page by Bill Pagel
Review by Shawn Pulver
There are some shows that defy expecations. This was one of those shows.
Bob came out at about 8:20, and proceeded to play the longest show that
I have ever seen him perform (and maybe the longest of the NET?). The
first acoustic set was nice, especially Its Alright, which contained a
great vocal. The sound for such a big hall was outstanding. Serve
Somebody was a new arrangement, with Bob spitting out the lyrics with
that old flair. It was the next song of the show that made the night
and made my long trek from London Ontario worth it. After Serve Somebody,
me and my friend read Bob's lips as he instructed the band. "Mississippi."
Enough said. Me and him were flipping out before a note was played. It
was one of those performances that kind of leave you in shock, so I can't
say much, other than it was incredible. Larry on slide, and Charlie
playing lead rhythm. Kemper did a great job making the song sound true
to the album version. "Last night I knew you, tonight I donnnnnnt." Tell
me it isn't true was the best version that I've seen, and featured some
very nice steel work by Larry. Highwater was intense, probably the most
dramatic re-arrangment of any of the LAT songs in terms of how they sound
compared to the album. A little more "rock" oriented, with Larry's banjo
getting a little drowned out (which wasn't a bad thing, its just that it is
more prominent on the album). Masters was dramatic, and I love the newer
ending with Bob repeating the first verse and it ending in an almost acapella
arrangement. The last verse of Visions featured some of the most unique
phrasing that I've ever heard, trust me when the tape comes out. Sugar
Babyfeatured what my friend described as the "greatest Dylanvocal he had
ever seen in person." The whole venue was ! quiet and respectful.Cold Irons
Bound got a great reception (especially the winds in chicago line), while
Cat's in the Well ended the main set in a rocking fashion. On a few
occasions, Charlie was having such a good time that he was sitting down on
the drum riser, and then kneeling down on the stage, playing directly under
The encores kept the momentum going. Honest with me featured Larry on slide,
playing this weird brown electric that I've never seen him play before. After
Blowing, which featured some incredible phrasing on the "too many people have
died line," it appeared as though the show might be over. We were wrong,
thankfully. Bob came back for Watchtower, and was clearly enjoying himself
more than any show that I've seen this year. After they left the stage, Bob's
roadies had packed up almost all of the guitars, when I could see him tell the
band that he wanted to keep playing. When they decided on Heaven's Door, only
Charlie had a guitar. On the first verse, Larry didn't even have his guitar
plugged in. To everyone, including the band's surprise, Bob decided to come
out for an unprecedented 23rd song, RDW, and, as usual, he made up a few new
lyrics as he went along.
The "extra" encoresrepresented a truly remarkable ending to a classic Dylan
concert. What a night! Thanks for reading, Shawn.
Review by Mitch Herbold
The Chicago show was simply awesome! I went with 3 girlfriends and 2 of my
best friends. I got to take a girlfriend of mine from here in Missouri. I
was so happy I found someone who wanted to go as bad as I did. I had every
intention on making the 5 hour trip by myself but was lucky enough to get
her to come along. Seems she is going through a break up with her
boyfriend and she just wanted to get away and party. Well she was riding
with me so she was in good company and ready to have fun in Chicago! We
had general admission. I wanted to get there early so we could get close
but after a long drive into the heart of Chicago and consumption of many
alcoholic beverages we got down into the general admission pit at about
7:55 PM. The show didn’t start until about 8:15. Dylan played 2 songs I
have never heard including the first song Wait For The Light To Shine and
Cat’s In the Well. Holy cow! Both those songs were great!
My friends and I were plenty hopped up and in a very loud and party mood.
We were laughing and singing and dancing to all the songs. My girlfriend
enjoyed it very much, it was her first Dylan show and she fell in love
with the song’s Mississippi and Tryin’ To Get To Heaven, having heard both
songs for the first time on our way up to Chicago. Also she really wanted
to hear her favorite song Shelter From the Storm but unfortunately Dylan
didn’t play that one, I told her maybe next time, stick with me baby,
stick with me anyhow, things should start to get interesting right about
However, Dylan made my evening with Gotta Serve Somebody and then
Mississippi. That gave me a chance to slow dance with my girlfriend who
was enjoying the show as much as I was. My intentions were to dance with
all the lady’s and I accomplished that with awesome songs like Don’t Think
Twice, Visions, High Water, Summer Days, Cats in the Well, Rolling Stone,
Forever Young, Honest With Me, Watch Tower and Rainy Day Woman. I like the
general admission because there is plenty of room to dance. All the people
got out of our way and let us cut a rug. I even danced with a beautiful
blond who my girlfriend said was watching us the whole time because her
boyfriend wouldn’ t dance with her. Message to that boyfriend: Dude you
need to get your groove on, your woman dances really well.
My friends were kind of out of control but they were having fun so I
didn’t mind. The crowd around us didn’t say anything about us smoking
cigarettes and weed and being loud and dancing all around and spilling
beer all over (run on sentence for a run on evening). The crowd around us
was very tolerant of our party behavior. I only heard one “shhhhhh!” and
that was during Masters of War. At one point, before the show started we
were trying to get as close as possible to the front. Some lady tells me
“Either go forward or go back but you are not going to stand here” I told
her I didn’t know that general admission allowed her to dictate where I
could or could not stand. I politely moved back to my spot. I hope that
lady had as much fun as we had!
That was by far the best Dylan concert I have been too. We were close, the
sound was perfect, Dylan was right on with all the lyrics, the band jammed
and I got to dance my ass off. I think High Water 'live' sounded way
better than the cd because of the intense drumming and I think Forever
Young was the theme of the evening. I think the 2nd encore was a special
treat and I think Rainy Day Woman was fitting for a closing song because
we were all very stoned on one thing or another. Life is good and Dylan
makes me happy to be alive. That was the best ever!
