Thanks to Ken Merrill for the following review: I'm not enough of a Zimmy-phile to offer a blow-by-blow on Bucky's fill-in riffs or the nuances of this date's Silvio as opposed to the Silvio in Jackson, Miss., but the boy sure does make rock and roll fun. I'd seen recent set lists so nothing on the list really came as a surprise. Man in the Long Black Coat dragged a bit after a robust Maggie's Farm to open, but Cold Irons Bound proves an instant classic. I still haven't decided if I like Daniel Lanios' heavy hand on Time Out of Mind ("Dylan sings through plumbing," says a friend) but the concert version manages to take the best of the studio sound and crank up the intensity. Beautiful. The really noticeable thing is how much fun Bob is having. He's doing his usual noodling behind the lead guitar, but his guitar is very clear in the mix and he's really trying. Tasty little bursts and counterpoints. He coasts very little, and at times seems comes close to breaking into a Chuck Berry duckwalk. Lots of chicken-necking and smiling at bandmates. Silvio, sixth on the set list, cooks. The album version isn't my favorite, but Bob converts me with a blistering version that roasts the house. I wasn't impressed when he did the same song a year ago in MIlwaukee, but he brings it new life this time. A three-song acoustic break is revelatory. Never did a singer sound so world-wise and world-weary as on Cocaine Blues (a gem), One Too Many Mornings and Tangled Up In Blue. TUIB raises the hair on the back of my neck. It's apparently the favorite of they that discovered Bob in the '80s, judging by the number in the crowd around me are singing it back to him. Till I Fell in Love With You, Blind Willie McTell, Highway 61 ... by now I'm riding the wave ... Bob's singing and playing have never been better. This band may not be as tight as the tour a year ago, but they have a lot of fun doing it and some of the playing, at least, seems to have been made up on the spot. Would would have picked Blind Willie McTell? But on this night, it's transformed into a achingly-gorgeous pearl. Gone are the busty blondies that seemed to pop on stage at the most annoying moments during last year's date. One woman hands Bob a bouquet of roses after Highway 61 and another young woman does the Grateful Dead's "whirling dervish on mescaline" dance at the front of the stage briefly before Zimmy's one security guy politely forces her back into the crowd. After the usual routine for encores, he delivers a fresh - don't laugh - Rolling Stone, and everbody's singing along by now. When he gets to " SoI'll just say 'Fare thee well' " on Don't Think Twice, I'm surprised at how many people give a big "bye-bye" wave right on cue. Love Sick is beautiful, but it seems strangely out of place as third of the encore songs. It saps the crowd energy, but it is so heartfully done. I cut out after the first verse of Rainy Day Women to search for the backstage door and Bob's bus, and meet with a group of fans - at the wrong bus. After exchanging raves on the night's concert, I offer that I think Bob's bus is in back of the building, not on the side. We hear the applause at the end of RDW, and I'm afraid that Bob's already on the bus. But as we turn the corner at the back of the building, we see three or four people milling around the front of the two busses parked there. I ask one guy if the star of the show has been out now and am glad to hear that he has yet to appear. Moments later, the back door pops open. Led by a one security guy, Bob walks quickly to the bus, with a towel over his head against Milwaukee's November chill. The security guy stares me down and I can tell that it's not going to be old home week for me and Bob. As he passes me and steps onto the bus all I can manage is "Good show, Bob. Thanks." If Hank Williams had lived, is this what he'd be doing now? I am humbled by Zimmy's energy and intensity. Even if it weren't for his songs, he's shown us an alternative way of approaching adulthood. For all the 30-something twits raised on the Brady Bunch who think it's somehow really funny that the Rolling Stones are still touring (let's have anotherreally funny joke by Jay Leno involving Mick Jagger and a walker, OK?), show me one of your nose-ring or show-gazer bands after 35 years and as many albums. Was I venting? Sorry. Bob kicks ass. Ken Merrill ********************************************************************* Thanks to Gordon Bassen for the following review: Great show with a very animated Bob. Posing, smiling, and in control. Looking a little ragged but in pretty good spirits. Crowd was biggest for this venue. Started off slow with Maggie's farm but began to cook with Man in the Long Black Coat. Continued with Cold Irons BOUND and then did a fine You Ain't going Nowhere with a really nice closing harmony with the band. Can't wait slowed it down a bit but Silvio just rocked off. Cocaine was bit stalled but One too many mornings brought it back up again for the crowd. Tangled up in blue was the roaringest acoustic sound yet. Till I fell eased things up again for a rousing Blind Willie and a Blasting Hiway 61 which kept everyone up for the remainder of the show. LARS was different only for Bob interspersing some children's song in his playing. Don't Think twice had the folkies attention but Love Sick brought us back to the moment. RDW seemed to be there for the audience but it seemed that the boys were a little anxious. Perhaps if the roses girl had just handed Bob the flowers instead of pawing all over a rather relunctant recipient of affection it might have had a better influence on the encores. Bob doing Bob in his own inimitable style with sound and presence at a really fine level. Gordon B.
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