page by Bill Pagel
Review by Adam Selzer
This'll be a short version, once again. The longer
version, with much more detail and many more stories,
will be on
http://www.geocities.com/adam1117/bobbook.html as soon
as it's written.
Shall I be brief? Bob was on fire. Not just on fire,
but ON FIRE.
Taking a trip to Birmingham was a last minute
decision, but my friend Mike (with whom I've gone to
three shows in the last week) and I were quite
convinced that the decision was a good one. The
setlist may not be terribly exciting; this was, in
fact, the first show (of the twelve I've seen) where I
didn't hear anything I hadn't heard before. But, quite
unlike last night in Augusta, Bob was ON in
Birmingham. Positively on FIRE. Moreso than I've ever
seen him. Every song was sung just perfectly, with all
of the exciting vocal choices that can be expected,
and far more of that hebraic cantillation than I've
ever seen or heard on a tape since the rolling thunder
First things first. Pressing our ears against the
cold dusty steel doors, we could hear most of the
soundcheck, which was as follows (no discernable
unknown acoustic piece
Emotionally Yours (with fiddle - gorgeous!)
Not Dark Yet
Honest With Me
unkown electric jam
Now, onto the show: what a show! Bob came out in a
white outfit again, but a brighter white than he had
in Augusta, making him look less like Colonel Sanders
than a character from Ragtime or The Great Gatsby, and
the band was all dressed in matching maroon outfits.
From the first notes of Duncan and Brady, it was
apparent that Bob was having a better day than
"Times" and "All Right Ma" were dead on, the vocals
crisp and sharp and not a cue missed. The harp at the
beginning of "Soldier's Grave" was some of the best
harp I've heard out of Dylan.
Vocals on "SIOMWTMBA" were the strongest I've heard
on that song, wailing 'em out like he does on the
"Highwater" absolutely COOKED. I've seen this one
four times now, and all of the other versions seemed
to be aspiring to the heights this one attained, both
musically and vocally.
There was a bit of Bobtalk during the band intros, he
chuckled a bit before inroducing Tony, then, having
introduced him, chuckled again and said "I think
that's about it!" He was pretty clearly having a good
After the "feel like falling in love with the first
woman I meet" part of "Things Have Changed," I turned
and said "nice to meet you" to the girl behind me. She
gave me a look that may have been an amused look, but
was more likely just about the dirtiest look I've ever
been given. I never can tell.
I could go on like this for the rest of the night,
but suffice to say that Bob was putting more into the
vocals than I've ever seen him do before, and the
guitar work was top-notch.
I'll get to work on the long-form review right away.
I need to talk about hearing the soundcheck, each
individual song and vocal nuance, and how I managed to
catch a glimpse of Bob offstage. But it's late, and I
need to rest up a bit before getting into that....oh,
there're a lot of things about which to write!
BTW - Thanks to Bill L for the tickets!
Review by Michael Nix
Not having seen Dylan as much as many of your regulars (but possibly more
than some) I found the contrast between the last 2 shows I've seen quite
interesting. I've sort of lost count but I think this was my 42nd Dylan
concert since 1974.
Naturally I've seen some great ones and some not so great ones (late
80s-early 90s). I didn't think the Birmingham
show ever rose to it's potential. True Bob seemed in a good mood and he
did the deepest kneebend I've ever seen him execute but the setlist just
didn't let the concert roar to the triumphant conclusion it should have
The beginning was marvelous. Duncan & Brady was crystal clear and the
boys were tight as a tick. And the sound
was absolutely the clearest I've ever heard at a Dylan show. It was not
only possible to tell exactly which of the 3 guitarist was playing what
lines but Dylans vocals were crystal clear and his enunciation was very
distinct. On the chorus of The Times They Are A Changing Bob went for the
highest note on the word "they" and it was as pristine as his vocals on
Freewheeling. I was preparing for possibly one of the best Dylan shows
I'd seen since 81 or so.
Up until Tangled Up In Blue Dylan and his band maintained that
standard. But the numbers that followed just didn't catch
fire as the closers of a set should. One big problem was the tempos; I
don't know if Bob isn't comfortable with the new drummer or what but they
were way too slow.. The last 4 electric numbers of the set were turgid
where they should have smoked the exception being Cold Irons Bound. That
one was greatly improved over the studio version. The closer Rainy Day
Women was so slow that I thought that this couldn't possibly be the last
number of the set; but it was.
The encores were good except that Just Like A Rolling Stone suffered
from the same draggy tempo that hampered RDW. Watchtower closed the
encores and I kept waiting for the 3 guitarist to really lock into a
howling duel like they usually do on that song but it didn't materialize.
Possibly the sound was to clean for that screaming effect to be created
I realize that complaining about the tempos and the dynamics of a set is
picky when I'm talking about the worlds
greatest songwriter but last Novembers show in Nashville had all the
assets of this set and it smoked!!
