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Bob Dylan 971209 at the Avalon, Boston


From: routhier@tiac.net
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 00:26:20 -0500
To: karlerik@monet.no
Subject: Avalon

When I first heard about this show I knew I just had to go. I ended up with
all the rest of the Boston fans, standing in the November cold in front of
the Orpheum Theater (that's where they sold the tickets) for two hours. I
froze to the bone. 

Tonight, the Avalon was packed by eight, but Bob didn't come out until
almost 8:30. 'Ladies and Gentleman...." and the crowd roars and the band
comes out and kicks into Maggie's Farm. Now, I've heard Maggie's Farm
enough times for several lifetimes, but this rocked and Bob was singing
with unusual fervor, I thought. Then they went into Tonight I'll be Staying
Here... and there was no question, this was going to be a transcendant
show. He sang with such a clear voice and when the band stopped and he sang
"I can hear that lonesome train whistle blowing" the place just roared.
Such sweet guitars, tight and playing off one another so beautifully. Then,
turning on a dime, the first notes of Cold Irons Bound. Now, I did not
expect in a million years that they could do what they did on the record
with this song, but they did. It flat out crunched, and the band was so
rock tight on it I was just stunned. "And I feel like, like I don't exist..."

A good countryish version of Positively 4th Street, with everybody in the
crowd cheering at the last line. I liked that he did it in a softer
context, like maybe the harshness of the song, the emotions he once felt,
were somehow tempered by time. Then Can't Wait, and again, a knock-out
version. A bit different than the CD, funkier, maybe, but it was tight and
on the money. I was all smiles. 

Silvio rocked the roof right off. I mean, can anybody rock as hard as this
band? Those four crunching power chords, "I gotta go, find out something
only dead men know..." I mean, who else has the balls that Bob and this
band have? I kept thinking about the Stones playing in some huge arena with
Mick making gigantic guestures to a sea of nameless faces, enormo tv
screens catching the close-ups of his pouting lips or Keith's spasman
guitar slashes, everybody goosed the special effects... but here I am
watching Bob twenty feet away on a small stage with just guys and drums and
gutiars, playing downer and dirtier rock blues whatever you wanna call it
music than I think I've ever heard and I'm asking myself, "So who's the
real blues rockers?"

And just to prove it, they pick up the acoustics and slide into a version
of Cocaine Blues that would've done Mississippi John Hurt proud. 

By now, I'm realizing this is the best show I've seen Bob do in the last
ten years. Now, I've only seen about ten shows, but boy, I saw some good
ones. My friend Bart tells me he thinks it's as good as the show he saw in
'78 with the Street Legal band. Maybe better. 

Here's where Bob nails me to the floor. Hattie Carroll. The look on his
face, when he sings "and she never done nothin to William Zanzinger..."
and how it just went through me, like, this is a man who can speak justice.
It was sung with such unforced conviction, like Shakespeare said, the
quality of mercy isn't strained.... I don't think I'll ever forget it. And
when he looked up at the light as he sang, his face sideways in profile, it
was as if  twenty years suddenly disappeared from Bob's face, or thirty,
because there he was, as he ever was, peering into the dark and squinting
the goddamn world down into the nakedness of truth.

The band did a great Tangled Up, starting as a folk version almost like
Blood on the Tracks, and then kicking it into a country romp, kind of.
Again, he was singing so strong. Then a long Stuck Inside of Mobile, with a
lot of jamming where the band maybe wasn't sure at times where Bob's was in
the soloing, but damn if he didn't pull it out at the end and hit the riff
and tie it all up nicely, leading his band as only he can. 

Next was an old song, a weeper about being in sorrow after his mom and dad
have died, something like that, sorry I can't be more exact. Some beautiful
singing all around, Bob and Larry and Bucky, harmonies working great. Till
I Fell in Love with You was slow to gel, but again, man, the hit the groove
midway and I'm feeling goosebumps, smiling at Ruth, my girlfriend, every
time she looks back.

Leave the Stage. Encore. Highway 61. Rocking. Leave Stage. Knockin on
Heaven's Door. A slow, folk country version, oooo's by the guys, great
singing all around. Bob plays some lovely guitar, everything meshes, at the
end the band all smiles, especially Tony. 

Now when they come back and do Love Sick, it was like nothing I can
remember in seeing Bob. I got the feeling he can make music like this
forever. Like he found a whole new territory. Like people must have felt
seeing him when he went electric. (The people who liked it) I mean, 
this felt so charged and real and new, I just got chills. This man will be
playing until heaven finally opens the door. And the band just gets the
Time Out of Mind sound so right. By then I've decided. Best show I've seen.
Better than the Bob/Patti Smith one. This is Dylan as good as 
with the Band in '66, just different, just weathered, but not older,
younger than that now. 

Lights go up, everybody must get stoned, and I am. And it'll be a long time
before the buzz wears off.


William Routhier

Boston Mass


Subject: Re: Avalon show From: Paul Summergrad Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 22:19:03 -0500 ... Your review really nailed this show. This show ranks with the pre crash 1966 shows with the Hawks and the Rolling Thunder Review. Having seen Bob multiple times in recent years his playing, singing and focus at the Avalon were awesome; laser like. You are absolutely right: at several moments during the night he looked thirty years younger, singing truth clear eyed and uncompromising. The circle is unbroken.
Subject: the air burns well in Boston town From: nate (nates@ll.mit.edu) Date: 10 Dec 1997 16:20:34 GMT Organization: EDLIS * * * * * * ...-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/ ) ..-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/ +===========+ .-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/ / || -/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/-.....-/ / || * -------------------------------------------+ || || ||-------------+ || | || | SECTION C || Boston | || Beer Works! | +------------------------------------------------------------- | | "some" | +-----+ | | Acme | RESTAURANT | +-----+ | <==GATE 42 | Tires | | Avalon | | | | | | waitress * | | | | | | | --> | | 15 Lansdowne | | | | ----------------------------------------------------------+=====+---------- December 9th, 1997 - Avalon club in Boston town this club tour was _not_ something i wanted to miss, so i made the earlier trip into boston town to get tickets, then took the entire 9th off, in order to get a good place in line for this general admission show. i got there around 12:20 and was 9th. however, this turned out be 11th in actuality. all in all, things looked good for getting rail position. we froze in the afternoon, watching the day fade under the looming, cold iron Green Monster forming the famous end of left field in Fenway Park. we took turns holding places in line while people went to eat, get warm, feed parking meters, pee, whatever. i had my Xong game to kill time. others even had *school work*. time passes slowly out here in the cold. Lovely Rita came by every 2 hours and actually ticketed the roadies' big truck after they left it there empty. the seconds dripped liked a stubborn faucet clogged with ice. trucks were everywhere, making deliveries and choking Lansdowne Street. they even made a *fire engine* cut a very fine margin to inch barely through, siren wailing away, klaxon bells going full blast - until it got clear, then it became a peaceful firetruck. after the sun went down, we could hear the boys warming up. but only very faintly, through the thick doors. many plastered their heads against the doors, but we could only get fragments. I Threw It All Away, You're A Big Girl Now and Absolutely Sweet Marie (the last without Dylan) were identified. finally 6:30 came and went. then they divided us into 2 lines, over 21 and under/not drinking. then, when they let us in, they held the over 21 line for a thousand milli-eons. when i finally got in and ran to the rail, there were already about 60 and my long afternoon's wait went up in smoke. but i was right up close in center, 3rd slab of compressed bodies against the rail with Sadiejane in row 1 in front of me. cant complain. sadie had the foresight to jump lines into the under 21 line. why do venues pull this kind of shit? they could have come out at 6:00 and given us the scoop. we could worked out the right batting order. there was no need to cause this confusion right at moment of opening the doors? people had been waiting since 10 in the morning to get a sliver of seconds advantage in the dash to the rail. this was accepted and understood by the people in line. why couldnt the Avalon guys work with this, instead of dropping a social science experiment on us just to "see what the rats do with this!" ??? ah well...we all got in, i think. even some without ID.... the guys behind me, having staked their claims, sat down on the floor to rest with 8:00 still an hour or so away. then the Lunatic Princess in red hair came parading right through them rudely waving her arms and tried to push through the 3rd slab. we all banded against her. she was really hard to get rid of, but we were all able to drive her off. truly bizarro. 8:00 came and went. 8:10, 8:20 - we all were commenting on how Bob had never been *this* late in recent memory. ??? was he sick? or just love sick? then the techs came out and tuned some more. and then they came out with the setlists and taped them down. we strained to read our future... finally at 8:33 they came out! Bob in a midlength black silk jacket with purple palm trees embroidered on each side. he had some other kind of tie that might not have been longer than 8 inches, sort of the effect of ruffles, but not ruffled. black pants with that white baseball stitching down the side. black vinyl boots with a white piping around the toe top. Larry had his long maroon jacket...the other guys wore the usual...this isnt a fashion report here....ANYWAY: 1 Maggie's Farm - this was more country than years ago, with a nice gittiyup feel to it. Bob was *on* from the getgo. on the Pa verse he sang the last refrain 3 times "i aint gonna work for Maggie's Pa no more". Ma still says she's 24. from my vantage point, easy to hear, easy to see. 2 Tonight I'll Be Stayin' Here With You - the knot of us behind the 2nd row may have been hoping for Shake Sugaree, but this was also pretty good. He repeated the last verse after the instrumental. "i can hear that _lonesome_ whistle blowin', an i see that station master, too" - the extra syllables smoothly flowing. 3 Cold Irons Bound - the jawdropper, the star of this current swing. simply awesome. this is reason enough wait to 12 hours behind the cold iron Green Wall. Bob may say he didnt do the "blueprint" thing with TOOM, but this makes the recording look like a blueprint to me. my favorite of the night. Tony Garnier really shines on bass - as you would expect! 4 Positively 4th Street - in yet another form! "that's not _my_ problem" delivered with a shrug of pity. 5 Can't Wait - Larry's guitar was tuned a bit sharp, but it didnt matter. Hearing the TOOM songs live is indeed a great experience. they do sound like they've been in the rotation a long time, well rehearsed. he doesnt use the funny characature voice in this tonight, but still a smirk or 2 out of me. "That's how it is when things disintegrate" indeed! :-) with the incense pouring out from the back of the stage and all the people around me smoking cigarettes and punched cigarettes, the way-past-midnight line gets to "the air burns..." - perfect - these TOOM songs not only are done well, they fit right into what is happening in front of us. 6 Silvio - still excellent! this concert reaches 6 songs without a bad moment yet! Larry aint shy no more guys. i quit putting stars beside the numbers. 7 Cocaine - ahah, now i get to hear it from right up close. Bob has some nice pickin in here. Kemper stays onstage, very nice. 8 Hattie Carroll - this show is still climbing! again, Bob does some interesting guitar work. still no harmonica. 9 Tangled Up In Blue - i really like the acoustic version of this. now Larry does the acoustic guitar and Bucky gets to show off on mandolin. i think the last time i saw this in the acoustic slot, Bucky did the guitar stuff. Bob has even more good stretches of guitar work. 10 Stuck Inside of Mobile With The - yahoo! only 5 verses (ragman, shakespeare, mona, grandpa, bricks), but satisfying. great to see him so close on this. speaking of punched cigarettes, i hear him go "but he just smoked my eyeballs and punched my cigarette". or it could have been "eyebrows", throwing away the old pun on lid of grass. 11 White Dove - i hadnt heard this yet. they have a nice production with Larry and Bucky coming in on the chorus. intros are simple, until he gets to Bucky, then he mumbles something, but thinks better of it and continues around to Tony. 12 Til I Fell In Love With You - again, TOOM songs are all outstanding. cant believe how he delivered "i just dont know what to do, i was alright until i fell in love with you" on the money each time. ...(we clap & whistle, looking silly as usual while they take a cigarette break).... 13 Highway 61 - 3 verses, but Larry gets to show off! 14 Knock, Knock, Knocking - Larry & Bucky do the "ooo, oooo, oooo"s you hear on the official soundtrack. Bob does some more good acoustic work. 15 Love Sick - yeah, more stars, great theater with the slide chords before the choruses, like the recording, but again live makes it stronger. 16 Rainy Day Women #12+35 - more time for Larry to display how good he really is. the usual 2 verse, then 8 million runs through the instruments. 10:20something i think, approx. 107 minutes +/- 6. definitely one of the best i've seen! afterwards sadie gets posters and phones in the setlist. but she cant come along with us to the Boston Beer Works for the Parties & Gatherings after. the Beer Works is caught unawares and is under- staffed. we have a great time. well, i did. but then i kept opening my mouth. we talk about hard-boiled eggs & Paul Clayton. we talk about directness of lyrics in TOOM. we talk about the young fans and how avid they are, how well-informed. when i was 18, like these kids are, the equivalent would have been maybe Sinatra, to get someone that old. i dont recall anyone in my age group following Sinatra or some other 50+ year-old to the extent that i see these guys following Bob. we live in fortunate times. can you imagine 18-year olds drooling over Beethoven's just released Last Quartets? strange times. the World may have Gone Wrong, and the End of Time may Have Just Begun, and stuff, but thanks go to Bob for being here, right now. - nate
