the smallest and yet
largest on stage. The band tool up with the double bass for an acoustic
set. The troubadour, for it is he, wears a really snappy white suit,
boots, but the double breasted is the part, thin black lines as trim,
large white tie over black shirt. Straight in to ...
1. Duncan and Brady, in actual fact this short folk/country song is kept
short, played very straight, more of a sound check. The band are good,
immediately together, but Bob is already hoarse, no real singing compare
other recent reviews, speaking the voice-over, but off we go, it's 7.45
and many still to come in.
2. To Ramona, well be exactly like them, someday baby, who knows maybe,
I'll be coming and crying for you. Lots of mandolin, but the voice is too
hoarse, very rough rasping, certainly no singing, a pity for this early in
the tour, not to mention the evening. Now the white suit really looks the
part of the rock and roll hero, the (famous) left leg starts twitching, it
must be said that the crowd are in good form, and still arriving.
3. It's alright ma, I'm only bleeding with the (typical) cheer for a
President standing naked as America warms up to its (next Tuesday)
Presedential election. Lots of good guitar work here in this well
extended number, really went down well, - all those 8 pm arrivers have
made it (is this the first number, man ??).
4. Close readers will remember that I once was one of a few (thousand) to
hear Saved as an opening number at Birmnigham's NEC (1981). Excellent
though that gig was, my 2nd favorite (after Forever Young which, I think,
he played just for me at the NEC two months ago, so absolutely NO
COMPLAINTS when it did not come out tonight), but my second favorite was a
rare outing of the Lonesome Death of sweet Hattie Carroll at the NEC
several years ago. So tonight, Hattie Carroll was another absolute
delight which entirely made the evening, surrounded by many "I have never
heard that song" comments, but it was great to hear it. This was not a
Dylan SOLO as of old, just the singer and the acoustic guitar, but an
upbeat, uptempo acoustic rendition which was faithfully performed. A real
5. TUIB, so tangled arrives, with lots of lighting effects, great guitar
work, usual (on this tour)mauling to taa-aangled, it was always going to
be mauled, it could have been blu-uue, but it was ta-aangled, we kept to
the usual time as we sang along. Great reception for this song.
6. Searching for a US soldiers grave, this ended the acoustic set. The
plain black back-drop curtains, very traditional, are covered by the grey
School or Cinema curtains, dragged on from the side. These looped
school-hall curtains really show off the lighting effects which are
7. Quick change into rock and roll artists, replace the electric
folk/country with a slice of Country Pie. A simple slice.
8. From TOOMind, the new-ish version of Trying to get to Heaven,
before they close the door. Still snarling, not singing, it is going to
be one of those nights, but certainly melancholy in part, a good slow
arrangement which changed the atmosphere. It is about to change again.
9. Out come all those Fender guitars, the hero in the sharp white double
-breasted counts it in carefully with the drummer: I ain't gonna work on
Maggie's farm no more. There has been some recent debate in these pages
from reviewers who wonder it it is a grimace or a smile, but there was
lots of it (them) here tonight which we all enjoyed thoroughly.
10. Over to slide guitar, a new version of I Threw It All Away, loud and
yet acoustic, certainly not at all the album version, but true to those all
11. Harsh black and white lighting, harsh voice, 20 miles out of town,
Cold Irons Bound from TOOM. From behind the three large and wide cymbals,
only the white Stetson (a high-hat) of the drummer is visible. He flays
alive the cow-horn in this powerful version, but it was rasped and not
12. Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat. Great R&B, the band are really tight,
they deserve the credit ("some of best musicians I have ever played
with"). The Fender machine-heads all moved together (just shades of
Status Quo I thought), both left and right legs twitched. Generous
acknowledgements of Steve Allen a TV singer-entertainer who had died that
day. ("I played Hattie Carroll on one of his shows, so I did that song as
a tribute"). The band all stand apart, certainly not together, the
staring trick occurs, whilst Bob is twisting and rubbing away sweat, we
are 65 mins in, time for a 3 min break.
13. Another Fender party, I used to care, but things have changed.
14. LARS, stark white house lights, all generally brilliant.
15. The band played a new, lounge-lizard version of If dogs run free,
lots of clicking of fingers, clapping all through was maintained, not
jazz, but lounge.
16. Pure Hendrix: All along the Watchtower, there must be someway out of
here. Young (very) Charlie Sexton breaks free on one side of the stage,
slide guitar on the other.
17. After Hattie Carroll I do not expect anything more, novel or even
just plain rare, but I have never heard of Bluebonnet Girl, but a nice
touch for all those blue stockings at IU I thought.
18. Another new lounge-lizard version of I shall be released. We sing it
straight, the party is now in full swing.
19. Highway 61 revisited with lots of power now, true rock and roll, he
is the msater of many styles, but NOT a singer tonight!
