Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Rave
Eagles Ballroom
April 8, 2005

[Adam Selzer], [Brian Doyle]

Review by Adam Selzer

Ahhhh. There's something about seeing a really exciting show that just
puts me in a good mood. Even  though I must say that the Rave is the worst
venue in history.

Mike, Julia and I drove up to Milwaukee in the early afternoon; a 
remarkably easy trip from Chicago, and arrived at just past two. Spoke
with Disco Stu, Iowadylanfan, Federica, and others of the usual crowd. I
haven't missed GA shows much. All that stress.

At about 3:30 the soundhceck could be heard coming from an open upstairs
window, and, to our delight, the first song was "Tough Mama," followed by
"Baby Blue," "Dignity," and another shot at "Baby Blue." Of course, I've
learned over the years that the fact that he soundchecked Tough Mama
actually meant that it wouldn't be played for months, if at all. You do
hear strange things at soundchecks from time to time - but it was still
cool to hear.

At roughly five the venue moved the line (after sending us past a 
pat-down guy AND a wand-down guy  before getting to the ticket guy) in a
dimly lit bar inside. Why would they do this, you may ask? It was strictly
because they could then sell us drinks - it certainly didn't make things
run more smoothly. The line became a jumble, the light in the place was so
bad it was making me sick in the head, and, after a few minutes, they
stopped allowing people upstairs to use the one available bathroom. I was
annoyed to say the least. Then they kept sending more and more and more
people into the bar, until the place was filled entirely past whatever the
maximum occupancy should have been, and I went from feeling nervous to
feeling genuinely unsafe. I began to sing a few bars of "1913 Massacre"
and wondered what the fire marshall would think of this setup. We'll find
out; I'll be writing letters about this. I shouted to some poor security
guy that he should tell his boss that this is the worst venue ever and it
deserves to go out of business. This is the first time I've said this
about a venue.

The concert hall itself is an odd place; like being in an egg that was
designed to be a boxing arena (as it was in the 30's). The room is an oval
shape, but instead of having the stage at the narrow end of the oval, it
takes up most of the long side. Some of the box seats were practically
behind the stage. Might've been an okay venue to see a boxing match, but
it must be a strange place to see a show if you aren't up towards the

While I'm not much interested in the rail (too much drama to get there), I
was very close, and dead center, infinitely closer than I was at any of
the Chicago shows, which meant that the sound was remarkably worse, but
the show was something of a different experience. Elana was wearing a
black dress with some sort of silver design, and I was glad to be standing
right in front of her so I could see that grin without binoculars. But she
wasn't doing all of the grinning tonight - Bob looked like he was having
just as much fun as she was - and that's a lot of fun.

To Be Alone With You - was better than it normally is; I had to adjust my
ears to the sound a bit. The Rave certainly doesn't hold a candle to the
Auditorium on any level. The sound in the front is never as good, either
(such is the drawback of the rail).

To Ramona - first since 10/03! Quite a surprise, and an above average
version with the band sounding great.

Cat's in the Well - rock n roll! This was a particularly hard-rocking
version, with Dylan spitting out the lyrics with what appeared to be
delight and Elana sawing away.

To Make You Feel My Love - the surprise here was that the performance was
so great. The band provided a lovely backing as Bob sang it as well as
I've heard him do in years, with a terrific center stage harp solo.
Probably would have sounded simply gorgeous in the auditorium.

Highway 61 - really got the crowd moving; I'm becoming more of a fan of
this arrangement than I was at first. That DUN DUN DUN before the chorus
line is fun, and Bob was still singing like he was having more fun than

I'll be Your Baby (NOT TONIGHT I'LL BE STAYING HERE - this was a mistake
in the setlist). Better sung than usual, nothing terribly special here.
Please note that I'm not certain the order on the setlist is exactly right
after this point, but I'll write about the songs in the order they appear
for convenience sake. It seems like Tough Mama was earlier.


LOVE SICK! What an arrangement! The band, with DOnnie playing that weird
mandolin/guitar thingie, sounded like the ghost of Kurt Weill leading an
all-skeleton oompah band in the middle of a dark forest (either at night
or on a grey, windy November day - skeleton oompah bands stay home when
the skies are blue). No band does scary like this one, and Dylan sang the
hell out of it. It was always a bit spooky, not it's another kind of
spooky. Yay violin!

Absolutely Sweet Marie - the line tonight was "railroad bridge," if 
you're keeping score. Another rocking version with the violins standing
out; not sure I'd say it was better than Chicago, but I've no complaints.

and then we heard it. That opening chord of

TOUGH MAMA - and what a version! The band played this much faster than
every other NET version I've heard, following the album version pretty
closely, and Bob didn't just sort of sing it, he dove right in and
attacked it with a smile, looking like he was having the time of his life.
He smiled between lines, and, between verses, he often simply threw his
head back and laughed, like in that picture from the BIABH sessions. He
smiled BIGGER than Elana. It included ALL the verses, including the
"hotter than a crotch" line that I'm not sure has EVER been sung, and had
the fun add-in "you know who you are and where you been...I HOPE!" I
didn't want this song to end.