With love and hippyness for all, Mitch
Review by Keith Poniewaz
I rolled into Chicago, the the third night of the four I am planning to
see Mr. Dylan, with more than a little excitement, though not the leg
shaking I had this summer when I saw him for the first time in two years
at the Iowa State Fair...
Dylan walks on... Same music, Copland's "Rodeo" (I think thats the name...
To me, simply "Beef it's what's for dinner" music) .. "Proud to present...
Columbia Recording Artist Bob Dylan" Dylan- Black suit, silver piping
white shirt, no hat...
Wait For the Light To Shine is a fantastic opener and has yet to
disappoint me... It provides a nice quick warm-up and it is definitely
unique and gets you up dancing... It is also not so up-tempo that it
doesn't eliminate the chance of a more mellow and laid back show like at
Lacrosse. From here he went into Times, great arrangement, and this (as a
younger Dylan follower) is always one of my favorite moments, because of
the irony involved. Like it or not a sizeable population of spectators at
a Dylan show are there to here Dylan play the standards EXACTLY how they
remembered... including this one... Do alot of these fans when they walk
out realize that the times have changed? That they are now the parents
that Dylan was talking about? Of course, part of the reason that I love
Dylan is that the times have changed, and he is always changing with,
against, or apart from them... While most people simply follow the path...
"It's alright" was magnificent, haunting... his "deeper, bluesier,
rougher" voice works excellently on this one... Then Soldier's-- didn't
grab me this time... it worked the first time I saw it, but not so much
>From there a suprise... not the "Tweedle Dee" I had expected but a
guitars to the wall explosion of "Gotta Serve Somebody"-- the blues style
livens up this one and Dylan's guitar work was good stuff... Anyone else
ever think that Dylan simply became born again so he could try writing
Then Mississippi, one of my favorite songs from the new album, the
acoustics from where we were weren't great on it, but still a great, great
song... Much heavier, however, from the album version...
"Tell Me"-- you have to enjoy anything that comes up from the Nashville
Skyline, great dancey beats and grooves, good ol' fashioned fun... The
LaCrosse "To Be Alone" had the same qualities and so did the "Country Pie"
from Iowa this summer...
High Water-- as someone said earlier... much better than the album
version... although tonight the mix drowned out the banjo a little
Don't Think Twice was the highlight of the evening for me. Dylan's vocals
were haunting and the jams were spectacular... Great, great harp jam on
the end and it is moments like this song that I keep going to Dylan
shows... I know at least once, even on his worst nights, he is going to do
something as awesome and haunting as this-- perhaps the best version of
any song I have heard in all my concerts... Almost (gasp) "transcendental"
Then an excellent jam (obscured by my inability to place it as the opening
of the "reworked" "Visions") led into Visions... What a masterpiece... can
things get any better?
Ravaging "Masters of War"-- One of my friends said that this blues
arrangement almost gives it a "ritualistic quality"-- I would agree
thoroughly... Is this now aimed at the US Government... Dylan always the
contrarian? or at Ben Laden... Probably everyone and everybody...
I really enjoy Summer Days... the guitar lines make me want to dance and
the lyrics are some of my favorite in the Dylan collection...
Sugar Baby is an excellent part of the show... The lights dim and the
spotlight focuses on Mr. Dylan and he lays down a heartbreaking vocal,
full of resolve and resignation all at once. Say what people will about
his voice, but nobody gives the song the ambiguity it needs quite like
dylan... The best example (for me) is "To Make you Feel My Love"-- Garth
Brooks and Billy Joel (I think) both make it into a simple little love
ditty, while Dylan makes it a love song song from a man that we are not
sure can give the love he promises... He adds so many levels with his
vocals... This is another advantage of seeing the man live... his
phrasings change every night and every night the lyrics mean just a little
New Reworking of Cold Irons... heavy riffs then lyrics... real rough and
He closes up with a rockin' Cats in the Well... Nicely done. He quickly
removes his guitar and then he bows and seems a little more aware of the
crowd. Walks off.
He returns for the standard encore set Love Sick, LARS, Forever Young,
Honest With Me, and Blowin' in the Wind... Only a couple of random
comments: It is interesting to see everyone come alive for the song they
know after Dylan has played killer rock and roll for two hours during
LARS, but no matter how many times I hear it-- its still as powerful as
the first time...
Blowin' in the Wind is an interesting way to close. After leaving
LaCrosse, I was struck with the existentialism of this whole thing... At
twenty a generation rallyed around this as a song of change, of protest...
But Dylan saw right through all of that... whether he knew it or not...
THings will never change (and Afghanistan shows they haven't-- just this
morning I saw a news clipping that reminds of one's I've seen from
Vietnam-- US Gov't predicts difficult and longer war than expected) the
answer/utopia will always remain "Blowin' in the Wind"...
Then Dylan whips off the guitar and bows a couple of times... Charlie
seems a little reluctant to leave, so I'm hoping for a second encore...
Sure enough Dylan leads the band through a greatest hits package to leave
even the boomerest baby boomer satisfied... AATW... Then sweet opening
"oooh" vocals from Larry and Charlie on Knockin' while Dylan gets his
guitar from the stage hand-- slight misremembering from Dylan on the
second verse (the only one I noticed this tour)-- and great guitar work...
Charlie and now Bob still don't want to leave... How about "Rainy Day
Women"? Nice rockin' finish... I wished I were down in front so I could
jump on stage like during his 1996 tour, but nobody had that idea...
Dylan bows, and after two minutes of applause the house lights come up...
Talked to my brother, who saw him in Spokane, and we are veterans of
several tours each and we both agree: IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN DYLAN, THIS IS
CONSISTENTLY THE BEST HE'S BEEN. SEE HIM NOW.
