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Bob Dylan 970807 in Toronto, Ontario

Subject: Toronto 7 Aug/97 - review and set list
From: Li'l Taffy (
Date: Fri, 08 Aug 97 04:13:03 GMT

Tonight Bob Dylan roared into Toronto, directly into the embrace of a hugely 
enthusiastic house at the Molson Amphitheatre.

The show was a wonder to behold. Dylan's singing was versatile and his 
performance was tinged with sly humour. He didn't say much, but he seemed 
pretty happy throughout. The band was tight and flexible. The songs were all 
performed with enthusiasm and emotion. The songs were lengthy; Dylan played a 
*lot* of lead guitar -- some wonderful, some a little repetitive, some fairly 
crummy -- but the song arrangements were excellent. A perceptive fan rightly 
stated, "This is like Dylan with The Band in '74."

Some points of interest: Pots of incense were lit on stage. The acoustic set 
featured a slide show of interesting, nostalgic photographs. A fan bopped on 
stage, wearing her own leopard skin pillbox hat.

The opening acts were very well-received. BR5-49 played a terrific country 
set; Ani DiFranco made the audience her own with her unique songs.

Don't miss future shows!

--Paul Larsen
  Toronto, Ontario

Absolutely Sweet Marie
If You See Her, Say Hello
Tough Mama
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
Don't Think Twice (acoustic)
One Too Many Mornings (acoustic)
Cocaine (acoustic)
Watching the River Flow
This Wheel's On Fire
Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat
Like a Rolling Stone (first encore)
Forever Young (second encore)
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (final encore)

