page by Bill Pagel
Review by Jason Thurman
i realize that everything i will write here is a severe understatement of
how truly great a performance this was. it was my first dylan show, and
one of the moments i'd been waiting for for several months. i was not
my friend and i arrived at the concert about two and a half hours before
it began. we waited outside and attempted to do several things with our
tickets. we possessed three lower bowl seats, and only needed two. we
attempted with all our might to swap our three tickets for two general
admission tickets, but to no avail (in the end this was a good thing, we
had fantastic seats with a great angle and no one in our way). eventually
we sold our extra ticket, and then were among the first people into the
arena. i bought a huge ice cream cone, a t-shirt, and a sticker, and went
to take my seat. my friend audrey and i talked for the remainder of the
wait until the show, about random things, and we both noticed when bob's
incense was placed near the back of the stage. the arena began to fill up
(it was almost a sell-out if it wasn't one), and the anticipation grew
eventually i saw some motion in the far curtain, and not long after that,
the lights went down and the band walked out on stage. david was wearing
a black shirt and a cowboy hat, and the rest of the band wore matching
burgundy suits. bob was wearing a white suit and white cowboy boots with
black tips. they were a visually stunning bunch if nothing else.
they immediately fired up wait for the light to shine. like most people
in the arena, i hadn't heard this one, but i agree that it's a fantastic
it's rather uplifting, and that's always welcome in this day. larry and
charlie's harmonies were fantastic, and it was really a great way to start
tambourine man was a nice surprise (i was expecting times they are
a-changin). bob's vocals were fantastically playful, almost in a spoken
word styling, and very interesting. his legs were going nuts,
particularly the left one, and this would continue throughout the night.
we even got a gorgeous harp solo out of this one. bob's harp playing was
PHENOMENAL in columbus. i don't know how he's sounded on the rest of the
tour, but i'm not always a huge fan of a harmonica. his ability to make
it a beautiful melody instrument blew my mind.
i was really hoping for hard rain or desolation row next, i didn't get
either. instead we got it's alright ma, and for any disappointment we
might have had, we were quickly compensated. this was a great rendetion,
with some drawn out acoustic guitar work and a very soft groove. i'd
never heard searching for a soldier's grave, but it was a nice first
the band put on the electrics and immediately kicked in with a
note-perfect opening to tweedle dee and tweedle dum. i'm not a huge fan
of this on the album, but live it takes on a whole new aura and really
sounds fantastic. again, the band did quite a bit of improvisation with
this, and with most of the songs on this night. i was surprised to hear a
bob dylan band kicking out jams, but they were quite fantastic, and bob's
lead playing is surprisingly incredible. positively 4th street was a
great early example of this. the slowed down version that we got was
excellent, and featured a few extra solo sections for bob as well. once
again, his guitar playing was phenomenal.
floater isn't one of my favorites from the new album either, but it was
impressive considering this. i enjoyed it, particularly the romeo and
juliet section. but after this, bob fired up my second favorite from love
and theft, high water. the band came in on this one, with larry on banjo,
and so it was no surprise when they started it up. the first verse was a
little subdued, and at the end of it david came in on the drums and he
came in KICKING ! the groove on this one was incredibly thick, and it
seemed everyone in the crowd had their head bobbing and their hands
clapping. this song absolutely ROCKED. as intense as the album version
is, this upped it tenfold.
don't think twice was great, but once again, the harp solo was simply
beautiful. bob drew a huge applause from the crowd on that aspect of it.
the rendetion of john brown was very good as well, and bob's vocals were
very passionate. all through the evening i was surprised by his command
over his voice. he breaks it nicely on lines when he needs it to break
up, and then delivers other lines extremely strong. he never follows the
same vocal melody to a verse or chorus in a song twice, he always changes
it around a bit. it's really almost a body moving completely on its own
and really brings a lot to a song.
as great as this evening was, the highlight must have been tangled up in
blue. the crowd came to their feet for this one, bob added in two verses
of the soloing, easily compensating for leaving out the "topless place"
verse. and at the end of the song, we went around several more times in
what was likely the most extended "jam" of the evening. bob picked up the
harp and went at it in peak form once again, and his guitar playing was
incredible as well. once again his vocal command dominated the song, and
the crowd gave this one a standing ovation. it was absolutely fantastic.
