Los Angeles, California
Pantages Theatre
March 21, 2005

[Roderick Smith], [Steven Moos], [Michael James], [Alan Lohr]

Review by Roderick Smith

This is definitely unlike anything else.  This is Bob Dylan the Musical! 
Leave the harsh evaluations at the door.  Pick up some chocolate mints for
your sweetie and settle in. Merle Haggard is a real old country dude and
moves like a tired old lion, with grace. Pleasing to the eye and ear. He
could do more and he may in the next few nights.  He finds the noble
dignity we never stopped to think about in that old roadside bar. Hag's
Place. There was a moment when the spotlight picked up the drum set behind
him and created an uncanny apparition of an old juke box. Honky tonk
tonight in red velvet.  A lost world and one of the last preachers to
sweep its floors. His set ended, he staggered off and for moment there I
thought I heard "last call!"

The curtain rises on  the other man in black  this time straddling a
wooden pulpit.  The ivory is imbedded in the church organ.  He doesn't so
much play the thing as steer it, as though it had wings and wanted to fly.
All night long he leans into it, forward and back, his black short brimmed
hat cocked flamenco style. It's all thrown into a great and dizzying
inferno of racing strings and crashing cymbals.  It never stops and never
waivers. It rises in a soaring cloud that seems bound for the stars which
light this traveling medicine show. There's no escape from the camp
meeting. The evangelist has the floor.   Even if you wanted to leave you
couldn't. Your nailed to your $75.00 chair with your ears pinned back. 
The sound is searing and unrelenting.  Formless matter.  The muse for all
this anarchy is the lovely nymph who in silver winged gown and burning
fiddle stands in this worlds center and guides the forces to the roof.

The stage opens in the back and then beyond Dante's flaming red curtains,
into the deep void of stars and darkness. Broadway and the Milky Way
carrying all that's dear, so far away.  

Thus there is a subtle melancholy in all of this.   A strange vanishing. 

Roderick Smith


Review by Steven Moos

 My first Dylan show was on a Valentine's Day  years ago.  He and the Band
played with considerable volume, but little force.  I've seen him often
since them, but I've always walked away feeling  that the person on stage
was just  a "ragged clown behind".  I'd been to plenty of shows, but
somehow felt I'd never seen Dylan.  That changed Monday night in Los
Angeles.  Every note he sang, and every phrase he played was filled with
the deepest of feelings. Best of all, was the the way Bob communicated
with his band.  I'd always hated how he could hang his musicians out to
dry, not giving any musical cues or direction.  On Monday night he was the
music man, coaxing a beautiful noise out of his sharp suited ensemble. 
I'll long remember the drama of that stage.  Bob off to this side, bending
down to the microphone like Rudolph Valentino about to kiss some desert
flower.  A young woman playing the violin, slightly scared, but holding
her own against all that male energy.  This wasn't a concert, it was high
drama. Last night Dylan did what Gorgeous George said he could do.  He
made it come alive.

Oh, and God bless Merle Haggard.


Review by

Although I'm not a big package show fan, the opportunity to see Dylan and Merle Haggard in one night
was too big to pass up.  For the most part, they didn't disappoint.  After reading the reviews for 
the preceding shows from other individuals, I have to add that their all pretty accurate assessments.  

Amos Lee was a refreshing, low-key opener.  It was a Dave Matthews kind of sound with some jazz, folk
and soft rock coming from a very tight and talented band.  It's too bad that half of the crowd had 
not reached their seats yet because it was very entertaining.

I'm from Bakersfield and so, naturally, my Merle review is going to be a little biased.  I've seen him
a few times now and he really seems to be a lot more at ease with performing and interacting with his
audience compared to the early 90's when I first starting buying his records.   Like his Bakersfield
counterpart Buck Owens, there's always going to some rough edges to him, which is why us "Outlaw 
country" fans will always cling to him.  The essential ballads and anthems were all touched upon, 
but not necessarily finished because of equipment and performing malfunctions, but it's always good
to see Bakersfield's best export show everyone what country music is really about.

Over the past few Dylan shows that I've attended, I can never raise any issues with his energy and 
enthusiasm.  From start to finish, the man gave 100 percent.  I have to agree that Larry Campbell is 
irreplaceable and his departure left the band with an identity crisis.  The fiddle and steel guitar 
player additions added a Dixie kind of sound to what Dylan has been delivering for the past few years, 
but, at times, you simply could hear a lick of what they were playing.  Breaking in a new band format 
every so often has probably has forced Dylan to rely on a repetitive set list, which can be a bit of 
a let down.  I give Dylan credit for mixing it up a little rather simply going after another 
multi-purpose guitar player.  The song highlight, to me, was "Girl From the North Country," where 
every instrument could be heard and coexist with one another.  He made a pretty brave attempt at 
"Sing Me Back Home" too, considering the mastermind of the song was his opening act.

All in all, I thought the show was a nice, diverse way to see too music icons and one up and coming 
artist at a beautiful venue that looked more like a Egyptian temple than a theater.  I hope the 
remainder of the Hollywood shows are well received this week!

Mike James 


Review by Alan Lohr

I Attended the Opening Night of Bob Dylan concert at the Pantages Theater
in Hollywood last Night. What a let down. I have seen Dylan many times and
he is so self indulgent and so far removed from the audience (No
talking-to us at all, not even a Hello. PLUS, He could hardly play that
joke of a Keyboard he used. To beat all HE NEVER PICKED UP THE MANY

Merle Haggard (I really do not like country Music) WAS awesome.

I met Elvis Costello in the Lobby. Friendly Bloke. Motley Crue was there,
Paul Rodriguez, Steven Tyler and so many more.

I will say this again, Bob Dylan has disconnected himself from his roots.
His singing and arrangements are almost unrecognizable. OK Bob, pick up
the Guitar and play like the troubadour you ONCE your to be. No smiles
either the entire concert. I feel he is a Sad man. Don't know why I got
that. I was in the second row center in the Orchestra, And, sometimes the
sound mix was SO f**king loud that I had to plug my ears. It was

So take care. Other people may write you and say how great he was. I saw
Dylan with the dead in the early 70's and may times after that. This Bb
Dylan is a Xerox Copy.


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