Peoria, Illinois
O'Brien Field
August 25, 2004

[Jim Brokman], [Stuart]

Review by Jim Brokman

Rain all through Willie but it cleared up nice for Bob.  I like how they
put the stage at the center field fence and open the outfield to fans.  I
was about 15 feet from the stage.  I feel sorry, though, for the
groundskeepers of the stadium.  There were some spots pretty tore up at
the end of the day. The show was pretty standard on the whole.  Highlights
were Seeing the Real You at Last, Ballad of a Thin Man (extended because
Bob couldn't find the right harp), Honest With Me, and Summer Days. Sadly,
no Time Out of Mind material was offered.  Cats in the Well, Tangled Up In
Blue, It Ain't Me Babe, and Rolling Stone were solid.  My least favorites
were Forever Young and Boots of Spanish Leather.

It's nice of Bob to offer time on the stage to Willie and his family as
well the violinist from the country band - however, all and all I'd say
Bob performs best just with his Band.  It's almost like the show has two
parts.  Part one brings in all the extras and then part two gives the band
and Bob room to work.  I like part two better!  Still, since Bob's Bob he
can run his show any way he wants.

Special attention should be given to the current ending arrangement of
Watchtower.  WOW!  If you close your eyes it sounds like a cross between
Golden Earing and Nine Inch Nails.  I know that sounds strange but its the
best I can do to describe it.  I was blown away.   In the past its always
been jammed full with guitar licks - sort of like how the Grateful Dead
did it.  This one, however, was much more open and spacious.  Just the
lyrics and some eeries guitar chords in the back - but then right before
the first word of the next line - BAM! - a big explosive note from the
whole stage.  And it went that way thought most of the song.  "There's
gotta be some way out of here ... BAM ... said the joker to the thief ....
BAM.  Really, really cool, kind of apacalyptic in feel, as if something
bad was about to happen.  

This was a good bonus Dylan show.  I give it a solid B.  Good sound and
the band performs well together.  Most of the emphasis goes on Bob but it
musically it seems Larry holds the enterprise together.   My
disappointments were two: (1) No set list surprises and (2) There were
some really obnoxious and rude fans.  Too bad for everyone because it just
takes away from the Dylan experience.  I'm not sure if this is due to
Willie's inclusion on the bill or just a sign of the times.  Nonetheless,
as always I'll receive whatever Bob has to offer with a hearty thank you
and great appreciation.  And if he needs help carrying his bag, I'd do
that too.

Jim Brokman
Cedar Rapids, IA


Review by Stuart

Well I set off at 1-30pm having no ticket and unsure of time and distance
to get to Peoria and with heavy thunder storms predicted. The drive in the 
main was Ok, I chose a back route which was slower roads but more direct 
and the weather for the first 2 hours was good.

It all changed in the last hour (50miles) not bad as my USA colleagues had 
told me it was only 1.5 to 2 hours and I was not hanging about. Thunder, 
rain and Lightening like I never saw before. Rod lighting hit a tree about 
50 yards from me as I drove past, No camera, but don't think I would have 
stopped if I had.

Finally got to Peoria at 4-30pm and with the help of a lady in a gas station, 
whoops I mean Petrol station, I got straight to the venue. But guess what? 
Open air and still raining very wet rain.  I got a ticket no problem and 
paid $5 dollars for a plastic bag with a hood on it and got my spot 20 feet 
from centre mic.  I got behind a couple of families which turned out good.

The warm up act were a trio called "Hot House Cow Town" from Houston and they 
were a great act. A good looking woman about 24 on violin, one chap with 
guitar and one on double bass.  Anyway they were great, a bit rag time, all 
good singers and I would guess classically trained, they threw tee shirts and
stuff into the crowd and were really fresh and entertaining.

Next on came Willie and family, sons, Sister, cousin and brother-in-law. They 
were fantastic, Willies voice was better than his recordings. His elder son 
on lead guitar looks about 20 and he can sing blues great and his guitar 
solos, fantastic, his younger son Michael plays various percussion instruments 
and made a great contribution to the rhythm.  The sister played great Grand 
piano and a guy on harmonica was excellent.  4 other chaps made up the band, 
one of whom did 3 or 4 songs and they were very good and complimented the show.
They played some great bluesy numbers mixed in with some of his all time 
classics, You Were Always On My Mind, Georgia (brilliant) Whiskey River to 
name a few.  Willie was just like Van Morrison -  interacting with the audience 
pointing at girls and saying this one's for you.  He changed his Hats 3 times 
and threw them into the audience.  As I said just like Van.  NOT!

It did not stop raining all this time, I mean heavy rain wet stuff, even my 
Great British all leather shoe's were starting to feel damp from the torrent 
running off my plastic bag.  Willie and family were on 7.00 to about 8.25, and 
then came the next great performance. The roadies, stripped down, boxed and 
move all Willies gear, even the grand piano, yes, even the grand piano went 
into a box and away and all Bobs stuff out, set up and tuned, all in 20 minutes, 
What a show.  AND IT was still raining.

Then the spooky stuff started, you refer to God and Bob and I kid you not as 
the guy who does the intro, "Colombia Recording Artist"  said "Mr Bob Dylan" 
and Bob walked on it stopped raining! Just like that! so strike me dead.  Not a 
drop, except what was dripping off the set and the totally soaked audience.

Bob opened with "Cats in the Well" and the sound was perfect.  I could hear most 
of the words no problem 20 foot away almost centre stage, just to the Larry 
Campbell side and great view of every thing, smallish people in front of me. 
Another great moment. The girl from the warm up band played violin stood at the
side of Bobs piano to back stage and although a little nervous and taking her 
lead from Bob it was a great sound and she played out of her Skin.

She then went off and Bob did, I think, 2 more numbers, then Willie and his 2 
sons came on and a fantastic version of I Shall be Released with both Bob and 
Willie taking the lead on verses and Willie's son doing a great solo.  What a 
memory for 2 young lads.  Bob patted them both on the back as they went off and 
very warmly shook Willies hand.  Fantastic Moment.

Another spooky thing happened now, as he was patting Lucas on the back it came 
to my mind you telling me he wrote my BD favourite song, "Forever Young" for his 
son, and I though it would be nice if he did if for Willie's sons.

Imagine the hairs on the back of my neck when Larry played the opening chords to 
that very song!. It was not planned because Larry had got up from the slide 
guitar and picked up his mandola walked over to the huddle, came back , took off 
his mandola and played the opening cords on the slide guitar of my song, How's 
that for spooky?!.

The rest of the show was just fantastic;  I did not even get up tight at all the 
dope heads who keep trying to spoil it by trying to get to the front. I left after 
a great encore staying for Rolling Stone and most of a fantastic version of 
Watchtower, as it was 10-20 and the 3 hour drive was calling. One thing.  You 
could have watched this show for free as one side of the ground has open railings 
to the pavement and about 30 people did. But the $45 was well worth it to be 20
feet away.

I bought another copy of Love and Theft to listen to on the way back, which I did 
in 2hr-30 as I stuck to the highway but not the speed limits, these US cars are 
scary at 90mph.

Anyway thanks for telling me the show was on, should I really drive 8 hours to 
Toronto a week on Friday?  Will Van Match this I ask myself.  


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