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Bob Dylan 990611 in Vancouver, British Columbia

Subject: Vancouver Setlist and Review
From: baja (
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 01:27:43 -0700

June 12, 1999
Vancouver, B.C.

Hallelujah, I'm Ready!
Tambourine Man (harmonica)
Baby Blue
Tangled (harmonica)
Trying to get to heaven
Memphis Blues
Not Dark Yet
Highway 61

E1. Love Sick
Rolling Stone
Ain't Me Babe (harmonica)

E2. w/ Paul Simon
Sounds of Silence
I walk the line/ Blue Moon of Kentucky
Heaven's Door

Here are my random thoughts.  Soon after 8 p.m. as people were
still finding their seats in the cavernous hockey/basketball
arena known as the garage in these parts, also known as GM Place,
the lights dimmed and flickered. Shortly thereafter, my favorite
voice uttering my favorite words in all the world, yes, you know
what I mean, "Ladies and gentleman....."  On his bobness came
looking as if he just walked off the MTV unplugged set, in a
black suit with that shirt with the big black dots.  The new look
of the band is not much different than the old look.  Facing the
stage, you have larry far left with a pedal steel beside him,
kemper directly behind him, hiding behind his sun hat, dylan is
centre stage, tony right next to him, and the new kid on the
block to the right of Tony.  Charlie seemed like an outsider or a
guest player mostly just playing rhythm guitar.  Bob barely
looked at him all night.  Bob really focuses on larry and tries
to play off of him.  Bob took the vast majority of leads all
evening.  I do miss bucky.

Bob was in great form but the band has lost its focus.  I really
liked that ethereal country feel that bucky added to the band. 
Larry played pedal steel on one song, I think baby blue, and it
was really good but he has a very different feel for the
instrument than bucky.  Larry just does not have the depth of
feeling for the instrument that bucky has.  I do not think bob is
sure what direction to take or what use to make of his new

The highlights were the TOOM tunes and the opener which had larry
and charlie on back up vocals.  It was a country gospel tune. 
Like others I believe it is time bob mixed up the setlist abit
and maybe added some tunes from albums between 1968 to 1996
besides tangled.  From what I recall there were a few other good
tunes during those years.

Bob was confident, smiling and at times belting it out.  Always
worth seeing if you got the chance but in large venues you are
not going to experience the full potential of dylan performance.

Briefly re paul simon.  I've read some comments from people who found paul to be arrogant or
egotistical, that is certainly not my impression.  In fact I
perceived him as humble and genuinely appreciative of the
overwhelming response he received from the audience.  Paul was in
great voice, mixed up his tunes really well, had a hot 11 piece
band, and did 2 encores ending with a soulful rendition of the

That is all for now.  Please send in reviews for the rest of the
tour.  It is your duty as our servants to do so.

Subject: Re: June 11, 1999 - Vancouver, BC - Setlist From: Alex Csiszar ( Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 17:09:51 -0400 Bill Pagel wrote: > June 11, 1999 > Vancouver, British Columbia > GM Place > > 1. Hallelujah (acoustic) (song by Leonard Cohen) > 2. Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic) (with harp) > 3. Masters Of War (acoustic) > 4. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (acoustic) > 5. Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic) (with harp) > 6. All Along The Watchtower > 7. Tryin' To Get To Heaven > 8. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again > 9. Not Dark Yet > 10. Highway 61 Revisited > > (encore) > 11. Love Sick > 12. Like A Rolling Stone My memory isn't so good, but I'm almost certain that the last song was "Don't Think Twice...", not "It ain't me babe". > 13. It Ain't Me, Babe (acoustic) (with harp) > 14. The Sound Of Silence (Duet with Paul Simon - Bob on harp) > 15. I Walk The Line (Duet with Paul Simon - Larry on fiddle) > 16. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Duet with Paul Simon - Larry on fiddle) > 17. Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Duet with Paul Simon) As far as the show goes...yeah the new band arrangement isn't quite as interesting as the old one with Sexton seemingly not doing much interesting stuff yet, and with Cambell basically playing guitar most of the time...the pedal steel seems more like some decoration on the stage. While the arrangements are a little bland, Dylan himself was pretty into it; he didn't do too much dancing though and wasn't smiling nearly as much as he was the last couple of years, but he did seem to give a lot of attention to the songs. He was in good form, and took lots of solos which occasionally took a while to get going but were decent (nothing spectacular last night). Tryin To Get To Heaven was somewhat of a surprise, but here's a song where I thought maybe the pedal-steel might have fit in nice; something in the arrangement seemed to be missing, to my ears anyway. Tambourine Man wasn't too exciting, and Masters of War doesn't sound nearly as good as it did last year, but Baby Blue was great (with Cambell on pedal steel), and Tangled was...good, but it's always good and it perhaps wasn't as good as its been. Highway 61 really rocked, especially after quite a long run of songs that were pretty laid back. Love Sick was odd: Sexton did Baxter's part on a regular guitar, but it was alright. The first song was great, a great opener (as has been established it had no connection to LC) ...perhaps the highlight of the night right there. All and all certainly an enjoyable show; no major flubs that I noticed, though one time when Dylan put away the guitar to grab a harmonica, in (I think) Tangled, he couldn't evidently find the one he needed and he was just sort of staring at the table making these absolutely hilarious movements with hands and heads (sort of dancing or something?) and I'm thinking yikes! but then finally he found what it was he was looking for... The crowd was seems to me a lot of them didn't really "get" Dylan's act somehow or another...they really loved Simon though with all those instruments everywhere. Simon's show is a real feel-good affair; it's quite energetic in a way that is much different from Dylan's whole approach. I guess it's just a matter of different tastes...
Subject: Re: June 11, 1999 - Vancouver, BC - Setlist From: Ch'an Bodhi Cede ( Date: 12 Jun 1999 21:09:16 GMT Bob opened the Vancouver show last night with a song unknown to tens of thousands of his listeners, baffling would-be set listers around the world. The song he sang is not the similarly titled Leonard Cohen composition, as had earlier been mistakenly reported here. Bob sang "Call" and Charlie Sexton, in his best performance of the show, sang "Answer" - the quoted parts of the chorus below - on a bluegrass gospel tune which has been recorded by Ricky Skaggs, Southern Rail, and others. Hilltop News has their full version (2:03) available to hear at Bill Pagel thanked me for sending him that link this afternoon, and he put it on the Bob Links setlist. I've been at every concert Bob Dylan has ever performed in Vancouver, since 1965, and the show last night was a gem. They came out Ready To Go. Hallelujah! Praise Bob! ch'an bodhi cede "tryin' to get to heaven before they close the ... (whoops) ... knock knock knockin' on heaven's door" ---- Hallelujah I'm Ready To Go chorus: Hallelujah - "I'm ready" I'm ready - "Hallelujah", I can hear the voices singing soft and low Hallelujah - "I'm Ready" I'm Ready - "Hallelujah", Hallelujah I'm ready to go In the darkness of night not a star was in sight, on that highway that leads down below then Jesus came in, and he saved my soul from sin, Hallelujah I'm ready to go (chorus) Oh sinners awake before it's too late, He's a wonderful saviour you know I fell on my knees and he answered my pleas, Hallelujah I'm ready to go (chorus, repeating last line)
Subject: A Vancouver Review From: "Neil W. McKinlay" ( Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 15:22:14 -0700 Bob Dylan Friday June 11th Vancouver, BC GM Place Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah I'm ready to go It was a different Bob Dylan singing these words Friday night, one quite distinct from the performer who showed up last year. Last year, he opened his stay in this city with Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away, a choice whose title was tremendously resonant for a 57 year old rock and roller who, both physically and professionally, had survived much longer than many would have ever imagined. A choice whose opening lines (I'm gonna tell you how it's gonna be/You're gonna give your love to me), set the tone for the rest of his time here - two nights in which he mugged and strutted and hammed his way into the audience's heart, pushed everyone near crazy with that nutty white-loafered duck walk. It was a different Bob Dylan who came onstage sometime after eight, shuffled up to the microphone and kicked off with a song that he had to know very few in the audience would recognize, that he could probably guess would come across to many in the crowd as little more than the sudden buzz of amplified instruments, little more than an unfamiliar melody, muffled lyrics and an only eventually distinguishable chorus: Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah I'm ready to go Listening to this, figuring out the chorus and nothing more of the song, I was immediately reminded that this was a man who, throughout his career, has evidenced a strong spiritual sense in much of his work, and a man whose most recent pronouncements on this subject (at least as far as IUm aware), appeared a couple of years back. Here's the thing with me and the religious thing, he told Newsweek in 1997. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else. Songs like Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain or I Saw the Light - that's my religion. I don't adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. I've learned more from the songs than I have from any of this kind of entity. The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs. Of course, I then quickly forgot all of this and sat amazed as Dylan proceeded to finish this song I had never heard, moved into a carefully touching version of Tambourine Man, a rivetting Masters of War. It wasn't until song four - until Baby Blue - that such ideas returned. Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah I'm ready to go As I've said, the Bob Dylan standing onstage Friday night was quite different from the one I saw in town this time last year. Certainly he was still playing with physical presentation this evening, as the occasional side shuffle, the under his chin guitar motions and the exaggerated harmonica gestures well evidenced, but gone was the side to side dancing, the wiggling eyebrows, the slack-mouthed gawk and the over the top guitar hero antics that so dominated - and so animated - the 1998 shows. Gone was the performer who seemed intent on exploring the fun of his songs, the extent to which he could stretch them and play them up, the degree to which he could amuse and entertain, and in his place, I saw someone whose focus seemed to have shifted somewhere inside - shifted, more specifically, somewhere inside the songs he was singing. And it wasn't really until Baby Blue that I started to feel this. It wasn't really until this song that I started to realize there was something different going on here - though I bet it had been there all along. I started to notice that enunciation was very deliberate this night. Words were coming out very clear. Lines were being broken in very unusual places. Syllables were being stretched and stopped at the very last second, forcing the next ones to wait their turn, to wait longer than usual. And it's aaaaaaalll/over now/baby blue, he sang at one point - and then smiled a little, as if the effect were pleasing to him, a delight. Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah I'm ready to go There's been a fair amount of criticism levelled at Bob regarding these shows. Stale setlists, greatest hits - all that kind of thing. Some have argued that, knowing many in the audience (the majority, it seemed, in Vancouver) would be Paul Simon fans, Dylan has chosen to play it safe with his repertoire. Maybe this explains why he played Tambourine and Tangled and LARS on Friday night, I don't know. But when someone disappointedly mentioned to me that he thought the show was 'the same old songs,' I was surprised. Surprised, first, that in a way he was right - one look at the setlist confirms this fact. And then, surprised that I hadn't really noticed. Like most Bob followers, I love an unusual song selection. Some of the European shows struck me as amazing on paper - Fourth Time Around, Visions of Johanna, Blind Willie! And like many, I grumble a little when I see things go stale, when I watch him revert to tunes he's done hundreds of times before. But such concerns did not arise even once this evening. And they did not arise because each of the performances was, in some very wonderful way, brand new for me. And usually, whether I'm remembering the sadness of Love Sick or the slide guitar growl of Highway 61 or the heart-beating quickness of Tangled, this newness came through BobUs singing. As if he, faced with singing those same old songs night after night again, had forced himself to discover yet another way to learn from them. Even Mobile, a song whose inclusion typically brings a groan to my lips, was a delight. Ooooh Mama/is this/really/the end?/To be/stuck inside of Mooooobile/with the/Memphis blues/again. I wanted this number - wanted almost every number - to go on forever. Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah I'm ready to go Of course, there were a few exceptions to this amazingly consistent performance. There were a couple, to be precise. And I find it very interesting that they arose at two of the more overtly risky, more overtly unfamiliar, points in the set. During Trying to Get to Heaven, it was possible to watch Dylan and to actually see him work to get inside a song he really hasn't shown us all that often. His eyes narrowed, his face tightened - but the unusual arrangement seemed to want to go south while his words headed north. And Charlie, who was clearly still learning the ropes, still taking cues from Tony and limited to rhythm through most of the set, seemed on another map for the only time in the evening. It was as if body and mind, as if music and words and the new guitarist, had very different ideas about where to go with this number and, in the end, all Bob could do was shoot a hard glare to his left, step quickly back between drums and bass and end the experiment then and there. Exception two came during the Paul Simon duets, when Dylan's focus moved from the songs to his singing partner. His voice lowered and softened at this time, his manner became less confident and a little more nervous, concerned, a little more cautious. The impression I took from this four song mini-set was that Bob was genuinely moved by the opportunity to sing alongside this guy and was really worried heUd blow it. He shot off enormous, toothy (ie: goofy!) grins while they talked onstage and, his eyes rarely shifted from Simon's mouth the whole time they sang. I don't think Bob was as convincing here as he had been elsewhere in his set - but being so vulnerable before us, being so naked, I found him every bit as rivetting and charming and wonderful. Someone mentioned afterward that they thought he ceased to be Bob Dylan during those duets and I agree wholeheartedly - the mask he'd been wearing all night slipped just a little and we were granted a tiny glimpse of who this man might be when he isn't standing before his public. Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah I'm ready to go I've been singing this chorus to myself almost non-stop as I've sat here writing. For today, anyways, it seems my most prominent memory of the show - a show that, I have to admit, I wasn't at first very excited about. A huge venue, shortened sets and the expense all drove me toward taking a pass this time. I went, though. And was completely surprised by the performance. Completely delighted. Though I loved each of the gigs I saw in 1998, if I had one criticism it would be that Dylan sometimes seemed more concerned with posing and with playing around than with what he was singing. Friday night, he addressed any such critique by sinking right back into those songs that mean so much to him and by finding yet another way to make them new, yet another way to bring them to life. Friday night, he addressed any such critique by returning to what has become the church of his choice - and by inviting us all inside for just a little while. And what a treat that was! I bet I'll be singing its praise for a very long time. Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah (I'm ready) Hallelujah I'm ready to go ps - If you enjoyed this review, I'm not too proud to say it took a few hours to write and I'd willingly accept an offer/reward of a tape of the show. If you happen to have such a creature at your fingertips, and if you happen to be feeling generous today, please email me privately at Thanks. Neil
Subject: Vancouver Concert Review From: don freeman ( Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 18:26:04 GMT Bob Dylan's Vancouver concert with Paul Simon came just a year after Dylan played there with Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison. This time, Dylan's show was not as lively, probably partly because he's working in his new guitarist, Charlie Sexton, and partly because it was only the fourth show in the Dylan/Simon tour. There were some very interesting differences between this Dylan concert and the sets he played last year. Just as Dylan had premiered "Not Fade Away" at Vancouver's club, The Rage, this time around, Dylan opened with the totally new "Hallelujah I'm Ready to Go," an "old time" sounding bluegrass gospel song. By starting with five acoustic songs, and later, adding fiddle to the "I Walk The Line"/"Blue Moon of Kentucky" medley, it seemed as if Bob Dylan might be turning into a Hank Williams style country star. However, with the second song, "Mr. Tambourine Man," Dylan switched into his Los Vegas shlock mode, dramatically uttering the words as if to simply bask in their fame. This was especially disappointing to me, because last year, his version of "Tambourine Man" was a concert highlight, totally fresh, making the lyrics come alive for me as if I were hearing them for the first time. This time, in my opinion, he butchered the song, in the same way he had ruined "Times They are a Changing" for decades, starting with the Budokan tour. He did the same thing later in the show with "Like a Rolling Stone," taking all the energy out of the song by singing it like "Thus Spake Zarathustra." Fortunately the rest of the concert was much better than this.. "Masters of War" sounded good, and because it was timely, the words sounded as if he meant them Then he did a lovely and rare version of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." This