Bob Dylan 2000.07.06 in Oklahoma, OK
Zoo Amphitheater, 2101 N.E. 50th St.
Subject: OK City Review (long) From: email@example.com Date: 07 Jul 2000 07:09:52 GMT Folks -- I sent this to Bill Pagel as well. -------------------------------------------- July 6, 2000: The Superhuman Crew It all started, for me at least, after the closing chords of a crisp, El Rey-esque "Oh, Babe, It Ain't No Lie" left shards stuck in the ears of a nearly capacity Zoo Amphitheatre crowd, one of the best & most energetic non-club throngs I've ever seen or heard (prolly because of the GA & smaller size of the place). It was about 7:15, & the sun was as fierce as it had been hours before, beating straight down on the boys, including the sprite in the middle of it all, blinking his eyes & smoothing his rumpled black suit, wiping the sweat from his pale brow ... but more on him later. To his right, Larry Campbell shook his head & mouthed "I'm all right" as Al Santos tried to hand him what I believe was a violin for "My Back Pages," rehearsed during soundcheck along with "Tough Mama," "She Belongs to Me," "If Not for You," & "Somebody Touched Me," among others. No, it wouldn't be "My Back Pages" or even a stately waltz-through of "To Ramona." Not tonight, & not in Oklahoma. "I'm ouuuttt heere a thousand maahhls from my home, walkin' a road other miin have gone down..." It was almost a whisper, albeit a clearly enunciated one, & it left most of his eager listeners clueless. But it got louder, hitting its raspy peak at the spot that demanded it: "Heeeeyyy-HEY, Woody Guuuuthrrie, I wrote you a song," those last five words tumbling down upon each other, iwroteyouasong, almost as an afterthought. Almost as if saying, in retrospect, "And I've written a hell of a lot more too, some for you & some not, but ya know what, ya old Okie, it doesn't really matter right now." It was poetry, the whole fuckin' story captured in about two seconds. & the crowd goes wild. & Dylan absolutely nails the song & he knows it, & his band nails it too & they know it, Tony's quick-smile expression rigid & humorless in concentration, his fingers dancing slowly across his battered stand-up fret & strings; Charlie's boyish visage all solemn & awestruck at the same time. Dylan's inflection & timing with the song strikes me as the same inflection & timing he would have used if performing the song live in 1962, with his mournful, brittle voice constructed for the sole purpose of singing lines like "well it looks like it's a-dyin' & it's hardly been born" & "the very last thing that I'd want to do is to say I've been hittin' some hard travelin' too" ... oh, it was beautiful ... so perfect ... Dylan glances around at the band afterward, knowingly. Tony smiles. Kemper adjusts his cymbals to block out the sun. And together, after a brief consultation, they launch into "Desolation Row," a tough tune to pull off, what with its scattered absurdist verse & bitter sarcasm, after an emotional investment like "Song to Woody." But apparently not, man, 'cause they handle this one too. Bob, to my ear, does not miss an attempted lyric, & does not allow an instrumental break until before the "I received yer letter yesterday" final stanza (yeah, it's a damn poem, obviously), where it should be. Throughout the song Dylan scrutinizes the crowd & flashes them a million different expressions ranging from skepticism ("Romeo, uh, he's a-muuuhhoooanin', 'ya belong to me I beliiieve'") to scorn ("yesiknowthemthey're quite laaaaame") ... by now there's a gorgeous woman on her man's shoulders, right near centerstage, smiling & laughing & singing along & waving at Bob & Dylan's up to his old tricks again ... Now is when I'm thinking, man, it's hot as hell out here ... & we just drove from Texas! How are they doing it? Bob is a 59-yr.-old man. He has no sunglasses & his hair isn't quite as springy as usual, Larry is soaked through, Tony is positively sheeny. The sun is just a bastard today, scorching the crowd since they lined up & now causing Bob & the Boys to cut down the acoustic set, with the customarily well-received "Tangled" sneaking into the four-spot. I see a pretty young girl who had been chatting away during Dylan's first few songs gripping the chainlink fence separating us from America's greatest artistic contribution & staring, spellbound as he spits out "she never escaped his mind," "burning coal," "mathematicians," "truckdrivers' wives," "another joint" & other secret passwords in a swirling map of America. Tonight, "Tangled" is not just "Tangled." It's a revealation, & he sings it for the billionth time, & for the billionth time he means every word. "Searching for a Solider's Grave" followed, really fucking with the audience's head. Dylan obviously loves the song, & he renders it with such tenderness & conviction, & garners polite applause for his craftmanship ... I'm really glad I was able to hear this one ... Larry's mandolin is wonderful. Dylan is working up a solid sweat by now, probably from proving his RMD critics wrong once again with some stirring guitar work, which provides a few priceless moments of him leaning back in bliss, back straight & head turned gracefully upward as he strikes clean on the strings. When he returns his gaze to his admirers, he looks very tired, eyes unfocused, as if he went to Heaven for a while & came back to finish the show, to give the crowd its money's worth, you know?. Which brings us to the electricity. A rollicking "Country Pie" was a treat, Dylan crouching to his knees & & tilting his head at the mike ... "raspberry, strawberry, lemon, & lime, whaddddooo i care?" Save for getting a little tongue-tied & pronouncing "plum" "plume," Dylan pulls this off well, winning the crowd back after the "downer" "Grave" ... I