There's no doubt that Dylan's performances are better than they've been
in many a year and I'll go to see him anytime. Even when he's a bit off
he's still mesmerizing and I know that some day this cycle of touring
will cease with as little explanation as he's given for why it began.
Until then I urge anyone who wants to enjoy a fine performance by a very
vibrant American treasure to catch Bob while they can.
Michael T. Nix
Review by Mike Tiemann
Bob really blew me away on Saturday. The show was just magnificent... a thousand
times better than I ever could have imagined. Based on (official) live recordings
and hearing him at the Puyallup Fair in Washington in '99, I think these are the
best concerts he's played since... well... 1966. Maybe even better, as far as
listening enjoyment is concerned. Bob just knocked out showstopping song after
song. Not too many surprises in the set list, as has been said, but maybe one of
the most refreshing aspects of the show was that after hearing the way he played
the usual songs, they were all I wanted to hear.
"Duncan and Brady": My first time hearing this song, and it set the tone for the
night right away- delicacy and confidence, supreme musicianship, gorgeous
harmonies. But my first thought was howGREAT Bob's voice sounds. It was clear
in the mix (the sound folks should be commended), full of nuances and variety
the whole night.
"The Times They Are A'Changing": What an awesome surprise. I tried to guess the
tune during the beautiful intro, and then... "ComegatherroundpeoplewhereveryouROAM!"
I especially loved the way he suddenly leapt up for the melody on "for the times,
they are a'chaaaannnngin." A gorgeous acoustic waltz. Great harmonica work from
"It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)": This one got a lot of crowd response. A
"Searching for a Soldier's Grave": One of my favorites of the whole night. I'd
never heard it before, and was just blown away by the harmonies. Larry's
mandolin playing was fantastic!
"Stuck Inside of Mobile": A nice touch! I was hoping he might play this here.
This was a great choice for the first electric song. I was kind of hoping for
"Gotta Serve Somebody," or maybe "Slow Train" ("I had a woman, down in A-labama").
Well, only kidding. You couldn't ask for a better set list- he played all of
them so well.
"Tell Me That It Isn't True": This was a real highlight for me. Laid-back and
confident at the same time, sung with real feeling. I'm just blown away by the
musicianship of this band.
"Lonesome Day Blues": GREAT performance. I was surprised the blues didn't come
until this far into the set. Bob took solo after solo- he really seemed to be
enjoying himself. The band put down such a solid groove on this song (the new
drummer is awesome). My first time hearing the "Love & Theft" songs, and I
instantly loved them. I think it was during this song that Larryadded some
awesome slide guitar licks.
"High Water": My favorite of the night.AfterLarry started it off with the
banjo, the band locked in, and it was one of the tightest, most riveting
performances I've ever heard.Bob'ssinging style was fascinating throughout
the show, and especially on this song. The percussive, rapid-firevocal
delivery works perfectly with this band- when they are this tight, and Bob's
rhythm is this "on."
"Don't Think Twice, It's Alright": This was beautifully played. A definite
crowd favorite. The drums were really effective here, quiet, but giving the
song added momentum and focus. Tony's bass was also especially clear and
"Masters of War": This seemed abbreviated to me, but very powerful.
"Tangled up in Blue": A highlight of the night. The band was on fire. Bob
started out the song on harmonica accompanied by Larry on acoustic, and the
song kept building and building. I'm amazed that the band plays this song
almost every night and can take it to this level every time.
"Summer Days": A lot of fun. The band was smoking!
"Sugar Baby": A mesmerizing change of pace. I'd never heard this before, and I
thought it might be "Not Dark Yet" for a moment. It took a minute or two for me
to grasp the subtle melody and chord changes, but once I got used tothe song I
was hanging on every lyric. The band does an incredible job of reinventing the
surreal studio mood of these kind of songs onstage. One of my favorites.
"Cold Irons Bound": This really rocked. I loved the syncopated verse, then
through the chorus you got the feeling the band was about to cut loose... which
they did after "20 miles out of town in cold irons bounddddd...." Then the three
guitars turned on the distortion. I couldn't believe you could hear each one and
all the great licks they were playing in the midst of all that volume.
"Rainy Day Women": I enjoyed thisa lot more than I expected to. The band
transformed it into another rocking blues. After introducing the band members,
Bob said something like, "I guess that's about it... " He was having a good time.
"Things Have Changed": A nice groove, and a crowd favorite. A lot of people sang
"Like A Rolling Stone": An awesome performance. The crowd loved it.
"Knockin' On Heaven's Door": The harmony was great, and I loved the new line,
"Just like so many times before."
"Honest With Me": What a cool song. The band really cut loose on this one.
"Blowin' in the Wind": I loved the way Bob sang this... "Howmanyroads...
"All Along the Watchtower": The beginning of this was LOUD. An awesome performance.
I looked around and saw a whole lot of air guitars in the audience!
I think Bob is in a creative peak to rival the mid-60s and mid-70s. This show
proved it... the man just rocks.
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists