Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 06/22/99


Hollywood, California

June 22, 1999

Hollywood Bowl

[Chris DesBarres], [Paul Lesecki], [Tim Whittome]

Review by Chris DesBarres

Paul Simon was, as expected, brilliant. The show was a little lacking in energy until "Me
and Julio," but after that, he took off. Terrific harmonies and interesting sound mixes
produced a wonderful show. Following his opening set and encore performances, Dylan joined
Simon for "The Sound of Silence," followed by the Johnny Cash medley. This medley was one of
the high points of the show, and, surprisingly, the two voices blended extremely well
together (who knew that Dylan would be able to sing in harmony with Simon?!) "Knockin' on
Heaven's Door" was a new and interesting mix--mostly reggae with some Latin rhythms thrown
in for extra spice. 

Dylan's opening with "Hallelujah, I'm Ready to Go" was fantastic, as was "Mr. Tambourine
Man." Dylan tore up the stage with his harmonica during "Tangled Up in Blue," and "Highway
61 Revisited" was filled with electrifying guitar solos. The encore was a little
disappointing, however. "Love Sick," while certainly a great song, was inappropriately
placed in the set. To go from the standing-only "Highway 61" to a sad, depressing song about
love was a sort of mood killer. "Like a Rolling Stone" was done in a more subdued version
than I prefer (to give you an idea, I love the version that is found on "Before the Flood,"
Dylan's album with The Band). All in all, however, this concert got 4 out of 5 stars. Dylan
was fairly coherent, as opposed to the Van Morrison/Joni Mitchell tour, and he was the
happiest I have ever seen him. It's not often that one sees Dylan actually *laughing* on
stage. He looked to be enjoying himself immensely. This is a great show and well worth the
price of the tickets. 

