page by Bill Pagel
Review by Frank Grey
Being able see Bob Dylan with only a 10 minute ride
from my apartment is a real treat. I was hoping that
my new hometown would turn out enthusiastically in
droves. The North Charleston Coliseum was nicely
filled but definitely not bursting at the seems. A
gentleman at the souvenir stand told me that a
venue-specific poster would not be available due to
lackluster ticket sales. I got a Love and Theft poster
instead. Trying to get a vibe before the show was
difficult, there was not much of a buzz in the
audience. One of my friends deadpan-ed that the crowd
looked like it just came off a tree stand somewhere.
But the important part was the concert and I ended up
being very impressed. Bob was "on" from the start. I
Am The Man, Thomas opened. It Ain't Me Babe followed
with Bob introing on harp. It would be the first of
many times Bob would reach for his harmonica. The
third song was It's Alright, Ma with George Receli
providing some extra punch and emphasis on drums to a
excellent Dylan performance. Searchin' for a Soldier's
Grave was the last acoustic opener with Bob providing
a sweet country intro on harp. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle
Dum was next and as many reviewers have stated
recently, Dylan seems to shine on the Love and Theft
songs and tonight was no different. Next was an
impassioned version of Tonight I'll Be Staying Here
With You. Two excellent L&T songs followed. Cry A
While was superb and High Water rocked with Larry on
banjo. With One Too Many Mornings, Bob put on his
dancing shoes. Given his excellent rendition, I was
dancing too. Masters of War was the 10th song of this
magical night. My friend Jonathan noted during this
song that the drummer was pounding the drums too hard
for this acoustic number and as I watched and
listened, I couldn't disagree. The ubiquitous Tangled
Up In Blue was next and it rocked in all it's acoustic
glory. Bob couldn't help but flap his knee to this
one. Keep on keepin' on. Summer Days was rocking next
with Charlie providing some quality "Brian
Setzer-type" guitar. The second to last L&T song of
the night was the 13th song Sugar Baby and this was a
definite highlight. I am often amazed when seeing Bob
Dylan how his live deliveries can make me feel like
I'm hearing a song for the first time. Wicked
Messenger had another Bob opening on harp with an
interesting show of Tony Garnier directing George
Receli on drums. It must be difficult to play the bass
while demonstrating the drums at the same time. Rainy
Day Women was the final song before the encores. RDW's
start was a little rote but the song picked up and
ended up being surprisingly fun. Tony Garnier and
George were sharing laughs during this romp. Love Sick
was the first encore. It might just have been the
highlight of the night. Bob had a wide-eyed intensity
with Charlie delivering some quality guitar
assistance. Highway 61 Revisited rocked next, pleasing
both the crowd and the band. The 18th song was an
acoustic Forever Young with another excellent harp
introduction. Bob must have been impressed too, for
after stepping back after his harp solo, he seemed to
forget his singing responsibilities. He did make it
back to the mic in time to start the vocals. I didn't
detect any muffed words all night until he sang, "May
Your hands always be joyful". Honest With Me and a
Blowin' in the Wind concluded the show. Blowin' was
very poignant and well-done with Bob showing off his
slide-step move. I left the Coliseum with a huge smile
on my face. Of all the 20 songs, there wasn't one
disappointment. I can't wait to hear the recording of
this concert. If it's half as good as the show, I'll
be very happy. Thank you, Mr. Dylan and I plan on
seeing you again Saturday in Atlanta.
Review by Hamp Nettles
I last saw Dylan last November in Nashville, TN. He took the stage
without his cowboy hat on and with a drummer named David. Tonight in
Charleston he kept the hat on, but didn't bring David along.
What went on tonight in Charleston was some powerful stuff. There ain't
no other way of putting it. For starters, let me get one thing straight.
For those of you who have yet to hear Mr. Receli play, prepare to be blown
away. This guy is positively bad ass on the drums. Hearing him play will
immediately make you wonder why he hasn't been Dylan's touring band from
the beginning of the NET.