Floater - sounds great with the new band and a regular violinist. Dylan
usually sounds sort of threatening to me on this song, like an evil
hitchhiker, but tonight he sounded like a friendly bum holding court on
the stoop clowning for the entertainment of all the other hoboes - until
that last "if you ever cross my path again" verse, where he effectively
told the hoboes "whattaya think I am, some kinda clown?"

Standing in the Doorway - at the beginning, I thought Bob was 
experimenting a bit with the vocals, and it wasn't exactly working. But,
by the second verse, he had pulled it together, and by the end of that
verse, it was an absolute stunner, and actually included the "maybe
they'll get me, maybe they won't" verse, which I've certainly never heard

Down ALong the Cove - a fun closer. I was hoping for something quieter,
like we had for the closer the last few shows, but I can't complain when I
have a good time.

Mississippi - another knock-out version, despite some very minor lyric
flubs. Not sure it was as good as in Chicago (partly due to the inferior
sound), but Dylan got nice and intense when the lyrics allowed him to.

Watchtower - is a song I just don't tire of seeing.

There were high-fives all around. The show had overcome the lousy venue to
become one of the strongest of the tour by all accounts. History and
tapers may record that it suffered slightly from a lack of pacing - no
particularly quiet moments, even the slower songs were fairly intense -
but I'll let history whine about it. There will be many good mp3s from
this show, I hope (along with maybe a really, really jaw-dropping two disc
best of Chicago comp? Please?) and I have a pretty good idea that if this
band is doing this well after all of a month, by the time the fall tour
rolls around (assuming that there is one), the show will be HOT HOT HOT
and there's no guessing what the setlists will look like. As it is, in the
last six shows alone, I've seen 61 unique songs out of a possible 84 - a
very high percentage indeed. It's not impossible that the band will have
played 100 songs by the end of the Willie tour.

Anyway, after some drinks and some laughs, we were back on the road 
heading for home. Unless something very unexpected happens, that will be
my last show of the tour. Have fun with the rest of them, folks, and I
hope to run into you all again this summer!