was followed by a surprisingly fresh "All Along the Watchtower" and a rocking "Tangled Up in Blue, " complete with a harmonica solo. For those who complain about Dylan always playing the same songs, the way he rocks on "Tangled Up in Blue" keeps the song totally alive. Dylan played most of the guitar solos in these songs, and while not playing great guitar, he did hit the right notes most of the time, and the whole effect was very good rock 'n roll. And a good rock 'n roll version of a great song with great lyrics creates a great concert experience, justifying the repetition of these songs. His version of "Highway 61 Revisited" may even have approached great rock 'n roll. Next he did "Trying to Get to Heaven," a real treat, because he's only played this song four times, and I consider it the one song on "Time Out of Mind" with a truly great melody. Interestingly, "Trying to Get to Heaven," "Not Dark Yet" and "Love Sick" sounded as good as anything he played in the concert, while last year, "Cold Iron Bounds" seemed a bit weak and out of place. I am always amazed at the subtle power of the "Time Out of Mind" songs to improve with time. His version of "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" was very interesting. Last year he had reworked its melody and it started off great, but the song fell apart half way through.. This time, it started off a bit of a mess, but it got stronger and stronger as it went on, and by the end, it was really cooking. Still, the song sounded a bit road weary compared to the version a year before. I worry a bit that the Dylan's post-illness rejuvenation may be wearing out. I keep hoping for a wonderful new album that will make "Time Out of Mind" look a bit weak. Now I'm wondering if the 1998 Bob Dylan wasn't the best we will get for now. The final treat was "It Ain't Me, Babe" with a softly beautiful new arrangement and a rollicking harp solo. And then came Paul Simon to join him in "Sounds of Silence." Dylan's introduction of Paul Simon was long and funny, including the line, "The one and onlyˇˇ" The two of them stood together looking very stern and serious. Then Paul belted out the line, "Hello darkness my old friend" and the moment seemed magical. Miraculously, Dylan sang a lovely soft harmony to the song, and the result was amazingly beautiful. I can't remember Dylan ever singing harmony like that before. It reminded me of the harmony Neil Young sings on Emmylou Harris's "Wrecking Ball." The "I Walk The Line"/"Blue Moon of Kentucky" was fine, with both voices meshing well, but their finale, "Knocking on Heaven's Door" was a bit of a mess, with them trading verses. Paul Simon's strong, pure voice provided an interesting contrast, making Dylan's voice seem weird and bizarre. Simon's whole show was very good, very professional, and very entertaining. He reworked "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and the "Boxer" so they worked well without Garfunkle. His Graceland songs sounded terrific and got everyone on their feet. His "Rhythm of the Saints" songs also sounded very good, though like the album, they got a bit distracting. Coming after the Dylan set, it was a punchy energizing experience. Paul Simon is not Bob Dylan, but the contrast made for a very fine evening. I can only hope that as the tour continues, they work out some more songs together. "The Boxer" is an obvious choice, and other early Paul Simon songs could work well as "The Sounds of Silence." And I hope Dylan continues to add more bluegrass and more fiddle.
Subject: FRONT ROW REVIEW (11/6/99) From: Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999 16:03:40 -0700 At others' urging, I am posting my (very) late review of the Vancouver GM Place show with Bob and Paul. HERE IS MY VERSION OF EVENTS...Hope you enjoy it! Ok, so it's true. You sacrifice a whole lot of sound to be front and center at a Bob show... But how, once you've been there, can you ever go to another show, and not want to see those eyebrows raise, that tongue stick out, that toothy grin flash? For me, the performance of the tunes is as important as the sound of the songs themselves, and Bob's performance on Friday night was not to be missed. Opening with a surprising "HALLELULJAH, I'M READY", Bob was indeed, ready, and hallelujah, brothers and sisters, so were we. A rockin' bluegrass gospel jump start, Bob calling, Larry and Charlie answering, Hallelujah - I'm Ready, in sweet country bluegrass harmonies. A lovely introduction to the newest member of the band, Charlie Sexton, who looked both excited and a wee bit lost at times in the fine company on stage. From the opening number, the band went into a crooner's version of MR.TAMBOURINE MAN. Bob gets into this one some nights, really plays it with his voice, changes syncopation, stretches out a syllable here, now there. Bob's voice in