Date: Wed, 24 May 1995 15:51:47 GMT From: email@example.com (Ed Ricardo) Subject: Joel Selvin reviews Monday 22 May 1995 Warfield San Francisco...
OLDER DYLAN SHOWS OFF HIS NEW VIGOR / HIS CLASSIC TUNES GET NEW SPINSJOEL SELVIN, Chronicle Staff Critic In a powerful and engaging two-hour show Monday at the Warfield Theatre, Bob Dylan plumbed his extensive repertoire for a glistening handful of his finest songs -- some well known, others less so -- twisting each one into a new shape, forcing his audience to hear them in a different light, revealing previously undisclosed facets and, once again, proving himself one of the great songwriters of his time. Wearing a gold embroidered toreador jacket over an untucked and belted purple satin shirt, Dylan took the stage without guitar to blast off with a gale force ``Down In the Flood,'' a torrent of words and music he delivered tilted on one leg, harmonica in his hand. It was a surprising opening number -- an unreleased outtake from his famed collaboration with the Band, ``The Basement Tapes,'' that Dylan included as an inconsequential footnote to his album, ``Greatest Hits, Vol. 2.'' But with the scorching performance he gave it at the Warfield he served notice that this would not be a routine show. One of the keys to Dylan's renewed strength as a performer is the four-piece band with which he has traveled for several years now, a unit muscular enough to detonate his most explosive songs and limber enough to curl delicately around his silken ballads. Dylan was right in there with them, trading licks with his guitarist, John Jackson, knocking off old blues lines like a champion. Steel guitarist Bucky Baxter stitched fine-point detail into the edge of the sound, while bassist Tony Garnier warm ly rounded out the bottom end, even resorting to bowing his upright bass through the verses of ``It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.'' Drummer Winston Watson drove the engine with piston-like surety. In the course of the two-hour, 14-number set the band stretched out song after song like a freight train barely contained on the rails. The accomplished, sympathetic accompaniment allowed Dylan to bring ``When You Go Your Way and I Go Mine'' into crunching overdrive, to reclaim ``All Along the Watchtower'' from Jimi Hendrix and to bring the concert to a close with a rejuvenated ``Obviously Five Believers,'' guitars ringing out the vintage blues lick from ``You Don't Love Me'' that Dylan originally played on harmonica. The quartet could carefully knit together a quiet, lacy tapestry to make the understated ``Desolation Row'' glow like a dying fire or give ``She Belongs to Me'' an elegant, laid-back, contemplative mood, borrowing more than a few licks from Ricky Nelson's arrange ment of the song. Dylan wrenched the old bouncing melody away from ``Mr. Tambourine Man,'' singing the song in a droning monotone that brought the jarring lyrical images starkly back to life. Similarly, ``It's All Over Now, Baby Blue,'' in the slowed-down arrangement he debuted at last year's Woodstock Festival, sprung back vividly. Dylan brooded his way through ``Tears of Rage,'' a song best known in the version on the Band's ``Music From Big Pink.'' He returned for the encore with ``Lenny Bruce,'' a powerful elegy many missed on the 1981 album, ``Shot Of Love,'' but that few at the Warfield will forget thanks to the sturdy backing and Dylan's convincing vocal. Dylan did not speak a word, other than to introduce the band members, but what he communicated to the audience was nothing less than a reaffirmation of his commitment. He did this with the dignity of someone confident enough in his ability to let the songs do the talking. Once again, they did. __________________________________________________________________________ DAY: WEDNESDAY DATE: 5/24/95 PAGE: D1 5/24/95 San Francisco Chronicle
Date: Wed, 24 May 1995 13:34:32 -0400 From: Braitman (braitman@AOL.COM) Subject: Warfield/22 May 95 It occurred to me last night while seeing the first of four Bay Area Bob Dylan shows, that we've been perceiving old Bob rather inaccurately for a long time. What he is-his being-ness, as it were-has always been too complex for the instant analyses of the pop media, and has always made pedantic windbags out of the earnestly sincere Bobophiles who write for the fan press. Last night it was clear that the nature of the confusion over Bob's Being is the triadic nature of his expression. The pop media has always admired him as a Songwriter, but usually this admiration is tinged with uncertainty over his abilities as a Performer. They've always had a bit of guilt at enjoying someone whom they couldn't really call a "singer" and whose performing style often seemed bizarre or alienating. Ah, but the writer of "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Like A Rolling Stone" could be excused for his performing shortcomings. Well, as we know, Bob's Being is intimately tied up with the Performance part of the triad, and in a live setting the surprises and challenges of what will happen to old and even new songs is a major part of what continues to make him interesting. That is why we see him four times in a week, because anything can happen. He and his band