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Bob Dylan 961102 in Birmingham, Alabama

Subject: Random notes on Birmingham
From: Jim Tillman (jimt@MAIL.TECLINK.NET)
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 1996 14:22:09 -0600

YOUNG, MY BACK PAGES, I'LL REMEMBER YOU and great impassioned performances
in a beautifully "Gaudy" old theatre, but until Tangled Up in Blue the crowd
seemed to be the real antiques...with only polite applause between songs and
one Lone girl dancing on the third row, the crowd on the floor remained
seated until DOn't think Twice. ..and then all hell broke loose! With four
aisles to the front it quickly got crowded down by the stage...By the end of
God Knows at least eighty people(guys and girls) were dancing around on the
front edge of the stage from one end to the other completely blocking the
view......Everyone was cleared off and Bob 's version of I'll remember you
was transcendent...HIGHWAY 61 was next and there was more mayhem as the
stage jumpers enclosed the stage again...Finally there were cleared again
and this time security put an end to the stage jumping....STUCK INSIDE OF
MOBILE was awesome and the drummer added some nice cymbal sounds to this
one...Which included all of the verse ...Bob seemed to be looking up into
the balcony a good deal and paid more attention to jamming with JJ tonight,
going over to him and  playing side by side...Great Vocals on FOREVER YOUNG
...During RDW a huge cloud of smoke billowed from the crowd towards Bob and
he started making a little bit more eye contact with the crowd in front of
the stage...when it ended Bob motioned slapping high fives with the air in
front of people, but didn't come to the edge of the stage and touch
anyone...SOmeone threw
a cassette up to him but the roadies threw it back to the crowd....

I talked briefly with Jon JJ Jackson who was leaving the show with his wife...
I asked him about the lack of Grateful Dead songs these days and he said
they would be working them back in...I asked him about the new Stormy Season
Album, and he said "Yeah, I read about that", but he would neither confirm
nor deny the rumors.

Overall, another awesome performance, though I felt like Bob had to work
much harder to get much response from the crowd...maybe those floor seats
were just too comfortable

