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Bob Dylan 2001.10.10 in Sacramento

Subject: 10.10.01 Dylan Sacramento review
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 10:15:42 -0700

Review of 10/10/01 Sacramento

Great show!  I was thoroughly impressed with last night's performance.
 I noticed numerous changes (apart from the obvious "Love and Theft"
debuts) from past performances.  In particular, I got a strong sense
that as a result of 2 weeks in a recording studio writing and
performing together, the band finally looks and sounds like "a band",
rather than hired musicians. It was nice to witness this newly sparked
confidence and comradary among the five of them.

Also, Bob hit every note tonight to perfection and flexed his wide
vocal range from one line to the next like only he can do.  He looked
like he was having fun with his vocal phrasings and style, and facial

One last observation: I was happy to see that Larry was taking more
guitar solos, both acoustic, electric, mandolin, and pedal steel. 
When I last saw the band in Lancaster, CA, Aug 25, I noticed that
Charlie dominated the solos.  This made me worry that perhaps Larry
was becoming less interested or perhaps entertaining other
opportunities outside of Dylan's gig. (Perhaps that's just fanatic
paranoia.  I should just stop speculating and enjoy the music, huh?!)

"Wait For The Light To Shine" was a nice bluegrass-gospel opener.  The
vocal harmonies were right on and Bob was loose from the very start. 
I couldn't help but notice how this song's message is consistent to
Bob's many spiritually introspective numbers, such as: "Not Dark Yet",
for example. True to character.

The 4,000+ capacity auditorium's sound system was flawless from
beginning to end.

"Song to Woody" was impressive.  The last time I saw him perform this
song was in Santa Cruz, in March 2001, and as heard on the recording
of this song as the b-side to the cd single "Things Have Changed",
some idiot in the crowd ruined the song (and recording) by yelling on
cue and at the top of his lungs "Leadbelly!!!!"  Last night's crowd
was very respectful and hung on to every word.  (Thanks, Sacramento.)

Last night's "Desolation Row" was the best I ever heard.  The song
gradually raised in volume and intensity, and went over really well. 
It was perhaps the most memorable of the night, for me.

Again, it was great to see and hear Larry's talents featured on
"Searching For A Soldier's Grave" as he picked the mandolin
beautifully.  The trio's vocal harmonies were exquisite.

"Things Have Changed" was a refreshing surprise.  I forgot about this
one! Considering that this song was really the first the band had
recorded together, it was nice to hear again after the "Love and
Theft" recording. (I hope Larry, Charlie, Tony, and David band are
getting nice $$$royalties$$$ for this one!)

"Summer Days" - awesome!  Great rockabilly number!  The band had fun
on this one as they gathered together mid-stage during the
instrumental spots.  It was obvious that Dylan took his time to take
in the applause and appreciation afterwards as this was the first new
number of the night.

Like "Desolation Row" before, "I Want You" was another
blast-from-the-past that is played frequently, but never better than
last night.  Although the melody has changed, I think the new
adaptation stands strong on its own. (It appeared as if Dylan was
singing this song directly to someone in the front row, stage left.)

"Cry Awhile" was unbelievable!!!  The band was really working hard
keeping up with the time changes and rocking out completely.  Tony's
bass shook the hall.  This is classic Dylan!  My favorite, at the
moment.  Those who haven't, but soon will, see this song live are in
for a real treat.  Bob exaggerated his trademark Chaplinesque body
movements on this one.

"Masters of War" was average, but of course, I'm not complaining.  And
of course, there couldn't have been a single concert goer who wasn't
thinking about the present state of the world all the while.

"Boots of Spanish Leather" and "Don't Think Twice" sounded so nice
next to one another.  Larry's finger picking was so fluid and
mesmerizing.  Both songs were performed delicately and seductively,
ala "It Aint Me Babe."  I got goose-bumps, and I know I wasn't the
only one!  Bob sang in a low-whispery voice.

"Highway 61" was also average, and I was surprised to hear it at this
point in the setlist.  I knew it wasn't time for the encores. 
Nevertheless, all three guitars were blistering and the crowd was into

The evenings slowest number, "Sugar Baby", was also very nice.  The
hall was fairly quite during this number, except for some chatter from
the back.  The chorus was really powerful.  Another great new song
which I imagine will be around for a while.

