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Bob Dylan 990716 in Bristow

Subject: Review: Nissan Pavilon 7/16
From: John M 
Date: 17 Jul 1999 10:12:21 -0700
Organization: None

Bob Dylan & Paul Simon
Nissan Pavilion
Manassas, VA 7/16/99

most of this review was written at 4AM.  Please excuse the

Bob came on 25 minutes late, dressed in his now-standard black
suit (accented with a frilly polka-dot tie).

The first thing to notice about the setlist is that it's almost
exactly the same as Raleigh two nights before.  Lest you think I
hated the show, I'll say up front I didn't.  But it was nowhere
near as good as the other shows I've seen (well, it was at about
the same level as Fairfax--just going thru the motions for most
of the show).  Perhaps I've been spoiled by having caught some
very fine shows over the last couple of years, but this one
didn't strike me as anything more than satisfactory.

Somebody Touched Me -- a great warm-up number, though it would
have been vastly improved if the backing vocals had been mixed
much lower (they were easily as loud as Bob's, and "the boys"
tended to drown him out).  I was hoping to hear this one (as
opposed to Hallelujah I'm Ready To Go or Cocaine Blues)

Between songs, Bob told a joke about how his ex-wife had just
left him again.

Tambourine Man -- Can't say I like this arrangement all that
much.  I much preferred the bluegrassy romps from 1996.  But Bob
did a really fine job with the vocals on this one, getting out
every nuance and making the most of the bottom part of his range
(something he'd never have dreamed of doing ten or fifteen years
ago).  The verses were completely picked apart and mixed back
together in almost random order, and often the first half of a
verse was paired with the wrong second half.  The harp solo was
appreciated, but rather muddled and didn't build to anything at

Masters Of War -- had far too sunny a disposition for its own
good.  The song needs to be menacing.  This just sounded like
they couldn't think of anything else to play.

Tangled Up In Blue -- Tangled suffers from the texture Bucky
added to the sound, and on something as energetic as this one
tries to be, you need something other than another damned
acoustic guitar to carry the song along (especially during the
jams).  I really didn't p-lay particularly close attention until
I heard "written by an Italian poet" part come up.  I have no
idea when Bob added that verse back in, but it must have been
sometime this year, since it was definitely absent last November
(and has been missing for as long as I can remember).  Did anyone
catch which century he sang?  To me, it sounded like he sang
seventeeth century, but whatever it was he seemed to swallow it
partway through.

Baby Blue -- At first I though this was gonna be Love Minus Zero,
and it wasn't until the very end of the intro that I realized it
was Baby Blue. Featured Larry on steel guitar. One of my least
favorite songs.  The big video screens came on at the beginning
of this song, since it was just beginning to get dark enough to
see them.

Watchtower -- hadn't heard that one for a while, and it's much
improved now. Really a rockin' performance, with Sexton beating
the hell out of his acoustic while the others were all on

Just Like A Woman -- ho hum.  Perhaps it's time to take this one
back to acoustic instruments?

Silvio -- rocked, with Bob paying attention to the vocals
(instead of just slurring them together the way he did when it
was a standard).  They kept the camera zoomed in on Bob, and each
gag line was accompanied by a devilish little grin and a squint
over the microphone (trying to catch a reaction from the crowd?).

Not Dark Yet -- made enduring the heat, paying a ridiculous
amount of $, and driving into northern VA all worthwhile.  A
wonderful performance, with gorgeously nuanced vocals and a
sympathetic (and surprisingly clean) backing.  Sadly, bob cut the
song short right after the last verse.  For once, apparently he
didn't feel like showing off his guitar prowess (pathetic as his
solos can be sometimes, the song would have benefitted from not
being ended quite so abruptly).

Highway 61 -- I'm sorry, but I thought it pretty well sucked. 
The band sounded like 1976 RTR at it's worst, with the wall of
sound mass of guitars, all doing their own thing.  The vocals
were unsettled, as if Bob wasn't ready to let 'er rip quite yet. 
Something other than a third electric guitar would have helped
the song enourmously, as the sound seemed all bunched up into one
register, where it just got more and more knotty and tangled as
the song went on.  Also, the whole thing was much quieter than I
remembered from shows last year (it was deafening at Fairfax in
Feb '98)

encores: LARS -- never gets old.  Not exactly the scorching
performance I hoped for, but awfully intense.

Blowin In The Wind -- I apparently groaned loudly enough at the
beginning of this one to cause the people around me to turn and
stare for a minute.  Not an offensive performance by any means,
just could ahve been so much better. I thought I could take
confort in hearing Not Fade Away finally, but no, Bob kept the
acoustic strapped on and started mumbling into the mic about "a
man who needs no introduction, but I'll introduce him anyway."

Sounds of Silence -- Ick.  Who came up with this arrangement? 
Couldn't differentiate the voices at all, so it sounded like one
guy with a deep voice and a bad cold singing a song he didn't
quite know all the words to.

That'll Be The Day-->The Wanderer -- an absolute riot.

Knockin On Heaven's Door -- I went to the bathroom, but from what
I heard, it was the usual KOHD, just with that short guy singing
along (I'd forgotten how tiny Paul Simon is until I saw Bob
towering over him on the video monitor.  If his hair hand't gone
grey, they'd probably still card him at movie theaters).  There
have been better collaboration on this song (Van Morrison at
Birmingham last summer, for instance) than Dylan/Simon.

And that was the last we saw of Bob.

Highlights of Simon's set, at least for me, were a luminous Boy
In The Bubble (what's with the hand motions, Paul?  Been hanging
around with those New York "artists" too much...) where the band
really got to show off a remarkable amount of cohesiveness for a
bunch of guys who were thrown together just over two months ago. 
Trailways Bus was very nice.  If the rest of the Capeman album is
like that one, I'll have to pick it up ASAP. Mrs Robinson was a
fun little romp down memory lane, with a nicely conceived
arrangement.  The slow parts of Cool Cool Water were very nice,
but the pumped-up tribal salsa the made up most of the song was a
bit much for me. Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes was
unbelievable.  The intensity and virtuosity completely blew the
original version away.  After a drum interlude (groan), they
leaped into Al, which was a hand-clapping good time (interactive,
where Diamonds was a stand back and watch 'em go kinda thing).

The four encores were most unexpected.  Good as Still Crazy After
All These Years was (some of Paul best singing that night, IMO),
The Boxer was just fuckin' amazing.  I was hoping a dark-clad 
figure would lope on stage during the song to join in on a verse
or two, but the song was more than fine without him.  The trumpet
solo did a nice job of blending the old and the new, fitting in
new directions seamlessly with remnants of the version from the
original recording.

I'd be most interested in getting a tape of this one (both Bob
and Paul), especially since I took a friend who'd never seen
either one live and would like to be able to pass along a tape to
him.  I've got excellent recordings of Portland 2/25/99 and
Zurich 4/25/99, as well as a very good tape of Columbus, OH
2/10/99, and a bunch of older stuff at:


1999: January - February - March - April - May - June - July