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Bob Dylan 980220 in Bristol, Tennessee - Viking Hall Civic Center

February 20, 1998 Bristol, Tennessee
Viking Hall Civic Center
Address: 1100 Edgemont Ave.
Capacity: 6000
Opening Act: Kenny Wayne Shepherd 

Subject: Bristol Review From: ( Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998 21:56:43 GMT We had a good gathering before and after the show. What we lacked in numbers (eight I believe) was more than made up by the good conversation and all around good time had by all. Bob came out and he had clothes on, black, someone remarked it was his undertaker look, and shiny black boots. Setlist has already been commented by others as to its predictability, I agree with those who have pointed out that 99.99% of the audience at a given show are hearing him for either the first time ever (like me), or it's been several years. Nor have they heard the tapes of recent shows, so it's all new to a vast majority of the audience. Not to say that am glad he left off Cold Irons and Maggie and Willie (which was on the cue sheet) and forgot to sing White Dove or Rank Stranger (either of those would have brought the house down - I wonder if he knows the significance of Bristol in the American music history. I gotta think he does.) I was extremely impressed by how good Bob and the boys sounded. The sound mix was pretty good, though the vocals sometimes didn't come through so well. Good? I should say excellent. I can't remember the last time I paid those kind of prices for an entertainment and felt I got my money's worth. They made it look easy. I don't know if they ever found the "groove" or not - the jams were cut pretty short, like maybe Bob had a hot date or something. Maybe with Doc Watson who was playing in the same town the same night. (No, there ain't nothing to do in Bristol) I didn't see much Bob interaction with the crowd. There was a little mugging, guitar gesticulation, and one duckwalk (a very short one). All around me were on their feet for the whole show, and the stage rush was at Masters of War. I did not notice underclothes of any sort being tossed on stage, but after Silvio, I did see a large teddy bear lying over to Bob's left. What are other objects which y'all have seen tossed on stage? No words from himself, except a couple of "thanks everybody" and the band intro. I am glad that I got to go. And glad I took that nap before. don wiley (incorporating input from the rmd'rs who came, one with a sign)
Subject: Bristol Concert From: Gary Alan Sims ( Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998 21:46:17 -0500 Hey Everybody, I think I have recovered enough to give a report on the Bristol concert. To live in a time when I can see five Bob Dylan concerts in fifteen months just seems too good. I'm not worthy! Viking Hall seats 6500 and probably had about 4500 to 5000 for this show. It is a gymnasium type building that looks like it dates from the 60's. Not a very attractive venue. We were on the fourth row. This was the largest crowd I have been with for a Dylan concert since 1991. I was worried there would not be enough people to make it festive enough for our man. Not to worry. It was also a very young crowd. There were the inevitable oldies but goodies, like myself, but there were *many* junior high and high school age folks, with a strong contingent of college aged people. The young ones were particularly enthusiastic, with a group of three 13 or 14 year old girls holding up a banner that read "We Love You Bob". I was amazed. Kenny Wayne Shepherd is better than he was in 1996, in my opinion. I saw him open for B.B. King and the Neville Brothers and then Dylan in Chattanooga. My memory is that it was a constant wall of sound with maximum speed licks the highest ideal. This show had more subtlety and texture. Unlike someone else who posted, I like the new vocalist. My daughter (14) wants their cd, though I think it was for more than the music. But I digress. He played for 55 minutes and I thought did quite well for himself. Bob hit the stage right around 9:00, with the usual introduction. He wore black pants with white piping, black boots, a black double breasted coat, buttoned, and a Colonel Sanders tie. His hair looked like he lost his comb on the last tour. Very Dylanesque. I hope he wears that hair at the Grammy Awards. Absolutely Sweet Marie was the opener and it was on from the beginning. The sound was not as good as I had heard elsewhere, but it was adequate. The vocals were not extremely crisp, but the words were intelligible. Larry looked sour at the beginning. Bucky looked as serious as usual. David's position obscured him, as usual (though he did stand at his intro later). Tony looked as happy as always. Steady guy. I think of him as having a Graham Nash personality, keeping things moving while everyone else has their emotional fits. Maybe not. Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You was next, and competently done, but not special that I could tell. This was, of course, followed by Can't Wait which is still better than the cd with its lilting steel lick provided by Bucky. Very dancable. It reminds me of the dead, somehow. Maybe just because it is dancable, though not in a pounding beat sort of way. As far as dancing, there was no debate where I sat. We all stood from the beginning. Some of us danced. Nobody complained that I could see. An usher kept trying to take some people out of the aisle and he was far more distracting than they were. This was particularly true during the fourth song, which was Just Like a Woman. It is a pity, because I think this was an outstanding performance. The vocals were very beautifully nuanced. There was more tremelo on the guitar than I remember from earlier versions. I know he has played this a great deal, but I never get tired of it. Since it was the first 'greatest hit', the crowd responded accordingly. Silvio followed and was its usual rave. I don't think body surfing is out of the question on this one. I'm just kidding! It was good. At this point I went to the lead lady usher/bodyguard who had told me, upon inquiry, before