page by Bill Pagel
Review by Tom Useted
Put simply, this was the finest Bob Dylan show I've been to. I was
convinced before hand that seeing him at Hearnes would solidify my opinion
that seeing him indoors would be the way to go. It certainly was.
My friend and I (Dave Fischer, are you reading this?) spent weeks trying
to secure a ride to Columbia on a school night. On Sunday night, we
finally found a kind person willing to take me to my third show and Dave
to his first. Dave was apprehensive, afraid that he'd hate Bob's voice and
that the arrangements would be lousy. I did my best to convince him, but
eventually I decided that I'd let the music speak for itself when the time
We arrived at Hearnes at 7:40, just as Bob and the boys were finishing
"Roving Gambler," which I had really wanted to hear live, but oh well. I
couldn't have asked for a better second number than "Mr. Tambourine Man,"
which I had never seen live, and which was the ONE song that Dave wanted
to hear. And Dave loved it, which probably helped him open up to the
arrangements unfamiliar to anyone who has only listened to Dylan's
records. "Desolation Row" was cool. "Everything Is Broken" and "Make You
Feel My Love" were both treats, but "Stuck Inside of Mobile" was
absolutely spectacular. This is one of my favorite new arrangements.
"Freewheelin'" got a workout last night with three songs being played.
"Masters of War" is always a little better when there's an international
crisis going on. Everyone was really quiet during "Girl From the North
Country," which I appreciated because I love the song, but it was obvious
a lot of people had never heard the song. And then there was "Tangled Up
I wasn't looking forward to hearing it AGAIN. I hadn't been impressed with
either of the versions I'd seen him play in the past. And I knew Dave
wasn't a huge fan of the song (we all make mistakes). But we both loved
this performance. When Bob took out that harp, the crowd erupted, and
there were smiles all around. And when they didn't stop jamming at the
end, like everyone expected, the energy in the room reached a high point.
It seemed only logical that the next song would be a downer, and
"Highlands" certainly didn't captivate the crowd like "Tangled," but I
really enjoyed it. I paid more attention to the words than I ever have
when listening to the album version. And Larry's mandolin was a welcome
inclusion. If "Highlands" didn't seem to impress a lot of people, "Wicked
Messenger" must have confused them even more. Last summer I was stunned by
"Drifter's Escape," and this "JWH" chestnut was just as thrilling. That's
one of my favorite Dylan albums, so hearing the more obscure cuts live is
pretty cool. I love these "metal" arrangements! Closing the main set with
"Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" didn't shock me at all, but you gotta admit
that the crowd generally reacts well. And I absolutely loved how the guys
just stood there for a minute, staring at us and soaking up the applause.
I thought it was hilarious.
The encores weren't too shocking, but they were still great. "Things Have
Changed" is a hell of a song. Everyone loved "Like a Rolling Stone" (Dave
said he didn't think it would be as good as the studio original, but how
could that be topped?). I cracked up as soon as the band launched into "If
Dogs Run Free." I'd been hoping he'd play it. I'd never seen him do "All
Along the Watchtower" or "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," and they changed
things up a bit to make them both stand out. I loved Larry's pedal steel
on "Watchtower." The instrument adds a wonderful texture to the music
these guys are brewing up. After missing "Roving Gambler," it was a treat
to hear Larry and Charlie harmonizing on "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." I
can't imagine trying to sing along with Bob Dylan, whose phrasing is so
different from line to line, it must be damn near impossible to keep up.
"Highway 61"... same situation as "Pillbox Hat." "Blowin' in the Wind,"
with some more sweet harmonies from Larry and Charlie was truly special,
and I was surprised that they ended with an acoustic number. That having
been said, it was pretty intense.
This show was a real gem. Of the 19 songs performed, I hadn't seen him do
11 of them previously. It was a good mix of the well-known and the
relatively obscure. It was too bad they didn't play "Don't Think Twice" or
"It Ain't Me Babe," two countryish arrangements I love. And I was hoping
to hear "Forever Young" for the third time. But those are minor quibbles.
