page by Bill Pagel
Review by Ben Karmelich
It was great to be back at the Wiltern Theater again, the site of so many
great Jerry Garcia Band concerts. The seats are now gone from the floor,
which I like because it keeps the crowd on their feet and dancing the
The biggest difference of Dylan on this tour is seeing him play piano.
However, he doesn't really play anything significant on that instrument
but just bangs out the chords. I also heard rumors that the piano playing
is more due to his arthritis than anything else. That was just a rumor
The show was very fun and I was happy to hear Seeing the Real You at Last
as an opener. Much of Dylan's arrangements are mostly unrecognizable and
it's very rare to hear a familiar vocal phrase that makes it more
difficult to enjoy the songs unless you are really used to this and really
used to Dylan's voice.
I always see Dylan when he is in town but I hate to bring friends with me.
I'd rather enjoy the concert and pay my respects that have to explain to
someone else what he is saying.
His covers were sung better than any of his own songs. It's weird for so
much of his set to be songs by other artist when he has so much to offer
from his own repertoire. Still, End of the Innocence, Old Man, Mutineer
and Brown Sugar were all so well played and song that it was a real treat
to hear. Brown Sugar became a real dance number too.
Of his own songs, Drifter's Escape is mostly unrecognizable but Dylan's
own guitar solo was incredible. Don't Think Twice was also very well
played and sung and the crowd got really into it. I Shall Be Released had
the benefit of the background vocals to make it a great sing along song as
well as Knockin' on Heaven's Door. So many of his other songs could use
that same treatment. Mr. Tambourine Man was also song well.
Of the Love and Theft songs, Honest With Me is losing it's initial rocker
charm but Summer Days is still bringing down the house with it's jams and
vocals. Floater is a real treat to hear and the new arrangement of High
Water (which starts off sounding like Man of Peace) is also good but I
still like the original arrangement better.
Otherwise, it was your typical Dylan full of great songs that are sung in
a way that you can't understand or get into what he's saying in his
lyrics. But his band is great and it's great to see a living legend
that's still having fun on stage. I'll be there again tonight too and
probably have the same complaints and but will still love every minute of
- Ben Karmelich
Review by Mat Gleason
The newly remodeled art deco masterpiece Wiltern Theater opened Tuesday
night to the first of three Bob Dylan performances. This Tuesday would
have been game six of baseball's American League playoffs, but Bob's
home-state Minnesota Twins were no match for the Anaheim Angels and were
eliminated Sunday. So with no conflicting game, I retained one of my
General Admission tickets, put on an Angels Jersey and headed down to
gloat among the hippies. People in line warned me that Minnesota Bob would
be upset (Mister nearsighted cannot read a Jersey at thirty yards, but why
ask why). Don't they know that his only baseball song was about a pitcher
for the Oakland Athletics? (I will take Catfish Hunter for 400 Alex).
Bob warmed up in the bullpen with his opening number, Seeing The Real You
At Last. He was rusty but the band was tight and the sight of seeing him
at the keyboards was so stunning that the raspy diaphragm could be
overlooked. He is no lazy Elton John, the man stands at the keyboards. As
he hits the middle of Tell Me That It Isn't True, you feel like looking
over at the pitching coach to see if Bob has his best stuff. Just when I
am getting scared, a genius curveball is thrown, Tombstone Blues,
rearranged as a swampy dirge. The theater is warming up, the smoke machine
gives the stage some swampland ambiance and the smell of hippie B.O. forms
a putrid aroma with Bob's pre-show incense. The Wiltern's capacity 2,200
crowd featured maybe 150 deodorant users.
Dylan is now fine form and grooves a cover version of The End Of The
Innocence, followed by Things Have Changed to form a duo of commentary
about our present times i guess. But then it was time to rock, and the
moment i was personally looking forward to - Bob's cover of the Rolling
Stones' Brown Sugar - delivered. It utterly blew me away. The band was
tight, Bob's gnarly delivery was as if he were the Gold Coast slaver.
Absolutely the highest high point of any Dylan show i have ever been to.
Now here is the problem. Bob might consider pulling a 1966 and having an
acoustic set and followed by an electric set. The competent One Too Many
Mornings tanked, the wind was let out of the crowd. On a bootleg (like the
one I am owed for being on my best behavior standing behind a polite
taper) of this show, this might sound like the greatest melodious moment
in Bob's performing career, but coming as it did after Brown Sugar, it
just sucked the energy out of the crowd. Plus by this point, standing in
General Admission, all of the old timers are starting to do bendings and
stretchings. I'm 38 and a veteran of slam pits and took advantage of a
kneeling yuppie in front of me to crouch for a majority of this song. They
should've had cots for this crowd. Thank god i have balcony seats for the
next two L.A. shows.
But just as there is a threat to the momentum, another keyboard driven,
utterly rearranged classic, It's Alright, Ma, breaks the Noon Darkness.
Much like his Tombstone Blues arrangement, this made the familiar strange.
