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Bob Dylan 990215 in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Subject: GR review
From: Kyle Olson (
Date: 16 Feb 1999 12:15:03 -0800
Organization: None

I had my expectations high Monday night and there was no need to lower them.
In fact, it was even better than I expected.  Bob Dylan is the man!
After an hour-long set by Brian Setzer, Bob Dylan came on donning a black
suit, dark gray shirt and black bow tie.  Larry Campbell wore a long gray coat
and jeans, Buck Baxter wore a long black coat and derby hat.  Tony Garnier
also wore a black coat, with a red shirt and black leather pants.  I couldn't
see David Kemper too of his cymbals was in my line of view but I
could see him wearing a tan hat and sunglasses.  They of course opened with
Gotta Serve Somebody, which I've really grown to like.  I think it's a great
song and I'd like to delve more into his Christian-years work.  Anyway, they
next played Million was pretty cool but nothing too outstanding.
I could tell right away 3 beats into the intro of the next song what it was;
Maggie's Farm.  A song I really wanted to hear but one I doubted I would.  I
was surprised how relatively quiet it was.  It's usually a pretty rockin' song
but it really wasn't last night.  I suppose it was probably louder behind me,
since I was center stage and about 15 feet back.  Anyway, I was goin nuts to
this one and singing right along.  Silvio, which followed, was rockin' but
IMHO, it is a little worn out.  I was surprised how many people knew Just Like
A Woman.  Many people were singing along, including all the high-schoolers all
around me....I'll get to them in a bit.  I was really impressed how much Bob
was getting into the songs; moving around, extended solos, etc.  He still
wasn't really connected with the audience at this part of the show.   Next was
a ho-hum Stone Walls.  I've never really liked this song so it's hard to be
impartial.  I think I would still travel 200 miles to hear Bob Dylan play even
one song...even if it was this one.  Anyway, Masters of War, which was next,
was incredibly powerful.  The only version I've ever heard was by Eddie Veder
on the 30th Anniversary album.  It wasn't quite as powerful as Eddie but still
a highlight.  Next was a very rockin' Tangled Up In Blue.  I think a song like
this has the potential to get stale but this never did.  More extended solos.
It looked at one point as though he was going to reach into his pocket and
pull out a harmonica, but no such luck.  Later on in the show someone even
threw one on stage but it didn't move Bob.  Brian Setzer joined Bob & the band
on stage for Honky Tonk Blues, one of 5 that he would participate in.  Bob
really got into the show during this song...he actually smiled!  Bob would
sing, not quite getting the falsetto part goin, then join Setzer for a duel.
It was really great because Bob had a huge smile on his face during the whole
song.  I could see him almost laughing sometimes because he was having so much
fun.  He would turn around to David and Tony with a huge smile on his face
like "look at me!".  He was like a little kid...  The audience was going crazy
& I would have to say that it was the highlight for me.  After a high-five
from Bob, Setzer stayed on stage for Ballad of the Thin Man and Highway 61.  A
horn section also joined on Ballad and they were particularly disappointing.
This was Bob's song and Bob's solos & sometimes the horns would get carried
away...particularly the saxophonist.  Another saxophonist actually nudged him
to stop playing because Bob was singing the lyrics.  No sharp glances from Bob
but he deserved one.
  The encore of course began with Love Sick.  This was about the time in the
show when about 6 guys behind me tried to rush up to the front, thus making
the first 20 feet of people into 10 feet of people.  It was a little caotic
and it didn't help my concentration any to have a hot blonde in front of me
yelling behind me for her cigarettes.  After Love Sick, a few of the high-
schoolers were yelling for "Let's Get Stoned."  I've never heard that song
before... :)  Anyway, they got their wish, even though they didn't even know
what the name of the song was.  There were a lot of high-school jokers there
last night which surprised me.  All the pretty boys were smoking their pot and
being rowdy.  I'm not saying that concerts shouldn't be rowdy but they were
just being stupid.  Granted I'm only 20, but I wasn't acting like a fool
there.  They would get pushed a little by somebody accidently and they would
turn around and just nail anybody close to them.  Also, I didn't even think I
would see crowd surfing at a Dylan show, but there was...only on Rainy Day
Woman though.  Brian Setzer (with horns) joined Bob for that too.  Next was
another highlight for me...Don't Think Twice.  This song has really struck me
lately with the recent break-up with my girlfriend...technically she broke up
with me, but anyways...  And after listening to that a lot lately and hearing
it last night, I've decided the day she comes back to me, I'm going to sit
down and personally play that for her.  That song really hits home for me and
I was really pleased it was played last night.  I hate to end my first-ever
review sounding stupid, but I don't have any idea what the last song was.