Chris DesBarres


Review by Paul Lasecki

     Bob Dylan said that with a certain type of blues music, you have
to lean forward a little.
     On Tuesday night at the Hollywood Bowl, Dylan leaned forward-alot!
     Ever have a friend chuckle or roll their eyes when you tell them
you are going to see Dylan again after just having seen him the night
     We know that they will never fully understand-even after it's been
explained to them.
     But last night was one of those magic night's that Dylan fans live
for. Dylan was very good on Sunday night when he went on before Paul
Simon...I do not want to denigrate Bob's performance on Sunday at the
Pond-it was great- but at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday, Dylan was on
      He just turned everything up- not just a notch, but up a COUPLE
of notches. His singing and phrasing, his guitar solo's, his harp
playing, his stage demeanor and dancing...well it was definitely
Dylan's stage on Tuesday night!
      Thanks to the Einstein who designed and built the Hollywood Bowl
so many decades ago, I had to park a few miles from the Bowl and take a
shuttle in, effectively ruining any chance catch Paul Simon's opening
      I was walking in during"Late In the Evening" and "Still Crazy", I
can't speak to the whole set, but compared to Sunday, Simon was
slightly off(or did it just seem that way because Dylan's following
headlining set was so focused?)
      I was getting comfortable during the "Sound Of Silence/I Walk The
Line/Blue Moon Of Kentucky segment...I thought it came of better and
more together with Bob's band at the Pond. However, "Knockin' On
Heaven's Door was notable if only for the fact that it was arranged
similarly to the 1978 reggae version that  was performed during the
Street Legal Tour(and the one that appears on Live At Budokan). Wasn't
all that together of a version(two nights in a row Bob couldn't resist
the temptation to START with the "guns in the ground" verse, before
quickly correcting himself.
      Dylan came on for his headlining set in the same black country
gentleman's outfit he wore at the Pond on Sunday night.
      He and the band broke into "Hallelujah(I'm Ready To Go), and this
version was even slightly better than the fine opener  on
with every song in his set, this was due largely due to Dylan being
100% "there in the moment", leaning into the music physically and
      "Tambourine Man" followed, and was vastly superior to the only
average version we got on Sunday at the Pond...phrasing was much some of that wonderful acoustic lead guitar from Bob(you
know, the style where he absolutely re-defines the cliche, "he gets
more out of two notes than other guitarists get out of a hundred"!). At
the coda, a fantastic harp solo that even improved on the solo from the
Sunday performance.
      "Master's Of War" was in a word, incredible. Dylan had all 18,000
in attendance in a hushed silence...his phrasing was so sharp and
clear, and the song hit a sounded contemporary, not a walk
down memory lane. A highlight.
      "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" also inproved on the version
performed at the Pond on Sunday. A bit of this was due to the crisper
acoustics at the Bowl, a bit was due to the crisper performance by the
band, but mostly, it was due to Bob's sharper delivery.
       We all know that sometimes, Bob sings much more urgently, much
sharper, and tonight was one of those nights.
       "Tangled Up In Blue" was another set highlight. The combined
effect of Dylan's "on top of it" vocal, the locked in accompianment
from the band, the back to the 1998 version guitar jam, topped with a
great great solo made this so. Again, as he did at the Pond, Dylan shed
his guitar and bobbed "Isis"-like center stage, before sliding and soft
shoeing it from one side of the stage to the other, striking those
classic bent leg poses during particularly great note runs.
Amamzing...i hear myself saying on the tape of the show, "58 huh? Not
bad "old man"(old ha!).
        " All Along The Watchtower" improved in every way over the fine
version we heard at the Pond. Band was in sync and powerful, Dylan was
sharp vocally and decided to extend the closing jam at the end, letting
Larry open up.
        "Just Like a Woman" was just as good musically as the version
we heard last show, but Dylan's improved vocal pushed it up a notch.
        "Stuck Inside Of Mobile" was only slightly improved from the
Sunday night version. Again Dylan's vocal was an improvement, and that
made the performance a bit more enjoyable.
         Now for perhaps THE standout performance of the night: "Not
Dark Yet"
         As he did on "Masters", Bob had the crowd in a hushed
attentive silence...some people who obviously hadn't heard the song
yet, were saying "wow" at some of the lyrics..."behind every beautiful
thing, there's been some kinda pain". Just incredible in vocal
deilvery, heartfelt and razor sharp, with those vocal twists that only
Dylan can do.
        Party time! House lights on for "Highway 61 Revisited". Again,
Bob did and extended version of this crowd pleaser...ssemed to go at
least a minute or two longer than the version played just two nights
ago. The great guitar interplay that we are all used to was much in
evidence during this one.
       It was great to see "Love Sick" back in the set last night.
Again, it seemed to mesmerize the crowd, both the fans familiar with
it, and especially the one who were not. Again, some of the lines had
people saying stuff like "wow" and "oh, man!" "I'm sick of love...and
I'm in the thick of it"!
       "Like A Rolling Stone" came off surprisingly well. Even got the
crowd response during the first couple of "How Does It Feel?" refrains.
       "Not Fade Away" was a fitting end to a csmic show. I think when
you hear the tapes, you will know whay I mean. The crowd liked this
one...I wonder how many in attendance were aware that Bob most likely
picked this song due to the anniversary related to the song and the
original singer of it?

        Bob, to me is like Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, or Michael
Jordan---you can almost always count on them coming up with a night
where they score 25 points. Then there are the nights when they kick it
up a couple of notches and pour in 40 or 50(or 100 like Wilt!)
        Last night was one of those nights for Bob Dylan!
                         Paul Lasecki


Review by Tim Whittome

Seeing Bob Dylan at the Hollywood Bowl  was an experience that went a long
way towards proving the saying, that enjoying a concert contains three
elements - the excitement and ease of getting there, the enjoyment of the
concert itself (plus venue) and the length of time that the 'dream-like
trance' lingers at the moment of leaving and trying to get home.

Taking each in turn, the first was diabolically dreadful, the second
wonderful, and the third about five minutes - a reason linked very much to
the earlier diabolically dreadful experience of getting to the concert.

