Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 12/01/97


Atlanta, Georgia

December 1, 1997


Review provided Rhett Thomas:

Howdy folks,

        Well the first club date is behind us, and in a nutshell, it was a
very fine show, though a bit conservative, with Dylan in very fine form.
I'm sure our expectations for these shows are huge- we've all heard the
rumors, of course....high-profile opening acts, nutty setlists, special
guest-stars. Well, the most special guest-star of the evening was our
former president Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalyn. No, they didn't join Bob on
Rainy Day Women!
        Remember those warnings of "Show starts at 8:00 PM sharp!" Not
tonight at least- the show started around 9:00 because the Prez was late.
The scene was worth it, though. Carter and his entourage took up about a
dozen seats in the balcony, and recieved a sustained hero's welcome. They
were very, very into the show too!
        It appears that Bob and company didn't arrive in town until today,
and also didn't convene anywhere for any sort of extensive rehearsal, so
the prospect of "surprise songs" was dim, at least for tonight. And as far
as special guest stars, I know from very informed sources that both REM and
Indigo Girls had to turn down offers to open these shows, REM because of
band disarray with the retiring of their drummer and Indigo Girls because
they're on tour somewhere. I t was too late to pull anyone else, so it was
just Bob tonight. We in the crowd count Jimmy as the opening act!
        Bob was present at sound check, though, singing his ass off. He
really put a lot of energy into it, which seems unexpected for a
soundcheck. Songs that I personally heard that were unusual were an old
traditional called "White Dove" which they did twice- one time with a
powerful full band acoustic version, the other time without Kemper in a
more meditative tone. This was a 3/4 waltz tune, very pretty. He also did
"Million Miles", even more smoky barrom blues than on the record, very
minimal. Not much later he did "Standing in the Doorway", no singing on
this one, but a very lush, quiet instrumental version. God this song is
going to be good!!!! The version of "Not Dark Yet" in Columbus was very
rushed and frantic, rough around the edges, so I've been worried about the
live display of this song. But it was perfect, even if we were listening
through a thick metal door with an air conditioning unit buzzing in our
ears. I really hope he premiers this tonight. For the record he also did
"Cold Irons Bound", "Cocaine", "Stone Walls", "a beautiful "You're A Big
Girl Now", and  "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere". He also started the soundcheck
with an indeterminate 12 bar blues tune. I wasn't there, but the witnesses
who heard it couldn't make it out.
        So I felt really good about the soundcheck. For the few of us on
the sidewalk behind the Roxy, it was our own very private, very unusual
        As far as the real show that night, Bob was in very good voice
throughout, although his energy seemed to lag as the night wore on. ZThe
setlist and comments follow:

        1- Maggie's Farm- The show starts with the old trooper, as the
crowd seems very interested in President Carter's response. He visibly
approves. The sound seemed very good, although from where I was standing
the vocals were a bit distant.

        2- Shake Sugaree- What a great song, with Bob singing very melodiously.
Bob really dug into this one and played a few lead figures, if tha's what
you can call them. My friend who is a musician and who hasn't seen Bob live
for quite awhile leaned over to me and asked "Is that a solo?" I whispered
back, "It would take too long to explain." It seems that for the most part,
these shows have taken on the Time Out of Mind ethic that Bob seems to have
been nurturing since just before JJ got the boot. No musician stands out,
except in the most minimal way possible- the important thing is propelling
the basics of the songs along, no self-aggrandizing posturing by any of his
bandmates. So his little three note solos are about it as far as solos.

        3- Cold Irons Bound- This is the 3rd song now, dammit! For those of
you who havent heard it- buckle in! It's a tour-de-force, you're lead down
this swampy path of mystery and suspense until the familiar bass line
premeditates the coming of the song- then Kemper crashes the spell you've
been suckered into and they all come crashing down as one, pounding down
the staccato beat, with Bob doing his staccato upstrokes on the guitar
hovering around the microphones (yes, that's plural) until he seems
convinced that, yes, indeed, he is hearing voices...."I'm beginning to hear
voices ..." then staring into the crowd he  growls ".....and there's no one
around". He wrings every possible nuance out of these words, and then even
more that I couldn't conceive of. Chilling!

        4- Simple Twist of Fate- Beautiful, just beautiful. Bob is really
working hard on the songs through the acoustic set. He barks the lyrics out
inthe latter verses like the Dylan of old.

        5- Can't Wait- Simply the best version of this tune yet. I got to
see the first 13 performances of this tune, and this one rules. Night after
night he worked on refining his phrasing and his intensity and all the
variables came together tonight. His vocals arched over the music, his
lines taking on a bitter, frightening overtone. Very convincing, and
probably the best performance of the evening. Get a tape of this!

        6- Silvio- Another warhorse. What was amusing about this was that
Bucky only played on the instrumental breaks of this song. All the while he
sat there with a bemused look on his face, hands tucked neatly between his
legs, singing back-up. Very amusing.

        7- Cocaine- Another amusing tune, with Larry and Bucky singing into
Bob's mike on the chorus. Larry would wrench his back around so his guitar
would'nt slap Bob in the face, and Bucky would lean down in Bob's left ear
playing the mandolin and they'd all close their eyes and harmonize
"Coooocaine...." Made me laugh. It was at his time I realized how short Bob
is in comparison to his string players.

        8- Tangled Up in Blue- Kinda dull for me, but Jimmy clapped
enthusiastically thorugh the whole tune.

        9- Mr. Tambourine Man- It was there. Bob sang it real good.

        10- Til I Fell In love with You-        It was at this point that
Bob's energy seemed to drop, and it would slowly drop until the end of the
show. This wasn't too outstanding, and I've noticed a general trend with
this tune that Larry is way too loud.

        11- When I Paint My Masterpiece- Seemingly to rub it in our face
that we are witnessing this show at the Coca-Cola Roxy Theater in the "town
of Coca-Cola" as Bob sang it tonight. The crowd reacted loudly when he sang
that verse. (For those of you that don't know, Atlanta is the world HQ for
Coca-Cola, so don't expect to find a Pepsi when you visit our fair town.)

        12- Highway 61- One of my all time favorites, but the energy on
this was not there.

        13- LARS- Bob sang this in a very slow, halting, mannered drawl.
Not the best performance of this by a long shot.

        14- Don't Think Twice- This was okay, a brief version, no
extravagant singing, a little spark was there.

        15- Lovesick- The first lyric fumble was at the very end of this
tune. Bob was on as far as remembering his lines tonight. He seemed a
little miffed at Bucky for some reason, they had a little discussion before
the tune and a few glares seemed to be thrown Bucky's way.

        16- RDW- Jimmy Carter had moved to the very front row for the
encores, and by this time was standing and smiling broadly as Bob passively
performed this dreadful closer.It seemed Bob was pissed and very curtly
left the stage. He was offstage in aflash without waving goodbye. I was
wondering if it was something I said!  :)

        All in all a very good show, the first half extraordinary, the
second below average. I'l give it a B- . The soundcheck gets a solid A.
President Carter gets an A+ for sticking around the whole show, Rosalyn
gets an A- cause I think she took off after "Rolling Stone". I hope to see
you all tonight. Come on down!

        Rhett Thomas
        Atlanta, GA

Return to Current Tour Guide page
Return to Bob Links
Go to the Set Lists (by city) page (1995 & 1996)
Go to the Set Lists (by date) page 1996 Tour , 1995 Tour, Pre 1995 Tours
Go to the Cue Sheet page