Sunday, August 31, 2008

Made it to Kansas City, Broadway and Valentine (KCMO, 8/28)

First appeared here-

Unfortunately, something got left behind :?

That is not to say this was not a good show, but the band seemed to be having trouble communicating, and things just kept going wrong, From broken strings, to nonfunctioning guitars, to missing lead singers to just an obvious lack of communication, things just weren’t working in the band’s favor. This was not to say it was not a good show, we got some great songs and the venue was next to prefect, but you cant have everything all the time, I suppose.

The wait started off easy, with all of the first 5 folks having also attended the Tulsa show. We shared different experiences from different parts of the room, ands pent a good two hours making fun of Donnie’s facial expressions (which gave us a good laugh later that night at the actual show haha). The general mood shifted soon afterwards however, when no one could answer our questions about an “early entry” trick pulled the last time Bob and the Boys were there. The owner made an appearance, telling us to (thankfully) move the line to the shady side of the building, but otherwise, we dealt w/ a venue employee who bore a striking resemblance to Denny Freeman. A few times I caught myself wondering what the lead guitarist was doing up on a ladder messing w/ the marquee. Anyway, for some reason, I trusted this guy immediately, and felt that if he said he’d do something, he would actually come through for you. Venue employees NEVER giver you the feeling.

The rest of the day was a hot sticky mess… but at least we were in the shade. Our only real form of entertainment came from messing around w/ the roadies/merch guys, as they were forced to unload their wares in front of us. The line growth was slow and steady until the last hour or so, you all know how it is. What complicated things for us was that a torrential downpour was predicted and fast approaching; and the only shelter was a one foot wide awning directly above the door. So much for the line, and we still hadn’t had out questions answered.

While this frustration is nothing new to anyone who’s done GA before, what happened next was an incredibly welcome surprise. They took the first 100 people and shoved them into the bar. Still no line, still mass confusions, and tempers flaring. They wont tell us anything, so we assume this is just some other weird venue ploy to watch the pathetic little patrons scramble. But no.

They take the first 5 people, and they tear our tickets. They then walk us into the theatre. Us, and only us. The rest wait. There is no need to run as we each casually and calmly select our prime rail real estate and sit down. Then they repeat the process w/ the next 5, and the next, and so on and so on. We have time to enjoy the low, small stage, beautiful decoration and just general calm of what has been engrained in us as a hectic mad dash. I cannot thank them enough for the way they handled it!

They let everyone in early because of the storm, so we had awhile to chat w/ the folks around us. On a personal level, Blonde, DIA, and the lurker they brought w/ them (:P) are such awesome people. Its increasingly difficult to find fans who are enthusiastic, but also not insane. These folks are quite level headed. Easily risen to some of my favorite ER posters. Thanks!

W/ the extra time spent packed into the 2000 person venue, we got the chance to see its one major flaw; no air conditioning. It soon became clear that this would soon turn into a sauna. No one cared though, as they jumped to their feet to welcome the intro. Shadowy figures take their places on stage. “…Ladies and gentlemen, Columbia recording artist, Bob Dylan!”. The lights swoop up, Tony claps it off, the crowd screams, and……….no Dylan. The band continues on w/ the song (Leopard Skin), as if nothing was wrong (because, clearly what else can they do?). I shrug it off, the guys I paid to see play are all here haha. All of the sudden, Dylan comes flying on from stage left, leaping over random obstacles to take his place at the keys. Denny is on his Strat, but from where I’m standing (directly in front of him) it sounds like he’s having problems w/ it.

Baby Blue, perhaps my favorite Dylan song, was next. As I told the ER’ers out front, I was nervous to hear it, since I really wasn’t a fan of what they did the last time it got regular rotation. While I didn’t much care for the vocal stylings, the instrumentals were certainly nothing to scoff at. Rollin followed, and here it became clear that something wasn’t clicking. Denny’s slide was a bit lackluster, but no one seemed to be really on the same page for any of it. Afterwhich, Dylan made his first of many migrations center stage, to stand in front of George waving his hands (don’t know if that was a good or a bad thing) or to confer w/ Tony, or both, but whatever it was, he wasn’t able to get it acroos the whole show.

GONC was GONC; not a favorite, and at the rate these guys were going, nothing to write home about. High Water one again saw Stu taking lead duties. Nothing superbly special, but it got the crowd that much sweatier. Tony mimed the expected audience scream on the line mentioning Kansas City, but in actually, the crowd was less i=enthused about it then he expected them to be haha

I will admit that Chimes caught me completely off guard, I didn’t recognize it for quite some time. See comments for Baby Blue, though I felt Denny did more w/ this then Blue. Another song which I’d discussed out front was the amazing Til I Fell In Love w/ You from Dallas earlier this year, and while the rhythm boys weren’t able to get that same groove bcak tonight, it was pretty damn near close, and if you complain about hearing the great song, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.

Hard Rain took me a minute to recognize as well. See High Water, minus Stu on lead. Honest cranked, as it always does. I wanta say Stu took lead on it too, but I’m writing this from the Park City line, and so it may have been Denny. I’m pretty sure it was Stu though. JLAW was nice, but I’m not a huge fan to begin w/. I was pleased to finally see Beyond the Horizon. Not Denny’s best performance of the song, but it wasn’t something you hold your ears on either. 

Highway 61 totally belongs to George now, it is official. And Thunder was always Denny’s, nothing different tonight.

Denny had, sometime during the first few numbers, given up on his Strat in favor of the funky Gibson, but the roadie had supposedly fixed it in time for AATW. Guess he forgot to switch the strings though, as one went flying during a very nice solo. Not to be deterred, the boys finished out the night by blowing the eardrums of the sopping wet crowd, before sending them out to see what damages this reported doozie of a storm brought.