I Shall Be Released was okay, it almost seemed like a tip of the hat to
the over 50 set in the audience for still putting Basement Tapes as their
favorite Bob album of all time. Suddenly, the heat goes back on, and a
wicked messenger delivers Drifter's Escape. Has Bob been listening to
Sonic Youth - this thrashing rocker stunned the crowd. I had to ask the
dancing hippie in front of me what song it was, of course he had to add
what album it was from. Is every Bob fan a potential Jeopardy! contestant?
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right was almost true to the original, and
featured the band at its guitar-picking finest. Neil Young's Old Man was a
crowd pleaser, getting squeals from every fan under thirty. Guess Neil
Young beats Bob in that demographic. Nice to see Bob steal back from the
imitators who have stole him blind. By Honest With Me, Bob was getting
tired. Again, intermissions, just a suggestion guys. Mr. Tambourine Man
was nice, got a nice response, and was one of those Bob rearrangements
where he sings part of a line in a higher octave. Ehh, whatever, the words
of that song were enough to make any playing of it great and he delivered
them to some melodious guitar. High Water also seemed a bit forced,
although the new arrangement allowed the band to carry Bob at this point.
Perhaps it is a blood sugar thing with Dylan. His Warren Zevon tribute,
Mutineer, didn't do anything for me, we'll see how the bootleg sounds (if
the guy in front of me lives up to his word, or should I believe Joe
Strummer's creed "Never trust a hippie.").
Just as I am ready to write off the show as very good but not great,
suffering from to many energy letdowns in song order and a few pleasant
but weak numbers, Bob makes Love and Theft's Floater another highlight, an
unexpected pitch that crosses over the plate where you least expect it.
All one could do was not bother trying to sing along and marvel at the
retelling of lost Americana. The band shined brightest on the blistering
Summer Days. I am sure Buddy Holly watches this from beyond each evening.
It is like bottled Rock and roll energy in its purest essence.
The encores were a return to the band's earlier swamp sound, their Vox
amplifiers all miked with vintage-looking microphones and the superior
Wiltern theater sound system blasting it out. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
adds that line, Just like so many times before, making it more about
prayer than death (they did mention that Bob found Jesus in the show¹s
introduction to Columbia Records artist, Bob Dylan). A grooving version of
All Along The Watchtower sent us on our way, into the chilly Los Angeles
night. The Wiltern Theater is located across from a city subway stop. My
buddy and I were the only two people from that show to take the train, so
when you good hippie liberals cry about George Bush going to war for oil,
know that he's fightin¹ for you and your SUV. Idiots or hypocrites, you
On the train home, an usher form the Wiltern, a girl maybe 22 years old,
asks us if we were at the show (it was, uh, a bit obvious). She said,
"that man had a great band and really rocked, but his voice made it
impossible to understand what he was singing about." Basically, he was
saying that the drifter did escape, without having to remind you that he
did so on the John Wesley Harding album.
Review by Kathleen
I had an as pleasant as possible nine-hour wait in line for the doors to
open for this show, made much more bearable by the fact that my
brother-in-law was with me (his first show), by the availability of food
and bathrooms, and by the interesting, warm, humorous, fun, happy, fair,
knowledgeable, heartful people ahead of me in line. (Not much nice to say
about those behind the person in line behind me, though.)
The Wiltern staff, though extremely cheerful and helpful, did not seem to
know where they were heading or what they were in for, not to mention that
they were a bit unorganized. It was their first night after the
renovation (and they were trying hard, smiling, and forthcoming), so I'd
be prone to still give the place a crowd-friendly three stars out of four
or so. Still, the line did have to move five times throughout the day (40
people dragging stuff to and fro) and there were all sorts of problems in
their taking tickets when we finally did go in. (Like taking the entire
ticket and not ripping it so you got stopped at the second tier where
someone wouldn't let you through because you didn't have a ticket which is
what happened to the number one person in line who had been there 12
Once we got in, the Wiltern's lovely but misguided "Welcome Back" touch of
handing out white roses in the classy lobby as we went past was pretty
much wasted on a crowd of people running as fast as they could toward the
stage and flinging the roses out of the way like they were objects in an
obstacle course. ("Don't run!!!") Note for dressing for this place– it
felt like the lobby was the only area that was air-conditioned, and it was
stifling elsewhere. Now about the inside of the theater: The face lift
was, as touted, gorgeous with gilded ceilings, soft golden lighting.
Three hundred people were allowed in "the pit" in front of the stage which
was a sunken area, made particularly obvious by the stage structure which
was incredibly high. (definitely taller than I am, which isn't hard, but
still...) The sound was outstanding as far as I could tell. For once it
even sounded good near the stage and the mix was even. (‘could hear
The long wait, luck, and the compassion of the people in line, all came
into play for me, and I had very good, second row positioning in between
the Bob piano and the Bob guitar position. Since I also had a decent
dance area (thanks again to the people around me!), I was pretty much
incapacitated in the conscious thought arena, so this review will be a
little abbreviated. Someone who is not fried from solo travel and waiting
in line can fill in the blanks.
