September 15, 2007
Review by Michael Nave
The headline for Bob's tour opening set at Stubb's would have to be,
"Denny Freeman has something to prove". Maybe it was playing in his
hometown or it was the big write up in the Austin American-Statesman about
him earlier in the week, but I have to say I was very impressed with
Freeman's performance Saturday night. As someone who has booed when Mr.
Freeman was introduced on earlier tours, I have to say he won me over last
night. I still cannot rate him up to the level of Charlie Sexton or Larry
Campbell, but as I pronounced this band "competant" in my review of the
July 16 Kansas City show, I have to say now, that largely due to Freeman's
vastly improved performance that this band rocked hard last night. George
Recile always impresses and it is nice to see a guitarist who can hold his
own with the rythm section.
I guess my criticism of this performance rests with Donnie Herron. I had
a better view of him at this show than any previous and was thus more
aware of his performance. He seemed to get a big kick out of playing what
I would call repeated novelty hooks at certain points in certain songs
after which he would look at Bob and grin wildly. I guess he thought they
were cute. I thought they were a distraction and they made me long for
As for Bob's performance, I have to say I am skeptical when I read the
glowing reviews of Bob's energetic and focused performances from his
recent tour down under. But last night I saw what they were talking
about. Bob showed an energy and a care in his singing I haven't seen
since possibly '01. He beared down on the words and had a strength in his
voice that I hadn't heard in a long time. He had that strength of voice
in Kansas City but I felt it was a bit unfocused. Last night at Stubb's
he was dead on.
I won't give a song by song review here, but I will say the theme last
night was Bob impressing me most on songs that I like the least. Even the
opener, Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat had a focus and an energy to it which
many nights doesn't materialize in the opening song. Perhaps it was
because Bob actually was present at the sound check.
All the Modern Times songs were particularly strong, as was Most Likely
You Go Your Way, which is one of those aformentioned least liked songs.
Bob even had a little "then t-t-t-time will tell . . ." that he and I both
got a kick out of. I also thought Summer Days and Honest With Me were
great performances of songs I don't particularly care for. Also Ballad of
a Thin Man was very intense.
The new version of Tangled Up In Blue received mixed reviews from my
friends with me at the show. For the most part I liked it and appreciated
the attempt at keeping the song fresh. I also like the new version of It
Ain't Me Babe which reminded me a bit of the Rolling Thunder Review
version. I felt the most impressive thing about Bob Dylan in 2007 was the
fact that this man with probably the most stellar back catalog in popular
music could make his most recent material the centerpiece of his set and
it would leave everyone very satisfied. I think his ability to leave the
old time warhorses in the barn (LARS, Blowin;, Knockin' et. al) and still
have a set that made old and new fans very happy is a testament to his
To sum up the performance I would have to say the best I have seen since
'01 or '02.
A few notes on the show itself - having seen a number of shows at Stubb's
this was by far the largest crowd I had ever seen them cram into the
standing room only venue. It was a stuffy, hot night, and it was
uncomfortable in that crowd, but the show really made you forget those
conditions. The radio said that Morgan Freeman had called about tickets
to the show but the only celebrity I spotted in the crowd was Rick Rubin.
Bob arrived for the show early and as I mentioned previously was present
at sound check. He spent his time prior to the show in his bus which was
parked outside the venue and he was spotted going into and out of the
sound check. Former candidate for Texas governor Kinky Friedman was
spotted passing out backstage passes to a couple of friends prior to his
entering the venue during sound check, although he didn't stay long.
And for those of you interested in such things, Bob was wearing a
beautiful black Mississippi Riverboat gambler suit with a Rolling Thunder
Review style hat, minus the large flower arrangement. He strolled around
the stage several times between songs and was very animated in his
movements. The band did the line up at the conclusion of Watchtower. Bob
only said "thank you, friends" after Thunder on the Mountain and
introduced the band without mentioning Denny Freeman's hometown. Bob wore
a straw cowboy hat, jeans, and a brown button up, short-sleeved shirt to
the sound check.
All in all it was one of the most satisfying Bob Dylan concert experiences
of the 44 I have had since 1986.
Review by Immy
How does one describe the indescribable? How do you tell someone who has
never tasted an orange, what an orange really tastes like? How do you tell
someone who was not at a Dylan show what the show was really like? Nothing
can compare to having been in the man's presence, in that band's presence.
