Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 06/05/99


Denver, Colorado

June 5, 1999

Fillmore Auditorium

[Ann A.], [Christine Consolvo]

Review by Ann A.

Wasn't it Dylan who once said that he couldn't sing if he was too high up,
{as in elevation, that is  ;-)  uh...} which, according to Daniel
Lanois, was his way of refusing Lanois' request to record the OH MERCY
sessions in Santa Fe?  Okay, okay!  I'll dig out my video tape and quote
them both about it.  Here it is:  [From the CBC / Hummingbird production --
Daniel Lanois interview --entitled  ROCKYWORLD]
-Lanois: "I had pretty much decided to not work in New Orleans.  I wanted
to go somewhere else to make the record and I talked to Bob on the phone
and said  "wouldn't it be nice to be up in Santa Fe""?
-Dylan: "Nah, you can't make a record in Santa Fe.  It's too high.  The
altitude... can't sing, up that high..."

Well, I'm here to tell you folks that he lied.  He CAN sing that high up in
the air and I heard him do it, and oh so well...  Saturday night, at the
born-again and very nice, Denver / Fillmore Auditorium.  Which of course,
is the city we ALL know is damn close to a MILE HIGH up in the air there.
Liar liar, house o' fire.  What a show!

>From the first moment they began to play that oh-so familiar yet, ever-so
beautiful opening chord progression of FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, he was ON.
Voice intact, strong and sweet, moving and winding all through the notes
with such depth and sensitivity, and all the while, with the crowd
roaring, he smiled and sang and sang and smiled, and then smiled again.
Well, aside from all those rare smiles, I've never seen the first so-called
warm-up song at a Dylan show come off so well --but I'm a sucker for the
sounds of those resonating wood guitars, with Tony's upright bass thumping at
the heart of it, with or without the tasteful work of Kemper keeping it all
in time.  I'll also have to admit that I'd could listen to 1,000 openings
with FOTD easily, compared to even 10 openings with a worn-out electric
Absolutely Sweet Marie or Jokerman, any time.  But, I digress, a bit.  Back
to the beauty of it all.  Add to the stew, another acoustic guitar, albeit
rhythm, but what was it... I craned my neck as far as the rubber in it
would let, though as close as I was to the stage, alas, too short to see
for certain if it was a Gibson J-200 that Charlie Sexton was playing (it
sure looked like one).  And why not!?  What a perfect addition to the mix!
That drivin' big waterfall of sound from a Jumbo-bodied Gibson to blend it
all together?  Wonderful.  Best FOTD I ever heard. Swear.
So how can I describe the way this show moved me so?  The first six songs,
all acoustic, is what I hoped n' hoped again he'd still be doing, but it
was much better than that simple dream come true.  Small venue, great
acoustics, truckloads of inspiration wafting off the stage.  Sublime.  Oh,
okay... but not so many superlatives for this MR. TAMBOURINE MAN.  Not a
stunner by any means, but he didn't throw it in the ditch either, as he'll
do when he loses that golden thread of inspiration from time to time.  Yeah,
the important elements were all present and accounted for.  Voice
full of strength and depth, showing us once again with this timeless song
that he's a poet-singer songwriter, alive and well; and so, the power of
these moments just grew, leading straight to a pinacle, one of many for the
evening; a highlight shown bright in MASTERS OF WAR.  In a word or three
--stunning, haunting, almost daunting.  He had us tight in the palm of his
hand for this one.  Every heart was feeling it, from his to ours, like an
arrow... with Tony's bass repeating, over and over, in full drama, the
realness of war. THE war.  Right there.  Right here.  Right now.  The lives.
The losses.  The lives lost.
Somehow this song seemed to have it's ending in the beginning of IF
TOMORROW WASN'T SUCH A LONG TIME.  I don't mean by way of musical timing
(one song ended, the next one began after a few moments pause) but rather,
by the continuation of the deeply heart-felt emotion he put into MOW, as
if to say, "Yes, someday this war will end, but it doesn't help to know
this now because when it comes to the horrid tragedy of war, tomorrow is a
very long time".  So, in this mighty-powerful highlight set of songs
(because in this respect, it's impossible to separate them) this
performance was simply divine.  Inspired.  Quintessential Dylan.  And to
further this point, I have to say that the tenderness, compassion and depth
of feeling here, in my view, is / was expressed so completely and
beautifully by the subtleties of sound that can be produced by acoustic
guitars.  Ah, Dylan!
And how can it not be mentioned here that he blends so IMPECCABLY well his
unique voice, full of textured emotion, with those deeply rich, sweet tones
of those gorgeous guitars, which is, in my view, one of the most compelling
aspects of his brilliance.  Don't ever let anyone tell you that he can't
sing.  At any elevation.  Not even him.

