Los Angeles, California
Pantages Theatre
March 23, 2005

[Jeff Delin], [Roderick Smith], [Michel Gordon], [Ginny Lovell]

Review by Jeff Delin

Night three of The Bob Dylan Show at the beautiful Pantages Theatre was a
much less damp affair compared to Tuesday's rain soaked event. The moon
was full as was the theatre on a night where Bob Dylan came through big
with a terrific, nearly perfect, show.

While I felt Tuesday's show was solid, last night's performance topped it
in almost every slot. At times the band came together to make glorious,
effortless music that sounded like it was supposed to sound. Perched in
the front row of the mezzanine, I could see that Bob was enjoying himself
a little more than the previous night.

The show overall had a feeling of darkness. From Lonesome Day Blues, to
The Man In The Long Black Coat, to The Ballad Of Hollis Brown it had an
edge, but it still felt joyous at times and after the stunning version of
Mr. Tambourine Man, all was right in the world.

The new band takes away some of the unpredictable nature of the Bob Dylan
experience. Understandably, he is unlikely to try to pull out an old
bust-out number with a band that is only now just starting to gel so I
wasn't expecting any big surprises.

First, a few words on Merle Haggard's set. Great, great, great. Both
nights offered fairly laid back country but Merle's voice was clean,
clear, and strong. He soloed on guitar and played the fiddle. I couldn't
help to think that Bob might be feeling a little jealous of Merle and his
ability to display such vocal range (I think Bob would love to be able to
pull off "Unforgettable") and demonstrate such string dexterity at his

For this set Merle decided to razz Bob Dylan a little, even doing little
imitation of Bob singing Blowing In The Wind. At first it came of as kind
ribbing but clearly Merle is feeling a little left out of Bob's world
saying how he never even gets to go on Bob's bus. He also lamented his
paltry pay, probably now realizing that he himself is a big reason a lot
of people showed up for these gigs. "Welcome to The Bob Dylan Merle
Haggard Show!" he announced. Merle had a number of fans there and they, as
well as the entire audience, gave offered huge and real ovations during
the set. 

The Bob Dylan portion of the show reinvigorated my desire to continue to
see him as much as I can. "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" was a
wonderful two hole song and set the tone for the night with clear vocals
and a limit on the snarling vocals that dominated the previous night in my
opinion. "Lonesome Day Blues" was nice to hear and it has a lot of
potential with a little more practice. This version was slightly sloppy,
although it was a huge improvement over last Night's painful "Tweedle
Dee". (In my view "Tweedle Deem and Tweedle Dum" doesn't work with this
band. Elana's slashing fiddle licks sounded  forced and the song seems to
need more ump). Perhaps Bob has decided to rest this song for a while. One
can only hope.

After a not so memorable "Stuck Inside Of Mobile", for me the next three
songs ranked up there among the most enjoyable string of songs I have seen
Mr. Dylan perform in a long time. "Man In The Long Black Coat" was
haunting. They minimized the soloing so it was tight and compact. "Highway
61" had a different arrangement than the previous night and it just plain
smoked. It had purpose and drive and it was one of the more enjoyable
versions I have ever seen. Finally, "The Ballad Of Hollis Brown" (a first
time for me) was incredible, spooky, and awesome. Hard to find words for
that one.

This review is already far too long so I will cut to the chase. If you are
a big fan of Bob Dylan and have not seen his new arrangement of "Mr.
Tambourine Man", you must. My words can't do it justice but if the version
you see is anything like the one last night, you will say to yourself
"this is why I go out of my way, travel, and see multiple Bob Dylan
shows". And then a sweet "Forever Young" capped it. Wow.


Review by Roderick Smith

Kick the barstool aside the house band is in and it's going up the middle.
No church organ tonight the keyboards are bare legged to match the kicking
barking rooster that wants the floor. The multiplicity of shows is  a rare
privilege for aficionados of this unique genre and so one enters in each
night with the hope of gleaning perhaps just one thing that spins the
inner orb into a new light and this evening it came in the powerful and
archetypal rendering of Tambourine Man.  The stage lights dimmed to
darkness with dark pools of violet spilling on the floor and it remained
so as this anthem to the holy muse, set forth.