My only disappointment of the evening was "Wicked Messenger."  The
guitars were sloppy. The three guitars were stepping all over one
another.  It never felt like things gelled on stage until Bob grabbed
the harmonica.  True to form, Bob got down on one knee and wailed; at
which time, things started to sound better.

"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" rocked, as usual.

The encore was a nice variety of new and old.  Aside from the
inevitable "Love Sick", "Like A Rolling Stone", and "Blowin' In the
Wind", the true standouts were "If Dogs Run Free" and "Honest With

"If Dogs Run Free" was brilliant!  I believe that much of the
instrumentation on the new album was a result of having resurrected
this song last year.  It's arrangement is jazzy, and loose, much like
"Love and Theft."  (Finally, this song was played at a Northern
California venue. I've been waiting through a lot of performances over
the past year for this one!  It exceeded my expectations!)

Next stop: San Jose, and then San Francisco.  Bob's first San
Francisco appearance since the 2 Warfield shows in '95 - wow!  As
someone who lives in SF, it'll be nice to be able to take a cab to the
venue, rather than drive for miles and miles across California desert
territory.  I will definitely relish this luxury, for once, in a very
long time.

Of course, I'll be flying to Los Angeles on the 19th for the Staples
Center show, but that's another story.

From: "Armstrong, Tod" To: "''" Subject: Sacto notes Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 14:45:21 -0700 The sound, from where I was (30 feet back from centerstage) was awesome. I found it interesting that in a night filled with a lot of hard-rocking blues, the "quiet" songs stole the evening - Song to Woody, Boots of Spanish Leather, I Want You and Sugar Baby. Bob's voice, when he uses that baritone register, is really something to (Lo and) behold! Cry Awhile was great to hear, although I was really hoping to hear Mississippi....that's M, Mi, Missi...oh, you get it. Tod Armstrong
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 15:06:30 -0700 Subject: Review of Dylan in Sacramento 10/10 From: Jesse Shanks To: By Jesse Shanks There was high anticipation in the air, with the great reviews of the early shows on the new Dylan tour, the success of his new album and the general feeling from the situation in the country, due to political and military events. Security was reasonably tight but not overtly tense with cooperation from the fans speeding things along nicely. Sacramento Memorial Auditorium is a lovely old building and the concert was, surprisingly, general admission, which meant the chance to stand and get close to the stage. I positioned myself far enough back for quality sound and close enough to see the band clearly. I noted an astonishing number of instruments arrayed onstage, so many that I could not count but there seemed to be at least 50 different guitar necks in view. Usually I am at Dylan concerts strictly as a fan. But, after more than a year of writing DVD reviews on, this time I could not help but turn a more critical eye to the proceedings. Fortunately for me, at this concert the fan and the critic in me were unanimous. I rated this show as BKA, as in Bob Kicked Ass. Following the classical recording that formed the pre-show music, the band filtered onto the stage with Larry Campbell sporting a goatee and positioned to the right. David Kemper wore a cowboy hat at his drum set and Charlie Sexton was dapper in a red coat to the left. Tony Garnier in purple jacket took his customary position behind and left of Dylan's mike. Then Bob strode to the center of the stage wearing a silver-grey suit with a silver tie and missing the little pencil-thin mustache from the Oscars and the Love and Theft pictures. They launched directly into Wait For The Light To Shine on acoustic instruments; Larry and Charlie chimed in on the chorus. The song grabbed the crowd instantly and Bob was very on and focused. At the conclusion, the lights went out and, in a pattern that would continue through the night, the band made instrument changes. I am just not enough of an expert to know, but it sure seemed like they each played a different instrument on every song. The next tune I named in one note and it was probably the one song that I have not heard Bob sing that I wanted to hear and it was Song To Woody. The enunciation and the feeling behind Bob's vocal was just perfect. I have never heard this song sound better in any incarnation. Simply magnificent. There was such power went Dylan sang the verse: "Hey, hey Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song/'Bout a funny ol' world that's a-comin' along/Seems sick an' it's hungry, it's tired an' it's torn/It looks like it's a-dyin' an' it's hardly been born." I mentioned to a guy next to me that if the next song was Desolation Row, then I could just leave then. Immediately, I heard the characteristic bass thump and knew that it was to be that tune. What a powerful performance this was. The guitars, the enunciation, the expressions on Bob's face... fantastic stuff. Of course, someone would have had to drag me out of that concert hall by force. Searching For A Soldier's Grave followed and was obviously not recognized by most of the crowd. The group gave the song a lovely reading with some particularly beautiful mandolin from Larry, but it did not have much impact on the audience, except for some response to the lines about American deaths. There was obviously the emergence of a theme at work here. Although, it would be out of character for Dylan to be overt, one could not help but see that the song list reflected these current times in a special way. As if to remark on this, Things Have Changed marked the first charge of electricity and kicked off with a jolting scattershot drum riff from Kemper. Bob was good to go for this song and read the sardonic lyrics with a fierce look on his face. This performance seemed to be much more energetic than on the Oscars and it was a pleasure to marvel at the interplay between the guitarists. At this point, I noticed that the arrangements of the songs all seemed much more potent than I remembered from past Dylan concerts. In my memory, it has seemed that the opening notes would be struck and then the band would settle into a groove over which Bob would sing the lyrics. Then there would be a series of guitar solos and then the song would end. Here, there seemed to be well-planned structures that, although lent themselves to the free-form jamming that had dominated such tunes as Silvio and Tangled Up in Blue in the past, gave the songs a fresh, polished feel that allowed the players to create subtle tapestries of sound. It was great stuff and certainly one of the best musical Dylan experiences I have heard. Summer Days was the first of the tunes from the new album and it rocked the house. Bob was brittly humorous as he sang the words and the band was obviously enjoying playing the song. There was a grin on Larry's face that replaced his more stoic demeanor that I have seen at some recent shows. Charlie's playing was integrated fully into the sound of the group and Tony was just rock solid. The audience responded strongly to this rocking blues number and the floor started shaking a little with all the dancing. Larry stepped over to the pedal steel guitar and without blinking Bob launched into I Want You and it was lovely. I just stood there and enjoyed his phrasing on this tune I have listened to so many times and when he picked up a harmonica and added punctuation to this bonafide classic I felt chills. Positively unforgettable street. The next song also came from Love and Theft and it was Cry A While, which is in that Dylan-blues-march kind of mode--like Foot of Pride--and featured Bob up front, biting off the words, "I cried fuh ya, now it's yer turn to cr-y-y-y-y-y-y a while!" It also contains the interesting line: "I'll die before I turn senile." After the expected instrument switch, the lights took on an eerie, greenish-yellow glow and the backdrop took on a smearing mix of greenish-blue and red. An acoustic guitar thumped a rhythm and Bob went back almost 40 years again to play Masters Of War for a multigeneration audience that currently found itself at war. His reading was passionate and I have seen some reviews that referred to the nature of the song having some questionable appropriateness. I did not feel that. There is an impassioned idealism in the song that rings true beyond the actual condemnation of the military-industrial complex that forms the literal point of the song. It was certainly a potent moment and powerful performance. Charlie's dobro was making some wild sounds that added to the mysterioso tour de force. We stayed back in the early '60s for Boots Of Spanish Leather and this is one of the few moments that I really felt angry with the crowd around me. I could forgive them for not recognizing the song or confusing its intro with the more well known songs such as Don't Think Twice or Girl from the North Country. But, please when the arrangement is so delicate and lovely and Bob's reading of the words so emotional and beautiful, there is no reason to sieze on the quietest moment to shout out "Bob, you the man." Please. Still staying in the first two albums came Don't Think Twice, It's All Right and this one was another lovely arrangement and performance. The crowd tried to sing along and Bob let them, only altering his phrasing on the chorus slightly. A good time was had by all on this song. Another instrument swap brought out the Fenders and we were out on Highway 61 Revisited and this crowd-pleasing rave-up got the house shaking again. Charlie played some particularly fine lines in this song and I could hear Bob contributing some nice licks as well. Normally, this song is a set or show closer and I was slightly confused from my peeking at the previous songlists. I had not been counting songs but it did seem a little early to bring out the "red, white and blue shoe-strings." So, it was fascinating when the lights went down, the band switched instruments and then the lights came up on Bob going into Sugar Baby, the closing song from the new album. It seemed odd to rouse the crowd with Highway 61 and then slow it back down with this ballad in the Dark Eyes style. It is a love song of sorts ("Sugar Baby, get on down the road/you aint got no brains no how") and the crowd settle down quick enough but was having trouble containing their excitement. This pent-up energy exploded when the band kicked into the electrified The Wicked Messenger from John Wesley Harding. The guitar work was magnificent and I hope this one will make it on a live album one of these days. When Bob picked up his harp and went down almost to one knee to lay his signature sound over the ripping guitars, I know that now was the time to scream, "Bob, you the man!" The energy