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Review by Floyd Meadows
The first day of summer. The first trip to a new venue. Hopes were high
going in and they were certainly met. It was blazing hot (around 100
degrees, but it's a dry heat) when Bob and band hit the stage promptly at
7 PM. I wondered if Bob would make any wardrobe concessions to the heat
but no way--the entire band was clad in the usual black or gray suit. Tony
Garnier especially looked like a member of the Sopranos cast! They kicked
off the shindig with a rousing Hallelujah I'm Ready to Go, which was a
perfect opener, with the exception of Larry's voice being way too loud in
the mix. I was actually hoping for Duncan and Brady or Roving Gambler, but
you can't always get what you want. Next was the Stanley Brothers classic
Stone Walls and Steel Bars, a personal favorite. I would be ecstatic if
Bob played an entire show of bluegrass songs, so I was both elated and
surprised when the next song was Dark as a Dungeon. To have a Stanley
Brothers song and then a Merle Travis tune was magic to this son of
Appalachia (I can't believe that I just wrote that, but it is true--I'm
from North Carolina). Next was an animated Mama You Been on My Mind,
complete with the first "Bob dance" of the evening and all of Bob's great
facial expressions. Next was the seemingly obligatory Tangled, which
didn't disappoint. I have heard this one so much but the crowd loved it
and it was well played. Then came the rare Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas
Priest, which I heard in the sound check and was praying for. It has been
a Dylan dream of mine to see him sing the line "It's not a house, it's a
home" and now that dream has come true. I don't think the crowd realized
what they had just seen, but it was a treasure to me. Country Pie kicked
off the electric set in fine, twangy fashion. I Shall Be Released brought
the tempo back down and was a blissful performance. Stuck Inside of
Mobile...followed and started the barn dance back up in full force. I
don't know if Bob intentionally played so many songs done by the
Dead/Jerry or if it was that the Dead covered him so much, but the
Deadhead contingent was familiar with most of the set. This continued with
Simple Twist of Fate, which marked the first appearance of Larry Campbell
of pedal steel for the night. Bob had a little trouble with the words on
this one, but nothing major. My friend was taping the show so I couldn't
talk to him. I had to write a note to him that said "He's making the words
up as he goes." I know this won't be a popular opinion, but I miss Bucky
Baxter on the steel so much. Larry is good, and I really love what the
steel adds to Bob songs, but I liked Bucky more. Sue me...Drifter's Escape
followed and all I can really say is that the arrangement was so bizarre.
It seemed like Hendrix playing metal. This one left my jaw agape! The set
closed with Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat. The encores began with Just Like
Tom Thumb's Blues, complete with pedal steel, and was perfect, as always.
I could hear this one every night. It brought back great memories of
seeing Doug Sahm play with Bob on JLTTB in Austin in 95. Like a Rolling
Stone followed, and it was obviously the first song of the night that many
in the crowd recognized. I have heard this one a ton also, so I had to
take a bathroom break. I was back in my 6th row seat before the song was
half over. A mellow It Ain't Me Babe was the last acoustic song of the
night, and then I knew what was next. The mandatory Rainy Day Women was
the closer, but I have to say that this was the best version I've seen. I
have been sick of this song for so long that I can't remember, but with
Larry playing an upright pedal steel that sounded like a police siren made
this the best arrangement I've heard. With that Bob took in the crowd's
adulation and then was gone on the breeze. I hate to sound like everyone
else that has reviewed shows but Bob is in such fine form, this is a show
not to be missed. I swear he just keeps getting better. He looks great, he
sounds great, what more can you ask of him? Well, for starters, play Up to
Me or Tears of Rage at Reno in four days...
Review by Jesse Shanks
Man, it was hot. Sacramento Valley Amphitheater is a new venue that has
been open less than two weeks and is located in the sun-baked boondocks of
California, north of Sacramento. Very well organized and easily
accessible, the SVA is a fine facility. I found the atmosphere a little
commercial, but that's the 00's - God bless 'em.
It was not sold out (they even ran TV commercials the night before the
show on local TV) and at 15 mintues to show time it was about half full
and the crowd was milling around. The sun was drilling down on me over my
right shoulder as I eyeballed the empty stage. I had seen pictures of
Phil's setup on Dead.net and this didn't look like it. I saw them bring
out the standup bass and I realized that despite what I had read on Bob
Links, Bob was opening this show.
Sure enough, a few minutes later out onto the stage strode Columbia
recording artist Bob Dylan and his band. I had expected Bob to be wearing
sunglasses, so that we could spin back to another time and place with him.
However, despite the fact that the entire band was wearing shades, Bob was
With very little fanfare, they launched into Hallelujah, Stone Walls and
Dark as a Dungeon as a traditional/gospel/bluegrassy trilogy opening. I
had only seen him sing one of these so I was glad to add to my unique song
list but I am with those who have mixed feelings about these song choices.
