page by Bill Pagel
Review by David Brooks
Tonight's show was a bonus for me. I was supposed to have be in Indiana,
but when that fell through I immediately got a ticket and a pretty good
one at that. Off to the stage left side, 8 rows up, in front of the PA
with perfect sight lines.
The 160 mile drive from Oregon was made in record time. A beautiful, sunny
Fall day in the Great Pacific Northwest. Deciduous trees just starting to
yellow and orange and contrast with the vast majority of evergreens. You'd
hardly think that our country was at war.
The Key Arena is typical. I've been in better and I've been in worse.
When they renovated it a few years back, they added sound baffling to the
metal ceiling to absorb the sound some. And, from where I was sitting, it
sounded very clear. I had no trouble picking out any instrument at any
time, and Dylan's vocals cut right through.
At precisely 8pm, the lights went down and Aaron Copland's 'Fanfare for the
Common Man' came blasting from the PA. Loud. 'Ladies and Gentleman, please
welcome (you know the rest).
The opener, Wait for the Light to Shine, is another gem of a gospel tune
that Dylan dug up somewhere. It has a similar feel to Hallelujah, I'm
Ready to Go. Very uplifting with some poignant words of wisdom.
To Ramona featured a real nice mandolin solo by Campbell. It's Alright,
Ma was blistering, as usual. Searching for a Soldier's Grave obviously
held more meaning this night than the last time I heard it performed.
A solid set so far. Then things began to heat up with Tweedle Dee and
Tweedle Dum. The song rolled along like a freight train. Bigger than the
recorded version with a very nice jam in the middle. Dylan sang it like
he'd been singing it for years. With plenty of nuance, in complete command.
Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You and Memphis Blues were solid, nothing
out of the ordinary, though the latter tune seemed 'bigger' than I remember.
Then they drop Moonlight on us. For me, it didn't seem to work in such a
large setting. Much more appropriate for a smaller hall and just when I was
about to write it off, Dylan pulls out the harmonica and blows a gorgeous
solo, and saves the tune. Very nice.
Masters of War was next and , not surprisingly, got a big crowd response.
As the song started, the band was bathed in very bright light shooting up
from below casting eerie shadows on the curtain behind. It was very
effective, especially for this song. Dylan sang with much conviction,
every word was understood and forceful. At the end of the song, he
reprised the line about 'hiding behind walls'.
One Too Many Mornings featured some very nice pedal steel from Campbell.
It seemed that Campbell played guitar about 50% of the time and played
other instruments the other 50%. He broke out the fiddle at least twice
and I can hardly remember seeing him break it out just once.
There were two major highlights at this show for me and Hard Rain was one
of them. My first Dylan show was in the Fall of '78 and when I'm done
with this tour, in San Francisco, I will have seen 33 Dylan concerts.
I've never heard a Hard Rain live, at least that I can recall. I know
I haven't heard one since the Spring of '98 when I got back on the bus
in a big way.
So here it was. And it was perfect. Everything I'd hoped for and more.
The crowd hung on every word. It was like a sermon. And when he
delivered the line about the girl who gave him a rainbow, I started
crying. Who knows where this world is headed. And it seems to get
scarier by the minute. But the hopefulness and innocence of that line
just sent me
Country Pie was almost too much of a contrast for me. And, to my ears,
it sounded a bit subdued. It didn't have that free-for-all good-time
feel that it usually does. But, then, Hard Rain was still ringing in
The other major highlight for me came next. Sugar Baby. My favorite
song on Love and Theft. Performed live, it's even more dramatic. The
quiet pauses are exaggerated and it's incredibly captivating. I was
sucked into it in a big way. Just magnificent.
The Wicked Messenger and To Be Alone With You was a one-two rock 'n'
roll punch. Great harp solo on the former, great fiddle solo on the
latter. Introductions were done in the middle of To Be Alone With You
and then they rocked on to conclude the first portion of the show.
Love Sick was as good as I've ever heard and I was real happy with this
choice. It seemed like an anthem, of sorts, to me. And I love when he
sings…'I'm a love sick'. Gets me every time.
Like a Rolling Stone got everyone up on their feet and Forever Young
was so sweet. Another song of hope.
Honest with Me was big rock 'n' roll with Dylan digging his left toe
into the stage and twisting his leg around. A fairly ragged (vocally,
that is) Blowin' in the Wind ended the show. The lights came on and so
did Copland's Fanfare again. Exactly two hours after the lights went
Driving back to Oregon, I listened to Sugar Baby 7 or 8 times. It made
me laugh and it made me cry. That's pretty much how it is nowadays.
Off to Corvallis.
Review by Steven Sterne
Bob Dylan and his Band at Key Arena 10/6/01
Last night's Dylan concert at the Seattle Sonics basketball gymnasium was
the best of times, and the worst of times. The band was in excellent form,
Dylan's voice hasn't been so strong since he was a boy, the set list was
quirky and wonderful…but the auditorium's acoustics are gymlike and the
crowd was badly behaved.
The show was billed as an 8 pm affair, and at precisely 8 pm the stage went
dark, the band came out, and the first number was launched. From the corners
of the hall, from the beerlines and the bathrooms and the souvenir stands
poured the fans, loudly tripping over one another, arguing with the ushers
over the "beers in the hallway but not in the hall" policy," greeting one
another, etc. This circus continued into the second number, and I will
admit that it took awhile before my wife could tell that Dylan was singing
Once seated, the crowd was quite lethargic until "Hard Rain," which they
mistook for a singalong. Their attempts at Summer Camp redux were foiled
by the foxy headliner, who altered the tempo of each chorus so no one knew
when to sing. Their own performance frustrated, the audience retreated to
their familiar places - for some, catatonia; for others, the hallways for
more beer. They came back to life for "Like a Rolling Stone." Definitely
an fm-radio crowd - the nice woman in front of me explained to her
companion that "Forever Young" was written by "the Scotsman who sang "Hot
They missed a great show. Dylan was serous and passionate; the soundman
adapted to the gym's echo halfway through, and Bob's harmonica playing at
the end of the glorious performance of "Moonlight" was extraordinary. The
four-song sequence begun by this number was the highlight of the show,
with the tone moving from sweet and tender (Moonlight) to angry (Masters
of War) to sweet and wistful (One to Many Mornings) to direfully rousing
Be prepared for the show to start on time. Tell your friends and warn
Review by David Eckoff
I went to the Bob Dylan concert at Key Arena last
night and wanted to share this quick review with you.
I had a General Admission Floor ticket and everything
lined up perfectly: I was front row center, best
location in the arena, 20 feet away from Bob with no
one between us! I feel really, really lucky.
To sum up: this was one of the best shows I've ever
seen -- by any musician.
He was backed by a drummer, base player and two
guitarists. They were VERY tight... with cool sound,
much like what you hear on the new album.
Dylan's voice sounded GREAT.
He was dressed in a very retro looking black suit.
From up close I could see all his facial expressions,
including glares and sneers. He got really into
jamming, very awesome.
I must say, Dylan and his band were simply ON. They
played nearly non-stop for 90 minutes, returning for
another 30 minutes of music for an encour.
No conversation with the audience, with the exception
of a brief band intro late in the show. Just non-stop
Dylan and his band. He was playing like he was on a
The one word I would use to sum up: AUTHENTIC.
If you have an opportunity to see Dylan this tour, get
there to see this show!
PS.. A heads up: security was very intent on removing
anyone with a camera. Not just the camera, but the
person as well. If you are up close on the floor,
don't even try to get photos... I saw several people
who tried to get photos during the show... swarmed on
by security and physically escorted out. If you're
that close up for the show, it would be a major bummer
to be escorted out.
