page by Bill Pagel
Review by Ben
I got to the show early and took my seat between two couples who travel around
the Midwest catching Dylan shows. Good sources of information, both of them. The
woman on my right commented that she thought Dylan shows were more subdued after
September 11, and maybe she's right. Outside before the show, there was nothing
electric in the air. Inside, the crowd filtered in late, and the venue was only
It was an odd mix of fans -- 40- and 50-somethings dressed well, perhaps the
Terre Haute upper class, who were at the Hulman Center to see the big name star,
and college kids. I didn't get the impression that there were very many serious
Dylan fans -- more the types of people who either remember "Like a Rolling Stone"
from when they were kids or who have listened to Blonde on Blonde a few times.
Before the show, I was worried that a half-empty venue and a lackluster audience
would curtail Bob's energy, but I was wrong, of course.
He came on stage around 7:45, 15 minutes after the announced starting time, and
did "Hummingbird" to open. "Girl from the North Country" was next. This seemed
like an odd choice for a second song, but the band did a great job. Then a
rocking "Desolation Row." One interesting change in the lyrics: "Lady and I look
up tonight from Desolation Row" rather than "look out tonight on Desolation Row."
Seems like Bob inhabits the place now instead of just contemplating it. Then came
"Rank Strangers." I've only been to one other Dylan show, but this one seemed to
start slow and somewhat melancholic. The next song, "Maggie's Farm," was more up
tempo, but it seemed like Bob was more interested in the slow, serious stuff for
the first half of the show, including an awesome and well-received "John Brown,"
each word carefully pronounced, especially "I saw that his face looked just like
"Tears of Rage" was the highlight of the show for me, Larry and Charlie signing
the "Tears of rage, tears of grief," and "Come to me now, we're so alone," parts
of the chorus with Bob chiming in ahead and behind them. Larry and Charlie sounded
darn good on backing vocals throughout the night, but never more so than on this
song, which received some of the loudest applause of the evening. The live version
blew away the versions on Music from the Big Pink and the Basement Tapes. Bob
pulled out his harmonica at the end, to top it off. I kept thinking that it seemed
like Bob and the band belonged in some small bar in the mountains somewhere --
they were completely unpretentious, vaguely country, and just seemed to be having
a great time playing that tune.
Another highlight: "The Drifter's Escape." Nothing like the album version, it was
as fast and raw as anything on the night, and a great change of pace.
By the time the encore rolled around, the house was going nuts. Bob had completely
won over any casual fans, who were hanging on every note. "Like a Rolling Stone"
seemed vaguely gentle, and "Forever Young" was beautiful. One minor gripe: I'm not
sure if "Blowin' in the Wind" translates well into a three-guitar arrangement,
although it was great to see the Man in person signing those powerful words.
After "Blowin' in the Wind" and the rapturous applause, Bob and the band headed
toward the back of the stage, but never really left. The audience could see Bob
at the very back of the stage, and he quickly put his guitar back on and came
back for "All Along the Watchtower." I thought we'd get a third encore, as
everyone stayed, the applause was loud, and the lights didn't come back on, but
after the crowd hollered for more for about a minute, the lights went on and the
show was over at around 10:10. Almost two and half hours of Bob and the band at
their sublime best.
Review by Paul Morris
Having experienced the highs of Chicago just a week ago, I left for Terre
Haute with lower expectations, prepared to accept whatever came my way.
It was a mad dash from my temporary student residence in Illinois, and I
arrived hungry and beer-less with the concert already started (no one told
me that Indiana is an hour ahead of Illinois). Seated myself right at the
back balcony, facing the stage, and noticed quite a few empty seats and a
continually moving, restless audience:- my perceptions of the concert are
therefore subject to my mental (and physical state at the time).