fine fettle, he began to look around at his audience, and his smile told us he liked what he saw. This is a man that doesn't need a lot of encouragement. One or two front row members on their feet and dancing is all the man needs to get his own feet tapping. And, speaking of feet, thank God he has lost those godawful gucci shuffleboard loafers. Last night, Bob was wearing a hot pair of pointy toe boots, decorated cowboy style with white leather appliqued flame licks. Now, that white belt...he could lose that with those nasty white patent shoes, but, on Bob, even a white belt seems to work. The shirt, simisalr to the one on the cover of the unplugged CD, but in reverse. A chamois coloured background with black dots, buttoned to the shirt collar. Standard black jacket, and black pants with white cord stipe down the outside of the pantleg, and trimming the pockets. A "mod" country gentleman, who, to add to the thrills, strolled to the back, and pulled out his harmonica to "play (his) song for me". Sticking with the acoustic ensemble, Larry and Bob trading off some solo licks, Charlie doing his best to find his way on rhythm, next up was MASTERS OF WAR. He was serious about this one. He wanted us to know his singing it meant he meant it..."and I'll stand o'er your grave till I'm sure that you're dead". But even with all the seriousness of the lyric, Bob was clearly enjoying himself. Keeping time with his head on one side, a quick leg lift here and there, and that heel twisting back beat, he was feeding off the first few rows of devotees who were letting the band know, that they could come to Vancouver just any old time, we'd be there, to welcome them back. We got next, a sweetly sung version of IT'S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE. Again, I was moved by the delicacy of his voice, his ability to push a long phrase into a tight space without losing one heartbeat of feeling, indeed hightening those emotional qualities by the juxtaposition of too much to say in too little a space...making the audience lean in, to hear it all, is he going to leave something out? How will he fit that next bit in? He's left a big gap, an open chord, no lyrics to fill, and then again, like white water over the boulders in the river bed, it all comes bubbling out, as perfect as could be, leaving one wondering if there really ever was another version. From Baby Blue to TANGLED UP IN, Bucky was missed. The last couple of years, this song has really cooked with it's countrified mandolin refrain, and last night, that stew pot was on the simmer instead of it's more familliar boil. Again, one wonders what Charlie will be able to add to the sound once his feet are thoroughly wet. Dylan seems to play more to Larry, altough a few time through the evening, Bob seemed to direct his attention to Charlie, to encourage him, to bring him "in". There just isn't a lousy version of Tangled, in my opinion, and even without Bucky, the boys had this one going...and Bob really began to open up. Dance steps, winks, and smiles, he found his "people" in the front, and let them have it in this one. From where I was, cracking up was inevitable. Bob had his comic self, his Charlie Chaplin two step goin' on...the more we laughed, the more he laughed right back with us. He was very obviously enjoying himself, and loving us loving him. The big shuffle, at the end of Tangled. Everyone goes for the powertools, (Charlie, I think, stuck with amplified acoustic for most of the set...), and thry launch into a rousing ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER. I hadn't heard this one live, in quite a while. It had gotten to be almost too predictable in it's number three spot in the set list for all those many many months that it could not be budged. But once the band had begun to rely on Silvio as their "this will get them on their feet if they're not already" number, in the fifth or sixth spot, I began to miss this anthem of rock. Last night, Bob gave it to us again, not as tight, not as precise, not as solid and thunderous as I have heard it, but there, back in the list, in rotation once again. Larry and Charlie must not have had the opportunity to lose themselves in this one a whole was one that JJ and Bob used to party hard with, so I suspect it will only get better and better. Thanks for bringing that one back,'s one of my all time favourite songs, and yeah, gets me on my feet everytime. And Bob himself seemed happy to be doing this one again. He bounced a bit in this one, feet tapping, again those knee lifts, (what's up with that Bob? you scare are gonna fall right over one night!!), and again, the eye contact and personal energy pouring from stage to audience. Tony and Larry, too, seemed to get going in this one, exchanging laughs over Bob's mugging and dancing, enjoying themselves, enjoying Bob. Charlie