Madison, Wisconsin
Kohl Center
October 29, 2000

[Gary Baughn], [Stuart Levitan], [Donald Romundson], [David Moyer], [Don Ely]

Review by Gary Baughn

There are so many amazing things about last night that it is hard to know
where to begin.
 How about the 4th row?  Thanks to my friend Bill that’s the vantage
point from which these observations were made.  Those of you who
watched the Dharma and Greg episode last year know this already, but
along with his multifaceted voice Dylan has an extremely expressive
face, and sitting this close added a whole other layer to the
performance in which you wonder, due to various facial tics, whether
he is kidding you with a reading of a particular line, or whether he
sees something entirely new in it.
 Being that close also lets you pretend you are in on what the band is
saying to one another with their glimpses and their instruments during
each song.  If you ever get a chance, even if it means a few more bucks,
do it, get close, he’s still the most reasonably priced, living, working
legend you’ll ever see.
 And you must see him with this band.  I thought I had said it all
after Rochester in March when I wrote that the chemistry reminded me
of what I’ve read about in those olden days with The Band, but these
guys continue to amaze, and may someday lay claim to that capital T
and B.  I mentioned last time their versatility, including blue-grass,
power rock, and country, and then last night they added to their
repertoire and became a cute little jazz combo doing “If Dogs Run Free.”
 Which leads to my final and most important amazement:  Who else has a big
enough catalogue that you can see him 4 times in 6 months and at every
concert he plays something you don’t know, but a lot of others do?  “If
Dogs Run Free” were a woman, I would say “where have you been all my
life?” She would smirk, “Why, right here on New Morning, Big Boy, next to
the title song, and “Sign on the Window,” and “One More Weekend,”  and a
lot of other cool stuff that you were too busy to listen to when you
bought the CD, but now, yeah, now that you’ve heard me in concert, now you
want to pay me the kind of attention I deserve.”
 Sorry, got a bit Tangled Up there, but my point is, he’s got all this
stuff, and we should pay more attention than we do to a lot of it. Last
spring his concerts sent me to Nashville Skyline.  And this morning on the
way to work I listened to New Morning because of last night.  No one else
can make you relisten to and rethink his own material, which is really
great when you have a community of people who are also interested.  This
night was special not just because of Bob's performance, but because I
will be sharing it forever with my kids, their friends, and my friends. 
Not many performers deserve or evoke this much attention.
 Plus there are the usual highlights, such as hearing “To Ramona” and
“Tomorrow is a Long Time” in person for the first time, a “Positively 4th
Street” that had echoes of the early electric days (which got him vilified
but were when you listen to them actually quite understated and
beautiful), a seemingly sincere “Forever Young” and a “Watchtower” that
smolders on Larry’s steel guitar.
 As I’ve said before, he is an artist, he changes, we change, he
changes what he has made, he changes what we look at.  Six months ago I
did not know “Country Pie” existed, now it’s a highlight.  “Things Have
Changed” and so will he, and his audience better be ready to run, and
change directions.  Gotta go.


Review by Stuart Levitan

I would have hoped a five-day stretch in Madison during some beautiful
late fall days, relatively unpressured, might have left Bob a little more
animated and energized. Still, a very strong and solid Greatest Hits show
with enough highlights to send  the 7,000 or so at the Kohl Center (more
than twice the last Madison date in 1996) home happy.

Duncan & Brady - show off to a good, if not unexpected, start. I could
swear I heard one verse as "now you're lyin' dead on a barroom whore."

Ramona - some exquisite looks on "exactly like they'em." Larry a nice
mandolin break that Bob ends, again, with a real subtle look.

Desolation Row - Larry starts it off with some solo picking before it
swings into a rocking arrangement. Strong vocal, but not very animated
until the guitar break, when he dances during his lede. This will be a
theme tonight -- his most energetic times were, generally,during guitar

Tomorrow is a Long Time - nice jaunty arrangement.

TUIB. Not that quick a reaction when Larry starts it off, but good cheers
when vocal starts. OK, so if song is "Tangled Up in Blue," why are the
lights yellowl, giving Bob a sickly, sallow look? Some fine rock guitar
playing and posing. Bob now dancing sort of like he's got to pee.

Searching - does not maintain the energy level.

Curtain backdrop goes up, Fenders come out. Country Pie. Larry takes the
first break, then the standard arrangement. Hot, hot guitar trio to close.

4th Street - sort of fits what his mood looks like. Very nice, sort of
mysterious intro. Still looking good and singing fine, but this took four
days of rehearsals? Some nice looks during vocals.

