Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 10:03:13 -0500 From: Gary V Parker (parkergv@CTRVAX.VANDERBILT.EDU) Subject: Atlanta - Throw My Troubles Out the Door [I know this show is almost a week past, but the fact that it remains vivid enough in my mind now that I finally have time to sit down and write something about it compels me to do so.] "Throw my troubles out the door, I don't need them anymore" is what I thought as soon as I saw the marquee of the Fox blazing in the fine Atlanta autumn night. I was glad to be a poor boy with a ticket to get in off the street. The only feeling better was to meet with friends of the same heart, so I parked and went looking for a young Indian guy in a Dylan t-shirt. Soon enough I found Sorabh chatting with familiar faces. Even though he recently accused me of being the one to drag him into the world of Dylan tape trading, I was glad to see him and finally put a face with his eminent cyber-presence. A gracious fellow, he bought my salad and beer as we visited before the show (If I'd only known to order champagne!). We chatted and compared Dyaln experiences and appreciations and found much common ground and were then off to our seats in the front row of the balcony. And we waited. I think it was at least 20 minutes past showtime (there was no opening act) before the incense were fired and a welcomed voice proclaimed "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Columbia recording artist, BOB DYLAN" and we were off... Treat that it was, Drifter's Escape was too muddy to be fully appreciated, especially for untrained ears like the young fellows next to me who had "listened to some of their parents old albums" and were eager for the show to begin. A more easily digested tune would draw new initiates in a lot quicker. Oh yes, they were shaking butt with the rest of us before the night ended, but I could see the "what the hell is this babble" worry in their eyes during this first number. Not to worry, Tonight I'll be Staying Here With You quickly demonstrated that Dylan was no slouch. Oh man, this was a finely honed gem. One of the sweetest arrangements, stage or studio, I've heard Bob pull out of his hat. (Fashion note: Bob displayed his usual panache this night, decked out in his gold lame Elvis tunic, black tuxedo pants and gleaming white spats; JJ and Tony is somber brown suits and hats, Bucky in a red waistcoat, and Winston in white shirt and vest.) What else but the whorling bars of Watchtower to let us know the show was officially on. Relentless driving jam, ramrod straight lyrics, fuming guitars all powering a phantasm too real. If you haven't been to the fox in Atlanta (anyone know if all Fox theater are the same design?), imagine sitting in a castle courtyard with a deep blue starry sky above, watchtowers to your right and left above, and before you a plush stage spanned by a rampart. As the band stormed through the song, you could almost see the princes peering down. But the women and servants were dancing and, I do believe, the princes were tapping their feet. I don't know how many recordings of this are available now (Craig, please don't give us every matrix number!), but every one of them since '91 is pretty damned good, as far as I can tell. Quite a feat for a song with only 12 lines. Play it again, Bob. Under the Red Sky could have been equally visual if the inky blue sky of the ceiling had turned to red. Just as well it didn't so as not to distract from the guitar interplay on this. Dylan and JJ weaving in and out and around one another's lines. Splendid. Sort of the percolating residues of Watchtower's menacing tone. Very interesting to hear Red Sky and Watchtower back to back. Two sides of the same coin, I think. One speaks from innocence, the other from experience. It Takes A Lot to Laugh and a steaming locomotive is screaming through the night. There is no denying the guitar fury of this band. More than half of each song is devoted to guitar free-for-all with Bob leading the way. I have never seen Bob play more confidently and consistently well--fully realized phrasing, rarely runing the same rift into the ground, even some hard string pulling screams. It is was a wonder to behold. I'll venture that this is the best rock'n'roll blues band on the road today. They can cook, slow or fast. Silvio. I t must be the story contained in the tune. Even though this arrangement rocks hard, I don't find the lasting appeal of this song. But again, the band was right on and flat out wild. Mr. Tambourine Man was disappointing from my seat. The bass was booming and destroying the gentle treatment that I was so looking forward to. It was a treat to see Bob sling his guitar back, saunter back to his amp, pick up a harp, look it over, lovingly warm it up, then cup it in one hand with the mic and blow a