I'd love to know what other people thought of this show, because I really
thought it was the best one I've seen. My first indoor show at the Fox in
St. Louis back in '98 is a close second ("Born in Time," "Man in the Long
Black Coat," "Blind Willie McTell"... wish I could revisit those again),
but this show was nice and long, and the performances were outstanding.
Bob Dylan will be 60 in a couple weeks. Last night, he was magnificent,
and this band of his can really play up a storm. Hearing those notes
breaking through the smoke and the lights (the lighting kicked ass... not
the stupid rock star lighting either, really nice and moody) is something
that can only be experienced indoors. I can't wait to see him again, but
poor college students have to wait, I guess.
Review by Sanford Reikes
My last Dylan shows had been at the Muny in St. Louis in '89 and before
that with the Dead in Anaheim in '87. In '89 I was particularly
disappointed that he played nothing from the recently released "Oh Mercy",
which I still think stands among Dylan's best work, and marked the
beginning of his collaboration with Daniel Lanois which would bear fruit
with "Time Out of Mind". I had heard that this latest midwestern leg had
some fantastic shows, so I was eager to make the 120 mile trip to Columbia
for this date.
Unfortunately, rush hour traffic was worse than anticipated, and we
arrived at the venue during the second number, "Mr. Tambourine Man" and
quickly found our seats during "Desolation Row". It may be that I was
adjusting to being off the road after a three hour drive, or accomdating
to the acoustics of our seats in the Hearnes Center (a definate mid-range
echo which was not too distracting after a while), but the version of
"Desolation Row" seemed a bit off to me, the band not quite as together as
they would quickly get with a thumping rendition of "Everything is Broken"
(I only had to wait another 12 years to hear something off "Oh Mercy".)
This was followed with "Make You Feel My Love" which seamed to have an
abrupt ending as if Bob didn't quite like the way it was going. "Stuck
Inside Mobile..." was spectacular and "Masters of War" was excellent too,
with Dylan's voice in high form. "Girl of North Country" was staggeringly
beautiful and Dylan's solos were among the best of the night, tight and
focused while remaining lyrical and sweet. "Tangled Up in Blue" had an
excellent jam complete with Bob on harp. "Highlands" is a song that I
really haven't warmed up to yet, and my favorite thing about it is the way
it is recorded with such excellent atmospheric touches courtesy of Daniel
Lanois' guitar. The live version was entertaining nevertheless, and quite
a bit more muscular in tempo, but I would have preferred say, "Visions of
Johanna" in that slot (played the night before, so no chance really).
"Wicked Messenger" was stellar, very tight bottom end, thanks to David and
Tony and seamed to be well appreciated by the crowd (I was surprised that
there were so many JWH fans, unless they were just glad for such a
scorching rocker). "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat" was very tight, accompanied
by introductions of the band and the "soak in the love" session that ends
the set. I was expecting the encore to open with "Love Sick" and was
anxious to hear how he handled this one live, but got "Things Have
Changed" instead. I have never heard this song and will have to hear it a
few more times before I can render any opinion on the song itself, though
I enjoyed hearing it played. "Like a Rolling Stone" was OK, but I've
heard it on too many bootlegs, alternate releases, live albums, etc to
really hear that song these days. "If Dogs Run Free" was excellent, the
change in style and tempo works well in this set, followed by a sizzling
version of "Watchtower" and then to the acoustic slot, a beautiful
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door" into a rendition of "High 61 Revisited" that I
felt was the peak of the show, a raging jam that just would not stop. I
think that it was during this one that Tony came up to the front to join
the front line for a few seconds. After "Blowin' in the Wind", the crowd
seemed ready to go, as the applause stopped immediately when the lights
came up. I wonder if that's why we didn't get "Rainy Day Women", though I
notice that it wasn't included the next night in Cape Girardeau either.
All in all, a great Dylan experience, the man is nearly 60 and going
page by Bill Pagel
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