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Bob Dylan 961113 in Madison, Wisconsin

Subject: notes from madison...
From: Bill Pagel (
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 16:57:49 GMT

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Well, my fears of more chaos in Madison turned out to be without
foundation...God *must* be on our side...

Bob came out finally sans the Bill Monroe outift tonight...Black
velvet jacket with dark gold lining, burgundy velvet pants and, again,
the black tie with white polka dots. The cowboy hat is now a

Security did a most excellent job of keeping the aisles completely
clear...I congratulated a couple of them after the show for their
effort, but they didn't (couldn't) understand what all my gushing
praise was about. Highlight for me tonight was Mr. Tambourine Man. The
delivery of one of the middle do I describe it? Again, an
actor in a play...whose role is one of sheer anguish. Pushing out his
lips in the most beautiful pout I've ever witnessed and
barking/whining out the lines...brow furrowed, chin up, eyes gazing
skyward...I actually felt minor chest pains from this
heart wanting to jump out as he poured his out...utterly amazing and
yet another in the long line of "moments to remember".

This show had many other "highlights", though...actually each and
every song was done ardently...perhaps because for the first time in a
few days, he was *able* to concentrate on performing...without others
jumping on stage thinking the performance was theirs. 

When the rush occurred, I wound up at the backside of a
wheelchair-bound man which gave me a fine position. I thought surely
no one would be nervy enough to invade his space and this wound up
being a correct assumption. They did have the presence of mind to
remove him from the scene during the acoustic encore..before the
onslaught of young people who negotiated the "great divide" placed
between the barrier and the stage. Rainy Day Women provided anyone
with the desire to share the show with "the man", which is what I'd
suggested recently as a middle ground to be found with all the
chaos...let them have a free-for-all during this rowdy song without
sacrificing the integrity of the entire show. Well, I'd like to say
more, but I need to pack up and head for another joint...

Just thought I'd mention it...


Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 22:08:01 -0600 From: Stuart Levitan ( To: Subject: fuller review of Bob in Madison Karl Erik: Here's a more complete take on last night's show. Hope you can use it. *** Itās so nice to have a great Bob show in my own hometown. There have been some outrageous shows in Madison (notably the 1989 Coliseum wherein a power outage left Bob doing an Airto imitation, banging cowbell and drumming on the stage for 20 minutes), and some strong ones (1978 and 1991 come to mind), but none could touch the power and assurance of the November 13 performance. The set list was standard for this tour; from Flood to Rainy Day, no surprises. (Hmm, I just noticed the backwards balance, starting with a flood and ending with a rainy day -- this must be the watersong tour). But the performances sure came into focus; strong vocals throughout, blistering guitars, and a real sense of power. Flood was tight and crisp. Tonight Iāll be Staying was infused with warmth, the vocal almost dripping with honey. I had been thinking that Watchtower could really benefit by a guest shot from Kenny Wayne Shepherd; tonight's twin ledes and JJ assault convinced me that would be unnecessary. Fourth Street, one of the bitterest songs in all rockdom, was more melancholy than anything else; a sense of hurt rather than anger. River Flow (another watersong!) barrelled with a honky tonk rockabilly urgency completely at odds with its lyrics sense of pastoral relaxation, but satisfying nonetheless. At its completion, Bob shook hands with new drummer David Kemper (formerly with a number of versions of the Jerry Garcia Band, not the Dead). Silvio, after a jump start, continued the relentless fury with twin guitar god frontmen. But the mighty power of the first set paled before the softer strength of the acoustic set. An achingly sweet Tambourine Man and a honky tonk Don't Think Twice (with fine fingerpicking ledes) bookended a Masters of War that was simply breathtaking. Bob may have once sung these songs on auto pilot, but now he remembers how much they meant -- and still mean. The sense of wonder and exploration in Tambourine ... the pain of regret in Twice ... and the urgency and contempt in Mastes, all came through very, very clear. This must have been one of the great recent Masters -- a martial, menacing arrangement, utterly majestic in its performance. Perhaps spent, the band struggled a bit with a sluggish Everything's Broken before finally hitting its stride with another example of twin ledes. Strong, strong vocals for She Belongs to Me. A minor glitch on Highway, as Kemper seemed to come in to soon and cut off a blossoming JJ solo. Fine LARS, a One Too Many Mornings dripping with remorse, and a short Rainy Day to end. Atmospherically, some nice touches. The sort of tacky box cut suit with the silver piping was replaced with a gorgeous black and burgundy velvet suit, very nicely tapered, set off nicely with the white stetson and killer motorcycle boots. The arena was way too big for the well-behaved crowd (about 3,000), but an interesting crowd it was, featuring a sitting United States Senator (Russ Feingold), a state Circuit Court Judge, and a number of other local politicos and shakers. The Coliseum setting (especially the security fence) thankfully prevented excessive stage jumping; it didn't start until RDW, and then quickly subsumed Bob so completely he was completely engulfed within a minute, and never got to the last verse. The setting also kept Bob from shaking hands and slapping five, leading him to do this twin six-shooter thing with his forefinger and thumb. And throughout, Bob on the move -- striding, stalking, leaning into the vocals, leaning into the solos. The great Bob photos of the 65-66 period are of him leaning, bending, twisting, almost corkscrewing himself into the stage; there was that kind of urgency and power in Madison Wednesday night. Seeing Bruce Springsteen on the solo acoustic Tom Joad tour made me think, "that's what it must have been like to see Woody Guthrie." Seeing Bob Dylan last night made me think, "that's what it must have been like to see Bob Dylan."
Subject: The Local Review--Striking Back From: Sandy Ramer ( Date: 17 Nov 1996 05:30:23 GMT You know how sometimes you would like to punch out the guy who does the the Dylan concert review in your local paper? Well, I sort of did the equivalent. On Thursday I bought the afternoon Capital Times on the way home and looked eagerly for the review of the Madison concert. The usual garbage. References to past mumbling. Some samples: "...a surprisingly robust (or about as robust as he gets) Dylan leading a spirited, two-hour show. Spirited? Dylan? Concert?" "His vocals were crisp--even clear, or about as clear as he gets." "To bolster his show, Dylan tours with a popular opening act, blues/rock guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd." And: "It's Dylan, however, who had the most at stake Wednesday night." About then, I reached the "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" point and went looking for the Capital Times homepage. There it was, with a "tell us what you think" (or something like that) button. It is almost too easy these days to send a letter to the editor. No second thoughts, like "should I really put this in the mailbox?" Just that beckoning "send" button. Afterwards, I wasn't even sure what I had written. I remembered my second paragraph (after the "this is a letter to the editor" stuff): I am convinced that you people keep Mr. (something's happening and you don't know what it is) Jones on retainer so you can drag him out to write a condescending and uninformed review every once in a light year when Bob Dylan comes to town." Friday I was a bit startled to get an email from TCTVOICE telling me thanks for the letter and that it would be in Saturday's paper. I was thinking, you know, a bunch of letters to the editor off in a corner somewhere. This morning I opened the paper and went directly to the editorial page. There in the top middle of the page, with a three-column head and a picture of Bob, was my letter, complete with byline. Next thought, omigod, what did I say. They took out the second paragraph mentioned above. Here it is:
Headline: Bob Dylan deserved better here [their headline] This is a letter to the editor in response to Tom Alesia's review of the Bob Dylan concert Wednesday night at the Dane County Coliseum. The audience took to its feet the minute Bob and his band hit the stage, and stayed standing, dancing and yelling for more for two hours. Their response didn't seem to be as lukewarm as Mr. Alesia's to the heartfelt performances we experienced. It was a "greatest hits" show--and I think it is obvious why Madison would get only the better-known songs. In pre-Internet days, the average Madisonian listening to local media didn't have much opportunity to know about the more than 500 songs he has written. If you'd occasionally hear a Dylan song on the radio--one of only about three or four predictable possibilities--you might think, "My God, he's dead." Dylan does about 100-110 concerts a year, all around the world. And very seldom is there a duplication in set lists. Nothing is predictable. There's a significant number of people you might call "Dylanheads" who will follow a portion of a tour to experience a whole range of his performances. Any reviewer should read a couple of books by Paul Williams: "Bob Dylan, Performing Artist, The