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Bob Dylan 2001.10.05 in Spokane

Subject: Re: Spokane Friday 10/5 (FURTHER THOUGHTS)
From: Tom Haber
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 16:27:18 +0000 (UTC)

A few additional thoughts on the Friday Spokane show:

- Dylan flubbed the opening lines of TIMES THEY ARE CHANGIN
repeating the "waters have grown"; or was it a flub?

- The backdrop curtain and stage lighting changed a half
dozen times, to wonderful effect.

- The song SUMMER DAYS seemed especially appropriate, as
summer was indeed ending, as is most of our way of living
after 9/11.

- Is Dylan the only guitarist whose neck is always on the
decline? Unusual, the way he holds it.

- SUGAR BABY seemed misplaced in the set coming on the heals
of a rockin' RIVER FLOW and right before a thundering

- What is the name of the incense that is burned on stage?
It is not an unpleasant smell, rather soapy to my nose.

- Is WAIT FOR THE LIGHT an old Stanley Bros tune or what?

- Dylan's on-stage movements have been reduced to his
stamping-out-a-cigarette dance with his boot tip.

This show had so many highlights...a real gem.

Arthur Louie's review

Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 21:15:17 -0700
From: Arthur Louie 
Organization: University of British Columbia
Subject: Spokane review

October 5, 2001 
Spokane Arena 
Spokane, WA 

There's something special about seeing the first Bob Dylan
show of a tour -- you're not sure what he's going to play or
how he's going to play it. You know that the master's got
some surprises waiting; you're just not sure what they are.
The anticipation drives you wild and you're not spoiled by
the knowledge of previous concerts.

But it's not just the first show of a nationwide tour. It's
also the first show after "Love And Theft", and it's the
first show after 9/11. I read somewhere that Dylan's ticket
sales went up after that sad and lonesome day -- after all
this time, we're still seeking solace in Bob Dylan. How
would he respond, if he were to respond at all?

October 5 was going to be a special day even without those
"firsts". Best of all, it was going to be Kiri's first show
-- she and I had started seeing each other over the summer,
and we met because we were fans of Bob Dylan. Kiri had to
pass on the Las Vegas and Lancaster shows in August, but I
assured her that Bob would visit the northwest soon. While
he didn't come to Vancouver, he came close enough.

Do you remember your first show? How you had no idea that
his voice could express so much, how you had no idea what
he'd look like or how he moved? How he was so much better
than anyone you'd ever seen? What a treat to take Kiri to
her first show. We were blessed with the best possible
travelling companion in RenŽe from Victoria, veteran of over
50 shows and one of the finest Bob fans you'll ever meet.

As we rolled down the highway from Vancouver to Spokane, we
had plenty of time for pre-show speculation. Kiri's wish
list included "Tomorrow Is A Long Time", "Blind Willie
McTell", "Mama, You Been On My Mind", "Love Minus Zero / No
Limit", and "Idiot Wind" (I felt horrible telling her that
he last played it in '92). Mine included "Visions Of
Johanna", "Mississippi", "Po' Boy", and "Summer Days". RenŽe
was hoping for the nastiest "Lonesome Day Blues" in recorded
history. Such excitement!

So finally we're in the arena, and get this: RenŽe locates
some friends, wonderful friends, who have EXTRA FRONT ROW
TICKETS. If you don't believe me, I don't blame you -- I had
trouble believing it myself. We spend a bit too much time
chatting and perhaps Bob needs to get to bed earlier these
days, because as we start descending to the floor the
classical music gets louder, the lights dim, and Al Santos
is asking us to welcome Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan!
I was hoping to gauge Bob's reaction to the crowd -- after
the release of "Love And Theft" and everything that's
happened since -- but I was preoccupied with running down
the stairs because Bob's onstage singing something I've
never heard before. Later I learn that it's "Wait For The
Light To Shine" -- a lovely upbeat opener that's been
covered by Hank Williams and now Bob Dylan. We're at our
seats now, front row just left of center, and I'm getting
sensory overload. It's Bob Dylan, my hero, the man I think
about every day, a few feet in front of me singing a new
song. Kiri's beside me. It's her first show. She'll never be
able to top it -- she's spoiled for life.

As for the performance itself, it comes off tight and Bob
doesn't appear to make any fumbles. At the end, Charlie and
Larry join Bob with their pretty harmonies and sing "wait
for the light to -- wait for the light to -- wait for the
light to shiiiine". Bob's still pretty cold at this point --
but that's to be expected. It's the first show in awhile,
and Bob usually takes a few songs to get into the groove

At this point, I start to realize that I'm in the presence
of Bob Dylan. That's something my Dad told me after his
first and only show -- it was worth it just to be in his
presence. Bob's looking pretty good -- his hair's still big
and curly, although a few of his strands may have turned to
silver since the summer tour. He's wearing this fabulous
black suit (no tie) with these delicate leaves stitched into
them. Only those of us in the first few rows can make them
out. Yes, here's Bob Dylan: the stranger that nobody sees,
walkin' through the leaves. One moment he's in front of you
and the next he's gone, being a stranger somewhere else.

