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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Musical: Bob Dylan at Notre Dame 
14th-Feb-1999 11:59 pm
Guitar
Setlist for Bob Dylan's Valentine's Day concert at Notre Dame in 1999, which I hit with Erik, Mark and Chris (and plenty of my students visible nearby). There was a great, fun opening set by Brian Setzer and his lively Orchestra, which fulfilled my desire to see them in a show since I started listening to them in 1993.

Dylan's set:

Gotta Serve Somebody
Million Miles
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
You're A Big Girl Now
Silvio
Mr. Tambourine Man
Desolation Row
Tangled Up In Blue
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Make You Feel My Love
Can't Wait
Highway 61 Revisited

(encore)
Love Sick (which was so bleak and overwhelming – and, I thought, laden with an irony, given the day – that I found myself shouting out "Happy Valentines Day!" into the space after it ended, with Erik looking at me and confirming I was an idiot. I thought it was funny....)
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Not Fade Away


Subject: Dylan at Notre Dame-Valentine's Day
From: Paul Bullen (pbullen@ENTERACT.COM)
Date: 15 Feb 1999 11:45:05 -0800
Organization: None

The University of Notre Dame (Joyce Center) is the second Catholic college I
have seen Dylan at, and, like the last time I saw him it was in a basketball
arena; but it was much smaller than Chicago's United Center, home of the
Bulls.

At the United Center I was the furthest from the stage I have been, but it
was the most inspiring of experiences. University of Notre Dame's Joyce
center was the closest I have been (6th row), but it was the least inspiring
of concerts. Whether this was because of the performance or because of me, i
don't know. Apparently, not taking photographs is a necessary but not a
sufficient condition for enjoying a show. (It would have been pretty easy to
take photographs. There was no search.) There were three songs that stood
out for me last night:

1. Desolation Row
2. Don't Think Twice
3. Not Fade Away.

I think I can do without "Silvio". And I suppose I have never really been
particularly fond of "Serve Somebody", although any reminder that Bob Dylan,
of all people, became a fundamentalist Christian, at least for a few years,
is welcome.

I prefer the spirit of the Desolation Row performed last night to those of
Highway 61 or Live '66, although the instrumental accompaniment of the HW61
is excellent. If my memory is correct it was at the end of Desolation Row
that Dylan put down his guitar and concluded the song playing the harmonica.

One problem with Dylan's performances is that his voice is not in great
shape. It would be nice if one could discern a greater percentage of the
words. The songs from Time out of Mind are the clearest. It must be
particularly difficult for people who are not already familiar with the
songs.

I had to stand throughout the entire show. This is because Brian Selzer told
everyone to stand up during his concert. Otherwise the comparatively
civilized and extensively supervised crowd would probably have sat most of
the time.

The makeup of the audience is close to the 1966 concert I attended: mainly
teenagers and completely white. There seemed to be a lot of 12-year old
girls. Were a lot of people there primarily to see the Brian Selzer
Orchestra?

I enjoyed the middle third of the BSO's set (starting from when everyone
stood up). He is a combination of big band and 50s rock and roll (etc.). I
have never heard anything they have recorded, but there seems to be a
tendency toward being a Johnny-One-Note. I wish performers would aim more at
substance than at style.

"Not Fade Away" was nice in part because it was something different. Of all
the song's Dylan can choose from, what recommends "Silvio" so much? How
about "No Time to Think" or "Carribean Wind" or "Tell Me" just once?

But it was very nice to be close enough to see Dylan's face. Even from the
6th row binoculars would be a good idea, though. I am very grateful to the
person who got the excellent seating for me.

Chicago to South Bend is a dismal commute. Could there be a less scenic
route? And what happened to good old truck stops, with real waitresses? A
24-hour Hardees is no substitute.

Despite this grumbling, I want to say that living in a location where it is
possible to see Dylan frequently is a great privilege, and it is good to
remain cognizant of overseas fans who would be willing to WALK the dismal
commute and listen to a dozen Silvios just for a chance to hear Dylan
perform. I look forward to hearing other how others found the Feb. 14, 1999
show.

---Paul (Bullen)

+++

Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999 20:55:16 -0500
To: karlerik@monet.no
From: "Cynthia W. Haas" (haas.2@nd.edu)
Subject: South Bend, 14 February, 1999

From John H. Haas

Hey Karl Erik, can you add this to the South Bend report that's already up?

So what is the story? Brian Setzer joins Bob in Normal on the 13th, and in
Grand Rapids on the 15th, but South Bend? No way. Oh well, we only knew
the half of it at the time and no one was disappointed then, so why
complain. We have orders not to.

The neophytes thought this a great concert and I'm not going to argue, it
was. When you think about it, Bob really knows what he's doing, much better
than we old hands do when we get to criticizing. He knows he's got us, he
even gives us (some) of what we want, but he also and primarily and in fact
more importantly gets his music across to a wide range of folk, from
literally 50-somethings+ who haven't bought an album by anyone since the
sixties to teenagers who think it would be amusing to check out Jacob's dad.
Everyone comes out raving. I was raving, even though I would in my sober
moments rate it about a six on my Bob-Only scale (no one else even gets to
zero on that scale!), though that's an average. Some performances were
nine's. "Serve Somebody," "Desolation Row," and "Love Sick," for example.
In the heads of the die-hards he's competing against himself, and what's the
point of trying to please some freak who's going to compare each excellent
performance with one he saw two years ago or heard on a tape? Forget it.