Needless to say, the opener, 'I Am The Man' wasn't exactly the greatest
showcase for the new drummer. In fact, the song wasn't much of anything
except a warm-up. It was over pretty quickly and before you could blink
Dylan was at the mic, harp in hand, blowing the unmistakable opening
chords to "It Ain't Me Babe.' The song was absolutely stunning. The
vocals were everything you could hope for with Dylan. They weren't shrill
or nasal or forced. He was in complete control and in signing throughout
the show was nothing short of beautiful.
To my surprise, even though there was harp intro to "It Ain't Me Babe,' he
didn't finish the song with harp. However, he played harp 7 more times
during the night, each time with a harp intro and no outro. (The only
exception was 'Wicked Messenger', which began sans-harp and ended in a
burst of blazing harmonica.)
It was during the next song 'It's Alright Ma,' that the new drummer showed
his stuff. This was, without a doubt, the most rocked-up version of the
song I've ever heard. The beat was throbbing - it looked like Receli was
putting every ounce of his strength into smacking the snare - and the
vocals were searing.
The enegry was simply explosive on stage, and that led into a welcome
harmonica into to 'Searching For a Soldiers Grave.' Which seems to be a
very odd song selection, sandwiched in between 'It's Alright Ma' and the
next song, 'Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.' Vocals, again, were powerful,
but the highlight was seeing Chuck Sexton cut loose on electric guitar.
Larry, it seems, was not to be outdone. The next song, 'Tonight I'll Be
Staying Here With You' was a complete surprise. It featured some of the
best harp all night and Larry playing terrific steel guitar. The singing
on Dylan's behalf and the playing from Larry was simply breathtaking -
without a doubt, one of the highlights of the night.
In fact, 'Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You,' along with the next
three songs ('Cry A While', 'High Water', and 'One Too Many Mornings') are
without compare to anything I've ever seen in person or heard on tape.
Receli's launch into 'Cry A While' was like a shotgun blast and I still
don't think I've recovered yet. It was low down and dirty electric blues,
of the lowest-down and dirtiest variety. The building shock and my heart
pounded. Receli, once again, was going absolutely nuts on the drum kit.
Larry and Chuck were putting down firely blues licks. And Dylan's vocals
were venemous. The more he spit and sneared the lyrics the more the crowd
roared unitl the whole thing hit such a fever that I thought the whole
thing was going to break down.
Dylan had the crowd on its heels, and when the banjo was brought on stage
I knew all hell was about to break loose. 'Highwater' live is everything
the album version is and so much more. And once agian, Receli's drums
were so powerful I was surprised that his his drum sticks, his snare, or
his hand hadn't broken at that point.
"One Too Many Mornings' has always been one of my favorite songs to listen
to live, and I knew right away what song it was. Again, Dylan led the
song with harmonica. The playing was excellent - and this wasn't the
seeming random style that he must often uses. He was playing it like he
knew what he was doing. Larry's playing was the best all night and his
pedal steel was one of the highlights of the song.
The next song, however, was a bit of a surprise. I was not surprised that
Dylan played 'Masters of War,' I was just surprised that he played it.
There was something about this version that was simply amazing. It was
played LOUD, and I half-expected Chuck or Larry to pull out an electric
guitar. And Receli wasn't just playing back beat here. This song had an
unavoidable, eerie rhythm to it. One of the verses features vocals so
haunting that I won't soon forget and that I really can't put into words.
What I can say was that I've never heard a better version of the song (and
I think the tapes will back me up on this).
The crowd, predictably, hit their collective feet when Larry started the
chords to 'Tangled Up In Blue' and Dylan ripped into yet another harp
solo. The harp intros are superbly played, but rarely drew nearly the
response from the crowd as opposed to the roar when he reaches for the
harp at the end of a song. 'Tangled' was just that, and the energy barely
ebbed when Dylan launched the band in 'Summer Days.' It was a rocky
start, but once this number got going it seemed like the whole audience
was dancing. But when 'Sugar Baby' started, 90% of the crowd took their
seats again, but I remained standing. I was in the center of the 8th row,
and someone a few rows back yelled 'I played for my ticket and I came to
sit and watch the show.' So I politely let him know that I too paid for
my ticket, but I came to stand. To be honest, 'Sugar Baby' isn't my
favorite song, and there was quite a bit of chatter during the number.