Next Bob and the band cut into "The Times They Are
A-Changin'". Bob's still pretty stoic, but it's the song
that resonates: a song that'll always be current. The crowd
wants to hear it, it needs to hear it. For me, this is my
first time hearing it as the times change in front of my
eyes. My spine tingles as Bob belts out the chorus.

"Desolation Row" is always a treat, and I'm elated that
Kiri's hearing it now. I look over and her jaw may well be
dislocated. Bob still hasn't really started to smile yet,
but it doesn't matter -- it's Desolation Row and smiles and
laughter wouldn't seem right. Still, the arrangement's
pretty catchy and I can't help but dance around a bit.

Things slow down with "Searching For A Soldier's Grave". I
wasn't expecting Bob to pull it out very often this tour,
even though it had been played quite often earlier this
year. I guess it's Bob's way of honoring the men and women
who'll be fighting the war, without endorsing the war
itself. This version's pretty similar to other versions I've

The lights go down, acoustic gets switched for electric, and
what could this be? A few notes in and we realize that it's
the first live performance of a "Love And Theft" song,
"Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum". And it's wonderful, a perfect
electric opener. It's here that Bob starts to find that
extra something that makes me want to follow him around the
continent: it's in the way he says that they're throwin'
knives into the tree. You can see that Bob's concentrating
on the lyrics, making sure he gets them just right. There's
one little stumble -- I can't remember which line -- but
aside from that, I don't detect any lyrical departures. And
Charlie! Wow. How can the man perform those fills so
effortlessly? Larry can't wipe the huge grin off his face
and it's clear that the band loves this one. Tony's looking
like the funkiest dude on the planet on that standup bass.
At the end of the song, Bob ends on "I've had too much of
your company, said Tweedle Dum to Tweedle Dee" -- no
instrumental; it ends on "Dee".

The treats keep coming with one of my favorite songs that
I've never heard live, "You're A Big Girl Now". Kiri's quite
fond of it too. She's seeing Bob Dylan from the front
f*cking row of the first show -- yes, she is a big girl now.
I'm looking at Dylan as he sings "you caaaaaaaan make it
through" like only he can, and I'm mesmerized by his eyes --
they're the same baby blue eyes that you see peering out
from under the hat during Rolling Thunder, the same eyes
that look at you so splendidly when you open the "Love And
Theft" digipak. The eyes that may even be more expressive
than the voice. "Big Girl" is magnificent, punctuated with a
short, sweet harp solo at the end. Ah, bliss...

And the bliss continues with "Summer Days", one of my
favorite "L&T" songs. Dylan has never, ever done anything
like this before and I hope he plays it night in and night
out, because it works wonderfully in concert. Bob tells me
to lift my glass and sing, and I do -- and then I take ahold
of my sweetheart and I believe we'll go down in history as
the first couple ever to do a public swing to Bob Dylan's
brand-new swing song. You should have seen Tony with that
funky standup bass again, paying rapt attention to Bob for
the entire song. By this point I'm just reeling with good
vibes. What could come next?

I shout out "Bliiiiind Willieeeee McTelllll!!!!" an octave
lower than my normal voice because I had lost it during
Desolation Row and my goodness, god must really be in his
heaven, because out come those three ominous chords from
that ominous, otherworldly song. I had never seen this live,
and I had never expected to. Kiri is beside herself as well
-- it's one of her favorite songs. If you get ahold of the
field recording, listen to how he says "strut their feathers
WELL". That's why I'll see Bob Dylan as many times as I
possibly can. I'm thinking that I'm the luckiest person in
the world, being here in Spokane and hearing Dylan sing two
of his greatest songs (Blind Willie and Desolation Row) and
give two "L&T" debuts in the space of 30 minutes.

What an incredible electric set.

"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", always a pleasure to
hear, opens the next acoustic set. I'm hoping that Bob will
give us one of those lovely harp solos, but he doesn't
oblige. It's here that I notice this strange couple next to
me -- they're all over each other, making out right in front
of Bob. What an odd song to make out to, I think to myself.

Out of the huddle comes "Masters of War", and I'm kicking
myself for not picking it in the pool, even with its low
point value. The people beside me continue their strange
behaviour with this bizarre back and forth rocking motion,
as though they're worshipping Bob, for the entire song. I
try to block out my peripheral vision and focus solely on
Bob as he exposes evil for what it really is. Back in
Nashville last May, my friend Joe Cliburn whispered to me
after Masters of War that it was the nastiest version that
he'd ever heard. This one was on par. This was serious.

>From anger to sweetness... Bob continues his journey
through human emotion with an achingly beautiful "Tomorrow
Is A Long Time". Another song to mark off Kiri's wish list;
I cannot believe her good fortune. Bob singing "the sound of
my own name" is worth the price of admission, as is the
second short and sweet harp solo of the night. This was
serious too.

Out come the electric accoutrements and maybe I'm not
listening to enough boots these days, because I can't
immediately identify the next song. Is it Cold Irons Bound?
Moonlight? Leopard-Skin? Argh. My ears deceive me and it's
"Watching The River Flow" -- not one of my favorites, but a
lot of fun in concert. Bob starts to tap his foot a lot and
Larry's got that big fat grin on his face again.

Then the lights dim to purple and something happens that
transcends any concert experience I have ever had. It's the
opening chords to "Sugar Baby" and the crowd is absolutely
silent -- they will stay this way for the entire song. Every
ear is focused on Bob. Every ignorant disrespectful yapper
shuts up and there's nothing but Bob Dylan putting
everything he possibly can into the live debut of Sugar
Baby. As he sings, I hear something that I've never heard
before: he takes audible breaths in the middle of lines, and
it evokes an entirely new layer of emotion. For example:
"sometimes we (breath) push too far", "happiness can come
suddenly and leave (breath) just as quick". Sometimes he
takes double breaths. I'm praying that there's a taper on
hand recording this in the highest possible fidelity because
it's something that demands preservation. It leaves me
speechless. It leaves everyone speechless. And goodness, to
hear Bob say "there ain't no limit" -- look at his eyes! --
"to the amount of trouble women briiiiinnnngggggg"! This
will go down as the greatest performance of any song that
I've ever heard. I've just heard my first Big Girl Now and
my first Blind Willie, and even they don't hold a candle to
Sugar Baby.

Next Bob gets the harps ready and it's "Drifter's Escape",
but my mind's still on Sugar Baby. I eventually get into it
and here's Dylan in front of me, the drifter himself. I
think of my good buddy Eytan in Toronto and how he'd be
soaking up this show.

Bob keeps rockin' with "Leopard-Skin Pillbox-Hat" and he
finally starts to play with the crowd a bit and show off
some of his curious moves. It's here, as Bob wiggles his
knees back and forth, that I notice his bony kneecaps and
his skinny, fragile legs. These are legs that may rival Kate
Moss's. Get some meat on them limbs, Bobby! Back to the
music... Leopard-Skin's not a song that I overplay at home,
but I really dig it live. You've gotta love the interplay
between Larry and Charlie -- these two are having the time
of their lives onstage. During the final instrumental part,
Bob introduces the band and it occurs to me that these are
the first words he's said to us all night. They'll be the
last. Man, you've just gotta love Bob.

They're gone and then they're back and they launch into
another live debut, "Honest With Me". It's rockin' and fits
in so well that it'll likely be a fixture. For the encores,
the curtains get raised and we see this tasteful backdrop --
nothing elaborate, but fitting for Bob and the band. I had
read somewhere that Bob was constructing a brand new stage
for the tour, but it must have been just a rumor. Honest
With Me is pretty true to the album version. When Bob sings
"there's a Southern Pacific leaving at 9:45", I look at my
watch and it's 9:30pm. Gotta work on the timing a little
bit, Bob. Maybe move it to later in the encore or something.

And next is the song that I've seen at every Bob concert
that I've ever been to and never tire of, "Like A Rolling
Stone". From Bob, the smiles come out. I'm looking around
and everyone's smiling. Kiri's smiling. It's the song that
made her look into live Dylan performances -- she had known
the original Hwy61 version, but then she heard the Live '66
version on the radio and she knew something was up. Whenever
I hear LARS live, I imagine that free-thinking, wholly
confident twenty-something from 1966 standing alongside the
wise elder in front of me, singing Like A Rolling Stone. The
first time I did that I couldn't hold back the tears, but I
can handle it now.

>From there we move to "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and it's
the lovely new arrangement with those beautiful soaring
harmonies from Larry and Charlie and that ascending melody
that transforms it into a new song. The eyes still tell it
all. "I can't see through 'em any more" -- it's all in his

Another new arrangement follows, "All Along The Watchtower".
I'd heard it before, but I still wasn't able to identify it
immediately. I like how Bob's repeating the first verse at
the end. This one ended with Bob singing, "what any of it
is, any of it is worrrrth".

And lastly, the perfect closer, "Blowin' In The Wind". At
this point, I decide to take my chances and snap a few
photos of Bob from a few feet away, with flash and all.
Somehow, I manage to get away with it.

After the show we get together with some fans and I learn
that Bob had been in Spokane rehearsing since Monday. It was
time well-spent -- this didn't seem like a tour kickoff at
all; the band was playing so well that you'd believe they'd
been touring for a month.

Spokane was a tremendous show, and I was left feeling
grateful to RenŽe and my new friends for the front row
tickets, grateful to Bob for being Bob, and elated that Kiri
could witness such an outstanding performance. Her first
show. How could anything possibly top it?

2001: February - March - April - May - June - July - August - October -