Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 07/13/99


Virginia Beach, Virginia

July 13, 1999

GTE Virginia Beach Amphitheater

Review provided by T. Gould 

It has been raining here for 3 days and unseasonably cold--really miserable 
weather.  I had to decide whether or not to make the 3 1/2 hour drive to 
Virginia Beach, with another 3 1/2 hours back in the rain, fog, darkness, and 
insane truckers of Virginia's and North Carolina's backroads.  Well, I've 
gone further to see "Uncle Bobby" (4 1/2 hours to Asheville and 8 to New 
York/New Jersey), so off I went.  Plus, since he was opening I figured to get 
an early start home.  Onto the show. . . .
I remembered the Virginia Beach Amphitheater from Bob's show two years ago 
during the post-heart problem tour, and, unfortunately, I also remembered the 
type of crowd this place attracts:  for the most part an older, sedate, 
comfortable, "wine and cheese" crowd.  The place was packed, but the majority 
of the crowd seemed comprised of Simonites.  I didn't foresee much of a stage 
rush.  The strobes started at 7:35,  standard intro.,  and Bob took the 
stage.  Bob should not open, and Bob should not play in the daylight, no 
matter how cloudy and misty the sky is.  The crowd was rather stunned at the 
punctual start, many were still getting to their seats by song 5--very 
distracting.  Bob was wearing his shiny silver/gray suit with the polka dot 
shirt and cowboy tie.  He looked good, though a few spots of gray about the 
temples have appeared since I last saw him (with Van Morrison in New York).  
They launched into a fine rollicking version of "Hallelujah, I'm Ready To 
Go."  Scattered standing ovation at song's end.  Then, he spoke some of the 
few words he would speak all evening: "Thanks, ladies and gentlemen" (What? 
no "Thanks, everybody"?).  "Tambourine Man" a little ragged--he even messed 
up a few words.  One-handed harp with guitar slung to the side.  Little 
better response from crowd.  "Masters of War" followed.  I wasn't really 
looking forward to this, but Bob nailed it.  Beautiful, disturbing, haunting. 
 He truly is in fine voice these days.  The band sounded great, though 
Charlie Sexton seems a little out of the mix.  The crowd was still pretty 
tame, so Bob turned and said something to Tony and Larry, and then began the 
unmistakeable opening of "Tangled Up In Blue," in the unusual #4 slot.  Fair 
version--not as strong as some.  I think he thought it would shake up the 
crowd.  Best crowd response so far--some scattered groups dancing in the 
aisles.  Still very mellow compared to most shows.  Then "Hattie Carroll."  
Absolutely beautiful, moving, timeless.  Still breaks my heart every time he 
plays it.  Electric time:  "Watchtower" rocked, but where is my swaggering 
Chaplinesque guitar hero of recent concerts?  Little movement from Bob other 
than the Elvis leg swivel.  "Just Like a Woman"  was strong and clear.  He 
was really concentrating on the phrasing.  On "Mobile," the band sounded 
really tight.  Facial expressions from Larry after the song showed that he 
couldn't quite understand why the crowd wasn't romping along.  Then, one of 
the highlights:  "Tryin' To Get To Heaven"  was amazing--better than the 
record--clear, smooth--every phrase its own story.  Truly a remarkable 
performance.  Bob introduced the band, mumbled something about being awakened 
by a burglar alarm at the hotel, and then launched into a scorching version 
of  "Highway 61."  No stage rush--a few girls dancing at the stage.  "Thanks, 
ladies and gentlemen."  Encores of a thundering "LRS"  and a powerful, 
precise "Don't Think Twice."  Bob introduced Simon, and for the first time 
all night Bob really seemed to be enjoying himself.  Very concentrated on 
"Sounds of Silence."  Laughing through the "Day/Wanderer" medley.  Having a 
grand time on "Heaven' s Door," playing with the words ("You keep a knockin' 
but you can't come in") and laughing and smiling at Simon.  Overall, Bob 
sounded and looked great.  As far as a musical performance, the show was 
outstanding.  He still has that uncanny ability to look younger as the 
evening progresses.  The crowd was disappointing, and I think Bob was 
disappointed in them--very little interaction--few idiosyncratic guitar hero 
poses, no pointing and laughing.  Tonight, in Raleigh, should be different:  
much younger crowd and he's closing--in the dark.     

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