Reading this, you may think it was a sub par show, or that spirits were low, but that is not the case. It was not the tight knit group we have grown accustomed to seeing, that’s for sure, but they sure put on a hell of a show, and Dylan pranced about in front of the rails before encore before some mook snapped a picture.

Again, I must thank that guy who looked like Denny Freeman, and the owner of the venue itself, I look forward to seeing many shows in your establishment.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The review that almost wasnt (Tulsa OK 8/27)

First appeared here-

I don’t know what it was, but something about the Tulsa show screamed my name from the moment it was announced. Tulsa was never a place I really ever envisioned myself at, especially at the end of August, but for some reason I tried harder for a ticket to this show then I’ve ever tried before. Waking up for presale at 6 am after working 4 12 hr night shifts for presale, ditto two weeks later for regular sale. Short of actually going to a venue over 800 miles away, I did everything in my power to get a ticket, so you’d think some sort of cosmic force would help me out, right? Wrong!

I had NOTHING. I had all but written it off, when those aforementioned forces came to my aid, in the form of a friend lamenting a change of plans. A ticket! In the 11th hour! (Thank G-d some people are devoted enough to their jobs to actually listen to their boss haha). He wouldn’t tell me where it was, said it wasnt the best, but who am I to refuse such an amazing turn of events!

When the day finally came, I checked out of my hotel at noon, and stepped out to greet……… the most unbearable, sweltering heat I’ve ever experienced in my entire life! I’m not from a humid place; I usually dig humidity, but not when its 90 damn degrees outside! I walked 2 blocks up the deserted streets, and quickly realized why they were deserted haha. I suppose in hindsight a seated show really is best in a climate like that. 

I went in around 7, mainly just curious as to the location of my seat. He was right, but I looked at the bright side, not only was it near the soundboard, (perfectly mixed sound is not something one is accustomed to on the rails), but it would give me a different perspective on the show and maybe (gasp! What a concept!) actually watch the man whose name appears on the ticket haha It also provided a totally different crowd. As opposed the conversations on favorite guitarists and worst line experiences over the years, I found myself amongst Dylan virgins (for lack of a better term, apologies). They didn’t even know the current drummer, much less remember the really excellent solo so-and-so played x number of years ago. That is not to demean them at all, its great to see and talk w/ folks who’ve been fans for years, but who aren’t as “sucked in” as, say, some around here. And, pertaining to all Okies, they were some of the nicest and most polite groups of people I’d met. 

And somehow, I knew that was a recipe for disaster.

I figured that since it was a seated show and I was pretty far back, I would go ahead and text the set to the pool. Everyone (albeit begrudgingly) stood for the first song, but by the time the second song was sent, I looked up to discover everyone else was sitting. I tried to sit, I honestly did, but I just couldn’t. ‘Oh G-d, how will they voice their displeasure? Paper? Cups? A Chair? :P ’ I thought to myself as I awaited the inevitable. Now, before you start on me, please reread the 3rd sentence, and bear in mind that these people stayed sitting through a REALLY nice rockin version of Tweedle. 

“It” finally came in the form of a nice woman. She, too, expected a confrontation, but she politely explained how I seemed to be doing a wonderful job of blocking Bob, but only Bob. She was visibly surprised when I agreed not to stand.

I sure as hell wasn’t going to sit though; the venue (a nice small theatre, go if you’re ever cursed enough to have to endure Tulsa :P) seemed to have no problem w/ people meandering and cruising about. So long as you didn’t block the aisle for very long, you were free to move about. No one seemed to mind. At fist I went and stood along the left side. The bass over there was so strong I could feel it bouncing in my chest. But I couldn’t see Denny at all, and while Tony was there, he appeared to be playing the wall; his upright was completely hidden from view. Since the wall probably wasn’t going to move, no matter how politely I asked, I began to ping pong around the room, working as a seat filler. Just another example of how genuinely nice Okies are; not one turned down my offer, nor suspected that I had ulterior motives. Of course, I wasnt about to stand or cause trouble in a borrowed seat, but about halfway through, a couple left a pair of fairly decent seats, right behind another younger guy who danced the whole show. Strength in numbers, my friend. 

Onto the actual performance; the opened w/ River, Dylan on guitar. Since I had just made a post lamenting the loss of a Freeman solo on that one, I could only groan, but to my surprise they both had a go at it. Denny’s only guitar of the night (there wasn’t even a Strat on stage for him) was that funky gold custom Gibson. I was excited to finally be hearing from it, but it didn’t get quite the normal workout, as the biggest surprise of the night came when Stu took the lead on Tweedle! :shock: I don’t know if this has been going on for awhile, but w/ no tapes and no one reporting, I was really surprised. He’s no Denny, but its nice to see some variety. Moonlight, while not a huge fan, was a first for me, and then back to Stu for lead on High Water. If we’re going for variety, have Donnie do something w/ that banjo! The riff is a great teaser, give us more!

4th Street, sadly to say, I was not able to concentrate on. It was a little too GONC for me, as I remember (too much irritating steel), but I’ll hold out for a tape to make my final judgment. Levee was again taken by Stu. Spirit and Mobile were my best seats all night, and they were excellent, not a bad thing to say about any of them. After that, I found myself a permanent place, and the setlist itself settled down into the more “regular” numbers. George took off during H61. I mean, everyone always kills on that one, but the drums were something else this time. The same for AATW, not just on George’s part, but everyone took it to another level.

When it was all said and done, there was nothing that took me to another plane of existence. The setlist was not something that blew me out of the water. The crowd? The wait? The town? The weather? The heat? There was no one particular thing that makes you say that’s why it was calling to me, that’s why I went. It was an above average show, far better then some I’ve gone to, and settles into place behind others. Overall though, it would have been a real bitch to have missed.

You guys missed out.