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Bob Dylan 970503 in Huntsville, Alabama

Subject: Huntsville Review
Date: Sun, 4 May 1997 00:30:10 -0400

Hey Everybody,
I just got back from the Huntsville concert and I'll throw out a few
impressions. There were many things much the same as what has been discussed.
The Colonel Sanders outfit is intact (tonight we got the white boots- I think
I might be convinced that is indeed a bad sign), the set list was similar to
what we have been seeing, with a notable exception (To Ramona in the middle
of the accoustic set).  I fail to remember #11, but the others were: Sweet
Marie, I Want You, Open the Door Homer, You Ain't Going Nowhere, Watching the
River Flow, Sylvio, Roving Gambler,To Ramona , Tangled Up, Maggie's, Pill
Box, Rolling Stone, Forever Young and Apple Suckling Tree. (My buddy is
getting on to me: Ok, I lied, we got the usual #3 and #15.)

Ok, that said, Dylan did not have a good time tonight from what we saw (we
are myself -my eleventh show over twenty years, my thirteen year old
daughter- her third show and Buddy Ray- a non fan who is gracious enough to
humor me and loan me his e-mail). He didn't smile at all until the very end,
during Rainy Day, which amazes me, because I don't know how he can't be sick
of it. It was unclear what the source of his displeasure might be, but he had
no playful exchanges with Tony or with Larry.

The sound was my primary source of displeasure. The vocals were muffled
terribly upfront. Maybe they were better farther back (Bill Pagel? I heard
you were lurking back there), anyway if you get a tape of the show, one made
from away from the stage may have had a better shot. I have waited for years
to hear Ramona and I'm still waiting, unfortunately.
Highlights despite the sound were LARS. We needed it by the time it was
played. Sylvio also cooked, as usual. The Forever Young was tender and
inspired. Much of the rest seemed rote. Maggies seemed good, as well. Roving
Gambler was also very sweet, and the singalong was fun with You Ain't Going
My best guess would be that he was tired, but I don't know. Suddenly during
RDW#12 and 35 he became animated and strutted the stage like he really was
with us.
The lead guitar work was outstanding most of the night. Buddy Ray noticed it
without me telling him what we've been saying. He said he thought his
musicianship carried the show. The accoustic leads to me were very sweet, and
the others were good. My comment on the current lineup of the band is I like
it better than before. I think the drumming fits his music better and I think
Larry is a good compliment to him and seems to be glad to be there. This may
be the most cohesive sound I have heard in a Dylan band, and I was surprised
to feel that way given how long the previous lineup had been together.
I met some very nice RMDers from Madison, Wisconsin (hi) who were especially
delighted when Buddy Ray got Tangled (his only request). They shared food and
good vibes with all of us and that was nice.
Jessica (the thirteen year old) said Chattanooga last fall was better because
he seemed happier. :-) Other than that not much. She said Rolling Stone was
the best.
Security was pretty tight. No one got onto the stage, though a mysterious
woman threw a small plastic container onstage. A guy beside me had his film
confiscated. A large man came up behind me and made me lift my arms into the
air. He saw my coke and new t-shirt. I think he was looking for  a camera.
More than a little over zealous.
Anybody wanting to respond to this rambling post (sorry, it's late) please do
not respond to this address. My address is I'm
just using him :-).
Alan in Knoxville (Ok, Huntsville for now)

