page by Bill Pagel
Review by Jim Bartoo
When I last saw Mr. Zimmerman, he was jumping a bus for the long haul from
Sin City Las Vegas back to Southern California after tearing the house
down at the Hard Rock Hotel with a double encore of “Highway 61
Revisited.” A spectacular evening that saw twenty-one tunes and a wry and
sarcastically jovial Dylan doing what he did best left the throng in
anticipation of what the new album and tour would produce.
Fast forward about seven weeks to the contrasting campus of the University
of California, Santa Barbara. Far more teenagers and twenty-something’s
than Vegas but an equally excited vibe as for many of those in attendance,
this would mark their first true encounter with The Man.
With a full house getting antsy, Dylan and Co. hit the stage and launched
into their current opener, Fred Rose’s “Wait for the Light to Shine.”
Enthusiastic, the crowd paid little attention to Dylan’s battle with
lyrics tonight – tripping early over the second verse of “Times They Are
A-Changin ’” and missing the opening line of “Wicked Messenger.” There
were a few miscues and some botched scales as well but Dylan’s presence
was certainly there and his voice was as strong as ever.
The addition of several “Love and Theft” tracks (“Tweedle Dee & Tweedle
Dum,” “Summer Days,” “Moonlight,” “Honest with Me” and “Sugar Baby”)
intriguing and although much of the young crowd was still clearly
unfamiliar with the songs, they were receptive and cheered throughout.
That is one of the things that is so wonderful about Dylan playing college
towns extensively on this tour. The things that make so many of us Dylan
aficionados go crazy, never even occurs to most of these kids coming to
see the Legend. They are just blown away to be seeing someone responsible
for so much amazing music. A blown cue and a missing line here and there
doesn’t mean a whole lot in the context of seeing Bob Dylan in a
basketball gym on your college campus.
Following the encore of “Things Have Changed,” “Like a Rolling Stone,”
“Forever Young,” “Honest with Me” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” the crowd
filed out, waving at Bob’s bus as it pulled out of the arena. While the
show was certainly a middle-of-the-road Dylan performance (status quo set
list and nothing terribly special in the performance…but still better than
most shows playing today!), I have every hope that this is just the
surface getting scratched as he rolls into the second and third nights of
his Southern California stint (he plays UC San Diego Oct.17 and Staples
Center in Los Angeles Oct. 19).
As I headed down 101 to Los Angeles, I popped in a boot I made of his June
2000 show at Irvine Meadows and wondered if any of the magic heard on that
disc would be revisited later this week. As “Lucky Old Sun” played on and
I approached Summerland, I saw Bob’s busses ahead. With only the
flickering of a TV monitor visible, I smiled, hoping Bob had gotten
something out of his gift to so many new Dylan fans tonight. I also hoped
that by the time I reached Los Angeles, that big, black bus would reach
Malibu, allowing Bobby a night of relaxation in his own home. Can’t wait
Review by Mark Melnick
So I did something I've never done before: I went to a Bob Dylan Dylan
concert last night without a ticket and let the universe take care of
The crowd of five thousand was filing into the Events
Center at the UCSB University of California Santa Barbara, but I was
happily in line too, a good forty minutes before the lights went down. I
paid fifty bucks for a $31.50 [ducat], not bad, considering that the only
middle man was a student who needed the money more than she needed the
boyfriend who'd stood her up. What was that about do you think?
This was the eighth show on Dylan's new tour, which opened in Spokane
on October 5th and will conclude on November 24 in Boston. It was a bit of
a must-see for me because-though I've seen the old spangled dwarf
dozens of times over the years-this new band of his, the one that
plays on Love and Theft is his best since The Band backed him
up in the 60's and early 70's.
My lack of preparation had its rewards.
The venue's a good-sized college gym with general admission, which means
that the faithful will stand between the sound board and the stage. What
the heck, I figure, if Dylan can stand for two hours, I can too, so I work
my way down front. Way down front, where the regulars stake their
This, it turns out, is another, better world, populated
entirely by people who've given their lives over to Bob Dylan. I struck
up a conversation with a woman in her mid-thirties who hasn't missed a
show since 1998. She's on the road year-round with her ido], without
benefit of tour bus or hotel accommodations. Clear-eyed, multi-lingual,
sophisticated, this is no 60's burnout, merely someone who seeks Dylan's
particular brand of truth on a thrice-weekly basis.