summer days is another one of my lesser favorites on the new album, but
the band really played it up tonight. it got into a nice swinging groove
and made you wanna dance if nothing else. then they went ahead and gave
me my favorite song from love and theft, mississippi. personally i
slightly prefer the album version, but this was a great rendetion as well.
drifter's escape was excellent, whoever it was that said it sounds like
cream's crossroads is exactly right, it really does. then we closed out
the main set with rainy day women, a bit of a filler tune but still a
great way to "end" the evening.
love sick opened the encore, and was a nice way to get things started.
i'd never heard this one, but i enjoyed it nevertheless. next was like a
rolling stone. the lighting on the crowd in the chorus was great, and the
band replaced the third verse with a solo section. honest with me was the
highlight of the encore for me. it absolutely rocked, and the lighting on
the back wall (i think it was on this one, but possibly drifter's escape)
where the band was silhouetted from different angles as they played, was
excellent. once again, bob blew my mind with his guitar work. blowin in
the wind was a very good version, and appropriate in the situation our
country's in. i agree with other reviews that have talked about the new
black martin guitar, it's beautiful. we regrouped for a second and then
fired out all along the watchtower. he repeated the first verse at the
end of the song, and the band played it for all it's worth. it's very
true that dylan's band is as much a part of the show as dylan himself, and
they were all in very high spirits tonight (larry was smiling at bob most
of the evening when bob was soloing, whether larry was in a good mood or
just glad to see how well bob was playing is up for debate, but i'm a
guitarist myself and i promise i'm not paying lip service to how amazing
bob's guitar work was). larry and charlie's harmonies are excellent, and
the band as a whole brings a lot to the set. it was a thoroughly
impressive and enjoyable evening. for a sixty year old man to play for 2
and a half hours is mindblowing, there were 27 year old's behind us
getting pissed off cos we insisted on standing and meanwhile he's up there
standing, wiggling, and singing himself hoarse all for us. bob's been
accused of not caring before, but when you consider what he puts himself
through for our sake, it's a pretty outrageous claim. i figure it'd be
hard to care about going out and singing for 2 and a half hours and
walking off ready to fall over, but it's sure not hard for us to care
about him doing it. and he showed us why tonight.
Review by Charles Cicirella
To say the very, very least Bob Dylan is magic, pure unadulterated magic.
It has always brought tears to my eyes watching this man do exactly what
it is the universe intends for him to do and last night in Columbus, Ohio
was no different. From the get go with, "Wait For The Light To Shine", I
was convinced this evening would be a special night indeed and I was not
disappointed. "Mr. Tambourine Man", followed and what struck me
immediately was Dylan's voice how upfront it was as he drenched everyone
in the audience with his own special brand of fire medicine. His vocals
the entire evening were so dead on and his phrasing was impeccable as he
twisted and turned us down the recesses of a mind I can only shake my head
at in complete wonderment. The very way he would one moment spit out a
phrase like he had to shed himself of such despair while the next cradling
the words as if they were kisses he did not entirely feel comfortable
parting with. The mood he can set with a song like for instance, "It's
Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", and then how he so effortlessly (the
sign of a true master for it only appears effortless because he has been
working on his craft since he was born in time) shift the mood and deepen
the mood with a stark, "Searching For A Soldier's Grave", pushing the
audience onward forward infinite with his entire spirit worn on his sleeve
like a marked man who knows he is marked and still discovers himself
unimpressed with the hard rain falling all around him. I was on the floor
with only one person in front of me and I was transfixed the entire
evening by his mannerisms and how even after all these years he can still
come off like Charlie Chaplin's, "The Tramp", while other times channeling
the likes of Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, Charley Patton, Gregory Peck, and
I swear I even saw a touch of Robert Mitchum or Anthony Quinn in his
swagger as he made his way to the microphone like a man who knows
absolutely where his true strengths lie and has no problem whatsoever
doing whatever it takes to get his point and his love across.