Review by Chuck Samson
The efforts to market "Love and Theft" and the promotion of Bob's first
concert in Seattle since 1995 led to a large crowd at Key Arena. The
performance itself was sharp and several songs rocked like I've never
heard them. "Stuck Inside of Mobile..." and "Wicked Messenger"
pounded. "Sugar Baby" performed live was spell-bounding and "One Too
Many Mornings" gentle. The highlight, for me, was "Honest With Me".
Great song, great music and great performance.
Overall, the set list was pretty much disappointing. "Country Pie"
instead of "All Along The Watchtower" in Jimi Hendrix' home town? No
way! Also, it is time for Bob to park "Masters Of War" away. The notion
it is the presence of weapons that cause war is obviously naive and
misguided. Would Bob say the Boeing guys who designed the 757 or 767
are "Masters of War" since those planes were used in attacks? While I
love Bob's music and accept his "your problem is not my problem"
attitude, I resented him coming here and singing that particular song.
Having said that, I will also say his performance of both songs was
first-rate, which is really what going to the show was all about and
what people are interested in reading about. This was the best Dylan
show of the seven I've seen since 1993. He is a rocker once again!
Review by Ethan Block
I defer to the first three reviewers for their mostly
accurate accounts of the spell-binding
show. It is necessary, however to drive some points
home. Bob is singing as beautifully
and poingnantly as any time I've heard him live or on
record, whether it's an old song like
one too many mornings or one from his new album like
sugar baby. You really must
experience it for yourself to truly understand. Also
we need to be content, if not filled with
outright joy, with any songs he and His Band choose to
play. I consider myself lucky to
see him every time he comes around. It is truly
taking too much for ranted when we are
dissappointed by an omission or a selection we may be
bored with. I almost did this with
memphis blues. He played it as I've heard it before
but then midway through the song he
changes the words to ". . but there's only one I've
met and he just smoked my bowl and
punched my cigarette"! It's little moments like this
that make each song of each concert
worthwhile, constantly reminding us that these songs
are never the same, whether due to the
specific musical arrangements and lrics or because of
the ever-changing social contexts
Bob chooses to sing them in. Overall, the Seattle
show was breathtaking, The band was
completely on, playing with unbelievable texture, the
song selection was brave and uplifting,
highlighting material from the new album as well as
old songs we all need to pay closer
attention to, and Bob has truly mastered his craft,
singing with easily as much nuance and
genius as Billy Holliday. The way his voice rises and
falls to drive home a point or just to
play around with bitter sarcasm truly must be heard in
Thank you Bob Dylan.
Review by Mr. B.
Wait For The Light To Shine (acoustic)
“Waiting For The Light To Shine” is a great acoustic
opener with harmonies that are not that distant from
Hummingbird. The melody actually reminded me a little
bit of The Hank Williams Sr. classic “ I saw The
Light”. I assumed that there would be some changes to
this leg of the tour. After all he did just release an
album of great new songs that has earned him more
critical praise than is use to. First big change is
Bob’s acoustic guitar. The Gibson J-45 vintage
sunburst reissue is gone…sadly. It has been replaced
with a new flashy custom acoustic that is black with a
white pick guard and a white bridge and a pearl
looking headstock. The headstock looked like a typical
Martin Guitar in its shape, but the guitar body did
not. It was a thicker guitar, closer to a Gibson in
body width. I was about thirty feet back from the
stage where the sound was very sweet for an arena.
To Ramona (acoustic)
No big changes here. Done in typical waltz time with
Larry playing the very pretty mandolin melody parts.
Bob sounded good and the band played around him as
usual. This version was solid, but so far no
“moments” in the show…yet.
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (acoustic)
A very, very good version tonight. Bob’s singing
finally locked in tight. Bob’s new “guitar” sounded
good on this number. This song was a good test,
because it is a great acoustic song with that killer
riff that sound great on a Gibson Acoustic. When this
song is performed right it is both spellbinding and
spooky, as it was tonight. “To understand you know too
Searching For A Soldier's Grave (acoustic)
SURPRISE!!! I thought that with the additional of the
new “Love And Theft” songs (wishful thinking) in the
set-list that this song would be “ a thing of the
past”. It did sound unrehearsed and more than a little
off from the start. The heavy harmonies vocals were a
mess for the first verse. Bob shot his familiar look
“ who did that” to Charlie and Larry. We’ll truth was,
as it sometimes is, the guilty party was indeed Bob.
Bob did jumped the gun and left his harmony singers
“standing in the doorway”. Things did turn around in
the second verse and the harmonies came together very
nicely. Which was followed by a solid nod from Bob
after the song ended.
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (aka: your presence is
obnoxious to me)
First of all, I am not one to try analyze the
“meaning” of Bob Dylan’s lyrics to the point that they
lose all their imaginary and surrealistic properties.
I do participate in similar conversations from time to
time in the company of longtime or hard-core Dylan
fans, usually on the way to Dylan shows. But the truth
is, I really don’t care if “Dear Landlord” was written
for Albert Grossman, as great of a story as that might
be (maybe someone can remind Bob of that and he can
put it in his new memoirs. I love his current attitude
to the past... If you say it happened that way, well
then it did and I’ll put it in my new bio, because
after all “who really fucking cares” how it all went
down “in another lifetime, one of toil and blood”.
It’s that same guy with the polka dot shirt, ray-bans,
curly hair and big light bulb holding up a giant
mirror so we can look at ourselves instead of
him…brilliant!). I have many Albert Grossman like
characters that I have to deal with in my life and I
usually like to fill in my own blanks accordingly.
That is what makes a song lyric great. Bob Dylan is
the undisputed king of this type of vague yet somehow
very exact wordplay. However, Bob has his life to
live and I have mine. A handful of days out of most
years they collide in strange places like The Missouri
State Fair in Sadalia, MO. or The Visalia Convention
Center in Visalia, CA, just to name a few random
Ok now lets get back to the goods. Most of us who see
more than five shows a year were waiting for the
arrival of any new material all summer long. I saw the
first weekend of the US State Fair Tour in August and
the last weekend in Vegas and Lancaster. No songs from
the then unreleased “Love And Theft”, great shows, no
complaints, but no “Love And Theft” songs. It was a
little disappointing, but the wait was about to end.
This was the first electric song of the night and, in
my opinion, it should have been the first tune of the
night. This song sounds great live and the crowd
reacted very strongly to it. Charlie plays the cool
little lead riffs on his big red Gretsch. Bob did a
great job with the vocals and the words. It really
rolls live, like “Maggie’s” and “Everything Is
Broken”. There is a surprise ending to this live
arrangement that will delight.
Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You (Larry on pedal
After the loud and favorable reaction to “Tweedle
Dee”, we were treated with a great version of this
nugget from Nashville Skyline. It seems whenever he
plays this song it is a hint towards the crowd that he
is indeed here for you and nobody but you. This is a
good sign of things to come. As usual Larry
contributed with some great classic western sounds on
his petal steel.