Our chat amuses me, primarily because-though she's intimately familiar
with everything Dylan has ever done-she wasn't even born till
after he'd released Blonde on Blonde, and she doesn't know the
songs by the album from which they're taken. Her Dylan is the
Real Dylan, on stage, the flesh-and-blood magician who will weave his
spell tonight, as he did last night and thousands of nights before that,
from songs that are, in effect, brand new each time they are performed.
This is Dylan's great talent, you know, this reinvention, this
reinterpretation of old material. Masters of War is the same
song, of course, that I first heard him sing live in 1963, and yet it
isn't is it? Not this year. No way.
My new friend greets other friends-in-Bob, just in from San Francisco,
where Dylan had played the night before. They're young; surprisingly young
to be obsessed by a rock icon from forty years ago. They haven't missed
a show since they started what Dylan calls the Never-Ending Tour. I begin
to get the inklings of something that's very exciting to me: Bob Dylan, at
sixty-one, is having the same effect on young peoples' lives that he did
at the height of this career, when he was their age.
I look around:
it's a young crowd, but they are buzzed to be there. Most of them have
probably never seen Dylan live. This promises to be something more than a
museum show. My man will not be casting his pearls before swine geriatric
idolaters. It's a college crowd, and my new friend tells me "Bob" likes
college crowds the most.
"It's time," she tells me. "Smell the incense?" I do, of course, but after
forty years of Dylan, it's never occurred to me that the incense comes from
the stage. It's Bob's incense. See, you hang around long enough, you learn
I smell the incense and I smell the pot, and I smell the sexy admixture
of trendy perfumes, and I wish I could tell you that it takes me back to the
Good Old Days, but it doesn't, primarily because somewhere in the back of
my mind I can imagine the bomb going off, and the scoreboard crashing down
on the heads of the faithful, and Dylan trying to make himself heard above
the screams of the injured. Terrorism at a Dylan concert. What a
statement. Only a maniac would think that one up.
No. The Good Old Days are gone. At one of his gigs in Oregon last week
security wouldn't let Dylan in the building. He didn't have I.D.. The
times most definitely have changed.
Which is something Dylan knows as well as any of us of
course. He's looked out at the expectant faces of the changing times his
entire life. This time, as usual, he's greeted with thunderous applause,
which, as usual, he does not acknowledge, and with a minimum of tuning he
begins with the same song that's opened every show so far this year,
Wait For the Light to Shine, the old Hank Williams song. A
country song. A roots tune. Something to get us in the mood:
When the road is rocky and you're carryin' a load
Wait for the light to shine
Don't forget your brother as you travel through the land
Wait for the light to shine
If your life is empty and you're on your last go round
Wait for the light to shine
Wait for the light to shine
Wait for the light to shine
Keep these words before you as you walk that narrow line
Wait for the light to shine
It's a lovely, soothing song, highlighted by Larry Campbell's comforting
mandolin. Dylan's voice is ragged, yes, but as usual his [phrasing] is
unique and impeccable. And, as he does throughout the show, he's playing
As if to deflect any concern that we're only gonna hear
Country Bob or Old-timey Bob, he launches The Times They Are
A-Changin', which-after a botched lyric in the second verse
that the crowd probably doesn't even notice-finishes with a
masterful harmonica harp solo that galvanizes the house. He follows that
up with Desolation Row and it is about now that I realize I'm in
for one great Dylan show. I haven't heard Desolation Row in
concert for twenty years.
They're selling postcards of the hanging
They're painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Huge applause here, as recent events tumble through our minds and recede,
beaten aside by the awesome band he's got this time around. This tune ends
his landmark album Highway 61 Revisited you'll recall, and it's a
brutal piece of fractured psychedelia:
Osama Bin Laden Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They're trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She's in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
"Have Mercy on His Soul"
They all play on penny whistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row
I submit, as an example of Great Art, this tune, which so enthralled me when
it and I were fresh, and seems, incredibly, to resonate even more now, now
that the times have changed so utterly.
Dylan knows what we're all thinking. He follows that up with
Searching For a Soldier's Grave, a song by Jim Anglin that he's been playing
live for about a year and, significantly, has included every night so far on
Beside each crossmark there all around me
I'll kneel down and gladly say a prayer
For all the dear loved ones home across the ocean
Whose hearts like mine lie buried over here.
Next comes the first song off his new album, Tweedle Dee
& Tweedle Dum. On the Love and Theft record, this piece feels a
little flimsy, a little too [whimsical] for my taste, but live, with Tony
Garnier's threatening bass line, and David Kemper's incessant drums, it
just gets inside your heart in a most malignant kind of way. It really
is a song about some bad dudes, and the effect is unsettling.
