Return to Current Tour Guide page
Review by Nathan Houston
Word was that the concert at Market Square Arena was nearly
canceled due to poor ticket sales, but things apparently picked up. A
fair-sized but energetic crowd turned out to see Bob, Joni, and Dave
Alvin Monday night.
Dave Alvin kicked things off with a tasty set of southern-fried
Americana. His recordings have only partially impressed me, but live
performance is where Alvin really shines. And if he couldn't quite
convert MSA into a hellraising roadhouse, well... the crowd appreciated
his efforts just the same.
From the moment she took the stage, Joni Mitchell had the entire
arena in the palm of her hand. She opened alone with "Big Yellow Taxi,"
including a verse playfully sung in Bob-style, then upped the emotional
ante with a lovely "Just Like This Train." The band then joined in for
a soulful and sensitive set... highlights were "Night Ride Home,"
"Amelia," and a rocking "Free Man in Paris." The REAL kicker of the
show was a sudden, profanity-laced outburst by Joni, aimed at some
hecklers at the front of the stage. This was the perfect set-up for a
seething "Sex Kills." After whoops of adoration from the crowd, a
cooled-off Mitchell explained her position: "Hmmmm... aren't I the
temperamental artist? It's inhibiting, though... I mean, we're human
beings up here. It's not a movie." She proved the depth of that
humanity with a set-closing "Comes Love," which rivaled classic Billie
Holiday in its tenderness and understanding.
The abrupt jump from this to Dylan's opening number was a little
jarring... the man clearly came to rock! "Gotta Serve," "I'll Remember
You," and "Cold Irons Bound" crunched along in a blur. At times I
couldn't tell where the guitars ended and Bob's voice began, but who
cares? We true believers already know all the words! Then came the two
big surprises of the night-- "Fourth Street" and "Watching the River"--
in radically changed arrangements. "River" was the more successful of
the two, a blistering rockabilly workout which for me changed the
meaning of the song: the river's runnin' fast, says Bob, but I'm sure
as hell keeping up with it tonight!
"Can't Wait" was easily his best vocal performance of the night,
with Dylan practically groaning suppressed desire next to the band's
down 'n' dirty groove. The acoustic numbers went over well,
particularly the rollicking "Tangled Up and Blue." (The lyrics this time
were nearly identical to the official BOTT version.) "Highway 61"
transformed Bob into a demented Southern preacher-- "God said to
Abraham, killll me a ssson" sounded like spit-out venom-- and the
encores had the crowd up and boogying. I don't believe there was a
single person in MSA who didn't go home satisfied... how could such a
varied and exciting musical buffet let anyone down?
Review by Jeri L. Still-Stelter
It was a beautiful day in the city, about 70 degrees. And since we arrived early, we were
able to enjoy the atmosphere before the concert.
First, Dave Alvin and the guilty men. I think these boys are going to have a future. They
were very energetic and sounded great. I was glad to be there early and catch them.
Then, the supporting act, Joni Mitchell. I was really looking forward to seeing Joni, since
she went back to the old days (before my time). I thought she was sincere, talented,
emotional and had a beautiful voice. Then, all of a sudden, she pointed into the audience,
down in the front main somewhere ( I couldn't see these people from my seat) and recognized
a couple of guys. At first, I thought she was recognizing someone dear to her, but was
shocked by the reality. She pointed her finger out to the third, maybe fourth row and said
: " Right there are two assholes that are ruining it for everyone with their mocking. They
are out there smirking and making fun of the way I move. Why do you have to be in my face?
There are a lot of people here that want to hear me and you are ruining it for everyone.
Why don't you go out until Bobby comes on you little fucks." Then she sang that song Sex
Kills. I really was able to enjoy her from that point. After the song, she went on with "I
guess I'm just a temperamental artist. It really is intimidating. We are only human, it
isn't a movie." The reason this outburst bothered me is that I thought a performer of her
stature would be more mature than that. She gave those kids exactly what they wanted. They
got to her. I don't understand, why in a group of about 4,000 why she would let two kids
half her age enrage her. As a performer, one should be aware and expect a certain degree of
criticism. It's the risk that is taken. Like I said, I couldn't see the kids-- so they
didn't ruin it for me, she did. Anyway, that's not to say that she isn't talented.
Now, we are more than ready for Bob. He comes on the staged donned in his now famous Grammy
suit, gray with the black collar and black stripe on the side of the slacks. Black boots,
no hat tonight. Boom! Gotta Serve Somebody. Not a big surprise, he's been opening with it
for quite a few shows recently. Now I see why. Next was I'll remember you. Already he is
getting into his footwork and facial expressions. You can't help but to get into it. Then
Cold Irons Bound. Very good vocals, more moving. A real crowd pleaser. Then, all of a
sudden, Positively 4th Street. I was surprised and delighted by this. At my tender age of
28, this is one of the first Dylan songs I fell in love with while digging through my dad's
albums as a teenager. I turned to my dad and said, "It don't get any better than this". He
agreed. Next, watching the river flow. I've always enjoyed this song and was glad to see
it. Can't wait. Great performance. Deep knee bends, sliding, etc... Now the acoustic set.
Right away he gets out the harmonica and we all go wild. Tomorrow is a long time. This is
the song that Elvis sang in one of his movies, don't know which one. Anyway, Market Square
Arena is the last place that Elvis played. Made me wonder if he did this intentionally. I
thought it was fitting. Desolation Row!!!! Another surprise. This was worth the 4 hour
drive and ticket price alone. Enough said. Tangled up in Blue. Dylan really rocks here.
You can't help but lose control. She belongs to me. I love this one and was thrilled to see
it performed. Highway 61 Revisited. The crowd goes wild. Dylan is on fire. Then the bow.
Outrageous cheering. Here he comes back-- once again, outrageous cheering. Love Sick. Very
good performance. Better than the grammy's. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35. The crowd goes ape
shit. There isn't one person sitting on this one. People are dancing with each other, by
themselves, clapping, singing. Then Bob drops his guitar and picks up his harmonica again
and holds in his hands and starts working it. He is dancing and swaying all over the stage
with this, mesmerizing an expectant crowd. After a few licks, we realize it's Blowin In the
Wind. Another one with avid audience participation. Once again, Bob bows and exits. The
crowd cheers wildly, beggin for a little more. Bob comes back for one more. Like a Rolling
Stone. We are grateful for one more song. After that, no amount of cheering will bring him
back. 15 songs, 1 hour and 50 minutes. Pretty damn good for a 57 year old rocker with a
heart condition. Bob must have been feeling really good because he never held back for a
second. He danced all night long, was often smiling, and rocked the house. This was one of
the greatest nights of my life. I can't wait to see him again. Hey Bob, come on back this
way soon, ok? Thank you for reading this.
Jeri L. Still-Stelter
Return to Bob Links
Go to the Set Lists (by city) page
Go to the Set Lists (by date) page 1997 Tour, 1996 Tour , 1995 Tour, Pre 1995 Tours
Go to the Cue Sheet page
Return to Current Tour Guide page