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
Frankly, at first I thought this was going to be
‘Summer Days”. It was not, but what it was a full
force version of a song most of us have heard many
times. It came in like freight train and kept that
pace throughout the entire song. Once again the crowd
reaction was strong from the first note. I was
surprised at how many people immediately recognized
this Blonde On Blonde classic. It was one of the
better versions I have heard, but it was not “Summer
This one came out of nowhere and for a short while
went nowhere. I was the absolute only member in the
audience to recognize it and cheer. I felt very alone
for a moment. This song is going to be a hard one to
pull of live in most venues. It will work in smaller
places like The HOB in Vegas or The Joint where most
people usually listen and not talk. Charlie once again
played the red Gretsch. For a brief moment, before
the song began, I thought it was going to be “Dogs Run
Free”. The band uses the same exact instruments and
it produces a very similar sound. Bob was not hitting
all the notes as easily as he does on the album. The
truth is, this is a very ballsy song to try and sing
in basketball arenas. He did manage to pull off a
decent version with some truly great moments of
singing, followed by some in too deep moments. He did
save the entire song with a flick of the wrist. He
played a very melancholy and beautiful harp solo that
left me speechless. That is my only true complaint
about the new album “Love And Theft”. It’s lack of
harp solos. Come on, nobody can tell me that they
would not have loved to hear “Lonesome Day Blues” or
“Cry A While” go a couple of extra bars and have a
harp solo round them out, just like the familiar
arrangements on Hwy 61 Revisited. Well I guess you
can’t repeat the past, “what do you mean you can’t of
course you can”, I for one wish he had on that
particular occasion. Upon first listen, and after
many repeated listens, I am still blown away by the
quality and variety of songs he has produced. The flow
of the record is really brilliant. The arrangements of
the new songs are beyond what I could have ever
imagined from Bob Dylan. Where the hell did “Po’ Boy”,
“Moonlight” and “Floater” come from? Well, I feel
lucky to have witnessed “Moonlight” live and I would
not be surprised to see it float away from the live
set soon. This Seattle crowd did not give it the
attention it deserved. Damn Shame, is what it is. Bob
Dylan was “just like that bird signing just for you”
Seattle, “awww but you couldn’t hear” .
Masters Of War (acoustic) (Charlie on dobro)
Chilling real and always a crowd pleaser, especially
in times of international turmoil. No one in the crowd
was talking for this one and the performance was
sneering and extremely solid. Once again, very good
version tonight, complete with the cold blue lighting
and new curtains.
One Too Many Mornings (acoustic) (Larry on pedal
The lighting at this show was actually the best I have
ever witnessed at a Bob Dylan concert. The stage for
‘One Too Many Mornings” went pale blue. This color
scheme matched the arrangement and remorse in the
lyric very nicely. This song was delicate and tender,
everything you could hope for it to be. I always enjoy
hearing this song live and can’t help but think of how
far Bob and this song have come since the infamous UK
1966 tour. Tonight, I swear I heard Rick Danko in the
high rafters of the Key Arena scream “ BEHIND’… as
Mavis Staple once said “beautiful”.
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (acoustic) (Larry on
Out comes Larry with his bouzouki, which narrows it
“Hard Rain..”, “Blind Willie Mctell”, “Chimes Of
Freedom”, “John Brown” or Bob willing “Forth Time
Around’. Well, Bob was not willing to play ‘Fourth
Time Around’ but he did play a remarkable version of a
song that has more that its far share of visionary
predictions of a world gone way, way
wrong…Bobstradomous? I only wish I had seen ten
thousand talkers who tounges were all broken. Instead
I heard many people laughing and talking .. not so
Country Pie (Tony on acoustic bass)
Another surprise. I immediately found myself saying,
ahhhh..what about “Love And Theft”? Stop it, stop it
stop it. Remember, “Pay for ticket and don’t
complain”. This song usually get the crowd going and
Bob probably felt the need to kick us in the ass a
little bit. Charlie missed his first solo cue,
slightly..but came back the next time around and
really let it go. Charlie Sexton is really the “mule
in the stall”, he truly needs to be let out more
often. Bob knows it and on moments like this you can
just see it on his face (even from thirty feet back).
The crowd responded with a great roar and Charlie
Sexton deserves most of the credit for this one
This one is truly a classic Dylan composition. It
comes out of nowhere and leads you down a bare and
desolate path that is both familiar and unfamiliar,
dark and light, remorseful yet vindictive.
It just seems like one of those all too
personal/intense songs that never make the light of
day in concert (ie: ‘She’s You’re Lover Now”, “Abandon
Love”, “Up To Me” “I’m Not There”). I was very
surprised to hear it played live tonight. It was a
little loose but all the lines were delivered with
ache and pain. “Shadows have fallen” and I would wait
all day to hear this one again. I hope I get the
chance. The crowd once again did not seem to catch on
that these were new songs be performed for the first
and second time publicly. The stage lighting was
appropriately intense. The arrangement was very
faithful to recorded version. Bob did stumble on the
“Bubble can burst line”, but only those of us who
listen with our ears to the ground catch those very
I have grown to enjoy the occasional lyric hick-up.
Not only does it give it performance character, it can
also lead to a complete re-write before your very
eyes. What more could you ask for than to see the
master of songwriting throw out lines, off the cuff,
right in front of you. It really makes the moment
priceless and unforgettable.
The Wicked Messenger (Bob on harp)
Guitars, like sirens in the night coming to take us
all way. The band gets a chance to show off just how
red hot they are. Once again Charlie Sexton delivers
the goods in the form a screaming guitar solo that
elevates the entire floor. The best band in the world?
…only U2 would say otherwise tonight. I know who I
would vote for.
To Be Alone With You (Larry on fiddle)
This was a treat. Larry on fiddle can turn this band
around and puts them “on a whole ‘nother level”. Next
thing you know where all honky tonkin’ in the Key
Arena and Bob, when you squint your eyes just right,
can easily be mistaken for The Great Hank Williams Sr.
Just look at those suits he wears…all the proof you
need! The fiddle keeps this arrangement moving swiftly
and Bob’s vocals are “right on target, so direct”.
This was a very welcome change to set. Fade to black…
Yet, another surprise, the first appearance of a “Time
Out Of Mind” song. It is in a very familiar place in
the setlist, but lets all face it…it works great in
this spot. Bob seems to truly enjoy singing this songs
and I, for one, am always truly happy to hear it. It
just stops everything in the room when you hear that
first chord on the guitar. Silence, “on the streets
that are dead”. Strong version.
Like A Rolling Stone
Always the crowd pleaser and more. People go crazy
when he plays this song…which is nice to see. Charlie
went of on the crescendo part as usual and Bob gave
him the “oh yeah look” without actually saying it.
Foot stopin’ fun for all.
Fovever Young (acoustic)
This was nice to hear and was played very well. It
seems to get more and more tender with each passing
year. The arrangement is the same as it has been for a
while, very tender vocals and very pretty melody.
Honest With Me
Of all the new “Love And Theft” songs played tonight,
this was the one that seems to be worked out the
best..so far. It just rips right from the start. Larry
plays the slide part and Charlie goes off on the full
throttle chugga, chugga lead guitar. I still have
those guitars oozing out of my eaaaaaars. Bob nailed
the vocals and the band swayed behind him as he rocked
his cowboy boots from left to right and back again. It
was such a great feeling to see Bob perform fresh
material that he knows will stand up to his dense back
pages. The man was into it and this song is off the
hook live. It guitars have a raunchy feel which the
recorded version on “Love And Theft” lacks a little
bit. Those vintage Vox guitar amps were screaming like
they are made to do.
Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic)
“Blowin’ In The Wind” was climatic end to great set of
songs, which included the live debut of “Moonlight”.
“Blowin’ In the Wind” always seems and feels
appropriate for almost any situation the world is in.
Tonight was no different. The crowd swayed back and
forth in unity and all in the Key Arena was peaceful,
unlike the world outside. The lush three part
harmonies brought the night to its inevitable end and
we all filed out back to “This World That Can’t Stand
Long”, one foot in front of the other.
