page by Bill Pagel
Review by John Wood
Just over a month from moving to Colorado from New England, there was no
better excuse for my first visit to Wyoming than seeing Bob Dylan at the
Casper Events Center. Admittedly, I skipped the Winter Park festival due
to attending the five show run by "The Dead" at Red Rocks.
I hate to reference the cartoon character, but Casper was...a friendly
city! The Events Center staff from will call to security was friendly and
helpful -- and note that there were NO service charges on the tickets! I
had arrived early to get my ticket via will call, then walked around the
parking lots when I saw...an antelope!! After the show, I took a drive
around downtown Casper and spotted a deer.
The Casper Events Center was a nice small arena, similar in size to
Tsongas Arena of Lowell, but with a nice simple layout inside.
The only downer was that the arena was approximately just over
half sold. I enjoyed nice seats one section from the stage,
five rows off the floor; with a direct view of Uncle Bob doing
his Bruce Hornsby piano routine. Although the arena was probably just
over half-sold, this didn't stop a spirited performance by both Uncle Bob
For me, this was a first in over 50 Dylan shows: Uncle Bob just
playing piano and harp, and no guitar. There is no denial that this
felt strange. However, on the plus side, Bob was
interacting heavily with his band on every song, and the band
responded with some crisp, inspired moments. George Recile sometimes
played a little too busy, but he was crisp and lively. I also liked
Freddie Koella, as he utilized a raw edge to his tone and attacked his
solos aggressively. Larry Campbell was dead on as always, and he played a
weeping pedal steel on a tasty I'll Remember You.
That said, while I miss the pure acoustic Dylan, tonight was
a quality show; clocking in around 1:47 with plenty of Uncle Bob
moments. Watching The River Flow rocked!!! Just kick-ass
blues-rock rollickingly plowing anything in its path. Same case
with Honest With Me, with had a new dual-guitar break that
generated great energy. It's Alright Ma was the same barrelhouse
arrangement as last Fall. It was way cool to experience my first Dignity,
with a grunge-flavored arrangement that gave it a neat edge.
However, it was four songs that made the night for me alone.
The first was the forementioned country-flavored I'll Remember You,
with a nice harp solo to augment its feeling. I really dug
Under The Red Sky, very appropriate for my Western surroundings.
Bob gave a playful, edgy delivery and lauded a tasteful solo, with a
country feel similar to I'll Remember You. The third was a rare treat of
I Believe In You, with an Americana arrangement that had traces of Lucinda
Williams and Wilco. The fourth is the recent Moonlight, which was
tasteful and lilting; with a sublime delivery by Bob that had the crowd
swooning, and tasty jazz-guitar licks by both Freddie and Larry.
Summer Days is of course the standard set-closer now, but this
felt shortened from last Fall's versions. Regardless, Bob and
His Band closed with plenty of spirit. After a fairly long bow
where Bob scoped the crowd carefully, the energy slowly built up
in the crowd grudually for a solid minute until it hit a joyous
fever pitch, swelling with unexpected intensity until Bob and His
Band returned to the stage.
You know those warhorses in the encore slot, yet...both were
great! Rolling Stone felt a touch different with the piano, but
the dual guitars drive nicely, and the final jam is short and to
the point. Watchtower has the arrangement similar to last
Fall, but with room for a few more solos; in the brunt of the
song's last final jam, Bob hurled a final harmonica solo
and shook the dang thang real gooood!
From a first-time visit prospective, the crowd was quite
friendly. Seated next to me were a kind,
older couple from Ireland who were staying in Cheyenne and
heard about the show. I also met one kind person who lives
in CO and moved from Wisconsin who had also done the Dead
Red Rocks run. After the show, I also met a few friendly
locals as well; all the way around, a relaxed and friendly
Midway through the set, Bob noted, "Thank you. We like
to stop and play here." I'm glad you did, Bob! The only downer
wast the fact that I am unable to make any other shows of this
tour, but this little gem of a night will hold me over just fine.
Review by J. Weber
The drive to CasperÖI love shows in "the middle of nowhere". My rider and
I agreed, despite the fact neither of us were overly impressed with Winter
Park, we would both show up to see Bob read from a phone book. We both had
that feeling buzzing in our chests that you just canít put into words. As
for the Casper show, Iíll just preview it by saying I sometimes would like
Bob to switch some members and arrangements, but this was how you hope Bob
will play when you go see him. What and how he plays it is up to him. It
was hot and dry with a good breeze blowing past the Civic Center on the
edge of town. Soundcheck was at 4:30. We leaned with our backs to cool
metal doors while the conditioned air escaped from the cracks to refresh
us. It was hot outside, but it felt like you could hang meat on the other
side of the doors. We were looking off to the east as an antelope was
straying across the far end of the parking lot. I joked to that this was
the one from the herd who didnít make fun of Bobís voice and just had to
venture in to check it out. As the boys were working through Tangled, a
dude standing next to us was babbling about how ďkick assĒ it would be if
Bob played Tangled, and, and, andÖit was pretty funny. I mention it
because it was like the silly introduction. Suddenly Bobís big bus turned
the corner in the distance into the venue as the sun caught those black
windows. It was a fitting entrance. The full moon was hanging over the
same road as Bob left after the show. Casper was an outstanding show. The
band was the same, the arrangments the same, Bobís oufit was the same, but
the feel was completely different. No antics and playing with the crowd.
Intent, focused, and wonderful. I didnít see Bob crack a smile or goof
around all night, just a very few eyebrow lifts for emphasis on particular
lines. He stayed behind the keyboard the entire night except for one time
after several verses of Itís Alright Maí had been delivered. It was like
he was so excited he had to move, but didnít know where to go, so he
walked over to Tony, nodded, then went back to chime in on the keys before
delivering the next verse. Freddy was restrained compared to Winter Park.
I think he played using his pick the whole night. No cues were missed, the
band was very tight. The guys were smiling quite a bit, but Bob just had
this look of concentration on his face as he stared at the keys or looked
right through people as he stared into the audience. I see Bill P. hasn ít
posted the instuments used on each song yet; Bob played a lot of harp.
Again, he did not touch either guitar behind him. Larry had 8 guitars
along both nights as well as mandolin, the steel, etc. No banjo. I smiled
throughout the whole show. Tears welled up during Iíll Remember You. The
vocals were so sweet and clear. I kept thinking ďOh ya!Ē the whole night.
You can decide how the music hits you. For me; special highlights were
I'll Remember You (fantastic!), Under The Red Sky, It's Alright Ma' (same
arrangement, a clear delivery), and I Believe In You. Moonlight got a big
ovation and held peopleís attention. Bob joked something about how he
likes to stop through and play here (I think it was the second time ever
in Casper!). The place was not quite half full. At the end of the encore
line-up...Bob smiled a little and looked out at the people sitting up high
and shook both of his fists in the air like "Yeah, how was that?" while
answering his own question at the same time.Thanks Bob!
page by Bill Pagel
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