First thing to be said, is that I was lucky to witness something like
fouteen different songs from the week before, which is more than anyone
can rightly deserve. Second, the acoustics didn't seem quite as good,
and, although Bob's singing is still amazingly crisp and clear, I thought
there was a tendency towards shouting that hadn't been so in evidence
before. Indeed, if I had to file this concert under a particular label,
it would probably be B for "blistering" and "barnstorming." Lots of
frantic guitar and blazing harmonica, perhaps slightly less of the
subtlety and sublimation of Chicago--certainly nothing quite as majestic
as the Sugar Baby I witnessed there last week.
Still, Indiana had its own glories. Mississippi was more alive than I
remember it from last week, with a vocal that recalled the raging glory of
One Too Many Mornings from 1966, building to a fervent crescendo.
Drifter's Escape (or was it Wicked Messenger?!)was likewise a heavy metal
master-work with some superb harmonica towards the end. Bob's harmonica
also raised the audience at the end of Tangled to near state of frenzy; to
be fair to the audience, despite the milling around, they were highly
responsive all night.
Of course, it was great too to hear Floater, one of the more carefully
delivered songs of the evening (perhaps even a little tentative), as well
as Cry Awhile, neither performed at Chicago. (Interesting how you notice
things in concert that you don't on record: for the first time I realised
that last line of Floater is also its subtitle!! Must have been something
about the "dismissive" way he delivered the line last night, that made it
seem more poignant and affecting, as if the whole song is building up to
this one line). On a par with Mississippi was Things Have Changed,
possibly the highlight for me since I had never heard this live before.
Rank Strangers, but particularly John Brown, also featured a more
considered delivery along the lines of Floater, John Brown being
But it was the bansheeing of harmonica and guitars that I remember most
from this particular show. The way Bob spat at words in songs like
Mississippi and interacted with the band made me think of what '66 might
have been like--certainly high energy "noise" was a feature of this
concert. Bob seems to interact with this band like no other I have
witnessed. During Blowin' a few comments from the lead guitarist drew a
clear shake of the head from Bob--I knew then there would be no extra
encore. It's good to see Bob playing with such an exuberant group,
prepared to push as well as follow.
Paul Morris (student Illinois State University)
Review by Bill Lonnberg
Turn my back pages to fall 1978. I was a music-obsessed college sophomore,
attending school in Terre Haute, Indiana. The big announcement came:
Indiana State University, the big state school in town, had scored a
homecoming concert coup: Bob Dylan. He was playing the Hulman Center,
ISU's basketball arena. (A note to sports fans: this was the same school
year in which Larry Bird would lead the Sycamores to a Cinderella season,
their only loss coming to the Magic Johnson-lead Michigan State Spartans
in the NCAA final game.) Local TV news showed devoted Dylan fans lining up
for tickets. While I was not a huge fan, I was an admirer, and some
friends and I decided to go. Unfortunately, the big night did not meet
expectations. Our seats were in the farthest reach of the arena. The sound
was bad, and the songs were unrecognizable. I was disappointed.
Flip forward to the early nineties. I caught Bob in a small theater, and
found the performance intriguing. I became hooked, and have had the good
fortune to see him at least annually since then. Each show has been
special, the disappointment of 1978 a distant and ironic memory.
Which brings me to last night. Bob Dylan returned to Terre Haute after a
23-year absence! I arrived at Hulman Center ticketless, but scored an
excellent seat at the box office 15 minutes before show time. Inside, the
arena was two-thirds full at best, with the usual mix of college kids and
The set list was a mixed bag of old and new, acoustic and electric. The
opening acoustic set was fine, and I especially enjoyed "Girl of the North
Country" and "Desolation Row." They then went electric with "Maggie's
Farm." This lead to the evening's first two songs from "Love and Theft."
During the course of the evening Bob and the boys played five songs from
the new album, and I thought Bob sang them with great enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, the crowd was somewhat unresponsive for these first two,
"Floater" and "Cry a While."
"Tears of Rage" came next. I really enjoyed this one, especially the
harmonizing on the chorus. A couple of songs later came my highlight of
the evening, "John Brown." I don't think that I have ever heard Bob sing
more clearly. I could not help but wonder if the inclusion of this tale of
a wounded soldier was inspired by current events.