Review by Gurl Randolph
At noon a small group of footloose 20-somethings clusters on the ground at
Key Arena's east entrance, one strums a guitar. Do they plan to sit here all
day 'til the doors open at 7 tonight? Around back, a quartet of big-rigs and
trailers are under close watch of Seattle Center Security. A grizzled, portly
man--gripping an over-sized bracelet of chestnut-like beads--approaches,
points to the twin black and silver trailers, asking "That the Zimmerman
residence?" The guard assures him Mr. Dylan's elsewhere, at a downtown
luxury hotel, most likely, "He'll be here this evening."
By 6 pm a long line has formed starting at Key Arena, snaking across the
commons, curving around International Fountain, filling the walkway beside
Center House Food Court. A man wearing a red sandwich board that bears a
long list of sinners ("drug-dealers, fornicators, murderers. . .and Mormans!")
preaches to the captive queue.
At 7 the line slowly moves forward. All those with backpacks, large purses
and bags are instructed to go left where security rifles through their bags.
Someone is arguing about relinquishing his camera.
Inside the coliseum huge American and Canadian flags hang from the ceiling.
Basketball and hockey are the main attractions in this stadium. My seat's
very near stage left, five rows above the floor. Friendly ushers in bright
yellow shirts smile and chat with us as the center floor packs up with
standing-only, general admission guests. Reserved seats also fill all
around. I can clearly see drummer David Kemper in a big white Stetson shake
hands and talk with a couple up on the stage near his kit.
A nearby woman asks an usher if she'll carry a card backstage to Dylan. "I
can't. But I'll ask someone else." The request is carried down the line until
a senior staff-person materializes, takes the card and disappears behind
some heavy blue drapes.
I strike up a conversation with the smiling, bright-eyed card-giver. She
says she first saw Dylan 40 years ago in New York, at a Joan Baez concert.
"Baez introduced him to the audience. I just wanted to tell him that he left
quite an impression on me way back then. I grabbed the card on impulse,
scribbled a couple sentences just before leaving tonight. I would've written
more but my husband was waiting." I learn she's a part-time DJ on 2 local
non-commercial radio stations. Hosts a folk music show ("Lunch with Folks")
every other Tuesday. She jots down her schedule for me on the back of my
The lights dim. While the "Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome Columbia
recording artist Bob Dylan" announcement's being made (Why can't this be
varied. How about "Please welcome Bob Dylan and his fabulous back-up
band"?) the supernova and his 4-piece constellation of musicians come out
singing the traditional "Wait for the Light to Shine" at a fast pulse.
Dylan's slinky black trousers feature a thick white stripe up each side.
They drape debonairly over black cowboy boots with wide white, spat-like
tops. His black western-style shirt sports detailed white stitches and
piping on pockets, collar and sleeves. Hair like an old gray Brillo pad,
rust-tinged in places, springs from his massive head. His face is a map
of the million highways he's taken: crumpled, wadded, folded and creased.
Lined with roads less-traveled. Roads leading to honky tonk lagoons,
stillhouse hooch and harder stuff. A grimly romantic face. Tonight his
voice is strong and nicely nuanced.
He's like a fascinating thorn surrounded by the rosy faces of his string
band: (left to right) Charlie (Sexy) Sexton, Tony Garnier, Larry Campbell.
Campbell's slightly demonic, gray-flecked beard is offset by beautific
smiles flashed throughout the evening as he plies his impressive repertoire
of strings. The group's sound is faceted, swinging, urban-country blues
invigorated by a strong, toe-tapping beat. They're vintage-but-mod.
Someone once told me, "I can't get enough of his current backup band."
There's a walzing "To Ramona" followed by a mumbling "It's Alright Ma (I'm
Only Bleeding)" and a solemn, thought-provoking "Searching for a Soldier's
Grave." Then, finally, a number from the just-released album "Love &
Theft," the rollicking, stream-of-conscious, semi-nonsensical "Tweedle Dee
& Tweedle Dum."
Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee
They're throwin' knives into the tree
Two big bags of dead man's bones
Got their noses to the grind stone
Livin' in the land of Nod
Trustin' their fate to the hands of God . . .
Tweedle Dum said to Tweedle Dee
"Your presence is obnoxious to me
Feel like a baby sittin' on a woman's knee . . .
What would Lewis Carroll think?
"Tonight I'll be Staying Here with You" and "Stuck Inside of Mobile" seem
tired and lackluster by contrast. I wish they'd infuse their set list with
more selections from "Love & Theft." It's a terrific piece of work,humorous,
danceable, message-full, poignant. I'd love an entire show of it, with a
few politically-timely classics like "Hard Rain" sprinkled in. I was hoping
to hear the sardonic, bluegrass-tinged "Highwater" which seems so relevant to
our post-September 11 sense of impending disaster ("Highwater rising, six
inches above my head/Coffins droppin' in the street like balloons made out
of lead/Water poured into Vicksburg, don't know what I'm gonna do/Don't reach
out for me, she said, can't you see I'm drowning too?/It's rough out
But I am grateful for the four "Love & Theft" selections he does give us.
The unabashedly romantic "Moonlight" could be a syrupy 30's crooner if not
for sly stanzas like: "I'm preaching peace and harmony/The blessings of
tranquility/Yet I know when the time is right to strike/. . .Won't you
meet me out in the moonlight alone?"
And a few songs later Dylan serenades us with the heartbreaking "Sugar Baby."
Oh my grief, what a bitter-sweet confection this song is. Hearing it come
from him live, delivered with a lilting sorrow. . . a profound
resignation--slowly measured out like small drops of sugar-coated downers
spooned into a child's mouth--almost completely dissolves me:
"Sugar Baby, get on down the road, you ain't got no brains nohow
You went years without me, might as well keep going now"
Between the romance-drenched "Moonlight" and the devastating "Sugar Baby"
the band renders a strong--though somewhat predictable--"Masters of War."
(I'd like to hear more dissonance in this song, more chaos, more
instrumentals that clash by night.) A subdued "One Too Many Mornings"
brings the battle cry down to an interpersonal level.
And then the evening's Piece de Resistance: "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall."
Everyone all around seems transfixed by this song and its delivery. In fact,
Dylan and his band completely becalm the sea of bobbing heads at their
feet. The audience stands rapt, straining to hear lines like "I saw guns and
sharp swords in the hands of young children . . . I met a young girl who gave
me a rainbow. . . And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it. . ." Caught up in
the spinal tingle of the moment, many join in on the chorus. "Hard Rain"
reigns as the evening's anthem. When it ends, shouts of "Bravo!" intersperse
the lengthy applause and appreciative whistles.
"Country Pie" follows. But what a waste. This would've been a great slot
to insert something else from "Love & Theft." Same comment for "Wicked
Messenger." Why do a nostalgia act when you've got so much good new stuff
to showcase? At this point I find myself concentrating more on the musicians
and the stage logistics than the songs. The way the lights dim and Dylan's man
passes him a different guitar after every number. The way Sexton and
Garnier hit some really hot licks together. The way Sexton looks: really hot . . .
spiky black hair curls over his high forehead seductively. He looks like a
hip, 1960's detective series hunk. And I like his slim, sexy moves, how he
twists and dances with his guitar. All these guys look great. Man, the way
Campbell, Dylan, Garnier and Sexton play their string instruments. What a
turn on. As if the guitars are women: bright electric city women, curvy
acoustic country girls. As if the players and their instruments are
lovers, and the best kind: passionate, interactive, playful, responsive. Bob
does his band intros toward the end of an intense "To Be Alone with You." Each
musician steps it up and leans into a mean solo when he's introduced. The
set ends and the audience claps and stomps for a long time to bring them
"Love Sick" opens the encore. Dylan sings it with conviction until the
final line, which he imbues with an authentic waver of ambivalence. Flood
lights sweep across the gyrating, arm-waving audience during every chorus of
"Like a Rolling Stone." "Forever Young" starts out so atonally I recognize
it only by the lyrics. But what an inspirational song: "May you build a ladder
to the stars and climb on every rung."
