Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 07/26/99


New York, New York

July 26, 1999


[Peter Stone Brown], [Andrew Klewan], [Carsten Wohlfeld]

Review by Peter Stone Brown

New York is not the place you want to go in July, but there's something
about Bob Dylan and New York City, something special.  Something that
goes way back.  It's where he went to make it and where he did make it
and it's part of his songs and it's part of him.  It's where some of
his most legendary concerts took place and where he returned to the
form the Rolling Thunder Revue.  I was lucky enough to see those
legendary concerts and the New York area if not New York itself is
where I first saw Bob Dylan and so I keep returning there, even in this
July of endless heatwaves.  

At Tramps tonight, Bob Dylan made it special.  Now some people may look
at the set lists and groan, "Oh, all '60s stuff," and others might say,
"What, nothing from Blood On The Tracks?"  But sometimes there are
shows where set lists do not matter, or how many verses he didn't sing,
or even what line he changed.  There are some shows that are so amazing
that you don't even think or care about what he didn't do, because the
only thing that matters is what he did do.  See, there's some shows
where he's bob dylan and then there's the shows when he's Bob Dylan and
then there's the shows where he's BOB DYLAN and every so often there's
the ones where he's B O B  D Y L A N!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He was BOB DYLAN in the biggest boldest letters you can imagine at
Tramps.  It was easily, without a doubt the best show I've seen him do
since the Supper Club.  At the beginning it could have been any of the
shows on this tour, opening up with "Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie," followed
by a stately "Times They Are A-Changin'," but then he followed that up
with a song from the 2nd side of that album, "Boots of Spanish
Leather," and then just as you're starting to think "something's going
on here," and he dips back from that same period and conjures up "John
Brown" and then that most New York of Bob Dylan songs, "Visions of
Johanna."  And somewhere in the middle of the second verse I hear right
behind me, "Well we cut of out of work on Tuesday and went to get in
line," and my brain starts boiling this is Visions of Johanna," and I'm
not sure if this has ever been sung in New York City and finally during
the guitar break I have to turn around and say, "Do you have to have a
conversation," and the guy says, "I came here to see my friends and
that's part of the fun," and I say, "Do you realize that it is totally
impolite to talk while he is singing and other people are listening?" 
He shut up.  

And then boom, the electrics are on and it's 20 years later into a hard
charging "Seeing The Real You At Last" and then into "Thin Man," and
there's times when I could care less if I ever hear that song live
again except tonight he's really singing it and visions of that very
first time he performed it at Forest Hills with cops and kids chasing
each other around the stage are running through my brain and bam he's
into "Most Likely Your Way and I Go Mine" and just as you're getting
over that into a majestic "Every Grain of Sand" and all of a sudden the
people to my right are having a conversation about movies or maybe
lunch or work or anything but the song which keeps building and
building and finally I lean over and say "Could You Be Quiet," and the
guy who doesn't seem to have the slightest clue who Bob Dylan is starts
to say something and I'm thinking people waited in line to early hours
of the morning and would have waited all night for these tickets on a
work-night yet and I don't understand - I don't understand waiting in
line for hours and hour to get tickets for a show and then waiting in
line for more hours to get into the show and then not even paying
attention to the show.  Something doesn't compute there.  Something
doesn't make sense.  But the guy standing in between me and the talkers
said "Thank you" to me and it was all forgotten as Bob was into a
kick-ass "Tombstone Blues" with a nasty guitar riff running throughout
the whole song and then another immaculate "Not Dark Yet" and Dylan is
sailing through the lyrics pulling out all the stops so much so that
there's applause and cheers at the line "I can't even remember what it
was I came here to get away from," and the guy behind me taps me and
hands me a little white rolled up piece of paper with a flame at one
end and Dylan finally speaks introducing the band and then they're down
"Highway 61" and the guitars are roaring, all three of them and they're

And then they're back again for "Love Sick," and somehow Larry's making
his guitar sound like an organ the way Bucky used to do with his steel
and then one hell of a "Like A Rolling Stone" and I keep thinking I'm
almost hearing an organ and Sexton is like the ghost of Michael
Bloomfield revisited and Dylan's playing around with the phrasing
making a song he's sung a thousand times sound new again and then back
to acoustic for "It Ain't Me Babe," a song he's performed a thousand
different ways and he's doing another way tonight, in the singing, in
the guitar playing that took you melting back into the night and then
picking up the harp for the second time that night he went on one of
the wildest harp escapades I'd seen or heard in years.  He must've
blown that harp for five minutes, maybe more (I was not looking at my
watch) each note clear and strong, perhaps passing through every mood
of every version he's ever sang of that song from sad to defiant to
wistful to angry and taking the band with him, changing rhythms soft to
loud to soft to loud again.

