page by Bill Pagel
Review by Fred Robinson
As Janet and I headed over to Spokane from Helena, we wondered if
there would be anything different or special about the night's show --
Bob's first after September 11. Of course, many of Bob's songs are
relevant to what has happened--almost too relevant. Anyway, the show
was as good or better than any I have seen in terms of execution.
Although I cannot say the songs were specifically selected in response
to the attacks and losses, the show seemed pointed and important--not
just entertaining. The show was, however, very entertaining. Other
than to introduce the Band, Bob communicated solely through his music.
To me, it seemed as though he was performing as if on a mission--very
serious and professional as if he knew what his role in society was
and he intended to produce. He was serious and did not talk, but at
the same time he seemed as though he appreciated both being there to
perform and the fact that his music means so much to us. The Band
too, was very professional. They smiled during parts of the
performance as if they appreciated how well it was coming off, but
they were constantly taking cues from Bob and the other Band members.
This is a tight unit that has become an integral component of Bob's
music and message. I do not believe any group of instrumentalists
could pull it off as well. As every show I have seen of Bob's, this
show celebrated American music, but this show was exceptional.
Thank-you, Bob Dylan. Thank-you Tony, Charlie, Larry and David. One
thing though--I think David should go back to a cowboy hat. He looks
like Hannibal Lector in the hat he had on last night. I guess it was
appropriate as he was a cannibal on the drums.
One other thing, I hear a lot of people saying they are not fans of Bob
Dylan. I don't think they know what they are missing. I do not think it
is possible to tell people who have never seen Bob, just how good these
shows are. Fred Robinson
Review by Jim Howard
Never sent a review before, but Bob gave an outstanding opening concert
for the latest tour. His voice was strong and clear, and he was obviously
very much into what he was doing. Except for a harmony screw-up in an
otherwise wonderful "Tomorrow is a Long Time", the band and Bob were sharp
and powerful. The renditions of the four new album songs stayed very close
to the recorded originals and fit comfortably with the "classics". I
didn't especially like "Sugar Baby" on the album, but the live performance
was elegant and rivetting. There seemed to be an implicit September 11
theme manifested in heart-felt renditions of "Masters of War" and "Times
They Are A-Changin"--the audience seemed ready to follow Bin Laden's
casket in the pale afternoon etc. This from a Canadian perspective by the
way. I've attended five Dylan concerts over the last few years and this
one was the best yet. Jim Howard in Castlegar, BC, Canada
Review by Bart Scannell
Like all Bob Dylan shows, this was more than just a concert, it was an
event. As we filed into the arena, there was that buzz in the crowd, that
was an interesting mix of twenty- somethings' and fifty-somethings' . It
is an anticipation that precedes Dylan wherever he performs. It is a
powerful blend of the Man, the Myth and the Music and is what makes these
events so unique. Dylan and the band hit the stage at exactly 8:00 P.M.
The stage floor looked like a giant chess board, black and white.
This black and white theme continued with Bob in a very smart black
brocaded suit, white shirt no tie, black cowboy boots with white flames
flowing from the toes. Larry and Charlie also dressed in black suits with
white shirts. The show began with acoustic guitars and stand up bass for
an uplifting version of Wait For The Light To Shine, a song written
by Fred Rose. Next came The Times They Are A-Changing with what seemed
like the whole audience singing along with Bob during the chorus. This
selection along with the third, Desolation Row, seemed to answer the
question many of us had on minds, what would Bob say about the events of
September 11. ( The very day Love and Theft was released) If there was
any doubt, the next number, a torrid version of Searching For
A Soldier's Grave, wiped that doubt away. Bob and the band switched
gears, as well as to electric guitars with a rocking Tweedle Dee & Tweedle
Dum from the new album. One of the evening's highlights, for me, came next
with a moving You're A Big Girl Now, with Larry on pedal steel and Bob
finishing with harp, played one-handed. Summer Days, a rockabilly raver
from the new album, followed and the band really seemed to settle into
their groove. The triple guitars backed by the fat and punchy bass and
drums created an amazingly versatile vehicle that didn't seem lack anything
and allowed Dylan to stretch out and play with his vocals as well as his
guitar. It was great to watch Larry flash his great big smile whenever Bob
strayed a bit and did some guitar flourishes or got the jam going.