nice solo to close the song, but overall, this performance didn't have the magic that I've heard on some of the recent tapes. Masters of War. The usual. Nicely done but I'd much rather had One Too Many Mornings, Mama, You Bin on My Mind, Gates of Eden, or Spanish Boots... most anything. Love Minus Zero/No Limit leads me to think that Dylan's recent softly sung acoustic sets are informed by his own realization and appreciation for the timelessness of his great works. He is giving these songs the care and attention they deserve. They speak like silence and they are true, like ice and fire. And while most of the crowd listened with due awe, there was the annoying mummers of a few that distracted from the quiet spots But lo!, there were some ssssh'ers in the crowd and the gaggle ceased! If I had know other librarians were present I would have convened an EDLIS Library Agents subcommittee prior to the show. God Knows didn't get my full attention as I was sparring with various bouncers and usherettes who did not appreciate the surging energy of the crowd. I think it got the usual working up a head of steam that lures us from the smoke rings of the acoustic set back into to the billowing clouds of electric jam. She Belongs to Me found me again bounced about by relentless security jerks. Poor guys and gals, no one seemed to pay them any mind. This is a lovely tune, yes, but was probably the throwaway of the set form me. While the crowd was lulled just a bit it gave me a chance to squirm to a better spot before the next tune set everyone off on a boogie rampage. Seeing the Real You At Last was a treat for me. I was looking forward to it after its fabulous outing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show and I was not disappointed. Nor was the crowd. They were into it, almost everybody up off their feet all the way back to the top of the balcony. (I'd say the place was 8/10 full. I don't know the official numbers, but I'd guess the Fox can seat 3500-4000 or so.) I doubt half the folk there knew what the song was, but they liked it! The house lights were regularly brought up throughout the show whenever the band was at a high pitch, and during this last quarter of the set they always revealed a sea of folks out of their seats and dancing. A very happy sight. That was it. Bob was taking little bows and doing some sort of six-shooter pantomime with his hands, generally looking like someone should get him off the stage or give him a guitar. Obtuse as it is at times, the fellow has undeniable charm. An uproarious crowd soon had the band back for Alabama Getaway. This cover was rip-roaring claimed as a classic by the band. The tune was obviously familiar to many of the younger folks in the crowd and the responded with enthusiasm. Perhaps they have found a new rock'n'roll daddy in Dylan. I thought I saw a hint of mournful resignation in Bob's eye as he metered out this outlaw tale, perhaps thinking of his good friend's final getaway, perhaps his own, all the while reveling in the musical moment. A fine moment. They brought an extra mic out so JJ could chime in on the chorus, but I don't remember noticing that he did. It Ain't Me, Babe was pleasant. This time Bob took off his guitar completely for a one hand waving free harp solo. Not enough of the harp tonight. Would have been great to hear more of this thoughtful blowing he gave only glimpses of. I would also have been happy to here something else in this slot. Rainy Day Women #12 and #35. God Damn, if you'll excuse me, but what an unrelenting bring-down-the-house rocker this one was. It was elevated above any notion of being a throwaway closer. Winston with both sticks above his head, bouncing off his stool, pounding out the beat. Strongest I've ever heard this one done. Even though someone did throw a big doobie onto the stage (much to the delight of Tony, whose face lit up as bright as ever), there was no escaping that this song was about more that a good high. You could feel the pummeling rhythm. The crowd went wild, everyone up, numerous folks dancing in chairs, on ledges, in the lobby (on the street, I imagine). The house was rocking and there was thunderous applause when the band finally wound down. I thought it was a great show overall. Didn't hear some things hoped for, not every song was immaculate, but all in all a great, entertaining show. I'm left aching for more road trips that I can't justifiable take. Arrggh. If you haven't seen Bob, SEE HIM NOW. I'm hoping Bob does a taping for Austin City Limits that features Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You as I heard it this night. Sony, if you are listening, it is a great title track for "Dylan - Live at The Fox", due in the stores for Christmas. Failing all this, if anyone is willing to trade a tape of this show, please let me know.