Seeing The Real You At Last, Tell Me That It Isn't True, and Tombstone
Blues were all close approximations to recent nights, which is to say they
were well-executed, interesting and enjoyable. I liked them like I did in
The End Of The Innocence and Things Have Changed were quite slow and they
didn't do anything for me, but people probably liked them.
Brown Sugar was way fun, though I'd take a version from one of the
previous few nights if I wanted the definitive.
One Too Many Mornings was a really slow version with nice pedal steel
work and other delicate guitar touches from the guitarists.
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), I Shall Be Released, Drifter's
Escape, Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, Old Man, and Honest With Me
were also done well, latest arrangements.
Mr. Tambourine Man was very slow with ultra-choppy phrasing.
High Water (For Charley Patton). Could this also have been a tad slower
even than the studio version?
Mutineer was a different story for me than other nights being as it was up
close and personal. Bob was so expressive and mesmerizing on this song,
the dance was in my head, though I was standing still. So, I can't even
Summer Days was boppy still and again. But, by now, we all want to know
what is soooooo funny to the band during this song? There must be some
private joke because even right at the beginning there is a lot of
cracking up, practically always. Tony didn't fall off the drum riser this
time and made it up there with his bass rather gracefully.
Knockin' On Heaven's Door and All Along The Watchtower: Everyone's lead
lines on guitar were jammier and more creative than I've heard in awhile
which worked well most of the time. Actually, that could be said about
the entire night. Bob had some interesting leads, Larry was going to town
on all his squiggly finger-picking leads, and Charlie had some sounds and
rhythms that were fascinating.
The bows were particularly drawn out and gracious with a big nod to the
(VIPs in the?) balcony seating.
I would say that the high points of this show for me, besides the company
and my stage position, were Mutineer, Bob falling over laughing with
George (all?) somewhere there near the beginning, and the scrumptious solo
Charlie took in Knockin' On Heaven's Door.
Need to be off to get back in line with hope that the place has worked out
some of the opening night kinks.
P.S. The guys were in black and white outfits that looked very dressy.
(Larry's looked like a tux.) Bob was in black with a tiny bit of red
Review by Howard Zilbert
A few quick thoughts about the first Wiltern show. First, the new venue
is beautiful, very tastefully done. Particularly noteworthy was the
ceiling. Upon entering, the lobby looked nice enough in the blur that led
down to new, pristine, hardwood floor, which too soon was to be baptized
with spilled liquor. On to the show: Bob and the band started with Seeing
the Real You at Last. Love Bob playing the piano, and his voice was
strong and lyrical from the outset. The highlights of the show, though,
were to come. In a general way, the highlights were seeing the
differences on stage now that Bob has changed instruments for so many of
the songs. He and Larry interacted more than I'd ever seen. Also,
hearing George Receli pounding on the drums as song after song reached a
crescendo showed me why he was selected as the new timekeeper. Charlie's
guitar work is always great, although in the early stages, from my
standpoint more on Larry's side, it was hard to hear in the mix. It did
get better as the night went on, so by the time they were blistering their
way through Summer Days, all could be heard. The song highlights include
the aforementioned Summer Days, the slow blues of It's Alright, Ma* with
Bob hitting every word, Tombstone Blues, Don't Think Twice, and I Shall Be
Released. The piano came through to best effect on the renditions of
Honest With Me, Tombstone Blues, and It's Alright, Ma* Just another
magical night in the land of Bob.
Thanks for letting me put in my $0.02
Review by Jeanne Davis
Well, these tickets were twice as expensive as the ones in San Diego, or
anywhere else - I don't like the assumption that just because I live in LA
I somehow have more money. The result was, I splurged to get tickets for
one show even though I would have liked to witness all of them.
But, of course, all turned out good. I was handed a single long stemmed
white rose as I entered the beautiful art deco theater deep in the heart
of downtown LA. The Wiltern is like a smaller version of the Beacon
Theater in NYC. There was a good feeling in the air, and the anticipation
just built as people from 15 to at least 65 got excited when they saw the
incense burning on stage.
The piano is small - a synthesizer of sorts, but Bob enjoyed the heck out
of it, dancing as he played. What a fun show - the highlight for me was a
fantastic Don't Think Twice.
Brown Sugar and Old Man were big hits with the crowd, along with
Tambourine Man and High Water, both of which had arrangements that were
light years away from the recorded versions.
Summer Days had such a fast beat I wondered how everyone kept up -
obviously these guys are real musicians. Tony got so into it he even
hopped onto the drum platform - while playing his upright bass!
All Along the Watchtower had everyone going. I don't know how their ears
can take the volume night after night. I guess the answer came in the
song over the PA system as we were leaving - "And here is the best part,
you've got a head start, if you are among the very young at heart." Bob
saluted the crowd, but once again I felt like we should salute him. Rock
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists