St. Louis, Missouri
The Pageant
March 1, 2004

[John Pruski], [Howard Mirowitz]

Review by John Pruski

Look out! But, not be looking for no weatherman to tell you which way the
wind blows. 

Little is cooler than this! I'm really at a loss to think of anything that
could top Bob Dylan playing so very close to home three consecutive
nights. Can y'all rainers think of anything? No driving from city to city,
we can all sleep in late tomorrow... It was sunny, blue, and 70 degrees
today. Ah, I must have died and went to St. Louis! 

I've felt out of the loop these past two years since I moved here from the
East Coast, where Bob plays with great regularity. But that was then and
now is now. Tonight's show was the first time Bob has played in St. Louis
since my move, and fortunately we get 'round-the-corner shows each of the
next two nights. The Pageant (nice polite venue, not the dive most normal
folks wish for) on the Delmar Loop is just a few minutes from the
Botanical Garden, where I left work 45 minutes before show time. And yet,
I arrived with plenty of time to buy posters and shirts, before making my
way up to the balcony seating to meet friends. Tomorrow I just may arrive
earlier yet and dine at one of the several nearby Thai restaurants.

I was really looking forward to seeing the year-opening tour nights. The
fact that the Tulsa show (which I missed) was added after the fact as the
tour opener did little to dampen my spirits. Bob indeed has many nice
surprises this year, this tour. 

To my ears the most obvious innovations were the new arrangements on
several songs. Girl From The North Country was darn near hard to
recognize. The new stop-time arrangement on Like a Rolling Stone had me
thinking the power went out (ala Hammerstein 14 Aug 03) during the first
chorus. This new rendition was just way too cool. LARS was for me the
absolute highlight of the night, back where it belongs!

Richie Hayward joining George on drums for much of the show was of course
another novelty introduced for this tour. Richie played on about half of
the songs, and actually gave George a breather for one song, with Richie
the sole drummer for that song (as opposed to Bill's page reading George
was on "all songs"). George was the lone drummer for the encores. Freddy
was has very quickly found his niche in the band. Actually, I found myself
noticing Freddy's very low-down playing so very much, perhaps even more so
than Charlie, who was so damn cute it was sometimes aurally distracting.
Freddy at times played bottleneck slide and his guitars were largely
vintage, whereas when Larry played slide he played a metal one, this on
newer axes. Larry played pedal steel on several songs and cittern
(bouzouki ?) once. Tony brought out his stand-up bass and Larry his
acoustic guitar for several numbers. Tony's bottom anchored the show, as
per par for the course. Bob played piano on all numbers, blew great harp
on several numbers, and stood front and center grooving to loud applause
for the first several bars of a song or two toward the end of the main
set. Bob even had several words to say to us after Saving Grace. Bob
introduced the band between encore numbers, at which point Bob had to
stretch to find Richie, who had again come out to be introduced. Bob is
just so cute, hat or no hat, and tonight he wore his hat throughout. And
finally the formation's formation was new. No line-up anymore, everyone
stayed put and the drummers remained sitting. Only Bob moved from behind
the piano on the left down to the front and center of this huge stage for
the formation, right where he belongs!

What a fantastic show, what a great night. Warm thanks to Bob Dylan and
his Band more making my year!

John Pruski
St. Louis, 1 March 2004


Review by Howard Mirowitz

I grew up in St. Louis, but I haven't lived there since before I went to
graduate school, and when I've been back for visits I've usually spent
most of the time with family and friends and haven't explored what's
happened to any of the old neighborhoods where I used to go when I was a
kid.  So I really had no idea what to expect when I arrived at the Pageant
on Monday evening for the concert.

The Pageant is located on Delmar Boulevard, right near the corner of
Skinker Boulevard, which forms the city's western boundary with suburban
University City.  That area is currently in the process of being
"gentrified;" it's traditionally been a hangout for high school kids and
students from nearby Washington University, and during the past few years
many stores and apartment buildings along Delmar have been renovated by
adventurous developers and property owners, and trendy little restaurants
and boutiques and galleries catering to the sophisticated urban young have
moved in.  Several blocks east of Skinker, an abandoned Wabash Railroad
station marks the point where Delmar Boulevard changes its name to Martin
Luther King Boulevard, the gentrified renovations peter out into
boarded-up abandoned storefronts, and the neighborhood deteriorates into a
typical inner-city ghetto.