Tombstone. A highlight. The dancing, the guitar, the powerful vocals all
come together.

Just Like a Woman. Good crowd reaction. Larry on pedal steel.

Drifters. Another highlight, with the stark flashing lights and the
classic left hand harp solo.

Leopard Skin - still looking stern, but performance stays strong. Great
guitar jam, effortlessly working poses in with the music. This really
unleashes the guitar trio at its most powerful.

Things Haaaaaaaaave Changed - little crowd recognition, but good
appreciation after. Best, most alive vocal.

LARS- crowd doesn't get intro, but cheers on first words. Lights up and
down thru song. Really good guitar trio. REALLY good vocal. It's fucking
astonishing how well he plays this 35 years later.

If Dogs Run Free -- was this the American debut? This was just a swingin',
swingin' tune. GREAT vocal - nice and easy and fun and loose. Bob actually
smiled at the end.A highlight.

Watchtower- big. First guitar break was alittle unfocused and muddy, but
second was very sharp. So sharp, at its end Bob gave alittle nod of
recognition to what just happened.

Forever Young. Cheers on vocal. Very strong 3-part harmonies. Bob
headbopping on guitar breaks.

Highway 61. Another strong vocal, feels more alive. Great guitar,
especially from Larry.

Blowin' -  After each chorus, down on one knee for a guitar lick, then
back up. Strong, strong 3 part harmonies to close. Great Bob guitar solo
on first break.

Bottom line - If you've seen a bunch of shows the last few years,this was
solid but not spectacular. If you've not seen any for a few years or
longer, a really strong Greatest Hits show, and you probably wouldn't have
been  put out that Bob didn't look like he was having the time of his
life. Single best vocal - If Dogs Run Free, followed by Things Have
Changed. Overall, guitar work more alive and focused than vocals. Some
real nice dancing,too.

Highlight before the show -- Bob signed one of Dick Waterman's photos from
Newport 1965 : "Thanks for the blues,Best Wishes, Bob Dylan." Dick took
some great pix of Bob 63-65, and Bob invited him backstage before the
show. I'm reliably infomed Bob was at his sweetest, and really enjoyed
seeing some of Dick's pix from back then. Dick came up from Oxford for the
opening of a blues club (Luther's) where a lot of his old blues photos are
on display.

So that's that, for now.


