Reviews

San Francisco, California
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
October 13, 2001


[Michael Smith], [Cory Hawley] [Peter Harding], [Sven Lewandowski], [Kendall Freeman],

Review by Michael Smith



Based on the two shows I've seen and from what I've heard from others,
this looks like it's shaping up to be the most significant tour in a long
time. Bob seems clearly reinvigorated by the new material, which he is
obviously and understandably proud of - he's already played 3 more L&T
songs than he did new songs from TOOM on the entire first tour in support
of that album. In addition, he seems determined to surprise the audience
by mixing up the other song selections as much as possible. Last night was
no exception. The show at the Bill Graham Civic Center was absolutely
incredible, marred only by some unfortunate sound problems. Bob's vocals
were the best I've ever heard live, featuring lots of unusual and
ambitious phrasing that, more often than not, was right on target, so
direct in its expressiveness. If the show as a whole was less memorable
than the one in Medford, it was probably only due to the venue itself,
which lacked the down home charm of the small indoor fairgrounds of the
former, had much worse acoustics and because of the aforementioned
technical problems. My traveling companions and I arrived at 2:00 and a
substantial line of people had alreay formed outside. When the doors
opened we were able to secure a good spot about 20 feet from the stage.
The floor was jam-packed with people and there was very little room for
movement. The band took to the stage right on time and they were all
dressed in the matching maroon suits that they first sported in Atlantic
City last year - except for Bob, who wore a black suit with a thin silk
white scarf tied around his neck. Wait for the Light to Shine - I love the
harmony vocals on this, especially the conclusion where they sing, "Wait
for the light to, wait for the light to, wait for the light to shine!" My
Back Pages - Beautiful rendition, very well sung and the mixture of Bob's
harp and Larry's violin was exquisite. It's Alright Ma - Well done, but
indistinguishable to me from many other recent versions. Searching for a
Soldier's Grave - Others will disagree but I never tire of hearing this. I
love the melody, I love the lyrics, I love the harmonies. Tweedle Dee -
This is where the show kicked into high gear and never turned back.
Charlie and Larry were looking at each other and smiling from across the
stage the whole time. Who knows why - maybe they just love to play it.
Charlie's guitar should have been louder in the mix. It didn't matter too
much because Dylan's vocal was so powerful and got a big response from the
crowd. The way he sang "They run a brick and tile company" was hilarious.
The abrupt stop, start, stop ending of the song was a real treat too.
Simple Twist of Fate - The first big surprise of the night and it was a
terrific performance. This was different than any other version that I've
heard in that the first 3 verses were from "her" perspective ("She felt a
spark", "She felt the heat of the night", "She heard the melody rise and
fade") and was followed by three verses from "his" perspective ("He got
out of bed, put his clothes back on", "He hears the ticking of the
clocks", "People tell me it's a crime"). I Don't Believe You - Another
welcome surprise and another gem of a performance. Very authoratatvie
vocal and the way he sang "watery and WEEEEEEEEEET!" drove the crowd into
a frenzy. Capped off by a killer harp solo with very animated hand
gestures from Bob. Cry Awhile - Yes! The music was very close to the
original but a much sexier vocal than on the album with rapid fire
delivery seguing to elongated phrases and back again. The song ended with
Bob screaming (and I mean screaming) the last word - WHIIIIIIIIIIILE!
Larry played some mean slide guitar on this. Masters of War - Much better
than Medford. The arrangement is the same as it's been for a while with
the exception of the guitar licks Bob throws in between lines. Huge crowd
response. The song ended with Dylan repeating the first verse and again he
screamed (and I mean screamed) the last word - MAAAAAAAAASKS! Love Minus
Zero - Yet another nice selection and again incredibly well sung with Bob
sticking close to the original melody. A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall - The
highlight of the evening and the best version I've heard in a long time!
After rushing through the first two lines, Bob slowed down and sang very
softly and clearly. The bouzouki was really loud in the mix and it sounded
real good. (Strangely, it seemed as if the sound levels were constantly
being readjusted throughout the show with the result being that many of
