Bob Dylan 760428 review

Date: Thu, 17 Aug 1995 14:22:38 -0500
From: Richard Batey (richardb@AMARANTH.COM)
Subject: RTR 28apr76 (newspaper review)

Following is a review from the Pensacola News Journal of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review which played Pensacola 28 April 1976. Taken from xerox of the 29 April 1976 newspaper on microfilm.

* * * * * *

Rolling Thunder Revue
The House That Dylan Built Crumbles Under Baez Touch
by Sharon DeMarko, Journal Arts Editor

There was a clear-cut message echoing off the walls of the University of West Florida Field House when T-bon (sic) Burnett belted out his song during Wednesday night's Rolling Thunder Revue . . . "pretty soon, science fiction and nostalgia will be the same thing."

It seemed like fiction three weeks ago when rumors circulated around the city that Bob Dylan's Revue, complete with Joan Baez, Bob Neuwirth, Kinky Friedman and a platoon of musicians, would stop in Pensacola between appearances in Tallahassee on Tuesday and Mobile, Ala., on Thursday.

But, fiction was fact and Wednesday night was one of nostalgia for approximately 5,000 folk-rock fans who paid $8.75 each to renew acquaintances with Dylan and Baez.

UWF was the final stop on Dylan's Florida tour which marked his first appearance since ending a 40-day series of engagements in the Northeast in January. For Pensacolians, it marked the end of Dylan's self-imposed silence, partially due to a motorcycle accident and to his preference for an image as a lover.

Sharing the spotlight and melding their talents in rolling Thunder Revue are an accomplished band of performers, among them longtime Dylan confidant, folk singer-quick quip artist "Guam" Newwirth; "Texas Jewboys" leader Friedman; Gypsy-style violinist Scarlet Rivera; and Memphis folk stylist Donna Wice.

The crowd, primarily young and wearing everything from a low-cut lace caftan and fresh rosebuds entwined in coronet-braided hair to faded overalls and a red-checked gingham shirt, was formally dressed compared to the casual style of the musicians' garb.

The music was a bit of country, a touch of acid, a lot of rhythm and more than a modicum of fun.

The audience had been told they'd "party tonight," and they did; shouting and clapping, especially when "Bad Love Story" was introduced with, "Anyone mind a little country music?"

Although they cheered and stomped after each rendition, spectators remained quiet during performances. No one seemed to mind the continual parade of people up and down the bleachers and out the gym doors which lead to the entry way.

Gym doors stayed open through-out the concert, but the entrance to the building was closed even during intermission when spectators seeking fresh air from the smoky lobby were told they would not be allowed back in after exiting.

If anyone missed Dylan's presence on stage during the first hour it was unnoticeable. Unaccustomed to the professional music extravaganzas in Pensacola, the audience never failed to show appreciation, especially for Rivera's "Battle of New Orleans."

The pure pigment, primative mural (a contempory collage of social concern -- Arabian warrior, Jewish star, blind guitarist...) decorating the backstage paled when Friedman stepped into the white, red and blue spotlight. Strutting about in a black, 10-gallon hat, green and silver glitter shirt and purple fake fur guitar strap, he sang such silly ditties and pseudo-spoofs as "Dear Abby," and "I'm Proud to Be an A-hole from El Paso."

Then silently, amid the furor created by wildman Kinky Friedman who performs up to his first name, Dylan slipped on stage. He opened with "Tambourine Man" and only the crackle of the voice and the electrifing timbre of his simple instrumentals cued spectators that this was their man. He wore none of the white face paint that he reputedly donned at earlier concerts.

He looked, as always, like a waif and sang like a mythological minstrel he has become. Hair scraggly, falling out from a sloppily-tied pink bandana a rumbled, khaki jacket over faded jeans, Dylan moved into "Just Like A Women (sic)." At least with his oldies he proved to have as much, maybe more, charisma as he possessed at the height of his career. However, his voice has more resonance, his delivery more control, his instrumentation more precision. His compositions, though remain simple one beat variations, decorated with sophisticated electronic technology.

As in the past what Dylan has to say is better than the musical way in which he chooses to communicate. And, Dylan is at his best alone, without the band, without the amplification, relying solely on his inimitable power to mesmerize listeners.

In a Dylan concert there is more magic than music.

It was 10:15 before Joan Baez came on stage. What was previously ear-shattering guitar and drum was suddenly silence. She opened in a classic stlye - without accompaniment...then moved into her ballad and folk routine, backed by soft strings.

And with a backup band, she brought down the house with "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."

One thing was for sure: "the audience liked the Old Baez."

* * * * * *

Kinda makes you appreciate some of the reviews posted here fresh from the field, huh? Ms. DeMarko may have preferred to write about fashion. Anyone have a tape of that concert to send me?


Return to Expecting Rain