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Bob Dylan 971108 in Dayton, Ohio

 November 8, 1997
 Dayton, Ohio
 Hara Arena
     Address: 1001 Shiloh Springs Road
     Capacity: 7100
     Showtime: 8 PM

Subject: Columbus & Dayton Reviews, Pt. Two From: Michael Roos ( Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 09:01:52 +0000 A Tale of Two Cities, Columbus and Dayton, Part Two ... Driving up to Dayton from Cincinnati Saturday night, I happened to pass the Solid Rock Church, garish and white along the highway, with a huge electronic message board, flashing words of scripture like mortgage rates at a bank. I couldn't help but be reminded of the first time I saw Dylan in Dayton, in the spring of 80, for one of those gospel shows that shook us all to the core and forced us to reexamine ourselves and the reasons we follow the man. The show itself was powerful and moving. Dylan certainly seemed to believe every word he sang. He wasn't going to go to hell for anybody. He was hanging on to the solid rock. But now the rock isn't so solid. Too many electronic message boards along Highway 61 (or in this case I-75). Hara Arena is a rattle trap old place, suited to tractor pulls, starving artist shows, and third rate circuses. My last time there was a Neil Young show in 83, his pink Cadillac tour, which was mildly amusing. So there was little reason to believe that Dylan would be inspired by the place. Before the show, with an hour to kill, I bought one of those giant pretzels that must have been left over from 83. Two bites and it went into the trash. The place was cold and the folding chairs on the floor were so close together it was impossible to get in and out of an row without everyone leaving in unison. But I had plenty of time to observe the crowd, and one thing that struck me was how many fathers and sons there seemed to be. It made me feel good that Dylan was bringing these generations together. I had invited my own sons along (both had been with me for two other Dylan shows), and they had wanted to come but had other obligations. How would our relationships with our own fathers have been improved if we had been able to share something like the music of Bob Dylan? Opening Songs As soon as the show began, I knew this was a different night from Columbus. The band roared into "Maggie's Farm" like it was written yesterday, and they were ready to kick down the walls. It's a great opening number, much better than "Sweet Marie" was for the summer tour. True, I only saw one summer show, at Indy, but for me "Sweet Marie" was not capable of jump starting either the crowd or the band, and a good opener has to do both. "Maggie" does that. The Voice What the Columbus show hinted at, the Dayton show confirmed. I, like so many others of us, had become convinced that Dylan's voice was shot, from too much whiskey or cigarettes or whatever, and that we would have to content ourselves with whatever expressiveness he could muster through all that gravel and phlegm in his throat. It's a voice that works well on TOOM, no doubt, but how can it convey all the nuances and subtleties required in singing "Like A Rolling Stone" or "Tangled Up in Blue" or "This Wheel"? Well, I'm here to testify that the voice is still there, everyone. Perhaps others of you have known this from other shows, but it was a revelation to me. Bob can still sing any damn way he wants to, if the Dayton show can be used as evidence. This was far and away the most powerful, expressive and emotive singing I've heard from him since that gospel show in 80. And he held it through every number. There was no sign of fatigue. It was simply a stunning performance. Once again, if someone out there has a tape of this, please e-mail me. I want a record of it. Let's hope we get to hear it in the studio sometime soon. Every song was magnificent, but I especially loved "Every Grain of Sand." The irony is that when he finished it, Bob said, "Thanks, ev'body. I forgot about half the words to that!" I thought I had noticed one new line in there, but everything else seemed to work. One to check out on tape. The Band This is clearly the best band Dylan has had since The Band. They seem absolutely in tune with him. Bucky and Tony especially seem like Bob's blood brothers. Watching them watching him, you have no doubt they would go to the wall for the guy. On this night, Larry too seems to be enjoying every minute of it. He and Bob trade guitar licks on virtually every song without getting in each other's way. And Bob's own electric playing has come a long way from the self-indulgent chaotic noodling he used to fill up songs with. If this band is in tune with him, he's also much more in tune with them than he seemed to be in the past. He clearly respects them and enjoys sharing the stage with them. Bob and the Audience If he was singing to himself in Columbus, in Dayton he was definitely singing to us. This was a performance for others outside himself. After so many years of love/hate with his