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Bob Dylan 971217 at the El Rey Theater, Los Angeles, CA

Subject: Re: 12/17
Date: 18 Dec 1997 19:54:04 GMT

I just thought I'd say that I found the second night at the El Rey to be
far better than the first. They seemed to have fixed the sound -- vocals
were very clear and you could easily distinguish the various instruments.
Also, as I think many people would agree, the set list was much more
interesting. And finally, Bob and the band were terrific.

Almost every song was excellent from start to finish:

Musically, "One Too Many Mornings" reminded me quite a bit of "Not Dark
Yet," and had some wonderful singing, with Dylan mixing quick staccato
passages and smooth drawn-out ones.

I liked "Highway 61" a lot more than usual -- it seems it's almost always
musically strong lately, but last night Dylan also managed to make it sound
especially bitter and cynical, I thought.

"White Dove" was sung so straight-forwardly "country" that it came close to
sounding like a parody at times, but it was still terrific (though many
people seemed to choose this song to head for the bathroom or a drink).

And as I think someone else said regarding another show, "Dove's" placement
right after "Tangled Up in Blue" didn't seem to work that well in terms of
pacing. In any case, though, I'm sure I've never enjoyed "Tangled" more.
The last verse was especially strong, with Dylan speaking softly and
raising the pitch of his voice on the last word of each line.

"Love Sick," a song I haven't previously liked much in concert, was also
excellent, despite a brief lyrical mistake (singing "My feet are so ti--"
in the wrong verse, if I remember correctly). I especially liked the
emphasis he placed on "EWWWWWWWWW, I'm love sick."

As for stray comments from Bob:

He asked people to give Jewel a hand, then added something I didn't catch.

He introduced Ringo Starr (who was sitting up in a corner at the front of
the balcony) with (to paraphrase): "Tonight we have with us one of this
kinda music's best drummers -- Ringo Starr. He's out there somewhere, but
we won't put the spotlight on him." Ringo seemed quite pleasant and
frequently smiled down at the people who would look up/wave to him from

Similar to Tuesday night, Dylan finished the band introductions by saying
(approximately): "We tried to get Don Henley to play tonight, but we
couldn't find him."

I apologize for any glaring factual errors in the above.

PS: On the first night, I saw, I think, Don Was get into a limousine with
someone who several people asked for autographs. I didn't recognize this
other person. Does anyone know who he was?

> Dylan at the El Rey Theater in Hollywood 12/17
> Maggie's Farm
> Senor
> Cold Irons Bound
> You're A Big Girl Now (band's list had 4th St and Simple Twist of Fate
> as alternates)
> I Can't Wait
> Silvio
> @Roving Gambler
> @One Too Many Mornings
> @Tangled Up In Blue
> White Dove
> Blind Wilie McTell
> {Intros -- Ringo was in the house}
> 'Til I Fell In Love With You
> Encores:
> Highway 61 Revisited
> @My Back Pages
> Love Sick
> Rainy Day Women #12 & #35 

