Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Harveys Outdoor Amphitheatre
July 19, 2003

[Tony Russomanno], [Brian Boyd], [Michael Smith], [Robert Lynch]

Review by Tony Russomanno

A very strong show, given that Dylan did not pick up a guitar.  The best
songs: Tombstone Blues, Don't Think Twice (notwithstanding Santa Cruz!),
Things Have Changed, It's Alright Ma, Hard Rain and Summer Days--
essentially, any song that allowed the band to show their power. Dylan's
vocals were, for the most part, clear and strong. He was a little muddy
early on, but perked up quickly. The set was preceded by a recording of
"Fanfare for the Common Man." Twice. Then, the same over-the-top intro
from last year and everyone was blown out by Tombstone Blues.  A lot of
people were on their feet for the entire show; almost everyone was up for
standing ovations after the songs.  Dylan stood behind his electric piano
at the side of the stage (in the "bandleader" position) for every song,
except for a brief couple of steps and turns at center stage for what
might have passed for dancing.  He said nothing besides his intros of the
band members.  The band itself was nearly flawless. Whatever miscues and
sloppy playing was reported in earlier concerts with the two new memebers
have been worked out. The setting was an outdoor asphalt parking lot,
which didn't seem to have a lot going for it until sunset, when the clouds
lit up pink over the lake and were perfectly framed by stands of pine
trees. There was even a distant lightning flash or two during "Hard Rain."
The screaming and clapping seemed to go on at full volume for 10 minutes
before the encore.


Review by Brian Boyd

I guess I heard a slightly different show. It was a
good, strong show. From my vantage point (fifth row
just left of center), Dylan seemed to be having a
great time. This is north of my 130th show and I don't
think I've seen him smile and outright laugh so much.
I agree that Tombstone, Things, Ma and Summer Days
were highlights. I thought the vocal on Tombstone to
lead off the show was one of his better first-song
vocal performances. There were no cobwebs at all. This
was my first show of the Freddie Koella era and we're
either going to have to agree that FK had a off night
or, maybe, he and Charlie Sexton do not do the same
thing for a living. We'll have to wait for the "tale
of the tape" but I thought his, um, "solos" marred
several of the songs. "Things Have Changed" and AATW
were lucky to have escaped alive. Time will tell if
Larry can pick up the slack but if he doesn't step out
front and play some serous lead guitar, we're not
going to get the same great fire and energy that we've
been (perhaps) spoiled with the last few years.
Anyway, most of the crowd around me were first timers
and everyone seemed to have a great time. The coolest
62 year-old man in the world rolls on. Don't you dare
miss it.