Review by Daniel Kortmann
Chicago Stadium was our first Dylan show. And, last night at the United
Center, 27 years later, across the street from where the Chicago Stadium
once stood brought us full circle. The United Center, the house that
Michael Jordan built, became Bob's home for over 2 and a half hours.
And, he looked quite at home.
At first we were wary of a show in a stadium with stand on the floor
general admission tickets and reserved seats where one would sit for a
basketball game. But, what happens is the kids on the floor seem to
inspire the artist to their best performance while the older crowd can
sit in the comfortable Bulls season ticket holder seats with our
binoculars pressed against our heads all night.
Another surprise, the United Center had an excellent sound system.
Very clean and crisp. Bob's voice was clear, upfront, and strong.
I haven't caught Bob in a lie yet and last night when he said, "Let me
introduce the greatest band in the world," he was absolutely right.
They were dressed in matching gray sparkling suits with black trim while
Bob was in a western cut suit with white arrow piping.
News flash: The most beautiful guitar in the world is owned by Bob Dylan.
[As it should be.] His acoustic was a shiny black Martin with white double
pick guards, a white layer on the head piece, and a white bottom string
piece. It was magnificent.
At a Bob show one is treated to Hard Rock, Blues, Folk, Bluegrass (ALA
Ralph Stanley harmonies), Boogie Woogie, Comedy and Tragedy. One needs
only a Bob Dylan show to have your complete entertainment needs served.
Some high points of the evening:
On Forever Young Bob's voice was actually pretty.
On Sugar Baby the crowd hung on his words and listened. You could hear
Excellent new phrasings on Masters of War and a dramatic rearrangement.
Never one of my favorite tunes but it was last night.
I do believe Chicago was treated to an unprecedented 23 songs. (2
The audience was great, the venue fine, the mood indigo.
All is well in Bobland.
Lake Zurich, Illinois
Review by Peter Kirstein
Bob Dylan, who must enjoy autumnal Chicago, appeared during wartime in the
United States, for the third October in a row before a huge and mesmerized
audience at the United Center. Unlike his most recent Chicago appearances
at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1999) and Northwestern University
(2000), there was a special urgency and poignancy for those who came for
some inspiration and support as war resisters against clean-cut, unscratched
generals and admirals, collateral damage, and the racism and religious
bigotry that fuels our endless Asian wars against poverty-stricken nations
from Korean, to Vietnam, to Iraq and to Afghanistan. Dylan did not disappoint.
In one of his most impassioned and brilliant concerts, he courageously pursued
an antiwar theme in song after song.
When Bob Dylan composed his epic anthems against war and American imperialism,
it was actually before the inception of mass-antiwar demonstrations against
American military intervention in Vietnam. His The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was
released in May 1963 and The Times They Are A-Changin’ appeared in January 1964.
While fears of atomic radiation from atmospheric H-bomb testing, and possible
nuclear war over Russian deployment of missiles in Cuba clearly informed his
early antiwar oeuvre, “Let Me Die in My Footsteps,” The Bootleg Series:
Volumes 1-3, and “Talkin’ World War III Blues,” Freewheelin’, it is nevertheless
remarkable that Dylan’s songs of protest and advocacy for mass resistance
against American militarism preceded the great student uprisings against
the Vietnam War. The Free Speech Movement at Berkeley—that is frequently
construed as the preface to the antiwar movement—does not begin until
September 1964 and is possibly the first significant protest on a
university campus in which a Dylan song could be heard: in this instance
Joan Baez singing “Blowin’ In The Wind” on December 2, 1964.
Arguably the most important song of the twentieth century is “The Times
They Are A-Changin.’” Until his current nationwide tour, “Times” was sung
infrequently at maybe one or two gigs at most. Now it is being sung at a
frequency that is uncommon in the thirty-seven year history of the song.
The war in Afghanistan is clearly the reason for this change. While his
presentation of “Times” is unrecognizably different from the 1964 masterpiece,
his bluesy-country approach still delivers his message with genius and flair:
“There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’…And the first one now will later be
last.” He followed this paean to protest and resistance with his “It’s All
Right Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” from Bringing It All Back Home. When he
delivered the song’s greatest line, “But even the president of the United
States sometimes must have to stand naked,” the audience’s immediate roar
enveloped the cavernous United Center.
One of Dylan’s greatest compositions and his most uncompromisingly antiwar
song is “Masters of War.” Before this gig, it was last performed in Chicago
at his most recent outdoor appearance on July 9, 1999 at the then-World Music
Theater. This was during the aftermath of the Clinton war against Serbian
‘ethnic cleansing’ that included American attacks against the civilian
populations of Belgrade, the Chinese embassy and a terror-weapon cluster-bomb
assault against the Yugoslav city of Nis. On Dylan’s current tour, “Masters
of War” is performed at each venue—an obvious decision that reflects
America’s latest war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the so-called
Al Qaeda network. At the United Center, the greatest singer-composer of
the twentieth century resurrected his capacity for urgency and passion
that so distinguishes Dylan from other artists: “You that build all the
guns, You that build the death planes, You that build the big bombs, You
that hide behind walls…” Its delivery was accompanied by a dramatic light
show of a crimson-red backdrop perhaps signifying blood. Dylan’s gravelly
voice reached a dramatic intensity in “Masters’” final verse: his most
radical phraseology against the national-security elites who adore war and
dispatch our children to die and kill other parent’s children throughout
the “uncivilized,” nonwhite, nonMcDonald’s world: “And I hope that you
die, And your death’ll come soon, I will follow your casket, In the pale
afternoon, And I’ll watch while you’re lowered, Down to your deathbed, And
I’ll stand o’er your grave, Til I’m sure that you’re dead.”