Dylan, always the performer, seemed to sense the dip in crowd response and
ripped in 'Wicked Messenger.' After the show I heard more than a couple of
people mention how shocked as to how rockin' the show was. 'Wicked
Messenger,' of course, was finished off with some blazing harp, a dangling
hand directing the band, and some new dance moves.
Dylan was obviously having fun with the band and I think he may have
smiled once when Receli failed to end a song directly on queue and instead
drew the song out for a few more meters. Dylan may have been annoyed or
amused, but Tony got a huge kick out of it and couldn't stop laughing.
Larry hopped back on steel guitar was a fantastic (yes, I said fantastic)
version of 'Rainy Day Women.' Larry was playing some awesome steel licks
(I only wished he was louder in the mix) and Dylan was singing the song
as if he was indeed stoned and it wasn't the millionth time he sang it.
The encore was standard fare, and my major complaint of the concert was
the omission of 'Like A Rolling Stone.' 'Love Sick' was a treat since I'd
never heard it live, but the highlight of the encore was, without a doubt,
'Forever Young.' I know its getting repetitive, but his harp playing was
absolutely beautiful. Not only that, but it featured, without question,
his best guitar playing of the night. The vocals were subdued and the
harmonies were soaring. 'Blowin' In The Wind' was done in very similar
fashion (harp, guitar, and vocals were all strong) and it was a powerful
ending to a wonderful show.
So in conclusion, I will make a few comparisons between this show and when
I saw him last Fall in Nashville. Yes, the setlists look exactly the
same, but this was a very different concert. Nashville last Fall was very
subdued - Dylan almost seemed tired of a long year of touring and after
recording the new album. But the addition of the new drummer has
positively kickstarted the tour. If you catch another show down South
expect a loud, powerful, rockin' performance. "Love and Theft" was
amazing life in Nashville, but it was better in Charleston. The
arrangements are just amazing. And Dylan seems to be re-arranging other
songs as well, some more than others (specifically 'Its Alright Ma' and
'Masters of War). Receli is the real deal, and if he plays the way he
played in Charleston and continues to learn more songs and gets in
absolute sync with the band, he will go down in my book as the best
drummer of the NET. And I can't say it too many times - Dylan hasn't
played harp like this in a while. I'm not talking about 2-3 note solos,
I'm talking about some serious playing.
I'll be fortunate enough to catch 4 more shows this tour, so I will
definitely report on whether or not the band keeps up the energy they had
last night. If they do, it should be an incredibly exciting tour,
especially as more songs are worked into the setlists.
Review by Sebastian Barney
The first thing I noticed was the new curtain behind the stage with the
big eye and the bob dylan logo above it. The same one as featured on the
back of numerous shirts. I havent heard this mentioned before but it
definatly wasnt present when I saw him last in philly. At any rate it was
Then they didnt have a venue specific poster just a love and theft poster
that I managed to get very wet walking outside in the rain afterward. But
I noticed a new shirt was for sale.
The begining of highwater has been changed so that the first verse is just
bob singing with larry playing the banjo. I think I liked the other way
better but I do love the sound of that banjo.
Tangled Up in Blue was very good.
It was the first time I had seen Charlie really get into the groove.
Usually he looks nervous but I guess he is no longer the new guy in the
band so some of the pressure is off.
The venue was pretty nice except the stage was very tall. But the people
were nice. And the security was nice. I was pleased that the crowd stood
up for the show. I think that really adds to the show. While attendance
was lower than I expected most people seemed to enjoy the show.
Bob is also not using his new acoustic Martin guitar. He is back to the
old acoustic guitar.
Overall a very good show.
page by Bill Pagel
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