Bend, Oregon
Les Schwab Amphitheatre
July 23, 2003

[Roderick Smith], [David Harper], [David Brooks], [Andy]

Review by Roderick Smith

The cowboy mariachi bluesman rolls into the eastern deserts of Oregon.
Temperatures rise into a smoke filled sky where  a wild fire grows to
menacing heights.  Small silver orange and silver planes trace back and
forth trying to squelch a reckless energy.  The venue grassy and small,
locals slowly assembling themselves along the chain link fence, hot and
melted enthusiasm hidden under umbrellas and towels. Suddenly, in the
stupor of 100 degree heat the gates open and another great American land
grab is underway.   Young and old with bags and blankets billowing behind
looking for all the world like rainbow colored conastoga wagons charging
down the slope  to that familiar assemblage on stage, growing now by leaps
and bounds.

The rodeo begins but things have changed.

The arena is a steel grey mass of metal bulls and horses.  Black and white
hoof beats peel out sound under a western sunset.  The piano is made of
iron, the guitar men, herding chords of cattle, while dust in the corral
obscure the relentlessly growing mountain of sound.  It's music more than
song. Its expression more than impression its monochrome more than color.
The songs string together in seamless weld.

El Rey dancing a slow shuffle, hands and fingers spread for balance as the
wire grows taught.

Under a red sky, a flock  of geese fly low overhead, a lone feather 
falls into the throng, the reelected light is violet, the stage is dark,
the wildfire in the south is looming overhead. Summer Days are suddenly 
almost gone.  It's only July.  Clowns are getting knocked over to save the
cowboy.   Eight seconds more and you got the Watchtower covered.  El Rey
blowing the chrome out of his harp, off key, the band in full charge in
the other direction, and in one bronco filled moment the silver bit
between his teeth is spewed out in in a rage tossed twenty feet into the
air behind him.

The rodeo is over.

The wild fire with orange flickering glow  is burning itself out.


Review by David Harper

His hair was still red and the sound was perfect.
Stark, industrial stage set up in a thick green grass
riverside park. Everybody was there. Well, sort of.
Crowds tend to see an event, these days, like it was
on TV in the corner of the room during the talking,
drinking and eating. Whine, piss, moan.

Back to Bob: Behind the electric piano stand leaning,
sometimes leaping into it, dressed impeccably in black
silk  with red trim, open collar, white satin scarf,
high class act up here, and at stage right Mr. Bob's
golden idol with a gleaming head standing up on a box
of gear. Only Bob stage handles this Oscar on or off.
Wrapped in white.
My wife, Gail, loved it. Loved the piano throughout as

I noticed the rigging rope ladders rising up either
side of Bobs spot behind keys. Reminded me of W.S.
Merwin's book Carrier Of Ladders. Reminded me of City
Of Gold. Anyway, what more can we praise in this lifes
work, in these songs or shows that doesn't end up
sounding like the kind of guys you want to avoid.

This show brought a great deal of good cheer and
inspiration to the community. As an old man almost a
year older than this venerable lad I can tell you it
is powerful medicine to see Bob Dylan and his Band
burning the house with an almost fierce intention from
the first lick to the last chime of the keys and
strings.  Everybody in this ensemble is as good as
they get and then some. Bob, holds nothing back here.

These warhorses, Maggies Farm, Drifters Escape,
Desolation Row, and especially Positively Fourth
Street, along with Dont Think Twice and It Aint Me
Babe are all simmering at their maximum potential just
about now.
The new material from Love and Theft still dazzles and
delights in concert. Good audience response.
Highlight, for me was Pos. 4th St. Strong Desolation
Row. Well, everything from Love & Theft stole my

Honest With Me might have come across with too much
force but at this point the band was a locomotive
lyrics flew like sparks through tinder. 
Man what a guitar players trip this show still is.
Larry is stone freaking perfect every time I've ever
heard the cat. By the way this Dixie Hummingbirds
record hitting the streets is strikingly hip gospel
from these heavyweights. Levon's on it.
Freddy, the new guitar man, in the tightest band out
there, cuts loose every once in awhile in cool new
ways we haven't heard before in this music. Gutsy
Tony is like a rock. Solid and well rounded. Holds it
altogether whatevers going on.
George, "best drummer on the stage", has about 20K
worth of mics on his set and it hauls steel through

All these men are right there in a split second.
This outfit's has to get back to the studio with this
Bob's got things just about right.

