Review provided Dennis Cleary Last night was the cleanest, tightest Dylan show that I have ever had the pleasure of attending. He played -count 'em- SIX Time Out Of Mind tunes. But it was also far and away the lamest crowd I have ever been in, and perhaps the most frustrating show I have ever been to. I got my tickets just last week from the good folks at the Bob Dylan Ticket service. I found out on the day of the show that tickets to this concert never went on sale to the public- they were, except for the mail order tickets, for Garde Center subscribers and supporters. "Uh Oh", said I! So I get to the venue- it turns out I had pretty much the worst seats in the place. I couldn't even see David Kemper, the drummer, at all. But since I only sent my money to BDTS last week, I could'nt expect much. Worse, though, was that in the ENTIRE section I was in, I saw only one person who looked like he was a Dylan fan. The rest looked like they had gotten lost on the way to the Opera. So already, I was not really that excited about this show. But then Bob and the band took the stage. Everyone was wearing the same thing that they had had at Avalon in December, except Bob who was in a black suit with a bolo tie.. ANYWAY, they launched into a tight "Absolutely Sweet Marie." The sound was excellent for this show. When I saw Bob at Avalon last month, the vocals were difficult to understand and the sound just seemed overboosted. Not so at this show. Dylans lyrics were _SO_CLEAR_ throughout the evening. For the second song, Dylan surprised me with one of my favorite TOOM tunes, "Not Dark Yet". Unlike at Avalon, the lyrics were as clear or perhaps even clearer than on the album. The play was exceptionally tight. It seemed very well rehearsed. Next was one of the highlights of the show for me: Cold Irons Bound. I really am not even that big a fan of this tune- but last night's version was exceptional. Nice guitar work, VERY SOLID singing. Dylan said a pretty clear "Thanks Everybody!" after it. Well, it was sort of clear. :) In the pause before I'll Be Your Baby Tonight, some fan yelled "YOU'RE THE GREATEST, BOB!" At that moment, I really agreed with him. Here he is, so long after so many people wrote him off, playing some of the best music of his career! Anyway, "I'll be you're baby tonight" was good. There was a nice lyrical change. I don't remember how it went exactly, but it was something like "Tonight I'm going to make it last ALLL night" - That's not right, but trust me- it was cool! And unlike "Love Minus Zero/No Limit", this tune didn't really conflict thematically with the rest of the show (more on this later) Can't Wait: What can I say? This was excellent. There was one verse that just gave me shivers: "If I ever saw you comin' I don't know what I might do I'd like to think I could control myself But it isn't true That's how it is When things disintegrate" So blunt, so harsh, so bitter. If you've been there, you know. Now at this point I was just psyched. But the crowd just SUCKED. No one, except for the lucky souls in the orchestra pit, was even standing. Even though there were people there who knew Dylan (the new songs would get a cheer at the first line) most didn't. My resentment of these people was building. I mean, its not like you should only go to a Dylan show ONLY if you are huge fan, but you should at least get into it. These people were sitting like statues. Most were 40-50 year old 'support the arts' types. I'm sure they were nice people; but they really pissed me off. These were the fans (if they ever were fans) they stopped listening to him long ago. I don't go to classical performances and clap at the wrong time. If you are going to come to a rock concert, GET UP AND DANCE! Next was "Silvio". I still am not a big fan of this song; I just don't connect with it. But I have seen it live 5 times in the last 12 months, and I enjoy it more and more each show. The part in the middle when everything falls apart and then comes back together is magic. During this song, I couldn't help but dance. But I was the ONLY person standing in a sea of lameness. I sheepishly sat down after a couple of minutes. Dylan then switched to acoustic. First was "The Times They Are A-Changin'". I mistook the beginning for "My Back Pages" which would have been better and more appropriate. When he started singing, I could see all the geezers around me remark something to the effect of "ooh I know this one." GRRR....Not my favorite song, but clear and pretty good. Here was the strangest part of the concert. To have just heard Dylan sing his heart about and lost love, I could help but find irony in the lyrics of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" (acoustic) "She doesn't have to say she's faithful, Yet she's true, like ice, like fire." I couldn't help but wonder if this song was directed at Sara, or whomever the bitterness of TOOM is aimed at. Thankfully, Dylan didn't let the irony effect him- he blasted an emotional rendition. He also did a really cool thing on the guitar solo. He did these quick machine gun strokes- sort of like Richie Havens does on the 30th Anniversary tribute. Very cool. The last tune of the acoustic set was "Tangled Up In Blue". I still really like the acoustic version of this song, but they got rid of my favorite thing about the current version: the wicked cool drum fill in between verses. It was a bit much for an acoustic version, but I really loved it. Dylan plugged back in for "Million Miles" and boy was it a ride. I heard this tune live at Avalon, and was kind of unimpressed. This time, I was blown away. It was reworked, rehearsed, WAY fast and really intense. Great material played well- it doesn't get better. Next, Dylan played This Wheel's On Fire. The version at Loon Mountain last summer was so much more enthusiastic- Even though I love this tune, if I had to pick a low point, this was it. After this song, Dylan introduced the band. And true to form, he said "As everybody knows, Bucky Baxtor is the former mayor of ____burg West Virginia. I can't remember the place, but it really doesn't matter, since it's BS! Very funny stuff. Even though I couldn't see the band from the isle, I decided to go dance in the Isle so that I wouldn't block all the sitting people's view. An usher naturally told me that I would have to sit down. I reminded him that this was a rock concert. He yelled something else at me but then went away. Dylan then closed with "'Til I Fell In Love With You". This tune was sweet. very nice. The encore featured a relatively nondescript "Like A Rolling Stone", and then a brilliant acoustic "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" It had this very high pitched solo that put me in another world. As much as I hated the crowd, even they were cheering wildly afterwards. Hell, even the 70-something usher next to me was cheering!! It was cool. Next was Love sick- Even though I love this tune, it works better on the album, in my opinion. Last came the obligatory closer "Rainy Day Women" Ho hum- I wasn't that into it. I was looking for the disposable camera that I brought, but of course found it under my chair JUST as the concert ended. Oh well. In conclusion, even though this concert was not the most fun I have had seeing Bob, it was _clearly_ the best he has played in the 5 concerts I have seen since May. And he is playing as well as he has _EVER_ played. I know that may seem ridiculous, but Dylan is at one of many peaks of his creative career, and he knows it. At one point during the show, he just squinted and stared down the audience. He knows whats up. Please Email me any comments or reactions at Dennis@Cleary.net I would LOVE a tape of this show. PLEASE email me if you have one! While I'm at it, I am looking for a copy of Sundown Studios Rehersal Tape (from 1978, I think) It is great, but I lost it! -Dennis Cleary P.S. Thanks to Bill Pagel for the setlist!
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