Which Dylan acknowledges by following up with Positively 4th
Street, another song I've never heard live, the album version of which
it is impossible to improve. Dylan fails to hook me with this one. I don't
like the vaguely country treatment, and he throws the words together
allinastreamyouknow the way he does sometimes. The song doesn't
have that righteous anger- "You've got a lotta nerve to say you
are my friend"-that informs the original, and his voice just
isn't up to it. Besides, anger isn't what Dylan's about so much anymore.
I'm glad to hear it, nonetheless. A museum moment. Moving on.
The old Dylan spell is well and truly woven with the next song however,
Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again, from Blonde on
Blonde, a classic, and Dylan's slow train coming|slow train starts
to pick up speed.
Now the bricks lay on Grand Street
Where the neon madmen climb.
They all fall there so perfectly,
It all seems so well timed.
An' here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice.
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again.
He segues through Moonlight from the new album,
Masters of War with Charlie Sexton playing magnificent dobro,
Girl of the North Country, which is a pleasant surprise.
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, Summer Days, Sugar Baby,
The Wicked Messenger (which goes all the way back to the album
dannye couldn't listen to, John Wesley Harding, from 1967, and
finally To Be Alone With You from Nashville Skyline,
with Larry Campbell doubling on a lovely liquid fiddle.
The encore was comprised of Things Have Changed a thunderous version of
Like a Rolling Stone, an inspiring Forever Young and a great
song from the new record, the hard rocking Honest With Me, with a
blistering slide guitar from Larry Campbell.
I'm here to create the new imperial empire
I'm gonna do whatever circumstances require
I care so much for you I didn't think I could
I can't tell my heart that you're no good
Well, my parents, they warned me not to risk my youth
And I still got their advice oozing out of my ears
You don't understand it, my feeling for you
Well, you'd be honest with me if only you knew
It is at this point, without knowing whether there will be another song,
that I make my assessment, for what it's worth, of Bob Dylan in 2001, so
that you might judge whether you should see him or not: His band rocks
very, very hard. The up-tempo stuff sounds like it's ALL from Highway
61 Revisited, so one is struck with the irony ironic image of this
61-year-old man playing wondrous rock and roll rock n roll as if he were
again a boy. Secondly, Dylan seems most at home with the NEW songs from
Love and Theft. Never content to rest on his laurels NOW is where
Dylan keeps his heart, it occurs to me, and I am cheered that the man,
like a wily old warrior for truth, will get up and get back out on the
road again, informing yet another generation of searchers.
As if he has not forgotten that his job always is to [resonate] with me,
just as my job is to try and figure out just exactly what it is he's doing
this time around, Bob Dylan sends us all college student
and groupie, mid-life reminiscent and brand-new fan out into the
October night on the wings of one of his greatest, that we might not
forget the point of it all:
How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
Go see Bob Dylan Dylan meditate on Love and Theft. You won't need
to call Ticketmaster, for I Shall Be Released the universe will
Review by Edward Jacobs II
After the searing heat of the Lancaster Fairground a few weeks prior, the foggy
sea breezes of Santa Barbara were a pleasant change. Yet, the mellow calm
permeating the atmosphere seemed somewhat askew. Wasn’t Bob Dylan minutes away
from speaking the truth inside this big hollow gymnasium? Wasn’t that really
Joan Baez I saw drifting into the UCSB Events Center just before show time?
Wasn’t this the first Bob Dylan experience for many of the squeaky clean
youngsters in attendance? Wasn’t the USA dropping bombs somewhere in the world
at that very moment? Dylan appeared punctually as usual in a tiny billow of
smoke from a machine hidden away onstage. The band played an energetic version
of Wait for the Light to Shine. The show progressed steadily through a number
of Dylan’s works. While certainly not standout versions of these, the audience
nonetheless paid careful attention to the lyrics. This was no mere English
professor tutoring on long lost poets of history, this was on! e of the un
surpassed poets of our time in Show and in Concert. At times the sound was
hollow and difficult to grasp, due to the fact that the enormous space was
designed for basketball games and not for acoustics. But, credit is due to
Dylan’s sound team for doing the best they could with what they had to work
with. The lights became more majestic for the new song about Tweedle Dee &
Tweedle Dum, which had a few people actually singing along. More classic Dylan
followed. I snaked closer to the stage, but it was too hot up front. Dylan did
not look any bigger. So I retreated to the back. The band took an extra half
beat before commencing with Moonlight, and this produced a faint murmur of
anticipation from the crowd. It was on Moonlight that the show peaked for me.