It was a beautiful, hot Austin evening, and around us was an array of
wonderful people from the 12 year old with her straight-laced parents,
excited as can be to see Dylan. I asked her what her favorite song was and
she said, "Oh, I don't know, there are so many! I guess my favorite would
be Man Gave Names to All the Animals." And then there was the 60-ish
gentleman who had seen Hendrix several times and the 20-ish girl with
beautiful brown hair. For all of them, this was their first time to see
Bob Dylan perform. For everyone in our immediate surroundings, it was
their first time to see the man.
And they were not disappointed.
Stubb's is a small outdoor little amphitheater right in downtown Austin,
which feels like an old-timey, B-B-Q pit, party house. Capacity is 2000 or
so but I heard they only let 1,500 tickets out for this show. I had never
seen so much searching for recording equipment in my life. Every bag was
opened and a girl was pulled from the crown near us who was definitely
recording. They even tapped me and pulled me round too. I guess they
didn't like the position of my hands or something and searched me with
their flashlights. So, I am not sure any recordings of this show will
The band came out at 9pm sharp. They rumbled through Leopard-Skin Pill-Box
Hat and It Ain't Me Babe pretty wonderfully and then kicked in and
started raising the roof with Watching the River Flow. Bob was so into it
and so on fire, the band just lit up and blazed. Donny was up out of his
seat yelling "Man! Go man!" with eyes bugging towards Bob. Spinning and
pumping sounds from guitars and keyboard, Ricelli's drums pounding. Man,
we were only three songs in to the show! The band was well oiled and
You're a Big Girl Now was a stunning display of tenderness and beauty.
Bob's voice like Moses parting the Red Sea. Powerful, meaningful.
The performance was so mesmerizing and commanding, going through old and
new, hard and soft, bitter and sweet. The new material, which I saw for
the first time, was truly remarkable. Especially Workingman's Blues #2
which was sung with such conviction. Bob REALLY means it! All the newbies
around us we just bug-eyed, witnessing as the older gentleman called "IT".
This is IT. The real thing, the real deal, the channeler of mysteries and
Denny Freeman's solo during All Along the Watchtower was a crystalline,
sparkling wonder to behold.
Tony Garnier looked like he's been drinking non-stop Mojitos on a boat in
the Carribian for a week or two. He had droopy, Basset Hound eyes. Happy
and smiling with wonder as Bob did the weirdest rendition of Tangled Up in
Blue I ever saw. Tony got closer and closer to Bob as they played on, not
knowing where the song was gonna go, where the emphasis was gonna be. then
they all hooked into Bob's magic ways.
A sublime evening, stellar, hot and vibrant.
(Strangely, this was the 32nd anniversary, to the hour, of Bob's first
ever electric show with the full '66 tour line-up. That's Austin baby!)
Review by Dustin White
My wife and I were lucky enough to score the Golden Tickets. We couldn't
believe our luck with the pre-sale going to the fans especially with no
sign up or extra fees (thanks Bob). Unfortunately (Saturday) earlier in
the day, my wife's stepfather passed away at the Methodist Center in
Houston. He was a hell of a man and would truly give you the shirt off his
back. We debated on returning to Austin since we were running on fumes and
knew the chaos that would be in front of Stubbs. Luckily we arrived 30
minutes before Bob hit the stage and I sold my 2 extra tickets at cost to
a couple of fans. I'd been looking forward to Bob slinging the axe since
the last 3 times he'd been behind the keys. The band sounded great but
Stubbs is not the greatest for sound quality. We truly enjoyed Tangled Up
but it was BOATM that really stole the show. Denny is the man. (You
actually booed this guy at previous Dylan shows!? what a weirdo) My wife
and I agreed that at times Bob would stop on a dime and speed up and slow
down at any given moment change lyrics, mumble etc.. But, he's Dylan and
we're not. We agreed it was one of the better shows since Dylan blew our
minds at the Music Hall back in '95. This was our 6th show. The security
inside the venue was more than I'd ever seen but seemed mainly to snuff
out the bootleggers so I'm betting no shows will surface. All and all it
was a bitter-sweet concert with 2 heavy hearts in attendance. For those
interested, the qty. of posters for sale was 200...I bought 2.
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