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Bob Dylan 990905 in Charlotte, North Carolina

Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 01:32:10 EDT
Subject: A Sophocratic Review of 9/5/99-Charlotte,N.C. show (Bob's set)

Two friends return from yet another Bob Dylan show and offer
their semi-dialogue for your amusement and perusal:

It was a rainy night. It had rained all day (much need,
drought-quenching rain) spawned off of a lingering, turning and
returning 12-day old Hurricane Dennis, swinging back inland to
dump its ladden'd-moisture salvation upon the rest of the state
(after battering the coast) before turning North to tease and
please Virginia.

So, welcomed though it was,it Was Raining.

But moisten'd earth does not a dampened spirits make, and the
crowd was Ready For Bob, cheering when the lights went
down;cheering wilder when Larry walked out onto and across the
stage to take his place before his amps and axes, the other
following , all teeth and waving arms, greeting the crowd, the
tour followers, the curious and all, as an old familiar rumble
from in front as they play. The first of the evening's white
paper confetti, left over from the raucous ending to the
night-before's Motley Crue show shower of confetti ending,
drifted down from the rafters and overhead catwalk as the
cheering shook the hollow hall.

And Bob,as well,  was in rare spirits for tonight's show: opening
for Paul Simon, his recent tour-partner.

Rovin' Gambler opened the show, masterfully played, and set the
tone for the rest of the evening's
performance,friendly,happy,glad to be playing,but always on the
mark, keen to the beat and off the beaten at the same time. Cool,
Rare; like a flower and plantfilled garden in the Himalayas. the
crowd was his/theirs, right from the beginning. PoW!, done.

On the second song,Tambourine Man, they slide smoothly into a
sweet, slower jam-version of this classic. Sweet but powerful..
Next, It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding); an otherworldly,
Morrocan-styled guitar riff played by Larry ( who was splendid
all night as well) started this, and by its end,even the Simon
fans in the seats behind us were saying, "Bob Dylan has some new
fans! This guy is really good."  A Splendid rendering earned a
spendid response from the crowd - It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only
Bleeding) as powerful as we'd ever heard ( some murmured nearby).

Slowing down, a beautiful version of To Ramona , with folkstyled
fingerpicking that was as sincere, clear and clean as the lyrics.
They followed with an up-beat Tangled Up in Blue. Bob starting to
glisten,working the crowd as the ZenBusker, playing them as if
strings on his guitar, and the bandmates cutting a backup groove
so large it's the only net that anyone could need, allowing Bob
to soar musically, like an eagle, snapping glittering riffs from
some hidden place rarely seen by others with duller eyes. the
crowd was Hypnotized by their awe for Dylan the Musician,
Riffzilla, leadslayer and LewisandClark of Lyric fame, Live!, in
person, playing the living needs from his classic Tangled Up In
Blue; ladies and gentlemen, Columbia Recording Artist,Bob
Dylan...When they finished people whooped, the man behind us
exclaimed aloud, "They're cookin' tonight !!!" as if it were a
revelation (perhaps, to some, it truly was).

A 10 second switch from the all-acoustic to their electric gear,
and the band, as one, cut a clear swath with a razored edged All
Along the Watchtower. Silver beams send shimmering moonlets on
the amber washed curtains behind the band as they launched this
Rock-et of Roll on the already-too-willing audience as the band
was a rythmn entity as Bob took a centered stance at his
microphone, delivering his lyrics and guitar fingerings as clean
and accessible as they were wont. Rare. Fine. Emmiently

Bob soothed the audience into their seats with his styling and
choice of Lay,Lady,Lay as the next effort. It was slower, as well
as an unusual styling, that changed it and the audience's tone.
Just as he could calm them, he roused them with his Next song and
version of Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.
Bob at the top of his edges, really doing it up neat for the
gathering, all those come to see whomever, Seeing the Dylan; why
we travel, see multiple shows of the same tours, covering
distances to hear all the now-familiar words and chords, newed
nightly by the Bard of Our Day, Our BillyS., Our Lochlear, our
voice, the artisian mind of one self-named poet who enjoys
calling himself Bob Dylan, as do we. It was a jaunty, jovial,
jocular rock version of Stuck..., in many ways, and it wove a
magic on the crowd, setting them up for the soothingly soft
rendering of Not Dark Yet that followed. A version that almost
turned this current futureClassic into the lovesong it is at its
heart., a loveletter to life even in its grit.