Early Years, 1960-1973," and "Bob Dylan, Performing Artist, The Middle Years: 1974-1980." His performances since 1994 have become more and more brilliant, after what many considered a low point in the late 80s and early 90s. [I think they switched this sentence around.] Alesia said in his review, "It's Dylan, however, who had the most at stake Wednesday night." How ludicrous. The man has been nominated for a Nobel Prize for Literature. His phrases are part of our culture, whether the speaker or writer knows he is quoting him or not. His early songs were significant to political movements of the 1960s. He has taken threads from all types of American music--blues, folk, jazz, rock, country--and woven them together into his own unique art. Wednesday night if you listened you could hear almost all these musical elements. In some more sophisticated venues, you could hear even more. He has recently started his own record company in order to preserve some of our American musical heritage. University courses have been established to study his work, including research on the religious symbolism in his songs, how he was influenced by the French symbolists, and various other literary and cultural echoes to be found in his work. Books on his life, legend, and work abound. Here's hoping your idiotic review won't keep him away from Madison for another six years.
---------------------------------------------------------------------- And below my letter was an article by the Cap Times city editor, about his experience at the concert. He wanted his 1960s anger back. And he was disappointed. (Guess he thought Bob had been gritting his teeth and seething for 30 some years, so he could return his anger to him in 1996.) (sorry for the length of this post) Sandy Ramer
Subject: Madison notes From: Jerry Spanbauer ( Date: Sun, 17 Nov 1996 11:28:58 -0800 Another excellent show and an experience that will stay with me forever! The 4th row center section seats were the best we've ever had (it was my friend Tim and I's 12th show) and it was magical from the very start! The people up front were on their feet for the entire show. The opening three songs (Down In The Flood, Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You, AATW) were the same choices as in the Milwaukee show we attended 4 days earlier. It didn't really matter, however, for having this type of view was a new experience for us and we were in heaven. The difference in perspective (we were in the 25th row center for Milwaukee) made it practically impossible to take our eyes off of Bob. Whereas in Milwaukee I took in the band as a whole (and David Kemper in particular), I found myself checking out Bob almost exclusively. I hung on every facial expression and anytime he looked our way we vied for his attention. "Positively 4th Street" is always a pleasure to see, and Bob presented it in the slow tempo similar to the Prince's Trust Hyde Park performance (some of you may have caught it on HBO). "Watching The River Flow" was also performed in a country fashion with a very Johnny Cash-type rhythm feel to it. I personally enjoy the "in your face" rock 'n' roll version of this ('93 London Apollo comes immediately to mind) but enjoyed this version nonetheless, especially the pumped-up ending. "Silvio" was again a blast, particularly from our priviliged vantagepoint. Bob was grining throughout the set and connecting with the crowd, looking in certain areas where they were boisterous and acknowledging them. The acoustic set (Tambourine Man, Masters Of War, Don't Think Twice) was incredible. Again, I felt blessed to be seeing a master at his craft from such a close proximity. It was difficult not to make personal connections as he delivered the lines in a crisp, well-traveled manner, especially during Tambourine Man. His acoustic leads seemed to almost extend the lyrical content of the songs. To me it seems as though he is trying to express what he normally would on harmonica with his guitar, although I would have died to see some harmonica as close as we were. I made my pleas for "Hollis Brown" and "Gates Of Eden" while my girlfriend Karri yelled for "Boots of Spanish Leather", both to no avail. As soon as the acoustic set ended, my friends and I must have timed our departure for the stage perfectly, because Bob's microphone was directly in front of us. We literally had the best spot in the house. I had smile on my face so wide that the next day the muscles in it were sore. At this point it didn't even matter to me what songs he played, I just remember thinking (and saying a few times) "this is too much" and that I didn't deserve it. I had seen a similar "She Belongs To Me" several times but it didn't matter. "Everything Is Broken" kicked me in the ass and I am not sure if I've landed yet. Bob was literally directly above me looking me square in the eyes (to the point that people behind me were patting me on the back and slapping my hand). It was like he was playing the leads and seeking my approval, smirking at my reaction, and winking at my friend Tim, and totally getting a kick out of how freaked out we were at the whole senario. I don't recall making eye contact with any of the band members (though I tried) but doing so with Bob several times. All this time I kept expecting to wake up. I will never complain about seeing or hearing "Highway 61" although a few people around me groaned. Same goes for "Like A Rolling Stone","One Too Many Mornings" (which I am going to listen to closer in the next few weeks because I think Bob is connecting with it personally, more so than others), and "Rainy Day Woman." If all of this was not enough, something else that was very special happened during the encores. As I stated in my Milwaukee review, Karri was determined to get on stage and kiss Bob, if at all possible. It was a pretty tough climb to the stage and nobody even tried during the first two encores. We had heard that someone had almost knocked Bob down the night before (very smart) so we thought the stage allowances may be coming to an end. Fortunately, a blond "Deadhead"-looking girl made the first move. This was all the encouragement Karri needed. She began her climb and was quickly stopped by security. At this point I was thinking that she didn't have a chance, until several other people down the row began climbing, which led the security guards elsewhere. Karri made her move at this point and immediately started dancing. Bob was on the other side of the stage and then, magically, "With God On Our Side", walked directly toward Karri. She looked directly into his "beautiful" (her words, but I believe her) eyes with a look which asked "is it okay?". Bob sort of moved his eyes and nodded and turned his guitar and head to give her access and she gently put her left arm on his back and her right arm on his side and kissed his cheek. She is still glowing (I am writing this four days later). She said his skin is ultrasmooth. I am a little jealous; all I wanted was a simple handshake. All and all a truly unforgettable experience. I actually liked the Milwaukee set list better (I and I, It Takes A Lot To Laugh, God Knows) but the experience is something we will always have with us. By the way, we all thought that Bob looks fantastic, better than he did ten years ago. If anybody can help me obtain tapes of Milwaukee and Madison (and a few other shows from the tour) PLEASE contact me!!! Peace, Jerry

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