the songs sounded very different.)  The "who did you meet" verse was so
heart-rending that I almost cried and I know I wasn't alone. Individual
lines in the song took on new meaning (some receiving rapturous applause)
and it was like hearing the song for the first time. Summer Days - Didn't
expect it in this slot and was therefore surprised and pleased. A few of
the phrases in the beginning were wild but it ended up a fine version. For
some reason this makes people move in a way that Tweedle Dee doesn't.
Sugar Baby - One of the most pleasant consequences of this new tour is the
way everyone in the audience shuts up when Bob starts singing this. I'm
glad he's doing this every night so that everyone can hear it - I think
it'll go down as one of the all-time great live songs. As with Medford, he
sang, "There ain't no limit to the amount of trouble women bring/ BUT love
is teasing, love is pleasing, love not an evil thing" - connecting those
two lines in a way they aren't on the album. Drifter's Escape - The low
point of the night. There was some heavy static coming from Larry's amp at
the beginning of this and then you couldn't hear his guitar at all for the
rest of the song. As a result I thought this was Down in the Flood until
Bob started singing. It was very percussion-heavy and sounded like a new
bizarre arrangement. Dylan's singing wasn't too hot either but the short
harp solo was sweet. Rainy Day Women - An unexpectedly GREAT version. Once
again you couldn't hear Larry's steel guitar for the first few measures
but the problem was corrected. It was during this song that I began
thinking about how renewed Dylan's confidence seems. All the guys in the
band were clearly having a ball. Bob gave Charlie "the nod" and the
younger guitarist played a fast, white-hot solo. Examples of Dylan's good
humor abounded in this performance: He improvised the whole third verse
(as he often does) with the hilarious, "They'll stone ya then they'll be
back/They'll stone ya whether you are white or black!" He told a joke
while introducing the band mid-song (Dave's the only drummer around who's
better than no drummer at all) and, touchingly, he introduced Tony as "the
most extraordinary Tony Garnier!" Go, Bob, go! Things Have Changed - I was
real glad to hear this and it was a great, powerful, driving version. The
phrasing was the most unusual I've heard on this song and it was money.
Check out the tape of this when he sings, "Some things are too
hot-to-touch, the human mind can only stand-so-much" with an ascending
melody. Mind blowing. Like a Rolling Stone - Plagued by problems but it
fought to be great and succeeded. Larry broke a string and had to replace
his guitar mid-song. Dylan, unsure of which verse to sing, omitted the
opening line of the second verse and then, later mixed up a line toward
the end of the same verse. And yet, and yet . . . his vocals were on fire
and the whole thing seemed to have more energy and alacrity than other
recent versions. Knockin' on Heaven's Door - Always sounds more or less
the same but I like this arrangement (what is that new chord they throw
into the third line of each verse?) and I love to gauge the reaction of
the first-time concert goers, who are always thrown into ecstasy by the
opening. Honest with Me - Those of you who don't dig Larry's slide guitar
on this might really enjoy this performance because you couldn't hear it
for the first half of the song. Of course they kept playing but it was
distracting to watch the guitar tech fooling around with Larry's amp for a
full two minutes. However, Dylan never seemed bothered by any of the
technical problems all night and gave another great vocal performance on
this. Dave's drumming seems to be becoming more varied and ambitious.
About half way through this he started pounding on the cymbals in the
middle of a verse and it was really cool. At some other point in the show
- can't remember when - Charlie turned around to Dave in the middle of a
song and applauded him. Blowin' in the Wind - During the first chorus of
this, you couldn't hear Larry and Charlie singing, "The answer my friend",
only Bob. The problem was then corrected. As with Hard Rain, certain lines
got big applause and all in all it was a fine version. I don't know why
there were so many sound problems but Bob just plowed straight ahead, sang
incredibly, was obviously in high spirits and completely won the crowd
over. Most of the audience, in fact, never seemed to notice the sound
problems. And to Bob's credit - this was probably precisely because Bob
never acknowledged there was a problem. Unfortunately I won't be seeing
any more shows but I can't wait to see the remaining setlists and hear the
tapes. This is obviously a very exciting time to be a Dylan fan.

