Denver, Colorado
Pepsi Center
October 26, 2002

[Brian Doyle], [Leslie Hansen], [Windowcrawler]

Review by Brian Doyle

It was a great to be back in Denver, arriving home around 11am Saturday
from the drive back from Bernalillo, New Mexico. It's 3am here (Sunday) as
I write this, following a brief review of the show from New Mexico. I hope
to more clearly paint the landscape here, although I am very tired, and
don't use spell check so be nice to me. The Pepsi center here is unfondly
nicknamed "The Can", I was very shocked when Bob booked the place. It's
large, home of some Hockey team, and owned by Walmart, in a round about
sort of way. This was the first concert I have been to there that was not
sold out, or at least close to it. Too bad, tonight's show was the best I
have ever seen at the Can. The Pepsi Center is a nice venue, but the seats
are very tight and very steep. It's very modern and update in all areas
though, and it's hard to believe that Coor's Field is now the oldest
sports venue in the city. We arrived at 6pm and already a line had formed
at the GA door and the staff was giving wristbands for floor admission to
help the crush that would occur once the doors opened at 7pm. People were
in great spirits, and talking about the setlists. It's always nice to see
a young audience, and I would guess that 3/4 of them are in that bracket.
I saw so many people I knew that I could barely hang out, so the wait went
rather quickly. Once the doors opened the "Railers" made a mad dash for
the front, but I was happy being about 2o heads back in the center. It was
still an hour from show time, and the place was slow in filling up. I
would venture that it was a little over half sold, once all had entered.
It was great to think that this was already Bob's 3rd appearance in
Colorado this year, and after last night, I was anticipating the setlist
with great desire. Finally, the music came on, the house lights dimmed,
and Al announced the Columbia recording star turned Magician/leadman from
the "Music Man" (YEAH, I AM OLD)/band director/Bob Dylan. They waste no
time in " To be alone with you" to turn this classic upside down and
across your head. Bob clings to the phrase, "I always thank the Lord, when
the workday is done" and delivers a poignant version to the delight of
this smaller, yet into Bob crowd. He follows again with "In the
Summertime", my, my, two nights in a row when this collected dust for so
long. "Tombstone Blues" rollicks through the new uptempo beat, and the
guys are just enjoying themselves so much. The sound is incredible, as in
good, given the size of the place and it seemed a more warm performance
than last night, and quite a bit cheaper I might add! "Accidently like a
martyr" is done with fine respect with and for Warren. It's clear,
concise, and so sweet. Take my advice, buy your tickets, the Music Man is
coming to your town and he's not selling any band uniforms or trombones
(or alibi's for that matter). He's selling his mature, head of the band,
and confident in his own work, one for the road mystery tour. "Watching
the River Flow" is vamping, gushing with this lighter, yet biting,
rendition. The next song jumped at least 10 decibels when they pounded the
chords for "Brown Sugar", pure honey here, rock and roll, and very much a
crowd pleaser. Bob has to drop a knotch to offer up "Just like a Woman", I
believe that it sounds better than ever, save maybe the Bangladesh
version. Then, the real magic pours out, "It's allright Ma", not bleeding
anymore, but jumps and swings, a definite groove. I am really into this
now, and Bob perfectly executes "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol". His
voice is in great form, he's clear, he's sharp, and no slurs. Who are
these fools that say Bob is back on the bottle? He's drunk allright, right
from the cup, and Mr. Dylan knows what cup I am talking about. He's drunk
with life, and I think maybe for the first time, finally reaching the
inner peace that most long for. He's delivering, hear the message. "Cold
Irons Bound" is so much more improved than the TOOM album, it swelters,
yeah, twenty miles out of town and 10,000 miles down the road. Then, the
night's most tender and sincere song is ringing "The times they are a
changing", very clear, and I don't think a botched verse or word, and the
band is tight, like a thousand rubber bands wrapped around a deck of
cards. It's focused and in concluding Bob says " That song was for my man,
the Senator from Minnesota". Some thought that was the intro for "Old
Man", not the tribute that Bob intended from and for the liberal Paul
Wellstone who was tragically killed, that he leaked from his heart with
"Times: Now, of course "Old man" is a great cover, and Larry and Charlie
are almost sounding like Nash and Stills backing the stand-in Neil, Bob
Dylan. Pure magic people, don't miss this version if it sticks in there.
The band blisters out "Honest with me" and it's obvious that Bob really
strives to throw his energies into the newer Love and Theft material. "I
shall be released" is aching, and so well tuned and timed. The Bandleader
has taught his lesson. "Highwater" is another Love and Theft re-do, so
much more powerful now. I think "Toom" went through the same growing
pains, these are full size children now, no longer the debutantes, now the
meat. "Mutineer" is so moving, and Warren can be proud of his work here,
as I am sure he is. I think Hunter S. Thompson may have stirred Bob to pay
this respect if they really did meet in Aspen. I know Bob has a Warren
connection from his days with the Dead, but Thompson actually collaborated
on a Warren Zevon album if you can believe that. Then, Bob swings back
into more L and T, with a splendid "Floater", followed by another sizzling
"Summer Days". Yes, it's true, Bob and Charlie were playing the piano with
their feet, clashing cymbals, and just flat going after it tonight. Must
have been the altitude. Awesome, what can I say that I have not? Bob has
slowed the introduction of the band to just their names, and not during a
song. Sounds more personal now. He did that right before "Summer" closed
the long first set. They do the usual departure, and return with "Blowing
in the Wind". It's flawless, and again, the sound in here is just in sync.
Kudos to the soundmen. I am not sure where, but someone threw another bra
up on the stage, I think it made it there anyway. The people clearly loved
the show tonight, and had a good time and respectful for the most part.
"Watchtower" has become the bell weather end of the show tune, and it's
great as usual. I do know that "Brown Sugar" was the loudest song of the
evening, but this came close. Bob finishes, the band comes forward, and a
fun night has concluded. Fun and sincere, and prophetic.Look at what he
had here tonight, "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol", "The Times they are a
changin', and Blowing in the wind". Incredible.  Listen to his message,
all will be well. So, thank you Bob Dylan! "As you enter the city you will
meet a band of prophets, in a prophetic state, coming down from the High
place preceded by lyres, tambourines, flutes, and harps. The spirit of the
Lord will rush upon you, and you will join them in their prophetic state
and will be changed into another man." (from 1 Samuel, the oldest refrence
to a prophet in the Bible) Man, Kansas City here I come!!!!!!!!! 

