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Review by Tom Kirby
Much to my surprise, Bob opened this show. He and his band put on a great
show. Bob was enjoying himself, playing very well, and signing in surprising
good, clear voice. Unfortunately, with him opening, we get 2 less songs in
his encore. He played Like a RS and Not Fade Away, and then Paul joined him
for the same 3 songs they have been playing together at the end of Paul's
set in prior shows. But every song Bob played, with and without Paul, was
absolutely great. This is the 5th time I have seen Bob since 1978, and the
first time this tour, and he exceeded my expectations. I'm going to the San
Diego show this Friday too!
Paul really surprised me. I went primarily to see Bob, but Paul put on a
great show. With him closing, we got 2 extra songs from him, in a second
encore set (and what a treat Boxer was). I was blown away by Bob's set, but,
in all honesty, I think Paul stole this show. What a great band he has, and
he is in great performing shape. I get the impression he has really found
his stride now that they have been touring for a few weeks.
The sound system was quite good, but then again, I was sitting just in front
of the sound board on the floor, where the sound is usually the best for
indoor venues like this. It took about 35 minutes to set up Paul's stage
between acts, and the show started almost on time near 7:30. It was about
80% capacity - I bought my ticket from a scalper at face value (with no
service charge). The box office still had very good seats in all price
ranges when I checked about 1 hour before the show. They even had a 20th row
center stage floor ticket. By show time it seemed all those seats were sold,
for I didn't see any empty seats on the floor. If you are deciding whether
to go to this show, GO! I've seen well over 100 concerts of various artists
over the years, and this was one of the best! What a treat to see 2 such
great artists in one show!
Review by Paul Lasecki
Well, I am now a veteran of exactly 50 Dylan concerts since my
innagural concert on June 1 1978 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los
Angeles. Tonight at the Hollywood Bowl will make it 51!
For the concert at the Pond in Anaheim, Dylan came on first(Paul
Simon must be jazzed---Bob Dylan OPENING for him!!!). Bob was wearing
his black "country gentleman" outfit, the one with the silver stripe
down the side of the pantlegs, and a straight, black tie.
Dylan's set kicked off with the spiritual, "Hallelujiah(I'm Ready
To Go)", and upbeat, country tinged gospel blues, that I loved...great
opener, and by the second chorus, I was a singing along!
This is the first time in 24 years(!!!) that Dylan has opened his
shows with acoustic based performances...historic in my estimation. One
advantage of the acoustic based stuff is that it is a bit easier to
hear Bob's voice and expressive phrasing.
"Tambourine Man" has pretty much been in the second slot every
night on this tour(with occasional airings of "Times Changing"), and it
was there again for this concert. I have to say that this version was
only average at best...Dylan forgot a few of the words, but his
phrasing was great...and it was lifted above that average rating by a
soulful harp solo at the coda(one of four harp solos throughout the
"Masters Of War" and "It's All Over Now(Baby Blue) followed, to
me, serving as a tandem comment on the recent atrocities meted out by
the Yugoslavian dictator/president Slovo. Masters was powerful
musically, march style as per the last four years, and Bob' vocal and
phrasing were strong.
Baby Blue was good...not the quintessential version by any
stretch, but good. The lines of Masters and Baby Blue(especially about
the "reindeer armies all going home") hit hard at the concert(could not
help but think of Slovo!)
Tangled Up In Blue followed, and was one of the crowd faves of
the evening. This version contained less of the extended jamming that
the 1998 version featured, but whereas Bob has been doing alot of the
same things on guitar that he used to do on harp, tonight he went back
to doing on harp, what he's been doing recently on guitar!
Bob shed his guitar, picked up his harp and harp mike, raised
his arms to the delight of the crowd, as if to say, here it comes, and
bobbing back and forth, one foot to the other, looking every bit the
marionette, blew another great soulful solo. This and the other three
harp solo's were done in a style that stressed feel rather than
flurries of notes...Bob used the harp that sounds like the one he used
on the studio version of Jokerman, or the one he blew in that fantastic
intro on at the begginning of Hard To Handle's version of Knockin On
Heaven's Door. The sound of this particular hamonica (and when Dylan is
playing it, brings tears to my eyes)
Watchtower followed, the first electric song of the night...crowd
loved it. Bob was leaning into this one and Larry Campbell, who shined
on most of the acoustic songs(including pedal steel on Baby Blue)shined
on this, slower, slightly truncated version. The storm of music that
has followed the "wind began to howl" blew in and blew out relatively
quickly as compared to, say the 1995 versions.
