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Bob Dylan 990713 in Virginia Beach

Subject: 7/13/99 Dylan
From: ken f wilson
Date: 14 Jul 1999 12:49:28 -0700
Organization: None

Here's my not-so-cheap-anymore stogie in the mouth review and
musings. I took no notes, so this is mostly a handful of
impressions. A leisurely drive to Virginia Beach got me to the
amphitheater by mid-afternoon. Expecting a storm that never
really materialized, I decided to sell my lawn ticket and buy a
pavilion seat. The ticket lady showed me 2nd(!) row, which later
turned out to be 2nd row behind the VIP section, or about 14th
row. I didn't care, I was just thrilled to be there.

Bob sauntered on in the silver-grey suit and the white cowboy
hat, took off the hat, and launched into Hallelujah, I'm Ready,
with the band and myself chiming in. I especially loved the call
and response nature of the chorus. This was the song I'd come to
hear, and after that I was so happy he could have sung Schubert
lieder the rest of the night and I'd have been satisfied.
Actually I might have preferred a weird, ambitious failure like
that to the run of the mill set list, and not exactly lackluster,
but somewhat lackadaisical show we got.

There wasn't as much Scowling, Intent Bob or Mugging, Dancing
Fool Bob on hand tonight as there was a perhaps tired, perhaps
introverted professional graciously doing his job within a
somewhat limited dynamic range. (But who am I to
pop-psychoanalyze Bob Dylan? And who can ever resist doing so?)
There were moments of relatively quiet intensity, but there were
also moments when I wondered if he would muster the energy to
sing the next line. Of course nowadays even on a
less-than-stellar night he still seems much more involved than in
the dog days of the late 80's and early 90's.

I've never heard a less that lovely Mr. Tambourine Man, and this
wasn't it either. After the night's first Generic Bob Guitar
Noodle, he stepped away from the mike and Larry took the lead,
with immediately interesting results. Silly me, I thought we'd
get a full-fledged solo, but it lasted only until Bob got back to
the mike with the harp. Masters of War and Tangled (with the
poems being "read") were competent but uninspired. Ditto for
Hattie Carroll, in which the singing never really built in
intensity or seemed shaped to tell the story. I'm probably being
too negative here -- there were folks around me seeing him for
the first and 2nd time that were beside themselves with
excitement.This was my 31st and I'm spoiled. I just kept shaking
my head and laughing at the shapelessness of the whole affair.
Boys will be boys, and Bob (I think I'd be nonplussed if fans
assumed relative familiarity by referring to _me_ by my first
name) a former boy, will be Bob. A lot of folks on this list seem
to see him as the rebel he once was. And that's understandable.
Me, I'm tired of rebels, but I do love the guy for a related
quality, his determined idiosyncracy, even if it is sometimes --
in the amoral sense -- perverse, like when employs great guitar
players and then hogs all the solos! But he says he plays what he
likes, and I gladly pay to hear it.

Next to Hallelujah, the other highlight of his set for me was
Trying to Get to Heaven. As previously reported here, the
arrangement hasn't really jelled yet, but he sang it like he
meant it, and we almost got there. The popular guitar rave up
named after this list lacked an honest rave up of a solo. LARS
had more pungency and swoop than I'd expected from recent posts
here, and by late in the set our man did look to be enjoying
himself. Once he cocked a boot behind him, almost as if to assume
ballet's fourth position. No pirouette though.

After the band intros he mentioned that there had been a robbery
at their hotel that morning and they'd woken up to a burglar
alarm. When he began speaking, I thought it was one of those
corny jokes he's been telling, I'm still half wondering if it

When Paul Simon came on ("and now I'd like to introduce a man who
needs no introduction") in his baseball cap, he loosened things
up considerably, and Bob made me laugh by running and putting on
his own hat. The slow unison guitar opening to Sounds of Silence
was utterly gorgeous. When they began "harmonizing," it was cause
for laughter again. The medley, That'll Be the Day/The Wanderer
in this case, was pure fun, with both grinning and laughing thru
the latter in particular.

Late in Knocking on Heaven's Door  Simon started singing the
title line from a 50's song, "I hear you knocking but you can't
come in." I don't know if it was intended as sacrilegious
deflation of Knockin's sentiments, or as wistful, ironic, in the
spirit of that song commentary, or -- more likely -- if it was
just a spur of the moment musical cross-reference in questionable
taste, but it seemed to fit the mood. (Has he been doing this?)

Come to think of it, there were 3 songs about anticipating,
waiting for, and longing for heaven last night. By one of my
personal standards, that makes it a very fine show. And I had a
great time. Thanks, Bob! Try to get some sleep before Nissan


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