Review by Donald Romundson

 The last time I saw Bob was July 15 at Alpine Valley, which is a large
   outdoor theater in the country outside of Milwaukee.  It is strikingly
   similar to the Shoreline Ampitheater in the Bay Area, holding probably
   forty thousand souls for any given show.  July 15 was a great Wisconsin
   summer day, and the Deadheads following Phil Lesch and Bob provided an
   extra warm ambiance before the concert in the grass fields which also
   serve as de facto parking lots.  July 15 was also probably the best
   Dylan concert I've personally witnessed.  Bob and the audience really
   seemed to be sharing, and Bob was smiling a lot.  I've read so much
   lately about Bob not smiling. And never talking, but I've not had that
   experience.   Bob seems to enjoy playing in Wisconsin, and  I remember
   a few years ago in Milwaukee Bob was talking to the crowd about his
   first girlfriend, who he said was from Milwaukee.  And I remember him
   talking about being so near to Buddy Holly in Duluth when he was young.
     And  years before that talking to    At any rate, I had been
   following the summer-fall tour via the Bob Links site for some time,
   and since that July 15 show have been checking the European swing on
   occasion.  I was thinking how great it would be to see Bob in Dublin in
   a 1,000 seat facility, or in England in front of 2,200.  I was also
   thinking how things have changed so much for me, and how different it
   is now from the days when I could have followed Bob around to places
   like  Wales, or most of all Rotterdam.   I hadn't followed the web-site
   for a while, and then I noticed a new poster on the home page:  October
   29 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wi.  This was only about five days
   before the concert, and I hadn't even heard of it, but I managed to
   scalp some seats in the front row just left of center from someone who
   obviously should have known better.  I was quite concerned about the
   Kohl Center, which is a new basketball arena funded in large part by
   the Senator from Wisconsin of the same name.  I heard the Kohl Center
   was not real good for music, best for hockey actually.  Wisconsin in
   late October is usually getting cold, and this weekend was no
   exception.  Frost on the pumpkins.  But it was sunny and warm on the
   two hour drive down, giving Gena and I plenty of time to engage in the
   usual speculation regarding what songs Bob might play.  We felt perhaps
   we'd hear "Song to Woody," or Cold Irons Bound".  I was certain he was
   going to play "Not Dark Yet," or ""Girl From The North Country."   Gena
   was sure he was going to play "Visions of Johanna."   And like usual,
   we were wrong on every one. Walking into the Kohl Center, I heard
   someone say that they weren't expecting much from Dylan, that it was
   toward the end of the tour, and that he might as well be playing in an
   antiseptic Roman Coliseum.  There were no Deadheads this time, Bob was
   the only Act, and it was "One Night Only" as announced on the poster. 
   The speakers outside were blasting over and over, "The Bob Dylan
   Concert this evening will begin at 7:30 p.m.", the whole scene was like
   a bizarre Frank Zappa scene with the white zone for loading and
   unloading only.  The crowd was unbelievably orderly, and resembled an
   ant colony. When we got to our seats, there was a woman sitting next to
   me with the biggest chunk of amber on a necklace that I have ever seen.
    She told me it was magical.  I said that maybe it would make Bob
   smile, thinking that maybe this would be the night I would experience
   Bob's aqualine features peering out at the crowd without a single
   smile.  And no talking whatsoever.    The show started about 15 minutes
   late, but as soon as the lights went out and the band came on, it was
   clear that we were in for another moving experience.  Bob came out last
   of course, and he was wearing his customary suit with the black stripe
   up the side and those groovy black and white boots.  Being in the front
   was a true gas, but seeing those boots so close and the way Bob was
   moving them was something really memorable.  I was reminded of Bob
   talking about when he was in high school and going to Duluth to see
   Buddy Holly, and getting so close to the stage.  The drummer was
   wearing a cowboy hat.  I couldn't see his boots, but everyone else had
   cowboy boots on, and it was made for the first bunch of songs, which
   went from Western, to South of the Border Western, to Nashville, to
   Apallachian.  Bob was truly in form right from the outset.  Previously,
   I have seen Bob take a song or two to get going, and almost look like
   he just woke up when he walked on stage.  This time it was grooving
   right off, and although Bob was arguably looking his age, he looked
   refreshed and "on." I have never heard such powerful arrangements
   played with such feeling.  The band was really in tune with Bob. 
   Clearly, they have reached a place that few bands reach.   It has been
   said many times that Bob has probably assembled the best band he's ever
   played with, and I certainly cannot refute that.  But the harmonies. 
   The complex interplay on guitar, the glances between band members.  I
   recall thinking early on that we are so fortunate to be able to witness
   such an icon truly enjoying himself in a world in which so much is
   reduced to a slogan.  It should be nothing new to any American to see
   any good thing pounded at you until nothing remains except the dried
   out husk of that thing you become ashamed to recognize.  One of the
   aspects of the diamond that is Bob Dylan is his ability to affect such
   wholesale changes in songs that they resemble the last version in
   literally nothing but lyrics.  This night was no exception.  Heart-felt
   country versions, pedal steel, followed by electric versions, followed 
    The night started with the customary "Duncan and Brady," and then a
   really sweet "To Ramona."   The first half-dozen or so songs were
   acoustic, with the audience enraptured.  "Desolation Row" was one of
   the best of this group, although the version of "Just Like A Woman" was
   something that I will remember for a very long time.  There was only
   one harp solo in the show, which came on "Drifter's Escape," but it was
   a great one as usual.  Bob was cranking the Chuck Berry moves with the
   knees by this time, and those black and white boots were flying. 
   "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" was exemplary as well.  Many times during
   the show I caught myself staring at the drummer, and the bass player,
   who seemed to be working a tight thing together.  The guitarists were
   something else, of course, but those harmonies.  I just don't seem to
   recall in the past those harmonies being so sweet.  And Bob out front. 
   Such artistry with words.  Its hard to believe many in the populace
   consider that Bob cannot enunciate to the back row, much less utter a
   word that anyone can understand.               "Highway 61" was perhaps
   the highlight of the show for me.  By this time, Bob had such a special
   thing going with the crowd.  He just did a moving acoustic version of
   "Forever Young,"  and this was his sixth encore.  He finished with an
   acoustic "Blowin in the Wind." Bob stood on stage with the Band at the
   end gazing into infinity like he does, and the crowd gave the boys such
   an eloquent gesture of appreciation.  It went beyond the deafening
   clapping and cheering.  It was deeper, like a figurative bowing to the
   master.  Bob flexed his fingers in front of his chest, and opened his
   hands to the crowd in appreciation.  They stood on stage for a real
   long time, and it was one of those moments that one might stop and
   recall as your life passes before your eyes when you pass into the next
   world.  It is so beautiful to see a group of musicians uniting with a
   crowd in such a positive way.  I really thought for awhile that Bob
   might bring them back for a twentieth song.   While I was still
   absorbing yet another truly remarkable Dylan show, the woman with the
   amber necklace looked at me and said:  "He smiled a lot."   She was
   smiling too.  I didn't say anything for a long time.                   


