Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 01/28/99


Sunrise, Florida

January 28, 1999

National Car Rental Center

Thanks to Richard Batey for the following review:

Before I go to bed, this first-hand report to you:

The setting was as unlike my last Dylan show as could be possible. Whereas
the Cameo Theater in Miami Beach holds about 1,500, the NCRC holds about
20,000. If you step off the sidewalk in front of the Cameo, you could be
struck by a skater or car. The street to the east in front of the NCRC is a
block or so away, and very close to the west is the Sawgrass Xprsway and
the Everglades. The Cameo Theater probably dates to the 1950s, but the NCRC
has not yet been open a year. I believe Dylan was scheduled to be the first
musical performer but something fell through on that show, yes? Anyway, the
NCRC is a huge and imposing building of curves, smoked glass, concrete,
marble, steel, and crushed alligator bones. Royal palm trees & other
tropicals jut skyward from the vast parking lots. This is the tallest
structure around and can be seen from a distance on the Sawgrass Xprsway,
looming like a huge mound out in the Everglades. Once you get to it, and
walk up to it, it seems like a huge platform mound and is impressive. But
unlike the Cameo, the stage is farther away from the outer doors & I could
not make out what was happening at the soundcheck.

By 5:30pm, a small group had gathered under the three flags flying high
overhead: the US, Florida, and the green National Car Rental Center flags.
Some faces were familiar to me: Peggy from several shows along the Gulf
Coast, Nancy from Houston, Mervyn from Zimbabwe (now NC), Andy & Joan from
Durban S. Africa who had parked their sailboat and commandeered an old van,
and others not mentioned. Doors opened about 7:05 for the 8:00 show. There
was more than ample time to get to the front of the stage if that was your
plan. Not mine. Reserved seating in stands, general admission and standing
on the floor. I sat.

About 8:00, Brian Setzer and Orchestra came on. The orchestra is 13 horn
players, a drummer, an upright bass, and Brian on guitar with white Fender
amps. Right away let me say they are a swinging, swaying, finger popping,
high-energy band and not to be missed (in case you might figure you'll just
get there late and see the Dylan portion). They played about 55 minutes and
it was the quickest 55 min. of music I've ever heard. The crowd loved them.
Their set, as best as I can tell (not really familiar with these very much,
so the titles may be incorrect), follows:

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Let The Good Times Roll, Rockabilly Sound
(instrumental, very cool, Peter), Let's Live It Up, Since I Don't Have You
(he did a falsetto on portions, very hip), The Dirty Boogie (here he
switched from a hollow body to solid body guitar), Sleepwalk (the Santo &
Johnny number. Great. back to hollow body), Stray Cat Strut (Mark
Winchester on bass did cook), Jump Jivin' Wail (the Louie Prima number,
yes? - BS's version is nominated for a grammy, yes?), House Is A Rockin'
(Don't Bother Knockin'), and the encore: Rock This Town. That was a hard
act to follow and I wondered how Dylan and his band would fare.

After a 20 min or so intermission, I found out. Dylan's set was
outstanding! Perhaps the best  I've ever seen in one of his shows. Dylan
looked very fit - as if he had visited the Fountain of Youth on his way
into Florida. The overall appearance of the band was very good. Larry's
dark slacks, jacket, and white t-shirt were not out of place next to
Dylan's black trousers with white piping, white shirt,and dark jacket (no
hat). Tony looked stylin' with black leather pants, an ochre jacket, and
black hat. Bucky's outfit was similar to Tony's, but more or a bowler hat,
and David's evening attire was hidden behind the drums. He did wear a white
hat. Ok, I include that for the record. But what complimented their
appearance was the use of the lights. The lighting seems to have undergone
a change, perhaps slight, but pleasingly noticeable to me. Whereas in the
past, some of the light has been blue, red, pink, etc. with not much
"white" light; tonight it was not like that. The lighting seems to have
been not only simplified, but the trend is towards less colored light (or
at least more judicious use of the colors). The result is like seeing a
pleasing sepia tone photo or a realistic painting. Clean light. Spruce
light. Clear light. For example, on Tangled Up In Blue, blue lights (not
over-powering) were on all of the band members except Dylan. His light was
uncolored. There was much more clear light tonight and the music reflected
it, or at least seemed to be in sync with it.

Before I include the setlist, a few words about the music. Dylan's vocals
were so strong, so clear, so purposely loosed upon the crowd. If you had
ears to hear, you heard it. Larry and Bucky sang on a few choruses and
sounded great. These guys were very tight and seemed determined to make
powerful music. There doesn't seem to be the length to the extended jams
and far fewer wasted notes this time around. Just tightly crafted songs
right to the point. 

The setlist:

Gotta Serve Somebody - Larry (and Bucky?) on vocals.

Senor - great vocals by Bob. How can I say this, I was moved in this song,
so that I wanted to be able to thank him for his music.

Silvio - following those two songs, this was perfect, and not only that,
the best version I've ever heard. Very fine bass work. Tight band. "One of
these days and it won't be long, going down to the valley gonna sing my
song, let the echo decide..."

Just Like A Woman - very strong vocals. great phrasing on this and all of
the songs. not perfunctory. Balloons were flying above the floor crowd by
now and landing on the stage. Fine drumming and Dylan enjoyed posing in a
very relaxed sort of way. not stiff or awkward, you know?

I Can't Wait - strong x2. faster than the album and more to my liking.

Stone Walls Steel Bars - Larry vocals. Larry Martin acoustic, Bob Gibson
for four songs.

Don't Think Twice - sweeter than the original version. The vocals confirmed
that there was no blame, whereas even though the lyrics say "don't think
twice," some of his vocals have not portrayed a forgiving singer. This
version, he sang not just resigned, but at peace and wise. Towards the end,
he got the harmonica and shifted the Gibson onto his back while playing the
harp held in the left hand. He played not just a few notes but for a while.

The Times They Are A-Changin' - I couldn't believe it.

Tangled Up In Blue - great vocals again. There is a lyric change, Ben, but
I didn't catch it enough to write it down.

To Make You Feel My Love - another facet. "written for one of my favorite
country singers" then a band intro.

Highway 61 Revisited - really cooking! the band was tight all night but
this one was ... phew. a serious bass.

calls for encores and the lighters came out.

Love Sick

Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat - headddddddd. steaddddddddd. The song looked like
it was about to end as Tony approached David, but perhaps Dylan didn't want
to quit just then; rather than it sound patched up or rescued, the
arrangement went someplace I'd never heard before and then finally wound down.

Blowing In The Wind - Larry & Bucky on the chorus. Who could ask for more?

And the finale: Not Fade Away - by far the best version I've ever heard. A
perfect closer & the crowd loved it.

Normally, I don't solicit tapes like this but I do seek this one. Lots to
trade whether tapes, vhs, lps, you name it. Name a desert after you and
send you the recipe. Plant an orange tree and call it by your name and send
you some of the first fruit. I could go on, but you get the picture. Come
on, you know who you are (I don't), arrange to send the tape - soon. Take
good care.
               The End


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