Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 12/04/97


Washington D.C.

December 4, 1997

9:30 Club

Review provided Brad Shafran
MTV Online
(go to the "local" section & click on "Washington D.C.")

It is impossible to completely determine BOB DYLAN'S influence on popular
music.  His worth is incalculable.  The list of performers who have
covered his songs is enormous.  It ranges from JIMI HENDRIX, DAVE
MATTHEWS, and U2 playing "All Along The Watchtower" to GUNS N' ROSES and
JERRY GARCIA making hits out of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door."   Still,
DYLAN'S 9:30 Club performance made one thing clear- nobody sings DYLAN
like DYLAN.

When DYLAN and his four-piece band took to the 9:30 Club stage, there was
a sense of nostalgia floating in the air.  When he was just starting out
some 35 years ago, was it as intimate as this?  The capacity crowd stood
in awe as they realized just how close they were to one of the most
influential musicians of their time (or anybody else's time for that
matter).  Their highly coveted ticket had bestowed upon them the honor and
privilege of standing mere feet from a legend. 

DYLAN came out roaring on "Maggie's Farm."  Wearing a gray suit with
tuxedo-striped pants and a cowboy hat, DYLAN looked healthy and spirited.
Occasionally smiling, he allowed his eyes to wander as fans clamored to
gain the attention of his gaze.  After a decent reading of "I Want You"
DYLAN offered "Cold Irons Bound," the first of four selections from this
year's pleasant surprise Time Out Of Mind (Columbia).  His twangy
yet hazy vocals were surprisingly overshadowed by the more impressive
guitar playing he offered.  Not known as a lead guitarist, DYLAN accepted
that role many times throughout the show.  He had the opportunity to take
the lead because he had a fine band backing him, especially Larry
Campbell's guitar work and Bucky Baxter's pedal steel guitar playing.
"Love Sick," played as part of the encore, proved to be the finest of the
new songs.  "Shelter From The Storm" sounded eerily similar to "The
Weight" and it took a minute or two for most to figure out which song
DYLAN was actually singing.

Barely pausing between numbers,  "Silvio" featured Campbell and Baxter
supplying backing vocals.  The rhythm section of Tony Garnier on bass and
drummer Dave Kemper were consistently solid throughout the show,
especially on this selection.  Still, none of the backing musicians
stepped forward or showed any emotion, apparently out of fear of taking
the spotlight off their leader.  The three-song acoustic section that
ensued showed why DYLAN belongs in such small venues.  Every note was
heard and, as is usually the case in larger halls, none of the music was
lost.  "Cocaine Blues" benefited from the scaled-back sound while "One Too
Many Mornings" featured the tightest jamming of the evening.  "Tangled Up
In Blue," complete with rephrasing that made the song barely recognizable,
ended the acoustic foray.

Following DYLAN'S animated introduction of the band, they launched
"Highway 61 Revisited."  With the band in full swing, DYLAN quelled all
doubts that he lost the ability to rock.  After all the years, he still
has it.  The way he played, shuffling his feet and moving around (albeit
mostly in place), put more life into the song.  With a solid hour and a
half of music behind them, the musicians left the stage.

Wild cheers from the crowd welcomed the band back to the stage.  A raucous
"Like A Rolling Stone" was followed by an acoustic "It Ain't Me, Babe"
that had the entire band in synch.  DYLAN'S already raspy voice was giving
way by the time the show-closing "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35" rolled
around.  Helping DYLAN out, the crowd joyously took over the vocal chores,
emphatically singing the chorus, "Everybody must get stoned."

After a few waves and a bow, DYLAN was gone.  Fortunately, the previous
two hours already proved he is still here. 

--Brad Shafran
MTV Online
(go to the "local" section & click on "Washington D.C.")


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