Bob Dylan 981029 in Toronto, Ontario
Subject: Toronto, Oct 29 From: Gary Tausch (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: 30 Oct 1998 07:05:05 -0800 Bob performed an excellent show in Toronto last night, my impressions follow but first I want to ask anyone who taped the show (security seemed very lax) to please check out my tape list at: http://www.front.net/gtausch/tapelst.htm It starts with my extensive Tom Waits list and will take you to my Dylan list and others - I have a few more to add to the list so please contact me if you have a tape of last night's Toronto show - I'd also like to get the Joni Mitchell set if possible for the the friend who went to the show with me We arrived in the middle of Dave Alvin's set - he's a great guitar player and the band was a pleasure to listen to - a great version of Berry's Promised Land and a version of X's 4th of July stood out. Being an opening act is a tough job but Alvin got the audience to listen and was very impressive I've never been a big Joni Mitchell fan but I've always respected her as an artist and her set was very impressive, complex, angular jazz based music - a couple of longer Folky tunes dragged but the more upbeat songs made up for it - she really impressed me at the end of her set when she sang an old Billie Holliday song - her encore was a nicely rearranged version of Woodstock - I'm still not running out to buy any Joni Mitchell albums but her set was worth hearing I've seen shows at the Gardens before where the sound was awful but where we sat in the centre of the floor 23 rows back it was excellent and when Bob came on his vocals were clear and loud - the crowd at the front got up and stayed up throughout the show - and you could tell from the beginning that Mr Dylan was in great form I think I have the setlist right but I didn't take notes Gotta Serve Somebody - this was a great opener, fast and loose Million Miles - I was really happy to hear this, the first of the TOOM songs - an excellent blues band with a great singer Tom Thumb's Blues - this was a surprise - well done but Bob liked one verse so well that he sang it twice and left out another The Gordon Lightfoot song - the title escapes me - he introduced this as one of his favourite songs and said he didn't know if Gord was in the audience - a nice touch to play this in Toronto and not a bad song Cold Irons Bound - if you hear someone yelling All Right on the tape it was me, this was the one song I really wanted to hear and I wasn't sure he'd do it since it was usually played third - the band kicked on this and I've never heard Dylan sing better - absolutely the highlight for me Tomorrow Is A Long Time - the first acoustic number - a beautiful song and beautifully sung Masters Of War - this song is really powerful live - the band interplay during the acoustic numbers was a pleasure to watch My Back Pages - another highlight especially when Bob pulled out the harmonica for the first time Tangled Up In Blue - a great speedy arrangement - Bob seemed to get a real kick out of singing this one as fast as he could Every Grain Of Sand - not my favourite song but well performed, most people didn't seem to recogize this one Highway 61 Revisited - a kick ass version of this song, excellent guitar work, Bob was duckwalking/ducking - whatever that thing he does is - and really got into it (encore) Love Sick - another TOOM highlight, a speeded up instrumental break, strong vocals, just wonderful Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 - the crowd went nuts - the lights came on - the band seemed to be having a great time - I wish he'd sing more of this - it's practically an instrumental these days Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic) - beautiful, timeless, I'm glad he's doing this song again 'Til I Fell In Love With You - another excellent blues workout - he said something about Hurricane Carter being in the audience before this - if I heard it right It Ain't Me, Babe (acoustic) - a good closer, climaxed with more harp playing The show was just about perfect - I saw him last year in Toronto and he was very good then but I thought last night he was even better - full of energy - his voice stronger - it was a great evening My daughter gave me the 1966 RAH CD for my birthday and it's amazing but in all honesty I think Bob was as good or better last night Cheers Gary
Subject: Toronto Review (Very Long. Probably Too Long.) From: Edwin Yee (email@example.com) Date: Fri, 06 Nov 1998 21:16:42 -0500 I was going to do the standard review but as I started to write, I kept thinking of all the great people I met between the Toronto and Ottawa shows who made the concerts particularly memorable. In no particular order, Ken and Paul from across the sea, Mike and Anne in Ottawa, and Paul from Toronto. Toronto, Maple Leaf Gardens 10/29/98 Maple Leaf Gardens is the last of the old time hockey arenas, built during the depression with cheap labour recruited from the relief lines and soup kitchens. It is as far removed from the modern, bloodless arenas with their luxury boxes, cappuccino bars and cushioned seats as one can imagine. The Gardens shows its age as one sees lineups outside both men's and women's washrooms while negotiating the cramped concourse areas behind the stands. What it lacks in comfort, the venue more than makes up for in character and history, with memorable shows by Bob and The Band in 1974, Rolling Thunder in 1975, and the Street Legal tour in 1978. After 20 years, Bob is back in the Gardens. I manage to set myself on the rail after Joni's set, directly in front of Larry Campbell's mike. Concert security asks that we move away from the railing, that only those with first row tickets are allowed at the front. They make a half-hearted attempt to check tickets and request that people move back. They are politely ignored and everyone gets to stay. The incense pots are lit as the stagehands scurry back and forth with last minute preparations. Around 10:15, the lights dim and we hear the familiar "Ladies and gentlemen, would you please welcome.....". The crowd rises to the strains of "Gotta Serve Somebody" and most of those on the floor of the hockey rink will remain standing for the duration of the show. Days after, a friend who had come to see Joni, and who would leave after Bob's acoustic set, said that he was most impressed with the almost "tribal loyalty" of the fan reaction during the concert. I took that to be a compliment. Looking at Bob's outfit, one can easily imagine him stepping out of Lansky Brothers onto Beale Street circa 1956, having checked out the latest fashions of the Memphis clothier. The outfit is all-black save for a white stripe on the side of his pants guiding your eyes down to the floor to view a chunky pair of impossibly white loafers. A white tie completes the outfit, not dangling free but carefully tucked into the shirt just above the waist. While the clothes speak of Mystery Trains and Memphis, the trademark tangle of unkempt hair would probably have been met with cold, hard stares of disapproval from the same citizenry. Where the spring and summer Bob of 1997 revealed a slight paunch under the southern gentleman outfits he was sporting at the time, the current version appears trim, without any sign of excess poundage. There is more movement, little skip steps, shuffles, and duck walks, which, while part last year's choreography, reveals a newfound level of exuberance that easily spills over to the rest of the band. After missing his rendez-vous with Elvis, Bob is obviously taking better care of himself. At the rail, you can hear the instruments coming directly out of the small suitcase amps set out on the stage while the vocals and drums are miked through the bank of overhead speakers. Were it not for the floor level mikes placed in front of the amps, the minimalist stage set up could make one could easily forget about the concert venue and imagine a casual rehearsal for the band in Bob's garage. As the opening song comes to a close, it's clear that Bob is pumped. He's already making eye contact with the people in the front and enjoying himself tremendously. The vocals are a still a bit muddy. There would be some improvement as the show progresses. As we later learn, there was no time for a sound check before the concert. "Million Miles" is next up and Bob obviously has an affinity for TOOM tunes. With Larry laying down the supporting licks, Bob steps back from his mike and goes into his lead guitar routine, complete with a full range of facial expressions from pursed lip frowns of concentration to intense staredowns with members of the audience up front. There is a very definite comedic side of Bob which can only be experienced up close. Previous reviews have made the point but the live "Million Miles" is so much more dynamic compared to the TOOM version. "When you're lost in the rain in Juarez...". Wasn't expecting this in number 3, but surprise immediately gives way to appreciation. Bob is nailing the vocals. Larry and Tony are constantly breaking out into large grins, both at each other and with those in the front, sensing that something special is happening. "I started out on burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff...". Not tonight, Bob. Unless you're holding it much better these days. If ever there is any doubt as to whether Bob considers a setlist with a particular city or occasion in mind, the next number should put such doubts to rest. Before "You're Not Supposed To Care", Bob dedicates the song to its writer, long time Toronto resident and friend Gordon Lightfoot. It is a tender, almost delicate performance, giving a hint of what was to come for the rest of the night. On the darkened stage, Bob and Tony are conferring. Will Silvio be making an appearance across the border tonight? Alas, it is not to be. Still dark, we hear a lone guitar note which trails off into a thudding bass line. The bass is now joined by staccato riffs of Larry's guitar. Of all the songs on TOOM, the near anthemic nature "Cold Irons Bound" makes it a perfect fit for arena venues. Bob and the band put on a searing performance, each verse building in intensity over the previous. Dark at the beginning, the stage once more is dark, as the song draws to a close to a thunderous ovation. Stage hands rush to and fro, exchanging acoustic guitars with Larry and Bob. Dimly, we see Bucky strapping on the mandolin, taking his place next to Tony, who steadies his double bass. We make out some tentative opening chords. The strumming stops and faintly, you can hear Tony counting off the song. One. Two. Three...Music. Lights. Another surprise. It was only the previous night that "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" was performed in Detroit. Exquisite harmonies from Larry and Bucky. Song over, Bob ambles to the back of the stage and picks up a harp, along with a blue bullet-shaped mike. The harp is held over the mike, guitar is pushed to the back, neck pointing towards the floor, Johnny Cash style. But Johnny never played the harp like this. Bob knows harp. And it shows tonight. The harp intro to "My Back Pages" is incredibly moving, seeming to go on and on. Bob would hold a note, facing the crowd with his knees bent, his free hand stretched out to the side. If he gets any lower, his knees would touch the floor, making for a great impression of Al Jolsen. "My Back Pages" closes with a harp solo, soon followed by the familiar chords of "Masters Of War". The song has been a common staple of past shows and will doubtless be so in the future. The fact that one never tires of this song is a tribute to its timeless power as it gives voice to those who are perceived to have neither. There is an understated rage in Bob's vocals, almost spitting out the lines with disdain "...'til I'm sure that you're ..DEAD". The applause gives way to the faint sound of Bucky's mandolin. The guitars and drum quickly kick in and before you realize, we are almost halfway through "Tangled Up In Blue". Bob is setting a blistering pace with his vocals, almost like he is trying to outpace the band. This is definitely the fastest TUIB in recent memory but the lines are delivered perfectly. Extended solos from everyone. I'm thinking the song is winding down but still no cue from Bob so the acoustic jam continues. Finally, Bob barely glances back at David, and with the most subtle of nods, brings the song to a rapturous finish. Electric instruments are plugged back in and Bucky takes his place behing the pedal steel. Very soft guitar chords can be heard. Whatever the next song is, it'll be a slow one. "In the time of my confession,...". I don't believe it. Never thought I'd ever hear "Every Grain Of Sand" live. Somehow, the song seems lost on most of the crowd up front because there isn't much reaction other than my own shouts of approval. The vocals are clear and unrushed, a perfect lead-in to the rousing finish to come. Bob and band in full tilt boogie mode for Highway 61 Revisited. ZZ Top can learn a few tricks from these guys. Again, it may have been my imagination but Bob's vocals seem faster on this Highway than on others. Everyone on stage is in overdrive. Beneath his white Panama hat, David looks too cool to be laying down the ferocious beat in support of the dueling guitars of Bob and Larry. Another backward glance to cue David and the song comes to an end. Off come the instruments, bows and waves and Bob and the band head off stage as the lights go down. In the darkness, We see Larry coming back first, cigarette dangling from his mouth. Before he straps on his guitar, he takes one final drag and hands the cigarette to a waiting stagehand. Still dark, we hear the distinctive echoing chords which introduce "Love Sick". Bucky's pedal steel really stands out in mix. Bob is relatively sedentary during this song, perhaps saving legs for the stretch run to come. When "Love Sick" ends, the lights come on and stay on for "Rainy Day Women". Every time I hear this song, the vocals seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Soon, I expect Bob to dispense with lyrics altogether and make RDW a full instrumental. After the first extended jam, Tony moves from his place on stage beside Bucky and places himself between Larry and Bob. Bandleader Tony leans over to Larry and shouts "LOUD!". They both have huge smiles as Larry cranks up the volume on his guitar. I look up to the seats in the reds and grays and everyone is up on their feet. I know a lot of concert regulars are tiring of RDW but Bob seems to be having a great time. Bob, we grant you this indulgence. We get the complete repertoire of moves. Deep knee bends, small stutter steps front and back, then side to side, Bob's face occasionally breaking into a grin. We see stagehands readying the acoustic instruments at the back and RDW finally winds down to a tumultuous ovation. The audience is treated to a mellow version of "Blowin' In The Wind" and it responds with a very nice effort in a singalong during the chorus. "Blowin'" is a standard encore number for this hockey arena leg of the tour. Bob's performance completely allays my initial concerns that the song might be a pander to the nostalgic yearnings of the "Greatest Hits" portion of the crowd. After a short, almost perfunctory pause as Bob and the band exchange acoustic for electric, they steam into " 'Til I Fell In Love With You". For the last electric number of the night, everything is falling into place. Great playing from everyone and there is just a hint of the Daniel Lanois reverb mix in Bob's vocals. I'm guessing it's on a song like this that the two mikes, a regular and a bullet shaped, come into play. For the closing acoustic number, the opening chords are repeated over and over, and for a moment, I thought we were going to unexpectedly get "Girl From The North Country". Someone behind me said "Scarborough Fair", which Bob used for musical inspiration on a number of early tunes. No surprise tonight, however, as Bob launches into very melodic "It Ain't Me, Babe". I've listened to live performances which were more spoken than sung but not tonight. More inspired harp playing from Bob. There is an almost evangelical fervor in his playing, and when Bob crouches lower and lower as he leans into a note, I half expect himto fall on his knees. At the end of the song, the instruments come off and there are bows all around. Everyone leaves the now darkened stage as the applause continues to build. The lights remain off and for a split second, the delusional part of my thought process takes over, and I hold out the faintest hope of one more song. It was not to be as the house lights come on. After such a performance, however, no one can feel short changed.
Subject: Re: Toronto Review (Very Long. Probably Too Long.) From: (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Sat, 07 Nov 1998 13:24:37 GMT ... Thanks for sharing this. Maybe the best concert review I've read lately. Long, but really enjoyable. You've got an excellent power of observation and can communicate in a very effective way. Francesca
Subject: Re: Toronto Review (Very Long. Probably Too Long.) From: Marvincat9 (email@example.com) Date: 7 Nov 1998 16:56:02 GMT ... I second that emotion.