He introduced  the band, LarryCampbell, Charlie Sexton (the new
guitarist, now a seasoned cog in this wonderous musical train),
David )o the Beat AlwaysOnTime Drums,and Tony, perfect on bass,
before lauching into the jamfilled Silvio that he often enjoys
playing with such gusto.They scorch this everytime, but this
delivery is spirited, with Bob smiling, standing by the mic with
his guitar neck up straight, held high as he picks and sings with
clear punctuation, grinning to the throng who lap it up, giddy
with found delight, Belivers all now.

Then they are done, and the instruments are down and they are
gone, walking to the stage rear, upstage , away from them all,
into the wings. The stage goes dark as the wild cheering
continues...The darkness holds but the cheering is a Thank You as
Much as a More and it stays constant,othen increases, as the
lights flash on and off and the respected ones return. They start
the grand encore with a journeyman version of his classic
reminder of potential come-upance Like A Rolling Stone, and the
crowd are again their puppets of joy, pulsing to the beats and
rythmns as if connected to the same power amps that swell the
sounds throught the venue into the greedy ears of all in

Even if you had not come to see Bob, you were at least partly his
now, if not a delirous drone, called moth-like to his lamp, lit
by the fire of his mission, his path, his place in music lore and
leadership by example, his skill, This Night, This Show, This
Song, Thses Notes, this holding of this word and turning, again
turning of that one, chosen long ago; he's only reminding us of
it all tonight, This Now, reality, the moments we were sharing.

It Ain't Me, Babe, a soft, sweet rendering that sought to inform
gently some mis-assumption in the listener's thinking, cast
itself over the lulled crowd like a goodbye, a shadow reminder
that the visitors were passing by and to remember they had been
there with you, even if the fantasy would not stand against the
coming dawn. Bob and Larry riffed against each others skills,
trading ingerpicked harmonies up and down the necks of their
acoustic guitars, shimmering a musical weaving several years in
the loom now, and wearing well. As it ended, the assembled throng
bellowed their heartfelt approval and Dylan quickly springboarded
it to his intro of Paul Simon. The crowd Loved it, as they
launched into a duet on Simon's The Boxer. Cheers greeted Dylan's
harp, soaring and slithering around the melody,playing
beautifully against Larry's efforts on the pedal steel guitar.
Laughing, Bob Playfully 'punches' Simon's shoulder at the songs
end. They launch into I Walk the Line after some conferring, and
Larry rips a fine fiddlelike solo that leads this number into a
great Simon lead Blue Moon of Kentucky that was almost over the
top ( a bit, perhaps, if you agree ).Big laughs and a blue stage
lends itself well to the closing Knockin' On Heavens Door, a
collective songfest to end a particularily fine set by Bob Dylan
and the current tour bandmates in Charlotte, N.C. on September 5,

