Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 02/22/99


February 22 1999

Troy, New York
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
RPI Fieldhouse

[Dave Read], [Karen S.], [Carsten Wohlfeld]

Review by Dave Read

The concert Bob Dylan gave at R.P.I. was the best of the eight that I've attended, for three
reasons: the singing, the set list, the musianship.  Thanks to the never-ending tour, gone is
the overwhemling BIG DEAL aspect of a concert of his, so that you're able to just focus on
the show, rather than remain struck dumb at the prospect of being in the same room with the
demi-god from Hibbing. 

After opening the show with Gotta Serve Somebody and Million Miles, and one of Dylan's
few remarks to the audience "Thanks everybody, that was a song called Million Miles," the
band raced into a hot, fast Maggie's Farm.  As he would throughout the night, Dylan picked
lines, phrases and other fragments from the song, and almost turned them into micro-songs,
making them stand apart, and seem like something brand new.  

This is a trick available only to Dylan, because a phrase like "but she says she's
twenty-four," bland by itself, begins to take on motto status when Dylan croons it out over 
the frenetic, jangling rock ' roll song that set the tone for the gig.  Despite the immense 
energy of the number, the band and Dylan remained almost stoic all through it.  The 
contrast between the aural and the ocular experience was sharp. 

Tears of Rage was given the full melancholic treatment, in the most positive sense, and
again the Dylan effect: making trite lines like "what kind of love is this/it goes from bad to
worse" seem elegaic.  The sidemen harmonized nicely, but I was clear-headed enough to
notice that the harmonies weren't coming from Manuel, Danko, Helms, and Hudson. 
Whatever wistfulness lingered was blown away by Silvio, which I hadn't realized was such a
great tune.  The three guys with guitars huddled together a few times, as if spraying the
audience with bullets, and Dylan added several grimace-notes with his face. 
Masters of War was the coup de grace.  The appearance and demeanor was of the
quintessential, cool, professional musicans giving the people their money's worth, without
getting too excited about the whole thing, because it's just another day's work.  But thanks 
to the material and Dylan's deliberate delivery, the effect was stunning.  
Other bright spots:  Tangled up in Blue, done in Dylan's best imitation-Dylan voice;
Timesthey are a-changin given an almost martial introduction; Dylan's footwork - a little
Fred Astaire, a little Marcel Marceau; another riposte: "Everybody's been too kind - you
really are too kind"; brilliant, throbbing Highway 61 revisited; the two closing songs, Don't
think twice, and Not fade away, sent everybody home refreshed in the knowledge that rock
'n roll is all about romance, nothing more, nothing less. 

Dave Read


Review by Karen S.

This was a fantastic night!  I had such a good time hanging out with my
sister Robin and her boyfriend Chris.  All three of us love Natalie and
we are big time Bob fans, so this was a great combo for us.  On a
personal note Rob and I grew up in Woodstock and didn't live too far
from the Dylan family when they were there in the sixties.  My sister
has been to four concerts, this was my second (I've been raising babies)
and this was Chris's first Dylan concert.  Okay enough of this...the
concert was wonderful.  We got to RPI about 40 minutes before the
concert began and had to hang out in freezing weather, listening to
obnoxious teenyboppers singing stupid songs. Chris is from California so
I was a little worried he would die of exposure, but it was all worth it
because once we got in, and finally got our red bracelet from Mr. Slow
Poke, we got to the front row of the stage.  Natalie opened strong
despite a very bad cold which was not noticeable until she told the
audience. She played a lot of her well known songs off of Tiger Lily and
Ophelia but also threw in a couple of 10,000 Maniac songs.  Towards the
end she asked a few audience members what the most significant event of
the 20th century was and, after several extremely lame responses, said
how about space travel and started singing David Bowie's major Tom
song.  It was great. She knows how to work the audience and get them

When Bob came out we all went nuts, we were so close to him I could
almost touch his boot...well almost.  Bob was looking sharp in his
familiar black suit with the white pin stripe down the side of his
pants, with seven (yes I was close enough to count) buttons on the
bottom.  He had these really expensive looking white and black cowboy
boots.  He really looked great. He started with the two songs that he
has been starting with for the whole tour, Gotta serve Somebody and
Million Miles.  Now I understand why he sticks with those, it was great.
They were really bluesy and fun to listen to. Maggie's Farm came next
which was really incredible.  Bob did  many deep knees bends and gave
the audience a lot of sneaky smiles. Next came Tears of Rage.  I wasn't
as familiar with the song. Rob said it was a song he did with the Band
and she was thrilled. Other wonderful surprises were excellent versions
of Masters of War and Boots of Spanish Leather.  The latter was so
beautifully done. There was one freak up front that thought he was at a
Dead Concert or the old variety show, Laugh-in.  Tony and Larry kept
laughing at him and Bob threw a few sneers his way.  Finally, thank you,
one of the crew members came out and told the idiot to cut it out.
Another song that Chris and I were hoping for was played in the number
11 slot, I Shall Be Released.  Wow that's all I can say.  The set list
is there so I won't bore you much more other than to say, Thanks Bob for
the encore of To Be Alone with you and Don't think twice it's all
right.  Love Sick and Not Fade Away were terrific as well.  Thank you
very much Bob and in your words of last night "you are much too kind".
Karen, Robin and Chris.