Subject: el rey, otra vez (review) 17dec97 From: melanie lamm ( Date: 18 Dec 1997 14:17:03 -0700 the oracle began the evening with a surprise -- forgetting to bring the admission ticket; but after a little detour, returned in a much better mood than last night, hoping the sound would be clearer, and indeed, with _cold irons bound_, as the opener ;) was tighter, though still a little over-the-top. _cib was followed by a pristine _big girl now, a relaxed country jaunt with slippery playful phrasing. our host wore a loose black pleated "judge's robe" jacket with an old-west-style tie-knot featuring two long maroon hanging ends. like the liner photo in _toom. _cant wait_: a little fast but more in sync; varied vocal flips enforcing the gospel-blues thing; ultimately, if the levels arent toned down, this song *must wait* -- for a bigger hall to spread its wings. a touch rushed but good verbal execution. _silvio_: also a little fast, but slowed to a kind of march, then a midnight bayou eerieness; as last night, the "boll weevil looking for a home" verse was not the first; rhythms in general tonight were tighter, faster and more expediently compacted for direct audience consumption. vocals, to this point, had been left unresolved. again, the sound mix unfortunately allowed the instruments to *engulf* that capricious voice -- rather than playing around it, but underneath, dylan's deliveries were deliberate and subtle. since i was stage-left for a while, i could see that kemper does play during the "acoustic" set, which is more busy these days with everyone working at once. _roving gambler_ was grand-ole-opry style with baxter and campbell bleating bar-room harmonies. as bob's voice gets stronger nearing the halfway point there's always more space in the slower songs for well-appreciated verbal soarings. _one too many mornings_: leisurely and deliberate, with a soothing sleepy pedal steel floating around a gruffy lament, allowing the words to flower clearly along musical vines. the band, in general, on nearly every song is now smooth as silk. the only liabilities are volume excesses, which, if you're standing in the wrong section, both ruin the music, and drown the vocal. this is the responsibility of the sound crew, who, apparently get no directions home from their boss, though tonight's rhythmic lines seemed more clean. i guess once you schlep a couple stacks of giant amps around the world for 35 years, you cant start adjusting for every little club you wander into. _tangled: a spirited quasi-acoustic horseback ride starting soloesque and adding more instrumental punch with each verse; not as evocatively etched as last night; fewer gradations and dylan's "lead" acoustic guitar repeats one or two notes like some weird hallucinogenic dinner gong. _white dove_: satisfying, but no hard edges; good harmonics; a touch slow but resonant; not yet fully realized as a personal statement. _blind willie mctell_: smooth reinforcement of southern-americana motif. by now, in the electric parts, only songs #2,4,10,11 are changed each night due to 4 unvarying _toom entries. with less room for setlist variation, "album orphans" like _blind willie are welcomed more than ever. only complaint would be the mix: allowing the music to partially obscure that biting dusky voice. what else is old... last night, tony's was the gag-intro with dylan's comment: "we tried to get lindsey buckingham...maybe next time." tonight it sounded like "we tried to get don henley..." after kemper's intro: "there's another guy who plays great drums for this kind of music; ringo starr; stand up and take a bow..." people craned but couldnt find ringo in the balcony, bob quipped "you must really like him." he was seen in the audience at a '92 dylan-pantages gig. a regular fan. _till i fell in love with you_: swinging, syncopated, punchy; mr baxter has a way of making the pedal steel sound like r&b trumpets beginning each line. _highway 61_: still a touch compacted and ear-bursting but at least not muddy tonight; vocals could've been more prominent, but are colorfully inflected, making it more rootsy. _back pages_: relaxed, passionate, inspiring, flawless _lovesick_: i wish id never heard this song. "wanna take to the road and PLUNDER?" with headband, loincloth, and spear? looking for "LOVERS IN THE MEADOW"? take the lyrics with you. replace with: _not dark yet_ -- you wont regret it, so dont forget it. _rainy day women: kind of an elephant in the living room, but tonight more listenable and lubricated. yesterday our host featured his faux frankenstein scowling bird face; tonight more head-tilting with herman munster-eye rolling. dylan's inscrutable demeanor resembles a friendly penguin pecking his way around a cocktail party. in general, the band-dynamics are so tight that each song soon alights to a satisfying auto-pilot, but not without strands of texture, especially when slowed. the musicians can adjust intuitively in near perfect rhythm. lower the volume, please. temperature outside typified a pleasant southern california december: cooler: 54f with approaching low cloud cover. overall, tighter band-dynamics; more supple vocal executions (though again at times partially occluded by that godawful wall of sound -- for which the oracle requests back a portion of the so-far expended $92!) highway 61 robbery, indeed... tonight's inside-the-park-home run=_my back pages_ (c) oracle@delphi 18dec97 13:03
Subject: El Rey - 12/17/97 - Review From: ( Date: Thu, 01 Jan 1998 13:51:04 -0600 BOB DYLAN @ The El Rey Theatre in LA -12/17/97

The El Rey Theatre with it's audience capacity of 900 is a wonderfully intimate venue. Again I was stage left, on the riser by the speakers, and 18' from center stage.