Review by David Moyer

Everything was going to be perfect.  I was going back to
Madison, where I went to college, to see my man, Bob Dylan.  I managed to
obtain sixth row tickets.  Expectations were so high that the only thing
possible was disappointment.  Having seen Dylan 10 times or so since 1992,
I feel I have a reasonable basis for comparison, and I have to say, of all
the shows I've seen, this one so blew me away, that I honestly felt I was
seeing him for the first time.
            My friend was on his second excursion.  Having been mildly
disappointed at the July Alpine Valley show, due primarily, we think, to
the size of the venue, and the location of our seats halfway up the hill,
I was more than curious to see his reaction.  I figured it was do or die
for him.
            I really enjoy it when he opens with "Duncan and Brady" and my
friend just loves the line, "Been on the road too long."  But when he
followed with "To Ramona" I was mildly concerned with what direction the
show was going to take.  It was a nice song, no doubt, but I was still a
little concerned about what my friend was thinking, as he is not quite as
far along in the "Dylan Evolutionary Process."
            From "Desolation Row" on it was all over.  This song has
currently been in my head, and it was a pleasure to hear it again in
concert.  "Tomorrow is a Long Time" is what I like to call the "nugget."
There's always one you could never predict that you're just thrilled to
hear.  Last fall in Milwaukee my "nugget" was "Every Grain of Sand."  A
couple of years ago at the Eagles Club in Milwaukee it was "You Ain't
Goin' Nowhere."
            Although Dylan's been doing a similar version of "Tangled Up
Blue" for several years now, I thought he pulled this one off particularly
well on this night.  He was in good voice by my standards-very clear, and
the band was precise and can really play.  He has assembled an outstanding
            "Positively 4th Street" was quite well done as was "Tombstone
Blues".  "Just Like a Woman" was excellent.  Momentum was really building.
"Drifters Escape" absolutely blew what was left of my mind.  From this
point on it didn't even matter anymore.  I was in my own Bob World. 
Although the same could basically be said for "All Along the Watchtower." 
It was a truly good rendition of "Like a Rolling Stone."  I got to hear
"Forever Young." "If Dogs Run Free" is a surprisingly positive addition to
the set.  "Highway 61 Revisited" was of its usual high quality. I truly
believe that this show was one for the ages.  Bob was smiling as he was
singing and in complete control.  The leg was going.  He was toying with
us.   He acted the entire time as if he was completely aware of how well
things were going, making it all even better.        
            When we left the arena, my comment was simply that it was no
longer a question of "if", but rather, a matter of how far we were willing
to travel and how much we could afford to pay.  Having thought this was
rather clever, I let the issue rest.  However, my friend managed to top me
in the car on the way home, when he said it would be difficult to actually
play any of the records anymore, knowing that all he would be able to
think about was what he heard on this night.  This was when I knew he was
he needed to check in to same self help facility as the rest of us Dylan
nuts. There is no going back anymore for him. What followed was a
discussion of how Dylan has got to get some of this late '90's stuff out
on disc.  (I offer this because I know how much he enjoys it when we all
try to tell him what he's "got to do.") My friend, who was exhilarated by
several of the live renditions in his electric set, was mildly
disappointed that he chose to close with "Blowin' in the Wind," preferring
that maybe he open his encores with it and leave us with a rocker.  He did
this a year ago in Milwaukee when "Not Fade Away" left everyone crying for
more.  But Dylan again knew better than us.  He played a song that was 38
years old and could just as well have been written yesterday.  Instead of
leaving us with the feeling that we never want to leave, he's got us
thrilled for the next chance to come back.             