His last antiwar song this evening, after a eight-song double encore set
list that included his epic, “Like A Rolling Stone,” and “Honest With Me”
from his September 11th-released lackluster new album, Love and Theft, was
the first encore-ending “Blowin’ In The Wind.” Unlike “The Times They Are
A-Changin,’” and “Masters of War,” this simple yet brilliant cri de coeur
beseeches and pleads with a message structured around questions. “Times”
and “Masters of War” unleash impassioned indictment and invective.
“Blowin’ In The Wind” is plaintive; the other songs are unremittingly
direct. “Blowin’ In The Wind” is an all-purpose song in its inquisitory
protest against war and racism; “Masters of War,” is devoted solely to
antiwar protest. Yet “Blowin’ In The Wind’s” nine questions demand
answers: “Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly, Before
they're forever banned? Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he
(she) knows, That too many people have died?” While Dylan’s search for
meaning and answers may be contained within a Guthrieesque-allusion to the
wind, (see also “Song to Woody,” Bob Dylan), “Times” warns the Congress to
“heed the call, Don’t stand in the doorway, Don’t block up the hall,” and
“Master’s of War” frankly affirms the need to overthrow the
politico-military warrior class.
At the upper level of the United Center, I noticed a black banner with a
white peace sign that stated, “No more war.” The combination of Dylan, his
wondrous antiwar music dominating this concert, and this delicate banner
created an atmosphere and an emotion that is both hauntingly reminiscent
of a bygone era but so relevant and evocative during the current one.
Although Dylan will not sing forever, his songs will inspire forever.
Future generations of antiwar activists and committed pacifists will be
stirred by this man’s music as they must inevitably continue the struggle
and resist the seemingly endless-violent nature of America’s foreign
policy that has brought such suffering and destruction throughout the
“The war guns they went off wild, The whole world bled its blood, Men’s
(and women’s) bodies floated on the edge, Of oceans made of mud.” “Long
Ago, Far Away,”(Dylan, unreleased).
Peter N. Kirstein
Saint Xavier University
Chicago, ILL. 60655
Review by Ryan Herzoz
This is truly a historical time to see Bob Dylan in concert. With an
exciting rock band behind him he gave the United Center crowd twenty-three
songs selected throughout all avenues of his forty-year journey in the
music business. With over five-hundred songs to choose from, his set list
was rich and varied, including everything from political protest songs,
acoustic folk, electric Christian rock, country & bluegrass, rock & roll,
swing & jazz, greatest hits, album tracks, broken love songs, harmonica
solos and guitar rock.
The opener as expected was, "Wait For The Light To Shine," an unreleased
cover song with an old time country bluegrass feel. "Searching For A
Soldiers Grave," another cover had the same feel with his band again
providing backup vocals. Bob did a nice harp solo at the end of, "The
Times They Are A-Changin," and an especially excellent blow after "Don't
Think Twice, It's All Right."
His band exploded on the Christian era, "Gotta Serve Somebody," definitely
a highlight for some long lasting Dylan fans. Bob would take a step back
from the microphone into a semicircular formation with his band and jam
guitar rock. This formation worked well on the hard rockers, "Cold Iron
Bounds," and "Cat's In The Well."
Bob's whisky broken vocals worked best on the five songs he displayed from
his latest album "Love and Theft" ("Mississippi," "High Water," "Summer
Days," "Sugar Baby," and "Honest With Me.") "Summer Days" had the crowd
snapping along to its jazzed up beat. "Sugar Baby" stole the show when
Bob slowed up the tempo and focused attention to the lyrics, "some
of/these bootleggers/they make pretty good stuff/plenty of places to hide
things here if/you want to hide em' bad enough." I hope somebody was
taping the show.
Bob gave the crowd a taste of country with, "Tell Me That It Isn't True,"
from Nashville Skyline. He sang a passionate, "Masters Of War," from the
Where the vocals worked well with the new material, it didn't quite hold
as well on older classics such as, "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)"
and "Visions of Johanna."
The highlight of the night, aside from "Gotta Serve Somebody" and "Sugar
Baby," was the seven-song two-encore performance that Bob put on.
Following the closing song of the original set, Bob and the band stood in
traditional stare down form, however Bob was a little bouncy and excited
as opposed to his normal icy stare at the crowd. Somebody up front made
He came back out and played an energetic first encore: Love Sick, Like A
Rolling Stone, Forever Young, Honest With Me, and Blowin' In The Wind.
"Like A Rolling Stone," had a wonderful crowd reaction. "Forever Young,"
was positively the theme song of the night. Bob Dylan's not too old to
rock and roll. He music will always be forever young.
"Honest With Me," was as rocking as expected and "Blowin' In The Wind" was
the appropriate closer. He took a bow and pointed to someone in the crowd
and left the stage for a second time.
Bob must have been feeling good from his day off as he came back out for a
second encore and played not just one but three songs from his greatest
hits canon. "All Along The Watchtower," was intense. The crowd went wild
with excitement as his band played the song to the limit. He wasn't
"Knockin' On Heavens Door," was rearranged beautifully with a picked up
chorus that kept the song from being a sing-along. Following this song
the band kind of regrouped and Bob decided for one more song. "Rainy Day
Women," immediately sparked a cloud of smoke into the air and everybody
was moving and dancing and having a great time. Bob stared down the
audience for applause and did a little jig that said, "How did you like
It was great Bob.
Review by Abe Rondina
I know that many people hate pre-show dialogue so I'll only say that I arrived
at the venue at around 10 in the morning. I was hungover. There were only five
people there...it was between 37-39 degrees (according to the trusty UC
marquee/weather station) for the duration of the 8 1/2 hr. wait. The United
Center is a hulking mass of corporate advertisement, which happens to double
as a basketball/hockey arena and venue for concerts, etc. This thing is
cavernous, eclipsing even the Staples Center in terms of capacity (by about
6,000 seats). The very top of the balcony was closed off in certain sections
around the arena, but I would ballpark that 90 percent of the available seats
were filled. It was definetely one of the higher profile venues on the tour.