The mandolin by Larry was crystalline and Bob's singing was clear and
quite emotional. His enunciation was clear and he really sang the words in
Then I thought I heard Don't Think Twice, but rather it was Mama, You Been
On My Mind. This was a personal treat for me. I have loved this song for
years and had hoped to hear it. Bob's performance was very sweet.
TUIB was typically rocking and affecting.
The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest was a total treat. The ironic
twists of Dylan's voice were delightfully as he talked/sang the sardonic
mini-morality tale. "'Eternity?' said Frankie Lee." It was one of several
performances this evening that seemed to lovely re-reading of the original
With almost no time lapse, they strapped on the electrics and popped off
Country Pie, another song that I had not heard live. "Raspberry,
strawberry, lemon and lime/What do I care?" The precise guitar played by
Larry and Charlie was great fun.
I Shall Be Released and Memphis Blues were nicely rendered. I was amazed
in the case of Memphis Blues, how close it seemed to the original
recording... right down to the nuances of Bob's phrasing. I even expected
that little editing glitch at "40 pounds of headlines stapled to his
Simple Twist of Fate was moving and Bob's performance was just stellar.
Powerful steel buitar from Larry on this one, like a whole orchestra.
Drifter's Escape started up and I thought for a second that Larry's intro
sounded like "Crossroads." This was one of the most unusual performances I
have heard from Bob and I enjoyed it. He seemd to have some difficulty
with getting a harmonica he liked and the song seemed to end abruptly with
a very short harp solo.
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat was rocking and seems a quintessential
set-ender. There is so much room for stomping, loud guitar and the words
are so essentially Dylanesque. This was another occasion where Bob's
performance, even at this volume and energy, was very subtle.
The Band stood frozen in the applause for what seemed like a long time and
then filtered off the stage. They very quickly they came right back and
launched into Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues. This was another personal
thrill. I had never heard this song live in a concert and it was great to
sing "If you see Saint Annie/Please tell her thanks a lot" along with Bob.
This was followed by Like A Rolling Stone. The vocalization that Dylan
used in this concert made this song in particular such a fine experience.
Even though I have heard Bob sing this one live many times now, it never
loses that sensation of something being proved or something being
revealed. Just to shout out "How does it feel?" into that swrling mix of
guitars (and the ghost piano of Richard Manuel and the whisper of Al
Kooper's organ playing and the immortal stamp of Mike Bloomfield) was an
affirmation and acceptance of life.
It Aint Me Babe with long harmonica solo capped off the night. From the
whispery personal sound of Bob's voice to the laughing, descending "No,
no, no it aint me, babe/it aint me yer looking for" made this song into an
absolutely singular joyful noise.
The the band slapped on the electrics and ripped out the distorted noises
that announced Rainy Day Women. I welcomed it because I knew they would
play effin' loud and they did.
Once again the band stood for a long time in the applause before leaving
Another fine night of Dylan songs! I personally feel such a gratitude to
the band. They provide such a powerful, professional and comfortable place
for Bob to float and weave his magic night after night for his fans.
Review by Larry Langford
JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THAT NOT ONLY WAS IT HOT OUT IT WAS ALSO A
VERY HOT SHOW. AT EXACTLY 7:00 BOB HALLELUJAH WAS READY TO GO. WHAT
FOLLOWED WAS A PRETTY GOOD STONE WALLS AND STEEL BARS BUT HE IMMEDIATELY
LAUNCHED INTO A DOWN AND GRITTY DARK AS A DUNGEON THAT LEFT EVERYONE
RIVETED TO BOB AS HE SPIT THE SONG OUT WITH FIRE BITING TONGUE A TWISTED.
HIS HARP PLAYING WAS PLAYFUL AND TEASING ON MAMA U BEEN ON MY MIND AND A
VERY ENERGETIC TANGLED BROUGHT THE CROWD TO THERE FEET AS ONE AS USUAL.