"Mississippi", is one of my personal favorites on, "Love And Theft", and
when he began this one I just couldn't believe my eyes nor my ears. Again
the entire mood on stage shifted and like some three dimensional painting
the richness of the paint not only hypnotized it pulled us deeper inside
the soul of a truly legendary gunfighter who uses words like bullets as
they pry inside our conscious and sub conscious leaving all of our
stupefied nothingness in tatters on the blood soaked arena floor. I don't
know what else I could possibly say and perhaps I've already said too much
because all I know for sure is this man has proven to me beyond the shadow
of any doubt that integrity can and does still exist somewhere in the
infrastructure and a person's word can change everything....... THANK YOU
Bob Dylan for sharing your words and your heart and your ether soaked
visions with us - you are a true master and I will be forever in awe of
the masterful strokes you continue to paint on a canvas of stars and
sequins............ Charles Cicirella email@example.com
Review by Carsten Molt
The anticipation was running high for Jillsy and I as we
approached the Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Nov. 19th as it was
our first chance to hear live renditions of the "Love & Theft" songs
as well as our first Dylan show since last November. Luckily, we
got to the venue 3 hours before showtime and managed to get a good
spot right in front of Charlie Sexton about 4 general admission
Dylan came out in his Col. Sanders white suit, looking fit
but a lot more gray than i remember him looking last November.
He sounded as good as ever when he launched into....
"Wait For The light to Shine"(acoustic) This was well played and Larry
added some nice mandolin. These bluegrass covers are a nice way to start
off a show.
"Mr. Tambourine Man(acoustic) Despite a few lyric flubs, Dylan
managed to deliver a good but not great version of this warhorse.
He added a nice but brief harmonica solo at the end.
"It's Alright,Ma(I'm Only Bleeding"(acoustic) I don't remember much
about this song because of the Drunk guy almost knocking me over as he
tried to push his way to the front. I was not the only person he shoved as
several people near the front pointed him out to security who whisked him
"Searching For A Soldiers Grave"(acoustic) This song doesn't do
much for me. I guess it is relevant in these times and it sounded
exactly like the other versions I've heard.
"Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum" A switch to the electric and off we go.
Dylan was barreling through the lyrics with great zest and for
the first time, a small smile creased his face as he and Larry
"Positively 4th Street" This started off with an unusual beginning
and right before Dylan started to sing, he stopped playing guitar
and shot a very angry look at Charlie for some reason. Dylan went on
to mumble his way through the song but was visibly upset at Charlie.
This version was a throw away as Dylan's eart wasn't in it.
"Floater(Too Much To Ask" I agree with Jillsy when she called
this "a work in progress". It was an alright version but sounded a
little tenative and unsure in some spots.
"High Water" I was looking forward to hearing this and Dylan didn't
disappoint me one bit. he leaned into the vocals and the band
followed him brilliantly. Larry was exceptionally "on" with very
nice banjo playing.
"Don't Think Twice"(acosutic)This is a song I can usually so without
but it was nicely played and Dylan gave a dramatic reading and
Dylan played a long harmonica solo that made it special.
"John Brown"(acoustic)A good rendition and any time Larry brings out
the Bouzouki, the music takes on a richer tone. Very well played
"Tangled Up In Blue"(acoustic} Same as it ever was. nice harp,though.
"Summer Days" This song put the crowd in rockabilly heaven.
It was even better than the album version with Tony strumming the
upright bass for all it was worth. A truly great version.
"Mississippi" Another great song from the new album and Dylan growled the
vocals with power and conviction. This was definitely the highlight of the
"Drifters Escape" One of my favorite Dylan songs and it was delivered well
and the harmonica solo was loud and strong. Very good.
"Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" no surprise here. Dylan added some new
lyrics and it was the only song that Larry played steel guitar on
but it still sounded the same as it always does.
"Love Sick" I am kind of tired of hearing this one and it
moves me less and less each time I hear it.
"Like A Rolling Stone" It was a good version with nice back up
vocals from Larry ANd Charlie on the chorus.
"I Shall Be Released" (acoustic)A pleasant surprise as i was expecting
"Forever Young" and it was sung beautifully by Dylan with sweet harmonies
by Charlie and Larry again.
"Honest With Me" This is my favorite song off the new album and they
really laid into it. Lots of Dylan leg wiggling on this one. Tony was also
dancing up a storm, too.
"Blowin'in The Wind"(acoustic) I still don't like it and this version
didn't do anything to change my feelings.
"All ALong the Watchtower" A great way to end the show and Charlie
and Larry got to trade some licks. Dylan repeated the first verse at
the end of the song which didn't seem to work all that well. A fine
version any way.
All in all, it was a very, very good show. If anyone
has a tape.....
Review by Kate Runevitch
Columbus was more than I could ever accurately
describe. Bob started slowly as usual, but he was
hoppin nearly immeditaly. Bob and the boys looked very
well, he in a white suit with stitching, and they in
red suits like Bob's the night before with stitching.