Subject: concert review - aug.7,97 From: greyhound ( Date: 8 Aug 97 04:22:12 GMT Just got home from the Dylan show at Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre. The sound was great, Bob's enunciation was good and the vocals came through crystal clear. It's early in the "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean Tour" but the band was tight and Bob seemed to be in the mood - as he sometimes is. Before I give you the set-list, just a couple of words about Anni DeFranco, the opener. If you're going to see this show don't miss her set. She was a pleasant suprise; a cross between Alanis and Meryn Cadell - sort of a raunchy feminist. She had some great lines, like the on about not owning her body, she's just borrowing between her mother and the maggots. Or that song about the shark-infested waters and removing her tampon..... a little more than i needed to know. Then near the end there's the thing she does with her guitar, the stage monitor and feedback; it was like Hendrix grew tits but didn't discover electricity. She was called back for TWO encores, something unheard of for an opening act - and they were well deserved. Anyway, this is what he played: 1) Absolutely Sweet Marie, 2)If You See Her, Say Hello 3) Tough Mama 4) I'll Be Your Baby Tonite 5) Silvio, 6)Don't Think Twice, It's Alright (Acoustic) 7) One Too Many Mornings, (Acoustic) 8) Cocaine (Acoustic) 9) Watching the River Flow 10) This Wheel's On Fire and 11) Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat. Encore 12) Like A Rolling Stone, 13) Forever Young (Acoustic) and 14) Rainy Day Women #12 and #35. I guess after the sickness Sweet Marie is a great opener. Brings new meaning to : " i waited for you, when i was half-sick" and even more to "i dont know how it happened but the river boat captain, he knows my fate, but everbody else, even yourself, you're just gonna have to wait." Lots of energy in this song and it carries through to Dylans lead guitar playing on "If You See Her." The concert was too short by far, but the song selection was excellent. The first pleasant surprise came with "Tough Mama" as Dylan put extra feeling into the line, "can i blow a little smoke on you?" Please do. He followed this with a plaintive, sad version of "I'll Be Your Baby, Tonite". He was almost begging to be allowed instead of bragging in this one. "Silvio", the perennial low-lite of his recent concerts followed. It was a passable version and like the man says: "evry bit of pleasure has an edge of pain, so pay for your ticket and don't complain". The back-stage curtain rises to expose a large screen at the beginning of the "acoustic set". It was more like an "unplugged set" though, Dylan didn't play any solo songs this evening. He opens with a rather funky version of "Dont Think Twice", reminiscent of the Basement tapes era with the Band, complete with mandolin. The screen is showing images of wreaths and temples, followed by more inane images of gardens and cows. I don't know what it was supposed to mean, and i don't want to know. Those scenes at the end might have been interior shots of his recently sold house in Hibbing. Dylan really picked up the intensity of the vocals with "One Too Many Mornings". "Cocaine" was probably the highlight of the night. The only non-original song of the evening, it's been a favorite of mine since i discovered it on the Rare Batch of Little White Wonder bootleg. When he croaks the refrain, "hey baby come here quick, this old cocaine is making me sick", it's like he's found his niche for the first time - only its about the 10th incarnation of "Bob" - traditional blues singer, extraordinaire. They closed the curtains on the back-stage screen at the end of the unplugged set; i still didn't get what the images were. The vocals on "Watching the River" were a little weak following the performance on "Cocaine". But the tempo was almost rock-a-billy and it picked the crowd up leading into "This Wheel's On Fire". A much stronger delivery as he wails: "you knew we would meet again, if your memory serves you well." Dylan closed the show with quick introduction of the band and a few good words about the opening acts before the crashed into "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat". Some chick in a leopard-skin pillbox hat leaped onto the stage to do a lame imitation of a go-go girl. Security, recognizing she was wearing the appropriate apparel, let her stay for the duration of the song. Bob seemed to enjoy her, at least near the end of the song, he ignored her for all the lyrics. But he finally relented and smiled as he traded leads on the extended bridge. He may in fact, even have laughed. When the girl tried to approach Bob at the end of the song she had to be shot. After a somewhat subdued call for an encore Bob came out to play "Like A Rolling Stone". I never get tired of hearing this one, i mean, has anyone written a better rock song? Some idiot fan tried to charge the stage from the side and had to held back by big police. He deserved what he got but i still think they shoulda gone easier on the chick. He gets a more vigorous call back for the second encore and does a great acoustic version of "Forever Young". This song is a fine gift to a young child, but a pretty good gift to an aging audience too. Lights on for the last song, a rocking version of "Rainy Day Women #12 and #35" which always manages to sound less corny than you know it is. This piece of fluff is a feel-good closer that helps break the spell of a night of unpredictable song selection and for the most part , impassioned delivery. Dylan backs off the stage, shooting down the cheering audience with invisible six-shooters. Marcel
