Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 06/09/99


Salt Lake City, Utah

June 9, 1999

Delta Center

Review provided by Jay Meehan

Paul opened, therefore I'll kick it off with the duet portion.  
I must admit I was a bit nervous for my Bob and his ability to pull off the
duet section.  Not to worry!  Paul brought him out and neither appeared the
least bit uncomfortable, and, from the first tentatively struck guitar notes it
was "chicken skin" time.  Bob was in a very understated black shitkicker suit
and doing that "leg waggle" and I immediately understood all the Hank Williams
references I had been reading.  
"Sounds of Silence", in that it brings back that '60s milieu of Dylan and
Simon, is a perfect duet choice.  The performance was beautiful!  Living room
pickin' at its best.  There they were, Bob and Paul, sidled up close together,
swapping verses, crooning imperfect yet super soulful harmonies, and, most
importantly, demonstrating utmost respect for the material.  And when Dylan
grabbed a harp ("I found my harmonica, Albert") for a solo, it was,
figuratively, electric.  
I'd been awfully anxious, make that impatiently excited, oh, let's just say I
couldn't wait for the roots medley of "I Walk the Line" and "Blue Moon of
Kentucky".  Whew!  I was enthralled.  These boys flat out like their work and,
seemingly, enjoy each other's company.  Dylan's wistful "Knockin' On Heaven's
Door" rounded out the duets.  I didn't even have to close my eyes for Katy
Jurado and Slim Pickens to reappear on that haunting landscape of Peckinpaugh's
"Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid."  The duet segment is indeed too short.  IMNSHO
they should expand it by at least a couple of songs.  They are magnificent
The teardown/setup  of the stage went rather efficiently.  It's, no doubt,
quicker to disassemble Simon's and erect Dylan's than the other way around. 
The lights once again dimmed and, through a thunderous welcome, Bob and the
boys banged out the intro to "Friend of the Devil."  I figured we'd get it.  We
in the hills of Utah usually do, with the reference to that cave and all.  Lyle
Lovett gave us his version on the day Jerry died, and, even though I knew that
Bob had left out "Stuck Inside" at Memphis, I expected FOTD.  
Dylan is such an endearing and idiosyncratic presence.  He just exudes Bobness.
And what a great band.  Tony I remembered from a few stops "Asleep at the
Wheel" made in these parts way back when, but the rest of the band were rank
strangers to me.  David Kemper worked out at a modest trap set from underneath
a 10-gallon lid that, in the old days, would have put the beaver on the
endangered species list.  Larry Campbell, a long drink of water, sported a
duster somewhat shorter than those cowboy raincoats you see around, and is one
clean picker.  Tony had that "slouching toward Hibbing" body language going as
he draped himself over the 'doghouse.'  he's one comfortable looking dude.
And that brings us to Charlie Sexton, a subject of much discussion of late. 
His fans are all bummed because he won't be reuniting with his old mates in
Austin and the rmders are all in a tizz over Bucky Baxter splitting and
Sexton's perceived inalbility to fill them shoes.  It appeared to me, however,
that Charlie had absolutely no interest in Bucky's shoes and, in fact, stole
off to Miami where he ripped off a pair from Pat Riley.  It looked like he
grabbed one of Pat's Armani suits while he was at it.  Let me just say, even if
they didn't play a lick, this might be the coolest band I've ever seen in my
life.  And that includes Miles Davis' group from the early '60s.
Actually, Charlie looked very comfortable with what appears to be a role of
rhythm guitar, sporadic harmony vocals, and the occasional lead break on the
electric stuff.  No doubt about it, he's already in a groove.
"Tambourine Man" came off rather nice, I thought.  Bob certainly didn't shove
the vocal down our throats, but, with a new to me synchopated arrangement, gave
it a great ride, including a quintessential harp break.  There was a ton of
stuff going on in "Masters of War."  First, the picking was extremely clean,
maybe even overly so for effect, and performed to a rhythm resembling
march-time.  The band even appeared to be marching, militarily, in counterpoint
to the chaos of the subjectmatter.  There was a macrocosm and microcosm going
on that I'm sure wasn't lost on the Bobcats.  
"Hattie Carroll" moved into the #4 slot as Dylan drug ol' Zantzinger deservedly
through the coals once again.  He did it alone.  The rest of the band didn't
have much to do at all at that Baltimore hotel.  
Did I mention that Bob was in good voice.  Extremely good voice, for Bob.  It's
like when Kristofferson once told Willie Nelson that he had lost his voice and
Willie replied:  "How can you tell?"  Bob really did sound wonderful, and he
gave great reading to his songs.  
Things started to get rockin' a bit with "Tangled."  Tony may have gone
electric here.  Bob indeed took the lead break and included that "two note"
thing.  His harp solo once again embellished the whole.  It's a style so
personal and singular, and, like a Van Gogh brush stroke, immediately
recognizable.  Charlie, in his limited role, is still very much involved and
digging it.  
Then, with minimal fanfare, the skeleton key is once again in the rain, sliding
down the kite string, attracting lightning.  Acoustic machines are now being
swapped for those with more horsepower, at least for Larry and Bob.  Sexton
remains on flat-top.  There is this sense that two riders are approaching with
the wind about to howl.  "Watchtower":  Never has so much drama been created
with so few words.
Larry moves to steel and Charlie finally straps on something with potential. 
It's "Just Like a Woman" and this somehow seems very Dylan to me, having
Charlie on acoustic for Watchtower and electric for JLAW.   These guys are
reminding me more and more of the Drifting Cowboys, Hank's old band.  I'm sure
it was more so with Bucky on steel and Larry on fiddle.  Now you get one or the
other.  Larry can be very articulate and understated one moment, and, during
bottleneck work, come on raw, brash and loud.  He appears, at times, to be the
very net over which the rest of the band performs.  Charlie gets juxtaposed
once again for "Stuck Inside of Mobile" (acoustic) and "Not Dark yet"
(electric).  I think he is a perfect fit for the band as a whole and Larry in
particular.  One can only hope a larger role evolves.
I knew that "Highway 61" would be a showpiece and end the pre-encore part of
the show, but I was ill prepared for the blistering trade-offs between Larry's
bottleneck and Charlie's flamethrower.  I mean it harkened back to Duane Allman
and Dickey Betts.  They were spitting out pure stuff.  There would be no
prisoners working the highway this time.  Now take them two and throw in Bob,
Tony, and David stoking the fire and, indeed, something is happening here.  The
boys flat bowled us over.
The encore segment had "Blowing in the Wind" in the acoustic slot.  Tony played
one of those huge, cutaway, guitaron-looking, jumbo dreadnought bass guitars
and the full-on acoustic effect was chilling.  In as much as you never get the
studio version at a Dylan show, "Love Sick" was pretty darn close.  But as Utah
Phillips used to say:  "Good though!"  "Like a Rolling Stone" was, well, like a
rolling stone.  Those around me, however, could probably have done with a
little less vocal on my part.  We got Buddy Holly and "Not Fade Away" to wind
it up.  From Hibbing to Lubbock.  Once again Dylan brings it all back home. 
What can i say?  He is THE MAN!
I found this to be an evening of pure delight.  Simon and Dylan were both
better than I thought they would be. 

thank you
Jay Meehan

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