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Bob Dylan 990605 in Denver, Colorado

On 8 Jun 1999 05:57:12 -0700, 
anna@NMIA.COM (Ann Armijo) wrote:

Show # 1  Denver

Wasn't it Dylan who once said that he couldn't sing if he was too
high up, {as in elevation, that is  ;-)  uh...} which, according
to Daniel Lanois, was his way of refusing Lanois' request to
record the OH MERCY sessions in Santa Fe?  Okay, okay!  I'll dig
out my video tape and quote them both about it.  Here it is: 
[From the CBC / Hummingbird production -- Daniel Lanois interview
--entitled  ROCKYWORLD] -Lanois: "I had pretty much decided to
not work in New Orleans.  I wanted to go somewhere else to make
the record and I talked to Bob on the phone and said  "wouldn't
it be nice to be up in Santa Fe""? -Dylan: "Nah, you can't make a
record in Santa Fe.  It's too high.  The altitude... can't sing,
up that high..."

Well, I'm here to tell you folks that he lied.  He CAN sing that
high up in the air and I heard him do it, and oh so well... 
Saturday night, at the born-again and very nice, Denver /
Fillmore Auditorium.  Which of course, is the city we ALL know is
damn close to a MILE HIGH up in the air there. Liar liar, house
o' fire.  What a show!

From the first moment they began to play that oh-so familiar yet,
ever-so beautiful opening chord progression of FRIEND OF THE
DEVIL, he was ON. Voice intact, strong and sweet, moving and
winding all through the notes with such depth and sensitivity,
and all the while, with the crowd roaring, he smiled and sang and
sang and smiled, and then smiled again. Well, aside from all
those rare smiles, I've never seen the first so-called warm-up
song at a Dylan show come off so well --but I'm a sucker for the
sounds of those resonating wood guitars, with Tony's upright bass
thumping at the heart of it, with or without the tasteful work of
Kemper keeping it all in time.  I'll also have to admit that I'd
could listen to 1,000 openings with FOTD easily, compared to even
10 openings with a worn-out electric Absolutely Sweet Marie or
Jokerman, any time.  But, I digress, a bit.  Back to the beauty
of it all.  Add to the stew, another acoustic guitar, albeit
rhythm, but what was it... I craned my neck as far as the rubber
in it would let, though as close as I was to the stage, alas, too
short to see for certain if it was a Gibson J-200 that Charlie
Sexton was playing (it sure looked like one).  And why not!? 
What a perfect addition to the mix! That drivin' big waterfall of
sound from a Jumbo-bodied Gibson to blend it all together? 
Wonderful.  Best FOTD I ever heard. Swear.

So how can I describe the way this show moved me so?  The first
six songs, all acoustic, is what I hoped n' hoped again he'd
still be doing, but it was much better than that simple dream
come true.  Small venue, great acoustics, truckloads of
inspiration wafting off the stage.  Sublime.  Oh, okay... but not
so many superlatives for this MR. TAMBOURINE MAN.  Not a stunner
by any means, but he didn't throw it in the ditch either, as
he'll do when he loses that golden thread of inspiration from
time to time.  Yeah, the important elements were all present and
accounted for.  Voice full of strength and depth, showing us once
again with this timeless song that he's a poet-singer songwriter,
alive and well; and so, the power of these moments just grew,
leading straight to a pinacle, one of many for the evening; a
highlight shown bright in MASTERS OF WAR.  In a word or three
--stunning, haunting, almost daunting.  He had us tight in the
palm of his hand for this one.  Every heart was feeling it, from
his to ours, like an arrow... with Tony's bass repeating, over
and over, in full drama, the realness of war. THE war.  Right
there.  Right here.  Right now.  The lives. The losses.  The
lives lost.

Somehow this song seemed to have it's ending in the beginning of
IF TOMORROW WASN'T SUCH A LONG TIME.  I don't mean by way of
musical timing (one song ended, the next one began after a few
moments pause) but rather, by the continuation of the deeply
heart-felt emotion he put into MOW, as if to say, "Yes, someday
this war will end, but it doesn't help to know this now because
when it comes to the horrid tragedy of war, tomorrow is a very
long time".  So, in this mighty-powerful highlight set of songs
(because in this respect, it's impossible to separate them) this
performance was simply divine.  Inspired.  Quintessential Dylan. 
And to further this point, I have to say that the tenderness,
compassion and depth of feeling here, in my view, is / was
expressed so completely and beautifully by the subtleties of
sound that can be produced by acoustic guitars.  Ah, Dylan!