Here was a master of song, voice ragged with time, singing his heart out in
a way that could go on forever. Timeless. Next, Masters of War took on special significance, as did later versions of Hard Rain and Bl! owin’ in the Wind, due
to the news of the day. Sugar Baby stood out as the new song with the most
potential to evolve into a live favorite. It is difficult to describe a
"typical" Dylan show like this one, because who are we to expect more
greatness than was delivered? (Can’t wait to see what is in store at the
Edward Jacobs II
Review by James Coffey
I just got back from the show in santa barbara and its near midnite. First
off i want to apologize for the missed key strokes in my review of the san
jose show friday night. i was so tired i failed to use spell check, it was
a long day with over 6 1/2 hrs. of driving, and i dont travel well, i was
exhausted.But with a days rest and less travel time to Santa barbara
(Ucsb c! ampus) appx. only 1 1/2 hrs. each way from san luis, i was ready
for the day.2nd, i'd like to thank Bill Pagel and Karl Erik andersen for
their hard work in bringing us news and information on Bob's public life
and his work. i know im leaving others out, thanks also to the rest. If
friday was a typical warm october day in california the weekend was downright
hot. by the way i mentioned the summer fog being gone in my last review, for
the record I love the coastal fog, it keeps us nice and cool, and when i
left san luis headin south i ran into it in Pismo beach, the heat had brought
I just missed seeing bob in jan. 74 at the chicago stadium, i was 15. but
close doesn't count. my older sister took her best friend after her husband
couldn't make it. we drew straws, i lost. did get to go with her to see Elvis
the following year. The first time i saw Bob in concert was 5 years later i
was living in Phoenix, i was 20, and it was Nov.26th 1979 at the Gammage
auditorium on the Arizona State University campus. "you want rock and roll,
go see Kiss". Right on Bob, i cheered him on from the balcony. i've always
cheered for the truth seeker. That was a special night, not only with what
Bob was saying but with what the music was saying. I couldn't believe people
were walkin out, leave? how can you leave this? if you want something in a
package go to the supermarket. If you want the real deal; then go see Bob
Dylan. the one thing that bugs me still, is that i didn't get up and move down
to one of the seats by the stage that were vacated by those who left, i
stayed in the balcony. oh well maybe i'll get over it tomorrow. while the
first time we see Bob is always a special one we remember, i've never tried
to draw comparisons, wouldn't think of it, every moment is unique to itself.
but i'll admit, it would be a treat to see him play piano again.
So, almost 22 years to the month i headed for another unversity campus. UCSB
on Isla Vista. this was a much easier drive as i mentioned, than friday's,
easier because its much shorter, and i was able to make the drive later in
the afternoon. the last time i saw Bob in Santa Barbara was in 88 and 89 at
the county bowl. a completely different venue. Tonights show was in the
"thunderdome" thats the nickname for basketball gym. similar to the cal poly
rec center, standig on the floor bleachers on the sides and rear.
I pulled into the parking lot about 6pm. and got in line about 6:40 i chatted
briefly with the gentleman on my left, he commented on the new cd, he said he
liked it better than Time out of mind. i smiled and said i thought they were
both pretty good. Security at the door was tight, and i was glad to see it
that way. they had you empty your pockets and looked through any handbags,
and gave you a through search. i thanked them. Once inside i found a seat in
the back bleachers about halfway up on the isle.A nice couple came up and
asked me if the space next to me was taken, i said no, and they slid by and
sat down. I struck up a conversation with them as we waited, I told them i
had been to the show in san jose and we talked about that, they asked if Bob
would play some of his older songs and i assured them that they'd hear a nice
mix. the crowd took its time filing in but the place was full by showtime.
Bob took the stage at about 7:45 and once again played for a good 2 hrs and 15
minutes. Opening with waitin for the light to shine.It took awhile for Bob
and the boys to warm up tonight, this was there third night in a row and i
think they were a bit tired. they deserved to be. That and the fact that the
crowd took awhile to get warmed up too. you know how Bob feeds off the crowd
and this audience was a bit relaxed at the start. Bob missed a word or two at
the start of "times are a changin" but closed it strong with a nice harp solo.
I like slow beginnings because they build to energetic closes. and tonight
was no different. Bob and the crowd warmed up together, and by the time he got
to "Stuck inside Mobile" that bridge had been crossed and he had a second wind.