Perhaps 200 or so people were right there at the gates when they opened 1 1/2
hrs. before showtime (scheduled). So here I've stated that I would neglect
pre-show background and I've written a paragraph of it. Enough. Everything
works out, as it usually does, and my friends from college and I (six in total)
stake our positions (me on the rail, in between larry and bob and my friends
right behind me in rows 2-3). Place fills up to about 70% by 8 and no sign of
Bob. Several clapping exhibitions and numerous calls to bring him out, none
successful (naturally). Setlists come out five minutes later and our man and
his troops appear at 8:20 (about). Wait For The Light to Shine--first show on
the tour so obviously the first time for this opener. Crisp version. The boys,
except for David, were in grey, glittery suits with black shirts. Larry and
Charlie were chillin' with the open neck but Tony sported a black tie to go.
Bob was in a new black suit, with glittery trim. White satinish scarf. David
wore a black shirt and black hat (not cowboy, not that beret). All in all a
sharp outfit. As I was saying, 'Wait' was a tight version. Bob played around
with his strumming, getting warm. It was clear from the start that there was
going to be an unusual amount of overt banter between everyone. Bob was going
watching Larry and picking his places to inject playful riffs. Charlie
initially acting sedated and unconcerned as is usual for him, but visibly
talking and adjusting with Tony. 'Times,' was next. Perhaps a skipped verse,
maybe not. Very clear vocals. It's been noted throughout that Bob's been
nailing vocals and this was absolutely the case tonight. He also started what
what was to become a ridiculous amount of interaction between himself and the
first row. He would approach the mike before the resumption of each verse and
ponder how to deliver the line. I would say that phrasing probably changed 2 or
3 times within the song itself. Each verse saw Bob ruminating on how to deliver.
I was amused to say the least (as was the crowd). It was obvious quite quickly
that the patrons close to the stage (by which I'm really including the entire GA floor--which was standing in front half, chairs in the rear). I really could
write another description of the quirks of this show. But that would probably
consist of 10 or more pages and would be an essay instead of a post. So I'll
try to stay on track again (fruitless). Harp solo at the end of 'Times;'
Larry's acoustic, while co-existing beautifully through the majority of the song,
was much too loud. In the front few rows, it was very difficult to hear the harp principally. It was sort of okay at the end but all in all, a pretty poor effort.
Don't know if that was due to mix, or our positions (too close for full sound).
But he was trying to make it sound good and it probably would have if Larry's
guitar was subtler. But okay, song two whatever. The venue is also enormous and
I wasn't realistically expecting the acoustics of Symphony Hall. It's Allright
Ma followed. Good slow version. Never really got fast, but definetely climaxed
both lyrically and instrumentally. Nice playing from the guitarisits. No real
time between 'Times' and 'Ma.' By this point it was a very sharp, but normal
performance. Bob was definetely gazing, smirking, questioning, and flirting with
crowd. But it was somewhat relaxed and not out of the realm of what I see him do
sometimes. But 'Ma' was very good and my friends, some complete live virgins,
were happy with the song. 'Searchin'' was next, another crisp rendition. The
vocal harmonies were excellent. The playing all around was meshing. Lights down,
a little conversation. I've yelled for nothing but Visions so far (before 2 & 3)
and am quiet now, knowing that the electrics are coming out. My joint smoking
has not commenced either, security is very nice and relaxed, but chilling on
the sides, between the rail and the stage. And the lights haven't been that
low yet. Whatever, not going to get kicked out early. So the joint stays in
the pocket and the lights come up to an electric intro of 'Gotta Serve Somebody.'
I haven't seen this since my first show and it's very loud and very good. They
stop before the refrain, and chop up the beats which leaves Bob singing "But
you...know you...gotta SERVE SOMEBODY.' Those great cohesive blasts of sound
coming from the three guitars. Sweet almost, so twangy with Charlie's bluesy
leads. Fairly interesting choice (as TD & TD) has been played here with
frequently. Though he's been changing it recently, still a nice and unexpected
surprise. The two songs that I really wanted to hear between Chicago and
Milwaukee were Mississippi and Visions. One old one new. Two representations
of the emotive difference of a 60's Dylan versus a current Dylan. So in the
electric portion of the show, I was shouting for Mississippi. And I'd had a
good feeling, especially after St. Paul went by without it being played
(since SD). After 'Serve Somebody,' they waited a bit to kick into the next
song. It was pretty quiet. Someone yelled "I love you Bob," to which I replied,
very loudly and hopefully noticiably on any bootleg, "I love Mississippi!"
Almost simultaneous with that moment, they turn around (they'd been huddling
by Tony's bass stand) and the distinct twang of Mississippi starts up. I wink
at my friend, who says to me, in a very light-hearted but ironic manner, "I
don't believe you." Mississippi was well, damn good. Great phrasing and
subtle changes: "All my powers of possession and thoughts so sublime..."
Many others, which I forget. The CD-R will be avail. soon (hopefully from
someone). He focused on clarity in diction and let Larry and Charlie drive
the song. Tony and David were solid, but to me, the guitars were prominent
as they reflected bob's vocal delivery. I was happy. 'Tell me' followed,
another nice addition. Larry on lap steel. Again, that sweet twangy sound
supported by a strong rhythmic pulse. Bob's songs that take this form are
so damn good. Bob repeats the first verse (I think?), consciously, at the
end. The band exchange nods and winks and smiles, but still nothing unordinary.