"TUIB" roused the crowd, with Bob playing inspired harp at the end. This
was followed by two more excellent renditions from "Love and Theft,"
"Summer Days" and "Mississippi." An electric "Drifters Escape" followed,
and I have to confess that I didn't recognize the darned thing! To me the
arrangement recalled Cream's version of "Crossroads." The main set ended
with a rollicking "Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat."
The encores were good standard stuff. "Like A Rolling Stone" got the crowd
going as expected. The last selection from "Love and Theft," a rocking
electric "Honest with Me," was sandwiched between fine renditions of
"Forever Young" and "Blowin' In The Wind." The finale of "All Along the
Watchtower" was terrific, played at an interesting meter. I am constantly
amazed how Bob and the band can keep the old songs fresh and interesting.
In the end the crowd roared its appreciation. I hope it's not another 23
years before Bob returns to Terre Haute!
Review by Antonio Terni
Well I'm glad we did it! I had bought the tickets at the end of August and
after September 11th I had some doubts about the idea of flying from Italy
to Chicago and spending a week touring in the Midwest, especially with
Giulia, my 16 y.o. daughter. But then we decided that if 250 millions
Americans keep going we had to join them at least for one week. Anneke: if
you read this short note, you have to know that it was a pity cancelling
your tour... We had a day off after Madison and we decided that we could
not miss the chance to drive on HW 61, which was quite a detour from the
shortest way to Terre Haute, bur sometimes the shortest road is not the
perfect one. So we reached the 61, drove down to beautifull St. Louis,
spent the night there and the next day we arrived to Terre Haute in the
early afternoon. Got some food in a nice brewery with some great blues
playing, went to the hotel and decided to go to the venue around 6 pm. But
we didn't know that Indiana has a different time from Missouri and so we
were an hour late and we arrived at the venue a few minutes before the
show. Anyway we had reserved tickets on the 13th row but we were confident
that we would be allowed to stand very near to the rail as it had happened
in Madison. In fact when the introducing music started we moved lazily
toward the stage and when the lights turned off we were exactly in the
middle of the first row. Security tried to move us away but a guy near me
said "don't move, ignore them..." and so we did. Thank you for the
suggestion, whoever you are! Every show in this tour was great, and this
one was no exception. At the beginning Bob seemed slightly annoyed and in
fact North Country was not the best one I have ever heard, but Desolation
Row was incredibly good with a great rythm in the singing. Rank strangers
was very very convincing, Tears Of Rage quite disappointing as I have been
waiting it for ages and my expectations were perhaps too high. Tangled
was like meeting an old friend you have spent your life with and suddenly
moved somewhere else, but here he is back and he still has plenty of
things to tell you.
John Brown: I said once that I didn't love this song, but in these days
it has totally different impact, especially, as someone has said in a
previous review, the verse " I saw his face was just like mine..." it
makes you see things from a different perspective and that is something we
always need. I'm not ready yet to talk about the new songs, it will take a
few months before I clear my mind about them, but I'm quite sure that
Mississipi will become as great as Desolation Row or Highlands. Leopard
closed the first part and it was as hot as ever. The encores were the
usual ones with Honest with me which had taken the place of HW 61, but we
had had enough of that the previous day. A very nice week from Chicago to
Indiana and back to Chicago and Italy. Five great shows, seven wonderfull
days in five different States and a deep impression that, although Things
Have Changed, we are all still going. Ciao Antonio Terni
Review by Douglas Babcock
This was my fourth Dylan concert in 15 years. When I heard the news
several months ago that Dylan would be coming back across the states
continuing the endless tour with a new album I vowed to make every effort
to get good tickets and take my two oldest kids. With the Ticketmaster
presale I got 3 seats on the 2nd row center smack dab on the aisle.
