Reviews

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Van Andel Arena
November 6, 2001


[Ryan Shadbolt], [Jeff Green], [P. Berghoef]

Review by Ryan Shadbolt



    It was one year and a day since I had last seen Bob and the boys here
in Michigan.  The anticipation has gotten to the point beyond my levels of
sanity.  Over the course of the last year, Bob has won an Oscar, and
recorded an album with his touring band that was very highly anticipated. 
Bits and pieces of the album leaked out over the course of the summer and
immediately showed us that he was not giving us another TOOM, but
something more versatile.  It seems too coincidental that the album was
released on the day of September 11th.  Obviously, some of the lyrics were
more than shocking to me as I listened to the album for the first time on
the evening of 9/11.  Bob has continued to relay his message to us through
his music since then on this tour.  He has also switched from his Gibson
sunburst guitar of choice, and revamped the set lists to the point to
where they are longer and more unpredictable than any other time that I am
aware since my time as a fan.  With all of these things pounding through
my brain, it was finally time to venture off from East Lansing to Grand
Rapids for my first of two shows this week.
    As far as the show goes...Oh...My...God!!!  This show had a lot of
unexpected happenings.  The first acoustic set was good, but Bob was very
serious in his approach.  It always seems to take him a little while to
loosen up on stage.  The electricity started with Cry Awhile.  The song
was good, but it is a bit muddier in a live situation.  It takes away from
the staccato sound of the recording.  Next came Every Grain!!!  This was
totally a surprise.  I gave up hoping to hear this a long time ago.  As if
that wasn't enough, he even gave us a harp solo to end it out.  Floater
was next and Charlie was flubbing up the guitar part when he tries to do
the violin parts of the song.  It was still fun to hear the crowd's
response to some of those lyrics.  Tombstone Blues was next.  Bob likes to
play this one in Michigan for some reason.  I have heard it at my last 3
shows here.  However, this was the best rendition I have heard thus far. 
The next acoustic set included the DEBUT of Po' Boy.  This was well
received and it sounded great.  Bob nodded and said something along the
lines of "I thought that sounded good" to Tony after the song's end. 
Larry's bouzouki sounded great on John Brown and then we got the poorest
performance of the night, It's All Over Now Baby Blue.  Bob seemed to miss
his start of the second verse and then later on 'tried' to make up for it
with a guitar solo that went totally bad.  Bob was actually shaking his
head at himself and cringing at some points toward the end of this
attempt.  I think it was obvious he was disappointed with himself.  Summer
Days, Sugar Baby, Drifter's Escape, and Rainy Day Women ended finished
this set.  There really wasn't much out of the ordinary with these
performances.  Charlie and Bob really started playing off each other
fantastically during Drifter's and RDW though.  The encores started with
Love Sick and LARS.  Bob was finally starting to cut loose on his
movements and facial expressions.  It was starting to look like fun rather
than business as usual for him.  Forever Young, Honest with Me and Blowin'
rounded out the encore.  It seemed as if David ended Honest with Me sooner
than Bob wanted.  Bob had just done his little back step move to get into
a solo just before the song ended.  There seemed to be a glare from Bob in
response to this too.  We apparently begged enough to get the second
rockin' encore of All Along the Watchtower.  Following that, we pleaded
and begged for one more, but it was to no avail.  Besides a couple of
brief screw ups, this show was a top notch show within my list.  I can
never rank my shows as the best or worst I've seen.  Every Bob show has
something that is the best that I've seen.  Will I be seeing any of you at
Friday's Detroit show?

Ryan Shadbolt
[email protected]                 

[TOP]

Review by Jeff Green



What can I say?  Last night, I brought one of my best friends along who
had never experienced Bob before.  I am afraid when I do this, because I
always worry if the person is having a good time or not - but my buddy
bought Love and Theft a few weeks ago, and flat out loved it.  

So we made the hour and a half trek to GR - I put in some good boots of
previous concerts along the way.  We made it to Van Andel - a great little
venue, though Grand Rapids is a little too religious for my taste - but
loaded up on Hydroxycut (my weightlifting supplement), you could feel it
anywhere you went.  

There's something about Dylan fans that just amazes me.  I'd walk right up
to anyone before and after the concert, and just shoot the sh*t with 'em
about what Bob meant to them, etc.  Everyone was in good spirits - the
crowd was fantastic!!  A great blend of old and new and in-betweeners. 
Security consisted of mainly elderly volunteers - it was wonderful!  I am
so glad Bob's not touring with Phil Lesh anymore - because I can't stand
those rude DeadHeads.  Good riddance!  Jerry is dead - BOB IS NOT!

As for the show - for some reason I was dying to hear Desolation Row and
Mississippi.  I got neither, but after the band came out with Humming
Bird, I didn't care.  

Something to notice - what is written on the head of Bob's guitar?  Some
guy in front of me, who kept shouting, "Hurricane, Bob!" would pass me his
binocs and say, "Lookie at his shaft." - I thought it said Bob Dylan, but
I'm not sure.  Humming Bird was a GREAT start to the show - glad to hear
this.

As for the highlights:  

Tambourine Man was phenomenal.  I love his phrasing on this song.  Harp
solo at the end got the followers goin' - definitely a highlight of the
show.