And how can it not be mentioned here that he blends so IMPECCABLY
well his unique voice, full of textured emotion, with those
deeply rich, sweet tones of those gorgeous guitars, which is, in
my view, one of the most compelling aspects of his brilliance. 
Don't ever let anyone tell you that he can't sing.  At any
elevation.  Not even him.
But again... I'll digress, because I'd like to say something here
about Charlie Sexton.  Yes, you could say that Charlie Sexton was
feelin' his way through the songs somewhat, but he usually didn't
have far to go to get there if he wasn't already there.  It's
much like the time we'd all hoped to hear more n' more of Larry
as he warmed up to the music in his first days / shows too, and
to some extent, I guess we have.  But hey, lets face the music
(pun intended)!  Mostly what we hear by way of lead guitar is
Dylan's counterpoint lead, the odd note, the irony, the
stalemate, -whichever.  Of course Charlie's got all that it takes
to do what the job requires (and then some!) though, apparently
that's to play rhythm guitar -- as it was for Larry, once upon a
Bucky Baxter time (and to some extent, still is).  So, this is
what I think about as I listen to another TANGLED UP IN BLUE.  I
dearly love this song but that doodle-doodle-noodling that Dylan
does with it just gets all tangled up, don' it?  Will he ever
find his way out of that 2-note tangle?  Does he even want to? 
Why does he box it into a corner?  To emphasize the agony of
entanglement or to show us that the beauty of the song saves
itself?  But onwards...

RANK STRANGERS is one of my favorite Dylan-done traditionals, and
the wailin' chorus cry he calls up from Monroe-ville, never fails
to thrill me. Here we heard Charlie's strong backup vocals come
through, sometimes even when they weren't supposed to be there,
but hey.  I reckon' if they'd played it on night #2, he'd've had
it nearly down, if not nailed. San Antone home-boy, done good.
Yup. Okay. COLD IRONS BOUND. From the get-go, had a special feel.
 Who was it that said that, "if it's got strings, Larry
Campbell's gonna' master it"?  Amen to that.  First night, back
on the road after a month, who knows... but it's a great song,
ain't it?  One of my favorites from TOOM.  I think in retrospect,
it was a good choice of song to use to pull out of the intensely
intimate, and delicate atmosphere of the acoustic set.  Not alot
of busy guitar work goin' on, electrically. Larry on a spooky
pedal steel.  It was an ultra-slow n' sultry mover, yet it kept
up the intimacy.  Good bridge song, I'm thinkin', and on this
night, maybe reinvented some... a bit slower than I'd yet heard
and even a bit more...?  I don't know.  Maybe a little more
intensity of witchiness, in it's air. "The beat in the bottom",
as Robbie Robertson once called this southern, voo-doo
swamp-crawl kinda' feel. Okay, all aces thus far. Nothin' in the
ditch yet, and I'm higher than a mile up. So what does he pull
out of his magic bag o' tricks?  Not another acoustic, but this
incredible rant-of-harp on JUST LIKE A WOMAN. Very tasty moments
here. Lungs done mending, eh Bobby?  Lawdy lawd lawd, yes.

Then on to another TOOM favorite of mine, NOT DARK YET, which had
the same deep golden hue around it that somehow the whole show
seemed to hover in.  But okay, there was a bigger bridge to cross
than what any TOOM song could muster, and the jump across to
HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, which is usually like a jolt of good
tequilla, somehow didn't come off.  The jet lag from Mars was a
bit too much, I think.  So it was a good effort, but none of us
were as ready for it as the song CAN cook.  This didn't help
LOVESICK much. But, after the same version since forever, can
anything?  Pardon my bias. But then --WOW, what's up with MAGGIES
FARM!?  Damn!  It was sooooo hot, my jaw woulda' dropped if
there'd been any room in sardine-ville.

The way Tony n' Larry put that one together still knocks my socks
off when I think about it and I'm not even wearing any.  It was
incredible. Tony had the coolest damn bass riffs, that Larry
would answer with THE coolest dang guitar riffs, and they played
back and forth to each other, instead of at the same time, but
very fast, all the while Dylan doodled a bit, n' let them have at
it, and did they ever.  Top o' the line electric rocker. I'm very
curious about who reinvented that one.  How it came together. 
Dang, there's some big talent boppin' in that band.  After a bit
of a cool-down moment, Dylan returned with a very interesting
slow-twist on BLOWIN' IN THE WIND. In a sense, it was more of a
poem sung than a song, with subtle, muted-soft guitars, yet a
powerful and deliberate vocal.  As par for the night, the
compassion was deeply moving, and it brought back into full
focus, the grand jewels thathad shown earlier in the show.  What
a sweet and tender way to wrap it all up.  Muchas gracias,
Maestro. Well, I'd already heard the rumor in the crowd that Paul
Simon sound checked that afternoon, and I kinda' wished I hadn't
so the surprise woulda' really reeled me.  But hey, it was still
great.  He comes out; worn-out blue jeans, old gray tee shirt,
plain blue baseball hat, rambles up to to Bob and they just bring
out the most amazingly beautiful duet on Simon's SOUNDS OF
SILENCE, that might've made even Art Garfunkel cry from joy. I
mean it. I have alot of respect for Simon's early work,
especially. Truckloads.  And this song is a giant in all time. I
have to say that their voices blended beautifully. Dylan
harmonized to Paul's higher melodic voice and with a richness and
texturing that was uh... are there any adjectives I haven't used
yet? Nope? Okay. It was brilliant.  Thank _gawd_ there weren't
many audience sing-alongers and the ones that did get confused
and thought it was their turn to sing, quickly fizzled out.