Allow me to thank my beloved wife for organizing a no holds barred assault
on the ticket venues-eyecandy, the radio, and a cast of thousands at the
JACC to be sure to get good and close. We did, sixth row center, our best
seats ever! Thanks, Cyn!!

Brian Setzer, who's CD's I gave a listen to and came away going ho-hum, was
awsome in concert, he and his band excellent, funny, likeable. Best opener
I've ever seen with Bob. Pure entertainment, nothing to embaress my 13
year-old daughter sitting next to me (unlike Ani DiFranco, for example).

The other reviews are right, the security was way too strict, which had a
depressive effect. Normally in South Bend Bob plays the Morris Civic, a
great old Gilded Age kinda beast of a building, perfect for Bob, and
security there is usually pretty lax. In 1996 the stage rush occured about
three bars into "Crash." What this does is guarantee that the most excited,
enthusiastic, and expressive people are right down front where Bob can see
them, which is good for him. But the Morris is being renovated, so he chose
a very uptight venue at Notre Dame and you've read the rest.

Bob comes out, the place is electric with excitement. I don't like the
strobe, it's overkill, a dark stage with just the low lights of the
equipment, attempting to discern who's moving around where and then that
into . . . call me old-fashioned, that's what I like.

"Serve" was fantastic, great opener, great song, should be longer. It's
true, lots of the lyrics were hard to get, at least where I was, but I'm not
certain it was Bob's fault. It's a hockey rink, after all. Caught one new
lyric though: "May think that you're livin', may think that you're dead . . ."

"Million Miles" is also great in concert. Bob's own answer song to "God
Knows" is my theory. At one point Bob shouts "Yeah, it's true!" He's
already into his antics. We're all ecstatic.

"Stuck Inside Memphis," just doesn't do it in the three slot. Give me "Cold
Irons Bound" any day. Too slow, too lazy, great song on BoB, rarely a
sizzler in concert, this one was sluggish until more than half-way through,
and they start getting their guitars tangled together and it actually gets
pretty exciting, really starts chugging along, Bob's first almost duckwalk
across the stage. Tony really starts grinning, actually everyone looked
great and happy, even Bucky, usually the grumpster of all time, was very
animated and hammed it a bit for the audience. (And btw, thanks for
skipping the ridiculous leather pants for tonight, Tony! Listen, hey, I
love that man, but we need to have a talk!)

"Big Girl," I won't comment, as I've come to not like it in concert, I don't
know why. Maybe I've just heard it too much. This version was pretty
perfunctory, actually, though some folks really seemed to appreciate it.

"Silvio" was needed by now to pick things up, and it did. Crowd gets
energized, Bob has picked someone out and is hamming for them, they seem a
little freaked by the attention. Uses echo on some verses. No space jam,
big bummer for me, one of my favorite parts of the shows! Oh well, Bob
knows best.

"Tambourine" was beautiful, not transcendent. Lovin' it though.

Then, some bluesy noodling, what is it? Some attractive lovely but
unfamiliar pluncking, inchoate sounds merge into a melody, recognition
AAAAHHHH!!! "Desolation Row"!! I've never seen it in concert that I know
of (maybe '74, but I don't remember that show real well . . . we still
thought it was the sixties, ya see, and, well . . .) The stunner of the
night, wonderful, rhythmic arrangement (oh for a tape!!), Bob is singing the
heck out of this, turning up the emotional wattage very high, great reaction
from the crowd, they love it. And, Bucky is playing my favorite
Bucky-instrument, the dobro. If it wasn't for Bob himself, Bucky would be
the man for these 12 minutes of bliss. Actually, on the last verse, he put
down the dobro and went back to pedal steel, and it sounded like perfection
too!!

"Tangled" of course gets a huge reaction; I'm amazed they can keep so
enthusiastic about a song they play every night, but they all seem to be
enjoying themselves, even Bob, who saves his smiles for the shadows,
however. Caught part of a new verse: "he was workin' on a fishin' boat
while his mind was slippin' away . . ."

"Time's A-Changin'" was sung with great muted passion and care, almost a
delicate thing. No fireworks, but who needs them on a song this good and
pure and true?

"Make You Feel My Love" is a whole 'nother creature in concert, Bob puts a
lot into this song, you CAN feel his something, his energy, his concern,
alright, sounds mushy, his love, the performance incarnates the meaning of
the song, and you'll never convince me it's just a love song with no
theological core, uh-uh. This is Bob who wrote this, the same Bob who said
"Serve Somebody" is his restaurant song! Reverse his joke, and you've got
the key to this song.

"Can't Wait" very cool, great staccatto guitar work from them all, Tony over
between Bob and Larry, great, great, great. This is why you need to be up
front, to see all their intimacies!!