are a machine of vital moving parts, each connected to the whole. Every note is important, thought driving the musical form to constant seeking, constant exploration of sound and effect. I realized that as Performer, Bob could be compared to Frank Sinatra, a stylist whose best work is in the constant reevaluation and reenergizing of older material. Last night's two revelations were a stripped down, acoustic band version of "Mr. Tambourine Man," and a blazingly passionate final encore of "My Back Pages." The former was dark and steaming, the latter painfully heartfelt. His harp playing was inspired, his voice open and full. He has discovered the truth again of both songs, and our experience of his discovery was thrilling. The third part of the equation gets much less play than the others, but it was much in evidence last night. Bob Dylan-Guitar Man. Yes, he's not well known or much respected as a guitarist, but he's played for years and knows exactly what he wants out of soft twangs and loud clangs. He had a few solos last night that were emotionally and lyrically perfect, as well as loudly satisfying. So he's no Clapton, so what; he's someone else entirely. I'm looking forward to the next three shows this week. Some of the instrumental combinations are sure to differ; the energies to be changed; the rapport between the two guitars, drums, bass and pedal steel bound to be altered in ways unimagined. O boy.
Date: Thu, 25 May 1995 00:53:51 GMT From: Jeff Hawkins (jhawkins@CRUZIO.COM) Subject: Dylan At The Warfield I was at the show Monday night, and thought y'all might be interested in the set list It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry The Man In The Long Black Coat All Along The Watchtower Most Likely You Go Your Way I'll Go Mine Tears Of Rage Tombstone Blues Mr. Tambourine Man Desolation Row It's All Over Now Baby Blue Seeing The Real You At Last She Belongs To Me Obviously 5 Believers 1st encore: Lenny Bruce 2nd encore: My Back Pages It was a fantastic show. IMHO, it was probably the best Bob I'd seen in 15 years. He was animated, sang a couple of songs just holding a mike (no guitar, no harmonica) (we decided this was either Bob Sinatra or Bob Diamond). He did some great rasty electric lead guitar (this was Bob Young, or Neil Dylan), and did a beautiful acoustic rendition of Mr. Tambourine Man. It was a wonderful evening Jeff
Date: Fri, 26 May 1995 15:27:12 -0400 From: Ragman10 (ragman10@AOL.COM) Subject: Concert Review 5/22/95 So, I arrived at the Warfield at about 3 in the afternoon and was surprised to see about ten people on line...I was expecting many more. Most people seemed to not want to talk or anything, so I took my spot in line and waited. Luckily, I had a nice chat with the man in front of me who, though not really a Dylan fan, was a cab driver from Oakland and had many stories to tell. To make things even better, he was giving out fortune cookies. At about 4:30, a worker from the Warfield comes out and tells us that we must brake up the line and reassemble at 5:30. He said something about not wanting to disturb the neighboring businesses. Though most people are upset, we agree to reassemble in the same order later using the honor system. Let's just say that it didn't work. However, coming from New York, I reallize that it could have gone worse. Well, at 7 the doors open and I rush in. The usher accidently tells me to run and not walk (Freudian slip?). The Warfield is simply beautifull and it takes we a few seconds to find my way to the stage. Once I do, I end up in the second row, center. I am very pleased. To my right is a female college student and we immediately start up a conversation about San Francisco, Dylan and, of course, Heike. Ms. Shiff (sp?), if you read this, get in touch with me and I'll send you the Supper tape. The floor is much less crowded than Roseland and the chance to sit down and avoid back pain is a welcome opportunity. Directly in front of me is Stephan, a German medical student in America doing a residency. He is a very experienced and knowledgeable fan and, through the next few days, we get to know each other very well. We were both very pleased to be near someone else who knew the songs and we spent much time discussing concerts, both in Europe and the USA. I sense his excitement and it adds to my own. At 8:20, "Crash on the Levee" begins. I'm beginning to love this song. Just watching Dylan with no guitar, practically screaming the lyrics...what a great start. "Man In A Long Black Coat" follows and, after I thank God that he didn't play Lay Lady Lay, I am practically in a trance as the song continues. Watching the expression on Bob's face as he holds the line endings, what a thrill. Much like "Senor" the night before, I would describe the song as haunting. "Watchtower"- a crowd favorite and I'm once again impressed that, even after hearing this song hundereds of times, I still find myself rocking along. The first chords of "Most Likely" let me know that it was gonna be a special evening. Once again, I'm surprised and pleased that "Just Like A Woman" has been put away. "Most Likely" is rocking like that "Woman" never could, The crowd is very excited as Dylan plays solo after solo. I see JJ playing along