Review by Don Ely

 As I was perusing Boblinks one day to check on upcoming shows I noticed
Our Man Bob was coming to Madison on October 29.It just so happened I was
on vacation that week,and tickets were available from TicketBastard here
in Detroit.What karma!This was actually the culmination of a year of
roadtrippin' for me.In June I ventured to Memphis,The Mississippi
Delta(Highway 61!),and Florida;that trip was bookended by journeys to
Rochester,Minnesota to see Bob on March 31 and then this one. I left a day
early to visit a couple cemeteries in the Chicago suburb of Alsip where
several bluesmen are buried.At Restvale Cemetery you will find Muddy
Waters(his epitaph:"The Mojo is Gone,The Master has Won"),Walter "Shakey"
Horton,Earl Hooker,Magic Sam,Jazz Gillum,and more than a dozen
others.Within about a half mile is Burr Oak Cemetery,final resting spot of
Willie Dixon,Otis Spann,and Dinah Washington.Also at Burr Oak is Emmitt
Till,the 14-yr-old black Chicago boy murdered in 1955 Mississippi for
whistling at a white woman.His disfigured body was pulled from the
Tallahatchie River.His mother refused to close the coffin at the
funeral,wanting the entire world to see what had been done to her boy.This
event was a catalyst in the Civil Rights Movement.Bob Dylan wrote a
song,"The Death of Emmitt Till" that he recorded for Broadside in 1962. I
arrived in Madison before noon on Sunday.I secured lodging arrangements
and drove downtown to hang out and find tonight's venue,the Kohl Center.I
had been to Madison on my return from Rochester in the spring,so I had a
clue about getting around.Found the arena with ease,only about five miles
from my hotel.I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the
beautiful capital city of Wisconsin;the downtown is actually built on an
isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona.Visited some record shops and
hoofed up and down State Street,with all it's pop culture
necessities.Caught Spike Lee's new film "Bamboozled",one that everybody
should see,but not everyone will like. Showtime approached,and I was able
to save five or ten bucks and park free at a nearby movie theatre.Kohl
Center is home to University of Wisconsin basketball and hockey,built
maybe four years ago.I people-watched for awhile before heading to my
seat.The crowd was a mix of students and folks my age(40),with a few
older.Not too many neo-Deadheads this time,guess they stayed home
listening to their tapes of Dylan/Phil from the summer.My seat was at the
rear of the arena,five rows from the floor.As the show was only about half
sold,the stage was moved up and my fortunes improved.Sat next to a very
nice couple from Janesville,Wisconsin,the guy was Dylan knowledgeable,and
recognized most of the songs before I did.The three of us were sharing
great conversation,when the lights go down and on comes His Band and Bob
Dylan!They opened with "Duncan and Brady",which I had not yet seen(I
usually get "Roving Gambler" or "I am the Man,Thomas") and thought the
song was very good.A beautiful "Ramona" followed,and then "Desolation
Row",less ominous(almost sprightly!)than the version I remember from Pine
Knob this summer.The fourth slot of course is reserved for "Tangled",one
of those numbers where you think to yourself,"oh no,not again",but this
rendition was played with precision and was enjoyable.Always a crowd
pleaser,but just once I would LOVE to hear it played electric."Soldier's
Grave" and "Country Pie" were next,followed by "Positively Fourth
Street".From my vantage point the sound was not muddy and it helped that
Bob enunciated clearly.You could hear what he was speaking between
songs,always a measure of sound quality."Tombstone Blues" was up
next,first time I had seen this one in all my 14 Dylan shows,with Larry
sparkling on the trademark riff.Reminded of the '84 versions I've
heard,with Mick Taylor wailing away."Just Like a Woman", a blistering
"Drifter's Escape",and "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box" rounded out the main
set.The encore began with a jaunty "Things Have Changed",I actually prefer
the recorded version on this one."Like a Rolling Stone",a classic in the
truest sense of the term was next;this is one I never tire of,and much as
I judge Led Zeppelin tapes ('71 and later) by the performance of "Stairway
to Heaven",so do I place "LARS" as a barometer of  the night's
proceedings.This was a great one."If Dogs Run Free" was played as a jazzy
shuffle.I've never paid much attention to light shows, but the lighting on
this one put one in mind of the 1930's(tho I never was there firsthand!)
especially with Tony's gorgeous stand-up bass.The song was equally
impressive.I love how Dylan continually pulls some obscure chestnut (this
from the obscure album "New Morning")from his trickbag to surprise his
audience.He constantly re-invents himself.After an excellent "Watchtower"
came "Forever Young",another tune that is evergreen,and then the
obligatory "Highway 61".The show closed with "Blowin'in the Wind",with
those exquisite harmonies from the boys in the band.Afterward the group
stood onstage and practiced their private joke of looking out to the
audience and taking in the adulation.Too funny!But it still wasn't enough
to bring Bob back for another round. All in all, a great
performance,despite the opinions of another reviewer of this gig.I
wouldn't travel 400+ miles if I didn't realize any Dylan show is a good
show.We must acknowledge how fortunate we are to have this man remain a
vital performer beyond the 20th century.No other artists of his generation
tour with the frequency of Our Man Bob,and unlike the Strolling Bones,he
keeps his shows affordable to all.Bravo,Mr.Zimmerman!           

Don Ely 


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