West Valley City, Utah
USANA Amphitheatre
July 17, 2003

[Bill Wilmeth], [Fred Riemer], [Jeff Marsilio]

Review by Bill Wilmeth

  It was a good concert. The band backing him was all
electric, and as good as any stage band (skill-wise) I have ever heard
live. They didn't miss anything. Bob was, however ... a little odd. He
started off with "Stuck Inside of Mobile" (which I love), but then stopped
after the "bricks lay on Grand Street" stanza. I was slack jawed. I wanted
to hear about grandpa and the rocks. It just didn't seem like Bob not to
sing the whole thing. He did that with several other songs as well. He
drew on material from "Time Out of Mind," and did play the song we used in
our wedding, "I Believe in You." That was cool. The announcer who
introduced him brought him out with in an interesting way. "Bob Dylan, the
Voice of a Generation, who sank into substance abuse, and then found
Jesus, was written off as (I forget what he said ... but 'over the hill'
will do), is now back." That's not word for word, but kind of an
interesting summary. 
  He played for 90 minutes. It was an outdoor amphitheater,
and the weather was perfect. One down side was the crowd. He played here
last year to a sell out, and this year there were about 6,000 seats, but
only half were filled. There was something about the look on his face,
too. We had good seats (as did just about everybody). He had this wan
expression ... like if you asked him where he was, he might not be able to
give you a good answer (I saw that same look on the face of John Lodge
when I saw the Moody Blues in '94). We brought him back for a encore where
he did "Watchtower" and "My Back Pages." 
  Mary [wife] enjoyed the show, and recognized about half the
songs. Bob (being Bob) was difficult to understand, and sang the songs
with a spacing and phrasing that matched nothing (including the music). He
played the keyboard and harmonica exclusively, and let the band to the
string work. It was really cool to see him. He both pleased and
frustrated. I don't think he can do anything else. 
  I ran into another aging Baby Boomer from the IRS. We agreed
that it had been a good concert, and that (perhaps) he wouldn't be
everybody's cup of tea.
  (They searched us as we entered the grounds ... their main
concern seemed to be cameras. NO cameras.)
  So I can add Bob to the list of people I've seen. It was
worth it. 


Review by Fred Riemer

Bob and his band played the new USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley
City under hot, humid conditions. There was a short, but sweet opening act
so the headliners came on stage (facing west) at just about sunset. They
opened with Stuck Inside of Memphis and played a nice version. I'll
Remember You followed and was done well with Larry on pedal steel. Tweedle
Dee and Tweedle Dum was next with Larry and Freddie nicely trading lead.
Bob broke out his harp to add to an entertaining Baby Blue. Things Have
Changed reminded me that his band has changed again. Freddie seems to be
fitting in well and they are doing more straight out rock and roll and
less folk rock or country rock. Highway 61 was just that and I enjoyed
watching Bob's facial expressions as he delivered the lines. Blind Willie
McTell followed with Larry on cittern. Larry's versatility is amazing and
I really appreciate what his versatility does for the band. Wicked
Messenger got things uptempo again and Bob added a harp solo. One of my
(many) favorites followed and that was an interesting (for me) take on My
Back Pages. I guess I was expecting some pedal steel guitar from Larry
with this, but no. Bob did blow the harp a couple of times but stopped and
went back and picked up a new one and sort of had to work his way back in.
Bob then sang a nice I Believe in You and then they did Dignity and the
couple in front of me got their wish. Then it was back to L &T stuff with
a hot Honest with Me, Moonlight and Summer Days with the usual extended
jam. The encore was the predictable LARS and Watchtower. Bob spent the
whole show at the piano and seemed to be enjoying himself. I do miss his
acoustic guitar playing and hope he will someday resume. The crowd seemed
to enjoy the show with lots of hooting and hollering. As others have
mentioned in their reviews, there is altogether too much talking during
these performances. The people who do this probaly don't read the reviews
but I'll share a story, if I may. My friend Chip and I were at a Dead show
and Jerry was singing and the people in front of us were talking (loudly)
about nothing very urgent. Chip politely tapped them on the shoulder and
asked them if they knew the words to the song. They said "no" and he
smiled to them and said, "then listen." Take good care, Wasatch Fred


Review by Jeff Marsilio

I'm back in Los Angeles after a quick one-nighter in Salt Lake. Before the
show I got to take a ride up to Park City, where of course I wished I had
been for Sundance this past year, but I guess my agonizing wait to see
Masked & Anonymous since then will come to an end in the next few weeks. 

The USANA Amphtitheatre is a brand new venue, and on a nice summer Utah
night, the atmoshpere is great. Once again, I have to say that for me,
seeing Bob outdoors is a real treat. I think that the sound is always so
superior to indoor venues and last night was no exception. At times the
piano wasn't quite loud enough, but Bob's vocals came through very
clearly. As much as I enjoyed the 3 Wiltern shows last fall, I felt like
his vocals sounded sort of muddied up with the musical instruments quite
often, but last night's vocals sounded perfect with great separation from
the music. I think his voice sounded a little more gruff and craggy than
usual for the first few songs, but by Baby Blue or Things Have Changed I
guess he warmed up and the voice got a little smoother (by Bob's standards
at least). We had great seats - about 10 rows from the stage - until we
realized that because the stage was so wide and we were out to the left,
we were looking at speakers and other equipment and part
of Bob's back. This can be a problem with the new formation with Bob off
to the left, so be warned when you get your tickets for any upcoming
shows. In fact, I wish he would go back to playing in the middle of the
stage, front and center, so he can be seen better for everyone. So, after
Baby Blue were headed back up the hill and though we were further away,
at least we could see the whole stage, and the sound was absolutely

It was a night of firsts for me. Being my 17th Bob show since 1997 in 6
different states, it was the first time I've seen Freddy, the first time
I've seen Bob play without touching a guitar, and also the first time I
can remember being at a Bob show and not seeing Federica (maybe she was
there and I missed her, but if not I hope she's OK). First off, that beat
up guitar Freddy plays kills me. It's hysterical - the red finish at the
top is worn off after having his arm brush against it for who knows how
many years. Quite a contrast from Charlie's 29 different shiny-new
guitars. After hearing much debate about Freddy's playing, I wasn't sure
what to expect. I found some of his solos creative, some simply adequate,
but never horrible to my ear. I think his playing is much more jarring
(whether good or bad I'll let you decide) than Charlie's more fluid style
- but I will say that I was sort of sad not seeing Charlie up there. As
for Bob's not playing the guitar, I have to say I miss it.
I really miss seeing him play acoustic on those songs like Boots, and
Girl from NoCo and BITW. Also, I think that Honest With Me and
Drifter's/Messenger and especially Watchtower just seem to be missing the
punch they had the past few years with the 3 guitars. But when the
keyboard is loud enough, it kind of makes up for it to me a little. 

Bob's shirt was kind of ridiculous - a black satin western style long
sleeve with a sliver neck-tie of western style also (I much prefer the
suit with the whire stars down the sleeve or the one with the red piping)
- but the setlist didn't dissapoint for me. After those previous 16 shows,
I still got to hear two songs I've never heard Bob play before at a show:
I believe in You and Dignity. Both were great, but Dignity was the show
stopper for me on the night. A slight lyric change I noted: it was a
"rocking boat" last night rather than "jerking boat" or "chicken boat" as
it was one night in the spring at least. Blind Wille was fabulous. Every
time I hear that song, I'm amazed at how great it is. I'll remember you
was a nice surprise for me too. I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot and this is
getting long already, but at the end of the show Bob put on his white
cowboy hat and as he exited the stage he lingered for a while to hug a
woman who I couldn't make out in the darkness, and there
were a few other people he exchanged pleasantries with as well. 

Anyway, that's all for me until Costa Mesa next weekend. I'd love to see
Bob pick up an acoustic guitar, and I'd love to hear Boots again, or Senor
or Tears of Rage, but I'm not counting on any of those things happening.
With Bob you never seem to get quite what you want or hope for, but if you
can let those hopes and expectations go and listen to what he offers, it's
still really, really great. I took notice of that last night. 


page by Bill Pagel

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