Subject: notes from birmingham... From: Christine Consolvo ( Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 03:24:59 GMT Well, on I went to Birmingham and the Alabama Theatre. What a beautiful place...restored impeccably and manned by hospitality conscious Alabama folks. It really seemed very small, but capacity was fairly large due to the mezzanine and balcony areas. The enormous stained glass light fixtures and sculpted, enameled surfaces were a sight to behold...almost (but not quite) rivaling the main act. Gone were the Greatest Hits from the night before, replaced by some of the most fantastic versions of a few of my all-time favorite songs. Every Grain of Sand being a case in point. It was glorious, radiant, magical...I was held in a mystic transport...a floating sensation overcame me and the song seemed almost endless...Oh, the flowers of induuuuuuuulgence, indeed! When he sang about "gazing into the doorway of temptation's angry face", he turned his head just a bit and a look washed over his face as if he was doing *just* that. A mix of pleasure and trepidation...unbelievable...This delivery was almost like he was an actor in a play, or reminiscent of an operatic theme...His expressions were priceless, precious, and as he sang with such feeling he kept taking short, choppy breaths...his chest heaving from the pressure. Mere words fail to describe the richness of this performance... The stage was of a different shape than most. A half oval that jutted out farther than most. There was no barrier and it was not tall. The monitors and performers were placed well back from the front providing an open area. After the rush, and during God Knows, many, many young people jumped onto it nearly filling it up. Due (I think) to the fact that there was so much free space, they did stay back from Bob...a relief to me because they were so numerous. It tends to frighten me when this happens and Bob is overcome. Glad as I was about that though, I was not glad that I could not see him for the better part of the song. After the song ended, security herded them all off and then was beefed up with more crew members watching from the sides with flashlights. Then, just after Highway 61 began, it started all over again. First just a handful, then a group, then the stage (the outer area) was filled to overflowing. They were made to stay low for the most part and sat cross-legged behind the monitors adoring the feature attraction. Still, those at the edge were up and dancing and the well-behaved among us were left to imagine what the rest of the song looked like. It took some time to clear the stage afterward and finally Bob, who was still onstage, started playing an instrumental riff. As Joe C. dubbed it--a little gettin'-off-the-stage music. Dylan appeared pretty amused with himself and this ditty. After that it was obvious that security would allow no more of this fun for the evening and that was the last of it. It was Gentleman Bob again tonight with the hat and all. When he came back for Rainy Day Women, he had rearranged his hair and put his hat back on. In doing so though, one large, very wet curl wound up dangling down right between his eyes. I thought he would surely have to push it aside, but he resisted and there it hung, configured like a double cork screw...sweat dripping from it and running down his nose endlessly. Yet another visual image to file with many others from this be called upon for many years to come... Just thought I'd mention it... Christine
Subject: Birmingham 11/2 Review From: "William C. Parr" (wparr@UTK.EDU) Date: Sat, 9 Nov 1996 10:28:40 -0500 Some thoughts on the Birmingham, Alabama November 2, 1996 Dylan concert. Got to meet Gier Olson -- hi, Gier! Fan from Norway, here in the states on business, and flew in from New York for the show. Now, there's an example of commitment for US fans. He flew all the way from New York to Birmingham for this show. And can you believe I've heard people say "It's a long way from Knoxville to Birmingham. I'll just catch him in Chattanooga." Craig J -- isn't this amazing! That someone would pass on a Dylan concert within a coupl of hundred miles of home, unless they had an unavoidable conflict? First of all re the concert: If you weren't there, you missed something great. Highlights such as Every Grain of Sand, a version of Silvio which, toward the end, positively shined, God Knows with guitar which sounded like machine guns (no mercy to be found this late in the set!), I'll Remember You (If you missed this one, you lost out!), and Forever Young (acoustic) as one of the three encores. And, a kind of jazzy instrumental riff between God Knows and I'll Remember You. It's now Thursday, November 7 and I'm still thinking about this night. Of the two nights I saw on the current tour (November 2 and November 3), by far the most preferable. (Although my family and guest preferred November 3, which had a log more "greatest hits" content.) So, here goes: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Columbia Recording artist Bob Dylan! Dylan and crew march on playing Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood). I hear no signs of weakness, lack of practice, or lack of coordination (and there is a new drummer, after all!). Dylan's vocal starts out strong. I'm sitting in the "Dress Circle," an area between the orchestra and the balcony. With an absolutely wonderful view of the concert. Even later on in the night when fans "seize the stage," I' ll have a completely unobstructed, and amazingly close, view of Dylan. Who, by the way, has come on stage in a light colored (white!) hat! Dressed in a kind of countrified suit. Next, we get "If You See Her, Say Hello." Nicely done. Not the best I've ever heard. But well done. And, watching the new drummer (who Dylan repeatedly turns to face -- to talk to? To watch? To make sure he's on track with what's coming next? Next: All Along the Watchtower. No surprises here. I've brought along Jane (wife), Aaron (younger son), Bill (friend of Aaron), and Bennett (another friend of Aaron). The last two of whom are rapidly becoming Dylan fanatics. AATW is well enough done that I'm glad they've heard it. Next: A few notes. I can't believe it! What do I hear? Yes, it's Every Grain of Sand. What can I say about this song? Either the song, or the performance in Birmingham? It's wonderful. My first time to hear this one. Dylan is obviously enjoying this one, and showing off. Several smiles for the audience. He's happy with his performance (my interpretation). At the end of the song, looks up into the balcony, and smiles. "Flowers of indulgence..." Those of you who wonder if you should attend a Dylan concert, if it's worth the trouble -- here's the answer. Dylan is almost breathless at times. I think he's as proud and impressed with his performance as I am. Next: I'll be your baby tonight. Nice. Silvio --- I'm surprised that after all the performances this one sounds different again. Gets really spacey in the last 1.5 minutes. Garcia lives on. Tangled up in blue (acoustic) is next, #7 on the setlist. Professionally performed. Dylan is obviously thinking about the new drummer a lot. Repeatedly, he turns around and checks out something with him, or gestures to Tony G. And then Tony G. Does the check out. My Back Pages -- I'm not a great fan of "greatest hits" type set lists. And am thankful for EGOS already. But My Back Pages, acoustic, is VERY WELL PERFORMED. Dylan repeatedly looking at JJ -- no signs of the earlier rifts reported by Christine Consolvo at the Texas shows. (Sigh of relief on this one, Christine!) And, now, with the band cranked up, we get: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (acoustic). Next: God Knows. This one if from Mount Sinai. Full of thunder, rage. Honest, the guitars sound like machine guns. There is a fury at play here. The man is enjoying the performance -- he's in charge, playing as part of a band that knows what he wants and is able to deliver. The drummer has come into his own -- a lot more "jazzy" than Winston. This version of "God Knows" is absolutely, positively, one that you've got to hear. Don't miss it. (And by the way it was almost, but not quite, as good the next night in Chattanooga.) God Knows wraps up. With the usual rock star kind of finish that Dylan seems to have become fond of for his electric numbers. And then -- what is this going on? A strange instrumental riff -- I don't recognize the tune! Nothing familiar to me. Anybody pick this one out? It lasts about 30 seconds, I'd estimate from memory, and then Dylan is all smiles. Proud of this one, obviously. Smiling all around at the band, and at the audience. It's really a pleasure to see the man so obviously playing with a band he's proud of, producing music which he likes. And, we now get . . . I'll Remember You! Another treat. Crooning. Thanks for this one, Bob. Next: Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again. Anybody EVER heard a version of this? I haven't. Encores: Highway 61 -- the fans take the stage. And I'm thankful that I'm in the Dress Circle -- a clear view of Bob and JJ the whole time. Their "space" gets confined to be barely big enough to play in. And Dylan is obviously enjoying the spectacle around him. It brings me immense joy to see him so clearly on top of everything, enjoying the way the fans react to his splendid performance. (This may be the one song duplicated the next night in Chattanooga where I believe the performance is superior in Chattanooga -- but I disagree with my family on this one, for sure.) Forever Young (acoustic). Thank you again. How did you know how badly some of us wanted to hear this one? Treats like this make is absolutely obvious why we follow you around the country, listening to the troubador / rockstar perform. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 -- of course, the seemingly inevitable closer. When will we see a closer other than this, or a song in the #3 slot other than AATW? So, overall: I'm impressed beyond my ability to express my appreciation. Dylan has put it together. When did I last see a performance this good? Not Pittsburgh/Burgettstown 5/18/96, good though it was. Not even Louisville 5/7/96, better though it was. Perhaps, Nashville, first show, in 1994. Hope you enjoyed it, or will hear it soon. Bill Parr

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