with a smile on his face and I'm reminded that this is why I waited on line. Why I love Dylan so much. I find myself singing along, jumping up in the air as those three chords are played over and over again. I'm in heaven. "Tears of Rgae" is anything but a let down. Though slower than "Most Likely", both JJ and Dylan do excellent solos whil the singing is excellent. Throughout the show, Dylan has not appeared as animated as other shows as I've seen and this trend cotinues. However, his singing is strong and the delivery powerful. "Tombstone Blues" is one of the reasons I made the trip in the first place. It, along with "Dignity" and "I Want You" were the three songs I wanted to hear most. With it following the two previous songs, I'm left asking if the electric set could have been any better. The songs is bluesy and rocking. The first few lines sound like Dylan is just talking, but I'm quickly aware that the song is picking up. Dylan is really enjoying himself and he plays verses that I have not heard since the album version. The drums seem to really carry this song. The song recieves a rousing ovation. "Tambourine Man" was once again excellent. "Desolation Row" was considered by most to be the highlight of the show. Dylan, with guitar, delivered a passionate, moving delivery. This song is not my favorite but this did not blind me of the fact that the song was nearly perfect. Dylan's acoustic solo's left us all in awe. He played solo after solo after solo moving up and down the guitar, seeminlg impressing the band. The ovation was tremendous. "Baby Blue" was fine. I think the delivery is too slow and I don't think the song moved the crowd like "Desolation". After "Desolation" it might have been nice to play a faster song, perhaps "Don't Think Twice". Hell, what do I know? "Real You" seemed to have more energy than the night before. It does not seem to rck the crowd like "God Knows", but the arrangement is still pretty good. "She Belongs To Me" was surprisingly good. It started out slowly but, towards the end, it seemed to speed up and become much more rocking. I think, at times, it's a bit soupy (too much Bucky) but, on this night, the drums seemed to have more energy. Dylan and JJ both played solos and, after hearing both 1992 and 1994 versions of this song, I was left surprised and impressed. "5 Believers" was a pleasant surprise. People I spoke to who had seen other shows, said the song had improved greatly. It seemed to alternate between fast and slow with the buildupo to the fast, pounding drums being very exciting. The lyrics were fast and a bit muffled but, considering how many times I sat through Maggie's farm, this was great. Dylan took off his guitar with the song almost over and took a few bows. "Lenny Bruce" was the first encore and, though Dylan had trouble remembering the lyrics, the song was well done. Dylan regrouped after a horrible first verse and saved the song. If it was a choice between this and Mr. Jones, I was happy to hear it. Dylan put a lot of passion into this song and I at least got the feeling that he was recalling his respect for Lenny Bruce. "My Back Pages" was, like Santa Barbara, a fine ending. This time, to a great night. In other news, "Lay Lady Lay" was the alternate for the #2 song. "Tom Thumb Blues" was the alternate for the #4 song. "Me Babe" was the alternate for the final song. "Gates of Eden" was the alternate for "Desolation". "In The Garden" was the alternate to "She Belongs To Me.
DYLAN & Lead Guitar Ken Hill khill@VALLEYCHRISTIAN.NET Sun, 5 Jul 1998 14:53:09 -0700 PSB wrote:I second this observation, also from many years of watching the Man play. 1995 Warfield (San Francisco) May 22 is a textbook example. The band enters and W. Watson begins slamming the sticks onto the drums, bashing out the opening licks of Down In The Flood. With his head bowed and his hair rising and falling to the beats, a stick shatters into the air. Bob and the band kick in, and from the first note it is apparent his muse is present. The energy and dynamic is thick and palpable. It's going to be a magic night, and everyone can sense the moment. Watson breaks another stick; the song crescendos, echos, bashes to a halt and does not disappoint; the crowd (=/- 2000) roar in approval. Those of us on the floor, scant feet away from Bob, stand in amazement, jaws beginning to slacken.Dylan's guitar style whether on electric or acoustic has changed and evolved through the years, and each night on stage he walks a tight-rope, one of the last truly spontaneous rock 'n' roll musicians. Actually his attitude is that of a jazz musician, he's searching for that one thing, whatever it is. Sometimes he hits it, a lot of times he doesn't, but he keeps searching. I've seen him play licks and runs where I couldn't believe it was him, then I'd look at the other musicians and it wasn't them (and I play guitar and know what to look for)...I've seen him do tons of two note solos that went on way too long, and I've seen him hit really wrong notes and take things to the brink of complete collapse and then somehow pull it back together. But...there's one thing I know: he can play, and most important, he plays with soul, and that he can pull out a hot solo when he wants to.