Subject: Re: Avalon show From: Debess (grabazs@star.enet.dec.com) Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 12:46:38 -0400 Last night, going to the Avalon, I was in a mood not at all like I would usually be in going to see Dylan -> subdued and almost numb of feelings. I'm in that space because a young man I know died last week, and my feelings about that are still quite close to the surface. I went looking for some healing from Bob Dylan. I came away feeling that the overall mood of the night was, well, angelic! I felt that, as I danced to each song, I could find a light, floating, beautiful space to be in - most songs now full of a long jam or two - just what I needed (what I was looking for?). There's alot of nice rhythm (guitar) work in many of the songs, some great percussion especially notable with the new tunes. This was the first time I've heard these 4 "Time Out of Mind" songs done live. I really love the new release, and unbelievably, these new songs were already being expanded on, phrased a little differently sometimes. They sounded even more beautiful live. We were there just in time, but the show started at least a half hour late. The show was general admission, although some privileged people had roped-off seats in the back section higher off the floor or up in the (also roped-off) balcony. We settled at the divider between the seated area and the floor, in the walkway to the bar. A continuous stream of traffic all night, but plenty of space to dance. I could not really see the band except if I strained my neck to try to see over the crowd, although Larry Campbell I could see clearly (I'm not complaining ;-) ). I could just see the top parts of the bandmembers bodies - Dylan was wearing a black suit jacket, white shirt and tie. Larry had on a red black-collared jacket (and lots of smiles). Tony and Bucky both wore black hats like tophats, only shorter (like bowlers, only squarer ;-) ). Couldn't see the drummer. Dylan looked pretty relaxed. Never played harmonica all night. This was not a night to watch the musicians, not from where I was; it was a night to throw myself into the music. The setlist and comments: Maggie's Farm - I was still getting settled. If I remember correctly, they traded a few verses on Maggie's Farm, like the Dead did - but I don't know if that's really true. Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You - slow and lilting. Cold Irons Bound - this is my favorite off the new record. It starts off with a distinctive sound, each instrument coming in one at a time - guitar, bass then the drum beat - I love the way it pulls you into it. The studio version has an organ smooooothing it out, and I can't remember today how they achieved that last night (was it the pedal steel) - but it was smooth. Wonderful jamming in the middle and at the end - this band is jamming more and more, on more and more of the songs - so excellent to dance into that space. Positively 4th Street - if you didn't listen to the words, it's amazing how absolutely beautiful the melody of this song was last night. Still in that light, floating kind of atmosphere. Really! I didn't listen to the words so much, because I didn't want to go into that headspace, but at the end where he sings the biting words "I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes/ You'd know what a drag it is to see you", I moved so that I could see his face between people's heads in front of me - he was singing the words without any trace of a sneer. Almost a detached resignation. That's how I felt too. Can't Wait - another new song. A definate floating quality to it too. Slow and haunting, almost. Silvio - still growing and changing, this is a great tune. It rocks out and then it spaces out wonderfully in the middle and back to the rockin' again. Cocaine Blues - done acoustic, with Tony on standup bass. Typical old-time blues tune, with some fine pickin' by Dylan - but, again, instead of being pulled down into the blues, I was lifted somehow with the imagery - an other-worldly light feeling I got from the "cocaine runnin' around my brain". Can't really explain what I mean, I don't think. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll - haunting, the violence portrayed reflected somehow the horror I feel over the car crash my daughter's friend was involved in - I found myself frowning. Tangled Up In Blue - beautiful, just beautiful. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again - back to electric. I love this song, and it was played last night in a very similar style to the original way it was played on Blonde on Blonde - you know, jingly kinda! White Dove - a familiar tune from Old and in the Way. Haven't heard it in a while - sadness ... the words of the chorus something like "...I live my life in sorrow, mother and daddy are dead". 'Til I Fell In Love With You - one more of the new tunes. The line that particularly touched me last night "when I'm gone, you will remember my name". Instead of the end of a relationship, this song was about death to me last night. Four encores, starting off with Highway 61 Revisited - ROCKIN'!! love it! I could see Dylan for the beginning of this one - he played and sang with his head doing that quick side-to-side motion. But, then my view was obstructed again, so I enjoyed the dance (a lot!). Knockin' On Heaven's Door - done acoustically - sad. Had to hug Guntis and be held a bit at the end of this one. Love Sick - again, I can't remember today how they did the organ part which is very prevalent in the studio version. I think there was a strong bass line played throughout instead. "I'd give anything to be with you." The band didn't even leave the stage before the last encore.. as usual, Rainy Day Women. Wasn't in the mood for it last night, a throwaway song for me. Still, I did get caught up in it at the end, reacting to the dancing, smiling frenzy around me. Dylan took some thoughtful bows and looked out meaningfully into the audience before leaving the stage. Debess
Subject: Sadie's (belated) Avalon Report From: sadiejane (sadiejane@nospam.folly.org) Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 21:59:04 -0500 (the usual disclaimers apply. If you don't like digressions, don't read on) Parking was going to be an issue. Lansdowne street is a narrow one-way street, bordered on one side by Fenway Park (Right Field Side) and on the other with music and dance clubs, sports bars and pool halls. I knew there were some high priced parking lots in the area, the kind of lot you pull into with a minivan full of kids before a Saturday afternoon game. I liked the idea of being near the car, so that I could put my coat in the trunk before the doors opened and was prepared to pay the price. But at 10am, as I pulled up in my car, I noticed meters, many of which had restrictions (valet parking after 8pm), and found two that were unrestricted, coincidentally right in front of The Avalon Club. One was taken by a red sports car. I pulled into the other one. Since I was going to be waiting there all day there was really no need to fill the meter. I'd fill it when I saw the meter-maid. I got out and starting cruising around. Other than a few beer trucks unloading into night clubs there was no one in sight. I walked a few doors down and then noticed a young man with a wool cap and a notepad, huddled in the entry of an underground parking garage. Could he be a parking attendant? Or a Dylan fan?..... "Are you here for the Dylan show?" he asked me. Which settled my question. Then of course, as it so often happens, it turned out we had stood together at a show last summer, Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. He told me that the workers at the Avalon had shooed him away, saying that no one would be allowed to line up till noon. After a few moments deliberation we decided that it was worth going back and standing in front of the club again. If they moved us out we could stand across the street. But with two of us there, it was time to start a line. Now, I know you don't want me to bore you with details of my long day in the cold out on Lansdowne Street. Suffice it to say that by noon there about 20 of us there and by 4pm the line had nearly doubled. It didn't get really long though, until about 5:30 when people were kicking off work. I only had to fill the meter once, to placate an oncoming meter-maid. And later in the day the red sports car left and since it was parked at a meter that read "out of order" I quickly jumped into my car to took its place. Score! In the line I had two Tufts students to my left and two U-Mass students to my right. My friends Maureen and George arrived (with lawn chairs) followed by some more guys from Tufts at noon. By 2pm or so apparently the entire personnel from the Tufts Dylan Club was in attendance. They spent much of their time talking about their favorite songs, albums, how many shows they'd been to, and sorting through the ID's to make sure they would all have one to get in (it was an 18+ show). At 4pm I saw Tony go into the stage door (just a few yards from the main entrance), followed by Dave Kemper in a black fedora and black leather coat. Soon we began to hear strains of a sound check. Couldn't hear much but with ears pressed to the doors we could just barely make out the new arrangement of Maggie's Farm and Standing in the Doorway. By 6:30 we were all in high-anxiety mode. Bouncers came through the line and gave wristbands to those with 21+ ID's who wanted to drink. A number of us "old-timers" at the front of the line opted to skip the wristband - why bother if we were going right for the rail? Then at seven, one bouncer suddenly announced, "all those under 21 who aren't drinking please form a separate line" A SEPARATE LINE???? WHERE? Suddenly all my 21 and under line-mates jumped in front of the second of the two doors at the entrance. I was thinking fast...if they were going to check their ID's again then it would slow the line down. So I stayed put - and found that I was now at the front of the 21+ and drinking line. THEN I noticed the kids were moving into the club! NO!!! NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!! THIS WASN'T FAIR!!!!!!! I begged with the large, black suited, coifed hared bouncer "Do you understand? I've been waiting here all day! Please let me in!" He replied to me explaining something about how there wasn't enough staff in the club to handle both lines at once. I watched more of the under 21 set walking through. People who had arrived long after me. NOT FAIR!!!!!! "Don't worry you'll still be at the front" He says. Was he making fun of me? Or just trying to make me feel better, or make me shut up.... NO!!!! NO!!!! NO!!!!! NO!!!!!!!! I was practically jumping up and down....I WAS jumping up and down! Then I told him that I didn't even have a wrist band - because I wasn't going to be drinking. "Oh, then you can go in with them" I immediately jumped into the front of the quickly moving line, hoping that my wristbandless, over 21 compatriots would follow my lead. I ran as fast as I could to the huddle of kids at the center front rail, the bodies parted, and low and behold, my friends from the front of the line had saved me a prime spot, at the center. Right in front of Bob's mic stand. I collected addresses and emails from them and made them a sacred promise to mail a tape as soon as I got one. I was still shaking. Out of breath. Furious that the staff would pull this sort of chaos causing nonsense just as the doors opened. We had been the model of an orderly line. Civilized, fair, reasonable, respectable. And then they came in and made a big fat, dark suited, coifed haired, mess of it. Ain't it just like the night to pull tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet... I noticed the stage, only just above my waist and not even two feet from the barrier, was set up for Bob - no opening act. And because of the lack of depth on the stage bob's mic was set up unusually close. Don't you just LOVE club dates!!!!! I also notice that Bucky's set up was different. He no longer had the down stage mic, and I didn't see the mandolin either. Instead he had what looked like a keyboard (the Vox Organ?) to his left. He didn't have any guitar up there either. The guitar went the with Watchtower. For the next hour and a half we stood, we talked, we waited. The club had a kind of funny light show going on - beams of light roving over our heads, changing color. At 8:15 we finally smelled the incense and then at 8:30 the set lists went down, followed by the house lights. Bob was wearing his long frock coat with the dark red flowers stitched at the shoulders, dark maroon trousers with tiny white hearts stitched up the side, black patent leather shoes, a white shirt and a black silk string tie, tied in a bow. He looked in good form, having what I would call a "great hair day." All night long he danced around the stage, not as "guitar hero" posing as much as moving around; he would jump over to Larry and then jump up to the drums then scoot back down the us and then over to Bucky. Sprightly. His only words of the evening were those of introduction for the Band. The arrangements of the TOOM songs (Lovesick was the only one I'd heard before from the UK tour) were on the whole faster than the album. He and the band seem to enjoy playing them - Bucky in particular whose job it was to do the special effects. Maggie's Farm was great fun - the 1965 arrangement, but about twice as fast. Campy and carefree. Tony plucked out that unmistakable bass figure, Bucky on pedal steel made it sound like a Hammond, Larry injected little witty guitarisms at every opportunity. FUN!!!!! Bob sang it droll and deadpan but a wry smile crept up on his face about half way through. Tonight I'll Be Staying was a particularly regretful and tender version. He whimpered at his loss, then crooned with hope and yearning, then howled at, "I can hear that lonesome whistle blowin'" It had just the right tone for a number 2 spot song. Slow, reflective, yet full of intense emotion and focused like a laser. Cold Irons Bound was immediately recognizable. The intro was a bit more elaborate than the original, with Larry filling in the spaces with psychedelic trills and string bending. But before long Tony laid down that bass line and they were off. Seemed like the same tempo too. Biting, brooding, ironic, he used the range and color in his voice as an expressive device: alternating between a plaintive and desperate, higher pitched tone and an ominous grumble an octave lower. On the very last refrain he moaned, "twenty miles out of town and cold irons" and then after a pause he growled "bound" For those of you who care about such things: he sang only 4 of the verses, the last being a composite of verse 4 and 5. Positively 4th street was more spoken than sung. Not without feeling, but too much like one long rant so that the effectiveness of the song, which comes from the slow build to the killer final line, was lost with this delivery. Larry and he had a very nice guitar duet during the break before the last verse. Can't Wait was faster than I had remembered it and not quite as heady but had a nice groove, better for dancing :+} This song ain't too far from Motown, not quite pure soul but more than half way there. It's got to be one of the sexiest songs he's written since, well since, since Dirty World! "I'm your man, I'm tryin' to recover the sweet love that we knew, you understand that my heart can't go on beatin' without you" Bob chewed on every word before swallowing and violated the steady slow 4 beat at