But again... I'll digress, because I'd like to say something here about
Charlie Sexton.  Yes, you could say that Charlie Sexton was feelin' his way
through the songs somewhat, but he usually didn't have far to go to get
there if he wasn't already there.  It's much like the time we'd all hoped
to hear more n' more of Larry as he warmed up to the music in his first
days / shows too, and to some extent, I guess we have.  But hey, lets face
the music (pun intended)!  Mostly what we hear by way of lead guitar is
Dylan's counterpoint lead, the odd note, the irony, the stalemate,
-whichever.  Of course Charlie's got all that it takes to do what the job
requires (and then some!) though, apparently that's to play rhythm guitar
-- as it was for Larry, once upon a Bucky Baxter time (and to some extent,
still is).  So, this is what I think about as I listen to another TANGLED
UP IN BLUE.  I dearly love this song but that doodle-doodle-doodle-noodling
that Dylan does with it just gets all tangled up, don't it?  Will he ever
find his way out of that 2-note tangle?  Does he even want to?  Why does he
box it into a corner?  To to emphasize the agony of entanglement? Or could
it be to show us that the beauty of the song saves itself?  But onwards...
RANK STRANGERS is one of my favorite Dylan-done traditionals, and the
wailin' chorus cry he calls up from Monroe-ville, never fails to thrill me.
Here we heard Charlie's strong backup vocals come through, sometimes even
when they weren't supposed to be there, but hey.  I reckon' if they'd
played it on night #2, he'd've had it nearly down, if not nailed. San
Antone home-boy, done good. Yup.
Okay. COLD IRONS BOUND. From the get-go, had a special feel.  Who was it that
said that, "if it's got strings, Larry Campbell's gonna' master it"?  Amen
to that.  First night, back on the road after a month, who knows... but
it's a great song, ain't it?  One of my favorites from TOOM.  I think in
retrospect, it was a good choice of song to use to pull out of the intensely
intimate, and delicate atomosphere of the acoustic set.  Not alot of busy
guitar work goin' on, electrically.  Larry on a spooky pedal steel.  It was
an ultra-slow n' sultry mover, yet it kept up the intimacy.  Good bridge
song, I'm thinkin', and on this night, maybe reinvented some... a bit
slower than I'd yet heard and even a bit more...?  I don't know.  Maybe a
little more intensity of witchiness, in it's air. "The beat in the bottom",
as Robbie Robertson once called this southern, voo-doo swamp-crawl kinda'
Okay, all aces thus far.  Nothin' in the ditch yet, and I'm higher than a
mile up. At this point, Bob pulls out of his magic bag o' tricks an
incredible rant-of-harp on JUST LIKE A WOMAN.  Very tasty
moments here.  Lungs done mending, eh Bobby?  Lawdy lawd lawd,
yes.  Then on to another TOOM favorite of mine, NOT DARK YET, which had the
same deep golden
hue around it that somehow the whole show seemed to hover in.
But okay, there was a bigger bridge to cross than what any TOOM song could
muster, and the jump across to HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, which is usually like
a jolt of good tequilla, somehow didn't come off.  The jet lag from Mars
was a bit too much, I think.  So it was a good effort, but none of us were
as ready for it as the song CAN cook.  This didn't help LOVESICK much.
But, after the same version since forever, can anything?  Pardon my bias.
But then --WOW, what's up with MAGGIES FARM!?  Damn!  It was sooooo hot, my
jaw woulda' dropped if there'd been any room in sardine-ville.  The way
Tony n' Larry put that one together still knocks my socks off when I think
about it and I'm not even wearing any.  It was incredible. Tony had the
coolest damn bass riffs, that Larry would answer with THE coolest dang
guitar riffs, and they played back and forth to each other, instead of at
the same time, but very fast, all the while Dylan doodled a bit, n' let
them have at it, and
did they ever.  Top o' the line electric rocker. I'm very curious about who
reinvented that one.  How it came together.  Dang, there's some big talent
boppin' in that band.  After a bit of a cool-down moment, Dylan returned
with a very interesting slow-twist on BLOWIN' IN THE WIND.  In a sense, it
was more of a poem sung than a song, with subtle, muted-soft guitars, yet a
powerful and deliberate vocal.  As par for the night, the compassion was
deeply moving, and it brought back into full focus, the grand jewels that
had shown earlier in the show.  What a sweet and tender way to wrap it all
up.  Muchas gracias, Maestro.
Well, I'd already heard the rumor in the crowd that Paul Simon sound
checked that afternoon, and I kinda' wished I hadn't so the surprise
woulda' really reeled me.  But hey, it was still great.  He comes out,
worn-out blue jeans, old gray tee shirt, plain blue baseball hat, rambles
up to to Bob and they just bring out the most amazingly beautiful duet on
Simon's SOUNDS OF SILENCE, that might've made even Art Garfunkel cry from
joy. I mean it. I have alot of respect for Simon's early work, especially.
Truckloads.  And this song is a giant in all time. I have to say that their
voices blended beautifully. Dylan harmonized to Paul's higher melodic voice
and with a richness and texturing that was uh... are there any adjectives I
haven't used yet? Nope? Okay. It was brilliant.  Thank _gawd_ there weren't
many audience sing-alongers and the ones that did get confused and thought
it was their turn to sing, quickly fizzled out.
The rocka'hillbilly medley was funny and rompin', all at once.  I mean hey!
Rehearse much, boys?  I WALK THE LINE started out fine, almost like they'd
played it together a time or two, but then they both got completely lost
and it was Charlie Sexton to the rescue with the right lyrics. It was so
funny! I think they tried to make it look like they planned for Charlie to
take a whole verse to himself but... nah.  That's why it's called "the
warm-up show", right?  Then on to Monroe-ville.  Larry on fiddle.
Great.  BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY  kept on shinin'.
So, the ultima grande finale..... well.............. it fell a little
short.  But it was Simon who shoulda' done his homework on FOREVER YOUNG.
Paul just couldn't find the right place to go with his harmony for Bob. He
fished around, here n' there. Bob sang good n' slow, giving him alot of
lee-way, but no such luck.  Nevermind.  The show was a gem. Fine as one
could ever hope for.