Bobs voice although a bit tired tonight was very well used. He went from low
to high and back again, taking his time with the words. "Girl from the north
country" was done very sweet and soft and was ! very well received. "Summer
days" was once again an all out dance number, the fun one in the bunch, and
the sound man finally started to turn up the guitar in the mix. "to be alone
with you" was one of the highlites the energy from Bob was at peak for the
evening and they gave it everything they had, the smiles were out."things
have changed" was nice, "rolling stone" still kept the energy level, and the
closers were warmly delivered and received. I like hearing "forever young'"
and ''blowin in the wind' so close together, i think they fit well. at the
end we were his, and Bob and the band stood to a thundering and giving
appreciation. The lady to my left leaned over to me and said to me "it must
really make him feel good to hear this loving acceptance" I smiled back at
her and replied '"im sure it does". another great night. looking forward to
many more. God bless see you next time,
Review by Chico Enorme
I was captivated by the positive vibe from last night's show in S.B. by
the sea. The crowd was zealous enough to get up for the well known numbers
(Masters of War, Like a Rolling Stone), and it was a small enough venue
for the hall to get quiet, too. Moonlight was earnestly if shakily sung
but this will be a standard covered by great singers for a long time
coming, even our grandkids' generation. Sugar Baby hushed the crowd, Bob
leaning into his michrophone with the luxury of adding feeling to every
mortal line. He has added to the best bag of songs in the business with
his new cuts that stand up to listening the thousandth time. His band has
energy, and gives him his space in the middle instrumentally and vocally.
I had spent the morning on a family outing in San Luis Obispo with the
wife and kids instead of going to mass Sunday, but something almost as
beautiful took place at that show. Beauty, truth and goodness shone to the
front. Viva Bob!
Review by Ryan Barnes
So, it is Sunday night, and I have just driven up 2 hours from LA so I
could see Dylan in the more intimate setting of the UCSB events center
rather than the bloated venue of the Staples Center. I have a paper due
Monday morning,and I had not even started it yet,and I still have the
drive back to make. The subject: Seven pages on how the personal
transformations of Young Goodman Brown and Rip Van Winkle provide some
valuable perspectives on the American imagination and societal
values before 1776. But this could wait--I was going to see Bob.
All of the college kids around me, myself included, owned the new album,
loved Bob, and loved the show. I think the previous reviewer would be
more comfortable in a New York Philharmonic performance. There were
mistakes at the show!, oh my gosh, stop the presses. This live music
really gets out of hand sometimes! Okay, onto the show, I’ll just
comment on what sticks out. Waiting for the light to shine was an
interesting, quick little ditty--with obvious relevance in the context
of the present state of things in the world. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle
Dum was a rocker, I was not looking forward to hearing this, but I was
not expecting it to rock so hard live, but those thumping bass notes
really get the crowd going. Next, Positively 4th Street was played
real solidly, a great clean version. Moonlight worked really well.
It was during Moonlight that I realized how close I was to Bob. I
could see sweat dripping off his cheeks, as he moaned the lines. The
song is a little sad, and for a second I thought it might have been a
tear. Masters or War was fantastic,I can’t say enough. And I swear
that where the lyrics go, “You hide in your mansions...” Bob instead
sang, “You hide in your mountains...” as a reference to the cowardice
of Osama Bin Laden. Girl of the North Country was the gem of the show
in my opinion. Bob’s singing was great. The acoustic guitars really
blended well togeather, weaving an intricate tapestry. And it is one
of my favorite songs, so.....I couldn’t complain even if it was
flubbed...but it was delivered perfectly. Summer Days was another
rocker from the new album...I wish there had been more room to dance.
Larry Campbell really tore up this song with his guitar playing, Bob
is so lucky to have him. Sugar Baby--another great live song from the
new album. I was really impresed how well the new ones work live.
Solid encore, not too impressed by Honest with Me though...my sole
dissapopointment of the night. All in All great show.