And then "Not Fade Away," and it was loud and it was powerful and the
band was smokin'.  And they leave, but the lights stay down and the
audience ain't goin' nowhere and the place is roaring and they're back
and the acoustics are on and I'm not quite sure what the song is as
they run through the opening instrumental I realize it's "Blowin' In
The Wind," but slower than it was last winter and the rhythm guitars
are heavy like Live '66, except not the acoustic side except they're
playin' acoustics and Dylan's doing something with the melody, that
thing only he does where he seems to find every beautiful space in the
melody and make it more beautiful and it's perfect.  And they're gone

And just I was thinking it has to be over they're back and ripping into
"Alabama Getaway" and they're on fire and they're gone again, but no
one leaves and he's back again, and he goes to the mic and says, "A man
who needs no introduction, Elvis Costello."  And Elvis Costello comes
out wearing a hat and straps on Bob's acoustic and into "I Shall Be
Released," and it's time for the singing to start and Bob sings the
wrong line, the second one, "They say every distance is not near," and
instantly realizing what he did, and instead of mumbling something
incoherent or not singing at all, he acknowledged it and sang, "And
they say it again every distance is not near," and then Elvis came in
on the chorus and then Bob sang the second verse and Elvis did a
soulful take on the last verse followed by an instrumental or two and
another chorus and then it was over.  

Back when Bob Dylan wasn't touring and hadn't played any concerts for
years, Jonathan Cott (or maybe it was Ben Fong Torres) -- it was a long
time ago and I can't remember - and I'm not at home with all my usual
source material - wrote a great article for Rolling Stone about Dylan's
Bangla Desh appearance called "I Dreamed I Saw Bob Dylan."  B O B  D Y
L A N was at Tramps last night in some ways it was just like a dream.

--Peter Stone Brown


Review by Andrew Klewan

What's the word for beyond magnificent?  For concert #37 for me, Bob Dylan
exceeded all of my dreams and expectations.  Having seen him a few other
times recently (Amherst 2/99, asst'd others), I know he's at the top of his
game.  However, never would I have expected moving vocals like those we
received last night.  Boots was startling, Johanna was otherworldly, Not
Dark Yet tear inducing, and so on.  He looked great, sang and played
beautifully, and was a true gentleman to the crowd. The appearance of Elvis
Costello was a nice little addition, but even with no special guest, this
show will go down as documentation of the fact that Bob Dylan is going out
of the century at the apex of his profession.  To feel a part of this man's
extraordinary evolution into a happy old man playing rock and roll for the
masses is too inspirational for description.  I can't tell you how great it
feels to see him so unaffected, so back in touch with that kid from
Minnesota.  There were moments last night when he looked like Bob Dylan
1966--wild shock of hair, raised eyebrows, bouncing on his toes.  But
without the displacement.  This was a man appreciative of the welcome he
recieved from us, and willing to give it all back a thousand fold.  I've
seen so many Bob Dylans over the years--from the dour, deatched, head down
to the mildly interested to the heights of last night.  Last night was quite
simply the greatest Bob Dylan concert I've ever seen, which after Albany
4/18/97, I didn't think was attainable.  He blew that concert out of the
water.  I'd like to write back when I can formulate my thoughts a bit more
coherently, but I wanted to atleast convey how grateful I am to the man for
what he gave us all last night.  It's obviously not for the money.  Anyone
who saw and heard what I did knows of what I speak.  May God bless and keep
him always. See this man now!!! This is the time of our lives to witness Bob