Brian Boyd


Review by Michael Smith

Yesterday's show in Lake Tahoe was the first time I'd seen Dylan since his
two night stand at the New Orleans Jazz Fest in April. While nothing he
did last night could match the transcendent high of Hard Rain from the
first Jazz Fest show (few things can) and there was nothing like the wacky
surprise of a guest sax player from the second, it was also an undeniably
more solid show than either overall. There wasn't a weak performance in
the set, much less a "falling apart moment". In fact, I can't recall
seeing Dylan more focused for the duration of an entire performance than
he was last night. The venue was a relatively small outdoor amphitheater
and the show must have been very close to sold out. The crowd slowly
trickled in throughout opening act Noelle Hampton's set (straightforward,
pleasantly forgettable country-rock) until the place was packed by the
time she left the stage. Thankfully, the sun also began to set around this
time and the cooler temperature that resulted was a welcome relief from
what had been a sweltering hot day. Bob took to the stage wearing an
outrageous western ensemble that would've looked ridiculous on almost
anyone else but he somehow managed to pull it off - a navy blue shirt with
a lot of elaborate sequined embroidery on the chest, shoulders and back
and very tight navy blue pants with white piping on the side and white
lining on the pockets. Dylan assumed his position behind the keyboard - 
with both knees bent, right leg forward, left leg back and more space than
usual between his legs. He looked like a track runner about to sprint
across the starting line and, in a way, that's exactly what he did when
the show began. Tombstone Blues was a surprising and welcome choice for an
opener. It became clear as soon as Dylan sang "The sweet pretty things are
in bed now of course" that we were in for a treat. Dylan's energy was very
high from the get go; he exuded confidence as he attacked each syllable of
the lyric in a particularly biting, almost rap-like fashion. The song also
featured a short but sweet harp solo. Lay Lady Lay was next. This song has
never been a favorite of mine but it was a creditable version with Dylan
playing some nicely emphatic keyboard fills between lines. Larry
faithfully recreated the steel guitar part of the studio version as usual
and Freddie played one of his trademark spare and discordant solos. In
general, I think Freddie seems to be fitting in with the band nicely.
Unlike in New Orleans, he knew exactly when and what to play last night
without having to rely on a "nod from Bob." Tweedle Dee followed and
sounded more or less like it always does. Don't Think Twice was a new
arrangement and it brought the house down. While I've loved Larry's
fingerpicking on this over the past few years, it was refreshing to hear
him strumming the familiar chords of this on his old cittern for a change.
Freddie strummed rhythm on his acoustic while Bob played rhythm on the
keys but it was the vocal that really made this. Dylan's voice was very
strong and his confident, teasing reading of the lyric got a big reaction
from the crowd. An early highlight. Things Have Changed was yet another
great version. This is one song I never tire of hearing live because Dylan
never seems to sing it the same way twice and yet his phrasing is almost
always inventive and exciting. Tonight was no exception. Watching the
River Flow is usually a song I can take or leave but this was an unusually
powerful, barnstorming version that concluded with a monster harmonica
solo; Dylan indulged his beloved technique of blowing the same few notes
over and over and gradually expanding on the pattern until the song
exploded into a frenzied and cathartic climax before winding back down.
I've seen him do this type of harp solo countless times over the years on
acoustic songs but never on an electric song like he did here. It's
Alright Ma was the same arrangement as last fall but I think it sounded
refreshed after some time off. Dylan sang this well - it sounded
appropriately vicious - although he did sing part of the same verse twice
("Temptations page flies out the door"). This was, however, the _only_
lyric flub on any song of the entire night. Make You Feel My Love featured
the only appearance of what some fans have referred to as the "sing-song
voice" - where Dylan ends each line by singing a higher note. While some
people find this technique irritating every time out, I think it can work
well or not depending on the circumstance and I thought he made it work
rather well here because he drew out each of those notes for a very long
time. It reminded me a little of the great version of Love Sick from
Austin last spring. He also capped it off with another memorable harp
solo, making it sound unlike any version of Make You Feel My Love I've
ever heard. A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall was next and not only was it the
same arrangement as when he played it last in New Orleans (with Larry on
cittern, Freddie on acoustic guitar, Bob on keys) it also featured much of
the same excellent vocal phrasing! In fact, it was so similar to that
performance of three months ago that I'm now convinced Dylan must listen
to tapes of his own performances to determine what works and what doesn't.
While it couldn't delight my ears in the same thrilling _new_ way that the
earlier performance did, it was still a great version and I was grateful
to hear it again. Cold Irons Bound rocked very hard as per usual and
Dylan's singing was once again right on the money. I was very happy to
hear this as it's my favorite in the revolving door slot it shares with
Wicked Messenger and Drifter's Escape. I had never seen Under the Red Sky
live before and this version was a very nice treat indeed. Dylan nailed
all of the words, singing in a low, mellow voice that I thought was
lovely. Along with Don't Think Twice and Hard Rain, another highlight for
me. Honest with Me is another song I never tire of hearing, especially
since the quantum leap I think it made in terms of quality beginning with
the introduction of the "stop-start instrumental break" last tour. I know
this song is considered the low point of Love and Theft by a lot of fans
but it's become one of my favorite of Dylan's hard rock songs - right up
there with Obviously Five Believers and Groom's Still Waiting at the
Altar. Moonlight is a song that I never much enjoyed live until last fall
when I thought that it too improved dramatically, especially Dylan's
singing, which I assume was somehow precipitated by the switch to
keyboard. This was another nice version with some more sweet melodic
singing that inspired several couples to slow dance in the aisles. Fans of
lyrical variants may also be interested to know that "Trailing moss in
mystic glow" became "Trailing moss of crystal glow". Summer Days kicked
things back into high gear. Dylan was animated and engaged throughout but
it was really Freddie Koella's show here as he abandoned his minimalistic
style to play the kind of rockabilly rave-up solo that this song demands.
After standing in "the formation", Dylan picked up his jacket and white
cowboy hat (neither of which he ever actually wore) and exited the stage
with his band in tow. Then, after what seemed like an unusually long
absence, they returned for a two song encore of Like a Rolling Stone and
All Along the Watchtower, both of which were solid versions, the latter
featuring a an intense and surprising harp solo between the third and
final verses. Other than the obligatory band intros before Summer Days and
a hearty "Thank you" after Tombstone Blues, there was no Bob talk all
night. I cannot stress enough how unusually committed and engaged Dylan
seemed from the moment he stepped on stage to the moment he left. He never
appeared tired and his interest never seemed to flag. It wasn't one of the
very best of the 39 shows I've seen (that honor belongs to Red Bluff '02,
Central Point and Asheville '01), but all in all I think it was the most
error-free, almost completely lacking in low points, and there's something
to be said for that. Catch this tour if you can! Next stop for me -

Michael Smith


Review by Robert Lynch

Hitting the road to go to another Bob Dylan show yesterday was very
exciting. I left Sacramento early so I could get to Tahoe with plenty of
time before the show, to really have a chance to get the feel of going to
see a show. We arrived at the venue around 12 and took a look around. The
"Outdoor Amphitheater" turned out to be, as I expected, a parking lot with
a stage and some seats set up. Most of the day was spent hanging out with
friends discussing all things Bob and trying to stay hydrated. At about
4:30 or so the band came out and did sound check. They ran through a few
full tunes, and fooled around with a couple of others. I enjoyed seeing
Tony flip though his notebook and pick out what song to play, apparently
to give Freddie a chance to practice some new songs. Songs they covered in
the sound check were: Most Likely You'll Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine,
It Takes A  Lot To Laugh, Tell Me That It Isn't True and My Back Pages.
They quickly left the stage and shortly after, we were inside sitting
through a very brief opening set by Noel Hampton, a self-proclaimed,
singer/songwriter from the Bay Area. Her set was enjoyable and very brief,
much shorter than the Waifs sets were in the spring. After a quick stage
change, the lights go down, incense is burning the music starts and the
intro begins.

Bob takes the stage just a few minutes after 8 and is looking great. He is
dressed in a navy blue western outfit that has white piping on the pants
and the shirt cant really be described here by me. The rest of the band
was all smiles as they grabbed their instruments and got ready to blow
everyone in attendance away - business as usual.

From the beginning Bob appeared to really be having a great time. The way
that he pounded away at the piano and spit out the lyrics with great
precision from the first lines of Tombstone Blues was a good indication
that tonight's show was going to be a good one. After finishing a great
performance of Tombstone Blues, which included some great harp playing by
Bob, they went into a beautiful version of Lay, Lady, Lay. I am usually
not a big fan of this one live but tonight's version was very good. Bob
really nailed every line and they playing on it by everyone on stage was
incredible. Next up, Tweedle Dee, which was excellent and gave the crowd a
chance to get up and dance around a little. I was surprised by the amount
of people sitting in my area that were familiar with the Love And Theft
material. It's nice to see that most of Bob's fans are still buying
his new material. Once Tweedle was finished, Larry put grabbed the
cittern, Freddie grabbed the acoustic and they went into a wonderful
version of Don't Think Twice. Bob was very focused when singing this one
and really got into it, making eye contact with the crowd for the first
time of the evening. I think he knew it was a great performance and wanted
to see what everyone else thought. A great harp solo to end it was
perfect. Things Have Changed was up next and as always was very good. Bob
always seems to play around with the delivery of this song and tonight was
no different. Watching The River Flow was better than I had ever seen it
and again, a great harp solo. Larry's slide guitar work was great and
this one gave people another chance to get up and out of their seats. Its
Alright Ma was very welcome in the next slot. Bob belted out the lyrics
like he has really missed singing them since he gave the song a break
after the Fall 02 tour. Make You Feel My Love was also very good. It
looked to me like Bob sang most of this song to a couple that was at the
opposite end of the front row from me that were dancing together for the
entire song. As soon as it ended, Larry went over for the cittern for the
third time of the evening. I was fully expecting to hear Blind Willie
McTell or My Back Pages but was shocked when I heard the opening chords to
A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall. This hasn't been played since the incendiary
version that was played at the Jazz Fest in New Orleans in the spring,
which I was lucky enough to witness. When Bob delivered the first line in
the same staccato style delivery that he used at the New Orleans
performance, I just about jumped out of my skin. I couldn't believe
that he was doing Hard Rain and even more, I couldn't believe that he
was sticking with that phrasing. This was easily the high point of the
show for me. Bob knew how he wanted to sing it, did and then forgot about
it and went on to the next song while we were all shocked and amazed at
the great performance that we had just witnessed. The rest of the set was
very strong. A great Cold Irons Bound that Bob really got into. Under The
Red Sky was a nice surprise, every line was delivered perfectly. Not
giving the crowd a chance to catch its collective breath, Bob broke into
what was the most intense version of Honest With Me that I have ever
witnessed. Moonlight was sort of like the icing on the cake and Summer
Days proved that yes, Freddie is here to stay. His playing on this was so
incredible. End of the show, then they come back to do the standard encore
these days, Like A Rolling Stone and All Along The Watchtower. I loved
seeing Bob play harp on Watchtower that was something I hadn't seen him
do before.

This show is easily among my top 5 favorites. Bob was in a great mood all
night laughing with the band during and between songs. He was really
moving around behind the keyboards and sang every line wonderfully. I
don't think that I have witnessed a more focused performance by Bob. He
was really enjoying himself yet he was able to deliver the songs with the
respect that they deserve. Its amazing that he can continue to night after
night, year after year continue to put out excellent performance. I
can't wait to get to Konocti this Friday.


page by Bill Pagel

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