Review by Wilson Smith
It was especially sweet to see the man who I consider the greatest
singer-songwriter of my generation at the University of California at
Santa Barbara. It was while I was a student here that I, along with many
other "folk" enthusiasts, discovered that a new and talented folk singer
named Bob Dylan was the author of "Blowin' in the Wind," a song that
Peter, Paul, and Mary had recorded that was climbing the popular music
charts in 1963. It was here that many of us returning for the Fall
semester of '63 brought to school our copies of "The Freewheelin' Bob
Dylan." It was here that discussions and arguments ensued as to the talent
and relevance of this unusual-sounding singer. I can still recall the
whines of "Well, I guess he writes some good songs but he ought to get
someone else to sing them" that was a common litany of the day. It was
from here that we caravanned to Santa Monica in the Spring of '64 to see
what for some of us would be our first Bob Dylan concert, just Bob and his
guitar in those days. Later that year, some of us drove to see Bob sing at
the unlikely venue of Long Beach High School. It was here at UCSB that we
went to Bob Blackmar's apartment in Isla Vista to hear the interview he
had taped with Bob somewhere in Southern California. (Note to history
dylanologists: it was no doubt the broadcasting of this interview on the
campus radio station, KCSB, that has given rise to the misinformation that
Bob performed at UCSB at that time and to Heydlin's error in Behind the
Shades that the interview took place in Santa Barbara.) It was here that
we would make tapes of the "Freewheelin'" "mispress," with its four songs
that were not on the original, and in some ways presage the beginnings of
"completism." It was here that we would read James Joyce and William
Shakespeare to the soundtrack of "Another Side of Bob Dylan" and "Bringing
it All Back Home" and some of us would begin incorporating Dylan's words
and music into our scholarly papers.
It was with these memories as a backdrop that that I listened Sunday night
to the man sing "Masters of War" and remembered the roommates and friends
that gathered around a black-and-white television to hear John F. Kennedy
announce the placement of missiles in Cuba, beginning what would become
the Cuban Missile Crisis and Bob's inspiration for that song. I remembered
also the hours I would spend learning the chords to "Girl from the North
Country," "Positively 4th Street," and "The Times They Are A-Changing,"
songs that Bob sang here this night in October some 33 or so years later.
At times Sunday night, I would jump and dance like a teenager to the wild
and frenetic rhythms of the new songs "Summer Days" and "Honest with Me."
With renditions of other new ones such as "Moonlight" and "Sugar Baby," I
could only stand in awe at the power and genius of the man's words, my
eyes close to swelling with tears. Again I was struck by the fact that
this man, who so often is lauded for his way with words, has written some
truly beautiful melodies, and sings them with a voice that goes from tough
to tender within a single phrase.
As I looked at the range of ages of the crowd, I was again reminded that
each generation has its own relationship with Bob Dylan, that although
some of us may be drawn to his work for only a portion of our lives, even
so, that means his reach spans generations.
As I listened to the old songs I heard phrases I hadn't thought about for
years, and in so doing I realized that his tremendous body of work
overwhelms us. The sheer volume of all that he has written is such that we
can't remember all of it at the same time, we get a glimpse of something
that we haven't heard in awhile, and are reminded of what it once meant to
us, while at the same time it blossoms with new meanings.
As I listened to Bob Dylan perform his work at the University of
California at Santa Barbara, I recalled an old roommate of mine who
ridiculed him when he heard "Freewheelin," but by the time of "Blonde on
Blonde," had grown truly appreciative of what was being created. He went
on to appreciate much of the work that came later. As a result of seeing
Bob at a show in the late 1980's, where fans were scratching their heads
to fathom which songs were being sung, this friend now refuses to pay to
see him live. He still likes some of the recordings released but try as I
might, I can't convince him that the live shows are truly brilliant these
days. So this old roommate was also on my mind, along with the thousands
of others who have not seen a Dylan show. I wish somehow that everyone
could see him live, but knowing the impossibility of that, I have to
settle for the satisfaction, that I have seen him live, and have been
blessed with having seen him many times over many years.
But this was the sweetest.
--- Wilson Smith
Review by Chris Huff
I forgot how nice Bob Dylan fans can be. Funny how the man himself is so
exceptionally prickly (see my review of the Staples Center show), yet the
feeling of community is so prominent at his shows. Sitting talking to a
couple of students on line, I am struck by how blue the sky is, how nice
the weather is, and what a long time ago college was. But I digress.....
I was right up against the stage, on the right. Chatted with a man who
seemed to have more records than God (and I have over 1000 CD's, to say
nothing of vinyl, cassette, mp3, etc.), and a guy who looked like
Seinfeld. What good, solid people. Out comes Bob. Damn are we close. I
love it when he opens with the Bill Monroe styleeee. He always says in
interviews that nobody has done the high lonesome thing since Monroe.
