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Bob Dylan 2000.03.23 in Concord, California

Chronicle Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Rd., 8725  tickets

Subject: Phylan @ Concord 6.23.00 (long)
From:  deadledder@aol.comaolsucks  (Mark Rosenmoss)
Date: 28 Jun 2000 02:56:58 GMT
Organization: AOL

Phil Lesh and Friends
Bob Dylan
Concord Pavilion
June 23, 2000
Reflections by Mark Rosenmoss
(Now with 200% less hyperbole!)

There was not much traffic when we got there around 6, but I
scoped out the back-way for future reference. I've found in past
trips to the Concord Pavilion that there can be a horrible
bottleneck at the final major intersection before the venue. Just
between us, there is a cool way to avoid that intersection
completely. OK, go do your own map work now. (Hint: You have to
come in from downtown Concord on Concord Blvd. The last part you
can figure out from a map. You'll thank me someday. Actually you
won't, but you should.)

We parked on the small street across from the entrance, another
handy trick for a more well-attended show. This show appeared to
me to be not even half sold. As we were exiting the car, we were
approached by a Conc... er... CHRONICLE Pavilion drone, who I
assumed was going to bust us for parking there. Turned out he was
there to tell us in a very friendly way that parking in the lot
is "now free," but if we still wanted to park on the street that
was up to us. This is the new way at these SFX venues: parking is
"included" in the increasingly exorbitant ticket price. So
instead of each CARLOAD paying a ridiculous $8 to park, each and
every PERSON--whether they drive alone, carpool, bus, unicycle,
or walk--pays a nominal $16 per ticket (the notoriously arbitrary
Rosenmoss Research provides this figure). Grrrrr. Bill Graham, we
hardly knew ye. (Oops, isn't this OK, while I'm
on the subject, $6.50 FOR A BEER??? SIX DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS?
You could almost see a movie for that fercrissakes.

Our ($48!) seats were as awesome as they get: third row center.
The ticket goddess really smiled on us this time. Thanks,
GDTSTOO! It was a thrill to be that close to His Bobness. Dylan
wasn't *supposed* to open but did--caution to anyone planning on
late arrivals or early departures at these gigs. It's been
rumored that Dylan will always open, but I wouldn't personally
bet my evening on it. (Although I don't suppose anyone's gonna
show up late to avoid Dylan and catch Phil, are they? How was it
when Dylan toured with the Dead? I know tourheads were blowing
off Bob. Was anyone blowing off the boys?) Aesthetically, by the
way, I don't think it would make a bit of sense for Dylan to
close. It has nothing to do with prominence. Dylan's set is much
smaller, more intimate. It would have been strange to see him
follow Phil. We thought Dylan was very good, though not as good
as the last time we saw him at that venue two years ago. Dylan
was--as ever--rather, um, eccentric. Wore what looked like the
same black outfit we saw him in last time, he's probably been
sleeping in it. Way cool boots. Hasn't cut or combed his hair
since then. Or maybe he cuts it himself, with pruning shears. And
what is the deal with those bizarre leg movements and grimaces?
During the applause before and after the encore, he stood there
with one hand on one hip, not a trace of a smile, and glared back
and forth over the audience in the manner of a bitchy monarch
surveying his subjects. I'll grant that he didn't look quite as
much like an aging drag queen with hormone problems this time.
Hey, I worship the guy, but he's a loon.

Really did enjoy his set, just not *blown away*. His extremely
talented band follows Bob's every move. The acoustic pieces
(roughly the first half of the set) are really great--big, big
sound. Masters of War is a favorite of mine. Not as powerful as
the version on Biograph, but a thrill to hear and see it so
close. Boots of Spanish Leather: I've heard Nanci Griffith's
terrific cover so much that I almost forgot it was his tune. The
instrumentation is beautiful: like a cushion for Bob's voice,
which sounds good all through the set. Tangled Up in Blue is
truly a phenomenal composition. Familiarity tends to obscure
that. It builds relentlessly. Was the whole band (except the
drummer) on guitars for this? Very full, lush sound.

The black backdrop pulled away to reveal a shiny disco curtain,
and the electric instruments came out starting with Country Pie.
Tell Me That Isn't True has Larry(?) on pedal steel (well
something on legs that he plays slide on): sweet and simple.
Maggie's Farm ends very bluesy. I Don't Believe You. About Bob's
lead guitar playing: I actually like it a lot. He's no great
guitarist, he plays simple but eloquent leads. Kind of reminds me
of his voice: no great singer, he communicates his poetry in a
simple, quirky way. This is what I had been thinking through the
show, until I Don't Believe You. Then I thought, "OK, his leads
are boring. He should let a guitarist play." Bob offers short,
perfunctory harp at the end. Wicked Messenger, a dangerous blues.
A standout tune, with another short harp flourish. Leopard Skin
Pillbox Hat. Encores. I took a walk and enjoyed Like a Rolling
Stone from one of the sea of empty corporate boxes. Great sound.
Go buy yourself a box. Silly security tried to shoo me away from
the essentially empty section, but took a headshake as promise
that I'd leave after the song. Concord security was generally
very friendly and mellow, fwiw.