Michael

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Review by Cory Hawley



After driving all night from Las Vegas to San Francisco, my expectations were 
high for this show. (though when I got back home, I realized I had driven 1100 
miles w/o car insurance becasue Progressive is a bunch of a-holes- but that's 
another story). And it turns out they were too high. My cousin came along with 
my wife and I, and it was her 1st Dylan show, the "Old Lady's" 9th, and my 12th 
since 1999 summer tour. I did enjoy the opener, Wait for the Light to Shine. As 
others have said, similar to Somebody Touched. The best My Back Pages I've 
heard yet. Great harp solo! It's Alright Ma was great as usual. I always look 
forward to hearing it. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum was alright. Would have 
loved to hear those bongos as on the album version. As infrequent as Simple 
Twist of Fate is played, it didn't do anything for me. Then when I heard I 
Don't Believe You I was hoping for something different. But a great version 
and the harp solo made it one of my favorites for the show. I believe Cry
A While was the best played song from the new album. Absolutly great. Masters 
of War is getting old for me. I think I've heard it 10 of 12 shows. Fitting 
for the times, but just wasn't into it. Love Minus Zero, my wife's favorite 
Dylan tune was great, and made her night. I finally got to hear Hard Rain in 
person. Great version, great song, and loved the seriousness of not just Bob 
& the band on this one, but the entire crowd. I'm sorry, Summerdays was the 
best new song played. I loved it. The crowd was digging it, dancing around 
and having fun. But Cry A While was great too. Bob could have played a Milli 
Vanilli w/ Sugar Baby. I swear he could have threw the album on, and lipped 
the whole thing, and wouldn't have known. Sounded just like the album version. 
Though, I don't have the liking to this song as many of the other reviewers 
did. It was long, a bit drawn out. But I knew something faster was up next. 
Hoping for Wicked Messenger, but got Drifter's Escape. Good version, rocked
the house. Glad they played Rainy Day Women as my cousin was hoping for it. 
Not that it is rare, but it's one of the only songs she knows. The usual 
encore. Knockin on Heaven's Door is great. Heard the new arrangment in Pueblo 
this summer and Nashville this Spring and liked it a lot. Glad to hear more of
Charlie & Larry.  Now for my dissappointment. Honest with Me sucked. Sorry, 
but it did. larry's friggen guitar wasn't working, so that awesome slide 
guitar you hear on the album was ineffective. They got it fixed, and it 
still stunk. As if he was affraid to let loose with it. The slide makes that 
song. I want to hear that fricker wail, and it sounded like they were 
rehearsing for the new album, instead of playing it. And when it sounds so 
low and in the distance, it really hurts what it could be. Should have 
brought Johnny Winter along on the tour, just for that song.  Anyways, if 
that slide guitar was more prominent it would have been a killer show. I was 
loving it up to that point, and it sort of dropped me. Anyways, hope he 
swings back down south here towards Vegas soon. I can't make anymore of 
these 1000+ mile round trippers. 

Cory Hawley ([email protected])
Las Vegas, NV 

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Review by Peter Harding




Dylan is my number one guy, he alone dominates my cd
rack and is in a heavy rotation all the time.  I have
seen him about 15 times now and have always been blown
away.  Last night in the heart of San Francisco, I was
prepared to once again be moved, but Mr. Dylan did not
deliver for me.  I brought three friends who kinda
like the man, but went on my request to show them what
I have been talking about for years.  In the past I
have brought folks and as we exited the venue they
would be trying to express in words, how much of a bad
ass they now think Bob to be.   This was not true last
night.  Bob never took off, he never blew up, for the
first time I witnessed he had no heart in the song.  
Believe me this is a hard letter to write, but midway
through the show I was thinking that if Bob doesn't do
something and do it quick I was going to have to write
my first review of a show and have it be a negative
one.

When looking at the set list.....it looks amazing!  I
have seen most of the songs before and as we all know
that doesn't matter because he can deliver them fresh
and spirited every time.  Last night it was routine. 
Even the standard of all standards, Like a Rollin
Stone and Times Are A Changin, were flat.  I always
get some goose bumps on those, even when you know its
coming.  The new songs were good, but he never really
let into it.  The one and only highlight was Sugar
Baby, that song is amazing and the crowd was silent
and at full attention.  

I will of course see Dylan everytime I can, but the
October 13 show in San Fran is now at the bottom of my
list and I hope no other show will replace it. 

peace

Peter Harding

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Review by Sven Lewandowski



The show at San Francisco had to face one problem right from the
beginning: Last night�s show at San Jose was too good. So what could
Dylan offer at San Francicso ?
For me the show began with a disappointment - but it was not Dylan�s
fault. At the two shows before the audience was very cool, all nice
people around me, nobody was talking, screeming or clapping all the
time, but tonight�s audience was like I feared the American audiences to
be like (I�ve listened to a lot of bootlegs and very ofter I was able to
identify American shows beacuse a lot of people are talking all the
time). And I hate people talking while Dylan sings and I can�t
understand why the go to a concert if they wanna talk. Especially one
fatty standing next to me really got on my nerves. It was not just that
he was talking to another fatty all the time (may they both burn in hell
and since they were so fat they will burn for quite a long time !), he
was also doing something that he might call �dancing� - but it was
rather pushing around other people with his masses of ugly fat�
This guy and some other people who also mistook a concert for a football
game (at least they behaved like they were at a football stadium) and
distracted me a lot and spoil the beginning of the show (at least for
me). I�m sure they had fun - or rather what they would call fun�
Dylan opened the show once again with �Wait For The Light To Shine� and
it took some time for light to be seen� - because the next songs was �My
Back Pages� and it didn�t match the performance at Cardiff last year.
Dylan�s harp playing turned out to be rather weak.
�It�s Alright, Ma� followed and I liked it - maybe just because they
didn�t do �Desolation Row� again.
Then it was once again time to search for another �Soldier�s Grave� and
I tought it might now be time to find it and leave the song behind.
The electric set opend with �Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum� just like the
night before but I think the performance was weaker.
I know I told the story already� The song that follow was another one
that was performed at my first real good Dylan show but one of the songs
that I don�t love too much: �Simple Twist of Fate� (but it�s okay to
hear it once in a while - at least when I share similar feelings as
expressed in the song. It�s like so many times: sometime a song really
touches you, means somethings special to you when you are in a mood that
enables you to identify with the story told in a song or if the mood of
the song is close to yours. But in these days �Simple Twist� doesn�t
mean that much to me although I had to think of the song all the time I
walked at water front docks). The performance was good and it got me 10
points for the Dylan pool (making sure that I�m at least the best one in
my team).
As the next song began I didn�t at first believe him to perform �I Don�t
Believe You�. Another song I didn�t expect but I was really pleased to
hear it at a good show (and althought the show at San Jose was much
better tonight�s show was still a good one). The only other time I heard
the song before was at Munich (May, 2nd 1999) and that was a pretty weak
show� Towards the end of the song Dylan took his harmonica and just for
picking it up he got a huge cheer from the audience. A very fine solo
follow and it was a quite long one too. Like always when he played
harmonica at these shows in Califoria he really played the harmonica
instead of just blowing it. And I really liked him doing such
concentrated solos that feature more than just a few notes that are
repeated over and over again.
�Cry A While� followed and it gave us a reason to cry a little� Like at
Sacramento the songs didn�t really come out like it should. Maybe the
tempo changes are to complicated to be reproduced on stage or maybe the
song needs to be rehearsed for some more times. The performance wasn�t
really bad, but the album version is much better.
The the second acoustic set was quite predictable: �Masters Of War� (no
comment), �Love Minus Zero/No Limit� witch sounded very good with Larry
on pedal steel and �A Hard Rain�s Gonna Fall� - the latter the only song
that wasn�t that predictable. It think nobody expected to hear this long
song on two consequtive shows. I think the performance was weaker than
the day before but maybe I my judgement is influenced by a kind of
disappointment that he did this song again or by the audience that kept
talking�
A Lot of people danced to �Summer Days� which followed. But like the
previous performances of the song tonight�s performance lacked of
aggressivness in Dylan�s voice. He didn�t lean into the song like he
should and I wondered why he never did. It shouldn�t be that hard to
invest a little of the commitment he usually invests in �Sugar Baby�
which followed and once again was a highlight.
Since Dylan performed �The Wicked Messenger� and �Cold Irons Bound� the
two shows before and therefore it was no surprise that he chose
�Drifter�s Escape� tonight. But the performance wasn�t as impressive
like it used to be last year (by the way: another song that he performed
at my first real good.....).
�Rainy Day Women� closed the set and I liked it - maybe just because it
wasn�t �Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat� again and for sure because of Charlie
providing some interesting guitar work. �Rainy Day Women� featured also
the band introduction with Dylan�s often repeated joke on David Kemper
as being one of the few drummers that are better than no drummer at all�

The encores were no surprise nor outstanding performances. �Knockin� on
Heaven�s Door� was even disappointing to me. The version performed at
Braunschweig (07/05/01) was so much more sophisticated and better that I
used to say that I�d like to hear that version of the song every night.
I couldn�t say this for the version performed at San Francisco.
So all in all tonight�s show was a kind of decline compared to the show
at San Jose the night before but that�s not to say that tonight�s show
was a bad one. It was still a good show altough it didn�t feature any
song that I haven�t heard before and although Dylan�s phrasing was not
as convincing as the night before.

Cheers

Sven

comments are welcome, please email to:
[email protected]

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Review by Kendall Freeman


Bob Dylan was smokin tonight. Here's a mini review :

We arrived at the BGCC at 8 thinking tickets were availible. It was sold
out. We went around looking for friends with tickets. We found none.
Numerous folks were looking for a ticket. I was surprised it was sold out
until I learned that this venue was one of the smallest on his tour.

