Little Rock, Arkansas
Riverfest Amphitheater
August 14, 2001

[Jim Maynard], [Frank Stagg], [Don Ely]

Review by Jim Maynard

I just drove the nearly 3 long hour drive back to Memphis from the
excellent Dylan concert in Little Rock.  My mind is so tired... and I
cannot remember all the great details I wanted to share, but let me just
say this was a great concert even though it was pretty much the same songs
we've been hearing a lot of...well done versions of a good selection of
songs which only scratch the surface of Dylan's career.  A few general
observations: the crowd was YOUNG.. at least half under 30 and a large
percentage of them were under 20.  Amazing how 60 year old Dylan can draw
such a diverse crowd. What stands out about the concert itself was (a) Bob
slowly enunciated almost every word performing the best versions of many
songs I have ever heard (b) lots of excellent guitar solos from Dylan
(acoustic and electric) and (c) those legs!  It look like if Bob wasn't
tied to the guitar amp  he would take off running around the stage...

First, I took a half day vacation from work to drive to Little Rock.  I
arrived about 5 PM and decided to skip getting some dinner and get in line
at the gate so I could get next to the stage for the first time (big
mistake.. I didn't get to eat all night!) but I did get a place in the
front row by the stage.  While waiting in line I met some cool women from
Chicago (Kerry) and Alabama (Christy and Cathy).

I was so glad to have a close up view of Bob for the first time...BUT, I
looked behind me and saw a little girl with her Dad who was only about 4
feet tall and could not see a thing.. so I let her come up in front of me
and take my place on the stage wall.  Her name was Emma and she was 10
years old... she drove to Little Rock with her dad from Clarksville
Arkansas... I wanted to make sure she got a good view of a living legend
(in hopes it will wing her off of Backstreet Boys and N-Sync!).

The show was scheduled to begin at 7 PM, but Bob didn't come out until
after 8 PM (probably because the gates did not open until after 6 PM and
people were still getting to their seats until well after 7 PM).  The
Riverfest Amphitheater looked very small, it only had what looked like a
few hundred seats... but the seats did eventually fill up.. but most of
the people were in the pit or out on the lawn.   By the time Dylan came
out the whole place looked packed.

I"m glad he opened with Oh Babe, because I have already heard most of the
other opening covers (I am the Man Thomas, Duncan and Bradey).  Nothing
special.. few people knew what it was.  Dylan had a cranky look on his
face and never looked up to see the audience throughout the song.  He was
expressionless throughout the song... with a few leg movements.  Finally
he started tapping his boots like a hillbilly as if to say.. hey look at
my new boots! While his face was expressionless, all his emotions seemed
to be down in his legs!  He used his leg muscles a lot more than his
facial ones..

Everyone recognized Mr. Tambourine Man, which Dylan sung beautifully (as
he did all the rest of the songs tonight).  Even Emma recognized it! But
the speakers were too loud for her and she moved back and plugged her
ears.. I feared that she didn't like Bob's singing...but it was the fact
that we were right on the speakers... She joined in with the rest of the
crowd to cheer the song and many to follow... and she tried to wave at Bob
throughout the show trying to get him to recognize her..which he never
did.... maybe because Bob had a front row full of hot looking women (one
with a T-shirt with "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" printed on it.. a song
off the yet to be released new album!)...

Next was a beautifully sung Desolation Row and then out with the electric
guitars for a scorching version of Absolutely Sweet Marie.  Now Bob began
to do a lot of Elvis-style leg moves... and tapping and waving those new
black boots with white flares down the sides... the face finally unfroze
and participate in the Peformance of the song.

I can't ember all the details from She Belongs to Me and Tombstone
Blues... I know there were some special moments, especially with Dylan's
guitar playing and use of his voice to deliver the songs with careful
phrasing and enunciation...

Back to the acoustic set with an absolutely stunning version of Masters of
War, a song I have heard many times and wouldn't put on my wish list, but
I must say this may have been one of the most important songs of the
night. Little Emma was transfixed on Bob's face as he song about the
military-industrial complex.. the mixing of young people's blood in mud...
and Dylan tip toeing and staring into the grave of the masters of war and
spitting the words "I hope that you die..." A great song with a great
message for the next generation.. hopefully they will learn from the

Next was another stunning version of Visions of Johanna.. one of my
favorite Dylan songs and one I have not heard live before.  Amazing that
Dylan could sing it so clearly and beautifully...what a poetic

On Don't Think Twice Bob continued to use his voice and facial expressions
to convey the words.. and pulled out the Harmonica for a long and
well-received harmonica solo at the end... crowd loved it.