An electric Blind Willie McTell, with Larry on bouzouki, got the crowd
going before the band switched back to acoustic again. Don't Think Twice
It's Alright, Masters Of War and Tomorrow Is A Long Time followed and it
was back to electric guitars for a very funky Watching The River Flow with
Larry on slide guitar. One of high points of the show came next with
Sugar Baby from Love And Theft, you could hear a pin drop when Bob sang,
his voice filled with emotion,(and bouncing off of the back wall of the
arena) the line "You went years without me , might as well keep goin'
now." This was followed by a very up tempo Drifter's Escape with Bob on harp.
Next a blistering version of Leopard-Skin Pill-box Hat which I thought was
going to loosen the bolts of our seats. Bob was clearly enjoying himself,
as his smile confirmed. The band left the stage at this point and as I
glanced at my watch I couldn't believe ninety minutes had rushed by.
The audience, all on their feet, clapped, whistled and lit lighters for
what seemed like a very long time. I really wondered if there was going to
be an encore, after all we had been treated to a very full ninety minutes.
Finally they came back onstage and lit into a rollicking Honest With Me.
Like A Rolling A Rolling Stone got everyone singing along again.Next,
Knocking On Heaven's Door with Charlie and Larry chipping in on vocals
was truly moving.Following each of these encore songs Dylan and the band
conferred in the dark, in front of the drums. All Along The Watchtower
began with a Jimi Hendrix style intro and the show closed with a spirited
Blowin' In The Wind, again with the audience singing along. Truly, a night
I will remember for a very long time. The sound people should be commended
for making this show a great experience for everyone in a venue that must
have been a challenge.
Review by Hirosi Yosizawa
I am a Japanese, living in Japan. I attended 11 of Dylan's concerts during
the 2001 spring tour. I think "Love and Theft" is a wonderful album.
At the end of August it was announced that Dylan would begin his tour in
Spokane. I immediately thought, "I have to go." The most important thing
was to attend the first concert in Spokane. With the help of my friend "D",
we got tickets for the Spokane and Seattle concerts. It was also easy to
get plane reservations, so my plans were complete.
Then, the tragedy of September 11. (Please allow me to express my
condolences to the bereaved families, and to the citizens of the United
States.) These events cast doubt on my decision to visit the United States.
My family opposed my trip, and so did my colleagues at work. However, I
was determined to see the first concert after the release of Dylan's new
The security at the airports in Japan and Seattle was tight. The airplane
was almost empty, with very few passengers. "D" met me at Seattle and we
drove to Spokane, through the great American countryside: the majestic
mountains, the Georgia river, the fall colors, the vast pastures….
Before the Spokane show I ran into another Japanese fan; I was surprised
to see that I was not the only fan from Japan.
The stage in Spokane was set with huge speakers to the right, left, and in
the middle. This was a different layout than the concerts in Japan. A
woman carried large sticks of incense and placed them in numerous places
on the stage. The concert started exactly at 8:00 pm. The BGM just before
opening was Aaron Copelaos's new song "Rodeo." Then came the long-awaiting
first song from Dylan's new album, "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum." Perhaps
because it is a new song, the audience's initial response was not so good,
but there was much applause at the end. Then "You're a Big Girl Now," with
an unusual contribution on harp by Bob. This was a moving performance. Tony
played standup bass on "Summer Days." Larry was on lead guitar, and Charley
on percussion. When Bob sang "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," I felt
like he was saying, "let's not let the events of September 11 get us down."
The performance of "Masters of War" was gloomy, and this night's version was
particularly oppressive. Some me members of the audience shouted out "Death
to bin Laden…" along with the song. "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" was a very
different version than in the past; Bob sang with an almost "cute" voice.
It was truly a love song.
I was very moved. From this point to the end of the concert I felt goose
bumps all over my body. "Sugar Baby" was a new song. The song is played
with an acoustic guitar on the CD, but the live version was electric. Tony
played standup bass, and during the first half of the song Bob swayed his
body left and right. "Drifter's Escape" and "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" were
wonderful, as Bob and Larry and Charley faced each other as they played
guitar. Tony played electric bass for the new song "Honest With Me." "Like
a Rolling Stone" was also a powerful performance. The minor chords played
during "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" gave the song a sense of pathos. I
didn't recognize "All Along the Watchtower" during the opening part.
Charlie dropped his guitar pick, but quickly picked up a spare and
continued the performance.
The show finished at exactly 10:00 pm. That night "D" and I discussed the
show at a bar. Tonight's show was my "dream set list," and of all the Dylan
shows I have seen, this one would rank among the top three. I was happy that
the fears over safety did not keep me from attending the show.