Review by Brian Doyle

The weather of Chicago proved to be as unpredictable as Bob Dylan as I
prepared to enter the venue located right off Michigan in the heart of the
university area each night. Street parking was all but impossible as there
were restrictions from parking between 4 and 6pm. The theater itself was
brilliant, built in the 1880's with stunning decor and perfect acoustics
at least from various vantages during the 5 night run. Bob came out rather
quickly after Merle, at least 10 minutes earlier than he had been doing
the four shows previously. The new announcement followed as the curtain
lifted and the stage filled with the "orchestra" that now accompany him
from left to right. Elena has certainly been given stage center, and i am
not sure how that sits with the others, especially Stu and Tony. What a
new presence since she got the Bob makeover. Elegant and professional and
constantly at attention to Bob to key on the various change-ups is the
best way to describe her, stunning in the dress, and that million dollar
smile gleams like pearls in an oyster. The show ended a spectacular run
until Friday at the "Rave" club in Milwaukee. So, don't get your panties
in a bunch, this is a review of the show on 3/8, a short drive from the
Chicago area, but quite the drive back to Denver. I arrived home just in
time to beat the blizzard that I am sure you have all heard about, after
leaving the venue well past 1am Saturday morning. Sadly, and little happy
I stayed a few hours in the same rest stop where my dog Candy died last
year after Madison. i swear she was right there with me, it was a good
feeling. Sad and happy, just the way Bob is able to evoke the poetry of
time, and so disdain the critics who try to decipher meaning into or from
the song. It's poetry, so the response it internal and special to each
individual. The club is situated in a neighborhood that seems rundown, and
ample street parking was available for all. It's a two layer structure and
the Bob show, new and improved, was in the upstairs venue rather than the
Eagle club. I went inside early to fetch my will call ticket and managed
to get a nice stack of handbills that depicted the poster. Lately I have
been limiting the posters I purchase as I just don't have the room to
store all the paraphernalia I have accumulated. I was expecting a sort of
lackluster show set list wise after the incredible run above, but what a
shock! Amos Lee played a rather uninspired set tonight, I have nicknamed
him "Aimlessly" as he puts effort into it, but something is lacking or
bothering him. Perhaps as we joked because his tour bus is a rental car, a
Geo Metro, and Merle and Bob seem all too distant at this point. Either
could and probably should, make a guest appearance to at least offer some
credibility to the poor guy. I could imagine a rather fine "Knocking on
Heaven's door". or a fun "Okie from marijuanee", so Bob or Merle, listen
up here and do something. He does wander around after the shows and has
played clubs the same night, but he was spotted at an all night diner in
Denver at 3am, says he is a bit of an insomniac. So, Merle plays without
much fanfare tonight, same old set, with only minor changes each night. In
Denver he seemed to keep it to business and talking was thankfully
minimal. His announcement of the special guest in Chicago was absurd at
best. He is a friendly enough bloke though, I think angry that Bob has not
bothered to invite him for any duet action either. Willing to sign autos
for those interested, I was not however, nor am I interested in Bob's
auto, and if I ever did meet him I would talk about anything except his
music. (unless he really wanted some input) or wanted to discuss scripture
or fishing or topics of mutual interest, especially baseball. The show
begins with 'To Be alone with you", and the intensity of the delivery is
calming the thought that the show would lack character. "To Ramona"
follows and what a delight, seems like a longtime ago that I heard the
perfect song for slot two, congratulations Bob for the excellent delivery
and timing, wish I could hear this one again someday soon.It's rendered
tender and true, and the band has seemed to gel so much better. i don't
think they "really got it on until Denver", and now Bob smiles and laughs
as they meander through the new pastures of plenty. The stage is so full
and present, and though the mix has toned downed the piano, the other
instruments, especially the bow and violin are crisp and clean. If there
is a complaint tonight it the room and it's distant sounding acoustics
that never let the sound pressure develop. The crowd is less than
desirable, always a murmur during the more quiet numbers, and of course
the usual jostle for drinks and the ever present bathroom runs. "Cat's in
the well" comes out like a rocket, aiming to please, and honed like
Patriot, shooting down any of the scuds who don't think this band can
rock. The beer joint Merle talked about is gone, it's an armory of Dylan
magic. Bob gets a little sentimental and brings the house down with a very
strong deliverance of "Make you feel my love". The band revs the engines
and they are running on all cylinders for the trademark "Highway 61
Revisited", it's burning and the room is getting warmer in all ways, and
Bob is the grandmaster as the band moves in and out and back so perfectly.
"I'll be your Baby Tonight" comes a creeping, like a thief in the night,
and the I don't think a single line is not drenched with a little Southern
Comfort. Not sure how this got messed up on the call in tonight, I use
brief notations and simply put "Tonight" on the pencil cue, and the damn
cell phone was all but gibberish from calling within minutes from inside
and upstairs the crowded and noisy departure scene. "Absolutely Sweet
Marie" is offered again with that Carnival sounding swirl, and ever since
Denver, it's just a great one to hear with this fine new band. Bob saves
the best wine for later, and swells out "Tough Mama", a song I had not
heard in person since Telluride in 2001, and it was perhaps even more awe
inspiring then that performance. These shows have ranked right up there
with those two nights, and it's just rubbish if people tell you different.
They want their way, and this ain't no Burger King, you get it Bob's way,
and if you don't like it, well, hang around a while longer and something
is bound to feel appealing. The show is more hot than the crotch that Bob
describes, and the next choice is interesting. "Floater"(too much to ask),
really brings the crowd down a peg or two, maybe just a little too hot for
Bob and Elena to carry on much more. Elana I swear is looking more and
more like Scarlet every night, and really, I can tell you i heard constant
"bitching" about the arrangements and sound during the RTR tour, and now
history seems to suggest that these were some of the more memorable
occasions of the long, strange trip of Bob Dylan. I will say that twenty
years from now, the same will be said of this touring circus. "Floater"
drifts one to new levels if you close your eyes and open your hearts, and
absorb, it's squarepants bob sponge honey! "You left me standing in the
doorway crying" is so classic this evening, in light of the funeral for
Saint Pope John, and it's touching like a dagger ripping the skies apart
for the glorious entry into heaven for a person who Bob was lucky enough
to meet and play for. "Down along the cove" is a great song to end the
set, and biting tonight, and really, a far better conclusion to the tired
"Summer Days" that once smoked the pot right off the stove. (and not that
kind of pot I might add). Then the stare and the band is right there, each
doing their best to follow the orders of the man, look ahead, not down,
not up, and straight out, dare them to find faults. The venue staff was
very tough looking outside but non existent inside, and after the encore
an older gent in front passed out or had a heart attack, but they were
organized enough to get him out, and the leather look look I think is all
fluff, to keep people thinking straight. "Mississippi'" was the beginning
of the second set, and it was a very excellent rendition. It's nothing
like the album, much better, and the instrumentation is superb.
"Watchtower" is next on the card after the all too brief band
introductions, and again, it closes like a knockout punch. It's closing
time at Merle's Beer Joint, Amos is wandering the streets somewhere, and
Bob has long since departed on the Magic Bus as I make my way to say a
temporary good-bye to my friends and family. it won't be long for me to
catch up though, New York is getting closer all the time. So, diss the
cynics and climb on board before it's too late, the "all new show" is
plowing it's way across America. Don't expect anything you heard before,
and let the music do the talking,. I think you are going to like the
sound, it's forging new territory, and the ice breaker has no fear.


page by Bill Pagel

Tour Guide
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location