As soon as Jewel came onstage, someone shouted out "Like A Rolling Stone" and she promptly flipped him off. Then she rather politely said, "You're welcome to come back later.". I listened to Jewel's "Pieces Of You" 1994 on the way up to the show. This is an album that is still charting more than three years after it's release. There is no question she has grown with experience and has the potential for so much more. Just a gal and her acoustic guitar. She started with a new song "Don't Walk To Close" ...and her guitar sound was breaking up ....both for her and for the audience. She told the soundman...but kept trying to make it happen. Finally she just stopped and asked the audience," Does this suck as much as it does for me?" Again to the soundman..."What do you want me to do?"...Extremely slow and poor response to assist her. Finally someone tried a different plug and she banged on the guitar a bit and broke into her set including some very powerful new songs.. I'm not sure I know all the titles, but this is my best shot..."I'm Sorry"; "A Song About Hollywood"?; "Strange"? ( I think this was the point where she told the audience to "shut up" and this quiet and lyrical piece) ; "Pieces Of You" ( she introduced this song by telling the story of playing for a modeling convention with major celebrities who just didn't get it ... when the lyrics of "ugly girls"... "faggot" and "Jew" rang out ...forks dropped...and she was left with a somewhat stunned audience...there is no question she has learned from her stage experiences) "Who Will Save Your Soul"; "I Tryed To Forget You" ( very Dylanesque! ); "Last Dance Radio" ( wonderful!); "Deep Water"; "Song My Dady Taught Me" ( a wild increasingly intense yodel that pleased the entire audience ). There were shades of Joni Mitchell, and one could remember a very young Joan Baez with just a guitar and a voice opening for Bob. I was surprisingly impressed and look forward to her new work. It is clear this is a singer/songwriter that has a "connection".

Bob hit the stage right on time with Larry Cambell (electric & acoustic guitar); David Kemper (drums); Bucky Baxter (acoustic, electric guitars ,pedal steel guitar & mandolin); and Tony Garnier (electric guitar & acoustic upright bass). It was "Maggies Farm" (again the signal that this is a new sound and a new Dylan who moves and talks more than ever); "Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power); "Cold Irons Bound" ( a sonic introduction and then it is solid and hot!); "You're A Big Girl Now"; "Can't Wait" ( again there is an intro that kinda winds up and there he is ..a solid punch) ; "Silvio" (this is very live 'new' rocker and tonight it featured 'Dead Eyed Dylan' ) ; Roving Gambler" (traditional acoustic); "One Too Many Mornings" ( a sonic intro're not quite sure what it is gonna be and then what a treat!); "Tangled Up In Blue" (acoutic...this is the one that has the audience right with him the rest of the evening and he knows it. He is coaxing the sound out of this guitar and this is also 'The Limbo Dylan' doing the "how low can I go" routine...kinda 'The Dylan Dance'!!!!! ); "White Dove" (this is electric and he is doing "The Dylan Waltz"!) ; "Blind Willie McTell" (where has this baby been hiding for so long?) ; "'Til I Fell In Love With You" (strategically placed as the final song...wild!) ; and then he is back for the encores....."Highway 61 Revisited" ( this is the most amazing version!) ; "My Back Pages" (acoustic and much more alive and clearly touching than the recent "Bob Dylan Live '96" EP4 release!....were the lyrics really..."I was so fucking older then, I'm younger than that now?" Oh. And here he is doing 'The Dylan Swagger" and then 'The Dylan Duck Walk'!); "Love Sick ( one of the most powerful Dylan songs in some time!) "; "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" ( the lights are up for this one and the whole house is rockin' and he is playing to and acknowledging the audience).

Again the guy who used to just stand and sing one song after the other and just split, talks more and shakes his tail feather. Tonight I spotted 'The Dylan Toe And Heel Taps' AND 'The Dylan Knee Dips'!!!!!! along with ---> ..."Thank you everybody" ...when he does the band introductions he does his " We were trying to get Don Henley up here tonight but we couldn't find him"...and a surprise acknowledgement of ...." of the great drummers in the audience tonight...Ringo Starr...where are you Ringo?...I guess we don't want to put the spotlight on him". Ringo was actually up in the VIP section in the balcony seats, but for a moment I thought I spotted him in the front by the stage. I thought!...maybe he's gonna hop up during the encore! ...but then I realized the guy I was looking at had way more hair than Ringo these days. Each night of the Bob Dylan Festival in Los Angeles appears to be getting better. CAN'T WAIT until tomorrow night!!!

Alistair (Al) Hunter

December Setlists