Karl Morehouse's review is on Bill Pagel's page.
Subject: Toronto: August 7, 1997 From: Tom Davidson ( Date: 8 Aug 1997 18:37:23 GMT The Molson Amphitheatre holds about 16000 people, quite a change from the Concert Hall where I saw Dylan in Toronto last year (about 1500 folks). BR5-49 hit the stage about 7:00. Because of delays travelling down from my home in cottage country, I only get to catch the opening act's last number. They were only on for about half an hour. They seemed like a fun band and the audience--still filing in and only about a few thousand people there--are appreciative. Our seats are good. There's a kind of pit in front of the stage filled with folding chairs. The next section is about the equivalent of 20 rows or so from the front of the stage, and is raised higher than the pit. We're only a few rows back in this section, in the centre. Very good seats. One look at the pit in front of the stage is all I need to know that those folding chairs are going to disappear in a hurry and it's going to be standing and dancing through the whole show for those folks down there. I enjoyed Ani DiFranco. She seems too tiny to be real up there on the stage, but she's a presence: big acoustic guitars, played at times with vengenance, lyrics at times biting, at times wistful, at times humorous, good voice. Lots of younger people are dancing throughout her set and seem so happy to be there. No jaded, world-weary, aging hippy vibe for her. There are a lot of young people at this show, most of the mid- and late-adolescents look like they could have stepped out of my 1968 high school year book. Lots of tie-die in evidence too, and for the less demonstrative, many skull badges discreetly stitched on lapels. The Dead contingent are here, of course. Dylan hits the stage at about 9:00. I was impressed with how quickly the roadies reconfigured the set ups between acts. There was only about 15 minutes between them. Lights down. Pots of incense are ignited and the smoke clouds the stage. "Would you please welcome Columbia Recording artist..." Cheers. Absolutely Sweet Marie kicks in. A good opener, one he's been relying on for this leg of the tour. He's got that gold Les Paul guitar slung over his shoulder. Bob Dylan: Lead Guitar Hero! Black suit jacket, reddish-purple pants with the now seemingly obligatory light coloured stripe down the sides of the legs. He'll play lead on all the songs tonight, allowing Larry Campbell a few moments of picking here and there. I was surprised at how good some of his lead work was--though I'm certainly no expert on these things. Sometimes his lead work was repetetive and he fell into the "noodling" theory of lead guitar playing on a few occasions. All in all, though, I enjoyed his guitar playing. I sure wish he'd let Campbell or Baxter shine through more on a few numbers, though. It would add to the show. Oh yes, it's true. He looks like he's been eating a few extra burgers. If You See Her, Say Hello is the second song. I was happy to hear it, and to say that it wasn't a revelation or anything is not a criticism. The performance confirmed my impression from the opening number that Dylan was going to be in good voice tonight and that the sound, from my vantage point was clear. My impression, though, is that Dylan is still warming up with this number. Tough Mama is in the third slot. I heard someone behind me say that the next song would be Watchtower. I guess they haven't been on the 'net for a while. The band gets a good work out with this ramshackle song. Dylan appears to be playing lyrical hopscotch over the rhythyms. This one doesn't seem to register with the audience around me, though: heads bend together to converse and shoulders shrug briefly. They shoulda listened to Planet Waves more, I guess. I'm hoping for You Ain't Goin' Nowhere next, but up comes I'll Be Your Baby Tonight. It's a fun, good natured arrangement. Almost enough to overcome my disappointment at not hearing Nowhere. Silvio is next, and although the band can probably play this in their sleep by this time, it's an energetic performance, and it strikes me that Dylan's new role as would-be guitar hero is forcing him to look at fresh ways of playing the lead lines in this concert war horse. That's a good thing. The acoustic set is announced by the drawing of a black curtain at the back of the stage to reveal a white screen. During the next three songs photographs are projected: they look to me like a collection of old photographs of interiors of old homes, temples in tropical climes and such. The focus of attention never really wanders to them, though, and stays instead on the band. Don't Think Twice was, for me, a highlight of the show. Solid vocals and interesting, energetic guitar work throughout. Bucky Baxter got on his feet and worked out on the mandolin. I had to laugh when, as Dylan led them in some extended guitar work, they all basically stopped and stared at what