Reviews

Madison, Wisconsin
University Of Wisconsin
Kohl Center
October 31, 2001


[Donald Romundson], [Richard Aronson], [Gary Baughn]

Review by Donald Romundson



Maybe it was the first full moon on Halloween in 46 years that got the
rocking bug up Bob's ass, or maybe it was just the fact that he seems to
like playing in Madison, but he definitely ROCKED in a special way last
night.  And Charlie and Larry were on fire.  Bob also played (I should say
ripped, hammered and pulled)  more RHYTHM licks than I've ever seen.  Not
the usual lead guitar notes.  Lots of chords.  Same with the harp.  Bob
was into creating a base last night, plugging and filling, not so much the
individual, not so much the man in charge.     

There were some cool twists to the evening.  First of all, Bob was not
wearing his black and white boots, but rather his all-white cowboy boots
with the black tips.  Bob also had his all-white suit on, with a burgundy
tie/scarf.  The woman who yelled out to him was correct, Bob was
definitely looking good.  (Larry was back to the long coat, having worn a
regular suit in Green Bay.)    

Also, Hummingbird kicked it off for the second night in a row.  And this
was the first time in at least a year that I hadn't heard "Searching for a
Soldier's Grave."  Instead, the fourth slot was filled with a really nice
"This World Can't Stand Long."  

And Bob played "Ballad of Hollis Brown."  The emotion that Bob displayed
the last several nights on "Song To Woody" and "The Lonesome Death of
Hattie Carroll" was carried through last night to "Hollis Brown".   The
emotional connection was similar to the original versions, and these songs
were all extremely captivating, poetic, heart-felt, and tight.  

"Stuck Inside of Mobile" was superb.  "Lonesome Day Blues" smoked.  Even
the acoustic songs after that had a rocking feel to them last night.  I've
never heard "Cold Irons Bound" in concert, but it was really hot last
night.  With the possible exception of Alpine Valley in 2000, last night
was probably the hottest I've seen Larry play not only the guitar, but
also the pedal steel.  And Charlie got somewhat turned loose, which (as
always) resulted in a display of some truly magnificent abilities.  This
brought acknowledgments from Bob, and big smiles from Larry.      

When Bob introduced the band last night, he said his guys were "the
greatest band in the world."  And he meant it.  They are all virtuosos. 
David Kemper is perhaps one of the most under-recognized artists on the
planet.  He is always so solid, but last night he was simply amazing.  I
recall thinking during "Lay, Lady, Lay" in Milwaukee that Kemper made that
song truly special that night, by keeping true to the original drumming
style which was so nice, but adding a whole layer of complexity and
uniqueness.  And last night every time I looked at him, he was giving it
everything he had.   He is so versatile.  These guys can play anything, in
any style, and each one of them is magical, but it sure is nice to see
them "let 'er rip".  Especially the drummer in a Bob Dylan band.

There were even a lot of antics at the end.  Charlie was real animated and
moving all over, enticing remarkable things from his guitar.  Larry would
open up these big smiles, like a proud brother.   Bob was getting that
impish look.  It was really clicking.  Then after the 22nd song, when the
band was lining up for the applause, some woman threw a leopard-skin hat
on stage (not pillbox).  Bob stared at it for a long time.  It was like he
didn't know whether he should pick it up, or simply ignore it.  But then
it got picked up by  Mr.Garnier, and then he and Bob kept turning it
around and pointing at something on it, while laughing a lot.  For a
second, it looked like Bob might even put it on.  Then somebody else
dressed up for Halloween tossed onstage from the front row his plastic
yellow construction helmet, which got Larry laughing pretty hard.   The
band all walked off laughing and smiling.              

The show was a really good way to end the Wisconsin leg of the tour.  Each
show had its own unique feel, just as Bob continually changes his songs. 
In its own way, each one of the shows was a gesture to the universe.  I'm
not saying that one was better than any other one, that is simply an
inadmissable response to supreme art.  Each contributes something in its
own way, and in the end there is more than the sum of the parts.  It is an
unfortunate (and unnecessary) societal mandate that urges us to judge true
art.  True art is beyond judgment, and Bob Dylan is clearly at a place of
true art.        