Brian Doyle


Review by Leslie Hansen

I was of course excited to hear that Dylan was coming back to Denver, but
I was a little disappointed that he was playing the Pepsi Center because
it is a big venue and I knew it would not be a sold out show, so why not
play some place more intimate.  However, I was excited because I knew he
was playing a lot of piano and I had not seen much of that, especially in
recent years.  Also, I was looking forward to Old Man and Accidentally
Like a Martyr, which I knew he had been playing. Bob took the stage a
little after 8:00 (he has gotten very punctual in his old age and I was
expecting that so I made sure I was in my seat). I got into the show
immediately because he started with a rockin, To be Alone with You and we
were on our way.  Approximately every 2nd or 3rd song was a just a
blistering rocker, with the very best for last, but I'll get to that.  The
second song, In the Summertime was nice.  It is one of my favorites from
the often overlooked Shot of Love and I have never heard him do it live.
Bob was on piano and Larry played mandolin and it was a nice combo with
that song. Next came Tombstone Blues which again I thought was great
because he and the band just cooked.  Then came the expected Accidentally
Like a Martyr,  a Warren Zevon song that has always been one of my
favorites and Bob did a nice job with it. Watching the River Flow was
okay, nothing special.  Brown Sugar was good, although I am not a big
Stones fan, nevertheless I enjoyed it because the band was jammin.  The
next song, Just Like a Woman brought the only harp playing by Bob of the
night.  The song was rolling along nothing special, until Bob brought out
the harp, which was clean and clear and absolutely beautiful.  Its Alright
Ma and The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol followed and they were good
too.  I enjoyed The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol because I have never
heard it live before.  Cold Irons Bound was next and it was  fantastic,
had me dancing in the aisles.  I've heard him do this one several times in
the recent past and this was my favorite version.  He played it like a
rock song instead of a folk song and I liked the change.  The Times They
Are a Changin was the low point of the show, if there was one and I missed
the dedication to Paul Wellstone because I chose to go to the rest room
during this sleeper. When I asked my husband what Bob had said, he
couldn't tell me and I didn't even know about the dedication until I
checked this site this morning. I would like to have heard Bob say
something, anything other than the band introduction, so I was sorry I
missed it. Old Man came next and it was beautiful.  On both Zevon songs
and this song, Bob's voice was much clearer and the words more
understandable than for any of his own material.  Honest with Me was good,
nothing special but I Shall be Released was great, nice and slow with a
lot of meaning and sentiment.  High Water and Floater I did not enjoy as
much, but Mutineer, the other Zevon song was very good.  Again, you could
understand most of the words and it is just a pretty song. The last song
of the set was Summer Days, which was a real scorcher.  I knew it would be
the last song about half way through when the band was in full tilt and
the music, dare I say, was almost too loud. For his encore, Bob started
with Blowin in the Wind, with Charlie singing along, a perfect copy of the
one they did last October when Bob played Denver. But the ultimate
highlight of the evening, was the last song of the night, All Along the
Watchtower.  This was the best version I have ever heard Bob do.   Bob and
the band just screamed and had me dead dancin from the first note.
 I guess I was just in the mood for the full bore rock songs as opposed to
the slower ones.  Every song he played hard and fast I enjoyed and the
slower ones I liked best were the 2 Zevon covers and the cover of Old Man.
 It was not the best show I have seen recently, I would reserve that for
his show with Paul Simon at the old McNichols arena in June 1999, but it
was a great one.


