Winnipeg, Manitoba
Winnipeg Arena
August 24, 2002

[Brian Doyle]

Review by Brian Doyle

I am going to start by adding some comments regarding the Omaha, Sioux
Falls, and Fargo shows prior to tonight's show. Each one of them had a
familar feel, but a nice touch added to each by pulling out some pleasant
surprises on each occasion. I also confess that I had missed the "Water
Connection" from Sioux Falls when Bob played three consecutive songs with
a sort of water based theme. A wise sage later pointed this out to me and
I certainly came to appreciate that later. If I confuse you, refer to the
setlist, and you will see exactly what I describe. The tour as I caught it
was certainly worth the drive from Denver. I arrived in Manitoba within
hours after leaving Fargo,(I spent the night at the  rest stop just before
the border if that counts against me) it was a fairly easy drive. I had
been sweating crossing the border as I had two of my dogs with me this
time. I usually just bring my sidekick "Candy", but her sister "Spring"
cried so badly when I left Denver that I was forced to comply with her
demands. You know dogs train people, not the other way around. Anyway, I
crossed without incident, and must share the comments that the border
Customs officer and I exchanged. He was a sort of burly looking guy, and
sure took his job seriously. I didn't think any jokes would have flown
this morning and was glad I kept to business. He asked me what I was doing
and I said I was going to see Bob Dylan that night in Winnipeg. He said
"You must have a lot of money to come clear up here for that". I said
"It's not too expensive, it's like a vacation". Geez, I forgot to tell him
that I went the economy route all the time, though I did have to fork out
for a rental car with A/C lest my dogs fry in all the sun I encountered.
That was a good idea as it turned out. I sure appreciate the folks at the
various rest stops, and to all the people who helped me with water and
such for my two creatures of God I mention here. I did travel through some
real downpours coming out of Omaha, and severe fog coming to Fargo, but,
at last, I was here in Canada. Winnipeg is only the third or fourth city I
have ever been to here. Frankly, it is also the most boring. It reminds me
of small town gone bad, but I do admit they seem to be intent on improving
it. It's a city without much rhyme or reason, and traffic seems like it
could become a problem here. (like Denver doesn't suck either right?) I
found the venue right away, the Winnipeg Arena, and luckily there was free
covered parking right across the street at the mall and movie theatre. I
spent the day there, and even got a little nap. It was time to enter the
show and find my place among the crowds. The people were sure a quiet
bunch, and later that proved even more true. The arena itself is a hockey
arena, and didn't seem really well suited for a concert. Security seemed
very tight, and the ushers were making people sit in their assigned seats.
It was quite late into the show before they allowed the rail area to fill
in. I know that made some people happy. Baron was right up glaring at
everyone, but he's cool, just doing his job. I wonder if he can play
hockey? Probably could have signed a contract right then and there. Al
began again with it seems the now standard introduction. I really like it,
especially the lines about substance abuse and emerging to find Jesus. I
am sure that is not exactly a "put on" like alot have dismissed it. Every
night Bob is preaching the word, it's just that he does it in a more
subtle manner these days. I do shake my head and wonder sometimes about
some of the people who show up for these shows. They either had free
tickets or the cows milk ran dry and they had nothing better to do. It
would be nice to know at least one song from an artist you plan to attend.
The beer hawkers love them though, so I guess it makes it all work out.
Tonight's crowd was altogether different though. It was a bunch of people
who had obviously never been to a Dylan concert and I found that
refreshing. No obnoxious drunks, just ordinary folks having a good time.
They are the people that Bob talks about that he's not playing for the
people in the front, but the ones in the back who have never heard him.
Tonight they were everywhere though, amazing and polite. They actually sat
through the whole show and admonished others who did feel the compulsion
to stand from time to time, but, again, in a polite and not hollering
method. Dylan and the boys began with "I am the Man, Thomas", a pleasing
rendition, but again I wonder sometimes if people know what that song is
all about. It's a carefully selected tune, and one that I had hoped he
would play tonight. The show moved along with pretty standard fare, all
delivered in his special and professional methods. His phrasing was on
tonight and the Band is as tight as ever. George is now at home, and even
Bob seems appreciative of his new sound. In slot six tonight out came a
very sweet "Your'e a Big Girl now, and Larry backed it nicely with his
pedal steel that seemed to me anyway, a bit more out on front tonight,
closer to the rail. Was I correct here, I was about 14 rows back? This was
followed by another fine "You ain't going nowhere" and Bob blasted a
little bit on the harmonica, and then set it up perfectly for "Honest with
me". "Cold Irons Bound" is growing on me more each time I hear it, I
really think the live version he is doing now is greatly improved.
"Tangled up in blue" has been very hot this whole tour, and no exception
here tonight. I am sort of tiring of the "Rainy Day Woman" song as his
last before the break, although the intros for each member of this great
band has been a welcome extended version. This is a great band, and they
feed from each other like vampires, sucking the souls from the very songs
they deliver night after night. It's quite an accomplishment to pull off,
and have FUN doing it. Soon, the Band has departed, a glare from each,
perhaps a smile. They retreat, and then venture to the stage to offer up
the classics that make Bob, well, Bob. I still shiver when I close my eyes
and listen to "Blowing in the Wind", and realize that the answer will
always be out there, just out of reach, until this world disappears. The
show is over, and I hear a younger kid say to his friend, "This might be
the best concert I have ever been to", his friend agrees, but throws in a
"But, that Paul McCartney show was sure good". I had a warm feeling
leaving tonight, even though I had to drive straight back to Denver. Bob
really does play for those kids, and for the addicts alike. I had heard a
very amusing line from a guy in Sioux Falls a couple nights back. A fellow
to my right towards the end yelled out "Everything is Broken", and a guy
in front of me who had obviously been enjoying the fermented beverages way
to much, sort of staggered, and said " No it's not, it sounds good". You
had to be there I guess. I enjoyed meeting "Patrick" who had followed this
Summer tour from the start, and it's great to see the caravan of fans who
never tire of the Never ending Tour. To the "LADY with BLUE VAN", I
thought more of our conversation. You are 100% right, we all have our
reasons, and what ever those dreams, or feelings, or thoughts are, they
make sense when we follow the paths of our own hearts. I look forward to
Grand Junction and Aspen, more in my backyard, and what a site that will
be to witness Bob at his first appearance in Aspen. So, God bless all of
you, and God bless you Bob Dylan. You Are the MAN.

Brian Doyle


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