Review by Carsten Wohlfeld

Well, you’ve seen the setlist and I’m sure a few people thought it was 
just a joke, but no, it was for real and actually something like a dream 
come true. People (including myself) critizised the fact that the 
setlist didn’t vary as much as before on this tour and even though this 
was obviously a special show, Bob only repeated four out of 19 songs 
compared to the previous and that ain’t bad, right? People started 
getting in line in front of the Tramps as early as 111am, but since it 
was a very hot day again I decided to wait till 6.30 and still got a 
very decent spot in the 7th row or so when the finally opened the doors 
shortly after 8pm. Bob and his band only took to the stage at 9.30 and 
the crew did endless soundchecks but still forgot to turn on Dylan’s 
mic! So we couldn’t hear thefirst two lines of:

 Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie (acoustic)

which was okay but nothing more. Bob was more screaming than singing and 
he very bad PA didn’t help much. There seemed to be a constant feedback 
during every single song and Bob kept having trouble with his amp 
throughout the night, which confused him a whole lot and he kept missing 
lines cause he either couldn’t hear himself or got distracted.

 The Times They Are A-Changin’ (acoustic)

First long band discussion on what to play... Okay version even though 
Bob seemed to have a hard time getting the lyrics right and he might 
have stumbled over a line or two as well. Loooong harp solo at the end. 
Up to this point it seemed to be a "regular“ show and if they would’ve 
played "Masters Of War“ next it probably would’ve been a dead boring 
75-minute show. Instead they went for:

 Boots Of Spanish Leather (acoustic)

and if you know anything about anything, you’ll know that he nails this 
one every single time he plays it. It was grrrreat! Using his lowest 
voice, his singing was soft and tender and by the time he reached the 
last (title) line, he whole place just went nuts. There was hardly 
anything that could’ve topped this song, but then again they followed it 

 John Brown (acoustic)

Larry on bouzouki. Basically the same arrangement as last year, with 
Larry, Charlie and Bob starting, Tony joing in after a couple of verses 
and David only joing in close to the end. Very good version though Bob 
got distracted during the second to last verse and I think me messed up 
a couple of lines, though it hardly did matter cause it was quite a 
spectacular version. The bouzouki was interesting too, cause it changed 
the sound of the song considerably, een though it was the same 
arangement as before. Now I was convinced that they definitely couldn’t 
top this performance and I figured "Tangled“ would be next and sort of 
an anti-climax. But, oh no, Bob’s really warming up now!

 Visions Of Johanna (acoustic)

Oh my god! I though this was a bit better than any kinda version of 
"Tangled“ for sure! It was a weird version though, very fast, very loud 
and very different. Kinda like the difference between the regular 
"Desolaton Row“ and the speeded-up version from Graz in April.  It was 
played with three acoustic guitar and thus missing though sweet pedal 
steel sounds from this spring’s Portland version. Bob stumbled over a 
few lines, but at lleast this time he got the "ghost of electricity“ 
verse right. Bizarrely, he changed the last few verses to "Visions Of 
MADONNA“, whatever that’s supposed to mean. It was quite a sight. 
Needless to say the crowd went crazy.

 Seeing The Real You At Last

Not one of my favourite songs, but when it’s played at bonecrunching 
volume and with amazing guitar solos (by Larry) like tonight, I won’t 
complain. Bob had a great time singing it too and he seemed to have tons 
of fun to ROCK after the slow and somewhat quiet start.

 Ballad Of A Thin Man

Larry on pedal steel. Very cool version indeed. Larry played a long solo 
and he seemed to look up all the time instead of staring at his fingers 
like Bucky used to do. Bob put in a pretty good guitar solo, too. I only 
wish they would play this one more often!

 Most Likely To To Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)

The only minor disappointment. It is very rare that I get to hear songs 
that I haven’t heard before and this was one I was especially looking 
forward to, but it didn’t live up to my expections. There was too much 
going on, three guitarists playing all sorts of different licks, changes 
in pace and ryhthm, David doing a lot of weird stuff on drums - Bob 
seemed to enjoy it, but I wasn’t too impressed. I was however, VERY 
impressed with what followed:

 Every Grain Of Sand

Another gorgeous version with Larry on pedal steel yet again. Wonderful 
song, nicely done. That#s all I can say really. Get the tape!!!