   Hope you were there.
                                            of Earth

Subject: Re: September 5, 1999 - Charlotte, North Carolina - Setlist From: jerry withrow Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 10:16:47 -0400 (EDT) It's Alright Ma is a verbal minefield, and Dylan detonated a few, with repeats and "dummy" lyrics. But while lyrically he may have faltered, it was an excellent vocal performance and a very interesting arrangement which will make this a real knockout when he nails the whole thing. My favorite for the night was To Ramona which was just beautiful and which featured some lovely mandolin work by Larry Campbell. Also, Not Dark Yet has solidified it's place as a classic on this tour and both North Carolina performances showed Dylan at his vocal best. The duets were a treat again (I cannot understand some of the criticism they've received). Dylan's harp and eyebrows got a real workout on The Boxer and Larry's fiddle highlighted a very nice I Walk The Line/ Blue Moon Of Kentucky. All in all, I thought the Raleigh show might have been more focused, but both offered rewards a-plenty. If anyone has tapes, I'd sure be interested if you'll do a blanks deal. The soundcheck seemed to have either Charlie or Larry on vocals and included an unidentified country weeper, an unidentified blues, This Wheels On Fire, Watching The River Flow, and Knocking On Heaven's Door. A great(though damp) North Carolina night, to which we even welcome the glass-housed stone throwers from Virginia. Jerry (who is thrilled he finally did NOT do RDW, a first in my Dylan experience)
Subject: Report of Charlotte (09/05/99) From: Gert Webelhuth Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 13:25:37 -0700 Hi everybody, my friend Ken Wilson came down from Virginia yesterday and we made our way out to Charlotte to see Bob. We had tickets in section 1, row T, but Ken had the great idea of asking at the Will Call window whether they still had tickets for sale and we got Row 3 tickets about 2 hours before the show. We sold our other tickets and took at loss but it was well worth it. Security up front was pretty lax and allowed us to crash the stage after 5 of 6 songs (if I remember correctly) and we were all the way at the front. As usual, that was a special treat. I won't say anything about the songs that didn't do much for me. The full song list is already up. He started out with a fairly standard Rovin' Gambler and then Tambourine Man. Ken loves the song and had a good time but I have heard it so often recently that I wish it would be given a break for a while. Then "It's Alright Ma," which was memorable for two things: I have never seen Bob flub the lyrics of any song to totally: we heard the lines with "suicide notes were torn" three times! If I heard this right, he started the verse the first time and then ended one line with "blah, blah, blah". He stepped back from the Mike with a poker face, and started the verse over. Later in the song he got stuck in the middle of another verse and just stopped singing in the middle of the line. The band just pretended that nothing was wrong and looking at Bob's face one would never have thought that he thought that anything was out of the ordinary. They finished the song with some nice riffs and he got a standing ovation, like for all other songs that night. Then he sang a very sweet Waltzy version of To Romona, followed by a Tangled which didn't have any extraordinary if you have heard it dozens of times the last few years. Watchtower was next and was nice, with the wind howling through Larry's steel guitar. I have always liked that song despite its detractors on this group. Then a highlight for me: "Lady Lay." Very sweet and slow, paying attention to every word. Ken and I both noticed that during one line of "lay down on my big brass bed" he sang the word "biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig" extra-extra long and couldn't help but put a lascivious (sp?) smile on his face. I cracked up: Bob, more sex please!!! That was funny! He really nailed "Not Dark Yet," a song which scared me when I first heard it on Time Out of Mind but which he is able to turn into a hopeful song nevertheless when I see him sing it live. That was the first time that night that I felt like he was conveying, "We got no choice but to fight on." Silvio ended the regular set and I noticed nothing special. Then they came back with RS and I was at first bored with it but then got swept up in it. To me the song means that part of growing up is that you gotta learn to go it alone, you gotta be willing to take risks, to leave authority and leaders behind, when it comes to life you're like a rolling stone, you have to fight for your own happiness. To me it is a song of liberation whose topic - interpreted (maybe wrongly) as in the previous few sentences continued the theme of "Not Dark Yet:" I may get knocked down periodically, but here I am, still on stage, still heading for another joint. I now realize that when I found the song scary, I emphasized the words "but it's getting there", but the words "it's not dark yet" are actually very life-affirming. He end with a non-descript It Ain't Me, Babe. The he brought Simon on stage and they played an absolutely wonderful "The Boxer." The roles were reversed this time: usually the other musicians on stage watch Dylan to keep up with him, but this time Bob did not keep his eyes off Simon's lips and was making every effort to stay in sync with him. He also played a very sweet harmonica solo during the song. One of the highlights of the night. Bob seemed to have thought that he did well, because he padded Simon on the shoulder for well done and they were obviously pleased. They ended with Heaven's Door (Ken afterwards had to explain the joke of "You keep on knocking, but you can't come in" to me which Dylan seems to find hilarious, because he was laughing all the way through it. If that is so, then it was another nice affirmation that Bob is in good and life-affirming spirits these days and has no intention of knocking on heaven's door soon. After the song, Dylan and Simon talked, laughed, and hugged and were obviously very happy with each other. Ken and I loved the show. Bob looked very tired from close up but we agreed that he gave all he had to give that night. We had a wonderful time, but I wouldn't mind some changes in the song list. And let's have another club tour soon. Thanks Bob for a great night and thanks Ken for great companionship! If someone happens to have an extra tape of the show (including, please, "The Boxer"), then please be in touch! Gert
