Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 06/25/99


Chula Vista, California

June 25, 1999

Coors Amphitheatre

[Keith Jacobs], [Tom Kirby]

Review by Keith Jacobs

The Coors Amphitheater is a nicely laid out venue built about one year
ago.  There is lots of concrete and the environment feels a bit sterile,
very symmetric and man made.  There were many uniformed San Diego Police
outside and inside this facility.  Bob was up first tonight, he came on
just a few minutes after the scheduled 8 PM start time.  The sound was
loud and clean as he broke in to Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie.  Deadhead that
I am, I recalled hearing this song performed live by Jerry Garcia both
with the Grateful Dead and with his own acoustic band back in the 80's.
The band sounded tight during the next three acoustic songs and it was
nice to see Bob playing harp on each one.  There were huge video screens
above each side of the stage and as the sky got darker the image was
sharp.  The one camera focused exclusively on Bob.  I had pretty good
seats and could see the band without the video screen but it would have
been nice to see close-ups of some other band members at certain points.
When I had seen Bob last year during the tour with Van Morrison and Joni
Mitchell and he did not play the harp nearly as much as he did tonight.
I knew that Tangled would be the last song of the acoustic opening but I
was quite surprised to hear Highlands begin the electric segment.  Was
this the first live performance?  I don't recall seeing Highlands on any
set lists.  This song was perfectly performed, Bob did not miss a beat
on any of the lengthy lyrics.  He enunciated the twists in the plot of
this song's story and the crowd was able to follow along the words
enthusiastically.  The rendition was very true to the version on TOOM.
I expected it to have a different flavor as many of the TOOM songs do in
live performance.  A few nights earlier at the Hollywood Bowl I heard
Not Dark Yet for the first time live and the song did not sound like an
exact replica of the studio version.  Highlands  sounded like a
duplicate of the CD.
I was hoping that the band would jam out a bit after the final lyric, on
the disc the song fades out during an instrumental break, it seems like
it would never end if it did not fade out.  I wondered where the band
would take the live version at this point but alas they closed it out
shortly after the last verse.  I felt that this would be a good spot to
jump off into an improvisational jam, perhaps that will evolve with
continued live performances.  Maybe the desire for a jam at this point
was due to the years of Grateful Dead shows that I attended.  The band
seemed energized now as the intensity level picked up through Watchtower
and the next few songs.  Bob was not as animated as he was the other
night in Hollywood.  His dancing was more subdued, he was swaying
instead.  The band was definitely 'on' tonight.  It Takes A Lot To Laugh
It Takes A Train To Cry was another highlight for me.  Again I was
surprised as I had not see this tune on any of the set lists from this
tour.  This was another song that I had enjoyed hearing Jerry Garcia
perform many times live over the years, with the Jerry Garcia Band and
the Dead.
I have followed Bob's tours the last few years with the help of Bill
Pagel's wonderful link and I have noticed that on each tour Bob usually
stays with a similar set list the first few weeks and then at some point
the song selection changes noticeably.  Tonight seemed to be that night
on this tour, we'll see if that is so as the next shows and geographic
changes unfold.
I had my 11 year old son with me tonight and I made sure to be part of
the first wave during the rush to the stage as Highway 61 kicked off.  I
told the kid that he'd have a chance to get close to Bob but it was
really me who wanted to go up front.
We wound up 20 yards from Bob, this was the closest I've ever been and I
was loving it.
I was especially glad that Bob did in fact open tonight because it gave
me a chance to see the duet with Paul Simon  up close and I really
enjoyed watching the two of them interact.  I wished I'd had a camera
when  Bob broke out the harp at the end of Sounds of Silence.  This was
a Kodak moment.  They both looked comfortable with the harmonies, it
seems that as the tour goes on this part of the show gets better.  The
other night in Hollywood Paul's band backed the duet.  Bob was
noticeably more in control with his boys at the helm. I wonder if the
duet song selection will change at all as they continue along for the
next 5 weeks.

I won't go in to a review of Paul Simon's set but I will say that I
stayed until the end a enjoyed his music, I even was up and dancing on a
few tunes.