Review by Christine Consolvo

Well, it took a while, but I've recovered from the drive, show and
partying of last weekend. Ann Armijo did such a great job of reviewing
on the newsgroup that I'll just add a few random notes.

First off....the outfit, naturally. He had on one of those satiny
black western wear shirts with white piping making two wide V's across
his chest. From the piping hung black fringe about four inches long.
More piping on the sleeve cuffs. His shirt was tucked into some
well-fitting pants and no jacket. He's been working on his abs, no
doubt. He really looked so well and content and, (dare I say it)

The revised band didn't gel totally on every song, but then those
things take time. Everything and everyone on stage was kind of
tentative. It really was a warm-up or open rehearsal. Not just another
show to kick off the leg of the tour like the Edge for instance (not
that I'm knocking the Edge by any means!). They were seeing how
everything floated.....Bob even said "Thank you ladies & gentlemen" at
one point. Don't recall him calling us THAT before!   :-)  He was in a
cocky mood and mostly seemed pleased with what was coming out of the

I'm not up to describing the whole set except to say that Tomorrow Is
A  Long Time and Not Dark Yet were letter perfect, but I'll try to
give my impressions of the last portion of the show.

We had heard that Paul Simon was in town and at the venue warming up
in the afternoon. If you put your ear up to the crack in the door you
could hear strains of music. Some vocals that were definitely Bob,
other undiscernible vocals and some harp. At any rate, when Bob said
he'd like to bring out a special guest, Paul walked out looking so
teeny tiny. Bob *towered* over him. What a hoot! When I realized they
were going to play Sounds of Silence I almost went comatose. Then I
came to and likely hurt the poor young fellow who happened to be to my
right.  All afternoon I had been saying, "I thought this was supposed
to be JUST BOB tonight. Sheesh!", but it was a moment to treasure. Bob
did pretty well with the lyrics, but just kept much quieter than Paul
and sang the whole thing with his lips all pouted out near the
microphone. After the first couple of verses, Paul gestured with his
hand to mouth going side to other words, "play the harp
now". Bob just shrugged his shoulders and went after a harmonica. So
strange to see anyone directing Bob on stage! So he played it for a
bit, put it in his pocket and they continued the song. Then Bob
started into an ending jam just as Paul started singing the last verse
(the one Bob had obviously spaced out :-). Bob just laughed it off
though. No big deal. It was just a warm-up anyway, right? Then they
went into the medley of Walk the Line/Blue Kentucky Moon. It was then
I decided I had probably just died and gone to heaven. Larry playing
the fiddle for all it was worth, Bob *nailing* both songs (Paul the
tentative one this go 'round). When it was over, Bob whipped off his
guitar and strap and held it over his head for just a second like a
prize fighter with his championship belt. Same look, too. Then he laid
it down on the drum riser and gave a gesture with his palms down,
wrists crossed, then uncrossed (hard to put into words) and a big nod
to the crowd as if to say "THERE! HOW 'BOUT THAT?". He took a little
bow, then started to leave the stage between the drums and bass. It
was then that Paul leaned over and strapped on his acoustic. Tony sees
this and taps Bob on the shoulder as he's going by and must have said
something like, "I think we're going to play another one." It was
totally comical. Paul calling all the shots and Bob just coming back
and shrugging it off again. I always love Forever Young, but tonight
it was pretty bad. Bob wasn't happy with what was being done on the
steel and Paul acted like he didn't know ANY of the words...and if he
harmonized at all it was with his mouth almost closed and I couldn't
hear it. He did some strumming on the guitar though. It was probably
the worst lead I've heard Bob play in years. That's okay, though. The
entire show was a thrill from start to finish and was well worth the
24 hours it took me to drive there and back...and then some.

Just thought I'd mention it...



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