seems a little left out of this on-stage camraderie, on Tony's left, in the isolation of the Buckmiester's old position on stage. He didn't seem to know quite, when to catch Tony's eye, or Larry's, or Bob's for that matter. It seemed to be enough for him just to focus on WHAT was happening WHEN, and his own hands. Cute. Cute as hell, excellent for the eyes, but I'll look forward to the day when he settles into his own groove up there with this unit, and commands our attention with his own stylistic additions to familliar tunes. And then it was TRYING TO GET TO HEAVEN. This one didn't seem to work. They tried. Some element was completely missing here...the rhythm got, at first muddled, and then fell to muddy. They struggled on for a verse or two, there were some sound problems, feed back, and then Bob brought it to an abrupt end when it appeared that Charlie, (with electric guitar for this one) was playing in another key, and equally befuddling was the fact that he seemed oblivious to the unharmonious sound that was coming from him. He just looked cute and kept on going, a shy grin now and again, but totally and thoroughly oblivious to the clash of keys. Bob let it go, as I said, for a couple of verses, staring over in Charlie's direction, as if to will him into the right key, but when that wasn't working, he pulled around, caught Kemper's eye, and brought the song to a quick end. A short huddle...Bob and Tony, a few remarks exchanged. Bob turns and dives in to a searing rendition of STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE. For a moment I lost it. I began to realize that we must be about half way through Bob's set, and thoughts of how long it had been since I'd last danced all night to Bob, and how long it might be until I would next see him, started to crowd in to my consciousness. I started to miss him even before it was over. So distracted was I in this song with my thoughts of how I might be able to hitch-hike into the US for a few more shows...(forget the kids...forget the husband...they'll all just have to cope!) that I can't say whether he did all the verses in this one or not. But they hit a groove here, and really rolled this through the crowd, of which, only a few were there to see Bob, or so it seemed. Dancing fun was not to be had without incurring the wrath of Paul Simon fans on all sides. Now, how could you possibly be in the front row at any rock concert, and sit there, like a plaster of paris lump of inertness? I just don't get that. Don't these people like rock music? We are not at a performance of a string quartet here, where decorum would be appreciated. We're at a Bob-show, folks, he likes it when you like it. It took some moments to recongnize the next offering, NOT DARK YET. Hauntingly beautiful, as might be expected, but all the more so, for Bob's stretching and drawing of the sound of a syllable, the wistful resignation, "I was born here and I'll die here..." no Bob-does-Bob tonight, no self parodying in this show. He sang it like he meant it, and drove us all, in the front row, to our feet once again, in rapture. So sweetly, so sadly, so mournfully real...and whistles but all the bells and we're hearing, "God said Abraham, kill me a son" and off for a wild and rockin' ride down HIGHWAY 61. The band threw themselves into this one, laughing, rolicking, Tony giving his moves, even Charlie got into the groove, exchanging broad grins with Bob, feeling his way in getting the space and edging his way out for Bob to take it away. Exciting. Fun. Charged up. and quickly off the stage...too soon too soon. It didn't take much to get them to reclaim the stage for the staged encore. A growling, snarling, hurt version of Love Sick. This man convinced me. He really is sick of love. This one sounded less cynical, more vulnerable, he snarls it out then winks at the first row, as if to tell us, stay with me, I've still got more for you, the ride's not over yet. And off he went, opening chords confusing us all, a delay in the lyric, more instrumental sounds, still not clear...what is it, what is it?..."Once upon a time..." Wow! I was off and running on his magic swirling ship, into the now, into the future, into the past. How does it fe-e-eell? Fine, fine. Just fine. Feels good. Feels like Bob, back in Vancouver. Feels like hashish being smoked all around me. Feels like heaven. Deep bows, another instrument change, bring back the acoustics, Tony on a hollow bodied amplified acoustic bass...beaming proudly. Bob begins, "Go lightly from the ledge, babe, leave at your own chosen speed..." The crowd, finally alive, on their feet, "I'm not the one you want, babe, I'm not the one you need" Yes you are Bob, yes you are. Cohen once told us "There Ain't No Cure for Love", and I believe that. At this point things got a little strange. Bob introduced the band, thanked