Houston, Texas
Verizon Wireless Theater
April 22, 2003

[Clifford Fry], [Bill Shute]

Review by Clifford Fry

I loved The WAIFS - great band - great songs.  Don't avoid the "warm-up"
band. Dylan was great.  The band was very tight.  Crowd was pleased. 
Dylan was not very animated, did not say anything.  Just played good
music.  The first two songs were done well. I am not a fan of Tweedle
Dee.. but I liked hearing Tell Me That It Isn't True. The concert seemed
to kick into good gear, though, with the third song, Tombstone Blues.   
Particularly nice was hearing Blind Willie McTell and Dignity and
Drifter's Escape.  Just Like A Woman was well done.  Dylan's songwriting
is just unbeatable. There were no backup vocals - very different from when
I saw him in Austin last year.  I missed them.  Most of the songs seemed
to follow the original tunes more than has been the case in some concerts
of his that I have been to. The musical treatment was different - more
rock and roll underpinning than some of the original versions.  The band
was always great.  Dylan concentrated on keyboards, but played a little
guitar. I have recently had trouble understanding Dylan's enunciation of
many of his words in concert.  That has not always been the case. In the
Rolling Thunder Review days, Street Legal era, playing with THE BAND in
1974, Dylan/Petty tour, and at other concerts I have attended until the
last few years, one could understand the lyrics.  Dylan's voice in the
past was clear and strong.  It is currently very strong, but to me he is
often difficult to understand - and I know many of the lyrics.

Clifford Fry
College Station, Texas


Review by Bill Shute

My two teenaged children and I took the 200-mile
drive to Houston to catch the fourth show of the
new tour, the first of two shows at the relatively
intimate Verizon Wireless Theatre. We opted for the
reserved seats in the balcony, on the right-hand side
near the front, and since Bob is on the left-hand
side of the stage facing diagonally to the audience,
he seemed to be looking straight-on toward us the
whole show...great luck with the seats!
I can't imagine any fair-minded Dylan fan not liking
the 22 April show. Dylan was animated, he looked to
be having fun throughout, his voice was powerful,
the song-selection was great (Blind Willie McTell!!!),
and the band rocked out for most of the night.
He did, however, do a lovely acoustic "Don't Think
Former Willie DeVille guitarist Freddie Koella was a
bit off on "Tell Me That It Isn't True" for a second
or two (as the recordings will no doubt show), but
he seems to be a quick study as this was only his
fourth show with the band, and although he seems
to be restraining himself a bit, he cut loose a few
times (and Bob went over next to him and wailed
beside him in guitar hero fashion a few times!) and
is a great player who is quite different from Charlie
Sexton. Koella reminds me of James Burton, and on
a few passages even had echoes of Roy Buchanan!
I think he will bring a rawness to the band that
we haven't heard since the days of G.E.Smith and
Steve Ripley...a good choice for the guitar slot, Bob.
Half the concert was material less
than ten years old, and it all sounds fantastic live.
With Koella's rockabilly feel, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle
Dum is a fine opener. The show is well-paced
throughout; except for the encore, all the songs
sound different from the way they did last year,
and Dylan's phrasings and shadings had me hearing
songs like High Water, Blind Willie McTell, Dignity,
and Standing in the Doorway as if they were new.
Yes, there are only 16 songs instead of 19 or 20,
but the energy level was high throughout and Dylan
was INTO IT for the entire coasting here.
George Recile also is learning to lay back a bit
(except on the all-out rockers, when we want him to
wail!)and support the band rather than lead it, which
is most welcome.
Larry's mandolin playing was beautiful throughout,
and adds a nice tart texture to the sound.
Tony, as always, is the perfect "anchor" to the sound
and keeps the music on its toes.
In summary, it sounds like the "bugs" of the tour's
first few nights have been worked out, and I think
this band will just get better and better.
My daughter is into country music and my son into
techno, yet both had to admit the power and authority
of Dylan's music. Even though I didn't look forward
to a 200-mile drive back home in the middle of the
night when I had to be up the next morning at
5:15 a.m. for work, it was well worth it, and even
now some three days after the show, I'm still wired
from the power of the show.
(Hello to the charming lady we sat next to, a fellow
veteran of many Dylan tours)
As ever, if Dylan is within driving distance, I'm
going to be there.

Bill Shute
San Antonio, Texas


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