Next comes "Honest with Me" the final selection from "Love & Theft." It's
got a driving, urban, jitter-bug, jumping blues beat and sarcastic lyrics
like "You say my eyes are pretty and my smile is nice? Well I'd sell 'em to
you at a reduced price." Then Campbell and Sexton harmonize with Dylan on a
lovely "Blowin' in the Wind." The band quickly exits but the lights are still
Twenty songs and we shamelessly beg for more. We stomp and whistle and
clap. Rock us Bobby, rock us all night long. The house lights come on.
People leave the concert humming "Blowin' in the Wind." Not long ago I
read that Dylan says he's not religious any more. That he finds God in the
music. I know the feeling. I felt it at times tonight.
Review by Drew Kampion
Seattle's Key Arena, right around the corner from Frank O. Gehry's melting
metallic Experience Music Project, isn't the finest venue for a Bob Dylan
concert. Few are.
The last time I saw him was in the 100-degree heat of the dirt-floored barn
they cal the Jackson County Fairgrounds near Medford, Oregon. That show
started right on time, except that Phil Lesh & Friends weren't the opening
act as advertised, Bob & His Band were, and the line of cars caught in the
approaching traffic jam was mostly filled with people who thought they had
an hour or so to make it inside for Bob. Bummer. Inside, the Deadheads
had carpeted the entire mosh area with carpets and blankets so they'd be
comfortable for Lesh's musical meanderings, and they didn't want no Dylan
fans standing on their paisley. Fat chance.
Key Arena is home to the Seattle Sonics pro basketball team, and it's a
great place for that. But the hardwood was covered with a protective
flooring for Saturday night's 8 p.m. concert, and the stage was set up at
the western end of the court where Bob would stand at a microphone just
about under the basket (if the goal had been hanging there).
Key Arena is a steel-girded oval shell and reasonably pleasant. The
acoustics, though not great, are surprisingly good. I arrived with my son
Alex at about 7:15 expecting tight security, too vividly imagining how a
terrorist attack on this enigmatic Jewish performer (who some blasphemously
refer to as "God"), across the country from NYC, a stone's throw from the
Canadian border, might impact our frayed national psyches. Nonetheless,
security was all but absent -- a modest line for a due-process search of
those with bags or packs, but only a ticket check for those of us with
wallets and who knows what concealed under our coats.
Inside, the crowd was sparse, and our bobdylan.com priority advance-sale
tickets (bought two weeks before the "regular" tickets went up for grabs
at Ticketmaster (a "non-monopoly" that makes Microsoft look a Wobbly
hotbed) turned out to be all the way down the court next to an aisle, up and
down which people streamed throughout the concert. Thankfully an
event-staffer allowed us to visit the floor during the show. Several folks
with general admission tickets were upset that it was standing-room-only on
the floor, and some exchanges were worked out.
In perhaps a slight nod to the current patriotic atmosphere in our country,
the usual pre-show classical music was Aaron Copeland (I believe his Grand
Canyon Suite, but I can't swear to it).
As the lights dimmed and the music swelled in volume, David Kemper wandered
out onto the stage and climbed in behind the drums, followed by Charlie
Sexton, Bob, Tony Garnier, and Larry Campbell. Larry's mandolin picking
and the gospel chords of Fred Rose's "Wait For The Light To Shine" rose
with the stage lights. With Charlie and Larry joining Bob in downright
O-brother-where-art-thou? harmonies, it was a rousing and promising
Next, "To Ramona," was eloquent, forceful, and a bit strange coming from
the ragged throat of a 60-year-old man, but it worked. "It's Alright, Ma
(I'm Only Bleeding)" followed, played acoustic with Charlie on the dobro.
There was a sense of growing relevance of the song to recent events that
reached a crescendo at the finish -- "It's life and life only!"
Even more relevant seemed "Searching For A Soldier's Grave," a poignantly
delivered dirge, once again featuring the chorus of Bob, Charlie and Larry.
Beautiful. Bob in black, white piping on chest pockets, white boots that
rocked like dories in the rhythm of the waves as he played.
Then the boys strapped on their electric gear for "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle
Dum," the first song from the new album, "Love And Theft." They nailed
it -- a killer performance -- as Mr. Kemper established himself as a
powerful engine of percussion.
Bob twisted and turned "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" in some new
direction that every once in a while came around to something familiar,
but he was speaking the old words from a new place, so why not sing it
Similarly, "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" seemed
a little labored -- maybe just speaking as a listener struggling to first
identify the song, then understand the words, then relate to what I'm
hearing, although in general this evening, Bob seemed to sing more songs
more directly and in a more familiar style.
Like "Moonlight" from "Love And Theft" - so great, so perfectly done! Bob
and crew returned to acoustics for the next three songs, and it was an epic
trio: "Masters Of War" was purely articulated, and he reiterated the first
verse to finish it; "One Too Many Mornings" was my favorite of the evening
-- utterly felt and spoken; and a riveting "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"
that rose to its final verse of commitment, which echoes Bob's own on this
"never-ending tour" or whatever you call doing 100-plus concerts a year,
year after year, all over the world.
"Country Pie" raged through two verses, then during an instrumental bridge,
Bob clearly and professionally (it's true!) introduced the band, and then
they rolled off the final verse.
"Sugar Baby" (from "Love And Theft") was loaded with nostalgic tenderness,
grit, and pathos, and absolutely beautiful, "The Wicked Messenger" was
musically great but almost indecipherable (unfortunate because its lyric
message was perhaps the most instructive of the evening), and "To Be
Alone With You" ended the set on a rollicking and cohesive note.
The arena went dark and the cheers and whistles and shouts to "BOB!" rose
louder and louder until the gents strolled back out onto the darkened
stage and kicked off with the swampy lurch of "Love Sick," one of Alex's
favorites of the night (along with "Hard Rain").
Bob wore "Like A Rolling Stone" like a new song tonight -- it was splendid.
And "Forever Young" (with chorus vocals by Charlie and larry) was wisdom
incarnate, delivered from the tribal elder to his children of all ages,
instructing us what we need to love and cherish in ourselves and each
A final song from "Love And Theft," "Honest With Me" smoked the place with
a storm of sound and a driving momentum that cascaded into a tumbling
silence that brought forth the last song of the night, "Blowin' In The
Wind," and for all those who were (and have been) expecting answers to come
forth from Bob Dylan (Jesus? "I ain't him!") the appropriate answer to
ALL THOSE QUESTIONS (like "how many times this?" and "how many years that?")
remains "blowin' in the wind."
That was it. The terrorists didn't attack. Bob left the building. Alex
and I were walking down the sidewalk in the night air, 40 years apart in
age, but we both gave it a "10."
Review by Drew Kampion, Whidbey Island, Washington
Review by Dennis Lind
My 10th Dylan concert, having scene "the Man" over the years, starting with
The Band in 1975, his "Christian Tour", later with Tom Petty and the
Heartbreakers, also with Santana, Tracy Chapman, and by himself a couple
times, and with Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell. Each concert unique unto
itself. Without question, his current band is the tightest and best of any
I've heard him play with. Best part is not having other bands playing prior
(or after) Dylan... we go to hear him and his music, and the October 6th
crowd was there to hear Dylan only. We got him at the top of his game.
