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Review by Ted Duross
This will not be a cool and dispassionate review by one carefully
weighing the pros and cons of last night’s performance. Basically what
you have here is your unadulterated fan of 30 plus years who went to
soak in all the glory of Bob Dylan coming to town and came away with a
smile on his face.
To set the mood the skies had turned clear and dry and after the sun
set the horizon turned one of those "they must of touched up the photo’"
shades of orange. A ‘v’ shaped formation of Canada geese drifted across
the sky. It was your basic Girl Of The North Country kind of evening.
I got in early. My seat was on the floor , centre, 14th row. I
brought along binoculars which were attached to my forehead BORG-like
for about a third of the evening. I was completely assimilated.
Dave Alvin and band cranked it up right on time at 7:30. They
delivered some funky rock and roll with a bit of steel guitar country &
folk blended in.
The audience was polite and supportive. He’d finish one song and then
quickly move into the next before the applause had died down. They
looked to be having a good time; a big smile on the keyboard players
face. People were not familiar with his stuff so that made it a bit
harder. He did one tune (I think his own) that turned into a medley that
included ‘If you ain’t got the Do Re Me’ and "Promised Land". It was
great and got things rocking. He followed this with the title tune off
of his latest CD, ‘BlackJack David’. Also great!!
They played for about forty minutes. There was a brief intermission
and then the true Girl Of The North Country came on stage.
Joni Mitchell looked great. She began her set just herself and her
guitar. She was dressed in a long orange cranberry velvet outfit. She
looked very comfortable swaying to the different rhythms of her music.
A very interesting instrument she was playing. It looked like an
electric, a nice dark wood, but I believe it had a midi out option. What
you were hearing was definitely guitar but I think it gave her more
control over just what sounds she was getting out of different strings.
She was getting great bass presence out of the low E. I found myself
looking around to see if a bass player was accompanying her. It was very
She started in with ’Big Yellow Taxi’. The crowd was with her all the
way. Through her set she sprinkled in a number of old familiars such as
Free Man in Paris and Woodstock. This was helpful to someone like me who
is not that familiar with her newer material.
Haunting textures. Jazz tones. A bit of rock . Varieties of rhythms.
The drummer playing with brushes, mallets, his hands at times. Some
great bass drum work. Hey, that’s something you don’t hear too often. A
This was a night of poets and her words came through clearly and
passionately. ‘The streams of jets leaving trails like hexagrams across
(my paraphrase, sorry). Sex Kills. Happiness is the best Facelift. A
song for mothers and daughters. Amelia.
She was very comfortable. A couple of songs in a guy in a white tux
followed by a guy in a cowboy hat paraded by the front of the stage and
each brought her a rose. She seemed surprised and pleased and made a
point of going to the front of the stage and picking them up after her
last song. Not too much talk. She said she wasn’t going to talk too much
so she could try and squeeze in another song in the time she had.
She led into one song and then stopped it with a laugh saying that
they were just learning it. Maybe something from her new CD.
For one or two numbers she put down the guitar and just sang in the
spotlight. Kind of bluey torch songs. The crowd loved it.
Woodstock, just Joni and guitar, was her encore. Warm applause and
then the lights came on for intermission two.
Interesting to listen to the talk in the crowd before Dylan came
on. Some people taking about seeing him the band in the early seventies.
Someone saw him down east with Rolling Thunder. Some, like me who had
seen him in Montreal a couple of summers ago. What do you think he’ll
Who was that opening group?
The legend came on stage after about twenty minutes. Silk shirt and
tie in different tones of grey. Black jacket with embroidered patterns
in dark grey. The incense had begun to pour out from the stage about
five minutes before. Aroma therapy? It works for me.
You Gotta serve Somebody. People are on their feet moving and
dancing through the first three numbers. Then settling back and
enjoying the slower ones. Simple Twist of Fate. I won’t take it through
song by song. Just a few highlights.
Rocking into All Along the Watchtower. The harp comes out for
Hattie Carroll. His delivery of ‘with a six month sentence’ is kind of
like a question. He raises his eyebrows a bit. His face is beautiful to
watch through the evening. It sort of punctuates things just as must as
his voice. It sort of says did you get that last little bit. Even as
he’s playing harp towards the end of Hattie Calrroll he’s kind of
playing on a simple three note pattern, rocking back and forth, legs
spread, almost dancing but his face is saying ‘do you get that last
little bit’. I had the same feeling when I watched the Presidential
awards ceremony last year It was wonderful just to watch the different
emotions shift across his face.
Cold Irons Bound sizzled. Strangely, Tangled up in Blue is a great
song to dance along with. Positively Fourth Street was delivered not
with venom but with a ‘that’s just the way life is’ frankness.