On the way home, my friend Gena said someday she is going to have kids,
and they probably will never be able to experience this band.  But their
mom will have, and the positive energy that she has pulled from these
magical Dylan concerts will somehow produce a more radiant sparkle in
their eyes.        

[TOP]

Review by Richard Aronson



For almost 40 years, the music and poetry of Bob Dylan have touched my
soul at the deepest level.  Throughout this entire span of my life, he has
inspired me to question, understand, seek, and celebrate the human
spirit...to have the courage to look within and see the darkness as well
as the light inside me...to look outside and strive, however imperfectly,
for love, healing, tranquility, and peace to prevail in a world of
injustice, greed, and moral bankruptcy.

And yet, improbable as it may seem, Bob Dylan and his extraordinary band
took this magic to yet another incandescent level in Madison, Wisconsin,
on Halloween.  In January of 1961, Mr. Dylan passed through Madison on his
initial journey to New York City. Last night he seemed to reconnect with
this community in a deeply spiritual way.  "Hard Rain" rang truer than it
did in 1962.  "Stuck Inside of Mobile", which helped me survive medical
school and residency, was as alive as ever. "Mississippi", written a few
years ago and now on Love and Theft, sounded like a classic. "Knockin' on
Heaven's Door" was transcendental.

At such a dark time for the world, Bob Dylan's presence in Madison last
night was an extraordinary gift.  This amazing concert of  2 and a half
hours of awesome music and poetry...timeless themes and inspiration, joy
and sorrow, wounds and healing, the futility of war, the power of
love...all expressed through this incredible music spanning folk to jazz
to blues to gospel and some good old rock and roll.  

God bless our planet. Thank you, Bob.

Richard Aronson
[email protected] 

[TOP]

Review by Gary Baughn



The old "Peanuts" cartoons had moments where Snoopy was so happy that his feet 
couldn't stop moving.

Dylan has happy feet.  Those boots are really ballet slippers, and Bob was on 
one toe or the other for almost all of this nearly three hour show. He's like 
those Irish dancers who only move from the waist down, except with Dylan it's 
only from the ankles down sometimes.

This is just one of the things you notice when you're up front like we (Julie 
and Mike, my kids, and Bill, our friend who got the tickets) were in Madison on 
Halloween.

The best thing about being that close is all of the interplay you can see 
between these great musicians:  Larry leaning back so that he can see Charlie 
hold up his guitar to show him what key Bob is playing in tonight, because Bob 
has his back to Larry.  Tony and Dave not even needing eye contact to form the 
perfect rhythm section, which I swear once responded so how Bob started tapping 
his foot and switched the beat.  The discussion between Tony and Bob after the
leopard-skin, pill-box hat landed on the stage.  Tony, we know you wanted him to 
put it on, and we wanted him to put it on, but the veto was well-exercised, 
because if he put it on he would have had 1000 hats a night flying at him for 
the next ten years.

If you ever have the chance to get up close, do it.  It's priceless.

I can't add much more to my review that I didn't already say about  Milwaukee 
three nights before, except three words:  Visions of Johanna.  What a privilege 
to hear one of the few times he play this, especially when he just played it in 
Chicago.  He seems so confident that maybe he will play it more often.  My only 
complaint Sunday was no Mississippi, and of course, he aims to please, so 
Wednesday we heard it, and it was great.  

Stuck Inside Mobile was special-at Alpine Valley the words were lost, but not 
tonight.  Besides Johanna, for me the highlight was the closing with Heaven's 
Door getting the full Sexton-Campbell harmony treatment-exquisite!  The best 
thing about that song is he isn't even close to Heaven's Door.  There never was 
anything more truly advertised than "Bob Dylan.  Live."

--Gary Baughn
[email protected]

[TOP]

page by Bill Pagel
[email protected]

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