Fukuoka, Japan
Sun Palace
March 9, 2001


Review by Nautilus

I left this concert with mixed feelings, having seen what I felt was a far
tighter, more intimate show in Paris' Zenith theater last October.  I
remember Bob at that show to have been much more reserved, smiling less
but playing and singing with equal fervor.  This time, in Fukuoka, he
certainly looked very loose, happily strumming away and singing in his
time-worn gravelly voice, but he looked far more frail this time around,
and I was sincerely worried that he might collapse in the middle of one of
his songs.

While his voice has taken on a raspy hue which brings one to think of
Billie Holiday in her later years -- when she compensated for her
decreased vocal range by imbuing her songs with the poignancy of one who
had seen a great many things over the years -- I cannot honestly say that
this vocal approach always works with Dylan.  Nevertheless, Dylan's songs
cannot be divorced from the context in which he sings them, and some of
them work fine, even now, when sung differently from his earlier
interpretations.  That was the case tonight with "Desolation Row" and
"Like a Rolling Stone."  Even the ensemble finale "Blowing in the Wind,"
verging on cliche as the closing encore for a number of his shows, works
well because of the wonderful support from his band.

For the entire Japan tour, he has not been singing his song from "Wonder
Boys" "Things Have Changed," which has been released on his "Best of"
series here.  That omission puzzles me (since when part of the set list it
allows Bob to shift gears from acoustic to electric), but perhaps there
are contractual or other extenuating circumstances which prevent him from
playing that song.   (Or perhaps he has no desire to play that song for a

The Sun Palace venue was not the best hall acoustically, and hecklers in
the audience certainly didn't make life easier (shouting in the middle of
the songs and rushing the stage towards the end of the show), but Bob and
his band played terrifically technically.  Anyone who has been to one of
his concerts will also recognize that Bob and his band have reworked the
introductory passages to many of the songs, so that until Bob starts
singing, one barely recognizes what song he's reworked.  By the time you
recognize the song -- bam! he and his band have needled their way into the
middle of the song.  I want to applaud him for choosing his musicians
well.  Not only do they carry themselves well (professionals in the truest
sense of the word), they know best how to support and not upstage their
leading man.


page by Bill Pagel
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