PROBABLY MY HIGHLIGHT IN YEARS (MORE THAN TEN I THINK) WAS FRANKIE LEE &
JUDAS PRIEST WHERE HE ONCE AGAIN BURNED LIKE A FRIEND OF THE DEVIL
HIMSELF. JUST AFTER COUNTRY PIE THERE SEEMED TO BE SOME FRICTION BETWEEN
LARRY AND HIS BOSS WHO REALLY DIDN'T ACKNOWLEDGE HIM MUCH FOR THE REST OF
THE SHOW. WHICH OF LATE IN THIS TOUR AND LAST YEAR LARRY NOW PLAYS
ACOUSTIC DURING MEMPHIS BLUES WITH CHARLIE BEING MORE VISIBLE. A SLIGHTLY
SHAKY SIMPLE TWIST FOLLOWED WITH BOB GLARING AT LARRY I THOUGHT TO SOLO ON
PEDAL STEEL WHICH HE HALF ASS DID. THE DRIFTER'S ESCAPE HAD A DIFFERENT
APPANGEMENT THAN SANTA CRUZ LESS TOUGHNESS AND BOB ALL THE WAY THRU THE
SHOW ENUNCIATED VERY PRECISE AND CLEAR ESPECIALLY ON THIS ONE . A JUMPING
PILL BOX HAT ENDED THE SET AND THEY STOOD SIDE BY SIDE AND ACCEPTED THE
HEARTFELT THANX THEY DESERVED. A SURPRISING TOM THUMB BLUES WAS THE FIRST
ENCORE AND MADE ME WANT IT TO NEVER END. PROBABLY THE BEST PERFORMED I'VE
SEEN ROLLING STONE HARKENED BACK TO A SHOW ON THE 1981 TOUR THAT WAS AS
GOOD AS THIS ONE. IT AIN'T ME BABE WAS AGAIN PRESENTED WELL AND PLAYFUL
HARP SOLO TO END EVEN THOUGH PROBABLY BECAUSE OF THE HEAT AND BOB'S SUIT
AND TIE HE DIDN'T THROW IN THE KNEE BENDS.SWOOPS AND SWAYS AS HE NORMALLY
DOES. BOTH CHARLIE AND LARRY WERE RIGHT ON THE MONEY WITH WITH THE OPENING
THAT BROUGHT US THRU TO THE HAPPY ENDING RAINY DAY WOMEN WHICH JUST
STOMPED AND STAMPEDED TO A ROUSING FINISH. THE ONLY THING THAT I DON'T GET
IS ( AND I'VE SEEN HUNDREDS OF DEAD SHOWS) WHY DYLAN IS OPENING BECAUSE
PHIL GETS LEFT PLAYING TO A HALF EMPTY PLACE. BUT THEN AGAIN SOME PEOPLE
WOULD COMPLAIN ABOUT HAVING TO SIT OR STAND THRU PHIL'S TWO HOUR SET TO
WAIT TO SEE BOB. WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS TONIGHT IN CONCORD AT LEAST I CAN
GAMBLE AFTER BOB'S SET ENDS IN RENO BEFORE MIDNIGHT ROLLS AROUND.
Review by David Link
Since this was only the sixth event at the new Sacramento Valley
Amphitheater, we didn't know what to expect. The place is out in the
middle of nowhere, but the police had the sense to keep traffic flowing
smoothly on the small roads leading to the parking lot. (It was the first
show I've been to where they didn't get any money from us to park, which
also helped the traffic flow.)
Getting inside was a breeze and security was very lax for a BGP show,
which was a welcome change. Once inside in the small reserved area in
front of the stage, we could tell this would be a fun show. I had an
11th row center seat (thanks Matt!) but I elected to sit in the third
row on the aisle, which was actually a front row seat that no one came for!
At just past 7 Bob and the band strolled out onto the broiling stage,
everyone dressed in black. It was about 100 degrees in the seats, and the
black stage must have been hotter. The band was facing directly into the
sun, which was still beaming so hot I thought everyone was going to melt.
They kicked into a good Hallelujah, with Bob starting to sweat instantly.
He did not look very comfortable throughout the show, probably because of
the pounding sun. The acoustic set featured good versions of Dark as a
Dungeon and Mama You Been On My Mind and ended with a very nice Frankie
Lee and Judas Priest. The electric set was highlighted by a great Simple
Twist and a good harp solo on Drifter's Escape. I didn't go to the night
before in Medford, but I understand he was much more animated and dancing
around than at this show. He was about as mellow at this show as I've
seen him in a while.
Just before they came back onstage for the encore, the head of security
finally came through and said it was now cool to move to the very front,
which turned into the most laid-back stage rush I've ever seen. It was
almost scary how easy it was to be front row center. If only every Dylan
show could be that easy! But of course things can't ever be perfect.
Two drunk assholes in their 20's right up front started SCREAMING Bob's
name over and over again, to the chagrin of everyone around and the band.
This started during Tom Thumbs and continued through the quiet parts of
It Ain't Me Babe. By the end of the song Bob had had enough. When he
sung the last "It ain't me you're looking for............BABE" line,
it was in those guys'face. It seemed like a harsh scorn directed right
at them. The word "Babe" was said with such a drawn-out biting edge
that it really sounded like he meant it. It was a very powerful moment
indeed. It's too bad it went right over their heads, because it was a
great commentary on the situation.
All and all, a good show that I had a great time at. Hopefully one
person may read this and think twice before screaming at the performer
during a performance. Nobody wants to hear it.
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