As we ate dinner prior to the concert the kids and I were talking about
music and I commented to the kids that Bob Dylan had created a lot of
great music over the years- my 7 year old girl responded "so has Aaron
Carter." My 11 year old son and I had to work at trying to contain our
We got to our seats early. My kids got lots of "oh you're so cute" looks
from other fans and "bet this is your first Dylan concert right?" The
article by Sean Wilentz on "Love and Theft" posted on bobdylan.com
mentions the Terre Haute Indiana concert site and seems to suggest it
represents rural America. That was right on target- my son said while we
were seated before the concert he had smelled manure and had noticed the
rustic man behind us checking the bottom of his boots! I brought earpIugs
but hadn't realized we needed noseplugs! Anyway, when Aaron Copland's
"Fanfare for the Common Man" started, everyone jumped up and people came
running forward down the center aisle- everyone was moving forward and it
seemed like our seats were just slightly better than general admission
(although we hadn't waited for hours and fought to be up front). I had
bought a concert poster and had put it down between our chairs. During the
concert from time to time I remembered the poster and figured I would have
to kiss it good bye given the state of things up front.
We were on center at the protective wall with the security mote behind it-
probably 15 feet from the Dylan's mike- fans on either side made room for
my son and I held my daughter much of the time- security kept coming up
and checking people's tickets and if you didn't have tickets from the
first two rows you were booted back.
The concert started about 15 minutes late- people were milling around and
the place was only half full- the paper the next day said there were only
about 4500 people there. Dylan looked haggard, maybe even slightly pissed,
at the beginning. My daughter asked in my ear "Daddy is he married?" and
later "Daddy does he ever smile?" I figured we'd never get the second
encore that previous cities were getting- The concert seemed to start
really slowly- one drunk about 5 people back was yelling out priceless
stuff like "Friday night in Terre Haute," "You are God," "Don't think
Twice it's All Right" (in the middle of Girl from the North Country), and
several times "Like a Rolling Stone." Later, as I was holding my daughter
security came busting back up through and I was tapped on the shoulder-
"Are you doing all right tonight sir? Where are your seats? " I pointed
right behind to the messed up rows of chairs and told him "2nd row aisle."
He told me his name and said he was head of security and said if anyone
gave me a problem that I was to tell them he said I could stay put- he
added that he had a little girl too.
As the songs rolled on there was on women who sneaked up through and over
my shoulder snapped a picture with a throw away instamatic with flash.
Security was back again minutes later trying to find her. Another fan two
over from me had a leopard skin pattern hat on- someone came from behind,
snatched the hat and threw it on stage- later security got his hat back
for him. Yes, FRIDAY NIGHT IN TERRE HAUTE!
Dylan worked hard for the crowd. When things seemed to stall out a bit
early on, he huddled briefly with the band and came back with "Tangled Up
in Blue" to the crowd's delight- many tried to sing along. His harmonica
playing on this song was interesting to say the least- he basically layed
on two notes back and forth in sheer dissonance for what seemed like
forever- it was like he was trying to wake people up. Generally that night
he seemed far more engaged for the songs from his new album- more facial
expressions than for the older songs where he seemed to be on auto pilot
(except for John Brown where he seemed quite involved and the crowd was
responsive for the song). The music was great- Dylan's band is
indescribably good- being as close as we were you could really see the
musicianship- the skill- the teamwork and little looks back and forth- oh,
and the guitars.oh wow- beautiful Gibsons, Martins, Fenders ("Bob Dylan"
in Mother of Pearl across the fret board of his Fender). Ultimately we did
get a one song second encore. And my poster.I was amazed to find it
unharmed after everyone started milling out- what a night, what an unusual
entertaining experience- Dylan, still the Pied Piper, with a traveling
carnival of fans.
Douglas J. Babcock, email@example.com
I'm a clinical psychologist practicing in community mental health in
Northern Indiana. If anyone reads this.and is interested in participating
in a psychological study of Dylan fans please email me.
Review by Chris Babcock
I'm an 11-year-old Dylan fan. (Amazing huh?)(My dad sent in a review too.)