The voodoo rhythms of Till I feel in Love with You were there and
were great to move along with. Musically, in general, I’m reminded of
what somewhat had said about the Time Out of Mind sessions, about how
there were a lot of musicians but no one was trying to pull into the
foreground. As you listened you didn’t suddenly switch you attention to
what Bucky or Larry was doing. Steel guitar was there below the surface
drawing out certain ideas. Bob and Larry’s playing was very
Highway 61 Revisited and stately bows as he left the stage.
Returning for his encore set. I notice the extra mike he used for the
Grammy awards Love Sick performance was being used. Blowing in the
Wind. Some nice gentle accompanying guitar from Bob for some of these
slower numbers such as North Country.
Rocking away with Rainy Day Woman and then in the end he sent us on
the way with blessings and best wishes, Forever Young, a benediction.
And with our ears ringing and hearts warmed he sent us out into
cool dry crisp October night. Hardly a trick , mostly treats… Look
forward to a great show if the tour heads your way.
Review by Ray Seed
This was a night to remember! Watching Bob Dylan perform for close to
two hours, giving everything he has to give, is something to experience
- especially when you're standing twenty feet away from him. For the
first time in my life I was fortunate enough to aquire front row seats.
>From this vantage point you get to savour Bob's goofy white shoes and
fancy footwork in all their glory. He definitely had the hippy hippy
shake tonight and once again confimed that he is the most awkward,
unwieldy perfomer of our time. And I love him for it. Bob was in fine
form from the get-go. He has an extremely tight band that is relentless
in their support. There were so many highlights - the firestorm of All
Along The Watchtower and Cold Irons Bound; plus the incredible acoustic
set that featured Girl From The North Country and The Lonesome Death of
Hattie Carroll. But without question, the unbelievable guitar duel in
Tangled Up In Blue went well beyond my expectations. This is the sixth
time I have seen Dylan and he gets better every time. The show was well
paced, mixing old and new songs alike. If I were a rich man I'd hop on a
plane and follow him around the continent. But seeing I'm just a poor
bugger who scrapes by, I'll have to live with the sweet memories of
Friday night in Ottawa - and that suits me fine. Thanks a million Bob.
Review by Shawn Pulver
I knew it would be hard for for Bob to match last night's performance in
Toronto. Although he came close, the crowd, IMO, held him back. To say
that Dylan played befor a dull crowd would be an understatement. The
security was tight, yet I still found myself directly in front of the stage
mid - way through Serve Somebody. Me and some of front row - not more than
twenty people in front of the stage the whole show. Anways, the show.
Serve Somebody: I was a little distracted trying to find somewhere to
stand, but it still sounded good. Bob wearing black agin, different
I Want You: Slightly different version than I heard in Jan '98. They kind
of screwed up the intro, but it built up nice. I was screaming a particular
song after "Want You" finished....I got my wish.
Watchtower: A mixture of the summer verison and the classic '93-'97
versions. Some heavy bass work by Tony. He did not repeat the lines the
way he did in the
summer shows. Always great to hear.
Simple Twist: Bob played some gentle guitar and sang it very well. Oh,
Larry was also playing a new guitar throughout the show. It looked like a
Gibson - a purlply? red colored one.
Cold Irons: Always fun, nothing that stood out. By this point I mentioned
something about Bob to the person next to me and he didn't even care that
Dylan was about ten feet away from him. It amazes me.
North Country: The performance of the night. It sounded like It aint me
babe initially. Bob sung each line with great care and precision. A great
Hattie Carroll: Great!!! Bob initally picked up the harp, blew it for a
second and put it down. The last verse saw the band slow down untill Bob
sang "six month sentence, when they just exploded!!
Masters: Another solid version, not that really stuck out, though.
Tangled: Not as spitited as the last two nights. The "new line" about time
slipping away was very clear. One interesting note: during Tangled I
noticed Joni was sitting next to the stage watching the performance. I
thought that maybe she was coming on for the next electric number. As soon
as Tangled was done I screamed for Bob to invite Joni on to stage - but
sadly Joni went back stage.
Positively: I was screaming for this in the fourth spot. A great version,
the same arrangment as the summer.
Hwy 61: Finally some crowd reaction. Not as much dancing by Bob as last
Lovesick: Nothing surprising. Great phrasing though.
Blowin: Great version, but no such crowd reaction as Toronto.
Till I Fell: Another weak version, I think that any other tune would work
better in this spot.
Forver Young:Very nice, but not much of an instrumental nor harp. All in
all, a great show with an interesting set list once again. I just wish
that he was playing in front of a more lively crowd. Thanks for reading.
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