 Tombstone Blues

Wow! Another song that a lot of people seem to love that doesn’t get 
played a lot. I thought they probably would do a heavy blues version, 
but they didn’t. Musically it sounded like a - very welcome - cross 
between "You Go Your Way“ and "Memphis“, very 60-ish and - very good. I 
think Bob skipped the last verse cause he couldn’t remember it. There 
was a solo by Larry and Bob and it just went on and on, Bob stepped up 
to the mic and back again a cuple of times as if he was gonna start 
singing again but didn’t know what and then they just stopped. Weird.

 Not Dark Yet

It was just perfect. Sigh. Band intros followed, no jokes, no frills 
tonight. Insteringly enough there was only white light, not a single 
coloured light in sight!

 Highway 61 Revisited

Larry was making eye contact with Charlie (who hadn’t played a single 
solo yet) before the song, signalling him to take the lead. Saturday in 
Hartford it was Larry’s turn to play a very hot solo, this time it was 
Charlie’s, who played a very raw and dirty blues style solo which 
brought a rough edge to the song that was kinda interesting. Bob had 
troubles with his amp again and missed a few lines. A few bows, a few 
more smiles and then they disappeared.

 Love Sick

It was interesting to see how they compensated Bucky’s absense, cause 
obviously it was his part to play the lovely intro. Would Larry play 
pedal steel and thus not have the chance to play his superb guitar solo? 
No! Charlie played the intro riff on his Strat and apart from that the 
arrangement didn’t change one bit. Bob’s singing was great as was 
Larry’s solo.

 Like A Rolling Stone

One of the highlights of the night! Every on and in front of the stage 
was having a great time, and Bob’s singing was very strong, as was his 
guitar solo halfway through. The song was faster than in Hartford as 
well, which was a very welcome change.

 It Ain’t Me Babe (acoustic)

Bob sang the song to the women in the front row and was having tons of 
fun, especially with the line „a lover for your life (pause) but nothing 
MORE!“. Yet another long harp solo at the end even though Bob had to 
take a deep breath halfway through as it was getting a little hot at the 
Tramps despite their A/C.

 Not Fade Away

The usual end of the show mayhem, with Larry and Charlie singing back-up 
for the first time tonight. Well, at least most people thought it was 
the end of the show as Bob and band left the stage after Bob had thrown 
some of the roses  people from the audience had thrown on stage back 
into the crowd. But then they returned for the inevitable

 Blowin’ In The Wind (acoustic)

Where Bob got distracted by bad sound problems again and missed a couple 
of lines again. Not one of the highlights, so say it politely. They left 
the stage again and it looked like as if the show was definitely over 
now, after exactly two hours, but no, they returned only to discuss for 
a rather long time what to do now. And what we got was the first 
rendition since June ‘98 of

 Alabama Getaway

Of course Bob forgot all the words again but it didn’t matter. It was 
fun to see and a good excuse for Larry and Bob to go wild on guitar. By 
this time Bob had given us more than we could’ve possibly hoped for, but 
there was more: "And now I’d like to welcome somebody to the stage who 
really needs no introduction: Elvis Costellooooo.“ And there he comes, 
Ireland’s finest, with a funny little hat on and one of Bob’s acoustic 
guitars in hand.

 I Shall Be Released

Bob wanted Elvis to sing the first verse as he couldn’t remember the 
words, but Elvis didn’t want to apparently, so Bob started and 
completely screwed up the words, even repeating his mistake by saying: 
"i say it again..“ Very funny. Elvis joined in on the choruss, sharing a 
mic with Dylan and it was a very strong duet, not the usula mumbling you 
expect from Bob’s duets. Elvis sang the last verse by himself and it was 
great to see the two of them on stage together. After the song Bob 
accidentally hit Elvis with his guitar, but he (Bob, that is) didn’t 
even notice :-)

So there you go, despite the bad, bad sound it was a fun show and the 
setlist obviously left NOTHING to be desired. It was absolutely amazing, 
and though it was a minor disappointment that he probably didn’t do one 
single song where he got ALL the lyrics right, it was a tremendous show. 
Together with Dortmund ‘95 and the first Miami Beach ‘98 the best I’ve 
seen Bob do. A million thanks to Larry and Sadie for getting the ticket 
for me, couldn’t have done it without you! Now, how will he top this 
show at the Garden??? Hmmmm...

carsten wohlfeld
"and i’ll be jimmie rodgers, the cure or the who if it makes any 
difference to you“ (mary lou lord)


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