When I was a kid, that whole area was still largely Jewish; my
grandfather, who was a tailor, had his shop on the first floor of a
building on Delmar just east of Skinker; he and my grandmother lived in an
apartment over the shop, next door to the Bais Abraham synagogue, an old
red-brick building with Stars of David inset in its stained-glass windows.
 They used to take me to services there on Saturday mornings, and
afterwards we'd walk down the street to see the afternoon matinee at the
old Pageant Theater, which was located several blocks east of that
Wabash station, but in those days that wasn't yet considered "the wrong
side of the tracks."  I remember going there with them when I was probably
about 6 years old to see the Disney film, "Sleeping Beauty," when it first
came out back in the '50's.   And I think I must have subconsciously
associated the name "Pageant" with that place, because when I got to the
new Pageant I was completely disoriented for a minute; it felt like a
whole chunk of Delmar Boulevard had disappeared.  Then I looked across the
street and saw an old, red-brick Missouri Baptist church with
stained-glass windows that seemed oddly familiar ... I walked back up
Delmar a couple of hundred feet and looked closely at the windows.  They
had Stars of David in them -- and I suddenly realized that that church
used to be Bais Abraham Synagogue, and this new Pageant happened to be
located right across Delmar from where my grandfather's tailor shop used
to be -- and where there was now nothing but a big empty lot where a whole
row of buildings had been razed.

Anyway, enough St. Louis nostalgia.  Thanks to Dan Levy, I was able to
score front row, left center balcony seats, so I didn't have to stand in
the GA line, which was a good thing, because even though I got there by
5:15, the Halo Bar was already jammed to capacity by early-birds like me
who knew that the Pageant owns the Halo, and that they let people in the
bar enter GA through a side door 15 minutes before the people waiting in
line outside the venue.  I talked the Halo's bouncer into letting me
inside in exchange for temporary custody of my driver’s license.  There, I
found my cousin Matthew, who’s a Bobcat, and his girlfriend April, who’d
never seen a Dylan concert, and gave them their tickets, and made contact
with a bunch of Bobcats who'd descended on St. Louis from all over: 
kisskissmary, sugaree, devil's_haircut and her husband, utopian hermit
monk, 5.24.64, 4thstreet, rosie1, Dusty Old Fairgrounds, splitpeashell,
laughs_like_the_flowers and I’m sure I’m leaving a few folks out.  Two
whole Pool teams were there – Yankee Power and Texas Medicine and Outlaws
and Wanderers by Trade – plus most of The Cobweb Connection.   I had to
leave the bar to get my license back, and as I walked over to the line
outside, I heard the band sound-checking “I Don’t Believe You” through the
open entrance door.

Around 7:45 I finally got inside and took a look around.  The Pageant is
very intimate for a 2,000-seat venue.  The center floor of the GA section,
which is all standing only, is surrounded by several rows of tables where
one can purchase a drink from the bar at the back and enjoy it during the
show in relative comfort.  The balcony also has its own bar, and there’s
not a bad seat in the house.  Our seats were in the very front of the
balcony, center left, and I’d say we were no more than 35 feet away from
Bob’s keyboard, overlooking the checkerboard-diamond patterned stage with
the familiar Eye of Isis projected on the curtains hanging behind. 
Larry’s pedal steel was set up to the right, and the drums were hidden
under a tarpaulin until 8:00, when a roadie pulled off the tarp to reveal
two drum sets.  A solitary mike stood in the center of the stage,
triggering the thought that we might see Bob step out from behind the
ivories to sing.  I looked around for Chuck Berry, who was rumored to be
present, but didn’ t see him.  (He was finally sighted at the Wednesday
night show.)  At 8:05 the heroic opening chords of Copland’s “Fanfare for
the Common Man” rang out over the PA system, and the audience began to
stir expectantly.  By 8:20 rhythmic clapping broke out, along with the
occasional cheer as roadies popped out to adjust equipment or light the
nag champa …