20. Long intro of many chords, could be Forever Young (he hoped), but no,
could be Mr Tambourine Man, but no here it is, so many chords in before we
recognize Blowing in the Wind. Rapturous reception, lots of dancing,
security put them back in their seats (positions), but we have been up for
We get the standing apart thing, try to look disinterested, only Bob
really pulls this off, when not twitching and wiping away more sweat, just
staring back at our true adoration. Lots of sweat, standing yards apart
the band stare back at us, the reception gets really wild. Four-five mins
of this, house lights, no more tonight. Naff t-shirts are available
outside in the hall for a lot.
As ever, many thanks to those who have contributed reviews from across the
European leg which I kept up with. Those who have Purdue or Oxford Ohio
tix (this week), and then on across to Boston, enjoy the show(s). It is a
great never ending tour. Thanks to Bill for help with sorting out this
e-mail from Indy, sincere thanks to Bill for all his work. It's back to
O'Hare today and then back to Bath tomorrow, but it was a great show at
IU. There was no harmonica, little or no true singing from Bob, the band
were great, everyone was more than satisfied. Hattie Carroll if you
please, and Bluebonnet girl!, unpredictable, unbelievable, great show.
Ian S Blagbrough
University of Bath, England
Review by Mark Rothfuss
It has taken me a few days to collect my thoughts since last wednesday's
knock out show. It was a gem! A real humdinger. Blew my mind! One of
those nights were I was turning to my Bob buddies at the start of every
new verse and every instrumental break with jaw in dropped position. I
mean, c'mon, look at that set list!
IU was show 33 in 5 years, and like every other show ive seen it carved
its own little notch in my memory. It had its own personality. I've seen
Bob in better moods, i've seen him more focused, i've seen him dance
more...(though I dont think Ive ever seen him dressed better).
Nevertheless this show had a kinda ragged glory to it. You could tell Mr.
Dylan was sorta "trying out" songs and arrangements...maybe rehearsing
them for subsequent use. I guess this is common at the start of a tour,
but Ive never seen him this early in the groove. So it was a great treat
for me to see him take such bold chances.
I got there 3 songs into the set so I'll pick it up at....
Hattie Carrol- very gentle. Well sung, but it suffered( or flourished,
depending on your point of view) from a somewhat sloppy arrangement.
Definitely great to hear it once, though "twice" in one night might have
been too much of a good thing.
TUIB- struggled to get off the ground, but Bob laid out some great rapid
fire, machine gun style vocals to save it. You know, where every single
word hits you like a bullet. It is probably my favorite technique in his
arsenal of deliveries.
Searching- sounds much better now that Bob's playing indoors again.
Country Pie- if you've heard it once....
Trying to get to heaven- Wow. Dramatically reworked. With a little work
this arrangement could trump the album version. Bob was in full croon.
Really velvety vocals on the verses. Lush. Thick. Flawless. "Tryin' to
get, Tryin' to get to heaven, before, before they close...before they
close the door"....really unique phrasing on the chorus, huh?
Maggie's Farm- right on the money! like something straight out of "Johnny
Cash at Folsom Prison." A real steam rolling performance.
I threw it all away..."i dont know why...but I threw it all away." This
song teetered on total chaos. Don't get me wrong...I flippin' loved
it...but it was...errr...."unpolished" to say the least. There were
glimmers of possible greatness scattered throughout, so lets hope Bob
gives it a few more tries.
Cold Irons Bound...I love this spot on the setlist, "drifter's," "Crash,"
"Wicked," etc. I think a lot of casual fans were surprised to see Bob had
this kind of performance in him. Really spooky...almost "otherworldly."
Pill box- did its job and exited quickly with out much fanfare.
THC- got a pretty good response from the crowd. Just goes to show those
little college radio stations do have an audience.
LARS- same arrangement as the last few seasons of shows. Great guitar work
between Bob and the boys.
If Dogs run Free- sounds completely different from anything i've ever
heard Bob do. Very, very cool. Honestly, I was skeptical about this...but
he really does pull it off. And then some.
Watchtower- Rocked out. Just like the old days.
Blue Bonnet Girl- Highlight of the show for me. Something like..."She's
got the whole world at her feet, everywhere she goes"...this line really
hit home with me. I know the type. Anyway, it was remarkably lovely. Being
as it is an election year, I vote that Bob puts this one in regular
I shall be released- best of the 5-6 versions Ive personally witnessed.
And probably the most spiritual rendering since Budokan. Great harmonies
on the chorus. Bob starts in, Larry and Charlie repeat, and then they all
HWY 61- Bob seems to have really cut back on the guitar jams. Most
noticeably on this song. I may be in a minority opinion here, but I kinda
miss the 6 minutes or so of guitar interplay after the last verse.
Blowin in the wind- like I shall be released before it, this song was made
great by the harmony arrangement. A fine hymn-like close, to an
My fingers are crossed for "Blue Bonnet Girl" at MU of Ohio this
Saturday. Yours in Bob, Mark Rothfuss
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