Review by Carsten Wohlfeld

"It's on days like this that I really ask myself: ' why do you live in New  
York'" Natalie said halfway through her show, apologizing for the bad cold  
she had. Up to this show she always had worn a rather thin and short black  
dress, so she was bound to get a cold. The barefoot dancing during the  
encores didn't help either, I guess. So today she took to the stage  
wearing a heavy coat and three layers of clothing underneath it. She was  
wearing boots, too. If you thought that would've had a negative effect on  
her performance you were wrong.  She played what was definitely her best  
set yet, 70 minutes long, including songs she hadn't done before (San  
Andreas Fault" was an early highlight) on this leg of the tour, lots of  
smiles and freaky dancing... She also aksed the people in the front row   
about the most significant event of the 20th century. The answers included  
the atom bomb, Martin Luther King's assassination, BOB DYLAN and 'what was  
the question'. For Natalie herself it was space travel, a good way to  
launch into "Space Oddity" as well! What a great song that is too! "I  
appreciate that you all came out tonight despite the cold and I'm sure  
that Bob will too". ot too sure about that, Natalie, but at least we loved  
her enough to get an encore, which wasn't the usual "These Are The Days",  
but a cover of a song by Katell Keineg, a pretty much unknown Elektra  
recording artist from Wales. Now I'd read on the internet before that this  
rendition of "Gulf Of Araby" was bound to be a very emotional performance,  
and it was *very* moving indeed. So moving in fact that Natalie started  
crying before she finished the last lines. A very special moment...

Bob seemed to be very relaxed after the day off and in a good modd, too.  
He switchedto rock star mode - which means lots of knee bends - the minute  
the show started.

        Gotta Serve Somebody

Regained some of it's power and was much better than in Lake Placid. Sung  
more concingly as well.

        Million Miles

was "Million Miles".

        Maggie's Farm

I knew that Josh wanted to hear this one, so I was pretty happy for him to  
hear Tony say "Maggie" when asked by Bucky what song would be next. Got a  
huge cheer from the crowd (not only Josh). But where was the funny space  

        Tears Of Rage

They rarely mess up this one, but tonight it was even better than usual.  
Can't remember now if the backing vocals from Larry and Bucky were there  
the last time I heard Bob sing this one in New Zealand but the echoing "so  
alooooone" was worth the admission price already. Spectacular!


Had some new tricks, would you believe it? Rocked harder due to Larry's  
upfront lead guitar. He was really into it, playing all the solo with  
twice the determination than usual. The stop/start parts of late 1997 (or  
whenever) made a welcome return).

        Masters Of War (acoustic)

so who are you Americans bombing this time?

        Boots Of Spanish Leather

Best performance of the four shows I'd seen so far. It was perfect.  
Period. If I read Tony's sign language correctly, Bob was very impressed/ 
happy with it too!

        Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)

still "tangled". Nice phrasings here and there which made it a little more  
bearable than usual.

        The Times They Are A-Changin' (acoustic)

Only really bad performance all night, still much enjoyed by the crowd.

        Cold Irons Bound

They hadn't played it in so long, the guys completely forgot how to play  
the intro. It was just a bit of random noise and then Tony started his  
famous monster riff. Rocked much harder and ater hearing this version you  
know why Bob got the Grammy for 'beswt vocal' for it. Quite hot indeed,  
despite the freezing temperatures outside.

        I Shall Be Released

I wish they had brought out Natalie for this one. I fact, Bob didn't even  
mention her one time, which was a bit sad, I thought. Anyways, for the  
first time in agaes they got the intro to this song comepletely right and  
the rest of it - including the echoing backing vocals - sounded pretty  
nice as well. Before the show I'd told somebody that I thought it was odd  
that no 'Basement' songs had been played so far this year. Tonight we got  
two... Band intros followed and tonight started with David.

        Highway 61 Revisited

Unbelievable. Actually a pretty much different version with great  
phrasing. Bob was not only signing the song, he was playing roles on stage  
as well. Hrad to describe, but fun to watch.

        Love Sick

Sounded very much different as well, as it was deadly slow. Never ever  
heard them do this one so slow and I've heard them do it more than fifty  
times. I actually enojoythis one more, cause Bob had more room to stretch  
out the lines.

        To Be Alone With You

Best version I've heard so far. Much better than the "this is Bob's  
soundcheck" renditions at #1, sounded a lot like "Broken" actually. A lot  
of the songs played in this slot are former openers. "Broken", "Pillbox",  
"Maggies"... wonder if they do that on purpose.

        Don't Think Twice (acoustic)

Good version, this time he even remembered the first line he missed in  
Lake Placid.

        Not Fade Away

Larry starts singing the third verse too early and messes up his guitar  
part accordingly. They all laugh - I guess they really don't take this  
song too seriously.

Another very good show, even though Natalie was slightly better than Bob  
tonight. She'd come close in Binghamton but tonight she did it. It was  
only a two hour drive from Troy to Amherst, but I decided to do the trip  
to Buffalo first. So I took the overnight bus at 1.30pm. Glad I could  
leavy Troy and Albany behind. Despite the fancy buildings you have in  
Albany, there's really not much to do there. And it was coooooold, too :-)
So, next up is Buafflo. Thanks for reading and: Stay tuned!

carsten wohlfeld
"her name is eve and she lives two floors below, she is 22 and looks like  
linda ronstadt" (birdy num nums)


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