But it took until nearly 8:30 for the lights to go down and Copland’s
“Rodeo” to begin playing.  The crowd’s cheers drowned out the
by-now-familiar intro (there might have been just a wee bit louder
reaction to “… disappeared into a haze of substance abuse …” and “ …
emerged to find Jesus …”) – and out came the band, followed by Dylan, the
Man in Black with a white cowboy hat and studs down the sides of his
trouser legs.  Only George was on drums, the other set remaining vacant
for the moment.  They immediately launched into “Drifter’s Escape,” which
had a slightly different feel from the versions I’d heard in the past
couple of years.  It had a lilting rhythm, and the wound-up piano sound
coming from Bob’s keyboard gave it a kind of roadhouse-joint feel. 
Freddy’s nicely restrained lead made perfect sense, and Bob’s singing
sounded far better than it did last year, with a fuller, more resonant
vocalization and vibrato in his tone that added an arresting element of
depth to his performance.  He stretched out the last word of each line –
“’Oh, stop that cursed jur-ry,’ cried the atten-dant and the
nuuuuuuurrrrrrrssssse” – throwing a little catchy laugh in there
occasionally: “Whi-heh-le the jury cried for mooooooore.”  And at the end,
as has been usual with this tune, he pulled out a harp, and treated us to
an outstandingly honkin’, perfectly controlled blues line that – also as
usual for this tune – was far too short.  But there would be more harp to

Good applause from the crowd, Richie Hayward sneaked out on stage and sat
down behind the second drum set, and the band segued into the opening
chords of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”  This was a brand new
arrangement, with both drummers drumming away in unison, setting an
insistent, striding tempo with 5 beats to each line of the verse,
separating the lines by a single beat  – “Yonder-stands your-orphan-with
his-gun”- beat - “crying-like a-fire-in the-sun” - beat - “look
out-the-saints are-comin’-thru” – except for the refrain, which retained
the traditional 6 beats.   The unusual rhythm pattern gave the song a new
element of surprise, because the lines came at you one after the other,
about three beats faster than you expected, almost faster than you could
assimilate them, making you do repeated double-takes.  Richie kept looking
over at George for cues, perhaps to control the temptation to put those
beats back in!  Larry’s sweeping, liquid pedal steel provided a nice
contrasting texture that smoothed out the periodic herky-jerkiness of the
line rhythm.  And Bob’s voice reminded me of the way he sang in the studio
when he recorded “Highway 61 Revisited;” it was really strong on both high
and low notes, trailing into a pretty vibrato on “Baaaaaby Bluuuuue.”  
When this song ended there was another huge reaction from the crowd.

A quick conference with Larry, Tony and George, and Bob walked back behind
the keyboard to start “Cry Awhile,” another tune with an unusual tempo
change, Larry on slide guitar this time.  Richie seemed to miss the tempo
change at the beginning of the first couple of verses, but as the song
progressed he got synched in and the whole damn thing just came together
perfectly with a fantastic, authentic roadhouse-rhythmed sound; Bob
growling the lyrics and banging away on that honky-tonk keyboard, Larry
whanging away on the slide, Freddy actually behaving himself admirably,
generating a really motorin’ syncopated rhythm to Larry’s lead and then
stepping forward and sculpting an exquisite Muddy Waters blues lick with
lots of body English – it was far, far better than Bob’s Grammy
performance, better than any other live performance of the song I’ve
heard, and it would’ve surely been better than the studio version, if
Richie would’ve been on from the get-go.  But as it was, it was about as
good as it gets, and it got yet another huge cheer from the audience.

Richie left the stage, Larry got himself an acoustic guitar, and Bob began
to play a piano riff that sounded vaguely like the opening piano figure
from “New York, New York” without the lilt, while Larry played a ringing
counterpoint that resolved from dissonance to consonance like a Bach
harpsichord fugue – and Bob began to sing “Hattie Carroll.”  He was a bit
ham-handed on the piano at times, but his voice … his voice was marvelous;
sneering and snarling at Zantzinger, left sadly at the table with Hattie,
finally damning and calling down penalty and repentance on the judge,
though he quickly and almost anticlimactically bit off the word “sentence”
at the end.  But at that, the band went into an instrumental closer, with
Bob playing a slow arpeggio descant and Freddy clanging out a repeated
single chord that rang through the Pageant like the peal of the Last Bell
of Doom.

Larry picked up a cittern and here came “It’s All Right, Ma.”  Only George
was out there on drums, but that was all the drumming it took to set up
the same dirty, roady blues arrangement that I’d heard at San Diego State
in October ’02, only this time, if possible, it sounded even more lurchy
and menacing.  The audience reacted with cheers to every famous line,
loudest on the President having to stand naked, as Larry played a rapidly
strummed sequence of fifths on his cittern, Tony and George maintained a
ruthless pace on rhythm, Freddy clanged away with a sound like Gabriel’s
Horn, and Bob sang, “They’d prob’ly put mah haid, in a guillo-tine.”

Another conference around the drum riser – still with only George up on
drums – and  Bob took a drink of something red in a glass, which I believe
was Gatorade or something like it; it wasn’t quite the right color for
wine.  Then the band began to play the beautiful arrangement of “Girl Of
The North Country” that we first heard last Fall in Europe, with the piano
riff that sounds loosely like the guitar lead from Leonard Cohen’s
“Suzanne,” but this had much more depth and complexity, and seemed much
more together than the versions on the boots I’d heard from the European
tour.   Larry played acoustic guitar, again in counterpoint against the
piano figure, and Tony had his string bass, which gave a mellow, haunting
feeling to the rhythm.  Bob stretched out the second-to-last word of each
line – “it rooolllllls and flooowwwws all down her breast;” “That’s the
waaaay aah remember heeerrrrrrrrr – best.”  And at the end out came the
harp again, clear and bluesy and gorgeous, suggesting with the lightest
touches of breath the rolling of a Conestoga wagon across the Northern
prairie, the waving of honey-blond wheat in the Northern fields, the
blowing of honey-blond hair in the Northern wind.

Richie returned to his drum set, everybody else picked up electric axes,
and we got a pretty straight-up version of “Things Have Changed” with a
good, bluesy, growly delivery by Bob, who gave a little dip and curl to
the end of lines like “The human maahhnd can only staaaaaauuuhhhhnnnndd so
much” as he rocked back and forth, almost doing pushups against the
Yamaha, then moving up and curling his body around the keyboard and mike,
almost in physical imitation of his vocal mannerisms, looking for all the
world like Stan “The Man” Musial in his fabled corkscrew stance in the
batter’s box.   And that made a kind of fractured sense, because – after
all – Bob is The Man.  In the instrumental break, Freddy and Larry started
off playing a duet, then Freddy dropped back on the stage and Larry took
the lead.  It was also interesting to watch the difference in drumming
styles between Richie and George.  George flings his drumsticks around
rather flamboyantly compared to Richie; he seems to hold them more loosely
in his hands, so that they almost fly through the air in fan-shaped arcs. 
Richie keeps the drumsticks much more closely in line with his arms.

After those two slow tunes Bob must’ve decided it was time to wake the
crowd up, so the band cranked up “Highway 61 Revisited,” which got people
jumping up and down all over the place.  Both drummers pounded away while
Larry and Freddy traded leads, each stepping forward in turn to show off
his licks, Larry playing slide on a Telecaster and Freddy using a slide on
something that looked kind of like a Fender Jaguar.  And each time they
switched off, they’d cut loose a little more, push the envelope a little
more, sliding low, sliding high, until they had the whole joint going
wild.  Bob even sang the verse about the fifth daughter on her twelfth
night complaining that her complexion is much too light, and the cheers
and applause at the end were the loudest so far.

Another conference, and Bob walked over to the side of the stage to get
another harp, which he held in his hand as the band began to play “Make
You Feel My Love.”   Bob attacked the beat on keyboard a bit ahead of the
drums, infusing the slow song with a bit more energy than I’ve heard in
recordings of other versions.  Larry and Freddy were back on Stratocasters
and both drummers were still on stage.  Bob’s harp at the end was very
sweet and plaintive, expressing a wistful and sad emotional ambience that
offered a powerful contrast to his old, grizzled voice.

“Tweedle Dum And Tweedle Dee” was next, and this was the same old, same
old arrangement we’ve come to know and love, with Freddy capoed way up on
the 5th or 6th fret and Larry capoed up on the 3rd fret.  From my vantage
point, Bob seemed to be playing mostly on black keys, which at least would
be consistent with the odd guitar capoing, and Richie played the bongos
while George manned the drum set.  Larry played a fine rapid-fire lead
between the final two verses.

Conference on the mound again, and when Bob went back to the piano and
started to play, I thought for just a second that it might be “Ballad Of A
Thin Man,” but it quickly resolved into “Man In The Long Black Coat.” 
Larry played acoustic rhythm guitar, Freddy played electric, and against
the piano chords, the guitars somehow sounded like a cold wind blowing
through a deserted graveyard, down a lonely street, chilling the bones of
the man in that long black coat.  Then Freddy played a jagged, jerky lead
that suggested nothing so much as jagged, broken glass, stained with drops
of blood and the memory of pain.

