Asheville, North Carolina
The Orange Peel
April 9, 2004

[H. Reaves], [Bob Bowser], [Odom Chumbley], [Matthew Martin]

Review by H. Reaves

There was a buzz all day long in town as dylan was playing the small
orange peel club in the heart of downtown.  A beautiful spring day in the
NC hills. As I rode into town around 11 AM, I rode by the club to check
out the scene and the big brand new eighteen wheeler rig was parked right
out front, about the same length as the venue itself, and the crew was
unloading the music equipment at breakneck pace.  The crew's bus was
parked by the back entrance.  No sight of dylan's bus at this point, which
makes one wonder just what the hell they did during their day off in the
NC mountains; would guess that they certainly freaked anyone out they
happened to come across.

Went to see a 4:00 showing of "touching the void" at the arthouse cinema
across the street; when it let out about 6, I walked over to the orange
peel, a throng of folks lined up, and went around back to where the buses
might be.  Two big black buses had pulled up behind the crew's bus; they
were big and black and cool as shit; a roadie was polishing the giant
hubcaps.  There was a sense that something big and historical was about to
happen in asheville in a tiny club that dylan had no business playing.

Tickets were going for $150 a pop outside the club; mostly shady ticket
scalpers who didn't really seem to understand why tickets were so much
from the looks on their faces.  The doors opened at 7:30 and it appeared
all 800 ticket holders were lined up at that point ready to get in.  The
orange peel was designed for great acoustics - this was the positive rap
outside about the club - hardwood floor and hardwood ceiling.  The club
was a small, very open, square-shaped room.  a bar ran the length of the
left side of the room, w/ at least 10 microbrews to choose from during the
show.  it was a great setting.

dylan came on 15 mins late and really sounded and looked good in this
venue.  he moved a lot behind the keyboard, which was accentuated by his
big white cowboy hat.  reminded me a bit of ray charles the way he moved
behind the keys.  the set list was good w/ highlight for me being 'i
believe in you' off one of his religious albums and 'not dark yet' which
is one of my favorite songs from later yrs.  i was able to catch the
columbia show the next night, where the set list was better, but the feel
of the show not nearly as good in the dusty old auditorium; there wasn't
the same intimacy and historical feel as w/ the asheville show.

very little security keeping people away from the buses after the show. 
dylan came down the steps outside the club along w/ larry and tony. 
roadies kept saying hit or miss whether dylan might sign an autograph.  no
luck tonite as he went right on the bus and didn't even look at some of
the freakish fans screaming at him.  there are some scary/ freaky dylan
fans out there.  a pretty blond to my left, probably 21 yrs old, pushed
security guard aside when dylan appeared out of the club and she ran as
hard as she could towards him, only to land in a police officers grasp who
carried her back to her original spot right beside me.  i told her that if
she had gotten through, it may have been more than she bargained for
anyway.  after all, what does one say to the 63 year old dylan?  after
all, he is 'le freak' of freaks.

would have liked to have gotten a signature on my first edition of
tarantula.  if it doesn't happen at such a small place as the orange peel,
it just ain't gonna happen.

the dylan mystique remains in good hands.

H. Reaves


Review by Bob Bowser

First of all, Asheville is a great town!  Nestled in the Smoky Mountains,
Asheville (I'd guess 125,000 people) offers a tremendous number of
terrific restaurants, shops, and bars.  There is a large and thriving art
and music scene in this town - one notable annual event is hometown hero
Warren Haynes' Christmas Jam, held every December at the Civic Center. 
Bob has played (to the best of my knowledge) 5 shows at the Civic Center 
over the years (some in the smaller Thomas Wolfe Auditorium located in the
same building) - 1993, 1994, 1997, 2001, and 2002.  While I only attended
the 93 and 94 shows, I have heard all of them, and I can say Bob always
gives his best in Asheville.  2004 was no exception.

The show was held at the Orange Peel, a "small" (950+) club located
downtown.  Tickets were sold only at the box office two weeks before the
event.  I arrived at 4:00 AM that Saturday morning, and was 80th in line. 
Spent that beautiful morning with my friend Jennifer and made many new
friends (Hey Buzz, Doc, Austin, and the couple from ETSU!)  Box office
opened promptly at 10:00, and the line moved quickly.  By 10:40 I had
tickets in hand and was back on I-40.  

The only other show this tour I was able to make was Norfolk  (which was
great!), and Norfolk was my first show since Joliet, IL last summer,so my
expectation level was very high for the show.  Hit town about 2:00, had a
great meal at the Mellow Mushroom w/ the Potter Man, and spent the
afternoon hanging with friends as they arrived in town (btw, heartily
recommend the Best Western on Woodfin - nice rooms and a good bar for

Doors opened at 7:30, show started at 8:45 or so.  Bob came out to a very
enthusiastic welcome from a great crowd.  Having gotten "Cold Irons Bound"
opener in Norfolk, I was ready for anything.  "To Be Alone W/ You" set an
energetic tone for the evening. The sound was very good - only complaint
was that Bob's piano could have been higher in the mix (as it was on the
Fall 02 shows I've heard). "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" impressed me
even more than the Norfolk version, maybe because I was expecting the new
arrangement and was able to focus on some more subtleties this time
around.  Then, out of nowhere..."Unbelievable"!!!!  Please correct me if
I'm wrong, but I think this was the first version since 95.  There was a
mis-step or two on the breaks, but all in all a fantastic job on a song I
hope becomes a regular part of the rotation (especially apt for this day
and age!) "Make You feel My Love" was beautiful, and gave the dancers a
chance to catch their breath.

The next four songs were to me (along w/ "I Believe In You") the meat of
the show.  "Most Likely..." ripped - sounding so much like the original
from "Blonde On Blonde" I had to pinch myself. "Can't Wait" smoldered like
a swamp fire, building in intensity. "If Not For You" was simply perfect -
it could not have been any better.  We had listened to George Harrison's
wonderful "Brainwashed" on the drive up, and with George's recent
induction into the R&R Hall of Fame, this song seemed especially
appropriate.  I apologize for my inability to convey just how beautifully
this was played.  The opening notes of "Cold Irons Bound" always causes
the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up, and tonight's version flat
out rocked.

The rest of the show was equally stellar - "Not Dark Yet" in particular
seemed to sum up my feelings of apprehension as we head towards an
election that might very well be the death sentence for our nation (and
our world for that matter).  "I Believe In You" was every bit as powerful
as the Norfolk  version; probably the best vocal performances I've heard
from Bob since 95.  "Summer Days" (as always) brought the house down (Has
their ever been a sub-par performance of this song?)  The building shook
as the crowd began stamping their feet in unison during the break, and
everybody in the joint was dancing throughout the encores.

All in all, a flawless show.  The band was great.  Freddie has improved
considerably since the first time I saw him in Cary last year.  While I
admit I miss Charlie at moments, Bob seems to really enjoy playing with
Freddie, and I'm glad he's in the band.  (Hell, for that matter, sometimes
I miss JJ too! but if you can't handle change, you won't be a Dylan fan
for very long).  Thank you Bob, thank you band, thank you Orange Peel
staff, and thank you all of my friends who were at the show (special
thanks to Jim Tilley for (as usual) getting me off my lazy butt and up to
these 2 shows).  My next show was going to be Bonnaroo, but after
Asheville, looks like I'm overdue to Atlantic City...hehehe...

Bob Bowser


Review by Odom Chumbley

...Po Boy and me rolled in from Hotlanta; Orange Peel bound. Checked in
'neath the smilin' face of Uncle Sam; Room 24 at the best damned motor
court in town (

Settled in, we hoofed it on over to the venue to take a gander. Ticket
angels T & H (a million thanks) were well in line and sound check
found us just in time. Back at the motel, we were truly blessed to
meet our neighbor in Room 23; the sweet, gentle, disarmingly humble
and hugely talented, Ms. Carolyn Wonderland
( What a happy harbinger.

Sun settin' showtime shuffle past a street performin' band. You gotta
love this town."They say the nighttime is the right time"...what a
great opener in a really great room. Sound was tight. Re-arranged Baby
Blue left my jury out but then came the unbelievable, Unbelievable.
"It's unbelievable, it's fancy free, so interchangeable, so delightful
to see". Danced all night aboard the benches in the back. Solid, solid
show. Cool mountain breezes blowing through the open doors and an
uninterrupted view of Bob and da boys. Two first timers (Jersey Girl
and Too Tough Mama) helped this old man shake it on down. Thanks girls
and thank you, Mr. Dylan, for nearly three decades of concert going
memories. "After all these years, you're still the one".

Odom Chumbley


Review by Matthew Martin

To review properly the show last night at the Orange Peel in Asheville,
North Carolina, I have to report on the ticket sale extravaganza.  The
Orange Peel only holds 942 paying customers, and the owners decided not to
have internet or telephone sales, thus leaving the bulk of the tickets for
locals.  As a result, people began lining up at 5:00 the afternoon before
sales began.  I hadn't waited out for tickets since 1981, and, after that
event (coldest night of the year, waiting for Bruce Springsteen tickets),
I swore I would never do that again.  So I took the risk and didn't camp
out.  By the time I got to the Orange Peel at 8:00 in the morning, the
line went up the street for two blocks.  In the line were old friends, and
I made several new ones as we bided our time.  Luckily we scored tickets,
but, as reported in the paper, over 40 people went home disappointed.  I
was suprised how much fun I had with my new pals.

They lined up early for the show last night, too.  But brother-in-law Bob
had promised to take the wife and I out for dinner in exchange for my
nabbing tickets and we took him up on it, so we didn't get there until
about an hour before show time.  The Orange Peel is the best club venue in
North Carolina, and actually better than any I have been in anywhere else.
 It began as a roller rink, and has a wooden floor and a wooden ceiling. 
The acoustics are absolutely wonderful, warm and rich.  For years the club
was known as the "Almighty Orange Peel" and was a fixture on the "Chitlin
Circuit" in the 1960's and '70's, the segregated club circuit of the
South, with such acts as the O-Jays, Chi-Lites, and James Brown gracing
its marquee.  The new owners rescued it from oblivion as a warehouse, I
think.  Best of all, there's no smoking.  When everyone is grooving and
dancing, like last night, the floor undulates.

Brother Bob correctly points out that, with this setup, Big Bob tied to
the keyboard, and not prowling the stage, small clubs are better venues
for connecting with the man.  Everyone in the room had a great view of the
whole band.  Reports of Larry looking bored are not made here---the whole
band seemed to enjoy the bobbing crowd (there are only a few chairs and
tables in the the Orange Peel and they were not in evidence last night). 
Particularly I enjoyed the grins on Larry and Tony's faces as Larry played
the "Sweet Jane" intro to "If Not For You."  Larry and Freddie traded
blistering leads all evening, and, though this opinion won't settle the
matter, Freddie is fine.  Bob knows what he's doing.

No acoustic songs last night---it was a full out rockin' show.  My wife
was almost startled (pleasantly) by the ferocity of the roadhouse rock in
songs like Cold Irons Bound, Summer Days, Highway 61 and the entire
encore.  Big Bob's voice was excellent, best I had heard in years,
hitting, if not notes, at least tones and phrasing that I thought were
lost to us.  Perhaps the acoustics had something to do with that. 
Unbelievable and I Believe in You were really great treats.  Not Dark Yet
was also stellar.  Big Bob seemed to enjoy being the master of ceremonies,
directing the band, and he twitched back and forth as if all of the music
actually went through him before it went out the PA.  As opposed to the
show in Asheville last year, Bob actually played the piano, instead of
just plunking on it.  The harmonica remains unique.  We had a fantastic
time, but an exchange I heard next to me really hit it:  During Highway
61, I heard one person just blurt out, "This is incredible, unbelivable,
this band is crankin'," to which a complete stranger shouted back, "It's
Bob Dylan, man!"  I thought that summed it up in only four words.


page by Bill Pagel

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