La Crosse, Wisconsin

La Crosse Center

November 9, 2008

[Bret Lanoue], [John Condon], [Dewey J. Bjorkman]

Review by Bret Lanoue

The organ sounding keyboard was nice and loud. So loud, in
fact, that later on Dylan might have blown something. Unfortunately, this
was at the beginning of “Spirit on the Water” (The song in which the
keyboard has routinely been weak). Repeat, minus the short lived power cut
to the keyboard it was good and loud. I was stunned by the way Dylan
opened the night with and Al Cooper sound and presence on the “Wicked
Messenger.” Brilliant! 

However, when the keyboard cut out during “Spirit on the
Water” this gave Dylan a couple of minutes to stand at the mic and croon.
Dylan usually restricts standing at the front mic for when he is playing
the harmonica. But at this moment he had to stand there and sing. It was
great! No noticeable change in his voice other than this evening’s deep
husk. Dylan had to do something with his hands though, so at first he held
the stand with both hands just below the mic as well as letting go a hand
and swinging it back.   At times, both hands stuck out in front of his
body then sweeping them back with a kick of the boot. Strangely, he looked
confident. Then again, it was just the La   Crosse Center .
Beautiful town, though. Hey, the La Crosse center doesn’t have a bad seat 
in the house. Low stands no nose bleeds. I do wish indoor arenas would 
ditch the floor seats. I had a show in Iowa City ’07 ruined by the 
“sit down,” guy. 

I am sadden to hear at times (including the La Crosse show)
when the crowd stops cheering before Dylan and the band have even fully
left the stage for the final time.  Perhaps, the casual fan has picked up
on his patterns.  A surprise “All Along the Watchtower” to open the encore
seemed more appropriate followed by an introduction of the band into a
groove/reggae “Blowin’ in the Wind” finale. Still, it was fun to see Dylan
at the mic with nothing to do with his hands. And of course the sort of
breast stroke move with a kick of the right boot. A sort of tap dance move
only slow and cool. 


Review by John Condon

Bob played a fine show in LaCrosse,  on the day after the election.  The
set list included the gems "Wicked Messenger", "Forever  Young","Trying to
Get to Heaven", and "Chimes of Freedom".  The more  familiar songs, such
as "Highway 61" and "Honest With Me" were white- hot  rockers, just
scorching, and maybe the greatest versions that I  have heard. Bob is
playing the organ as usual , and on this tour the  sound of the organ is
excellent, with a nice low pitch. Bob really  plays it well these days,
and the improvement in the organ tone makes  this current band all the
better. We heard lots of harmonica playing,  too. Overall, a terrific


Review by Dewey J. Bjorkman

Having traveled hundreds of miles to see numerous  shows over the years, 
it was a treat for me to drive a mere 16 miles for the La  Crosse Show. 
Bob in the Coulee Region; it doesn't get any better than  that.  My friend
Donna (who flew in from Wichita) and I were seated in row  11.  Not bad,
but we greatly prefer general admission shows so we can hang  out with
fellow Bobheads for a few hours and get up to the front  rail. Oh well,
beggars can't be choosers.  Shortly after 7:30  p.m. we could smell the
incense and soon Bob and the Band came onto the  stage.

I've been to dozens of shows but I must admit we  were stumped by the
opening song.  After the show I asked at least ten  people what song it
was, and until I asked the guys back at the soundboard no  one knew what
it was!  It was a fun-loving and radically morphed version of  The Wicked
Messenger.  Truly bazaar. I can't wait to hear the bootleg  recording of
it.  I had my binoculars on Bob during the entire song, and he  smiled
broadly to Donnie as the song came to an abrupt conclusion.

Bob's voice was strong, but the sound at the La  Crosse Center was
disappointing.  The instrumental mix seemed pretty good,  but Bob's voice
lacked prominence and immediacy until song #5: Spirit On The  Water.  As
'Spirit' began apparently the piano was malfunctioning so  Bob came out
from behind it and stepped up to the free-standing  microphone.  His voice
took over the arena.  (I have a  special memory that I associate with this
song because in 2006 I danced  with my daughter, Linnea, at the Red Rocks
Show in Morrison,  CO.)  Perhaps Bob's adrenaline began to flow with the
technical  problems, or, more likely, he just decided it was time to kick
it up a  notch; and kick it he did!  He stayed up there for songs 5, 6, 7,
and  8.  Although I've heard Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum many times,  Bob's
vocal performance this time was set on edge with a kind of  earnestness I
had not heard prior to this. He delivered the entire  song at the
free-standing microphone and it seemed to me that Bob was  successfully
connecting with that place within himself from whence the spirit of  the
song had originally sprung.  It is moments like this at Dylan  concerts
that never cease to amaze me.

Bob settled back down beginning with Tryin' To Get  To Heaven but I
was still feasting on that four song extravaganza.  As  great as that
four-song stretch was, my highlight of the Show was "Chimes Of  Freedom". 
This concert came the day after Barack Obama had become the 
President-Elect of our Land. Hearing Chimes Of Freedom that night seemed
to  me to perfectly capture the zeitgeist of that stunning and historic
turn of  events.

Thanks once again Bob.  You never fail to  deliver. 

Dewey J. Bjorkman


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