Another conference with Tony this time,  Richie went offstage and the guys
began to play “Honest With Me.”  George played bongos with one drumstick
in his mouth, beret pulled back, the very picture of a pirate with a dirk
between his teeth climbing hand over hand up the rigging to put the Jolly
Roger atop the mast. The arrangement had numerous hanging pauses with only
George and Tony keeping the beat.  Larry was not exactly playing a slide –
it was more like he was playing chords with his fingers, sliding into each
one.  In the middle of the instrumental break, someone threw a bra on
stage; it landed right in front of the mike in the center.  As Larry and
Freddy began to play the song’s  trademark syncopated dual-guitar lead,
they began gingerly inching toward the bra, then gingerly backing away
from it … at the end, Bob charged out from behind the keyboard and
high-stepped his way across the stage, moving his arms like he was warming
up for a sparring match with Gina Gershon.   He might have been stretching
out a cramp from the odd positions he was twisting himself into as he

“Saving Grace” was next.  Larry was on pedal steel, playing a slow,
stately line that reminded me of “Make You Feel My Love,” with Bob playing
cross-harp, but Western style rather than bluesy, sounding old and low. 
Freddy managed a quite creditable country lead, and Bob closed the song
with a beautiful harp phrase against Larry’s ending steel riff, leaving
off the last verse.

Bob went to the mike at center stage and gave a brief announcement about
local station KDHX, and saying hello to “Mary McCarthy, the territorial
President of my fan club, who lives around here.”  Then, as he shuffled
back to the Yamaha, the main set ended with both drummers back on stage
and Tony on string bass again, hammering out the rhythm for the usual
rave-up, rousing rendition of “Summer Days,” still the most danceable song
Dylan’s ever performed, in my opinion, featuring great dueling guitar
leads by Freddy and Larry, Larry’s sound more rapid-fire, jump-style, full
of detailed riffs, Freddy’s effort more bloozy and controlled.  The GA
standing area was going wild, with people jumping up and down, but the
people seated at the GA tables remained in their seats for the most part,
as did the folks up in the rich peoples’ seats in the balcony.   At the
end the audience responded with a standing ovation, as Bob and the band
assumed their positions in the familiar Formation, Bob kind of gesturing
to the audience in the same way that he would probably gesture  “down,
boy, down” to his dog.  Then they walked off stage, Bob never having
introduced the band.

The applause continued for about five minutes and Bob and the band,
including both George and Richie, returned to do “Cats In The Well”
followed by “Like A Rolling Stone,” which they did with more attack than
usual, making it sound a little like a Jethro Tull tune.  During the
chorus, everything stopped but the drums and Bob’s voice; you could hear
the crowd singing along, “How does it feel?”  Freddy let loose with an
awesome lead in the instrumental release, earning a big cheer from the
crowd, and at the end of LARS, Bob finally introduced the band, forgetting
(and having to be reminded by Larry) to introduce Richie.  Then they
closed it up with a storming “All  Along The Watchtower,” went into
Formation once more, and it was over.

After the show, some of the Bobcats joined devils_haircut and her hubby to
go in search of Bob, who was reputed to be staying either at the
Ritz-Carlton or the Chase Hotel.  The rest, along with me, Matthew and
April and my other cousin Jill and her husband Dave, all repaired to the
Halo Bar where we reviewed the show.  April was flushed with excitement –
we converted her!  Jill, who also had never seen Dylan and who had never
encountered real Dylan fanatics, was fascinated by our stories of insane
behavior in pursuit of Bob sightings and traveling on the road. 
Eventually my relatives all left, and it was down to kisskissmary, rosie1,
sugaree, laughs_like_the_flowers, dusty_old_fairgrounds, splitpeashell and
me, reading Tarot for each other and generally declining into a state of
companionably alcoholic friendship.  We didn’t come up with any stirring
new insights, but we all agreed it was a good show, one that would be a
genuinely desirable boot to own (assuming that someone in fact recorded
it) – and that the next two would probably be even better.  
Unfortunately, I’ll have to leave the reportage for those concerts to
other attendees, since I had to get back to California and missed them as
a result.



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