especially dig his phrasing with "Coooooooouuuuunnnnttttrrryyyyyyyyyyyy PIE!" ... He held "country" for like five minutes at one point, I swear. Rock & roll fun, ladies & gentlemen, all baked golden brown down on the farm. I was hoping for "Tough Mama" at this point, but got "If Not for You" instead ... not bad, not bad ... Bob had a few problems with the lyrics, repeating, & mix-n-matching, & poor timing ("I'd be lost" was cut out 'cause he mistimed the bridge a bit), but the melody is liltingly trance-inducing, & the boys of course executed it very nicely. "Down in the Flood" just rocks, for lack of a better term. He stares at the faces bobbing below the lip of the stage & offers only "you gonna miss yer best friend nooooooOOWWw/you better go & find yerself another best friend somehoooooOOOWWw," grimacing as the sweat skitters down his eyelids & drips from his iconic nose. Twice he strums a heavy, repetitive chord that builds into a cataclysmic instrumental from the band, once holding up his guitar for all to see. Quite a moment. Quite a song. It's not harp yet but it's getting there. Bob speaks with Tony & Tony speaks with the rest of the band ... "Tears of Rage" maybe? No, "I Don't Believe You," which sounded a little half-assed ... the song is over before it even seems to begin, Bob jumping back & forth between verses like he really wasn't prepared to do it, but it's all right ... the short harp closing covered the tracks a bit, but I wasn't really moved by the performance ... I'll have to check the tape, though. The next song more than made up for it, as I finally heard "Drifter's Escape" live ... by now Bob is visibly exhausted, but his phrasing is riveting, the jingle-jangled melody is spine-tingling, & the harp solo is so perfect for the song ... a breeze is blowing now, & Dylan's mane is blown to one side of his head as he stands leaning on one leg with his back to one side of the crowd, his guitar stabbing straight into the middle of the horizon, his profile severe & sincere ... "the trial was bad enough, but this is 10 times worse" ... everybody knows what happens to the drifter, man, it's in the title ... but I pretended I didn't know, & when Bob yelled out the word "escape," the song just got me in the gut ... so much going on in that tune, it's hard to keep track. Bob introduced the band & hesitated before telling another joke about Kemper. He finally said something I only partially heard about golfing & strokes or tee-shirts or something ... I dunno ... (Look here) "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat" finished off the set with a stunning solo by Charlie (my brother called him a great American bluesman after the show) & nimble prancing by Bob Dylan, who sang with vigor & humor on this one, which the crowd loved ... it was really fuckin' loud. As the song ended, Dylan whipped off his guitar flamboyantly & held it at his side, & the band stood like soldiers around him leaning on their instruments, staring out into the crowd. Their return saw "Things Have Changed," which was very cool (I swear Bob sang "'I'm' a worried man... & he definitely sang "sapphire-tinted" instead of "sapphire-tempered"; just an aside for the obsessives) ... the crowd knew the tune, which must feel good for a guy whose latest single has occurred almost 40 years from his first ... "LARS" was a singalong from the crowd, & Bob noodled off into a semi-solo that amused the hell out of Tony, who looked at his fellow players like, "where the hell is he going" but that amounted to a nice instrumental bridge that brought another smile to his face (someone earlier in the crowd had complimented him on his hat, to which Garnier gave a thumbs-up & big grin). "Girl of the North Country" was gentle & well-sung, Bob again showing good work on his axe ... "RDW#12&35" finished things off, & it was the best version I've heard at a show ... Bob was all smiles during this one, chatting with Tony as he played & laughing at the joints thrown on stage ... he whipped off his guitar again & clutched it to his chest tightly, & then actually placed his hand on his heart & stared out into the wild crowd, eventually flirting some more with some chick to whom he kept pointing ... classic ... people are not overestimating the 2000 tour, folks ... Bob is truly in his third or fourth prime, & I have seen it for myself ... on to Kansas City ... -- Shawn
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2000 11:45:24 -0700 From: Rob Collins firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: DYLAN OKLAHOMA CITY REVIEW To: email@example.com HERE IS THE TEXT: Dylan rocks the Zoo; Lesh set full of jam Jul 14 2000 12:00AM By Rob Collins pop editor OKLAHOMA CITY - Tickets billed the July 6 show as "Phil Lesh and Friends in concert with Bob Dylan," but it was more like King Dylan in reverse. The 59-year-old Dylan opened for Lesh's jam band, performing an 82-minute set that upstaged the later performance by the former bassist of the Grateful Dead. Call Dylan what you want - folksinger, poet, prophet, rock 'n' roll guitarist - but the fact remains that he is an American icon. And he still knows how to rock. Dylan, dressed in a black suit with black and white wing-tipped shoes, began his acoustic set with a lively cover of "Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie" written by finger-picking guitarist Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten. Before commencing the second song, Dylan greeted the crowd with a quick "Thank You!" For his second ditty, Dylan dusted off his "Song to Woody" for the first time on this summer's tour. It's no coincidence he performed this 1962 song in Woody Guthrie's native state. The stirring lyrics were particularly fitting: "Hey, hey Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song / About a funny old world that's coming along / Seems sick and it's hungry, it's tired and it's torn / It looks like it's dying, and it's hardly been born." Next, the epic "Desolation Row" was slow and determined. Dylan stood straight-legged as the crowd responded to the line, "Everyone is making love / Or else expecting rain." This song showcased the musicianship of Dylan's backing band - Texas guitar phenom Charlie Sexton; Larry Campbell on guitar, mandolin, pedal steel and fiddle; bassist Tony Garnier; and drummer David Kemper - which Bob later introduced as "some of the finest players in the country." Steady, staccato acoustic riffs accented the song's conclusion, with Dylan gingerly squatting like an elder Elvis. Dylan progressed to occasional foot-stomping on the next classic, "Tangled Up in Blue," which was played with a funky, shuffling beat. Bob clearly knew the limitations of his weathered voice, singing the beginning of the song's title with a twang before reducing the intensity of his delivery. Still, his vocals were intelligible during the entire set. Although Dylan's acoustic sets on this tour have typically included six songs, the hot Oklahoma sun may be the reason Bob only performed five before an estimated 9,500 fans at the Zoo. The final performance of the acoustic set was a cover of "Searching for a Soldier's Grave" written by Johnnie Wright and Jim and Jack Anglin. Going electric Dylan's electric set demonstrated the contrast of his current line-up compared with the band that backed his 1996 metro performance at the Civic Center. Campbell, a multi-instrumentalist who recently replaced Bucky Baxter in the band, proved to be more of a rocking force than Baxter. While Bucky was a maestro at playing organ parts live on pedal steel, Campbell contributed mainly on guitar and mandolin. The playful "Nashville Skyline" nugget "Country Pie" launched Dylan's July 6 electric set. Sexton's lead work crawled like a small-town alley cat let loose in the big city. The second electric tune, "If Not for You," stumbled a bit before stabilizing with a solid beat. The sun was still in Dylan's eyes during this "New Morning" tune, which debuted on the current tour just three nights before in Albuquerque, N.M. Dylan regained his groove with a rocking rendition of "Down in the Flood." Kemper's determined drumming - coupled with Sexton's searing solos - made the song mean and nasty like an outtake from the Rolling Stones' "Let It Bleed" album. The kiss-off "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)" was oddly subdued toward the end of the electric set. Instead of using a harmonica holder, Dylan played the mouth organ one-handed while clutching his guitar with his right arm. A one-handed harmonica solo also appeared in a singular version of "Drifter's Escape." Dylan really should use the holder, because some of his hand-held playing was off-key. The rendition of "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" that closed the regular set was more energetic than the yearning blues of the original "Blonde on Blonde" version. Dylan, occasionally shaking his head and laughing, delivered the song's lyrics with a trademark sneer: "Well, I see you got a new boyfriend / You know, I never seen him before / Well, I saw him making love to you / You forgot to close the garage door." After pausing nonchalantly during a standing ovation, Dylan began the encore with a rocking "Things Have Changed," a new single recently included on the "Wonder Boys" soundtrack. Near the side of the stage, Sexton stood sheepishly in the wings during the classic "Like a Rolling Stone." The song started off surprisingly mellow, as Dylan intoned the lyrics like a priest. An acoustic version of "Girl of the North Country" was hushed and delicate. The crowd remained standing for this tune, which was more similar to the 1963 rendition from "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" than the 1969 "Nashville Skyline" duet with Johnny Cash. Finally, Dylan included the obligatory "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35" for the final song of the encore. Campbell played pedal steel as the crowd ignited during the notorious chorus, "Everybody must get stoned." Dylan put on a black cowboy hat as he quickly exited the stage. Too much jam If Dylan's show was about the lyrics, then the set performed by Phil Lesh and Friends was about the music. There's no denying the high quality of musicianship boasted by the 60-year-old Lesh's band - jazz guitarist Robben Ford, drummer John Molo plus keyboardist Bill Payne and guitarist Paul Barrere of Little Feat - which created a roller-coaster of peaking improvisation that bordered on mindless noodling. Deadheads longing for a reincarnation of their beloved band were appeased by an extended jam that included "St. Stephen," "The Eleven" and "Mississippi Half-Step." The set also featured "Bird Song," "Oh Atlanta" - a Little Feat tune - and "The Wheel" leading into "Scarlet Begonias." Although the band played "Casey Jones" for the encore, the Lesh set lacked popular Dead classics such as "Franklin's Tower" or "Eyes of the World." For years, fans clamored to let Phil sing. Now we know why he didn't sing much until now. Although Lesh's vocals were buried in the sound mix, his singing was suspect throughout the July 6 set, leading many to long for Jerry Garcia - or at least another vocalist to lend a helping hand. The instrumentation was undeniably exquisite - this is an excellent jam band - but the overall effect seemed to be a long, strange and anticlimactic trip following the Dylan set. Rob Collins can be reached at 366-3533 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.