I'm thrilled at this point though, a very good setlist seven songs in. And
Bob's mood seems to be light and his focus steady. The banjo appears for
'Highwater.' Wow, big difference from the album version. I remarked to my
friend, "It sounds almost funkish." And it did. Tony and David put together
and odd rhythm, Larry's banjo played on the fringes and Bob and Charlie played
rock guitar. It was excellent though. Towards the end, the guitars fade and
the banjo teases the song to a conclusion. Very nice version. Tony goes over
to Bob and mouths, "This is going well." It was nice to be able to watch these interactions. The acoustics come out and Don't Think Twice's familiar
finger-picked intro begins. This was an excellent performance, the crowd was
very hushed except for during the refrain. But they were quiet again at the
beginning of the next verse. The musicianship was extraordinary, Larry played
prominently (picking), Bob's phrasing was relaxed, casual. The faces really
started to come out here. All sort's of facial inquiries, glances at
youngish girls. Eyebrow raises. Nice harp at the end. The crowd saw him going
for it and erupted. Lights down, I yell "Larry, make Bob play Visions" during
the break, and of course, the unmistakable intro to the song begins. My friend
mockingly agnores me then grins and I turn around to pay attention. Nice
yellow-orange lights...great, superb enunciation. The guitars were tight as
could be and intricate. Reminds me of Maine from 2/99 and 11/99. Everyone was mesmerized...people had their eyes cast upwords and the words fell in time
with David's carefully plodding drum beats. It was a really, really nice
version I thought. A lot better than most versions I've seen, on par with
others. A very nice treat, and one which realized my initial wishes
(mississippi and visions). And in one show again for the third time this tour!!
I wonder why. The crowd realized how good this was and really responded to it.
'Masters' started almost immediately and it was a great version. I've seen this
song four times. Twice I was unipressed. Both in August and tonight I was
duly impressed. The red-light background. Absolute clarity in his delievery.
It was as crisp a vocal delievery as I've ever seen. Again, prominent drums,
and a driving beat. The words fell so nicely, everyone was pretty quiet again
('cept for refrains). It was not a hindrance on the setlist in the least. I
think that it actually contends for best delievery of the night. My partially
deaf grandmother could've given a synopsis of the imagery present from the
back of the stadium. Electric...'Summer Days...' Wow, really nice guitar work
from both backing men. Just nailed the juicy riffs and carried the song. Well,
that and Bob's flawless delivery. This was turning into a very good show. Larry
looked at Tony at one point and motioned towards bob with the guitar neck. Tony acknowledged with a big smile and soon everyone was laughing at the maestro's
enthusiasm except for the maestro himself. He was probably laughing at us all
though ;). David streched out a bit and mimicked the complex drumming on the
album take. I was wondering if he'd hold back but he pushed and succeeded. This
is just a good song. If you don't like it, you're a bad person. Sugar Baby was
next and it was everything preached about and more. Absolute silence from the
crowd. Genuine hurt in the baladeer's face, in his eyes, in his overall body
language. The delievery was crystal. It was a close to perfection that I think
I've seen Bob reach in conveyance (is that a word? you know what I mean if
you're reading this far). Can't describe it, minimal noise from instruments,
except for that TOOM-esque vibrating resonance that coats the song. It's was
unbelievable. I didn't love the song after hearing L & T...I adore it now.
It's live realization is phenomenal and almost unconcievable. It's just that
good in concert. It really is. Tony thumbs-uped Larry and whispered something
to Charlie between songs. They knew that Bob was really into it tonight. What
followed was the best Cold Irons Bound by far that I've seen (I've seen six).
Purely loud and bluesy and David's drums were humming and it felt like the
apocalypse was coming. "The WINDS in ChicagO!...," Bob yelled, and the stadium
erupted back. It was another superb example of musicianship; of casual
shifting between rhythms, melody, everything. Lots of grinning during this,
lots of Bob dancing (which I've failed to mention was all over the place
throughout the show). He eyed everyone in the fron constantly, smiling, fake-frowning...bemusement in his face. Lots of letting go on this. Big
finish. Conversation and Tony cheerily mouths "Cats!!" to David and
Larry...Charlie presumably will figure it out. Loud as hell. Vocals
overridden...band intro in the middle (Best band in the laaa-and!)...another
big finish. Lights up. Grins and sloppy formation. Bob bows and chicken steps.
Breaks the line and bounces up to the stage a bit. Grins, frowns, points to
someone left of stage in dramatic fashion. The crowd's going nuts. Off and
on again quickly. I smoke my joint at this time and look-blazed and jolly to
a red-backed version of Love Sick. Standard 1st encore. Great delievery again.
Everyone on stage looking at everyone. Smiling. Pretending to get serious
again. This is one of the best Love Sick's that I've seen as well. So clear.
You could really smash with a stone, Dylan's delivery all night. It was that
tangible, that precise and clear and effective. LARS follows, reserved
seating people standing and swaying, drunk. Lots of young people tonite
(I'm 19)...between the jugglers verse and the last verse (the third being
skipped), Dylan takes about as long of an instrumental break as I've seen
in LARS ever. It's as though the players can't get the song to where Bob
can spit out lyrics about steeples and @!#$. They just jam for awhile, Bob,
Tony, and Charlie are mugging for the audience. Grinning...Charlie sits on
the drum stand and does a rockettes-style kick. People are laughing, Bob is
still riding this abnormaly long break. Finally song ends in typical,
never-excellent, but anthemic nonetheless fashion. Standing O of course.
Lights down, I want "Forever Young," as I've strangely never seen it. All
other typical options have been seen multiple times (dogs, released, etc.).