If anyones played guitar long and hard enough to get
tendonitus in the arms and shoulders you'll know why
one day you just put instruments in the case for an
excruciatingly long while. Therapies and pills and ice
cubes dont really help the fiery ache of that
inflammation once it sets in. It stays long.
You know they say when you hurt like hell on stage you
deliver some of your best work. My guess is Bob has a
tough case of tendonitus and will be slamming the keys
for six months or longer. Too bad, if it's true. If
it's not, well, what's another rumor?
Always thought he played Bob Dylan style guitar better
than anybody.

It's a great drive with mountains and rivers from
Portland to Bend and we're always grateful for these
shows you just cant find anywhere else. Thanks, again,

Dave Harper


Review by David Brooks

Good show last night in Bend.  Not great.  Ragged start until Highway 61. 
Then things got progressively tighter and raunchier (if that's a word),
save for the acoustic numbers which just got tighter.  Dylan, once again,
venturing out front for the 'Marionette Dance'. Fantastic harmonica
playing throughout.  Gorgeous pink and turquoise sky behind the stage as
the sun set.  Seven miles behind us, a forest fire was raging near Old
China Hat Road turning the sky black and grey in a swirling mass of smoke.
And the band played on.

Other thoughts. I think it's time to throw in the piano.  Not only is BD's
playing suspect, but he's completely separate from the rest of his band
mates.  He's over there and they're over here looking over there for cues
from the band leader.  In other words, he's not one of the guys anymore,
like he was when he stood shoulder to shoulder with Larry, Tony and
Charlie.  Speaking of Charlie, I miss Charlie. Freddie is a non-presence
and his lead work is not all that interesting.    With George's
not-so-subtle playing and Freddie doing whatever he's doing, this band has
turned into a rampaging, drunken bar band (without the drunken part).  A
year or two ago they seemed to be playing 'important' music every night. 
A travelling revival show bringing the gospel of Bob, and whatever
spiritual tunes he happened to be covering at that time, to the flock. 
They were playing like their lives depended on it.  Every single night.  
The music emanating from the stage, for awhile now, doesn't seem quite as
important.  It's good time rock 'n' roll, for sure. Bob's havin' fun.
We're lucky to have him out there on the road. He's dancin' for goodness
sakes,  but it ain't as deep as it can be and the music's hitting me in
my head, not my heart.  Something I'll just have to deal with.

Oh yeah, and the shows are getting shorter and shorter and shorter 
every time out.  Oh well, on a good night, it's still as good as it 
gets.  So, despite my complaints, thank you, Bob.


Review by Andy

Bob wore his sunglasses until the first formation. He was clowning around
during the whole show, being the Song and Dance Man. He'd pick up the
harmonica or snatch it off the piano and tease the audience. Pick his
teeth or bite his nails, biding his time, as the crowd waited for him to
play the harp. Don't know if this has been mentioned previously, but Bob
has some big 'ol bandaids on three fingers of his right hand. Anyway, Bob
was hilarious, conducting the band and doing that waving the palm of his
hands around, the way he does and pointing his fingers. I've been to at
least 100 shows and never seen him so animated. He was wearing the black
suit with red striping like the one he wore at the Wiltern, last Fall. But
the sunglasses really did it, I think. It gave him the mask necessary to
allow that Song and Dance Man to emerge from his psyche. My favorite
description of Dylan is "Bob Dylan has so many different sides, he's
round." I've never seen him in quite the same mood twice. This was the
Jokerman, at his best.

Someone else can do the song by song review. Best songs for me were
Desolation Row, Bye and Bye, and Honest with Me. The latter is for Bob's
conducting prowess, as he went center stage (he did this many times) to
give his encouragement and approval to the band.


page by Bill Pagel

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