Review by Arthur Louie
There's something special about seeing the first Bob Dylan show of a tour
-- you're not sure what he's going to play or how he's going to play it.
You know that the master's got some surprises waiting; you're just not
sure what they are. The anticipation drives you wild and you're not
spoiled by the knowledge of previous concerts.
But it's not just the first show of a nationwide tour. It's also the first
show after "Love And Theft", and it's the first show after 9/11. I read
somewhere that Dylan's ticket sales went up after that sad and lonesome
day -- after all this time, we're still seeking solace in Bob Dylan. How
would he respond, if he were to respond at all?
October 5 was going to be a special day even without those "firsts". Best
of all, it was going to be Kiri's first show -- she and I had started
seeing each other over the summer, and we met because we were fans of Bob
Dylan. Kiri had to pass on the Las Vegas and Lancaster shows in August,
but I assured her that Bob would visit the northwest soon. While he didn't
come to Vancouver, he came close enough.
Do you remember your first show? How you had no idea that his voice
could express so much, how you had no idea what he'd look like or
how he moved? How he was so much better than anyone you'd ever seen? What
a treat to take Kiri to her first show. We were blessed with the best
possible travelling companion in Renée from Victoria, veteran of over 50
shows and one of the finest Bob fans you'll ever meet.
As we rolled down the highway from Vancouver to Spokane, we had plenty of
time for pre-show speculation. Kiri's wish list included "Tomorrow Is A
Long Time", "Blind Willie McTell", "Mama, You Been On My Mind", "Love
Minus Zero / No Limit", and "Idiot Wind" (I felt horrible telling her that
he last played it in '92). Mine included "Visions Of Johanna",
"Mississippi", "Po' Boy", and "Summer Days". Renée was hoping for the
nastiest "Lonesome Day Blues" in recorded history. Such excitement!
So finally we're in the arena, and get this: Renée locates some friends,
wonderful friends, who have EXTRA FRONT ROW TICKETS. If you don't believe
me, I don't blame you -- I had trouble believing it myself. We spend a bit
too much time chatting and perhaps Bob needs to get to bed earlier these
days, because as we start descending to the floor the classical music gets
louder, the lights dim, and Al Santos is asking us to welcome Columbia
recording artist Bob Dylan! I was hoping to gauge Bob's reaction to the
crowd -- after the release of "Love And Theft" and everything that's
happened since -- but I was preoccupied with running down the stairs
because Bob's onstage singing something I've never heard before. Later I
learn that it's "Wait For The Light To Shine" -- a lovely upbeat opener
that's been covered by Hank Williams and now Bob Dylan. We're at our seats
now, front row just left of center, and I'm getting sensory overload. It's
Bob Dylan, my hero, the man I think about every day, a few feet in front
of me singing a new song. Kiri's beside me. It's her first show. She'll
never be able to top it -- she's spoiled for life.
As for the performance itself, it comes off tight and Bob doesn't appear
to make any fumbles. At the end, Charlie and Larry join Bob with their
pretty harmonies and sing "wait for the light to -- wait for the light to
-- wait for the light to shiiiine". Bob's still pretty cold at this point
-- but that's to be expected. It's the first show in awhile, and Bob
usually takes a few songs to get into the groove anyway.
At this point, I start to realize that I'm in the presence of Bob Dylan.
That's something my Dad told me after his first and only show -- it was
worth it just to be in his presence. Bob's looking pretty good -- his
hair's still big and curly, although a few of his strands may have turned
to silver since the summer tour. He's wearing this fabulous black suit (no
tie) with these delicate leaves stitched into them. Only those of us in
the first few rows can make them out. Yes, here's Bob Dylan: the stranger
that nobody sees, walkin' through the leaves. One moment he's in front of
you and the next he's gone, being a stranger somewhere else.
Next Bob and the band cut into "The Times They Are A-Changin'". Bob's
still pretty stoic, but it's the song that resonates: a song that'll
always be current. The crowd wants to hear it, it needs to hear it. For
me, this is my first time hearing it as the times change in front of my
eyes. My spine tingles as Bob belts out the chorus.
"Desolation Row" is always a treat, and I'm elated that Kiri's hearing it
now. I look over and her jaw may well be dislocated. Bob still hasn't
really started to smile yet, but it doesn't matter -- it's Desolation Row
and smiles and laughter wouldn't seem right. Still, the arrangement's
pretty catchy and I can't help but dance around a bit.