climbed as the group fired up Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat and the whole building started rocking as the audience danced madly. This song closed the first part of the show and I seized on this opportunity to escape the front and move with my companion to the rear of the auditorium to take in the whole scene for the encores as was my custom back in the days of general admission shows. The first song of the encore set was a straightforward reading of Love Sick and it was very much like the famous Grammy performance and one could be excused for looking around for Soy Bomb to pop out of the crowd. Bob's phrasing and the elegant playing were almosr perfect and this was certainly a winner. I could not resist leaning over to my companion, who does not like to hear about the songlists from the Internet and commenting to her that it seemed like a good time to "throw the bums a dime." After absorbing the expected hit on the chest, I heard the expected chord progression that heralded Like A Rolling Stone. There were some bright lights installed above the stage that they turned on during the chorus and this became a big-time sing-along that can be left off the live album thank you, but it was a rousing performance. I thought of the young man I had met earlier who was seeing Dylan for the first time with his dad and was glad that he had a chance to see this moment. It was amusing that near us in the back of the hall was a fellow with his seeing-eye dog. When I heard the first chords of the next song and recognized the tune I leaned over and asked him, "If dogs run free, then why not we?" This was another unexpected and welcome choice, as I had figured to get Knockin' on Heaven's Door or Forever Young in this spot. It had a feel that was reminiscent of the sound of a couple of the songs on Love and Theft or The Sopranos rarity Return to Me. Great fun and great treat. Not done with essaying the new album, we got a blistering version of Honest With Me that was excellently arranged and performed. I just don't know how Dylan does it, because I was feeling pretty worn out and I had not just played and sang nineteen songs. Bob obliged the audience with few nicely placed duck walkish movements during the guitar jamming. The the last instrument switch and we had our icon asking "how many times must the cannonballs fly?" while laser-guided ordnance was raining down halfway across the world. We replied that the answer was Blowin' in the Wind--but he already knew that.
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 07:43:27 +0200 From: Sven Lewandowski To:, Subject: Sacramento review Dylan at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, Oct 10, 2001 There's a song we used to sing at school when I was a kid. It featured the following line: "There is plenty of gold / so I've been told / at the banks of Sacramento-" And Dylan's show at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium featured at least some nuggets. First of all it was one of the most beautiful venues I've ever been to. There were pillars on each side of the stage, painted ornaments on the walls and much more. It all made me think that those who do not have a (long) history are always trying to invent some. That impression might have been influenced by my visit of Sacramanto's "old town" the same day. It's like re-designed wild west, pretty much 19th century and it struck me kind of funny - 'cause when us Europeans think of an "old town" we usually refer to the 12th or 13th century. But anyways... The venue's floor was a slope which made all places on the floor good ones. And there were some strange things happening before the show. Some guys prepared a DAT-recorder and even erected a stand for the microphones ! And they didn't seem to care about the security at all ! Neither did they wait until it was crowed enough so nobody could see them. I asked them if they weren't fearing to be caught but they evaded my questions- Later somebody told me that they were working for Dylan's company. It seemed like they wanted audience instead of soundboard recordings. So it seems like that the rumors about a live album could turn out to be true. At least I saw theses guys and the microphones at the shows from Sacramento to Santa Barbara. (At La Jolla and L.A. they weren't there). The days before I flew to the USA I tried to keep myself away from any information about the tour's first shows and it worked (thanks to Tobias and all others who co-operated). The only thing I knew was that Dylan already performed five new songs but except for "Moonlight" I didn't know which ones. So I was quite anxious to see what Dylan's new show was going to be like. Right from the beginning you could tell that the shows would be much better than the European shows in summer. Dylan seemed to be much more concentrated and his phrasing was mostly well done. There seemed to be real commitent and the "buisness-as-usal"- or "I-don't-care"- attitude that spoiled the European shows was gone. The first songs seemed to me like a choice that was common for so many shows in the last month. Nothing special. But when he did "Searching For A Soldier's Grave" - a song that I didn't expect to hear again - I immediately thought that there might be a lot of soldier's graves to be searched for in the next month and therefore it made sense to me that Dylan picked out that song he had already abandoned (it might or should have been quite predictable - seen from