Review by Windowcrawler

Bob Dylan came to Denver Saturday night amid a world gone wrong.

Sniper killings around Washington, theatergoers killed in Moscow, a war
looming in Iraq and the death in a plane crash of a liberal senator,
Minnesota's Paul Wellstone, who went into public service to "heed the
call" Dylan sang about in "Times They Are A-Changin."

Dylan, in an extremely strong and impassioned performance, appeared to be
acknowledging all this in a concert that had its dark side -- one in which
he refused to "talk falsely." The song list was spooky, filled with
haunting intimations of violence, mortality and the aging process. While
it was a great show, it was not a fun, light-hearted one. You had the
feeling it meant everything to the 61-year-old Dylan -- like life, itself.

Given the power and urgency (and clarity) in his vocals, as well as the
strong, fiery playing from his band, this was a defiant performance. 

Dylan has seemed to be fighting the "voice of his generation" tag for as
long as it has been used to describe him, but now he is accepting it. But
not in a self-conscious way -- rather, it comes through in his song
selection and in his determination to play and sing as forcefully as
possible, because the timeless nature of his material demands it. 

Andhe looks timeless, himself -- in his black Western suit with its red
embroidery, he appears to have led the Saturday-night house band in a
Texas road house for all his life. And he looks comfortable with it.

He performed "Times," in an acoustic arrangement with his band, and
afterward announced it as a tribute to Wellstone. And he followed it with
Neil Young's "Old Man." "Tombstone Blues" felt like a midnight walk in a
graveyard, thanks to the Creedence-like swamp boogie accompaniment. (He
played electric keyboard.) 

There were two songs written by the ailing Warren Zevon, "Accidentally
Like a Martyr" and "Mutineer." On the latter ballad, Dylan's voice cracked
with emotion as he sang, "Grab your coat, let's get out of here." 

His pessimistic but undeniably relevant "It's Allright Ma, I'm Only
Bleeding" was remarkable. As he did on about half his songs, he played
keyboard. As guitarists Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell engaged in a
duel with their plugged-in acoustic guitars, bassist Tony Garnier and
especially drummer George Receli drove each verse to a near-epiphanic
climax. The song was like a cautionary John Lee Hooker blues stomp, and
all the more chilling for it. 

"Just Like a Woman" was full of tenderness, with Campbell providing a
lilting calmness to the beautiful on pedal-steel. Dylan, toward the end,
played harmonica for the only time in the concert.

In addition to their playing, Dylan's band members provided organic,
lived-in harmonies, in the nature of the Band, on renditions of "I Shall
Be Released" and "Blowin' in the Wind." Their voices, in yearning and
heartfelt counterpoint to Dylan's, make the songs melancholy -- they seem
to highlight what can never be. Yet there is joy in the striving. 

There were some outright rave-ups in the show, especially when Dylan
played electric guitar. There were two highlights -- the rollicking swing
through the Stones' "Brown Sugar,'' and the piercingly loud set-closer
"Summer Days,'' which featured Dylan playing Chuck Berry-like chords as
Campbell and Sexton channeled the fluid and fast guitar stylings of
Western-swing and jazz. 

The encore featured "Blowin''" and a howling "All Along the Watchtower,"
the band providing Hendrix-like melodicism to the solos yet underpinning
the verses with an undulating reggae beat. 

When it was over, it felt like Dylan had faced up to everything sad
happening around him (and us) in the world and refused to give up. The
show had a dark side, yes. But it was also tough. Tough music for tough
times. Let's hope that's one thing about Dylan that never changes.


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