Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 12/16/97


Los Angeles, California

December 16, 1997

El Rey Theater

Review provided Alistair Hunter

I positioned myself on the raised area stage left in front of the speakers.
There wasn't a skinhead in the audience. But I did wonder how many people
dye their hair. Naturally. Very polite crowd. Let's say mature. The security 
guards looked like they woulda prefered a little rap music. The soundman 
had made himself quite a little shrine back there with a couple of 
bottles of wine on ice, incense, and a variety of extra items. For once, 
being 6' 6" payed off. I had a great view of the stage. A lot of 
excitement in the audience that Bob was playing such a small venue. 

Beck was met greeted with an appreciative applause as he came onstage at 
the El Rey Theatre  and welcomed the audience of 900 to the "Bob Dylan 
Festival".  Just a guy and his acoustic guitar. And a harmonica. He  
started off with a Jimmie Rogers tune, "Waiting For A Train", and 
followed that with "Lampshade"; "Cold Brains"; "Girl Dreams"; 
"Breathless"; "Tie Myself Down"; "One Foot In The Grave"( an outstanding 
song with fine harmonica work); "Dead Melodies"; "Rowboat"; "Little 
Sparrow" ( this one on a banjo) ; "Nobody's Fault But My Own"; My Good 
Leavin' ( some slide work on a National Steel Guitar ); "I Get 
Lonesome". I don't know any of these songs, and I don't know the Beck 
album, but I was impressed with the countryfried Beck. I liked the 
sound. It was unpretentious. I'd be interested in hearing more of this 
kinda stuff from Beck. He thanked Bob for letting him open for him. 
Later in the evening Bob acknowledged Beck "as a young man with an 
incredible future".  And I do remember reading on the web that Beck had 
been spotted in Japan purchasing a number of "bootleg" Bob Dylan CDs. 
During Beck's set, I spotted David Kemper, Dylan's drummer, peeking 
through the curtain checking out the scene.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Columbia recording artist Bob 
Dylan" AND he was onstage and into 1) "Maggies Farm" ( a clear signal 
that these are all gonna be "new" songs and the intensity begins here 
and keeps going!). These are not the original recordings. Bob had added 
the Jam Factor. His band is a little different. Larry Cambell on guitar 
; David Kemper on drums; Bucky Baxter on pedal steel guitar and 
mandolin; and  Paul ? on guitar and bass. Later when Bob introduced 
them, he said, "I wish we had Lindsey Buckingham up here. We couldn't 
get him. Maybe next time." 2) "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" ( 
a great surprise!); 3)"Cold Irons Bound" (hot stuff!); 4) "You Ain't 
Going Nowhere" (whew!); 5) "Can't Wait" (hot stuff!); 6) "Silvio" ( a 
strong rocking number that has a new life); 7) "Cocaine Blues" ( an 
acoustic traditional with just two acoustic guitars and the bass); 8) 
"Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carrol" (acoustic and eyeball to eyeball); 9) 
"Tangled Up In Blue" (acoustic...This did it. The audience was totally 
alive!!!) ; 10) "Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" 
(jammin'!); 11) This Wheels On Fire; 12) "'Til I Fell For You" (hot 
stuff!); 13) Highway 61 Revisited (the first encore that had Bob going 
places he's never been before and Larry Campbell appearing amazed. Maybe 
the finest version of this song I've heard ); 14) Forever Young 
(acoustic and brilliant. There is an honesty and passion to Bob's voice 
and playing); 15) "Love Sick" (very hot stuff!); "Rainy Day Women #12 & 
35" ( it ripped!). 

Gram Parsons had nothing on Bob in terms of fashion. He was the man in 
the long black coat. A black frock coat. Purple pants with a golden 
seam. Patent leather boots with high heels and a tad of golden strip. Oh. And the bowtie. 

Oh. I was taking notes at my little space on the speakers. The volume 
had picked up and the soundman was cool enough to give me a set of 
earplugs. Very nice. So I'm taking notes and this guy next to me says, 
"Mr. Hilburn since you seem to write from a historical view, how about 
if you set up a web page with all your reviews so that we could access 
them?" Not wanting to disappoint him we carried on quite a conversation 
and I got his view on Bob, the new album, the show, etc. Little did he 
know that the real Robert Hilburn was just a couple of feet away and 
asked me if I knew what the name of "that song is?" ("You Ain't Goin' 
Nowhere"). As his clone I politely obliged. 

Bob was 18' away from me during the entire show. I was immediately 
struck by how he was kinda like Ed Sullivan with a wig. He was 
definitely into the music and alive. Relaxed, but with an inner 
intensity. But it was his physical expressions that were unique. I've 
never seen such movements. The Ed Sullivan Show would have showed only 
from the waist up. He was kinda like a puppet. He looked like he was 
having fun. But he showed a side as a performer I've never seen before. 
I figure he keeps the tension in his knees and his ankles. And he does 
The Dylan Squat, The Dylan Herky Jerky, The Dylan Dip, The Dylan Slide, 
A bit of the Wilbury Twist, The Dylan Stagger. I'm pretty sure I caught 
him picking his nose as he turned upstage. AND there was the Sonic Bob 
doing the Machine Gun, The Dylan Eye Roll, The Dylan Teeth, The Dylan 
Snarl. A lot of this was subtle, but the guy was having fun.The man is a 
giant. But I tell yah...when he had that acoustic guitar out there...I 
coulda swore it was bigger than he was! Wild sounds. I liked it. It was 
kinda like vaudeville. 

I've never heard him talk so much. Repeatedly he said, "Thank you 
everybody". He introduced the band. He said, "I don't know if it is hot 
out there, but it sure is hot up here." He gave flowers on the stage to 
a girl up front. Someone up front slipped him a CD and he graciously 
said thank you and took it with him in the end. He actually was was 
giving "five" to some of the audience up front and=fter some of the 

All in all wonderful stuff.

Alistair (Al) Hunter

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