This was my third Dylan concert in the United States (my others have mostly
all been in England) and like the other two (the El Rey in Los Angeles,
1997 and the Puyallup State Fair in Washington last year), this was an
exceptional show by most people's standards - full of vibrant and breathing
renditions and with Dylan in his now customary excellent form, pulling of
audacious phrasing and exciting versions of what on paper must seem, to
those not fortunate enough to be there, like tired war-horses such as the
ubiquitous Tangled Up In Blue.

However, as I have just said, getting to the Hollywood Bowl was a nightmare
and, once again the experience showed up Los Angeles' total lack of
imagination for sorting out its perennially dire traffic nightmare.  Dylan
traffic and commuter traffic commingled in an uneasy morass of honking
horns and fuming frustration and it must have taken us nearly 40 minutes to
travel the last half a mile off the 101 Freeway and be finally 'stacked' in
a line in the Hollywood Bowl's meandering car lot.

Anyway, once finally in, there was then a further nightmare to get through
the turnstiles and to find one's seat.  At 7.30pm, we were still outside
and in the event, Paul Simon's opening act was only delayed by ten minutes
- most people were still outside at this point.  Indeed, the crowd was
still streaming in towards the end of his opening set.  I felt sorry if
they had come just to see him, but then would they have enjoyed his
performance if they had come any earlier?

I guess so, but maybe not as much as one might have expected to.  I
actually enjoyed most of it - especially his choices from both his
Graceland and earlier 1960s albums.  In all of these songs, the power of
the material was highlighted by Simon's fresh singing, but elsewhere in his
set, by using material from his lesser-known work, I was forced to conclude
that some of his writing was dreadfully dull and uninspiring.  Perhaps, his
choice of material here was a problem caused by his under-exposure to the
road (in contrast to Bob Dylan of course) and inexperience of his
audience's tastes.  Dylan seems to have the latter to a fine art these
days, but Paul Simon hasn't toured for 10 years and it showed in the more
ragged or duller parts of his set.

Still, all in all, it was great to see him and, in the wonderfully
fine-tuned acoustics and fading twilight of the Hollywood Bowl, a better
venue to witness his obvious talents would be hard to find.

Anyway, I wonder if we should read any significance into the fact, that he
introduces Dylan right after his closing 'Still Crazy After All These
Years'?  Perhaps not, but either way, on shuffles Bob to great applause and

What can I say about this portion of the show other than the fact that it
was close to a farce and not far from being a tortuous disaster - Dylan and
Simon do not harmonize at all well and only 'Sounds of Silence' could be
described as at all passable?  Their other renditions were a waste of time
and I hope they scrap this interlude as either one (probably Dylan) or,
more likely, both are going to get extremely bored and frustrated the
longer the tour goes on.  My guess is that it will be scrapped by the time
it hits Europe later on this summer - or is that more of a forlorn hope?
The worst of it was that it wasn't even funny - those moments we all enjoy
witnessing when Bob pulls away from his hapless partners and 'goes it
alone'.  Instead, Dylan was too anxious to toe the line and neither singer
wanted to upstage or embarrass the other.  That's ok, but the price was
dullness and a tedium that had me wishing for its conclusion as quickly as

However, one caveat to the above rant is that we were very far back and I
couldn't of course see any of Bob or Paul's facial expressions.  They might
have looked like they were enjoying it, but from where we sat, it didn't
look like it and as I have said before, enjoying a concert includes how far
back one is, the effect of the people around you and the crowd's response
to the artist as well as the artist's (or artists') own performances.
Where we were, no one seemed interested, amused or anything really by what
we were seeing.

Anyway, it was thankfully over in a much shorter time period than the
allotted 30 minutes and that was all to the good I'm afraid.