the show, that we could go up to the stage at the beginning of the acoustic set. I just checked in with her, trying to be nice and in no hurry, since the crowd obviously didn't know it was now allowed. She said I couldn't go until the beginning of the accoustic set. (He had started Cocaine by now.) I told her this *was* the acoustic set, and she said, "No, it will be when there's only music and he isn't singing." I assured her he would not be doing any instrumentals, and she, being thouroughly confused by now, grudgingly allowed me to move toward stage center. Cocaine was its usual good self. By Masters of War I was situated against the stage between Larry and Bob. The rest of the crowd had caught on and the front was full. While he had clowned quite a bit already (particularly during Cocaine) and had been down right conversational (several thankseverybodys), he became very serious and intense during this song. I do think it is back for a reason. Those eyes. Those eyes. Unfortuanately, there was a guy just over my shoulder, loudly assuring some woman how much he loved her during the first half of the song. *That* to me is poor concert behavior. The song was excellent. A highlight. Tangled followed and my daughter said it was better than Knoxville, which we would say about very few songs. The second electric set began with a solid Million Miles, and though the sound was worse in front of the stage than where I had been before, I don't think this one is quite up to the cd, yet. Positively 4th Street followed and was beautiful and was (as in Knoxville) for my daughter. The southern swing we have now dubbed the Jessica Tour. It was so subtly rendered. When he sang "You say you lost your faith, but that's not where its at. You had no faith to lose and you know it." It was so gentle, it was almost whispered. Far from bitter, it was drenched in regret. This was a great performance. Highway 61 followed and was very good and seemed more extended than usual. I have never seen Bob primp, strut, pigeon-walk and generally ham it up as much as he did this night, and especially in this song. Larry and Tony were laughing. The encores were standard to us all, by now. Til I Fell and Love Sick are better than the cd, and Love Sick may have been better than Knoxville, though I wouldn't have imagined how. It Ain't Me Babe was in between the two and seemed pretty standard. During this song I realized the guy next to me was planning to jump up on stage and I tried to talk him out of it, but failed. Rainy Day was the usual. Tony wandered over behind Bob and then between him and Larry during this one. I don't ever remember seeing that before. I noticed a harmonica and brace on the drum riser during this song, but it may have been there before. It was never played. At the conclusion the guy next to me jumped up on stage and hugged Bob, shook his hand, hugged him again and was finally pulled away. Bob handled it very graciously, but it scares me and I don't see how it couldn't scare him to have a stranger running at him like that. More bedlam followed, with several other guys getting onto the stage and being tackled. By the time Bob was off stage the original guy jumped back onto the stage and tried to run through the door where Bob had exited. He was tackled. By then the atmosphere was a little poisoned. The crew was in a defensive mode. I tried to get the setlist, but no one was in a generous mood. About that time another guy dove onto the stage and lunged at the setlist, ripping it off the floor and jumping back into the crowd. I'm just not into that sort of thing. Maybe I'm just too reserved, but it seemed out of control to me. All in all it was a good show, but maybe not great. Bob had a great time. I think the crowd had a good time. My daughter and her fourteen year old friend walked into the night singing "I'm a Dylan girl, in my Dylan world" to the tune of the Barbie song. A few songs from the Knoxville Tape and most of Time Out of Mind (and a little Blue Moon Swamp) and we were back in Knoxville, wishing we had tickets for tonight's show. Thankseverybody. Peace, Alan in Knoxville
Subject: Review of Bristol, TN From: Alan p Leonard (angustus@USIT.NET) Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998 01:17:11 -0500 Bristol, TN: 12:30 PM Well, my first and only show of the "Grammys Or Bust Tour" and I can't believe it. I simply can't understand how and why Bob keeps on amazing me. This is possibly the best show I've ever seen. And this statement is rendered wholly without hyperbole, because the tapes will back me up. Bob was totally commited from the start. There was no stopping him. And I've been in awful crowds where Bob delivered great shows to a totally unworthy audience. But not tonight. I think the crowd in Bristol was amazing. Very well mixed, young and old, long-haired and conservative, male and female, dancing and standing still (yes, everyone stood the whole night) and amazingly as commited to the show as Bob was. Here's the setlist, and commentary where warranted: 1- Absolutely Sweet Marie- Bob's vocals clear and on top, which is nice for this warm-up slot. I dunno, but since 96 started, I've always felt this song was just a throwaway to get sound levels straight. For some reason this tune lacks an edge that seems unfathomable to me; this song has inherent dynamics that should never fail. Tonight it is definitely an above average performance. 2- Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You- a warhorse since 95, I can never tire of this song. One of Bob's singular LOVE songs, with no irony or distance. And it moves in the second slot, his singing tonight so caring and considerate to this song. 3- Can't Wait- It was during this song that I thought how wonderful it would be for him to perform this song at the Grammy Awards. Much more uptempo than the fall shows I saw, it was aggressive and unnerving. "It's kinda funny"... 