Right now I'm assuming it was Not Fade Away, but I saw a post earlier today
that it was Friend of the Devil.  So it's a toss up to me.  My advice to
anyone out east:  GO SEE BOB DYLAN.  HE'S A LEGEND.  One more note.  I first
saw Bob in 1996, when I didn't know much about him.  A friend and I were in
the 2nd row (about 10 feet away at most) and it was a pretty good time.  Last
night was a very different feeling.  After knowing a lot more about Dylan and
having more of his music, I felt awkward to be 20 feet away from him.  It felt
like there was a god who you just aren't supposed to get near.  He's someone
you just really look up to but shouldn't be associated with.  I felt a great
presence around Bob Dylan.  After last night, I think my book of holiness
goes: God, Jesus Christ, and Bob Dyan.  Long live Bob Dylan.

Kyle Olson

Subject: Re: GR review From: Janetreid ( Date: 17 Feb 1999 17:17:45 GMT The Grand Rapids show was great and Bob really enjoyed himself, jammin with Setzer and his band.... I had been to the Normal and South Bend shows the two nights before ... and for the most part, IMO the Normal show had the best crowd, the South Bend show had the best Set list and the Grand Rapids show was all Bob's.. he enjoyed himself immensely.. As far as those high school boys.. they were horrible... One older guy in his mid 40's to 50's tried to get everyone up front to storm the stage... the kids seemed willing... When a few of us at the railing refused he got mad and left ... the kids behind me didn't have a clue what was going on.. they occasionally clapped and moved around a bit.. but only reacted to songs like Highway 61 and RDW... I was in the front row just to Dylan;s left. and when RDW began.. the high school boys that were in abundance Monday night went wild.. and acted just like what they were, high school boys ... they began to shove and push forward... It was scarey... For a while there I could hardly breath ... and no signs of them stopping.. When I could take no more, I grabbed the railing and shoved myself back with all my strength. .. slamming into them.. then I turned around and (being a mother of 3 teenage boys not too long ago). I screamed to them "Stop it right now"... they all of course, acted like most teenage boys will when confronted in a situation like that.. they denied they were responsible.. but it's strange.. it stopped... I was then able to try and enjoy Don't Think Twice... I have to say however.. it was a very uncomfortable experience. I have bruises on my stomach and side and I'm sorry to say I hurt my back when I shoved them.. However, if I hadn't they may have kept that up until someone was seriously hurt. Jan
Subject: The Grand Rapids Press' Review of Feb. 15, 1999 From: Roger Golliver ( Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 12:43:04 -0800 I thought this review was good enough to ask for permission to post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Regards, Roger G The Grand Rapids Press Feb. 16, 1999 Jump, Jive and Rock Dylan-Setzer combo makes for spirited, memorial night WHAT A NIGHT Evening's odd combo of Dylan and Setzer proved lots of fun. By John Sinkevics This is the city -- Grand Rapids, Michigan. The story you are about to hear is true. The names haven't been changed to protect the innocent. Exhibit One: Fifteen guys dressed in blue sportcoats with lime green collars carry trumpets, trombones, etc., across a brightly lit stage to their seats behind matching band sleeves a la Lawrence Welk. The orchestra begins to play the familiar strains of the "Dragnet" theme as most of the gathered audience claps approvingly. Uh-oh, you wonder, have we become our parents? Exhibit Two: With strobelights flashing and incense burning, the shadowy long-haired musicians take the stage to thunderous chants from fist-pumping fans. At center stage, a familiar hero dressed in black with white boots straps on his Fender Stratocaster and launches into one of his countless rock standards. Uh-oh, you wonder as you check your ticket stub, is this the same concert? Not only was it the same concert Monday night at Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids, but by the end of the evening, members of both of the above acts were wailing away on the same stage together, and sounding pretty darned impressive while doing it, too. Such was the marvelous oddity of Bob Dylan-meets-the-Brian-Setzer-Orchestra, a show filled with surprises, splendid musicianship, legendary songs, and -- stop the presses -- a smile, nay almost a guffaw, from Bob Dylan himself. But oh mama, to be stuck inside Van Andel with those big-city-crowd blues again. The vexingly sleepy, humdrum Monday night crowd, which filled less than three-fourths of the arena, took most of the