audience, Bob now genuinely seems to like us. Ain't that a revelation! There was lots of eye contact, as I had seen in last year's Dayton show too, lots of mugging for people in the front rows, waving and pointing, and truly gracious bows at the end of many numbers. Good to see, especially after Columbus. The melancholia was apparently short lived. A Word About the Lighting Bob's lighting crew are also doing an excellent job on this tour, with especially creative effects for "Cold Irons Bound" and "Tangled Up in Blue." Twice, during the latter, Bob and the Band were briefly lit only by footlights, which produced a startling, eerie effect, like suddenly seeing four completely different people on stage. Throughout the concert, the lights supported the show effectively, without ever stealing it. Summary What a great time to be a Bob Dylan fan! We don't have to resign ourselves to settling for a shadow of Bob's greatness. He is absolutely as good as or better than he has ever been. If you haven't seen one of these shows, camp out all night if you have to for one of the club dates coming up. I'll be seeing him next in January with Van Morrison in NYC. It won't come a moment too soon. Michael Roos
Subject: Dayton OH 11/8/97 Bob Dylan show Review (long, very long) From: Jeff Knorek ( Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 21:23:05 -0500 Dayton, OH November 8, 1997 Hara Arena After the Columbus show we went to a restaurant called Little Texas and gorged ourselves with Steak and Potatoes and Caesar Salad and Chicken Wings and Lone Stars. Sleeping off THAT took 'till 10:30, and I really didn't wake up 'till noon while at Kroger buying stuff for lunch to stir into all the leftovers from the previous night's gluttony. The Penn State/Michigan game didn't start 'till later on in the afternoon, so we listened to Jerry Band and screwed around in the kitchen while knoshing on Brie and a Baguette and quaffing Bordeaux. After more gluttony followed by a brief stroll, we bid Jennifer a fond farewell and pushed onward to Dayton, a mere 75 minutes west down I-70. Now this is what I loved about these two shows besides how great they were: they were very close together, and on a weekend. Having to travel 250 or so miles to the next night's show gets old in a hurry. And after the nerve-wracking-rain-soaked ride to Columbus from Ann Arbor the evening before, this trip to Dayton was a breeze. At 5:00 the clouds on the horizon broke clear, and we were treated to one of those wonderful Ohio sunsets when the sun waits all day to come out, making the eastern sky black and the western sky bright orange, red, and then vermilion. I was reminded of the days when I first hitchhiked long miles to concerts with nothing but apples to eat, back around 1980. This same road I thumbed so long ago was now carrying me to another show at Hara Arena in autumn, to the location of my very first Grateful Dead show (November 1981). Back in the present, we still needed tickets to tonight's show. So no haste was made getting to the box office, whereupon we scored a trio of seats together in the risers straight back from the front of the stage. By now it was nightfall, and we had almost two hours to kill before showtime...WHOA...there's a bar attached to the venue! Hup-one-two-three-hup-one-two-three...we settled into one of the tables and watched Missouri show Nebraska just how lame the ranking system is in college football. Kishie put Ray Charles _Lucky Old Sun_ and Louis Armstrong _What a Wonderful World_ on the jukebox. The other patrons raced to the bar for change to keep us from dominating the juke, but too late...we had already poured three dollars into it. Van Morrison, Tina Turner, and then more Ray and Louis kept us company for the next hour (during which Mike ordered what had to be the oiliest cheeseburger I've ever seen...Coming from Detroit, that's a strong statement). Nearing show time, we sauntered on up to our seats. Like last night in Columbus, they were waaay back but dead center. In about 10 minutes the show begins. Like a ritual the house lights go down, a cheer rises: 1. Maggie's Farm This is once again a great opener. It really greases the band and the crowd for the rest of the show. The sound back our way is great; plenty loud and no cupping of the ears needed since the hall is not at all boomy. This time last year we were leaning on the stage. I think I prefer to do a show in the back of the house as long as the acoustics of the hall are good, I focus on the music better when it isn't in my face. Hara Arena appears to be a minor league Hocky Arena, although I don't know that for sure. 2. Señor Since certain numbers in the set are predictable, I have learned to look forward to the chance and surprise of the 2nd, 4th, 7th, 9th, and 11th songs of the show, plus the acoustic number in the encore. Señor never disappoints me. I have to point out that the 2nd song almost never does; he seems to tap into the heart for it, like he did with this one. 3. Cold Irons Bound Smokes just like last night. This is such an awesome song live. THIS is why we go on the road to see Bob Dylan. 