This was my first concert and it was great! We got there around 6:30 and
we were let in about 5 minutes later. We entered the main hallway and my
dad bought a poster he'll frame. (I wanted a $50 T-shirt but I only had
$30.) We went into the auditorium and walked around a bit. We had seats
15, 16, and 17 in the 2nd row. When the lights dimmed every one ran up
front. He started out with "Humming Bird" and his 3rd song was "Desolation
Row". I'm a quite new Dylan fan but there were only about 5 songs I didn't
know. One of the highlights of the concert was when Dylan's and my eyes
met. He was looking right at me!!!! Some songs I remember are Mississippi,
Like a Rolling Stone, John Brown, etc. He finished off with "All Along the
Watch Tower". It was a very odd experience. It was moving, confusing, fun,
hard, and exiting. He does a really good job at choosing songs and band
members. The lighting in the background was amazing. It was moving because
of songs like John Brown, it was confusing because everything was
happening at once, it hard because I stood the whole time, and it was
exiting and fun because it was my first concert. It was really, really,
really, really, fun.
Review by Ryan Piurek
More than nine years after seeing Bob Dylan for the very first time (as a
college sophomore at the University of Connecticut), I left work, picked
up my wife, Jennifer, and set out on the two-hour drive from Bloomington
to Terre Haute, Ind. As we drove past the cows and cornfields on State
Road 46, we listened to the new album, Bob's crackling voice sounding so
perfect for this back roads trip through America's heartland. Jennifer
hoped to familiarize herself with the songs on "Love and Theft." I just
wanted to get in the mood, which wasn't hard. For it was Friday night. We
were under a red sky. We were miles out of town and cold irons bound.
It had been just over a year since I last saw Bob. That night Bob gave a
spirited performance on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington; the
band was tight, the mixed crowd of students, faculty and "cutters"
cheering wildly each time Bob twisted his left leg like Elvis. My friend
Charles, a rock-and-roll know-it-all who was witnessing Bob for the first
time, was amazed at how great Bob and his band sounded in the acoustically
perfect IU Auditorium. When Bob left the stage after a gorgeous acoustic
rendition of "Blowin' in the Wind", I could only dream about the next time
the "never-ending tour" came to the Hoosier State.
When I found out Bob would be in Terre Haute, I snapped up tickets (row
21!), made sure my wife could get the night off from work and started
getting ready for yet another Bob-fest. That meant lots of "Love & Theft,"
"T.O.O.M.," and "Blonde on Blonde" in the weeks leading up to the event.
When I told my mom we were going to see Bob again, she gave the usual
reply. "Oh no, not again." Mom doesn't understand why we continue to
support a guy who has such an "awful voice." Obviously she hasn't heard
"Mississippi!" Tell me who else could sing that song the way Bob does.
Dad was ready to drive out from Connecticut, but I think Mom would've
probably killed him if he had. I, on the other hand, wished Dad could be
there. He was the person who introduced to me to "Blonde on Blonde." He
was there the first time I heard Bob sing one of our favorites, "Silvio,"
on that chilly October, 1992 night in Storrs, Conn., and four years later
in New Haven when Bob walked out on stage in a red satin shirt, with no
guitar, holding just a microphone. Bob seemed more like Bill Murray's
lounge singer that night and less like the guy who wrote "Masters of War."
Nevertheless, the show ranks as one of my favorite Bob experiences. Dad
and I still talk about that performance.
Jennifer and I arrived in Terre Haute about an hour before the show,
giving ourselves plenty of time to grab a quick bite. After bypassing
several crowded chain restaurants, we settled on the "Happy Dragon," which
promised a hearty Chinese buffet and...(gasp!)...frogs legs, which we both
refused to sample. Something about eating Kermit didn't appeal to me at
the moment, so I settled for the usual sweet and sour chicken. The food
was cold, the soda flat, but we were minutes away from Bob, so everything
still seemed perfect.
After driving around, searching for a parking spot, Jennifer and I
descended upon Indiana State University's Hulman Center. A long line of
people had already formed outside the front entrance. Jennifer pointed out
a group of college kids, the type of kids you hope you don't have to sit
next to, the ones who wonder if Bob is related to Matt Dillon. We laughed
at one of the guys who had a horrible set of dreadlocks that would make
Bob Marley "get up, stand up" in his grave. I laughed until Jennifer
scared me by saying, "just watch, they'll be sitting right next to us."