My only regret is that Bob didn't do a small club show on any of the off
days in SoCal.  Maybe next time around.


Review by Tom Kirby

What a treat it was to hear Bob play Highlands last night. On the TOOM
release, it is easy to overlook what a powerful testimonial this song is
from Bob. Played live, the meaning of this song really becomes apparent --
Bob is feeling a little old, perhaps more than a little, and is looking back
on his life, and very mindful of his inevitable final reward. I also think
the whole interaction with the narrator and the waitress in this song is an
analogy of his relationship with the public. But verses "like chariots that
swing down low", "what could it all possibly mean", "wish someone would come
and push back the clock for me", "feel further away than ever before", "all
the young men with the young woman looking so good, well I'd trade places
with any of them in a minute if I could" and "only place left to go", when
sung live last night in this 17 minute song, with quite a bit more feeling
than on the CD, made me realize we were getting a very sincere testimonial
from Bob last night. It was all in keeping with the main theme last night,
starting with O Babe, It Ain't No Lie. "Oh babe it ain't no lie, you know
this life I live, by and by." And then into My Back Pages, with its "I was
so much older then, I'm younger than that now" refrain. Larry played fiddle
on this. Then 2 more songs looking back, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"
and "Tangled Up In Blue". Bob was very much into Tangled UIB, playing all
three guitar leads, and a great harp solo. Just absolutely tore it up. He
played harp and acoustic guitar on each of these last 3 songs. Then he
switched to electric, Larry switched to mandolin, and they played Highlands
- possibly the first ever public rendition of this great song, definitely
the first of this tour. Bob sang every verse on the CD. After the song Bob
mentioned that the band was a bit tired, and that they had a poor nights
rest staying in a trailer park the night before. They were also coming off
of 2 days rest, so it was kind of like returning to work on a Monday morning
for them. I think it was one of those shows where Bob decided to turn to
very meaningful, personal songs to help put himself into the performing
mood. Whatever the case, he put on an incredibly personal, great show. The
band was really into it too, and Larry played great lead guitar on
Watchtower. Larry then switched to pedal steel for "She Acts Like We Never
Have Met", and they played this kind of like a country waltz, very similar
to how they played 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue" a week earlier up in
Anaheim. Bob was then very much into "It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A
Train To Cry", a very bluesy rendition with Larry playing slide guitar and
Bob mixing it up a lot too. Bob then signaled to security that it was OK for
the crowd to rush the stage for the set closer "Highway 61 Revisited".
Thanks to a previous review which forewarned us that Bob has been doing this
every night, I was on the lookout for it, and ended up 10 feet from Bob, in
front of the front row. The sound was not very loud up there, for most all
the speakers hang from above, but it was quite a treat, especially for the
encore set of Like a Rolling Stone, It Ain't Me Babe, and then the duet with

Bob opened this show, so it appears that they are now on a regular rotation
of taking turns opening every other night. By my count he played 3 songs for
the first time on this tour, and 2 more for just the second time. The show
was only about 65% crowd capacity, with big sections available in the
cheapest 2 of 3 price ranges. I can't figure that out, because you could get
reserved seats at this nice outdoor amphitheater for $36 (same as the lawn
price), yet many of those seats went unsold, and this on a Friday night
(capacity with the lawn is 20,000. About 13,000 showed up for this show).
There were also a lot of $50 seats unsold. I paid $95 with service charges
for 8th row center stage the day it went on sale. One silver lining of these
high prices is that it discourages the scalpers. However, it is also
discouraging a bigger audience, but this means that there are good seats to
be had right up to showtime. It is well worth the cost, and the sound system
is good enough that I'm sure it sounded good in back too (especially at
these outdoor venues).

Paul put on a good show too. He mixed it up a little also, adding a new
opening song to his set from The Rhythm Of Saints. Late in his set, when a
number of people who were dancing in the aisle and angling towards the
stage, which got a reaction from security, he said to the security "Oh, let
em dance!", and this led to another security sanctioned stage rush. Paul
sounded a little bit more sparky last week in Anaheim, but he put in another
solid show, helping to make this another incredible show on this wonderful


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