Back to electricity with a scorching version of 'Till I Fell In Love With
You, the one song from TOOM I have not heard live.   Amazing how much
better it sounded live than on the album... transformed into a wailing
blues song with great guitar playing from Bob and Charlie.. followed by
another song from Blonde on Blonde, "You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine". 
Then another song from TOOM, "Make You Feel My Love"...which is not one of
my favorite songs from TOOM... but probably the best performance I have
seen of it...(and the crowd cheered the line "you haven't found anyone
like me yet!")  Bob seems to really identify with these TOOM songs still!

I couldn't make out the next song at first...guitar riffs turned into a
very different version of "Drifter's Escape"... followed by the last
harmonica solo of the evening.. and lots of movement from Bob with the
guitar and legs... (continuing all evening)

The closing song of the main set  was the predictable "Rainy Day Women",
which brought the crowd to its feet...

Then the formation and off the stage...

The Encore began once again with Lovesick, but I loved it.  Bob's singing
was crystal clear, and he put a lot of emotion into the phrasing of the
words...I looked back and saw three or four young boys about Emma's age..
transfixed on Dylan singing about the pain of love....  Hope they don't
have to experience it...

Then the acoustic switch and the harmonious introduction to Knockin' on
Heaven's Door by Charlie and Larry... the crowd recognized another Dylan

Followed by another recognizable song, a scorching electric version of
"All Along the Watchtower" which brought most of the crowed back on their
feet.. blistering guitar duets between Dylan and Charlie...

And then the timeless "Blowin' in the Wind".. again, I wouldn't put it on
my wish list (I was hoping for Blind Willie McTell all night.. that is one
reason I drove from Memphis to Little Rock.. in the hope he will sing this
song for me.. but he doesn't.. I'm so jealous of you people who have heard
it live)...  HOWEVER, as much as many of us hate to hear this song over
and over.. young people like Emma have never heard it at all, and here is
a lifetime event for them to hear the man who wrote the classic peace and
civil rights masterpiece deliver it himself.. and Emma loved it!  And the
harmony of Charlie, Bob and Larry on the chorus make it very powerful...
more powerful than the version on Dylan's Greatest Hits which most people
have heard...

Well.. I didn't get to hear Blind Willie McTell.. maybe next time...come
back to Memphis soon Bob.. and bring Blind Willie!

I didn't get to ask Emma how she liked the concert.. but her daddy was
grinning throughout the show and I'm hoping that seeing Bob live tonight
will change her life... and when she is a woman, maybe she will bring her
kids to see Bob and tell them about the first time she saw him back in

I was off back to Memphis with NO DINNER.. and never found a place to
eat...popping peanuts and Diet Mountain Dew all the way back to

Jim in Memphis


Review by Frank Stagg

i just read the review from jim maynard for the performance at riverfest
amphitheatre in little rock.  we must have been near.  left of center four
deep.  very pleasant crowd.  the little girl & dad walked through us to
the front.  drove north thru the mississippi delta (u.s. 61 on east of
river) for six hours.  very nice venue, first time in little rock, my
(elmer) 13th show, spike 6, jerry 6, tanya & steve first.  Was pleased
with the choice of opening 'It ain't no lie'.  Thought band was
struggling.  Mysterious lighting for 'Desolation Row' and the band settled
in.  very good show.  'Dont Think Twice' stole the show for me. 
Outstanding acoustic guitars, original tempo, he gotta play the harp to
this, and he did. Excellent performance.  Preceded by 'Visions of
Johanna', my first time live, it was in the '66 manner.  And that was set
up with electric 'Absolutely Sweet Marie' (another first timer for me, six
in all), 'She Belongs to Me' and 'Tombstone Blues'.  Blonde on Blonde/Hwy
61 cuts were predominant.  'Most likely' had fun guitar riff from charlie
sexton, bob worked with him.  reminescent of hofhienz pavillion in '74,
but 'Drifters Escape' was rockin.  He did a five song finale (he had been
doing six, i guess 'Tombstone Blues' covered for hwy. 61).  The drums
drove 'Watchtower' and nice hendrix licks.  The background vocals for
'Knockin' were the highlite of the encore set, nice rendition.  Larry
Campbell worked thru a broken string (A?) on 'Blowin in the Wind' to close
out but the show already had an excellent rating.  it was all one could
ask for. (he only played 19 cuts, ha!)  my count is 28 songs that have not
been repeated in the 4 shows beginning this u.s. tour.  how can one
anticipate?  bob's guitar runs had emotion and expression yet restrained. 
in thibodeaux in '95 with riffs of reckless abound, the next level kept
ongoing.  this is an execllent show setting up the upcoming colorado
shows. a must.