Very tender version with purple lighting. The front row was a mixture of
old and young and Bob seemed to be consciously focusing on the young the
entire night. During this song, he sang different parts to different
sections of the front row. All the youngins (like myself) were looked at
quite a bit. Lots of direct, eye contact and staring going on. Much more
than at any of the previous 15 shows I've seen since '99. He really focused
on the three-part harmonies and gave a great performance. At one point he
really tried to strech on a "Youuuuuung." He immediately looked at Charlie
and laughed fairly hard. Right in the middle of the song. I don't know how
many people saw this but it was hysterical. You could see, if you were
watching, that he was fooling around intentionally but it really worked.
'Honest With Me' follows...subdued sort of but still driving. The posing
and interaction of Bob, Charlie and Tony continue with more group mugging.
All with an eye to casual musicianship. They make it look very, very simple.
'Blowin' starts up immediately and the arena is silent. Girls next to me
starts crying, and the guy behind me yells "FREEDOM!!" at the top of his
lungs before "allowed to be free.." I don't know what to make of this part
of the concert. I admit that I was thinking about recent times, and obviously
it was affecting a substantial portion of the audience. The harmonies were
dead on and the final bars really felt like a cap on the evening. Enormous
standing ovation from a very large crowd. Formation. The players look at
each other, sort of stupefied and smile. The crowd has really been into this
and the band has responded. Bob gives another dramatic point at the object
of his attention, laughs, hops, and the band exit stage right. About 2
minutes later, when the applause is still deafening, they return for a
blistering version of 'Watchtower.' No holds barred, all the musicians are
laughing, not grinning, but laughing, dancing all over the place. Charlie
goes down on his knees a couple of times. It was quite a scene. Bob repeats
the first verse at the end of the song and does something very unusual. His final
line is delievered:"
Every word was given a beat and he really yelled them individually and with
substantial time between them. It was powerful. The audience went beserk and
the players lapped up their approval once again. Then it gets weird. They go
to leave but people in the front call for more while the whole arena is still
clapping. All of the guys look at each other and sort of shrug and laugh and
all us in the front all calling and yelling, cause it looks like they don't
know whether to go or stay. Girls in the front are hysterical, it's literally
a mess. A free for all. It was the most out of control I've ever seen a show i
n terms of direction. They obviously didn't plan to play more than one or maybe
two encores (like the longest shows of before). Then they all decide to put on
acoustics in semi-darkness. I'm looking at my friends shrugging and wide-eyed,
I'm as confused as they are. Bob's guitar tech runs to get the Gibson that he
had completely put away in anticipation of leaving. Charlie opts for an old
Fender sunburst instead of an acoustic and they kick into a @!#$ great version
of Knockin' On Heaven's Door. The place erupts. It goes beserk. It's insane
and Bob just sits there and nails the vocal, the intricate strumming, and the
harmonies. They're cohesive and powerful. Very special extra song in light of
recent times. Very nice that he chose this as an impromtu addition. The players
are looking all over. At the crowd, at each other. It was not common at all.
The song ends and the stage lights go white. Formation again and Bob points to
the same person. They take off their instruments. Then it all goes weird again.
Larry goes to exit but the front people, including me, are selfishly and sort
of jokingly, calling for more. While the move to go is initiated by Larry, I've
locked eyes with Tony and joking mouthed, "What, no more." This isn't grounded
in hope, there have been plenty of times when no one notices calls or yells or
looks or whatever. Happens all the time. But he looks right at me, grins, and
mocking puts his shoulder strap on after miming exhaustin. He then recoiles,
looks at me again, points and laughs. As if to say, sorry buddy, we've done
all we could have and more tonite. But then Bob looks over to him and says,
"One more?" Tony sort of laughs in response, thinking that he's joking. The
crowd sees this and screams in delight. Larry comes over, laughs, Charlie
doesn't know what's going on. The roadie comes out onto the stage and offers
Bob his signature series Creme Fender again. Bob takes it to the delight of
everyone, Larry runs to the Pedal Steel and 'Rainy Day Women' is launched. This
was just a joke. It was a circus. Tony actually sat on the far left side of
David's kit...the left @!#$ side. Sat down and played. He laughed, Bob laughed,
every damnbody laughed. Larry was trying to play with some semblance of dignity.
It was gloriously lost amidst everything. Bob played a solo and made up a verse
about "being stoned until you're plaid"...I'd never heard it. The next verse
was made-up too it seemed. He was laughing like hell throughout. Just a big
laugh-fest. Great fun. Came to a big conclusion. A roar went up with the stage
lights that could've shattered the walls. Bob gave about 15 more seconds of
looking. Maybe 25. Grinned, as did all the others, pointed once more to his
friend, and strolled off stage at 10:40, actually flipping his black cowboy hat
on his head and skipping off down the stairs. There it is. Why am I writing?
It's @!#$ 3 in the morning and I have a train to catch at 10AM for Milwaukee
tomorrow. This was one of the oddest experiences of my life. Without a doubt.
Unbelievable. I don't know what to say. Get a copy. Just...whatever....I don't
know what to write anymore. See ya in Milwaukee
U of Chicago sophomore
Review by Jason Blakeley
Saturday morning, October 27, 2001 - I was awaken by a knock on my bedroom
door, accompanied by a voice, "we're going to Chicago, to see Bob
Dylan"....followed by some sort of scream in an exclamation of delight.