(There is a certain dynamic that happens among long-time fans, as far as I can tell, only at Bob shows. Everyone arrives with full anticipation and expectation, and the vibe is generally very hopeful and strong, but there is a sense sometimes of "what are we gonna' get tonight..." It's not that Bob disappoints as much as we know that he, as PSB wrote, does walk that fine line of improvisation as he searches for inspiration to make the tried and tested come alive with fresh vitality and meaning and, perhaps, direction. Sometimes, it's just a show. Other times, like May 22nd, 1995, the event is transcendent and almost other-worldly.)
Is it for real tonight? Or have we given ourselves over too easily in our desire to see magic? Whatever the case, the audience all rests in his hands as they kick into Long Black Coat. We stand and sway and feel the music pass through us, sweeping through the crowd and returning to the stage and passing through Watson and JJ and Bucky and Bob and swirling back out and through us. I look up at JJ and he grins back at me...we start to nod and smile at one another; a passing thought goes through my mind and I wonder secretly if he just happy to have any attention at all next to Dylan. The thought is immediately banished; he is happy, and knows himself that the night is going great, and it's only the second song...
We all knew what the third song would be, and the electric lines of Watchtower come bursting forth, and it's as if the walls of a dam have burst. JJ takes the opening leads and masterfully bends and strips the notes with sonic perfection. Again, we exchange grins as my eyes dart back and forth between him, Bob and Bucky. I'm in a perfect vantage point front and center, just a couple people back from the stage. Then Bob cuts in and takes a lead run, and the notes come trippingly from his fingers as they weave themselves around JJ's lead and Bucky's slid and rise, twisting themselves around one another like a complex strand of musical DNA, stretching heavenward, arcing, eclipsing all hope and then falling back to the stage.
I turn to perfect strangers around me, my jaw hanging open in complete disbelief. I'm not the only one. The floor is now amotion with heads turning to the right and left, all of us wondering at what we have just witnessed. Bob as Eric Clapton? I say Clapton's name in a whisper, and am not the only one. We know it's Bob: it looks like Bob, it sounds like Bob...
Bob takes a step or two upstage as he releases the lead; JJ, positioned just to the back and stage right side of Bob, steps forward and nudges Bob on the shoulder, then steps back. Bob gestures with his head without hardly turning around at all. JJ grins, larger than ever. I swear it's as if he says, "You didn't believe that? Wait till you see this." He steps forwards and nudges Bob again, and Bob glances at JJ, then opens up with another lead. Now it's Bob, and ...
And what? It tears the fabric of space and time and what anyone could reasonably expect from any musician anytime and anywhere, let alone Bob Dylan and his band. The licks and leads are traded, again and again and again, and the music rises ever higher and higher, and we are all transported upon the waves of a magic ship of sound, gidily rising as one, laughing, joy streaming from everyone there.
I could go on. That was only the third song, and the entire evening is etched in my mind. May 23...the next night? It was a very good Dylan show. But not magical. Not transcendent as the first night. The reviewer of the local rag, reviewing the 22nd show, called Dylan a genius and heaped superlative upon superlative upon him. He said anyone who was there that night was lucky. He said that Dylan should not be mistaken for Clapton (did he hear the voices on the floor? Or was Bob really that good that the comparison had to be made, albeit negatively...?)
I write this to say that there are nights, and there are nights, and when you've been there when it's all lined up and the tightrope's been walked with masterful perfection that transcends mere mortality...when you are left to wonder what really just happened while on the silent drive home past the hillsides and lakes and empty roads of Northern California...once you've been there, you will always return, if for nothing else but to say "Thanks."