night to warm up, and squandered a golden opportunity to boogie to the catchy, uptempo, swing-jump-rockabilly fare that Setzer and company offered up. Sheesh, the floor seats had no seats just to encourage some dancing, but nary a bobbing head or twirling bod was seen during Setzer's 55-minute opening set. Luckily, it's doubtful whether Dylan paid much attention to the audience of just under 8,000 (as usual, only addressing the crowd to introduce band members), because he seemed much more keenly interested in what was happening on stage during his hour-and-40-minute show. After all, this is a guy who refuses to do newspaper interviews and who even refused to allow photographers to take his picture on stage. (That's why The Press assigned an artist to sketch Dylan as he played Monday night). In just 16 songs, this folk-rock icon who helped reshape a generation managed to distill almost 30 years of writing and disparate styles into a cohesive, entertaining package. And, for the most part, you could understand almost every wonderful, raspy, nasal-tinged word. From the opening "Gotta Serve Somebody," a signature of his born-again Christian philosophy, to the protest songs, "Maggie's Farm" and "Masters of War," to the acoustically pleasing "Tangled Up In Blue," to his most recent blues-tinged gems, "Love Sick" and "Million Miles," Dylan made it all sound fresh and vital. Of course, his bandmates (guitarist Larry Campbell, bassist Tony Garnier, drummer Dave Kemper and pedal steel-and-mandolin wiz Bucky Baxter) kept things tight and tasty even when Dylan, who might have allowed Campbell more solos, pounded out some extended jams. And lest you focus too heavily on the "folk" part of Dylan's repertoire, Monday night's show was undeniably a rock 'n' roll affair. Never was that more obvious than on 1988's "Silvio," a nice little ditty which Dylan and band turned into a crisp and driving rocker. This, people, is why Dylan went electric. He proved that again when Setzer -- playing his last show as Dylan's opening act on the current tour -- joined Dylan for "Honky Tonk Blues," "Ballad of a Thin Man," "Highway 61 Revisited," "Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35," and "Not Fade Away," which closed the show. Dylan, Setzer and Campbell traded extended licks throughout, with Dylan smiling and (could it be?) laughing during "Honky Tonk Blues," and later high-fiving Setzer, formerly of the Stray Cats, more than once. Part of Setzer's horn section later joined in on the party, too. Setzer did what he could as the opener to inject some energy into the flat-footed audience. Dressed in a shiny black-and-silver suit, Setzer and his orchestra bounced and jived their way through uptempo numbers such as "The Dirty Boogie," "Let's Live It Up" and "Rock This Town." But it was Dylan, who at 57 appears to be having more fun and saying more with his music than ever before, who got the slow-rising Van Andel crowd on its feet and got old and young hippies dancing in the aisles by his encore. It's just too bad some concert-goers -- such as those who left their seats during a spine-tingling version of "Masters of War" or the brilliant "Tangled Up In Blue" -- weren't listening earlier, because to be stuck inside Van Andel with Dylan's blues was worth hearing again and again. INFO BOX DYLAN-SETZER REVISITED Monday night's Bob Dylan/Brian Setzer Orchestra show at Van Andel Arena marked the last time Setzer will open for Dylan on his current tour. Here are some highlights: THE ACT: Bob Dylan, with opening act Brian Setzer Orchestra. BEST DYLAN QUIP: Nothing, none, nada. Oh, he did introduce his band and Brian Setzer, who joined him on stage. That's it. BEST SETZER QUIP: "I want to thank Bob Dylan for having us on the road. Bob's crew has been great and given us all the stuff that we wanted. And we want a lot of stuff!" BEST MOMENT: An irrepressible, smiling Bob Dylan jamming on guitar with Setzer and Larry Campbell. SECOND-BEST MOMENT: The young hippies at the back of Van Andel dancing in Woodstock fashion during "Tangled Up In Blue." WORST MOMENT(S): The folks sitting on their hands for much of Setzer's energetic opening set. ATTENDANCE: 7,988 MERCHANDISE: Dylan Special Event Poster listing Van Andel and date, $10; Dylan "CD Wallet," $15; Setzer or Dylan T-shirt, $25. SET LENGTHS: 55 minutes for Setzer; 1 hour, 40 minutes for Dylan. SONG-TO-DOLLAR RATIO: $35 per ticket divided by 28 songs (12 for Setzer; 16 for Dylan) equals $1.25 per song. ENCORE: One song for Setzer ("Rock This Town""; four songs for Dylan ("Love Sick," "Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35," "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Not Fade Away.") FINAL GRADE: A

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