My setlist for Phil: Days Between Jam > Days Between
(instrumental) > Dark Star > Mountains of the Moon > Crazy
Fingers > Jam > Dark Star > Jam > Sugaree (Paul) > Terrapin
tease? > I Know You Rider > St. Stephen Encore: Organ Donor
Mini-Rap > Rag Mama Rag

After the first jam of Phil's set (a solidly Days Between jam
into an instrumental Days Between, IMO), I climbed over the first
two rows and spent the rest of the show ON the rail, leaning
against it, right in front of Robben. That was pretty cool.
Sadly, I have to report that this was my most disappointing P&F
show. I've seen around 30 Phil shows, almost all of the western
ones, and this was the first time I've been left pretty flat.
Mind you, I was blown away at Mtn Aire, just four short weeks
ago, albeit with an entirely different lineup (except for Phil
and Molo). As I'm looking through my notes, I see that there were
quite a few high points; it just lacked the consistent magic and
energy and cohesion that I've come to expect from P&F. Could be
they've set an awfully high standard for themselves. I do
remember thinking that if this had been "just some band," I'd
have been pretty impressed. IMO, Robben Ford is competent but
limited and Paul Barrere is in over his head. Bill Payne I know
to be brilliant on keyboards, so why the hell didn't we hear from
him until the damn ENCORE??? I wish that they'd played some Feat
tune(s). I actually yelled Dixie Chicken at one point, to no
avail. I remember how visibly *blown away* Molo was at Mountain
Aire. The guy was smiling so hard I thought his face would break.
I just didn't see that energy at Concord, not at all. So it was
weird for me. Hard not to be moved being that close, hearing the
music through the stage amps, but I wasn't especially moved. Phil
looked as happy as ever, played well. The worst moment for me was
Crazy Fingers. This was the first time in all my P&F shows that
I've thought "Dead cover band." With all due respect to Robben,
can Phil really not be horrified to hear him sing this tune,
after standing on the stage with Jerry for all those years? I
think I'd rather hear Phil sing it--at least he's connected to it
somehow. (Note to Phil: just kidding, do not sing it.) And St.
Stephen was sort of stupid, wasn't it? "OK, let's hurry up and
play St. Stephen before curfew."

Some random notes: In the Days Between jam, Robben sounds great,
and there are moments that almost sound like Unbroken Chain. A
very nice opening piece. My first thoughts were that they sounded
tighter than at Phil's birthday show. The opening of Dark Star is
brief, about 8 minutes, before the first verse. Lyric line by
line: Lesh, Barrere, Ford, all together on the chorus. Barrere
plays a quiet solo, quickly jostled aside by Ford, the much
stronger guitarist. Not much interplay between these guys, quite
a contrast to Mountain Aire's 3 strong guitarists. Phil turned to
Molo and changed gears to something bluesy. Got a big grin on his
face, excitedly adjusted the music on his stand (they all had
stands), and launched Mtns of the Moon. In the first jam of the
song, Robben plays a delicate, ethereal theremin-like passage
from Days Between. Probably the most inventive moment of the
show. Rollicking jam into Crazy Fingers, but you already know
what I thought about that song. Kind of creepy, that's all. But
then out of it into a very tasty jam into a kind of evil jam
(Robben on his "bad" guitar) and back into Dark Star, very
briefly. Then some other Little Feat flavored jam (I was
hoping...) and into Sugaree. Now this is a high point. This tune
is right up all these guys' alleys. Paul's vocal is strong, the
ensemble chorus (shake it, shake it) sweet! Robben plays a great
funky lead. A hot bluesy take-down and it almost dies, but
then... Terrapin? Nope. Tease? Maybe. During the intro to the
next tune I really thought it was going to be GDTRFB. Turned out
to be Rider, which was kind of funny for me, because the last
time I heard this same band--at Phil's Birthday show back in
March--some people around me thought during the intro to GDTRFB
that it was Rider. And then it seemed like they were going to end
it, which really truly would have been ok. But no, Robben's
roadie trots out his "bad" guitar for the pre-arranged,
never-been-less-organic St. Stephen. Yikes. In fact Robben plays
well on this tune, but it's weak.

The encore pulled Bill Payne off the shelf, finally. Is Rag Mama
Rag a Feat Tune? Or is it just the sort of thing they play well?
In any case, it rocked, but by then it was OVER.

Phil is playing extremely well. He's at the top of his game,
feeling good, looking happy. And let me say this: imho, PHIL LESH
DESERVES TO HAVE HIS OWN BAND. All the people yammering about his
decision to go his own way need to mind their own damn business!
The guy has paid his dues and then some. He's a brilliant,
accomplished musician who has the right to choose his own path
and to play songs of his own. Furthermore, he has every right to
the GD songbook, if anyone has.

I miss the early days (way back in '97!) when Phil was our little
secret, those Broken Angels shows, those first shows with Kimock,
the '98 TOO tour (especially the Warfield before and the Fillmore
after), the amazing rise from the ashes with Steve and Trey and
Page, the surprise flavors of the month: Jorma, David Nelson,
Pevar, Herring, Barraco, Summer Sessions. It seemed special and
small and precious. I'm not very happy with the personnel on this
tour, and touring sheds for months seems contrary to the original
P&F vision (not that any of us can know what Phil had in mind).
For a while there, it really did seem like he was playing not for
silver, but for life. Now it's hard to say.

Music soon,
Mark R.

"...the priorities of business...are contrary to the interests of 
communities, to the interests of people, to the interests of art." 
-Ani DiFranco

"Not only is he alienated, but he can't stop smiling." 
-Woody Allen

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