now and I wish I've had seen it when I made my list for the Dylan fantasy pool). Another song that I didn't expect at all followed: "Things Have Changed". I touth things had changed and that Dylan would leave this song behind in favour of his now songs. To me "Things Have Changed" used to function as a kind of filler in the 2000 shows - a kind of new song performed instead of real good new songs. So there's only one thing to be said on "Things Have Changed": I liked the faster version performed in Europe in spring 2000 much more but the song seems to be quite well known and I think the crowed enjoyed it. (I think a lot of non Dylan-fanatics were quite glad that they did recognize a song-). A real new song followed: Summer Days and it sounded really good - at least the music while Dylan's voice lacked of aggressivness and so I was left with mixed emotions about the song. "I Want You" followed and it's been a song I really wanted to hear. I just like this song and I thing it was a good performance. And when Dylan pulled out the harp the difference to his summer's shows in Europe became even more obvious. In Europe it seemed to me that he always reached for the harp when he didn't know what else to do. But now he didn't just use it but he really played it - I think it was even a whole verse. "Cry A While" was the second L&T songs and I was later told that it was the live debut of that song. I sure was thrilled to hear one of the new songs but I have to admit that it didn't really seem to work. The impressive tempo changes couldn't be reproduced live and I think they will have to do the song some more times until it gets better. "Masters Of War" which followed was a quite predictible choice and I think it's a good and necessary comment on nowadays political situation - but I would have prefered "With God On Our Side". The songs was performed like in summer with Dylan repeating the first verse at the end of the song, so the songs doesn't end with "'til I'm sure that your dead" but with "I can see through your mask" (I hope Dylan does and the american people too). As quite often at the first show of a series of concerts I'm going to, Dylan performed "Boots Of Spanish Leather". I always like that song performed live - maybe because he did it at my first real good show back in Mčnster 1996. Anyway: The performance at Sacramento was once again a tender one with fine phrasing. "Don't Think Twice" is uually a song that I don't even like to hear once. But once again it was treaten in a very tender way, mostly sung in a low voice. All in all: a performance to enjoy. "Highway 61 Revisited" opened the last electric set and I was quite surprised when I was told afterwards that Dylan performed it for the first time on this tour; I thought it was a standard choice. Once again I enjoyed the song very much - especially because of the fine guitar work provided by Charlie (Oh, my God I was so wrong when I wrote in my reviews of the spring shows 2000 in Germany that Charlie is not a real hot guitarist. My apologizies to Charlie - but on the other hand he didn't do much soloing back in May 2000). "Sugar Baby" was one of the most unexpected songs for me. When I heard it on L&T I tought that it would be a song that was never going to be performed on stage. Not yet knowing that it was in fact performed every night it was a real surprise to me and I think it was the highlight of the whole show. It was sung in a very very concentrated way and Dylan was really on. It was just great╩! A hard rocking "Wicked Messenger" followed - creating a a strange contrast to the tender "Sugar Baby". The regular set closed with "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" which also featured the band introduction. The first encore was "Love Sick" and for me another surprise because I didn't expect much TOOM-songs anymore. But I enjoed the performance althought I'd rather liked to hear another L&T song. "Like A Rolling Stone" was the usual perforance and this song that needs a rest. I was done quite fine but it's been performed much too often. Same might be true for "If Dogs Run Free", but I still like the songs much more than "Like A Rolling Stone" (I haven't heard it that often yet). "Honest With Me" was the only new song in the encores and I liked it much more than the version of the album. On the album version the guitar riff really gets on my nerves while on the live version it is not that dominant. Larry provided a lot of good slide guitar work. To me "Honest With Me" was the best of the new songs performed at Sacramento and it's also a great encore. "Blowin' In The Wind", which is another songs that needs a rest, closed the show and I think a lot of people thought it was another special comment on the Afganistan war. Maybe somebody should tell them that Dylan does "Blowin'" almost every night since 1998. So all in all it was a good show to start a tour. As I said before it featured some gold nuggets and not too much gravel, so that I was quite satisfied. But the performances of "Summer Days" and "Cry A While" still needed to be improved - Dylan's voice on the first one, the band's coordination on the second one. But my worries that Dylan might be as weak as in summer were gone- At least those Summer Days were gone while my trip to California made me escape the German autumn. So Summer Days were not already gone for me- Cheers Sven comments are welcome, please email to:
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