It was the voice of my friend Mike who woke me up, the one who argued the
night before that we should sleep late instead of getting up early to
start our journey to Chicago... he was going to see Bob Dylan for the
first time that night. We arrived in downtown Chicago mid-afternoon, and
spent the day exploring the city. At one point we stopped to listen to a
man playing with a harmonic 'round his neck, a guitar strapped over his
shoulder, and a tambourine under his foot; he was singing "Don't take
your Gun's to Town", an old Johnny Cash tune. He was blind and playing
for change and cheers near a busy intersection. When the song ended, I
walked up to him and asked if he could play any Dylan. "I probably know
more Dylan than anything", he replied, and proceeded to play "Blowin' in
the Wind", altering the chorus slightly singing, "the answer BOB DYLAN, is
blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind." People walking
by seemed to recognize the song, most of them looked over and continued on
down the road, others stopped and listened, some put money in his hat
which sat on the ground next to his comrade - a dog named "Killer". We
dropped what we had in his hat and headed South. At that same time many
people walked passed us and towards the man now playing "Hurricane", I'm
sure a few of them stopped to listen. Daytime passed quickly, and as the
night came falling from the sky we walked into the United Center.
The band was out first, and soon after Bob was called to the stage.
Dressed in a black suit with white stripes, and black shoes with white
flames, he stood on the stage; a place that for many years now he's
referred to as home. The band started to play "Wait for the Light to
Shine", a glowing song with meaningful lyrics and a country twist, a great
opener. The mandolin is powerful in this song, Larry plays it perfectly.
After a quick pause, Dylan sang the words "Come gather 'round people,
wherever you roam". The way he sang that first line stands clear in my
mind, the strength of his voice is luminious, and each string that
followed was played with grace and precision. As the closing words of
"Times are a-Changin'" were sung, it occurred to me that this show sounded
completely different than the last time I saw Dylan, but I've come to
expect this and I now look forward to each variation. Every song he
played captured my complete attention, and from the first song I was lost
in the show - too strong of a connection to put into words. From this
point the concert was an act of magic, and Bob Dylan was the magician.
The songs played from "Love and Theft" included: Mississippi, High Water,
Summer Days, Sugar Baby, and Honest With Me. I could review each song,
but I fear it will serve very little purpose. They all captured a
different emotion, mood, and significance that can't be touched nor
tainted. I was most taken by Sugar Baby, I cannot understand how Bob
achieved what he did with this song, I thought it was impossible to reach
that level of performance. 20,000 went silent, and Bob had the spotlight
once again. "It's Alright Ma", "Visions of Johanna", "Gotta Serve
Somebody", Don't Think Twice it's Alright", "Masters of War", "Cold Irons
Bound", "Searching For a Soldier's Grave", "Tell me that it isn't true",
"Cat's in the well" were also included in the first set. Bob was truly
feeling this show, he was flawless with strong guitar riffs and perfect
word delivery. The show never lost focus, each song rang true like they
were sung for me to use. "Visions of Johanna" was a masterpiece. The
encore was nothing short of incredible, "Love Sick" put me in a daze,
"Like a Rolling Stone" woke me up, "Forever Young" made me smile, "Honest
with Me" rocked the United Center upside down, and left us all "Blowin' in
the Wind". I thought the show was over at this point, judging from the
Dylan shows I'd seen in the past a second encore didn't seem to likely.
Afterall, they just played 20 straight in remarkable fashion. Dylan led
his band with ease and style, playing his solo's beyond what most people
think he's capable of doing with the guitar, backed by loud drumming that
was praiseworthy to say the least. The band congregated, Bob was handed a
different guitar, and within seconds "All Along the Watchtower" was
jamming. The reaction to this song was loud, and the band really got into
it. An unexpected and touching "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" was played,
followed appropriately with "Rainy Day Women #12 & #35", the longest jam
of the night. If you've ever wanted or considered seeing a Dylan show,
don't delay any longer. If you have ever liked any of Bob Dylan's music -
you will like the show he puts on. I would even go as far as to try and
persuade somebody who saw a bad show in the past to give the man another
chance. The music is cleaner, the words are clearer, the band is better.
Dylan, remember, has been out there a very long time, and although his
tour is called the "Never Ending Tour", one day the final curtain will
fall. Bob Dylan once said, "A lot of people don't like the road, but it's
as natural to me as breathing. I do it because I'm driven to do it, and I
either hate it or love it. I'm mortified to be on the stage, but then
again, it's the only place where i'm happy. It's the only place you can
be who you want to be. You can't be who you want to be in daily life. I
don't care who you are, you're going to be disappointed in daily life.
But the cure-all for all that is to get on the stage, and that's why
performers do it. But in saying that, I don't want to put on the mask of
celebrity. I'd rather just do my work and see it as a trade."
Review by Jim Doran
This is my 11th Bob concert and by far the best . Bob came out at
around 8:15 with a sweet, wait for the light to shine. Times they are a
changn was next with an crowd pleasing harp solo . Its alright ma ,
Soldiers grave, and Gotta serve somebody came across smooth and clear.
I was actually quite pleased with the sound at the United center . It
was my first concert there and I had heard some horror stories but
there were no problems tonight . The show really took off with the love
and theft selections . Mississippi,High water,Summer days, and an
incredible Sugar baby . A rockin cats in the well ended the first set (
with band intros). The first encore started with Lovesick,one of my
favorites, followed by a rousing Rolling stone, and an eclectic Forever
young. Its hard to fathom that Bob could improve on the album version
of Honest with me , but he did so and then some. Charley, Larry and
Tony were particularly animated during this newest classic. As many
times as I've heard Blowin in the wind , it just keeps getting better
with time . The only sad part about hearing it on this current tour is
that its usually the last song , but not tonight . After a short
break, Bob and the boys came back out with a kick-ass Watchtower
followed by a gut wrenching Heavens door .Once again the boys take
their bows and leave the stage . One thing Ive Learned about concerts
is never leave until the house lights come on . It was almost comical
watching all the people who had left come running back up the exit
ramps as Bob and the band came out yet again . They brought down the
house with a hell raising Rainy day women . Taking his final bows Bob
looked like he could have played all night . Well its on to Milwaekee
tomorrow night . I dont think Bob will be able to top tonights show but
I'm sure he'll try .
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists