Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 05/16/98


George, Washington

May 16, 1998

The Gorge

Thanks to Douglas Wilber for the following review:

We were there to see Bob first and foremost, but Van and Joni were close
behind. The PA music while waiting the 3 hours before the concert was all
Frank Sinatra.

Contrary to my expectation that Van will do nothing to cater to the
crowd, he opened with a couple of oldies, Domino and
Jackie Wilson Said, then Raincheck, Moondance,
Days Like This, That's Life ('bye, Frank), Fire in the
Belly, It Once Was My Life, I'm Satisfied, Vanlose Stairway,
Whenever God Shines His Light On You, In the Afternoon, I'm Not
Feeling It Anymore, Tupelo Honey/Why Must I Always Explain (It's
just a job, you know/It's not supposed to be 'Sweet Lorraine'),
See Me Through/Soldier of Fortune/Thank You Falletinme Be
Myself/Burning Ground. No encore, a thoroughly satisfying set,
the band's excellence showing in their supple grooves, dynamics and tight
transitions. Pee Wee Ellis does as much or more for Van as he did for
James Brown. Some don't like Van's exploration of grievance in song.
Tough shit. Brian Kennedy, the sweet tenor who seems to turn off a lot
Van's fans, wasn't doing the echo thing as much as singing harmony and
unison, which I prefer. 

A word about the Gorge: the cliffs and rim rocks of the mighty Columbia
and the river itself are the backdrop for this amphitheater. Hundreds of
square miles of river-break country with little visible development. We
saw Great Blue Herons, many hawks and ravens, maybe a Golden Eagle flying
up from the river. The stage is sited below a natural bowl with a steep
sitting lawn above the reserved seats. I saw Bob here in 1988. I still
want to hear him sing "...from the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol" here,
but I'm just gonna have to wait.

Joni came on as the sky grew dark, did mostly non-hits: Night
Ride Home, The Crazy Cries of Lovers*, Harry's House, Slouching Toward
Bethlehem, Just Like This Train, Black Crow, Amelia, Hejira,
Big Yellow Taxi [with Bob's line "...they took away my
home and land" (cf. Dylan) imitating Bob's voice and
phrasing], Facelift*, Sex Kills, The Magdalene Laundries, The
Moon at the Window and Woodstock (solo) as the
encore. (*-on the new Taming the Tiger) She looked
beautiful, her voice is strong and clear, and her guitar playing was a

The musicianship in Joni's band, in fact, in all three bands at this
concert, is far above my abilities to comment on it, except to say
subjectively that I was delighted, moved and thrilled. Danced some, 

Dylan came roaring out of the blocks with Absolutely Sweet
Marie, and by the second number, If You See Her Say
Hello, it was clear we were in for a major treat. He was in very
good voice, which seemed stronger song by song. Cold Irons
Bound started out eerie, shapeless and random and came very
slowly into focus over a minute later. Simple Twist of Fate,
Silvio (more Stones than Dead now), then the "acoustics":
Cocaine, Times They are A-Changin' (Dylan singing
unbelievably strong here, hitting the notes of the old melody loud and
clear), and Tangled Up in Blue (with harp! for the
outro). Til I Fell in Love With You next, then I
Shall Be Released with Van and Joni. Joni flubbed her verse, but
recovered admirably: "They say every man needs protection, they say every
man shall be released (sic), But I swear I see my
reflection, In the image of the Beast" or something like that. Bob

An extremely rockin' (as always) Highway 61 Revisited
was the pre-encore final. It Ain't Me Babe, acoustic, is
turning into an Irish reel/bluegrass breakdown with Bucky and Bob jamming
'til the cows came home. Lovesick and Rainy Day
Women took it on home.

It was 12:30 a.m., over five hours after Van had kicked things off. We
joined the arduous drudgery of 18,000 exhausted concert-goers exiting
dusty grid-locked parking lots onto eastern Washington country roads. The
path to the parking lot went through a marsh in which hundreds of frogs
were chirping, calming the ears from loudspeaker overkill and tuning us
toward things timeless and eternal.


Thanks to Don Helling for the following review:

Van did a tribute to Frank S.  with a wonderful version of "That's Life."
(Van's set list follows)

Midway through Big Yellow Taxi, Joni said something to the effect of "Bob
Dylan wrote this next verse" then repeated the previous verse in a hilarious
Dylan parody voice.

The other thing that I noticed was how much fun all three seemed to be
having.  During "I Shall Be Released" with all three on stage, they seemed
to be joking around, sometimes stumbling over who would take what verses
when and laughing about miscues.  I can't remember the words, but Joni
ad-libbed the ending to the verse that she took and Van and Bob started
laughing.  They just seemed to be having a ball.  During Dylan's set, even
though he wasn't what you might call talkative, he was constantly mugging
for the audience during guitar solos, and doing the Dylan waddle "leg

I was in a group with people that were there mainly to see Van and Joni as
well as those of us there to see Bob.  Everyone left with a deeper
appreciation of the other two artists, and everyone went away impressed by

I second Christine's opinion that this was one great show, definitely try to
see him on this tour!

Here is the Van set list for those that are interested:

Jackie Wilson Said
Fade Away
Moondance (with extended instr. break)
Days Like This
That's Life ("I'm going to do a tribute to Frank...")
Fire in the Belly
Used to Be My Life (?)
Van Lose Stairway
Light Shines on Me
IN the Afternoon
Tupelo Honey
Someday (with a chorus of "thank you for letting me be myself again...")
Burning Ground


Thanks to Christine Day for the following observations: 

Just attended the May 16 concert at the Gorge.  Superb.  Van Morrison came
out first to play wearing a black suit and hat right out of the Blues
Brothers.  Had a younger  male with a high voice doing back-up.  Don't know
the names of his songs but recognized quite a few, obviously Moonwalk. 
Joni Mitchell came out next and sounded great.  Introduced her guitar
player as "my very recent ex-husband" she talked to the crowd quite a bit. 
Told the crowd she hadn't been on tour for a lond time, but couldn't pass
it up.  Bob came out next and started with Absolutely sweet Marie. 
Acoustics at the Gorge are excellent and could see stage great from my
seat.  Played If you see her, say hello--Cold Irons Bound--Simple Twist of
Fate--Silvio--Cocaine Blues--A simply perfect version of Times They are a
Changing--Tangled Up in Blue--Till I fell in love with you--Then Van and
Joni came on stage and accompanied Bob in I Shall Be Released.  Beautiful,
all I can say.  Highway 61 was last.  For encore played It Ain't Me,
Babe--Love Sick--and always crowd-pleasing Rainy Day Women.  Bob sounded
terrific, very clear, and strong. Got to hear a harmonica solo too!! DO NOT

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