Without going too much into the song by song breakdowm, but to note what I
felt were highlights:
Opening number, Wait for the Light to Shine, was great, and keeping with an
an upbeat start to a "normal" Dylan show. Dylan darted back and forth
between what could be called "message" songs of his earlier days, noteably
"Hard Rain's Gonna Fall", to upbeat, carefree songs from his current
release, such as Tweedle Dee-Tweedle Dum. Memphis Blues was a great
rendition, that even took a while to recognize. The new "Moonlight",
memorable...my wife and I bought found ourselves humming it the next
morning, with both of us wondering what that song was we were humming! Of
course Masters of War was well received, but that's to be expected in todays
war climate...but I almost get the feeling Dylan sings this right now out of
a sense of obligation, not a message...realizing there will always be
war...and it's only the music that really counts anymore, not the message.
"Sugar Babe" was a show stopper, with some of Dylans soul spilling out.
LARS...still a highlight, though played and heard for the thousanth or so
time...but played always a little different, and always heart felt. Forever
Young a highlight for my wife, as it was played at our wedding.
Going away from "The Key", you just had to feel good. One comment heard (and
my feelings were exactly the same), "with all that's going on in the world,
going to a Dylan concert makes you feel and believe that, yes, Bob is still
playing his music, and in some way this makes everything seem okay."
Review by Steven Thwaits
Bob and band put on a fine show in Seattle. I had to count back some
years, but I believe this was #16 for me, starting in '78 at Blackbushe in
Britain, last caught in Boulder in April.
Some Things Have Changed, others remain. The new stuff sounded great,
and the covers he chooses are always amazing, whether bright (Waiting for
the Light to Shine), or chilling (Searching for a Soldiers Grave).
The classics are less vibrant, save those that make immediate scary
sense (a spooky Hard Rain, an intense Masters of War). Bob was not too
playful this night. No smiles, nary a grin.
Unfortunately the Yahoo factor was high Saturday night. Don't mean to
be unkind to my Dylan fellows, but really, most folks want to hear BOB
sing Hard Rain. Sure, Like a Rolling Stone is another story. Ah well. I
guess the rabble made a lot of noise for Shakespeare at the Globe too.
Sweet and bittersweet: Moonlight, One Too Many Mornings.
Hopeful and lovely: Forever Young.
I'd love a whole set like these last three. But it seems on this tour
there might be a bit too much pressure to play big. Slow it down guys, and
as Bob said, you truly are "the best band in the world."
Thanks for goin' round Bob, and playing for the common man.
Steven Thwaits in Seattle
Review by Hirosi Yosizawa
Huge speakers were set to the left and right, and in the middle, and on
the roof of the arena, for a total of 15 speakers. It seemed that there was
not enough power in the speakers during the first half of the concert, but
the second half was great.
Bob sang "To Ramona" in a lower key than usual. "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle
Dum" was different than the previous night, with Tony on electric bass.
The give and take of the three on guitar was remarkable. "Moonlight" was
a welcome performance, except that Bob's voice did not mesh well with the
rest of the band. The harp performance was great. "Masters of War" was
again gloomy. An oppressive feeling filled the audience. It seemed that
Bob was holding back his emotions while singing "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna
Fall." "Country Pie" set the place on fire. "Sugar Baby" received a weak
reception at first, and the style was clearly different from the previous
night. Bob's expression was different; it appeared that he was suppressing
his emotions as he sang. I thought, "Everyone would enjoy the concert more
if they bought and listened to his CD before the concert." But the song was
given a great round of applause at the end. Then Bob won the hearts of the
audience with his harp playing on "The Wicked Messenger." Larry gave an
unusual performance on the fiddle during the electric set on "To Be Alone
With You." Between songs Bob introduced the band members, adding something
to the effect that "this band is my best band."
It is said that Bob wrote "Forever Young" for his child. He sang it this
time with a very gentle voice, almost as if he was singing to his grandchild.
Even his guitar playing was gentle, as if saying to his grandchild, "See.
This is the way you play the guitar." Next, "Blowin' In The Wind" was special.
There are layers and layers of meaning in each line. Even with my poor grasp
of English I could follow his words. I felt strongly that this is truly a
"protest" song (even though Bob Dylan himself may not think so).
I much prefer the Dylan concerts in the US to those in Japan. There is no
difference in the performance itself by Dylan, but the atmosphere and the
wonderful response by the audience in the United States is always memorable.
"This is the USA," I felt. Thank you, everyone.
Review by Eben Hensby
The Seattle show started almost right on time at 8 PM. The
classical music started up and us Bob fans who have listened to recent
bootlegs started cheering as we know what comes next! The lights then
went out, and silhouettes took the stage. Then Bob and the band stepped
forth from the shadows.
There was Bob Dylan! With his crazy puffy hair. With a pencil- thin
moustache. With a black suit over a white shirt and a white tie. There he
Wait For The Light To Shine: The spotlights lit up Bob, Charlie,
and Larry as they started off with Wait For The Light To Shine, a song
written by Fred Rose. It really got us into the show with fine vocal
harmonizing. It also seemed very relevant to the events of the present
To Ramona: Somewhere near the start of this song, some obnoxious
woman pushed her way beside me. She started dancing wildly and throwing
her arms around in front of me and hitting me in the head with them. I
had waited in line for many hours, and then she just pushes in front of
me! This song was ruined for me as I couldn't pretend she wasn't there.
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding): I had been hoping for this
one. But with the obnoxious woman still there, this song was also ruined.
The people around me were also obviously disgusted with this woman.
Finally, someone in front of me leaned over to her and told her she was
being extremely rude. At the end of the song, she apologized for being
rude and she left...thankfully.
Searching For A Soldier's Grave: A very relevant song for the
events, but it's not a song I've ever really liked. I just couldn't get
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum: This was the first of the Love And
songs from the night. It was well done, and is a good opener for the
Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You: Larry moves over to the
pedal steel and they go into this song. I've always thought that this is
an appropriate song for any show. It was well done, and great fun.
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again: I knew it was
going to be this song as Larry got the acoustic guitar but the rest stayed
on electric. It was very rockin' and Bob was really into his solos, doing
his funny expressions and knee bends.
Moonlight: This was the live debut of this song! Unfortunately, I
didn't think Bob sung it very well. He wasn't crooning or hitting the
notes like he does on the album. He did, however, play a very impressive
jazzy guitar solo. Then, to my (and probably many other's) surprise, he
went back towards the harmonicas! At the only other Bob show I'd been at,
Bob hadn't played harmonica at all...this was to be my first time! And,
wow, it was an unbelievable harmonica solo! I didn't even think it would
be possible to play harmonica on a song like this, but he did it, and he
did it with style! Beautiful.
Masters Of War: Well, this is obviously a very relevant song to the
world's events. The lighting was very well done as there were yellow
lights criss-crossed on the curtain behind the band, but when the
instrumental verses were played, they straightened. Bob repeated the
first verse at the end of the song. Someone also pointed out to me that
the song had been singularized: it was "master or war" and "I can see
through your mask". I hadn't noticed this, so I can't confirm or
One Too Many Mornings: The lights turned blue and they started this
song. It was very tenderly sung and performed.
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall: Another powerful song. Bob changed the
way the chorus was sung. For the first few times, it was the quick "it's
a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard", but for the second to last time, he
sung it as "it's a hard...(instrumental)...it's a hard...". The crowd
sung along to the chorus, which I thought was nice.
