November 9, 2008
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
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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