The rocka'hillbilly medley was funny and rompin', all at once.  I
mean hey! Rehearse much, boys?  I WALK THE LINE started out fine,
almost like they'd played it together a time or two, but then
they both got completely lost and it was Charlie Sexton to the
rescue with the right lyrics. It was so funny! I think they tried
to make it look like they planned for Charlie to take a whole
verse to himself but... nah.  That's why it's called "the warm-up
show", right?  Then on back on down the road to Monroe-ville.
Larry on fiddle. Great.  BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY  kept on shinin'.

So, the ultima grande finale..... well.............. it fell a
little short.  But it was Simon who shoulda' done his homework on
FOREVER YOUNG. Paul just couldn't find the right place to go with
his harmony for Bob. He fished around, here n' there. Bob sang
good n' slow, giving him alot of lee-way, but no such luck. 
Nevermind.  The show was a gem. Fine as one could ever hope for.

Show #2
Colorado Springs


'Shake me up that old peach tree
 Little Jack Horner's got nuthin' on me'

Subject: notes from denver warm-up... From: Christine Consolvo ( Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 00:57:45 GMT Well, it took a while, but I've recovered from the drive, show and partying of last weekend. Ann did such a great job of reviewing (HOW DID WE MISS EACH OTHER, ANN????) that I'll just add a few random notes. First off....the outfit, naturally. He had on one of those satiny black western wear shirts with white piping making two wide V's across his chest. From the piping hung black fringe about four inches long. More piping on the sleeve cuffs. His shirt was tucked into some well-fitting pants and no jacket. He's been working on his abs, no doubt. He really looked so well and content and, (dare I say it) HAPPY! The revised band didn't gel totally on every song, but then those things take time. Everything and everyone on stage was kind of tentative. It really was a warm-up or open rehearsal. Not just another show to kick off the leg of the tour like the Edge for instance (not that I'm knocking the Edge by any means!). They were seeing how everything floated.....Bob even said "Thank you ladies & gentlemen" at one point. Don't recall him calling us THAT before! :-) He was in a cocky mood and mostly seemed pleased with what was coming out of the monitors. I'm not up to describing the whole set except to say that Tomorrow Is A Long Time and Not Dark Yet were letter perfect, but I'll try to give my impressions of the last portion of the show. We had heard that Paul Simon was in town and at the venue warming up in the afternoon. If you put your ear up to the crack in the door you could hear strains of music. Some vocals that were definitely Bob, other undiscernible vocals and some harp. At any rate, when Bob said he'd like to bring out a special guest, Paul walked out looking so teeny tiny. Bob *towered* over him. What a hoot! When I realized they were going to play Sounds of Silence I almost went comatose. Then I came to and likely hurt the poor young fellow who happened to be to my right. All afternoon I had been saying, "I thought this was supposed to be JUST BOB tonight. Sheesh!", but it was a moment to treasure. Bob did pretty well with the lyrics, but just kept much quieter than Paul and sang the whole thing with his lips all pouted out near the microphone. After the first couple of verses, Paul gestured with his hand to mouth going side to other words, "play the harp now". Bob just shrugged his shoulders and went after a harmonica. So strange to see anyone directing Bob on stage! So he played it for a bit, put it in his pocket and they continued the song. Then Bob started into an ending jam just as Paul started singing the last verse (the one Bob had obviously spaced out :-). Bob just laughed it off though. No big deal. It was just a warm-up anyway, right? Then they went into the medley of Walk the Line/Blue Kentucky Moon. It was then I decided I had probably just died and gone to heaven. Larry playing the fiddle for all it was worth, Bob *nailing* both songs (Paul the tentative one this go 'round). When it was over, Bob whipped off his guitar and strap and held it over his head for just a second like a prize fighter with his championship belt. Same look, too. Then he laid it down on the drum riser and gave a gesture with his palms down, wrists crossed, then uncrossed (hard to put into words) and a big nod to the crowd as if to say "THERE! HOW 'BOUT THAT?". He took a little bow, then started to leave the stage between the drums and bass. It was then that Paul leaned over and strapped on his acoustic. Tony sees this and taps Bob on the shoulder as he's going by and must have said something like, "I think we're going to play another one." It was totally comical. Paul calling all the shots and Bob just coming back and shrugging it off again. I always love Forever Young, but tonight it was pretty bad. Bob wasn't happy with what was being done on the steel and Paul acted like he didn't know ANY of the words...and if he harmonized at all it was with his mouth almost closed and I couldn't hear it. He did some strumming on the guitar though. It was probably the worst lead I've heard Bob play in years. That's okay, though. The entire show was a thrill from start to finish and was well worth the 24 hours it took me to drive there and back...and then some. Just thought I'd mention it... Christine

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