Country Pie: I had been hoping for this one, as it was a lot of fun
at the last show I was at. It's just a good, quick rocker.
Sugar Baby: Wowee! If every show has a central highlight, this was
it for this show! Bob was really into the song, and so was the audience:
they were very silent and very attentive. I was amazed at the
attentiveness as Bob just nailed this song. This is the song that hit me
emotionally and nearly brought tears to my eyes. The lighting was blue,
and a pool-like image was created on the curtain behind the band with
light blue lights moving fluidly around. The cymbals were played in a
chime effect and Charlie's guitar made very neat sounds between the
The Wicked Messenger: This is another great rocker. The
on this song was much more expected than on Moonlight!
To Be Alone With You: Larry got out the fiddle, and someone I
down with, Arthur, went hyper in excitement! They rolled into the
To Be Alone With You and then during an instrumental break, he
the band. They then stood in a formation with Bob nodding in response to
the cheering. Then they left. After what seemed like quite a long time,
Love Sick: I rather expected this song. Nothing too special for
Like A Rolling Stone: This is Bob's standard second-slot song in
the encores, but WOW was it ever great! Bob really got into it. He was
walking all over the stage, looking at the audience as he did his dance
moves and facial expressions. He was smiling a lot and his phrasing was
well done. During the "how does it feel" part, the lights move out onto
the audience, so we all went nuts!
Forever Young: I don't really like the current arrangement of
song, but the performance was good.
Honest With Me: I had just finished telling someone next to me that
I hope he plays Honest With Me. And here it was! What a rocker! At the
end, Bob did this very neat sliding, side-step move...too cool!
Blowin' In The Wind: The standard closer, but now very relevant.
Very moving to some (I saw some with tears), but seemed average to me.
The show then ended after a quick formation. Bob put on his cowboy
hat, then took it off briefly to wave with it as they left. Wow. What a
show. Dylan didn't look at the audience much (he mainly looked at the
stage in front of him) and his phrasing wasn't the best I've ever heard,
but it was still a good show.
"Your breath is sweet,
Your eyes are like two jewels in the sky.
Your back is straight, your hair is smooth
on the pillow where you lie."
- Bob Dylan (One More Cup Of Coffee)
Review by Arthur Louis
So now it's day 2 of our soon-to-be-ending tour and we're going back to
from where we came -- rollin' down I-90 again, through the Cascades as
nature turns slowly into autumn. It's a pretty dull drive until you
approach the Columbia River, but once you're there it's vast and rocky and
magnificent. We've got Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid on Renée's CD player --
if you're ever driving through the desert or an expanse of barren land,
this is the disc to put on.
We're going to see Bob Dylan. Again. Yesterday Renée got up at 4:30am and
drove from Victoria to Vancouver to Spokane, and now she's behind the
wheel again and far more cognizant than Kiri or me. I don't know how she
does it, but am I ever glad she does. Renée's heading to Corvallis
tomorrow but Kiri and I are supposed to be going home after the
Unlike Spokane, Seattle's a GA show and we arrive several hours early. In
line is the gang from Victoria and vicinity: Eric, Nadine, Dave, and Eben.
The first three have seen Bob all around, but Eben's a curious one. He's
about my age and, until this weekend, he must have the highest boot to
concert ratio in the world, probably something like 250 to 1. He's been
waiting for over a year for this show and it's finally here.
I call my friend Jon from Texas (aka greggorypeck in the pool) who's in
town because of the kindness of his Uncle Richard. Jon's a great guy and I
know this because he visited me while I was living near Seattle over the
summer. We're having a Bob-themed after-party at Uncle Richard's condo and
I can't wait to see what he's got planned.
It's almost time for the chaos to begin and I overhear that they're going
to be searching everyone. Yikes. You see, I happen to have two beers and a
camera up my sleeve -- beer and Dylan shows go well together, but $4.50 US
for a pint and my student budget do not. So I choose the financially
sensible alternative and buy a six-pack for $3.50 at a convenience store.
Joe from Vancouver tells me that I'm going to get busted, but I take a
gamble. Well, I can't help it if I'm lucky... they only search bags and
I'm running into the arena taking these awkward strides because of my
hidden accessories. A guard tells me not to run and I don't know whether
to walk or to run -- so I run. I'm still pretty damn nimble and manage to
skirt by several eager concertgoers. I get about three rows back, dead
center! Kiri finds me and somehow everyone I know clusters together and
there's this Canadian entourage in the third row. We made it through! I
covertly take a sip and then pass around my beers. Later, I learn that
alcohol is forbidden in the premises.
At around 7:59pm Eben remarks that the next 60 seconds will feel like an
eternity. Kiri informs me that the orchestral music being played is the
Hoe Down segment from Aaron Copland's "Rodeo Suite" and then there's Al
Santos, as punctual as the night before, politely asking us to welcome
Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan!
Bob and the band open with "Wait For The Light To Shine" again; this
time I'm better equipped to concentrate on the lyrics. "Pull yourself
together, wait for the light to shine." Reassuring and hopeful -- Bob's
pulled it out for a reason, and I'm wondering if he'll keep it for the
rest of the tour. As I jot down the song name and some of its lyrics, a
woman nearby tells me that I can "just look it up on the internet
tomorrow". I ignore her, but the smartass inside me feels like telling her
that I know a little bit about the internet and Bob Dylan.
Larry keeps his mandolin and just like that they're into "To Ramona". It's
another of Kiri's favorites, and mine too. Right away I know it's going to
be one to remember -- it's all in the way Bob says "shut softly your
watery eyyyyes". The last word is low, really low, and he does his
thing where the subsequent rhyming words are delivered in a similar way.
Larry's doing some fingerpicking and it's easy to see without looking too
far that we're about to get "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding". Every
time I hear this I consider myself fortunate -- it's Bob Dylan delivering
words that only Bob Dylan could write. Bob's eyes become intense at the
end of each verse, with words like "sacred" and "naked". This one may even
top the version I heard at the Hard Rock in Vegas last August and I'm left
in a spell, wondering how it could possibly be this good. I glance at
Kiri, Renée, and Eben and we're all exchanging looks of bewilderment.
It's the #4 song now, and again it's "Searching For A Soldier's Grave". I
must admit to getting tired of this song after a few listens, since there
isn't a lot of variation in it. I take this opportunity to note that Bob's
wearing a different suit tonight -- it's a black country-style outfit with
L-shaped arrows on his breast pockets, pointing in both directions. Nice,
but last night's leaf patterned suit was nicer.
"Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" is a great electric opener and I hope Bob
sticks with it for the rest of the tour. However, I hope tonight's
unfortunate presentation doesn't hold -- the spotlight's on Bob so that
Larry and Charlie are standing in the shadows. Charlie's guitar work is so
agile in this song that he at least deserves to share the light like he
did last night in Spokane. Furthermore, Charlie's guitar is turned down
and I'm straining to hear those marvellous licks. I'm also interrupted
halfway through the song because the security guards barge through -- the
guy in front of me took some pictures a little while ago and now he's
getting busted. He's sporting a big camera bag that makes him easy to
pinpoint. (Lesson to readers: do not carry large camera bags and take
pictures from the second row.) He's escorted away, but he'll return later
Next we're treated to a brilliant "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You".