Things slow down with "Searching For A Soldier's Grave". I wasn't
expecting Bob to pull it out very often this tour, even though it had been
played quite often earlier this year. I guess it's Bob's way of honoring
the men and women who'll be fighting the war, without endorsing the war
itself. This version's pretty similar to other versions I've heard.
The lights go down, acoustic gets switched for electric, and what could
this be? A few notes in and we realize that it's the first live
performance of a "Love And Theft" song, "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum". And
it's wonderful, a perfect electric opener. It's here that Bob starts to
find that extra something that makes me want to follow him around the
continent: it's in the way he says that they're throwin' knives into the
tree. You can see that Bob's concentrating on the lyrics, making sure he
gets them just right. There's one little stumble -- I can't remember which
line -- but aside from that, I don't detect any lyrical departures. And
Charlie! Wow. How can the man perform those fills so effortlessly? Larry
can't wipe the huge grin off his face and it's clear that the band loves
this one. Tony's looking like the funkiest dude on the planet on that
standup bass. At the end of the song, Bob ends on "I've had too much of
your company, said Tweedle Dum to Tweedle Dee" -- no instrumental; it ends
The treats keep coming with one of my favorite songs that I've never heard
live, "You're A Big Girl Now". Kiri's quite fond of it too. She's seeing
Bob Dylan from the front f*cking row of the first show -- yes, she is a
big girl now. I'm looking at Dylan as he sings "you caaaaaaaan make it
through" like only he can, and I'm mesmerized by his eyes -- they're the
same baby blue eyes that you see peering out from under the hat during
Rolling Thunder, the same eyes that look at you so splendidly when you
open the "Love And Theft" digipak. The eyes that may even be more
expressive than the voice. "Big Girl" is magnificent, punctuated with a
short, sweet harp solo at the end. Ah, bliss...
And the bliss continues with "Summer Days", one of my favorite "L&T"
songs. Dylan has never, ever done anything like this before and I hope he
plays it night in and night out, because it works wonderfully in concert.
Bob tells me to lift my glass and sing, and I do -- and then I take ahold
of my sweetheart and I believe we'll go down in history as the first
couple ever to do a public swing to Bob Dylan's brand-new swing song. You
should have seen Tony with that funky standup bass again, paying rapt
attention to Bob for the entire song. By this point I'm just reeling with
good vibes. What could come next?
I shout out "Bliiiiind Willieeeee McTelllll!!!!" an octave lower than my
normal voice because I had lost it during Desolation Row and my goodness,
god must really be in his heaven, because out come those three ominous
chords from that ominous, otherworldly song. I had never seen this live,
and I had never expected to. Kiri is beside herself as well -- it's one of
her favorite songs. If you get ahold of the field recording, listen to how
he says "strut their feathers WELL". That's why I'll see Bob Dylan as many
times as I possibly can. I'm thinking that I'm the luckiest person in the
world, being here in Spokane and hearing Dylan sing two of his greatest
songs (Blind Willie and Desolation Row) and give two "L&T" debuts in the
space of 30 minutes.
What an incredible electric set.
"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", always a pleasure to hear, opens the
next acoustic set. I'm hoping that Bob will give us one of those lovely
harp solos, but he doesn't oblige. It's here that I notice this strange
couple next to me -- they're all over each other, making out right in
front of Bob. What an odd song to make out to, I think to myself.
Out of the huddle comes "Masters of War", and I'm kicking myself for not
picking it in the pool, even with its low point value. The people beside
me continue their strange behaviour with this bizarre back and forth
rocking motion, as though they're worshipping Bob, for the entire song. I
try to block out my peripheral vision and focus solely on Bob as he
exposes evil for what it really is. Back in Nashville last May, my friend
Joe Cliburn whispered to me after Masters of War that it was the nastiest
version that he'd ever heard. This one was on par. This was serious.
From anger to sweetness... Bob continues his journey through human emotion
with an achingly beautiful "Tomorrow Is A Long Time". Another song to mark
off Kiri's wish list; I cannot believe her good fortune. Bob singing "the
sound of my own name" is worth the price of admission, as is the second
short and sweet harp solo of the night. This was serious too.
Out come the electric accoutrements and maybe I'm not listening to enough
boots these days, because I can't immediately identify the next song. Is
it Cold Irons Bound? Moonlight? Leopard-Skin? Argh. My ears deceive me and
it's "Watching The River Flow" -- not one of my favorites, but a lot of
fun in concert. Bob starts to tap his foot a lot and Larry's got that big
fat grin on his face again.