Dylan was doing. Campbell, Garnier, and Baxter basically stood in a line looking quizzically at Dylan playing--as if he'd thrown a curve into the arrangement and they were struggling to figure out where it was going and how they were going to follow him. The arrangement did not break down, though, and it seemed to work out smoothly. The first real surprise of the night for me was One Too Many Mornings, which was up next. A feeling vocal, some good phrasing. A treat. After that, it looked like a quick discussion with Garnier. It seemed to me that Dylan was mulling over what to do next... A surprise? Then a decision. A sharp chord is struck. Dylan walks to the microphone and offers an excellent version of Cocaine. Slow, a great vocal, almost painful at times. Everything I've seen posted about this performance from the first few shows is true. Another highlight. I wonder, though, what the cue sheets say were the alternative songs on this night and whether that chat with Garnier was about one of them. Watching the River Flow and Wheel's On Fire follow. Good performances, but coloured by my disappointment in realizing that there would be no Blind Willie McTell tonight. I saw it posted that Blind Willie had a rocky debut in Montreal the other night. I guess it's still in the work shop for fine tuning. Dylan thanks the opening acts and introduces the band. Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat signals, of course, the "end" of the show before the "encore ritual" begins. Until this point, Dylan has not displayed a great deal of animation, but he comes alive. It looks like he's smiling and jerking out lead lines. He struts a little across his part of the stage. A young woman in a pillbox hat jumps on the stage and begins to dance. A security man hovers nearby, but she's not going anywhere, and they let her dance away through the song without disturbing her. Dylan has more or less stayed centre stage throughout the show and she sways away on stage left. The crowd is into this one. The final chords are struck and off they go. The first encore is Like A Rolling Stone, with Dylan at one point phrasing his lines in little stacatto bursts, like he was tip-toing his way across the beats of the verse. A guy jumps on the stage: he ain't got no pillbox hat and he sure doesn't look like he's going to stay put. Not a little fella either. Security tackles him (the security guy looked half of this guy's size, if you ask me) and there's a struggle. A whirl of hands and legs disappears between two speakers on stage left. Dylan continues, seemingly indifferent to all this, still focussed on his performance. The song ends. A quick bow and off the boys go again. A very nice version of Forever Young is the acoustic offering in the encore set. Again, the vocals are strong and clear. He puts down the guitar, strolls to a platform by the side of the drum kit. A cheer starts from the crowd: they know where he is going and what he is going to do. Sans guitar he walks to the microphone and ends the song with a beautiful harmonica solo, signalling the arrangement to the band with his right hand. Another highlight. The finale, of course is Rainy Day Women. The crowd is having a great time, singing along, and Dylan struts and boogies about a bit and seems to be quite enjoying himself. A smile and a playful gesture with two hands as he exits, stage right. And then good night. I enjoyed the show, but must confess that I was hoping for more surprises in the set, maybe an acoustic folk/blues song from the archives (Death Letter Blues?), maybe a new addition to the repertoire, and, of course, Blind Willie. All in all a good show, well received by the huge crowd that was there. I'd say it was just about full. 16000 people for Dylan in 1997. Ani was responsible for putting all those "bums in seats." Unfortunately, I couldn't get around much at the venue (temporarily bad legs: long story, never mind). Since I couldn't get around much, I wasn't able to be very active seeking out rmd'ers at the concert. My girl friend Sue put my flower in the neck of her Dylan T-shirt and went hunting for me. She managed to track down Lilly (and partner William) and Johanna (and partner) and we were able to talk a bit about the show and their plans to attend the next few shows on this leg of the tour. Good to meet you, folks! I missed some of the other people I had been looking for, sad to say. Anyway, I ultimately hobbled out of there with Lilly and William, who were looking for an rmd get-together. Hope you made it. I couldn't go, unfortunately. My gammy legs meant that I couldn't drive and I had to leave town immediately with my ride. Dylan's in good form and in good voice. I look forward to hearing from others as the tour progresses. Of course, anyone taping last night should feel free to contact me....;^). Tom Davidson