As for harp solos - we got THREE of them last night - the set list says it
was Drifter's Escape - but I think it was Wicked Messenger - anyway,
before the wonderful harp solo, I'd like to say this was PURE ROCK AND
ROLL.  The band is absolutely unstoppable - my buddy kept commenting on
Tony Garnier, looking like some 30's style gangster.  

Wicked Messenger was phenomenal.  Bob's introduction of the band
completely blew me away - he did it in tune to RDW, at the end of the song
- I thought he was still singing!!  

John Brown was another highlight - The way he delivered the story, I felt
like it was just him and me - and he was reading me my bedtime book.  Wow.

I'll disagree with the last review regarding Baby Blue - I hear this one
at every concert I've been to, but tonight, it brought tears to my eyes. 
Bob does that to me once at every concert, but this was the song tonight. 
It was beautiful!  There's something so comforting about Bob's voice.

The Love and Theft songs were absolutely phenomenal.  My buddy who had
memorized the songs was absolutely entranced by Sugar Baby - it was
beautiful!  I leaned over to the lady behind me, and I told her that Bob
was playing that song for her.  Floater was great.  Then we were in for a
real treat with the debut of Po' Boy - i think he skipped the last verse,
but it was very solid anyway - one of my new favorites - and it was great
live!  Summer Days, Cry a While, and Honest With Me all sound great live. 
Big band swing - absolutely wonderful.

Does anyone else think when Bob and the Band play L & T songs, they sound
like an airport lounge act?

The encore was predictable, but LARS sounded great.  Watchtower ROCKED!!!!
 He even ended by singing the first verse again.  I normally don't like
Watchtower - but it was INCREDIBLE last night.  The entire band was
passionate.

There was not a single low point in the show.

After last night's magic, I am so focused on Friday night's show in
Detroit.  Then it's off to Columbus, Ohio for my last show of the tour -
then more midterms at MSU.  

May YOU stay forever young, Bob - you were definitely on last night.  

God Bless,
Jeff Green
[email protected]

[TOP]

Review by P. Berghoef



I have to chime in with a late review of the Grand Rapids Dylan show.  It
was my fourth ever, my first being the last time Dylan played Van Andel in
1999.  Instead of going with a ragtag group of friends as I have to all my
previous shows I went with my parents.  They got me the ticket as a
birthday present and wanted to go along and see what it's all about.  So I
wasn't on the floor up front the way I usually want to be but in the front
row of the upper balcony seated between my parents.  The seats were
excellent, we had a great view and it also allowed me to chill out a bit
more than usual and just pay attention to the music.  No shoving from the
drunk old guy behind me or elbows from the kid who wants to stand in front
of me.  The relaxing setting was just what I needed amidst this busy week,
i was skipping studying for a test and writing a few papers to go to the
show.

ANYWAY, onward to the actual review.  For an opener I was expecting
"Waiting for the light to Shine" and got Hummingbird instead. It didn't
really matter since I've never heard either before and Hummingbird proved
to be an excellent song.  It also signalled a change in my Dylan-watching
attitude. I usually have a harder time enjoying the songs I'm not overly
familiar with but this one just grabbed me, and the new songs would
continue to grab me the rest of the night. Mr. Tambourine Man- Crystal
clear "singing" from Bob.  I love the enunciation, as always and the
gentle acoustic sound.  The acoustic numbers were the ones that touched me
most tonight, they lulled me into a serene state of awe that later made
the smoking electric numbers all the more able to kick my ass. It's
Alright Ma-great, great, great, I loved the build-up and the reflective
nature of this song...could pick out perfectly all the lyrics that I love
This World Can't Stand Long-another one that was completely new to me and
completely won me over.  Beautiful chorus with the rest of the band and a
message that seemed perfect

Every Grain of Sand was something I didn't at all expect, another first
for me. I had no idea what this was for most of the song but loved it
nonetheless. The orange lighting and mellow guitar work was superb.  The
harp towards the end clinched the performance. John Brown also blew me
away. I was crossing my fingers for it since its been showing up on a lot
of the recent setlists. Powerful words that made me think of a cousin of
mine who enlisted in the army and shipped out a few weeks ago.

All of the new songs were phenomenal..I went into this show hoping above
all for "Mississipi" and "Visions of Johanna." I didn't get either and yet
Dylan once again managed to mesmerize me and far exceed my expectations.
Dylan's vocals were great on most songs tuesday night, especially Sugar
Baby and Po' boy.. the other thing that surprised me was how obvious it
was that the crowd recognized each and every one of the L&T songs.  and
when I went home and listened to it again L&T took on more life than ever.

The only possible downfalls of the show were slightly weaker vocals on
It's All Over Now, and Tombstone Blues, but it makes sense that the new
songs would have more life and be more exciting for the band to play these
days.  The debut of Po'boy, plenty of harmonica, and John Brown all made
up for any possible shortcomings.

My parents had a great time as well which made me happy, my mom was said
that there were no Nashville Skyline songs (the only Dylan album she ever
bought, her old vinyl copy was probably the first time I ever heard him),
but she still said she can't wait until he returns to Grand Rapids so she
can see him again.

This review is pretty fragmented and incomplete, but I wanted to let
everyone know how great the show was.  If you've got tickets for an
upcoming show you have a lot to look forward to.

peace,
Peter

[TOP]

page by Bill Pagel
[email protected]

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