He muffs the second line of "Times They Are A-Changin' " but it is no big
deal. Funny that he should forget the second line of the song. I totally
relate to that. I have spaced onstage in the middle of a talkin' blues
that I do, it was bad. Dylan, ever the pro, just keeps going. The
chills start after he singing "There's a battle outside ragin', will soon
shake your windows and rattle your bones". Brrr. We live in scary,
cold, awful times - World Gone Wrong indeed.
"Desolation Row", the abridged version, also gets the chills going. He's
singing this song like it's really important. Thank God for your heart
problem, Bob - I think it put the fear of death in you. I used to hate
when he cut his songs live, but I guess when you could sing 5 songs and
have an hour long show, there's a point to it. So, to some degree, Dylan
does actually care about his audience. Surprise surprise!
The chills continue with "Soldier's Grave". During this song, I actually
briefly make eye contact with the Old Man. Probably he looks at me
because everyone else is jiving, clapping, and dancing, and I am standing
there bug-eyed, mute, and paralyzed. This music is the most healing
thing I've encountered in the last month, like bathing in the River
Jordan. The moment is quick, and Bob looks away. How funny.
"Tweedle Dee" is fun and he gets low and gritty. Watching him hop around
is friggin' hilarious. He's got a Strat with "Bob Dylan" in abalone on
the neck. His little black outfit has stars up and down the sides. What
I struggle now as I am writing this to find the words to describe his
version of "Positively 4th Street". "Bitchy" is the first word that comes
to mind, as Dylan gives a little smile after each verse, thin-lipped and
tight. It's almost like a Midwestern argument where nobody yells but
everybody exchanges little barbs. Something almost polite about it.
Dylan's a genius. He can give such shades of meaning to performances.
Thank God he put the bottle down. Good for you, Bob.
"Memphis Blues" is such a long way from the version that he did with the
Dead in '87. He really pulls out the Blonde on Blonde voice for this
take, and every word counts, as opposed to '87 where the only words you
could make out in the football stadium were "Memphis Blues." I hope he
pays his band a lot of money. They kick some serious ass on this song,
especially Larry who just strums the simple chords, but really moves the
"Moonlight" is trés gorgeous, and he even does a little soft shoe.
Aznavour would be proud.
"Masters of War" is more of the chills. Go get 'em, Bob.
"North Country" is perhaps the most beautiful thing I've heard him done in
all of the ten concerts that I've seen. He takes a sublime harp solo,
and actually quite a beautiful little guitar solo. What's up with the
guitar solos? He was getting it for a while, now it seems that his solos
are generally messy and boring. This one transcends, however.
"Hard Rain". It's Freewheelin' night, I guess. He's really taking it to
the limit, the post-WTC tower vibe. He doesn't miss a single word.
The rest of the show is his standard set for this tour, except for "Wicked
Messenger" which throbs with Danko-like energy, and "To Be Alone With You"
which rocks out. "Forever Young" also sent the Planet Waves moving
through the audience.
Dylan is as good as he's ever been right now, writing and playing. When
he gets his ego out of the way, his beautiful God-given genius shines
through. We are very lucky to live in the time of Dylan. All the same,
he needs to let Larry and Charlie take the guitar solos. Dylan's biggest
problem: two words - big ego. He really sat back at this show, however,
and just did his job. And he did it well.
Review by Sven Lewandowski
Every time you travel to a series of concerts there will always be one
shitty day and this tour it was the day of the Santa Barbara show.
When I planned my journey I found out that a trip from San Francisco to
Santa Barbara would take 10 hours with Greyhound and 12 hour with
Amtrak. So I chose to spend some more money to take a flight. A flight
from San Francisco to Santa Barbara usually takes about 50 minutes and I
tought it would be nice to arrive there still being fit and without
having spend the day on a bus. But as I already said: it was the shitty
day of the tour. Due to technical problems my flight was delayed - for
four hours (!) which meant that I arrived at 6 p.m. and had to take a
taxi staight to the venue. I arrived there some minutes before the doors
opened - carrying all my baggage !!! And as you can expect I had a lot
of problemes with a my baggage at the entrance. At first they told me
that they wouldn´t let me in with it and it took some time to explain
the situation to them. And for they didn´t have lockers (and for the
whole thing wasn´t organized very well) they had no place where I could
leave all my stuff. After another quite long discussion I persuaded the
guy at the merchandising desk to keep an eye on my things which he
allowed me to leave behind this table. Thanks again !!!!
To so-called ìevents centerî at the UCSB turned out to be a sports arena
and the sound was very poor - especially at the first half of the show.