The crowd was more excited to see him than I've ever
seen. I was on the rail slightly to the left of bob,
but closer to him than charlie. While I was standing
there waiting for Bob to appear, I saw that my flowers
from the night before were stuck in Charlie's amps
still(what a hunk!) and I had more for them tonight.
Mr Tambourine man really got everyone going which gave
me the feeling that they only knew his older stuff,
but this was not so. The whole crowd was excited for
everything and they knew all the songs. The new
songs, of which he played 6 tonight, he got the best
response. I was excited for Highwater again, but most
of the crowd was waiting for Mississippi. They got
what they were looking for, and after a couple songs
he started into Rainy Day Women, which is new in his
main show set. But this is his hew time to introduce
the boys and make up silly lyrics, none of which I can
remember of course! For the encore he did a lot of
old stand-bys with the addition of an amazing I shall
be released. It couldn't have sounded any better. I
was amazed to hear it and so was everyone else, as I
saw jaws drop around me. Honest with me rocked and we
all cheered through the rest of the show, and this was
the first time I've ever seen Bob look embarrassed at
how much we enjoyed him. Charlie was wild at the end
and I saw my other flowers I'd thrown earlier sticking
next to the ones from the night before! He knew it
was me and he gave me a smile and a wink and they left
the stage. I couldn't even move I was so amazed at
the show and I watched the sound people and crew work
for a minute and then I left to sot outside and let it
all sink in, but a day later, I still can't believe
how great it was, although i haven't really gotten
that across in this review.
Review by Bryon Jordan
I guess I've seen Bob about 15 or so times now since 1990. Every show
gives me something to look forward to and the Columbus show had a lot to
offer. I saw him in Cincinnati the previous week and it was a very strong
performance. Entering Columbus, I was hoping for a possible "Visions of
Johanna" and maybe a couple other surprises.
"Wait for the Light to Shine" was a great opener and the band was sounding
great. It was the early highlight in the first acoustic set.
"Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum" was good, but a few days later, it's not
really memorable for me. Still, I was glad to see more new material.
"Positively 4th Street" was a nice surprise and the band was great. The
highlight in the middle of the show was "Highwater" without any doubt.
The band was awesome and Bob sounded great.
"John Brown" may be the most memorable song from this night. In Cincy, it
was perhaps the most disappointing for me, but in Columbus, it sounded
fresh and inspired. Wow.
The best portion of the show followed after they went through "Tangled"
(Damn! No Visions!) I missed part of this as I got security to remove a
guy who lost consciousness twice. He was smoking too much weed. I'm sure
it was a decent version, but this was the part of the show I missed thanks
to some a$$hole who doesn't know when to say when.
Personally, I am probably a heretic for saying this, but the new album
IMHO is overrated. It's the best album since TOOM, not BOTT. So even
with that in mind, it blows me away that they crank out such a tremendous
version of "Summer Days." I dislike the song on the album, but it is a
highlight of the live show. "Mississippi" is by far my favorite from L&T
and they turned out another great version. When "Drifter's Escape"
started, I turned to Chris with a puzzled look and mouthed "Crossroads?"
I thought they were going to play a Clapton tune. Once Bob started
singing, I knew what it was and it was AWESOME!!!
"Rainy Day Women" was nice. He takes it three verses as compared to years
past when he only did two.
"Love Sick" was well done though overplayed for me. I seem to get this
song a lot when I see Bob.
"LARS" was great, not as good as the Cincy version IMHO, but it was fun to
listen to anyhow.
The last show stopper of the night was the incredible "I Shall Be
Released." Holy crap! It was beautiful. The harmonies were perfect and
the crowd was in awe where we stood. Of course they were all stoned out
of their minds at this point. I've never been to a show where so much pot
has been consumed in my life.
"Honest With Me" and "Blowing in the Wind" were also well done.
"Watchtower" was a solid closer.
A couple things I noticed from Columbus and Cincy, the arrangement on some
of these songs don't drowned Bob out like they used to, most noticeably
"Watchtower," "Drifter's Escape" and "Cold Irons Bound" (Cincy.) It gives
Bob a chance to actually shine on the vocals rather than be lost in the
mix and it worked really well (although I'm still mixed on the new
arrangement for "Cold Irons Bound.")