Subject: Huntsville,Alabama (A slice of heaven) From: Keith Lane Wigington ( Date: Mon, 05 May 1997 14:23:23 -0400 After the wild happenings of the past two shows we were all ready for a show that we could kick back relax and drink in. What we got in Huntsville was far better than our expectations. The venue was outside the Civic Center on the lawn. Cool sunny weather greeted fans fillin in early to get a good place on the lawn, but there was even enough room for late arrivers to get a good look at the band. Bob came out in his white jacket and black pants that was quite stunning. The cowboy hat made its apperance for the third staight night. Kicking off with "Absolutely Sweet Marie" sounding tighter than before followed by a delightfully emotional "I Want You". "River Flow" smoked and showcased some great guitar plying from Bob. The acoustic set again proved to be the high point of the evening. "Roving Gambler" was seamless-the vocals coming together the powerful chorus. Great song-wonderful performance-keeps getting better. "To Ramona" was the unexpected treat that at first confused, then delighted the energetic crowd. "Tangled" was again inspired and tight and everyone in attendance ate it up. "Maggies" was well above average and "Whis Wheel's" had mind expanding qualities that sent shivers up the spine. After plainly rocking the place with "Leopard-Skin" to close the set the band came back for another round. I had grown tired of the current versions of "Rolling Stone" as of late and was disappointed to hear the opening note instead of "Alabama" or nearly anything else. By the song's end I had fallen in love with it all over again-Bob sang this with real passion and the delighted folks sang along with the chorus in a unified voice that sent the painted lady home again (whatever that means). It was a magical moment that I will never forget. "Foerever Young" was good - a line was flubbed and took away some momentum - but after the Memphis performance of this song it was hard for me (and seemingly Bob) to get the same high from it as the night before - it was still very good though. And I'm not trying to be funny by this but it was a GREAT Rainy Day Women that closed the show and tour - yes I could tell a difference in this song, it was over the top and euphoric - Bob possing and hamming it up - he was having a lot of fun with it. I hope to get a crisp copy of this tape - and so should you - to enjoy this experience for a long time to come. Until the next tour rolls through the U.S. - Peace to you all. Keith
Subject: Another Huntsville Review From: Barbara Johnson ( Date: 5 May 1997 22:30:30 GMT I was in Huntsville, AL for the Dylan concert Saturday night, in fact I was directly in front of the stage. I must say, he was absolutely incredible! His legs splayed apart like the guitar hero he is continually showing that he is...left leg bend in and twitching so adorably. Since I am working on the new "Dylan Stories" book I have had the privilege of being in contact with some former friends and classmates of his from Hibbing. Last week I spoke with a wonderful woman (who went on a blind date with him at age 16) and her husband who was a very good pal of Bobby's back in High School. In fact, they accompanied Bob and Sara to the Hibbing High School Reunion in 1969. Her mother and Bob's mom Beatty worked together for 25 years. Anyway, they miss having contact with him (she is also not doing very well health-wise) and would love to do some catching up, since it is rumored that he returns to Hibbing quite frequently. I assured them that I would make a sign up with their names on it asking him to call them. Well, as I was saying, I was directly in front of him and with the assistance of two other very cool new friends I made at the show, held up the sign. He was in the middle of "Silvio" I believe and walked over towards me read the sign and a half smile crept across his beautiful face...he then gave me a little bow and sauntered back over to his spot next to Larry. In the middle of "Like a Rolling Stone" he looked my way and gave me a wink and a smile. The two people I was with both acknowleged that I wasn't dreaming....he did indeed give me a winkeroo and a grin. It was at this point I'm afraid that I lost it a little bit. I felt faint and began to run my hand over my face and down my neck to see (I suppose) if I was still conscious; I also felt my legs begin to weaken and felt like I was going to go down. Finally I got myself together after this rather embarrassing episode and looked back up at him. He pursed his lips at me and winked again!!! This man was flirting with me! It's a memory that I will replay in my mind until I'm down for the count. During "Rainy Day Women" he kept shaking his head back and forth and around and around; noticing the giggles from all of us, he would crack up. He had a wonderful time playing in Huntsville! Also, I remember that when Larry broke a string on "Silvio" (after he got another guitar) he looked at Bob helplessly and mouthed the words "sorry", Uncle Bobby gave him a wink too!!!!!! What a lovely man!!
Subject: Huntsville, Alabama 5/3/97 Review (belated) From: "William C. Parr" (wparr@UTK.EDU) Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 10:46:30 -0400 Okay, here goes. Drove from Knoxville to Huntsville the late morning / early afternoon of 5/3/97, day of the show. The place (Von Braun Civic Center) was very easy to find. Signs abound. And the Hilton was across the street. Great arrangement. I come up to the registration desk. With one small bag. Hello, I'm Bill Parr and I have a registration confirmed . . . The clerk says "You'll be on the fourth floor. Do you like Bob Dylan? You'll be able to hear him from your room tonight, since your room faces the Civic Center." I explain that no, I won't be in my room for the Dylan concert, I'll be near the front, stage center, but thanks. He grins. I look in the local paper (Huntsville times). Material on page A1, B1 and B6 regarding Dylan. I'll be posting this on my WWW page ( Slow Train Coming Home at ) in the concert reviews section, this weekend. I walk to the venue after dropping stuff off in my room. We'll be standing in sand for the entire show (it was General Admission, by the way). The "VIP" seats are really bad. You get a seat, yet, but you're far from the stage, on Bucky's side, and have a terrible view. The Opening Band (!) is Kozmic Mama. They do a reasonable job, playing some Janis Joplin among other things. One matter for fear: The lead singer's voice is WAY DOWN IN THE MIX. Hopefully this will be corrected by the time Dylan comes on (it was). Then, it's time, and.... 1. Absolutely Sweet Marie Dylan smiles a couple of times during this song. I've read reports from others indicating he didn't smile much, or not until late in the show. I was at stage center, with only one person between me and the stage. Great view. 2. I Want You. More smiles by Dylan. A nice solo by Dylan. He's really stretching out the words. The phrase "I Want You" seems to take a long time. Tony seems more animated than in recent shows. Even Bucky Baxter moves around a bit, makes eye contact with the audience, . . . 