The band started playing. Moments later, while standing on the sidewalk in
front of will call, a bgp staffer announced that she was forming a ticket
buyers line. An instant crush was made to form a line. The bgp staffer had
everything under control. She made sure it was single file, had no
cut-ins, and did it in a positive vibe. I shit you not, but the guy in
front of me turns around and asks, "What's this line for?" He had to be
kidding. No, he was serious.

My friend and I got in. We were on our way. Dylan was in the middle of
"Simple Twist of Fate." The band sounded tight. I think that's when he
took his first harmonica solo. It had two parts to it. The second solo had
him holding both harmonica and microphone in his left hand. He'd extend
his right hand when he was getting off. He was baearing his soul to the
world.

It looked like he was wearing the same outfit from summer. No hat. He's
still twisting his left leg like Hank Williams. I think he took another
harmonica solo during "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum."

Other songs included a rollicking "Summer Days" a bluesy "Masters of War"
and "Blowing in the Wind." There was a stirring "Knocking on Heaven's
Door" that had the band singing high harmonies while Dylan cried out the
lyrics. A lot of folks were into the show. Some were there just to see a
legend. His band is awesome. The only weird thing was how much everyone
was getting off and suddenly the yap yap couple finds their way directly
behind you! Ack!

The show seemed a bit brief. It was a stellar performance. The only
awkward moment was when Dylan interrupted an intense jam during "Rainy Day
Women" to give the band introductions. It messed with the flow. After the
intros, the band picked up the rest of the jam. Bob is the man! He's also
the guy who turned tbe Beatles on to pot. Bob Dylan is The Cool.

"Like a Rolling Stone" had the crowd moving. There was no appearance by
Bob Weir or Phil Lesh. Dylan ad changed the setlist tonight. There wasn't
any "Watchtower" but he played something else. I don't know what until I
see setlists.

Whoops! That first harmonical solo was during "I Can't believe Her, She
Acts Like We Never Met." THAT'S when he was bearing his soul at the end! I
think that was the first version he's played on the tour. There were many
moments where Bob and company was ON. Dylan was wearing a black western
suit. I didn't see any bolo. The rest of the band looked like the "blues
brothers" when they were playing the Holiday Inn. They rock! Dylan has
that magical spirit that teh Grateful Dead would tap into.

Bill graham Civic Auditorium is supposedly smaller than HJK. I think it
looks a lot larger. Same design. The folks in the seats above sat
attentavively yet cheered with the rest of the audience during the
perfomance peaks. After the encores, the stage lights were up (not the
house lights), and you could see all the fans in the building. Everyone
was cheering and on their feet. A standing ovation. I've rarely seen that
at the ending of a rock show.

Bob stood on stage near motionless for the ovation. He would subtely nod
his head in thanks. He took his time accepting the kudos of the entire
audience by giving a nod in each direction of the venue in a clock wise
direction. After he made his way 180 degrees, he faced center again and
made a few more nods-- just shy of bowing his head. That's what it really
felt like : he was bowing his head in silence.


He also played "Love Minus Zero/No limit." Another tour first i think. I
dug it but he mubmled the lyrics some on that one. No teleprompters. It's
easy to understand. It was one of the best Dylan perfoances I have seen in
13 years even though it seemed all too brief. It was that good.


After the show, there was a mad mob crush to get merchandise. I picked up
a poster. I wanted a beanie. The crossword shirt DBrooks mentioned wasn't
visible. Getting out of the mad mob crush was difficult.

On the way out the door, there was a lone guy with a stack of posters for
sale without the mob of fans. Funny how that works.

Walking away from the BGCC, you could hear fans clamoring as Dylan's tour
bus pulled away from the venue and to the intersection. Fans swarmed all
around the bus causing traffic to grind to a halt. Ther front of the bus
has these huge windows. Dylan emerges from a door and walks to the front
of the bus. The mob keeps growin and everyone cheers. He then goes to the
bus door, opens a little window, and proceeds to talk to a fan, give an
autograph, and chat for a few seconds****. His western shirt was
unbuttoned with the shirt tail sticking out. No under shirt. There was the
reclusive legend taking time out for fan because the person motioned to
him. It lasted minutes. Maybe 5 ? The entire duration kept that busy SF
intersection closed off until he went behind the door out of sight. bgp
staffers came and cleared the roadways of fans. The fans kept cheering as
they followed the creeping bus a few blocks until it drove off into the
night.

****Dylan is notorious for avoiding the public. no autographs

I have never seen traffic grind to a halt on a busy city street for a
musician until tonight. Bob Dylan. It was straight out of "Hard Day's
Night" or "Don't look Back." It was a sight to behold. He's still got it.

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