the audience, took some more bows, and then launched into a Barnum and Bailey circus style introduction of a fellow performer who's "written a few songs" "some of the best songs of my generation, or anyone's generation" the "one and only" Paul Simon. Paul skips out from stage left, crosses over to centre stage where Bob waits for him, the join hands and raise joined hands above their heads, they bow, they soak up the adulation the crowd has suddenly decided to bestow on Bob, now that Paul has arrived. Now, and this is one of the best parts of the whole evening. Paul, standing next to Bob, makes Bob appear a veritable Paul Bunyan. Bob towers over the dimimutive Simon, even seems to have broad shoulders, and Paul begins, clear as a bell, full voice, "Hello darkness, my old friend..." Bob takes up the harmony line, a full octave below Simon, a rich resonating bottom end. I have never heard Dylan harmonize with such finesse, such generosity. It is abeautiful version of a beautiful song. The crowd, so attentive through this song, there was the sound of silence in the garage...They were most pleased with themselves at the end, despite the fact that Bob was a split second behind in his delivery on most of the lines, like he wasn't too sure of the words, was reading Paul's lips as they went. Made me chuckle. Bob, at his cutest. Short beat. And off into I WALK THE LINE/BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY...the first flowing seamlessly into the second. They get going on the Cash number, cowboys...playing off one another, making a lot of eye contact between them. Enjoying each other. Having a bit of fun, and swing it right into Bill Munro's bluegrass tune, throwing no curves, playing it straight up bluegrass, Larry rockin', Charlie right there, Tony swinging his hips, and Kemper, doin' what he does, keeping it steady, pounding it out...driving it along. Another short beat. Longer than the beat between the first and second/third songs. You could almost believe that Bob hadn't made up his mind yet, what the next number might be. He took his time. He looked around, "mama take this badge off of me", and trading verses back and forth, Paul and Bob took it away. No endless chanting and repetition of the refrain, no excess, a great, raunchy rendition of a perennial favorite. It was over. He was gone. I have to say, I was so devastated by that very fact...that my evening in the front row with Bob was now over, I nearly left the building. A combination of not being able to get out from behind the barricades, and the coincidental meeting up with an old friend not seen for a couple of years kept me around...the sounds came up, as the lights went down, and Paul Simon and his entourage took the stage. The sheer mass of bodies, instruments, drums, congas, percussion implements, and sounds that emerged from them, carried me away, across the floor where Sharif Abdur Raheem so earnestly strives to lead his team to hard won victories, from the back door of the building, right back to my front row seat. By the time I'd reached my seat, I was half walking, half dancing to the beat of the drums, the cacophany of horns, and congas, and bells, guitars, organs, piano, bass...eleven pieces, a wall of sound and the diminutive Simon, conducting them all like a maestro with his orchestra. I hadn't meant to, but I just simply could not help myself. I completely enjoyed Paul Simon's show. Every other song, it seemed, I knew ALL the words to, and could dance and sing, and feel happy happy happy, with the rhythm pushing us on and on and on. I don't remember all the songs, didn't know some of them at all, but the music that was coming out of those players around Paul Simon was an awesome thing. Fine sax solo on Still Crazy After All These Years, great throbbing bass through the set, engaging and crafty lead guitarist, a after song, making the tight connections. Brilliant. Keyboards, filling in the backgrounds, swelling the sound. I was up again, had to be dancing...there were Diamonds on the Soles of my shoes... What a night. Thank you Bob, Thank you Paul, Come back Bob, Come Back Paul... Thank you, thank you, thank you, all.
Subject: Re: FRONT ROW REVIEW (11/6/99) From: don freeman Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 00:21:22 GMT what a great review!! How nice to get a review from the front row, because I was at that show, in row six, and I seemed to be at a slightly different concert. I know my friends in row 33 were at a totally different concert, because they are short, and they couldn't see when everyone stood up, which was most of the time, because the front row people were having too much fun dancing. I have really been enjoying reading all the good reviews from this tour. Keep it up, bobfans.Send those reviews in.

1999: January - February - March - April - May - June