Jennifer waited in line while I ran back to the car to make sure it was
locked. As I walked back from the car, I couldn't help but notice that
downtown Terre Haute seemed like it was trapped in a time warp. Dark,
dusty streets. Deserted buildings. A neon Pepsi sign that looked like one
of the first Pepsi signs ever made. We had arrived in the "Highlands," I
thought to myself.
Inside the Hulman Center, it was as if it were 1979 again, Larry Bird
hooping it up, leading Indiana State to the NCAA finals. The place
couldn't have changed much since then, I thought. The gymnasium looked
like those tiny high school gyms featured in the movie "Hoosiers."
Worn-out, faded banners adorned the drab, gray walls. A damp, musty smell
pervaded the thick, foggy air. Rickety foldout chairs, like the ones I
remember from grade school assemblies, extended from the stage across the
And yet it was all so perfect.
The crowd filtered in slowly. As the 7:30 p.m. showtime approached, the
place was only about one-third filled. Nothing like the Indiana University
show, I observed, which was packed by the opening note of "Duncan and
Brady." We took our seats in row 21; this would be the closest I'd ever
been to Bob! Just then, Jennifer noticed the guy with the bad dreadlocks
and his friends. They were coming our way. Sure enough, they had row 21,
too. The laugh was on us.
We wouldn't be together long, thankfully. The stage lit up and Bob, Larry
Campbell and the rest of the band appeared. As they launched into an
acoustic version of "Humming Bird," Jennifer and I joined a few others in
rushing the stage, getting all the way to the sixth row when security
finally pushed us back. For a brief moment, however, we stood just a few
feet away from Bob. We were so close I could see Bob's thin Vincent
Price-like mustache glistening under the bright white lights. I thought
Bob looked much older than he did that night in New Haven when he did the
Vegas-style act in the shiny red shirt. To me, he appeared a bit scary in
his gray suit, his wild silver hair blowing in the wind. To Jen, Bob
looked cute and cuddly, like a little old grandfather.
Bob didn't sound old, however. He sounded more alive than ever. He and the
band ripped through a heavy drumbeat version of "Desolation Row"; just
then I wished Dad was there to hear his favorite song. He followed with a
moving "Rank Strangers To Me" and a lightning-paced "Maggie's Farm." Jen
and I were dancing in the aisle now. A woman behind us lent us her
binoculars, but we didn't really need them. We were already so close. It
felt as if we were in a tiny club. The music was so loud - definitely the
loudest of the six Bob concerts I'd attended - though that might've been
because we were right near the speakers! Bob seemed to feed off the
crowd's rising energy as he tore through a raucous "Cry A While." Things
were really moving. Larry seemed to smile a lot, especially when Bob
delivered what seemed like an hour-long harp solo on "Tangled Up in Blue."
Bob bent down so low to the ground I didn't think he'd be able to get back
up. I thought someone would have to cover him in a cape and lift him up
like they do with James Brown. Bob somehow managed to gather his breath
and continue, though, long enough to perform a terrific, crystal-clear
version (see Mom, he really can sing!) of "Mississippi," definitely my
favorite song from "Love and Theft," and a beautiful acoustic rendition of
"Forever Young," the highlight of the first encore.
I was so happy that Jennifer enjoyed the show. She'd seen Bob perform once
before, a so-so performance with Paul Simon in 1999. She was amazed at how
good Bob sounded and how energetic he and the band seemed on this magical
night. By the time Bob had come out for a second encore - the always
thrilling "All Along the Watchtower" - she'd already become convinced of
Bob's greatness, especially as a live performer. Listening to his albums
is always a delight. But seeing Bob in concert these days is a truly
moving experience. To be at this show, in this somehow perfect venue, with
my wife is something I'll never forget.
In a few weeks, Dad gets to see Bob perform in Connecticut. I wonder if
Jen is up for a 15-hour road trip...
page by Bill Pagel
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