Subject: Toronto Aug 7th From: William Bekking Date: Sat, 09 Aug 1997 19:31:41 -0400 We thought the Bob Dylan Show in Toronto Aug 7 was fabulous!! He looked great n danced and really got into the songs. We were sitting quite away back so couldn't see him up close, but he did look like he was enjoying himself. I thought the set list was very good. For me the highlights were Donāt think twice, Leopard skin pillbox hat and Forever young (the harp was amazing). The sound quality was also excellent - no distortion at all. I also thought he made effective use of the lights (better than I had seen in previous tours). The pictures on the screen during the acoustic songs were interesting. This was my wife's (Lyli) first Bob show (my seventh). She thought the show really rocked. She enjoyed the jamming on Pillbox and Rainy Day Woman. The highlight for her was also Don't Think Twice. All and all it was a wonderful evening. We were happy to meet Tom Davidson (the seemingly only other before and after the show. Glad you enjoyed the show Tom. Notice how his second song is always a different sentimental love song? William Bekking a.k.a. Jaws
From: Glenn Macdonald (macdonal@BUR.DFO.CA) Date: Fri, 8 Aug 1997 16:58:02 -0400 I saw the shows in St. John's on March 31 and April 1 (the first Larry Campbell shows I believe), and I saw the show last night in Toronto. Came away with these impressions. I wanted to hear Blind Willie McTell and didn't. I wanted everything to be perfectly sublime but I think it wasn't. On the other hand, that which was perfect turned out to be more than I'd expected perfect could be. The band is far more cohesive and interactive than they were in St. John's and his Bobness seems to be fit and spry following his latest glimpse of the other side. Absolutely Sweet Marie was great. It was great to see our guy and such a good old song and all the players hit the stage with such energy. If You See Her Say Hello, was a bit of a disappointment for me. I understand the need to mess with these things and have often been thrilled with the results. This delivery didn't reach me. But early in the show, I'm still trying to get over the legend stuff, and the expectations which no one could fulfil. Tough Mama was about what I expected, nice to hear it without Robertson's noodling. I'm thinking, "Well what are we here for? Aren't we celebrating all that this singer's done for us?" I'll Be Your Baby Tonight, Silvio - okay, I'm noticing the dialogue among the players now, noticing Bob loosening up. Acoustic set was good. The crowd really started to warm up to Don't Think Twice and Bob's Q-stick licks for that song and for One Too Many Mornings were really quite wonderful. I'm wishing he had a little more breath than he does. But it's great. I mean it's really good. I'm glad I came. Cocaine. Real good. Some shuffling, the wine-colored suit, he's enjoying himself. He returned to the Les Paul with Watching The River Flow. A meaningless performance from where I sat. I was thinking about laundry, I was thinking about work, I was thinking about phone bills, and the shape of my chair. Which brought us to slot 10. And I was thinking nothing but Blind Willie McTell. "Please let it be Blind Willie McTell." But alas, not to be. Disappointment was short lived. From the opening notes of This Wheels On Fire thru the next four songs, I'm drawn with growing wonder into the ever-living present. This Wheels on Fire begins and there's no looking back. The band is together. Expectations disappear. No Blind WM, or Angelina, or Senor, or Precious Angel. In fact, of the songs remaining in the set only This Wheel is not a standard. But a corner was turned here. Like the audience had asked "What are you afraid of?" and with a clear, sweet voice stepped up the big old thundering soul to state, "Nothing! neither live nor dead!" Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat and there's a gal in a pill-box hat dancing so nice at stage right. And you can see Bob laughing in delight either at the dancer or the band or the audience or himself. Seems like all these hearts are opening up. Encores. I've heard a number of live and recorded renditions of LARS and Forever Young and I don't much look forward to them in a show. But in Toronto last night we were given performances which I think matched any Dylan has given in his life. I can't even begin to describe the tonal breath control in LARS. Delivery of those well-worn phrases which left me slack-jawed in amazement. Not to mention the thin, wild mercurials that the band was by now stumbling upon. Forever Young was like nothing I've experienced. The audience wide open and the old song delivered like absolution and a promise not so much by a legend to a bunch of fans but like a collective act of faith. The song closes with the only harmonica solo of the night. The solo is long and .... words fail. Miles, Coltrane, Dylan. Then, of course, RDW and who's gonna complain? A sorta sweet and stupid way to break the spell and say g'night. All of us dance it out with the lights on. Then head to the exits with smiles. I didn't leave wishing I'd seen him in '63, '66, '74, '78. Didn't even cross my mind. Couple of hours later heading back home on the Queen Elizabeth Highway and traffic slowed down to a crawl for construction. And we found ourselves stuck beside a large, chrome bus with Florida plates, one-way glass, obviously outfitted for touring. There was no doubt in our minds that we were just a few yards from Mr. D and Co. heading for the border crossing at Niagara Falls. Contemplated trying to communicate or pass on a tape or something but let it go. Followed them all the way to the turnoff for the QEW Niagara. Waved wildly from our car. Looked at each other and laughed. On a night like this.