Review by Don Ely
"DON'T BE LATE!",The Man said,and I surely thought that would be the case this
time as traffic crawled down High Street on a busy Saturday night. Add to this
the fact that I didn't exactly know where I was going, just acting on a hunch
that Nationwide Arena would have to be in downtown Columbus, not in the
surrounding farms of Ohio. I was flush with relief, then, when I came to
Nationwide Boulevard and looked to my right to see the shiny new venue at ten
minutes to eight. I swallowed hard and anted up the ten bucks to park near as
I could, and strutted along the brick-lined streets (with granite curbs) of The
Arena District. Outside it's America, and it seemed like the America of "Blade
Runner" as multiple video screens blasted commercials obscenely loud from high
above the assembling citizens,in Lucasfilm THX,no less.
Inside,things were much less starkly futuristic, and this large hall, home ice
for the National Hockey League's Bluejackets, was actually quite warm.Earthtone
concourses and midnight blue seats in the dimmed lightingcontributed to this
feeling, and a small crowd made the building seem smaller. As last night in
Detroit, I had a general admission main floor ticket and blended into the crowd
as we waited for the festivities to begin. The opening theme came up, and
suddenly I had an urge to eat steak. As last night,the band commenced with
"Wait For The Light To Shine", a nice way to start things off, though I would
have liked the alternate "Humming Bird", just to see what it's all about.
"Mister Tambourine Man" occupied the second chair, to the delight of the mostly
young audience. Ohio State won big in football today, beating Purdue 35-9,and
the people were ready to party. The personal highlight sat third, "It's
Alright,Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", a personal first-timer,ne of my favorites
from my favorite album, "Bringing It All Back Home". Initially I thought we
were getting "Gates Of Eden", but the lyrics became clear to me, and I savored
the moment. "Positively Fourth Street" was chosen in lieu of last evening's
"Every Grain Of Sand". The general mood of this performance seemed more somber
than in Detroit,but then again maybe it was just me.
The next six songs were identical to the previous setlist. During "Floater(Too
Much To Ask)", the crowd cheered to the line about "the Ohio, and all the rest
of them rebel rivers". I listened intently to "John Brown", as last night I was
out getting a beer when the song was played. "Doh!",as Homer Simpson would so
eloquently phrase it. "High Water(for Charley Patton)" was reprised,and as a
fan of Patton and pre-War blues in general, I couldn't have been happier.The
harrowing tale of the big flood of The Great Depression (or was it the Great
Flood of 1893) was contrasted with one of Dylan's funniest lines in ages:"I got
a cravin' love for blazin' speed/I got a hopped up Mustang Ford/Jump into the wagon,love/Throw your panties overboard". If "Time Out Of Mind" was about
introspection and staring down mortality square in the eye, then on "Love And
Theft" Bob has decided to throw troubles to the wind and have fun with the time
he has left."High Water" brought to m! ind imagery of my own pilgrimages to The
Delta and Charley Patton's grave in Holly Ridge, Mississippi. As did the song, "Mississippi", number absent from the Detroit set that I had hoped to hear.I
really don't think it's possible to stay in the Cradle of The Blues a day too
long. After the show in Little Rock this past August, one of the Boblinks
correspondents wrote about a little girl who had been brought to the concert by
her dad, and how great the reviewer thought it was that she be afforded the
opportunity to see an icon such as Bob Dylan in her formative years. Tonight I
looked across the crowd and saw a little girl perched on her dad's shoulders,
clapping to the music and happily waving at the band. I thought to myself, what
a great father, to expose his daughter to quality music steeped in rock 'n' roll
history and rooted in American family traditions spanning two,and now hree,
centuries, rather than the fast-food pop consumerism that tastes good to some
but ultimately is void of any nutrition and ends up forgotten in some cultural
landfill. Another blistering performance of "Drifter's Escape" was next,a tune
that always sounds familiar to me (I know I've heard that somewhere!) but that
I never recognize until checking out the setlist. The main set closed with a f
fine "Rainy Day Women", appropriately played on the day that Ken Kesey died.Six
songs followed in the encore, and the nineteenth Bob Dylan show I have seen since
1981 came to a successful end.
On Sunday it was High Street revisited,as I toured some of Columbus' best record
shops, from Singing Dog to Magnolia Thunderpussy, before heading home through
the Ohio countryside.
page by Bill Pagel
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