page by Bill Pagel
Review by Jay Solomon
The set list is already posted so just some observations and highlights.
The Orpheum theatre is a beautiful old concert hall that holds under 3000
people. It is the home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Bob hasn’t
played in Vancouver for several years and the crowd was very psyched. Bob
was wearing his black western suit with red trim. He wore his black
Stetson to match. The boys were dressed in their blue suits with black
shirts. I find it quite amusing that Bob makes them wear matching
outfits. You couldn ’t pay me enough to wear a matching outfit in a rock
and roll band! Bob came out as serious as usual and got down to business.
I was in the first row of the balcony or dress circle, right of stage.
The tickets came up randomly through ticketmaster but they were optimal.
I had Bob facing in my direction the entire show since he hangs out at
stage left facing the sublime pedal steel player now with him. The first
part of the show was a replay of the Victoria show and was enjoying the
encore presentation but by the time Blind Willie came along I started to
think doesn’t he know that some of us may have gone to see the Victoria
show. Then the opening rifts to shooting star and the show took on a
different feel. Shooting star was beautifully performed. John Brown was
well delivered. Under the red sky was a great surprise. He seemed to
enjoy the line about baking those kids in the pie. But the highlight
performance goes to masters of war, it was delivered with gusto. Rolling
Stone was a fun way to end the show. The audience was standing and
singing along as best we were able. The band is really playing well
together. I love the way Bob acknowledges the audience at the end of the
set and after the encore. He doesn’t say thank you anymore. He stands
there doing this wave thing with his right hand that he holds a harmonica
in. My wife astutely pointed out that it seems to be a cross between the
Pope and Queen waves. It is worth the price of admission. All kidding
aside, the show was outstanding and inspiring. Although Bob looks a bit
weary, he bobs and weaves through every song and appears to be enjoying
performing as much as the audience is enjoying the performance. I can’t
wait for the next two nights. By the way the Victoria show was at a 5000
seat or so sold out arena. The crowd was enthusiastic and Bob put on a
rollicking show. I thought that every song was played to perfection.
There were no lulls. God Knows was the highlight performance. Watchtower
brought the house down. That’s all for now.
Review by Steven Thwaits
Back in early March, here in Seattle, Bob gave us a new look and a new
sound. This week I journeyed north to hear the evolution of the band. I
caught two shows, in Victoria and the first night in Vancouver. Victoria
was marred by the very unpleasant venue, Œthe Save-on-Food Center,¹
actually a hockey arena, not a grocery store. The locals seemed thrilled,
however, that Bob had come to town, and didn¹t Bob, as a teen, see Buddy
Holly in a Duluth hockey arena, or some such? I love that he goes to
places like Victoria and Kalowna, B.C., and if the ice rink is the only
place to play, so be it.
Still, it¹s hard to rock when the floor of the arena is reserved
seating, and you¹re squished into the bleachers looking slant-wise at the
stage. Anyway, the show: it seemed kind of schizophrenic. Some highs: this
band is great on the country stomps, like Watching the River Flow. Ballad
of a Thin Man was sinister and slinky. The lows: New Morning‹a sonic
bombast, a mess of slurry sound. God Knows: I don¹t like that song too
much. Positively 4th Street‹I love this song but it was delivered with no
drama. After the show, the locals looked pleased. I was slightly less so.
But on to Vancouver, the busy and beautiful international city on
English Bay. Bob and friends left us melted and moved. For an accurate
review of this show in the lovely Orpheum theater, see the July 20
Vancouver Sun, article by Kerry Gold. Hopefully that¹s available on-line.
He captures the experience. All I can say is WOW. Every song mattered;
every song was played with craft and feeling. Bob¹s vocals were clear and
strong, and the phrasing added nuance and emotion, as it always does when
he¹s really on. I¹m not going to go song by song‹you can see the set list.
They were all great. 2 highlights though‹Highway 61 and Masters of War. 61
is full band rave-up, each musician standing out in spectacular fashion.
Both Denny Freeman and Donnie Herron take intense solos‹these guys are so
wonderful in their ability to both rock and swing. The band has improved
since March‹hope Bob records with them. And Masters of War: how can anyone
think Bob doesn¹t comment on our world, when this song, and John Brown,
are given such searing work-ups? In the first encore position, Bob is
saying Militarism Sucks. He says it with rock. Bob is rock. Bob is song.
He needs no other language. See you down the road bobcats.
page by Bill Pagel
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