The audience was even worse than the audience at San Francisco. Since
the show was at the University of Santa Barbara they reserved 1000
tickets for students (who didn´t even have to pay the full price) and so
there were a lot of people at the show that weren´t commited Dylan fans
at all. And again there were a lot of people talking, laughing,
cheering, singing and clapping while Dylan performed. The crowed was
rather restless and the way they behaved could just be called had habit.
The show itself wasn´t good either. It turned out to be the weakest show
of all six shows in California. As already mentioned the sound was quite
poor and that´s also true for the set-list. The show began with the same
five songs as percormed at San Jose and each of them was performed in a
much weaker way than before. Dylan wasn´t very concentrated and seemed
to be tired (maybe his day was as shitty as mine ?!). Sometimes he
didn´t even sing to his microphone. At least his voice wasn´t very clear
tonight and not only because the sound was so poor.
Positively 4th Street wasn´t that bad but not impressive. Dylan´s
voice still lacked of commitment.
Stuck Inside Of Mobile is a song I always liked (although it wasn´t
performed at my first real good...) and it now featured Larry on
acoustic guitar. It sounded quite nice but like all the songs before it
was a substandard performance.
The show´s only song that I haven´t heard before followed (Moonlight)
but I don´t really like the song. For me it was a kind of a tick on
your list song, like I always call them (you hear a song, that you
don´t really like, make a tick on your list and forget about it). It
featured Dylan on harmonica (being the only new song performed with harp
so far) and at least the sound got much better by now.
The usual Masters Of War followed and I repeat myself by saying that
it was much better the days before.
Girl From The North Country was the first song that sounded really
good to me and by now the sound-crew managed to create a sound that was
quite good. Dylan´s singing had also improved and now he seemed to be in
a song for the first this that night.
Once again Hard Rain followed and it was hard to stand to hear it for
the third time in a row.
Summer Days was pretty much like the nights before - Dylan´s voice
still not fitted the song.
Sugar Baby was sung very concentrated and was the usual highlight
while The Wicket Messenger was rather poor.
To Be Alone With You was a nice choice as the closing song - not only
because it was neither Leopard-Skin nor Rainy Day Women. It featured
Larry on fiddle and Dylan´s voice got the aggressivness that lacked
Summer Days as well as the performance of To Be Alone With You at
As on the nights before the encores were the usual ones and we all have
already heard performances of them with much more commitment than at
So it´s easy to sum up the show: Not only because of severe sound
problems at the beginning the show was the weakest one in the six
California shows and I was rather glad that the next two days were
non-concert-days. For a long time I had hoped for an additional show but
now I tought that a two days rest would be quite good for Dylan (and for
me too because I couldn´t stand another decline).
P.S.: The day ended in the same shitty way it began. After the show
there was no public transport, so I had to get me a taxi for $ 25 to get
to my hostel. Santa Barbara has no Youth Hostel and therefore I had to
chose Banana Bungalow. And it turned out to be rather a mixture
between a hut and an old garage with a roof made out of sheet metal. And
it was cold inside and very dirty and ugly too. Most probably it was the
ugliest hostel I´ve ever been too. It´s not necessary to mention that
the service was also poor. So if you ever happen to be at Santa Barara,
which is a nice town build in Spanish style, don´t spoil your holiday by
staying at Banana Bungalow!
comments are welcome, please email to:
Review by Jeanne Davis
UCSB is known as a party school and the crowd didn't let me down. In
addition to the students, I met a few old timers, including one who last
saw Bob at the march on Washington in 1963!
I love these general admission shows, and was able to get about 6 people
back in the center.
Bob seemed nervous when he first came on, and even more pale than usual.
I noticed he wasn't playing his guitar much at first, just sort of going
through the motions and letting the other guys carry him.
He missed a verse early on and most of the crowd didn't notice, but Bob
seemed annoyed with himself. He definitely got stronger after that flub
and put more into his performance.
The crowd was pretty rowdy, and Bob started feeding off that, and pretty
soon the energy rose all around. Masters of War was amazing.
By the act break the crowd had their lighters out and made the gym (yes,
there were fold up bleachers along the sides of the walls) seem like an
My friend, who stood back by the sound board, said afterward that it
seemed like a melancholy show, but from up front it didn't seem that way.
There was a lot of Chuck Berry style riffing, and the show had lots of old
style rock and roll.
I used to live in NYC and was able to see Bob pretty often. Since the
tour hasn't reached much of the West coast in over a year (the closest was
a show in a desert town in August) I have learned to appreciate anything
he gives us. Thanks for the CA dates this time!
page by Bill Pagel
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