Review by Don Ely

Had my sights (and my compass) set on the Little Rock show Tuesday,August 14 
as part of my second annual tour of The Mississippi Delta and surrounding 
regions.This roadtrip would see me locate the graves of Leadbelly,Ishmon 
Bracey,Jack Owens,Elmore James,and Mississippi John Hurt,as well as visiting 
the Vicksburg National Military Park and many other fascinating sites.I 
arrived in North Little Rock around 5pm,two hours before the published 
showtime.On the way I had passed through Marvell,Arkansas,hometown of Band 
drummer Levon Helm,obviously the town's favorite son based on the sign 
placed at the outskirts.Tonight's venue,Riverfest Amphitheater,was 
conveniently set just off I-30,nestled on the banks of the Arkansas River.
The freeway exit ramp spiralled down to street level,and at it's center 
was a municipal lot which offered free parking.Free parking!I liked this 
town already!As I left my car I walked with some friendly folks up! the 
block and over to President Clinton Avenue,past somee museums,and 
through the Little Rock Market Place,a large exhibition area.
I entered Riverfront Park in search of tickets.Usually for out-of-town shows 
(I'm from Detroit) I purchase tickets in advance,but since this arena could 
hold 10,000 I opted to buy 'em at the gate.Tix for the "pit" area,directly in 
front of the stage,were available,so I was set.While waiting in line with the 
other pilgrims to be let in,we saw the "Little Rock" on the banks of the 
Arkansas for which the city is named.Once inside I made sure to visit the 
concessions and purchase my Bob posters early.I don't like carrying them 
around the entire show,where they are subject to damage,but I was shut out 
during the most recent Knoxville and Ann Arbor gigs and did not want to miss 
out again.With an average print run of about 300,people are finally catching 
on.  I met some interesting people prior to showtime,we whiled away the time 
talking all things Dylan and other musicians as the start time was in 
actuality an hour later than that which had been announced.And then,"Good 
Evening,Ladies and Gentlemen,would you please welcome...",and we did,
wholeheartedly!Things started out a little unbalanced during "Oh Babe,It Ain't 
No Lie";it took Bob and the boys a little time to steady the boat.But once 
they had control of the helm,it was definitely "Damn the torpedoes,full speed 
ahead"!A nice "Tambourine Man" was next,followed by "Desolation Row", a number 
that was a favorite offolks I talked to around town that night and the next 
day.One of the evening's surprises,"She Belongs ToMe" followed "Sweet Marie",
chased by an energetic "Tombstone Blues".The personal highlight was "Visions 
of Johanna",the first of this tour.If I were given the nigh impossible task 
of choosing a favorite Bob composition,it would be this one."Inside the 
museums Infinity goes   up on trial."I savored every lyric of this fine song 
as though it were a fine chocolate.I had held out seventeen shows to see 
this one live,and it was as good as imagined.I always thought I would cry 
when Bob played "Visions",butnow ain't the time for my tears!
A most excellent "'Til I Fell In Love With You" was the first of two "Time 
Out Of Mind" selections.I maintained small hope that Bob And His Band would 
preview "Love And Theft" for the assembled mavens,even "Mississippi",already 
recorded by Sheryl Crow,but they did not.Unlike some performers Dylan prefers 
the albumbe released before he plays the songs live.The best and 
hardest-rocking "Drifter's Escape" I've yet heard was played before the main 
set concluded with "Rainy Day Women".This last selection was done with more 
conviction than usual for what has essentially become a nod to the partiers 
in the crowd.  Five songs followed in the encore,with no surprises.Charlie 
dodged the giant dragonflies that werecarried on the river breezes.A 
beautiful night(we were spared from all the rain in the area this week),a 
great performance,and a respectful,knowledgeable audience added up to one 
great time.I wonder what the drivers above on the I-30 bridge were thinking 
as they looked upon Bob Dylan And His Band?

Don Ely


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