4. Every Grain Of Sand Some songs have a hard time beating the soul and quality of the original recorded version. This is one of them. I was stoked to hear it, it being my first EEGs, but he screwed up the verses and _seemed_ to briefly lose his confidence. Bear in mind he was about as tall as a dime held at arms length from where I was, but just hearing his voice indicated to me that he had to think about the song a lot harder than he'd prefer. 5. Can't Wait The downside of having a bar so close to the gate is becoming readily apparent by now. So off I go through the halls to take care of business and it is on that walk that I realize how great the live arrangement of this song truly is. It is like viewing a painting from a distance as opposed to standing right next to it...and the tempo has this cool groove to it, perfect for a walking pace. As I pass other folks in the hallways we all make eye contact and acknowledge each other as we bop along to the groove. Look at the cover of _Shakedown Street_ and you can see what I mean. Everybody is walkin' along groovin', smiling; makin' tracks or just wandering. The vibe is all throughout the building, even the cops and the people selling sodas and popcorn are in a good mood. 6. Silvio I take this opportunity to scope out how the sound is around the hall, and how security is handling things. The sound is great everywhere, although the mix gets blisteringly loud up front. Nobody offers a challenge when I poke around in places where my ticket won't take me. I hurry back to Kish, who is waiting for me at the end of our row...she noticed the lax security as well and wants to beat it to the back of the floor, where there is a ton of room to dance and nobody's view to block. We skip on down to the floor and dance. The crowd is doing same. 7. Cocaine Blues (acoustic) Kish and I waltz to this one. Try it sometime. Big fun. 8. Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic) I can't remember a show that Dylan didn't play this one. This is always a crowd pleaser, and for that reason I still like to hear it. I like being in a happy crowd. 9. Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic) Another nice tune for sweethearts feeling all gooey. Ask me why I know this... 10. 'Til I Fell In Love With You Like last night, this one needs work or needs to be deleted from the set. Finding the groove seems to take a lot of effort for the band. 11. This Wheel's On Fire This one is stronger than last night, but still doesn't hold a candle to the 5/16/96 Pine Knob version. Bob and Larry still need to decide how the chorus is going to go. Larry goes this-a-way and Bob goes that-a-way... 12. Highway 61 Revisited Way better than last night's LSPBH. I love how Kemper just attacks his snares to start the song. On a good night this one really smokes. Once again I must refer you to 5/16/96, but this one tonight way rocks too. I know that not everybody likes JJ's contribution to the band, but I think he was a great asset to Bob Dylan's performances. Larry Campbell is great also, but in a different way. I am sorry not to have JJ but am delighted by having Larry. When it comes to rocking, well, they BOTH rock. But this song is STILL a better set closer than LSPBH. (encore) 13. Like A Rolling Stone Michael Roos' review of this song is far more enlightened than mine could ever hope to be since he was up front paying attention and I was way back dancing. 14. Forever Young (acoustic) All the couples on the floor instantly become glued together slow dancing. Ask me why I know this... 15. Love Sick romantic after Forever Young...NNNNNOT! Is still a great song. Am wondering why he sticks it in as an encore. Beats the hell out of RDW, though... 16. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 As always, Kish and I make preparations to leave since the house lights are up and this song sucks so hard. "Everybody must get..." Yeah yeah, we know, we know... Only _Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle_ would suck harder. But still, it was a great show in a great sounding hall and we all had a great time. If all shows everywhere every time were this good I would be a happy man all the time. After the show we went to this groovy little, no, BIG seafood house called Shuck-n-Shack. Once again we engaged in some serious gluttony...clams, crabs, oysters, crawdads, shrimp, hush puppies, and awesome slaw. Poor kitties didn't get any! Intending to drive all the way home afterwards...heh heh heh... we made it as far as Wapakoneta...didn't even make it to Bob Evens in Lima until 11:00 the next morning! That evening at home we went to see _Starship Troopers_. Big fun, kinda like the Archies and Happy Days meet Mien Kamf written as a gory Star Trek episode with soft porn. A perfect dessert since we couldn't make the Bloomington show. Jeff Knorek
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