Dylan was headlining tonight and if Simon closed his personal set with that
gentle and playful nod to Bob of 'Still CrazyŠ', Dylan opened his with a
joyfully playful nod-back version of Hallelujah that showed his relief at
having escaped their embarrassing joint set.   This may seem harsh but
after the earlier constraint, Bob came at us either like a genie escaping
the confines of his bottle or like the welcome and joyous release of a
jack-in-the-box.  He was hopping with excitement and the energy and
tightness of the performance continued throughout his set.  'It's All Over
Now' was excellent as were a searing 'Masters of War' and a really great
version of 'Tangled Up In Blue' that earned Bob his first standing ovation
of the evening (from me at least!)  Tambourine Man wasn't so good as some
lines got muddled or forgotten but it was still ok for all that and maybe,
I was feeling the irritating effects of the people around me either drunk
or stoned out of their minds.

After 'Tangled', Dylan blasted into 'Watchtower' and showed once again that
this old chestnut still has a lot of creativity left in performance.  The
man standing next to me yelled out that Hendrix had died nearly 30 years
ago, but not loud enough that you will either hear it on anyone's tape of
the show or that it could be heard by Bob himself on stage.

The next songs were all gems - I loved the slowed down 'Just Like A Woman',
was entranced by the best 'Stuck Inside of Mobile' I've yet heard and
spellbound by a truly beautiful 'It's Not Dark Yet'.

Everything seemed to be over too quickly by this point, but this was a
disappointing crowd for Bob tonight that had earlier hailed Simon to the
outer reaches of the Bowl.  The vast majority sat down for the rousing
closer of Highway 61 and with the length of time it took for Bob to come
back out maybe, he too was angry that so many people considered it
preferable to sit in their cars than to see out the end of his performance
in the Bowl itself.

Yet, Bob did return for a rather muted, but still good, 'Love Sick' and a
more up-beat version of 'Rolling Stone'. He finally closed with a gleeful
version of 'Not Fade Away' that sent the remaining and more polite members
of the audience home spinning.

For me, the magic of this show was soon replaced by the dour reality of
finding our car and then getting out.  The first was difficult enough (not
helped by the fact it was a rental car), but the second well nigh
impossible, and if the Bowl was one of the best venues I have seen Dylan
play in, it was also certainly by far the worst I have got into and out of.
It was horrendous and there has to be some other way of doing all this as
remembering how dire it had been to get in, had hung like a sword of
Damocles over the duller parts of the show. At these points I had wondered
how the 10,000 or more people were going to then get out.  Unfortunately,
the Bowl's staff hadn't considered the same.  Even Dylan apparently found
it hard getting there, mumbling something about a flat tire due to a 'fork
in the road'.

However, we eventually did get out and I am here today in Seattle writing
this review for you all.  It was a good show but the crowd was lackluster
and were there more to see Paul Simon and this is really the problem with
these double or even sometimes treble acts - the ticket prices shoot sky
high when you see more than one legend and maybe each artist's fans these
days are just so specialized that having to endure the other or others on
the ticket seemingly makes it inevitable that some will either get up and
leave early or come in late depending on who they want to see.  This makes
for restlessness and constant movement.  The drunk or stoned people around
me, for example, performed wild Bacchanalian dances when Simon was on but
were largely silent for Bob's set.  Similarly, thousands streamed out
towards the end and with so many lights on the audience, Dylan must have
seen some of this.  Even my wife, who is no Dylan fan, thought this was
disrespectful.  Then again, though, had Dylan come on first and I had seen
him play last year with Van Morrison headlining, I too would have left.
However, this time around, I would have stayed for Paul Simon had he, and
not Dylan, headlined the Bowl.

Perhaps it is a way of crowd control as organizers and promoters must
figure this into their calculations of moving people in and out of venues
without too much disruption.  Didn't work at the Bowl though, and couldn't
have done unless you were fortunate enough to be in a row where everyone
exited at the same time.

So, that's it - I hope down the line everyone enjoys the rest of the United
States tour and if it goes to London and the rest of Europe you enjoy it
there too.  I still think the joint set will fall by the wayside, but who
knows, it could also get revamped, but either way, it won't be too soon.



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