4- Just Like A Woman- By this time I was realizing we were settling into a rather conservative setlist. Minutes in, though, I was wondering why I even cared. Against some very sympathetic rythym guitar by Larry that mimiced Bob's vocal line, Dylan redefined the word ham. His "just like a woman" utterings grew from calm and cool to so thickly observed as if he was singing an Irish drinking song with a full mug swinging from his wrist. I really can't explain in any other terms than if you close your eyes, you can fool yourself into thinking you're hearing the Clancy Brothers. And the final verse was so hilariously rendered, you've got to hear this. This version was sung by the lost fool, so unsure of who he is inrelation to "his world", he came off so crudely self-pitying, like it was a Street Legal outtake from 78. An astounding version. 5- Silvio- He repeated the "Old Boll Weevil" verse consecutively, a momentary lapse, one of the few of the evening, but so competently flubbed that nobody noticed. He ran towards the mike after the jam verse as if about to sing and then raked a downstroke on his guitar and scowled, as if he was Jimmy Page eliciting some epiphanic guitar moment. But he really just realized "Oh man, what am I gonna sing..." and then the repeat verse came. Kinda cute. 6- Cocaine- It was during this song that the first "stage rush" occured. A big ole cowboy-hatted Bristol fella and his woman were walking in front of the stage on the way to their seats elsewhere. The woman, I guess possessed by Bob's strutting charisma while singing this song, started doing a little gyration at the foot of the stage. Bubba thought this was really cute, but he really wanted to get back to his seats, less because his woman was flaunting her sex appeal to Mr. Dylan, and more because he thought they were probably in the way, and causing some sort of concern for security (which is one of the endearing things about this crowd, their consideration!) He kept shrugging his shoulders, as if she was ignoring his "Come on baby"'s, and turning to people in the front row smiling as if to say "she does this at every Dylan show". One other fella turned up in the front row to kind of start the old train rolling. 7- Masters Of War- The crowd really responded to this one, with the dam finally breaking and the multitude of people inching their way up until the wide gap between the front row and the stage was filled. I was the only guy holding still in the 3rd row, except for this hippychick who found a new to place to dance without constriction. I got chill listening to this song I've heard a million times, thinking about how Bob could easily perform this next week at the Grammy Awards in the same context as 91. Absolutely ironic, isn't it? The bombs might be falling again.....although tonight I listened with the identity of the Master Of War as Saddam Hussein, and it seemed less an anti-war song as an anti-despot song. Who knows what Bob truly intends when he sings this. 8- Tangled Up In Blue- A pretty good version, rousing the crowd after the stirring Masters. This song set the scene for the most absolutely adorable scene of all my years seeing Dylan. A man who had made his way to the stage rush area was holding his 6 year old daughter on his shoulder, and he was hopping to the beat. She was shaking her head back and forth to the hip rock star on stage. Bob was right behind them, and it would have made an amazing photo. She was like a little flower growing out of the ground, her head poked up from among the crowd around her, and when she turned her head she had a huge smile on her face, with her daddy pumping his fist in the air, and Bob behind them doing his thing. I really wish I had a camera. To the little girl, remember Bob's words: "We'll meet again some day." 9- Million Miles- My first Million Miles (not counting the Roxy soundcheck). Very muscular, not what I expected, but definitely a great version. The crowd really loved this, which amazed me. They really responded to the new songs. 10- Positively 4th St.- Anthemic. Started out slow but reached a crescendo that pulled the crowd in, backed off for the payoff verses, and then built back up again for the final break. 11- Highway 61- I will never get tired of this song. One of his best batches of lyrics, fitted to a roadhouse groove that doesn't quit, and a chance to show off his gifted phrasing; this song it really all comes together. If you get a tape, check out the last "sixtyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy- won!" 12- Til I Fell In Love With You- Bob started the first note at Kemper's feet and in a nanosecond was at the mike bursting out the first verse. They really took no prisoners with the new tunes, delivering them all in up-tempo, aggressive versions that have really matured since the fall. 13- It Ain't Me Babe- Great dynamics on this one, due to Kemper's timing and Larry's rythym work. Bucky's steel work was very understated and added a kind of cathedral atmosphere with some very simply rendered chordings that really add a gorgeous texture to this song. 14- Lovesick- Again, very aggresive, and certainly suitable at this point for a Grammy telecast. Bob was hopping around and really mugging on this one, his head bopping down during the chorus like he was on Wayne's World. He was a rock star on this one. 15- Rainy Day Woman- I finally got to hit the bathroom on this one. I reall like this show a whole bunch. Definitely one of the best I've seen. My buddy Kent Still managed to smoke about 2 packs of cigarettes so he thought it was a good one too. Eric Jepsen pulled off a stage dive during "4th St." so I'm just assuming he had a good time. Kenda and Alan, the kind folks I'm staying with, really liked it too, cause Alan is sporting a huge bruise on hi side that Kenda gave him, and she only gets violent when she is having a good time. Charlie Smith was there, and if it's one thing I know about him, he is always having a good time. Oh and this guy named Edgar was there, and he said it was one of the best shows ever of the many half-dozens he's seen cause Bob did Silvio. So everyone went home happy. God Bless America, have fun in Virginia. Rhett Thomas PS Sorry Delaware, I heard about your misfortune. But don't worry, you still have that first state of the union thing going for you, so stick in there!

February Setlists Tour