Bob Dylan 971210 at the Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA
Subject: troc review From: Peter Stone Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 00:12:15 -0500 A remarkable show! I can't remember the last time I saw Dylan with a band this tight, but it was long ago. The Troc kept a long line of people waiting in a pouring rain while they searched everyone, but that was forgotten the minute Dylan launched into a lean, rocking "Maggie's Farm." "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here" kept things moving, but the show changed dramatically with the first beat of "Cold Irons Bound." The band set up an impecabble Howlin' Wolf type groove and Dylan just totally leaned into the song, phrasing it a bit differently than the record. He made each line count and the band just wailed and didn't let up. It was amazing. A very strong "Born In Time Followed," and like the three songs before it, it had a beginning a definite end, and Dylan seemed focused not only on the song, but his musicianship, leaving the majority of lead guitar in Larry Campbell's Hands. "Can't Wait" took the show up another three notches. Dylan is not doing my favorite songs from the album, but it doesn't matter because the band is so damn hot on these songs, making every beat count and performed live the songs do not have the doom 'n' gloom mood of the album because Dylan is having such a good time playing and singing them. Sylvio was Sylvio, but the first acoustic song was a terrific "Stone Walls and Steel Bars" with Campbell and Bucky singing harmony. A total delight. Dylan played the intro of Love - 0 over and over, making the crowd and quite possibly the band guess whether it was going to be that or (a rare acoustic) "If Not For You." The band even went to the minor chord that's in "If Not For You," but finally he started singing. It was much faster than the last time I saw him do it (Patti Smith tour at electric factory), in fact it was damn close in feel to the Bringing It All Back Home original once he actually started singing it. On "Tangled," the show seemed to lose a little momentum and both Dylan and the song suddenly seemed tired. He flubbed one of the verses, but then, magician that he is, he used one of his now famous three-note guitar solos to bring the song back up to speed and recapture the energy. "Memphis Blues Again" was okay, nothing really special, but all that changed with a dramatic "Wheels On Fire" which was followed by a thrilling "Till I Fell In Love With You." Campbell somehow made his guitar sound like a blues harmonica, while Bucky made his pedal steel do wild organ tricks depsite the fact that there was some kind of Vox Keyboard sitting by him that I never saw him touch. Like The Hawks did so many years ago with the songs off Highway 61, this band takes the songs off Time Out Of Mind somewhere else entirely with Dylan leading the charge and knowing it. They returned and did a simply kick-ass Highway 61 that feel-wise was also damn close to the original. This was followed by a carefully sung "My Back Pages" with Dylan clearly making each line stand out, despite a couple of search and destroy guitar solos. I actually started wondering if he hits the really bad notes on purpose, so when he finally gets it right (and he always keeps going till he gets it right) that the final solo will have much more impact. Then came "Lovesick," not quite as spooky as the record, but intense in a different way, with Bucky playing the organ part on steel. Again Dylan was totally into the song, but unlike some of the other TOOM songs that night, he didn't play around much with this one, delivering it straight and solid. Dylan looked pretty good, and seemed to have lost in a little weight. I thought his voice was in the best shape I'd heard it in since quite possibly the Supper Club shows. He's also holding his guitar a bit higher up on his body, the way he used to in the '60s. It was a show where he directed the focus to where he wanted it--on the music. This tour is absolutely the one to catch. -- "I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity." --Bob Dylan Peter Stone Brown e-mail: email@example.com http://songs.com/psb
Subject: Trocadero 12/10 review From: Gil Walker (gwiii@MAILEXCITE.COM) Date: Sun, 14 Dec 1997 11:29:26 -0700 Despite an unusually eventful train ride down from New England (bomb threat, train evacuation, and apparent discovery of suspicious parcel, all quietly handled by Penn Station and NYC police), I managed to arrive in Philadelphia, visit my brother's family in its suburbs,and get back downtown in plenty of time for Wednesday evening's Trocadero show. The theater itself was easy to find, with its own direction signs on nearby corners, to say nothing of the immense line outside its front door. Waiting in line, I managed to read the new Tom Clancy novel from start to finish, interrupted only by a street performance by Christopher Cross . . . no, wait a minute, the line didn't take quite that long, and the street performer wasn't quite that lousy, but he was no more entertaining than my nine-year-old nephew's trumpet lesson. Still, it was a very long wait in the rain, a very slow-moving line, held up by frisks at the door (and the guy who frisked me did a courteous but solid weapons/bottles search). The street singer seemed hopelessly undistinguished, standing in the rain, probably wrecking two guitars, but his wife/girlfriend, standing quietly beside him, turning the pages of his sheet music, seemed dedicated. Dylan came on stage at about 8:20, opening with a very solid "Maggie's Farm," marked by expressive vocals and some sly variations in his phrasing of several verses. He appeared intense and controlled. "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" was equally effective. "Cold Irons Bound" brought the energy levels up several notches; it was a storm of a performance, with the sound seeming to encircle the audience. When it ended, I was startled by how quiet the crowd reaction was, having expected tremendous approval -- and then realized just how small the Trocadero really was. "Born In Time" was exceptionally graceful, even though Dylan's vocals weren't mixed quite loud enough to be heard over the band at some points. "Can't Wait" was tight, solid, and effective. "Silvio" was outstanding. When I'd heard this song previously, even as recently as April in Hartford, it had seemed more of an opportunity for the band to cut loose, with Dylan's vocals riding the crests of the instrumental waves. Here, the singer was in complete control, his phrases carefully shaping the song. The confidence in Dylan's voice at the "sing it loud, sing it strong, let the echo decide . . . " passage was remarkable. "Stone Walls And Steel Bars" made for a nice transition to the acoustic set. I may well be wrong, but I can't recall Dylan using backup vocalists the way he's been using Campbell and Baxter on songs like this, "Roving Gambler," and "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" in performance. "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" was unspeakably beautiful. If, like me, you believe that "Time Out Of Mind," like much of Dylan's best songwriting, especially over the last decade, uses relationships with women as metaphor for his relationship with his muse and his art, this performance strikes a welcome note of reconciliation. On the more pedestrian level, for this song, Kemper's drumming was simply too loud at key passages. Dylan began singing "Tangled Up In Blue" with a bit more distance than usual, as though he were dusting off an old song from his memory, giving it shape as each line surfaced. Most of the audience received it as an anthem, though, and Dylan played several verses to them, still striking a balance with the initial feeling in the closing verses. This was one of the night's best-received songs, and at its high points the floor was shaking a bit. "Memphis Blues Again" got a solid runthrough, without sagging. Campbell's guitar work (I think) provided variety between the verses, allowing Dylan's vocals to change tone from stanza to stanza and the song to progress along a less one-dimensional route. I don't think Dylan's ever had a performing conception of this song that comes close to the studio version; but this one, unlike previous versions I've heard, is soundly and independently conceived, more than just a shadow of the original. "This Wheel's On Fire" was more focused, seemed to have developed a harder edge, than previous versions I'd heard. I was surprised and impressed by the way Baxter's guitar work made the songer harsher and sharper. It was instantly recognizable; the spacey opening from April was gone. "'Til I Fell In Love With You" was a real surprise -- not that it was performed, but that it had grown into a high-powered, potent closing song. After nearly a decade of typically closing his main set with a familiar, classic piece, usually from the mid- 60's electric trilogy, moving a new song to that position (and not one of the best-regarded new songs at that) shows daring and confidence. And it worked perfectly. An astonishing performance of "Highway 61 Revisited" was the first encore. Dylan's vocals were particularly sly, especially when he dropped a few unexpected pauses into key lines; more important, the band turned the song into a roaring engine of destruction. If "Cold Irons Bound" had been a storm, "Highway 61" was a firestorm, keyed by extended, intricate guitar work by Dylan and Campbell. I think Larry Campbell was taken by surprise by this performance; for much of the song, his eyes seemed locked on Dylan's right hand; when the song ended, he showed a slightly sheepish grin and seemed relieved. "My Back Pages" was the acoustic encore, and the shift in the show was dramatic. Dylan made the song slow, careful, and deliberate; the audience, at least near me, sang back the closing lines of the chorus quietly. Another high point. "Love Sick" was first-rate, dark and intense. Dylan wasn't just running through the song, either. I haven't heard much from the fall tour, but this song seems to have grown stronger with experience. "Rainy Day Women" was a lively closer, and something of a surprise; I'd expected "Alabama Getaway," especially since "Highway 61," with its log improvisational breaks, seemed to have played the role I'd associated "RDW" with. But Dylan played a tight version of the song, singing two full verses at its start, always keeping the music on a short leash. He was really working, too; I could see him shaking off beads of sweat. Near the end, he seemed to signal to the band to extend the song a little, played an extra piece, then finished off sharply. An exceptional show. The band was extremely tight, at least as solid as the Band in 1974, and Guam in 1975 at their best. The music has changed greatly since the Hartford show I saw in April; it seems colder (in a positive sense) and sharper. No stage dancing, not even an sign of an attempt; it wasn't that sort of a show. Dylan's demeanor had changed a bit, too. He seemed more conspicuously confident, satisfied with small, clearly effective vocal touches than with broader effects. He did more with careful pauses than I'd seen or heard him do before. And he seems very comfortable with this band: small signals seem to control things. He played more to the audience than I'd seen before, too; again with relatively small touches, rather than the broader gestures that bordered on self-conscious mugging. A little bit of duck-walking during the encores drew an enthusiastic response, for example. His physical styles pretty much ran the gamut of his performing career: at moments he curled up on himself, the neck of his electric guitar pointing down, one knee bent, like 1966; other times aggressively at the point of a musical phalanx, like 1974; sometimes bobbing his head back and forward from the microphone, familiar from Rolling Thunder footage. All that was missing, it seems, was the awkward, almost painful shambling from the mid-80's, when Dylan moved like a badly damaged quarterback in a back brace with battered knees. Wednesday, his movements were fluid. I don't have a good way to describe his guitar work, except to say that it's clearly changing from what I've heard from earlier this year. To simplify, there's less Willie Nelson in it than there was, even on songs like "Tangled Up In Blue." Once again, smaller, more carefully defined statements, although he was certainly willing and able to pull off wore extended efforts, especially on "Highway 61." OK. After seeing this show, I've concluded that the changes in the band over the last year and the making of "Time Out Of Mind" are two essentially inseparable aspects of the same process. While Daniel Lanois gave "TOOM" a distinctive timbre and sonic style, the intense, disturbing, controlled music at its heart comes from Dylan, not his producer. The set pieces, especially from "TOOM," define the show; the familiar songs give it life; the songs he's still working out breathe wild magic into it. How much further he's going to take this mode of music, I can't know. I hope he's going to take the time to work more and more of his performing repertoire into it. I don't think he's ever made better music, night after night after night; whatever the technical or emotional superiority you might find in 1966 (or 1974, for technical quality alone, or 1975), the current music's unrelenting intensity, variety and reinvention stand unmatched. So who's got a tape of either night?
Subject: RMD Sign in Philly (Tony Garnier & Friends) From: rjatko (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 21:33:59 -0500 Charlie, RK, and I went to both the Philly shows. Great shows, although we nearly froze to death the first night standing on line. We were only about 200 people back from the front, but it took nearly an hour in the hard, cold rain to get through the front doors. The management at the venue let maybe 40 people in at a time. We had no trouble getting up front though, this not being NY and all. Charlie spotted Glen Dundas up in the balcony, so I held up the RMD sign for his benefit/amusement. He pointed to it, nudging a friend. Finally Dylan came out, wearing a short black jacket, white shirt with cufflinks, red tie, black pants with a silver stripe and silver buttons down the side, and weird black patent leather boots with white piping. (Tony Garnier had on these black leather pants with silver buttons down the lower leg--they split at his boots like gaucho pants--very cool!.) Dylan seemed a bit tired, and there was not much bantering with the crowd, although he was in good form. It was wonderful to hear the stuff from the new album, plus great renditions of Born In Time, Stone Walls and Steel bars, and a blistering Hwy61. After the show, we met up with Sorabh and a friend and headed off for South Street (wasn't there a song "Where do all the hippies meet? South Street, South Street...)? We settled down at a restaurant/bar for food etc. We never did find any other RMDers--the club we were supposed to meet at didn't seem to exist. We walked around looking for it, we checked the phone book, we called information, we asked around, all to no avail. At about 1:00 in the morning, Tony Garnier and a friend passed us on their way out. Too late to catch them though, at least this night :-) The second night we didn't get to the club until nearly 7:00. The line was already around the block and it was still raining. We decided to wait out the next hour sitting at a table in a Japanese restaurant, watching the line of freezing Dylan fans inch by through the window--a far, far better thing! Dylan came out in a better mood. He wore a long black coat with embroidered leaves, white shirt, gray tie, black pants with metallic silver designs (like this ^) down the legs , and the strange shiny black boots. I inched my way towards the front and was maybe four people back, stage right. A great set, including another smoking Hwy61, and the highlight of the show for me, an acoustic Baby Blue. I showed Dylan my RMD sign between encores, but I have no idea whether he saw it. He did lean down and speak to someone at the stage--not me!--but I was too far off to make out what he said. After the show, Charlie, RK, and I were hanging around the front door, talking to some guy who had his DAT taken by security--they refused to return it and told him to get a lawyer. Bucky Baxter came out and the guy started telling him the long sad story. And Bucky was so soft-spoken and sweet! He went back into the gig to try to get it for him, but it was a lost cause. He said to the guy, "You shouldn't do that, you know", in the politest way. What a guy! Charlie, RK, and I headed back to South Street. We were walking by the same restaurant we'd been in the night before, when I saw Tony Garnier and a friend sitting at a table (actually, I was peering in the windows, attracting some unwanted attention, when I spotted him). Since that was our destination anyway, we went on in. I waved to him and told him what a good job he'd done. He smiled and said thanks, and that was all Charlie and I needed to go over and chat for a bit. What a nice man! RK hung back, but Tony's friend Joe was having none of that. He called her over too. Another great guy! We talked for about five minutes, then we left them to their dinner. We hung out at the bar by the front door for a while. I dragged out the RMD sign, a bit ragged by now, and a pen. I figured I'd ask Tony to sign it ( in retrospect, I wished that, earlier, I had asked Bucky too, but I was caught off-guard--oh well, another time). Eventually Tony and Joe came by and chatted for a few minutes, and Tony was kind enough to oblige me. He was charming and very cute, with an great smile. He said that he remembered me from some of the shows and then asked what RMD stood for, so I explained, of course. He said he didn't have much to do with the electronic world, but that he knew someone who did. Then he asked my name. I told him "Robin" and he said, "I've heard of you". "Where?" I asked. "On the Internet", he said. Very odd. But at least I know that whenever he sees the RMD sign, he'll know who it is! :-)