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? ’ 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 ) 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! 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.