Charlottesville, Virginia

University of Virginia
John Paul Jones Arena

September 27, 2007

[Lee New], [Kevin], [Thad Williamson], [Tom Angelman], [Spencer Austin Leonard]

Review by Lee New

I just got back from seeing Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan in concert at the
John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, VA so this review might sound
bizarre and incoherent, but I know some of you like that! [image:

The warm-up band was Amos Lee and they played a 30 minute set with about
6-8 songs including a nice rocker 'Raised By Wolves' and ended with Sam
Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come'. I was not familiar with this band, but
the lead singer is very charismatic and belts out the songs in a style
similar to Ben Harper, very sensitive and diverse.

Elvis Costello took the stage rather suddenly with four different acoustic
guitars and immediately launched into "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red
Shoes". I wasn't quite dancing though his set, but he did bring back fond
memories and who knew he was so funny? His other hits were "Veronica",
'Allison" and "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?"

I didn't really recognize the other songs in his 45 minute set, but he
played this one song where he engaged in a call and response type
sing-a-long and whenever he went 'Wake up!' the audience would respond
with the same. At one point he suddenly started playing part of a song by
John Lennon and when he lurched away from the microphone, I jumped up and
sang out as loud as I could "I don't want to be a soldier mama, I don't
want to die!', but apparently I was the only one among the 20,000
attendees who knew that lyric well enough to scream it out and he nodded
slightly, laughed and went on with the song. I felt 'Special'.

When Dylan went on stage they had this long protracted introduction that
was something like "Bob Dylan, Progenitor of Rock of Roll! Inventor of
Substance Abuse! Rock Icon of the 70's! Washed up in the 80's! Rose
Phoenix-like in the '90s! Still the Greatest Show on Earth" or some sh*t.
Then he launched into "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat", which I was too stupid
to recognize. Next up "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" was excellent and
I knew that one immediately, as well as the follow-up "Watching the River
Flow". At this point in the show I realized that I would need a UN
translator to understand the lyrics of any songs that I was unfamiliar
with, due to his complete inability to enunciate; however, that did not
detract too much from my enjoyment as the band was very tight, dressed in
their matching suits and hats.

All the songs from the new album 'Modern Times' were really well performed
and I lied them as much as the classics, probably because he purposely
screws up the lyrics and mumbles during the older tunes. he highlights for
me were 'Tangled Up In Blue", "Highway 61 Revisited" and "All Along The
Watchtower". I thought 'Hard Rain' sounded kind of obligatory,
anachronistic and irrelevant, but what do I know?

Lee New
The Lapis Connection


Review by Kevin

First, I think the difference between my experience at this concert 
(fantastic), and that of Lee New underscores the dichotomy inherent in the
Dylan  live experience. On the one hand, you have the younger crowd that
are looking  for hearing the hits, and then, hopefully some sort of
re-creation of the  recorded work so they feel comfortable with their
experience. Me, somewhat  older, and more experienced as a Dylan concert
goer, I am looking for having  something of a unique experience compared
to other concerts by Dylan I have  attended.

In any event, I thought Dylan was in top form Thursday, and this after 
having seen a less enthusiastic and less careful show in Clemson just 4 
days before. The sound on the floor was terrific, and even Elvis  Costello
had trimmed some of the fat from his middle set (no forced encores  this
time for Elvis). Although I was a little concerned that Bob and the band 
duplicated the first 3 "ho hum" openers from Clemson when he played UVA,
my  concerns were quickly eliminated by the 4th song, a brilliant Blind
Willie  McTell. By then the crowd had settled in a bit, the sound had been
tweaked,  and Bob and the band were free to carve out a quieter, yet much
more carefully  executed direction for the rest of the night. Bob gave his
first of several  wonderful harp solos, so even those in the audience that
did not know the song  were kept engaged in the performance.

Next, we got Levee's Gonna Break, a song that had the crowd back into the 
concert by the sheer attraction of the infectious groove, with Bob
obliging  with a nuanced vocal delivery that continually propelled the
song forward  as the band increased the intensity of their own
performance. Workingman's Blues  again showed how much Bob cared for the
delivery of the new material, with every 
 line (including some new lyrics?) thoughtfully delivered throughout the
song. No  one could recognize the opening chords by Donnie and Denny on
Tangled  Up in Blue, and I honestly thought several people in my section
did not  recognize the song until the chorus. Next, Bob treated us with a
beautiful  reading of Hard Rain...even this crowd could appreciate Bob's
efforts enough at  this point to remain quiet as Bob built his case up to
the final verse  exclaiming "and I'll know my song well, before I start
singing."  So,  at this point, I am quite the happy camper.

The next three songs remained quite good performances (Spirit on  the
Water was well played and well received), but the real treat before the
end  of the set was "Ain't Talking."  By this time the crowd had realized
that  Bob was there to deliver the goods if they would only sit quiet and 
listened, and listened they did. This was a real treat. Thin Man was the 
last song, a song which, having seen prior set lists, I wondered how it
would  settle as the ending number. Bob pulled out a great harp solo
toward the end  (his third or fourth of the night, each of which were
among the best I have  heard), and I heard why this worked at the end.