In the magic twilight that never lifted, the words seemed to bleed forth
as though you were hearing and seeing each letter spilling from the crow
quill pen in blood red sepia on to old parchment.  I felt for the first
time that I was arriving at this old familiar song letter by letter. I was
looking into the genesis now.  Seeing the the alchemy of words arriving as
though sent from someplace far away. The letters fell and soaked into the
fiber as being buried in a scroll and then on this night the strange
fellow in the black hat pulls it out revealing to us, the artifact itself.

"The All New Bob Dylan Show."

That's for sure.  


Review by Michel Gordon

It took Merle Hagggard about two and a half weeks to realize that his
class act should probably be the head-lining act to Bob Dylan, and not the
other way around.  And last night at the Pantages Threatre, the third of
five nights, he began to vocalize that very sentiment.  After effortlessly
cruising through 3 or 4 songs, taking a quick bow, and then cruising
through 2 or 3 more, Merle welcomed the crowd to the "Merle Haggard and
Bob Dylan show."  Then he proceeded to rifle off a David Letterman like
monologue with most of the jokes beginning or ending with the punch line
"Bob Dylan..."  This, complete with a nasally impersonation "The answer my
friend..."  and later. a quip that he and his troupe of cracker-jack
musicians were going to "Get out of the way and bring on some REAL
talent." all seamed somewhat more than shucks & jives.  I will tell you,
that whether we liked it or not, he had us all laughing.  Maybe little bit
to loud.

Did this comedic view linger through the intermission and into a much
shortened Dylan intro (now all Bob has done is force folk into bed with

Merle has The Strangers.  Bob Dylan has a mess.  You would think with six
band members on stage, at least one of them might help out with the
singing.  I ask you, how nice would Forever Young be with some backing
vocals?  I think it would make all the difference in the world.  Even
Merle Haggard's drummer, who I don't even think had a microphone, opened
his mouth and sang along.  As did the crowd, with or without Merle's
coxing.  And speaking of drummers, George Recile has my personal
invitation to step down - thanks for the memories.  As for the rest of the
crew...I would suggest you take you take matters into your own hands.  Bob
Dylan a band leader does not make.  This ensemble looks (and sounds) like
a bunch of idiots waiting around for their "cue", which may or may not
ever come.  And when it does come, be sure that the guy mixing sound jolts
your volume past any coherent level. Thin white mercury, indeed.

So much talent.  So little direction.  What a waste.

I'm sick of the Love & Theft songs too.  A 14 song set list - 5 from L & T!!
Give me a break!  They're not that good! 

The curtain goes down on Bob & Co..  Once again, art really does imitate

Michel Gordon


Review by Ginny Lovell

To hear that, during his set, he mimicked Bob's "Blowing in the Wind" and
made remarks concerning his pay, lack of equal billing, and lack of
personal contact with Bob is appalling to me.  First of all he or his
agent committed him to a "work" relationship here and for him to air his
dissatification, on stage, shows a display of total distaste and lack of
professionalism on his part.  If he wanted to be a "headliner" his agency
should have booked his own concert tour.  He surely cannot expect to do
anymore than stand in Bob's shadow.  Bob is the most prolific artist of
our time.

When Bob takes the stage, he does it with total committment to his "trade"
and a professional manner. He does not belittle anyone sharing the bill
with him.

Mr. Haggard needs to go back to Bakersfield and take up the rocking chair.
He's not worthy to share the same stage with Bob.  Rule of thumb is that
when a person makes  a" job" committment, he has already agreed to a rate
of pay and understands that is what he is going to get no matter what and
he cannot, certainly,  expect to ever become social with the boss.  Mr.
Haggard needs to join the real world.



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