Just Like a Woman was next, and is always welcome...Bob phrased
great in this on...got a rise out of the crowd on the "IIIII Just don't
FIT" line. Another great, slow, soulful harp solo ended this one, and I
thought I detected Bob ending the song with the "Na-Na-Na-Na-Na" riff
from the song we teased each other with as kids)if you hear it you will
know what I mean.
Stuck Inside Of Mobile followed...not a concert highlight, but
strong nonetheless. Great interaction from the band. And Bob sings the
verse he has left out of many recent versions, the verse with "I hope
your satisfied!"...yes I am I answered!
Not Dark Yet followed and this was a highlight for me---possibly
Bob's best vocal of the night. I am listening to my tape of the concert
as I type this, and Dylan's phrasing and singing are strong! Not Dark
is possibly my favorite on the great "Time Out Of Mind" record, and
this is the first time I have heard it in concert! Thank you Bob!
The main set ended with the great, gut bucket, barrelhouse rock
and roll version of Highway 61 Revisited. It's amazing how durable this
one ahs become...Dylan has played it in every concert I have seen in
last year and a half... eight, in all, and it loses none of it's
freshness. Bob really let the band open up on this one, esecially
Larry. More strong vocals from Bob on this extended version.
As he did all night, Bob huddled the band around him, either
changing the planned song, the key, or the way he wanted the song
Instead of the expected "Lovesick" we heard the familiar ringing
chords of Dylan's most famous song, "Like A Rolling Stone" we got a
very good version of it too! When Dylan sings this song nowdays, there
is no way possible that he can sing it with exact anger that he sang it
24 years ago...that is just not possible. He is not an angry young
man,as he was back then. He sang it with a sense of melancholy, almost
with pity for the person who it's directed at...who knows if it's even
directed at the SAME PERSON these days?
As I mentioned before, I have had the pleasure of seeing Dylan
50 times, and what amazes me is that there has not been ONE concert
among the 50 where Bob has NOT played something I have not heard him
sing in concert before(one of those things that makes him one of a
NOt Fade Away was one of the three Dylan played at the Pond that
I had never heard at a Dylan concert. I had heard it described, but had
not actually experienced it...and it was indeed as great as all
previous reviews had built it up to be. Great harmony vocals to augment
Dylan's...great bouncy rythym...and a fantastic lead break from Larry.
Then Bob introduced "the one and only Paul Simon", to a big
cheer. Paul Simon strummed the opening chords of "Sound Of Silence"...I
had heard that the first couple of shows, the two were still trying to
blend, still working things out...but by this, the 11th show of the
tour, the two blended well. I was surprised at how good it sounded, as
sometimes Dylan will sing tohis own drummer, and a bit louder than a
duet normally calls for, but not on this night! And Bob gave us another
great harp solo toward the end of the song!
Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line followed, segueing into "Blue Moon
of Kentucky"...featuring furious, ever increasing speed fiddle playing
from Larry Campbell.
The faniliar strains of Knockin On Heavens Door followed. Bob
flubbed a word at the intro, but quickly recovered. Paul Simon took the
'guns in the ground' verse, and the song finished a great set by a 58
year old man that is playing again with the enthusiasm of a 28 year
old. It gives me inspiration for the future---20 years hence!
Dylan did not do as much dancing and shuffling as he did during
last years shows at the Pond and at Pauly Pavillion...but the "Isis"
like bouncing back and forth during the harp section of "Tangled" was
classic...I loved it! My sister termed it as "he's so cute"(not bad for
a 58 year old!), I termed it, he's so COOL!"
Speaking of "Isis" -with Larry in the band and able to play
fiddle, "HEY BOB! Consider giving that one an airing once in a
Paul Simon came on and I have to say that unlike many fans who
have sent in reviews, I loved Paul Simon's set as well. He has an
icredible band...and while Dylan's set was a tour-de-force of Americana
and the American music forms that inspired Bob, Simons was a trip
through the musics of South Africa and South America.
He has a great band...and most of the songs in his set connected
with me....and the crowd for that matter. In fact, it seemed more of a
Simon crowd, as Bob has played so much recently and Simon's fanbase
came to catch their first glimpse of him in about 8 years.
Apparently Dylan's penchant for changing the setlists from night
to night(or at least changing the way the songs are performed and
sung)has not rubbed of on Paul Simon. His set was exactly the same set
you've been reading about...with the exception being two extra songs at
a rare second encore...one off the Rythym of The Saints, and the
concert closer, "The Boxer".
All in all a thouroughly enjoyable evening...now....what will
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