Then the lights dim to purple and something happens that transcends any
concert experience I have ever had. It's the opening chords to "Sugar
Baby" and the crowd is absolutely silent -- they will stay this way for
the entire song. Every ear is focused on Bob. Every ignorant disrespectful
yapper shuts up and there's nothing but Bob Dylan putting everything he
possibly can into the live debut of Sugar Baby. As he sings, I hear
something that I've never heard before: he takes audible breaths in the
middle of lines, and it evokes an entirely new layer of emotion. For
example: "sometimes we (breath) push too far", "happiness can come
suddenly and leave (breath) just as quick". Sometimes he takes double
breaths. I'm praying that there's a taper on hand recording this in the
highest possible fidelity because it's something that demands
preservation. It leaves me speechless. It leaves everyone speechless. And
goodness, to hear Bob say "there ain't no limit" -- look at his eyes! --
"to the amount of trouble women briiiiinnnngggggg"! This will go down as
the greatest performance of any song that I've ever heard. I've just heard
my first Big Girl Now and my first Blind Willie, and even they don't hold
a candle to Sugar Baby.
Next Bob gets the harps ready and it's "Drifter's Escape", but my mind's
still on Sugar Baby. I eventually get into it and here's Dylan in front of
me, the drifter himself. I think of my good buddy Eytan in Toronto and how
he'd be soaking up this show.
Bob keeps rockin' with "Leopard-Skin Pillbox-Hat" and he finally starts to
play with the crowd a bit and show off some of his curious moves. It's
here, as Bob wiggles his knees back and forth, that I notice his bony
kneecaps and his skinny, fragile legs. These are legs that may rival Kate
Moss's. Get some meat on them limbs, Bobby! Back to the music...
Leopard-Skin's not a song that I overplay at home, but I really dig it
live. You've gotta love the interplay between Larry and Charlie -- these
two are having the time of their lives onstage. During the final
instrumental part, Bob introduces the band and it occurs to me that these
are the first words he's said to us all night. They'll be the last. Man,
you've just gotta love Bob.
They're gone and then they're back and they launch into another live
debut, "Honest With Me". It's rockin' and fits in so well that it'll
likely be a fixture. For the encores, the curtains get raised and we see
this tasteful backdrop -- nothing elaborate, but fitting for Bob and the
band. I had read somewhere that Bob was constructing a brand new stage for
the tour, but it must have been just a rumor. Honest With Me is pretty
true to the album version. When Bob sings "there's a Southern Pacific
leaving at 9:45", I look at my watch and it's 9:30pm. Gotta work on the
timing a little bit, Bob. Maybe move it to later in the encore or
And next is the song that I've seen at every Bob concert that I've ever
been to and never tire of, "Like A Rolling Stone". From Bob, the smiles
come out. I'm looking around and everyone's smiling. Kiri's smiling. It's
the song that made her look into live Dylan performances -- she had known
the original Hwy61 version, but then she heard the Live '66 version on the
radio and she knew something was up. Whenever I hear LARS live, I imagine
that free-thinking, wholly confident twenty-something from 1966 standing
alongside the wise elder in front of me, singing Like A Rolling Stone. The
first time I did that I couldn't hold back the tears, but I can handle it
From there we move to "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and it's the lovely new
arrangement with those beautiful soaring harmonies from Larry and Charlie
and that ascending melody that transforms it into a new song. The eyes
still tell it all. "I can't see through 'em any more" -- it's all in his
Another new arrangement follows, "All Along The Watchtower". I'd heard it
before, but I still wasn't able to identify it immediately. I like how
Bob's repeating the first verse at the end. This one ended with Bob
singing, "what any of it is, any of it is worrrrth".
And lastly, the perfect closer, "Blowin' In The Wind". At this point, I
decide to take my chances and snap a few photos of Bob from a few feet
away, with flash and all. Somehow, I manage to get away with it.
After the show we get together with some fans and I learn that Bob
had been in Spokane rehearsing since Monday. It was time well-spent --
this didn't seem like a tour kickoff at all; the band was playing so well
that you'd believe they'd been touring for a month.
Spokane was a tremendous show, and I was left feeling grateful to Renée
and my new friends for the front row tickets, grateful to Bob for being
Bob, and elated that Kiri could witness such an outstanding performance.
Her first show. How could anything possibly top it?
page by Bill Pagel
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