Sevierville, Tennessee
Smokies Park
August 18, 2004

[Norman Q.]

Review by Norman Q.

Bob, Willie, and minor league baseball stadiums - nice combo! 

Warm, friendly, and laid back for Willie Nelson. His down home style
connected with the crowd and added a comfortable balance to the more
mysterious Mr. Dylan for this tour. (Sorry to have missed Hot Club of
Cowtown, miscalculated traffic logistics.) And any doubts about this
outdoor venue capturing some good acoustics melted away as I walked the
surround of the main concourse above the infield seating, everyone had
Willie right there. 

Walking on to the infield, there is some kind of protective foam covering
that immediately mellows your step and provides a sense of enhanced
intoxication that is already in the air. Mostly middle aged crowd looked
peaceful and content, people have blankets spread out all over, but there
is room to move about. The pitchers mound is squared off with a white
picket fence, almost quaintly poetic. It provides a nexus of divide for
the diehard who are camped out further towards shortstop for the best view
of Bob, as others hover closer to home where the beer vendors are pinch
hitting for batboys. 

Dylan and the band shimmered with Down Along the Cove as the show opener,
setting the mood for this harder edged, rocking style of show from the
last one I had seen back in 2001. The sound system and mix was great,
particularly in what seemed to be a distinctive capturing of Bob's vocals
as the concert started. I wondered that just for Bob's vocals - they might
have dedicated a number of channels off the mixing board and cabled them
directly to individual monitors among the multiple stacks that rose in
towers at each side of the stage. 

But desciphering lyrics soon became nearly impossible in songs that
followed as the band fired up, or maybe Bob wasn't working the mike as
closely. Comments about Bob's voice and clarity are a continuous subject
around here... surely there is a sound engineer with some better ideas for
delivering the best possible amplification of whatever vocals are there
into the mix. 

Whatever, I got over it... letting the mood of the songs carry me along,
settling for the satisfaction of knowing the topical subtext of the songs
while only occasionally catching a phrase, but knowing those killer lines
were in there somewhere! Ok... I'm not as over it as I thought. 

A security guy or cop came through the crowd at one point... looking for
recording devices or the secrets of the breeze? He just couldn't seem to
find a problem. I told a friend, "We live here." 

Have to say... Stu Kimball had a large presence of sound and a style that
stood out (almost apart from the rest of the band at times), as contrast
to the more finely balanced weave I remembered from 2001 with Charlie
Sexton. But I was ready for a more raved up show to deliver what I hear as
an echo of that "Highway 61 era" sound on Love and Theft. **I was not

Highway 61 Revisited, Honest With Me, Summer Days ... were high points for

Like A Rolling Stone - Bob seemed to put something extra on this one,
looking particularly animated.

At one point in the evening, there was an additional guitarist playing
(looked like a Strat) just off to the left behind Bob, making me wonder.
Someone in the crowd insisted it was a roadie, but he hung around
appearing to be playing for several songs. 

As to Bob's mood and antics for this show, maybe someone else has a better
story... but I thought he looked and moved about with all form of grace
and satisfaction, looking quite happy at the close of the show where they
all stood out front and took waves... no awkward moments. And I'm
convinced I caught him looking straight at me as I raised a double shot!! 

norman q.


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