In the end, I saw a concert in which I witnessed Bob and the band working 
as hard as I have ever seen before, with great enthusiasm for the material
and  great concern for how their playing was received by the audience. If
you want to  hear the records, go see someone else. Bob is there to play
the songs, and those  songs have a life of their own..regardless of how
they sounded in the  past.



Review by Thad Williamson

My feeling was that this could have been a great show in a smaller
venue. The setlist was excellent, from my point of view-a lot of
interesting older songs ("Watching the River Flow", "Blind Willie"), and a
large chunk of "Modern Times." The strongest performances on the night
were, I thought, "Spirit on the Water" and "Ain't Talkin," but all the
songs off Modern Times worked well. I enjoyed the rewritten lyrics in
"Workingman Blues" (.."I couldn't believe they would kick me when I was
down,"  or something like that.) There was also an amusing new lyric in
"Tangled Up in Blue," ("She was working in the Tropicana went I stopped in
for a show, I was getting ready to leave for Atlanta and she said I don't
think so"...or something like that .)

The problem with the show was there wasn't much atmosphere in the arena.
Only at the very end did the crowd really get into things. Dylan's voice I
think is on a downward spiral compared to even a few yeas ago, and there
certainly were a lot of garbled lines. The first line of "Hard Rain" was
impossible to understand, and it wasn't the only one. The songs he picked
would have been great for an intimate audience but in an arena that size,
where's there's no dancing up front, you've just got to play the rocking
numbers to get the crowd into it. Personally that would have made the show
less interesting for me, but I think the audience would have enjoyed it
more. A lot of folks left early. 

I'd be interested to hear the take on this concert of people who were in
the first few rows.

At the end of the day it was still a Dylan concert with some really good
moments, especially "Ain't Talkin." I also thought, given the name of the
arena, it was good to give "Thin Man" a nice run out. 


Review by Tom Angelman

third dylan show for us...first at wvu 01...second at altoona pa ball park
04...both from a distance...this time up close eight rows from the stage
almost exactly in the middle...down out of rural west virginia into
charming virginia and a perfect evening of the very best live rock and
roll humanly possible...first amos lee young whipper snapper up and coming
wordsmith then elvis costello master entertainer then the bob and his
extraordinary band...our little crew was simply awed by it all...bob dylan
the cornerstone of so much contemporary popular music from electric folk
rock to rap (subterranean homesick blues) to the inspiring music he and
only he is playing today...watching that six man band create music
thursday night was to see and hear a master leading masters through a
masterpiece the end when the sound stopped and they took their
bows they radiated satisfaction for their audience's appreciation with
gratitude and obvious humility...when bob finally stops making his music
we will not see his place filled of a kind in our time for all
time...thank you bob...godspeed 


Review by Spencer Austin Leonard

Some of this may not come as news to those who have been following the
last 4-5 months of the tour more closely than I have.  The last shows I
saw were the two nights in Wembley Arena back in April.  What struck me
was re-arranging that has gone on in the last few months, first evident to
me in “Blind Willie McTell” which I liked better at Wembley, but which
is one of my favorites from “Infidels” (a strong contender for my fav
BD album) and which I always love to hear.  The “TUIB” arrangement was
likewise striking – unbelievably spare, giving Dylan a lot of room to
stretch out vocally, which he did.  As for the performance, I think these
judgements can be highly subjective and depend massively on the sound at
one’s particular seat, etc.. (I had quite a good seat and thought the
sound ought to have been much louder that close up).  In general, then, I
thought it was hit and miss.  This, to me, has often been the case where a
few numbers stand out from the rest.  For me, at this show, that list
would have to include the “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Hard Rain,” and
“Highway 61” sequence and “Ballad of a Thin Man” and, in general,
he seemed more interested in re-interpreting the songbook tonight than in
putting across the new songs.  The Modern Times numbers were ably
performed, and I did enjoy “Workingman’s Blues” and “Ain’t
Talkin’” a good deal, but they were not as striking as they were in
London.  “River Flow” and “Summer Days” were the low points for
me.  In general, I think that the current rigidity of song selection from
the albums of the last 15 years or so is unfortunate – there ought at
this point to be a lot more judiciousness in choosing songs to play from
the 1990s and 2000s with less concentration on the “Modern Times”
material.  Of course, I imagine just such a change is coming on, since the
man himself seems to tire of singing the “new” songs. Denny
Freeman’s guitar work was truly exquisite throughout making even those
songs that Dylan didn’t give that much to still very worthwhile.  The
deliberation and delightful quirkiness with which Freeman approaches each
bar is truly delightful.  People who complain about him or carry on
endlessly with their unfavorable comparisons to previous NET guitarists
are way off the mark as far as I am concerned. Bob Dylan, it seems to me,
is getting too old for these big arenas. Vocally, he has to let subtlety
of phrasing and suggestion do most of the work, especially as he has real
difficulty in singing over the busier or louder arrangements nowadays, a
fact that seems very largely to determine the form the new arrangements
are taking.  Still, discontent with the hall aside, tonight’s
performance at John Paul Jones Arena was jolly good fun. I only wish I
could see more on this tour.


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