3. All Along The Watchtower Well, Larry Campbell hasn't been doin much soloing in the shows I've seen in this tour (Indiana, PA and Muncie, IN) but he does take a nice solo during Watchtower. Still, Bob is clearly the new lead guitarist, not Larry. Let nobody be confused. Dylan and Campbell trade some guitar licks back and forth, and in general seem to be communicating by glances, nods of the head, . . . Campbell seems to be spending less time now staring at Dylan's fingers. (One audience member said -- "He's staring in amazement that Dylan gets applause for some of those easy solos!" Well, . . .) Much more confident. At Indiana, he looked "like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs." Now, he seems more assured in knowing what he's doing. 4. You Ain't Going Nowhere Nicely done. Very similar to the earlier shows. But still a treat. The last chorus done without guitars. A nice touch. 5. Watching the River Flow What's going on here? Suddenly, Dylan's vocals are way down in the mix, and appear to be mumbled. DOn't know if it's the reduced volume that make the words unclear, or if Dylan was mumbling. Instrumental work is okay on this one. This one, for me, is the weakest part of the show. 6. Silvio Larry Campbell breaks a string on this one. (The first of two times for the show.) Dylan notices (stays cool, barely reveals he has noticed) and keeps on going. The usual strong job on Silvio. This is a fun song for the audience. Kemper seams to really enjoy it. Much more tempo adaptation (I don't know the right words! He's speeding up and slowing down! Jazzier than Winston.). 7. Roving Gambler A nice one. Well done. I started to write up some notes on this one (really enjoyed it) and then caught a couple of notes, and I knew that we were in for a special treat.... 8. Ramona That's right! We got to hear Ramona! Amazing that as I'm writing this, and happen to be watching a video from July 4, 1987, Ramona comes on. The 1997 version is better! Not even a close contest! (Only plus for 1987 - they got harmonica.) Strong vocals by Bob. Voice is a little rough (from the tour, I gather) but very strong. The man can still project. Great acoustic guitar work, including the solo by Bob. 9. Tangled Up in Blue Okay, not a shock, but usually a pleasure. No exception here. I've got to hear the tapes for this show. In the "I had a job in the great north woods" verse, I'll swear that whatever he said he was "working as a >>>> for a spell" it wasn't "cook." Anybody else notice this and pick out the word? A project which occurs to me: Sample tapes from recent concerts, compare lyrics to those in the originally released performances where the songs were released commercially by Dylan, and see how many words Dylan leaves out. My subjective impression is that it's fewer than in the 1987 timeframe. 10. Maggie's Farm Strong performance. I still enjoy this one, after all the times. Many more smiles from Dylan. and then..... 11. Wheels on Fire It was a little cool outside for the show. We had noticed those blowers that shoot flames (and hence heat) to keep the performers warm - two of them onstage. I had conjectured: Visual effects for a performance of Wheels on Fire? Well, we got a Wheels on Fire, and a strong ELECTRIC one. By which I mean VERY ELECTRIC. I need to listen to this specific performance again (Hint, hint, hint...) Dylan introduces the whole band this time. Anybody have any idea on why Dylan sometimes introduces the band, sometimes doesn't? Forgetful? Based on his mood? Other reasons? 12. Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat Strong vocals, passion in the delivery. Dylan is very animated. Dylan is having fun playing lead guitar. The experience is good for him - seems to be more into the show. I wonder sometimes if it's good for the vocals. Does it take away from the concentration on the vocals? Hope not. I'll take Dylan on vocals over Dylan on guitar (well, I claim an exception if it's twelve string, . . .) anyday. The usual departure, then after applause and shouts (one obnoxious person behind me keeps shouting something like "Bobarooski" Never could make it out. 13. Like a Rolling Stone I'm blown away. Not by the song selection, of course, but by the energy of the performance. Dylan is pushing the envelope here. Visions of shows from long ago, Dylan and Robertson animatedly interchanging notes, . . . Take me back, . . . Where is Paul Williams? Got to hear him describe the Ramona, Wheels on Fire, and LARS from this show. Did you make the show, Paul? Well, Larry Campbell breaks another string. 14. Forever Young When the first notes start on this, it sounds like we may be about to hear Senor in the second encore slot! No such luck. But this is nice, anyhow. I would have enjoyed Senor. 15. Rainy Day Women, #12 and #35 Typical performance on this one. More smiles. Lots of "guitar-hero" movements by Dylan. He's really enjoying being the LEAD guitarist. Well, that's it for the show. Saw lots of folks, including Bill, Christine, Charlie, Rich, Sandy, Charlie, Mary, Connie (who got a setlist and drink cup), . . . Too many to mention all. Best wishes to all. And to those who make the shows in England (you did say you were going, didn't you, Duncan?) best wishes, and report back! (Final decision - won't be able to make it.) And, for someone who will go unnamed, "How did you find yourself sideways in the middle of the road?" A positive review of the concert appears on the Sunday Morning Paper FRONT PAGE, with a great picture. Also going on my WWW page, as listed above, this weekend. Bill Parr (already in serious withdrawal waiting for August)