Charlotte, Blockbuster Pavilion, September 5, 1999 The concert in the Southern banking town of Charlotte Sunday began in a somewhat unpromising way, as it was not dark yet, and many seats were unfilled. But at about 7:30, Bob and mates came on stage and kicked into Roving Gambler. I supressed a bit of disappointment, as I would have liked one of the gospel songs, but this was well-delivered, and I was pleased that the sound system was flawless. Tambourine Man came next, as expected, and was done very well, featuring a very nice harp solo by Bob (one-hand style). ItÕs Alright, Ma filled the next slot, then To Ramona, very nicely done, with Larry on mandolin. First spoken words here: "Thank you, thanks, everybody." Bob was a man of few words tonight, and in fact his manner throughout the night was somewhat more reserved than in the mid-summer shows, to my observation. He appeared healthy and relaxed, but less, shall we say, expansive. All the moves were more subtleÑno mugging or hamming, but rather the nudge of the hip, bend of the knee, or tilt of the head. Very cool and Dylanesque, IMO. Tangled was next, well crafted; I have to work a bit on this one, as I think it may need a rest, but Charlie and Tony in particular seemed to enjoy it. They interacted frequently all evening. By now, the seats have filled up, itÕs beginning to get fairly dark and the electric instruments are brought out for a very powerful Watchtower, the version with the short ending. Larry was on lap steel, and Charlie on the black and white Strat. Very, very good version of this great song. Larry moved to pedal steel and Charlie to brown Strat for Lay, Lady Lay, which was beautiful. A great version of Mobile/Memphis follows; not the country shuffle like at Nashville in FebruaryÑmore of a rocker, but still wonderful. I think you can say that the primary discernable effect of BuckyÕs replacement by Charlie is that this is a bit less of a country band and a bit more of a rock band. Anybody agree with that? Mob/Mem featured Larry on cream Telecaster, Charlie on that pretty red Gibson hollow body. I noticed here that Bob spent about half the evening with his left hand held somewhat high while holding the guitar, the way I remember Bill Wyman doing. I think thatÕs supposed to relieve strain on the wrist, so Bob can play comfortably when heÕs 80. Bob said "Thank you" and coughed after M/M. Next came Not Dark Yet, interestingly enough right when the last bit of light was fading from the sky. CharlieÕs parade of pretty guitars continues, and now we see the black Epiphone. NDY was a big highlight as has been the case recently, and it was a happy moment as there was now a very mannerly (Southern style?) stage rush, accomodated graciously by security and the nice folks on the front row. Band introductions were next, without jokes, followed by Silvio, which rocked and everybody enjoyed. Now comes the moment of the night, yes, the old warhorse Like a Rolling Stone, which happens to be the best rocker ever written, and they just tore it up. The three guitars blasted away a wall of sound that I could have stood in happily for at least an hour, not to mention BobÕs fine vocal delivery. The guitar blend was truly wonderful, with Charlie playing a great version of the Bloomfield part (Charlie back on Strat since Silvio, I think, but now it was too much fun to take notes), and Bob and Larry just cooking along beautifully. The whole show was good, but this was worth the trip. All the band members interacted nicely with the folks up front, but as I mentioned before, no showboating. I think each musician makes eye contact with the barrier-hangers, so you can flatter yourself into thinking they remember you from last time you were there! They left briefly, then returned with acoustic tools for It AinÕt Me, Babe, followed by BobÕs introduction of Paul Simon. The duo did some interesting work on The Boxer, with Bob looking very alertly at Paul as they sorted out the harmonies. Larry played a great pedal steel part, Bob played harp a bit (two hands this time), and Charlie took this moment to show off the pretty red Gretsch. Bob and Paul had a cordial exchange of words off-mic, then I Walk the Line/Blue Moon of Kentucky with Larry sawing away nicely on fiddle. KnockinÕ comes now, well-done, IMO, featuring a brief but powerful lead run by Charlie (Strat), and I also was impressed by one perfect ooo, ooo shared by Paul and Charlie while Bob had the lead. They left to a strong ovation, and the house lights were left down just long enough for us to hope the pattern might be broken by a return, but it was not to be. As the lights came up, I noticed that most seats were full, except on the fringes, and there was a substantial crowd standing in the mist upon the hillside. I should mention, although I donÕt know all the technical terms, that Bob wore a black suit with darker black, maybe velvet, half-moony decorations down the sides of the arms and legsÑsharp. Charlie wore a nice undecorated black suit. HeÕs a nice-looking guy, as you may know. Tony wore a green or olive-colored suit with the familiar black bowler, while Larry had the longer black pinstriped coat over black pants. All I could see of David was the big white hat and shades. I noticed when Bob walked off stage, he was wearing a white cowboy hat, also, whether borrowed from David or picked up, I donÕt know. So it was a fine program, the rain slacked up enough not to be a problem, and the venue is remarkably comfortable to be so big. Twist my arm for a complaint, and I guess I would ask for a more adventuresome set list, but everything seemed fresh anyway because the musicians were committed to the songs. IÕve been fortunate to see Bob within a few hours of my home several times over the last three years, but it looks like that may change as Bob heads north. Thanks for being in the neighborhood, Bob and friends; when the winter turns cold, I will warm myself by hearing and feeling Like a Rolling Stone from Sunday night. That was an incredible moment; I donÕt think anyone else could do anything even close to it. Press on, brothers; enjoy the road, and may GodÕs light shine upon you always. Respectfully submitted by William Robertson (
1999: January - February - March - April - May - June - July September -