every opportunity by chanting his lyrics in 3s against it. It was gritty and mean and sexy. "I'm breathing hard, standing at the gate, and I don't know, how much looooooooooooonger I can wait". I had been waiting a long while to see the expression on Bob's face as he sang *that* lyric!!!!! The acoustic set didn't really do much for me. Cocaine had lost a bit of it's magic (I think he's performing faster than he used to - I miss the lazier version) and Hattie Carroll was a bit perfunctory compared to other performances I'd seen and heard. TUIB was ok - Bob seemed to struggle at moments, but pulled out a decent performance. Bucky's mandolin did finally make an appearance, from out of no where it seemed. White Dove was a nifty sort of coda to the acoustic set, and it almost felt as if it belonged with them in spirit more than to the electric song that immediately preceded it (Memphis blues) or followed it. A slow, sweet, bluegrass waltz by the author of Rank Stranger. The boys joined bob with harmonies on the refrain, "White dove will mourn in sorrow, The willow will hang their heads, I'll live my life in sorrow, now that mother and daddy are dead." Then the band introductions. Standard. No jokes or nothin'. 'Til I fell in Love was also faster than the original (confirming my opinion that the songs on the album are HARD to sing because of their slow tempi - all those goddamn spaces to fill with intention, the perfect turn of phrase, the perfect pause in time. Bob does it brilliantly on the album - but its way hard to carry live. And they've quickened the pace to keep things going smoothly.) This version was more biting, more acerbic too - almost evil. Dripping with meanness. Teeth bared, sneering. I liked it! Look at some of the words out of context - it's a sad love song. But bob turns it inside out and upside down! "I was alright, til aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah fell in loooooooooove with you" OK. So he left out verse three. Big deal ;+} Bob had been struggling with his guitar all night - in particular during Hattie Carroll and it was during Highway 61 that he began to feel his guitar oats. He supported Larry through a terrific duet, giving his sideman center stage (not literally) and then added some solo melodic material of his own. Bucky joined in for a threesome but soon was overshadowed by the virtuosi guitars. Some of the best guitar work of the night from both Larry and Bob. They were having fun, they were playing like they'd never played before like they were reinventing the wheel. Bucky and Larry dowaa-ed in the background the descending scale which outlines the chord changes of KOHD. Bob sang like a man whose been there a back. More personal and less anthematic than the usual. "knock knock knockin' on-a heavens door, just like-a so many times before". He altered melody lines and stretched rhythms, and at the same time sang with a simplicity of feeling. Direct. Humble. Human. So that I felt it with him. Bob took first guitar solo, backed up by the pedal steel as he created a melody out of two alternating notes. "Mama wipe the tears out of my eyes, I can't see through 'em anymore, I'm lookin up into them dark and empty skys, and I feel like I'm-a knockin' on heaven's door." They closed with the boys doowaa-ing that descending scale into a nice slow cadence. Tidy ending. The crowd (which had been going crazy all night) really went nuts. This was the show stopper of the evening. Lovesick is perhaps my least favorite of the reworked TOOM songs. The rhythmic tension that it requires, between the voice and the instruments is very difficult to achieve in a live setting. Bob finds his moments - but on the whole the effect is less dramatic than on the record. It sounds almost as though Bob was singing a lot with the band, rather than leading them. He did (as opposed to in the UK) take command of the guitar solos, adding string bending and vibrato (I don't recall ever seeing bob utilize vibrato before!) - punching out his odd little melody harmony outlines with bravado! Four encores and the show was over. Rather than try for a cuesheet I made a beeline for the poster table. They only have 200 per show and I wanted to get one from my home town. Then I made the obligatory call to Madison (I had even written down the songs during the show to make sure I wouldn't make a mistake!). Outside a friend was waiting for a ride to the Train station (Philly bound). I had work the next day too - so I wasn't planning on attending the after-show gathering - much as I regretted not having the chance to rub elbows with the Boston-area RMD contingent. I didn't feel the show had the kind of magic as the '94 Orpheum shows or the Cardiff show for that matter. I have to say that ever since hearing that show stopping Baby Blue in Cardiff, it's been hard for me to even imagine hearing anything as good as it again. There was certainly nothing like it during the acoustic set at the Avalon. That Baby Blue, it made my heart stop and stand on its tippy toes. The Avalon show - was a nice show - wouldn't have missed it for the world. But it wasn't magic. Those magic shows. They're rare. xx sadie delia ain't dead, she's just coming up for air
December Setlists
Tour