The smiles and moves are coming out and you can tell that Bob's getting
into the groove now -- much quicker than last night! Bob's telling us that
he can "see that stationmaster too" and it cracks me up. It's hilarious. I
can hear it in my head, but I can't find the words to describe how he says
"stationmaster too". Something tells me that there aren't words for the
way he's expressing himself; you've just gotta hear it. And then Bob's up
to his usual phrasing tricks: "Welllll, I -- find it -- too difficult --
to leeeeave". I think we all get a little excited when he inserts a "well"
or a "yeah" in front of a line, don't we?
And now that he's staying with us, he tells us that he's "Stuck Inside Of
Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again". This could only be the work of a
jokerman. The way he phrases the "all your railroad men..." line and his
delivery of "you're just like me, I hope you're saaaaaaaatisfied" puts
this one over the top.
Now comes the most pleasant surprise of the evening, merely for its
inclusion on the setlist: "Moonlight". I wasn't certain that Bob could
pull this one off in concert, but he does an admirable job. It still could
use a bit of work, though -- Bob's using some of his stutter phrasing, and
this is a song that demands to be crooned. The harp solo takes everyone by
surprise -- first that he's playing a harp to this song at all, and second
that it's so appropriate. It's lovely. Everyone in the line of Canadians
is taken aback by how sweet it is.
Back to the acoustics and Bob and the band become dwarfed by their
shadows. You know it's time for "Masters Of War". Halfway through, Renée
gets my attention and tells me that Bob's using the singular, not the
plural: he's singing "master" of war, that he can see through his "mask".
I don't catch this and continue to hear "masters" for the rest of the
song. Only tapes will tell who hears well and who's been left behind.
(It's another passionnate, scorching "Master(s)", by the way.)
"One Too Many Mornings" is a song I wish for at every concert and I can't
believe my good fortune when Larry begins his beautiful pedal steel intro.
Bob delivers a gorgeous, sweeping version of a personal favorite. I'm in a
trance as I listen to it. I don't take notes, not even mental ones; I just
soak it in. Mmmmm...
Yet another acoustic treat follows, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall". It's a
song everyone wants to hear and Bob's joined by thousands of voices as he
sings its famous chorus. Aside from messing up the "wild wolves" line,
it's delivered wonderfully. At one point, Bob says "I say it's a
hard...". My favorite verse is the "I'll tell it and think it and speak it
and breathe it" verse, and this time Bob says "sssssspeak it" with
a confident spitting on the "p". Like "The Times They Are A-Changin'" last
night, this one sends shivers down my spine.
We'll switch to electric again and oh me oh my! It's "Country Pie", always
great fun to hear live. Everybody's dancing around, even the people who
have no idea what's being played. It's pretty similar to the versions from
earlier this year, with Larry and Charlie letting loose on their duelling
"Sugar Baby" is again magnificent, though I know what to expect this time
and am not stunned like I was in Spokane. The absence of drums hushes
everyone to silence and Bob's voice soars and echoes around the arena --
the song has this ethereal feel to it like no other live Dylan performance
in recent memory. Like yesterday, Bob's taking audible breaths between
words: "you can't turn back (breath), you can't come back...". Amazing.
And also, like yesterday, the lights have dimmed to purple. Sugar Baby is
a purple song.
We're back to heavy drums and kick-ass rock 'n roll with "The Wicked
Messenger". Wicked indeed... "if you can't bring good news then don't
bring annnnny". Bob's communicating with Tony and David a lot
during this one; it's that unspoken language they use with their nodding
heads and the look in their eyes. We've got solos aplenty here, with an
extended guitar solo and Bob adding an extra verse worth of harp at the
Is that a fiddle Larry's got now? What could it possibly be for? They
start into the song and I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!! They're playing the new
arrangement of "To Be Alone With You", one of my favorites. I think my
friends are amused by how excited I am about this. I had just missed this
one by a day when Bob last played it (Sun City in August) and the setlist
obsessor in me knows that it's a rarity. You've gotta love Larry -- he's
terrific on the fiddle and everyone's finding a way to follow his beat. My
friend Nadine's dancing up a storm in front of me. I only have one entry
in my notepad: "wow!". During the song Bob introduces the band and
afterwards he can't stop smiling. He doesn't say anything to us aside from
the band intros, but he's smiling like a little kid. It doesn't get any
better than this.
They're gone, we cheer, they're back and it's the eerie staccato of "Love
Sick". It feels a bit out of place in the encore because it smothers the
energy of the crowd. I'm a bit surprised that Bob didn't start the encores
with Honest With Me like he did last night.
But that energy's back with "Like A Rolling Stone". My comments about
yesterday's show apply here too -- I can't imagine it any other way. This
one's delivered even more confidently tonight. He's saying things with a
swagger, but there's no pride swallowing here! Yeah, Bob. You're the
coolest 60 year-old on the planet and you know it.
Next he pulls out "Forever Young", a song that I pray for each time I see
him. It just puts me in a trance. Flash back three years and 10 Dylan
shows ago: October 30, 1998 in Ottawa. It's my first show and Bob ends it
with a benediction, the same song he's singing in front of me right now.
This beautiful song of unconditional love. I pledge to myself after that
show to see Bob as many times as I possibly can. And here he is again,
telling all of us to build a ladder to the stars and to climb on every
We're back to electricity and here's the song that I expected earlier:
"Honest With Me". When Bob sings "there's a Southern Pacific leaving at
9:45", I notice that it's 9:53pm -- yesterday he said it at 9:30pm. Could
it be? Nah. :) Bob does this great move towards the end: he slides, then
he swoops down, and then he jumps! I can't believe it and my Canadian
compatriots are all cracking up. After the show I ask Renée if she's ever
seen it before and she has -- but for me it was a first. At the end of the
song, Bob and the boys get together real close and it's as though they're
doing a group pose for everyone who's smuggled in a camera. I don't get a
picture, but it's there in my mind (and that's good enough for now).
Finally, we're at "Blowin' In The Wind" and it's sweet sorrow because as
much as I love the song, I know that soon Bob's going to be drifting to
another scene. his vocals are a little more throaty than usual, but of
course it's still lovely. He's acknowledging the crowd now, throwing out
grins, posing. After the show, my friend Brook tells me how it's still in
his head. We take this arrangement for granted because we hear it so
often, but it's the perfect way to end a concert. The last thing Bob tells
us is that the answer's blowin' in the wind.
The band gets into the Formation and Bob's bouncing around like a prize
fighter and then they're gone. Just like that. Kiri and I had intended
only to see Spokane and Seattle, but earlier in the day we discovered that
Renée could give us a ride to Corvallis and back. We said we'd decide
after the show and it's a no-brainer, of course. After all, we'd just seen
two incredible and yet completely different concerts. It wasn't just the
setlists, though we heard 12 songs in Seattle that we didn't hear in
Spokane. Spokane was more exhilarating, and yet Seattle was more playful.
What if Bob were to give another live debut in Corvallis? What if it was
Mississippi? Po' Boy? On to Corvallis we go. No one in front of us and
Oh, and about the after-party -- it's a blast. Everyone in attendance
receives a commemmorative Bob refrigerator magnet made by greggorypeck
himself. As well, we try to incorporate as many Bob-themed foods as we
can: Jon makes a string bean dish and Beatty Zimmerman's famous chocolate
chip banana bread. My travelling companions and I bring along some Santa
Fe flavored potato chips and a candy called "Sugar Babies", as well as
some Jamaican Rum and Coca-Cola (well, not really... we could only find
Pepsi). We had many other ideas, but like Jon said, they would have been
pretty gross to serve.
A million thanks to Jon and Uncle Richard for their hospitality. What a
grand time! And hello to everyone I met up with, especially the new faces.
page by Bill Pagel
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