"Highway 61" 's power just about floored me, I fell in love with this song
when I was 9 or 10 years old and will never tire of it, but I've never been
so close to actually feel the blast coming off the stage as they kick into
this. Whoa!! Bob starts putting some '65-vintage venom into the lyrics,
especially the "sixty-oooonnnnne!!!" My notes have this large scrawl, all
in caps, that says "LARRY!!!" Guess he must have been playing some great
guitar here, huh?

"Love Sick" is simply terrifyingly powerful in concert, all (I've used this
before, but I doubt I have a lot of regular readers!) pulse and vibration
and rumbling force. This is the best I've ever seen, lights are used to
fantastic effect. (On the lights, btw, now I know Bob's an artist, and they
see different, but I was not likin' the blue lights on the band on some
songs, made 'em look cadaverous.) Don't ever say this song isn't fantastic
right where it is. I too was surprised at first back in '97 when it showed
up in the encores, but it's right where it belongs. Again, very
theologically rich song.

"Leopard Skin" Did anyone say the blues? Loud, Sonny Boy Williamson type
blues? Killer-diller from the south blues? Man, they are using this song
to pound this dumb building to dust, and it works!! Big smiles from Bob,
priceless faces. Tremolo vocals on "we'll go out and see it somet-i-i-me!!"

Stunning "Don't Think" with great harmonica (finally). Beautiful song,
beautifully done. People are gasping.

My wife turns to me, "what's he gonna play now?" "I hope Not Fade Away,"
the drums make a clicking sound and these huge Grateful Dead-like power
chords sweep down, pick us up, and take us off to be with Jerry and Buddy
and who knows all. My notes: "WOW!!!"

And that, my friends, was a concert that registered a 6 out of 10 on the
Bob-Only scale of concert greatness. Don't you dare miss it!

Next time down the highway and hopin' it's soon!

+++

Well, while the typical crowd was making mushy Valentine's plans, we
decided that we would spend our holiday with Bobby---and catch the show at
Notre Dame. What could be more romantic than that?

First of all, Brian Setzer and his orchestra really surprised me. I
enjoyed their music and all of them seem to possess a great deal of musical
talent. But most of all, i enjoyed their little antics of hand clapping,
finger snapping, sincronized movements and general cutting up. They looked
like they were really having a good time and I found myself smiling at
their showmanship. Brian himself is crazy, he must of driven his mother
nuts as a kid. However, it serves him well. Certainly better than Joni
Mitchell.

Well, after being told that we could go nowhere to smoke, not even outside
and re-enter, we snuck a few drags in the bathroom.... and by the looks of
the butts in the refuse container, we certainly we not the only ones. That
is just one of the bitches I have about Notre Dame and their blue sport
coat, didn't take their metamuscil, it hurts to see anybody having any fun,
you must be an old grizzled geezer to get the job, campus security!!!
However, on to worthy conversation!

Bobby was dressed in a charcoal grey suit, with black velvety embroidered
leafs and such on the chest of the jacket. The back of the collar was the
black velvet and I think the cuffs had it to. The pants were piped in
silver and it matched the silver sparkle of his turqouise bow tie and same
colored shirt. Needless to say, bob was dressed to the nines. Ya know, he
even came out with a part in his hair, he later mussed it up a bit.

I'm not going to bore you with the setlist, you already have that. Some of
the highlights of the show, for me, started with Stuck inside of Mobile
with the Memphis blues again. He changed the words a little and was
smiling and cutting up the whole time. He changed eyelids to eyeballs.
Then You're a Big Girl Now was such a treat because it was quite
unexpected.

Mr. Tambourine Man was amazing. We were hoping to see the harp on this
one, but were disappointed. That's ok though because he brought it out
during the encore.

Bobby really seemed to have fun with Desolation Row and got the crowd
shouting over the line with the "hunchback of notre dame". Actually the
crowd was pretty dead mostly and I was surprised that they even heard that
line. It seemed to be a pretty uneducated in Dylan type crowd. We were
surrounded my people that had no idea what the lyrics were or that even
recognized the songs. Anyway, Desolation Row is always a treat.

Tangled Up in Blue and Highway 61 rocked, the band was tight and on the
ball. Bobby was of course making all his little faces. Looking real mean
one second, smiling the next, even sticking out his tongue a few times. He
really smiled a lot and seemed to be having a good time.

I could go on and on about the songs, I guess. I really enjoyed them all
and will stop at that for the songs. Each one was a favorite, probably
because I like everything he does and so it was a perfect show for me.

Like I said before security was tight. One girl did manage to get on the
stage somehow. There was no rushing the stage, many cameras were snatched,
and don't try to have any fun, like dancing in the aisle, that is
definitely not allowed. Being a woman of small stature, it was hard for me
to see over the heard of giraffes in the six rows in front of me, so I
stood on my chair most of the night, until lack of preparation H man, made
me get down. Then up on my dad's shoulders, we were yelled at again. Oh
well, what good are we if we can't get security wound up? But the jokes on
them, because we snatched three pictures, one with the harp! God willing
at least one will turn out.

At any rate, it was a Valentine's Day to remember. Thanks Bobby, come back
soon!

Jeri Still-Stelter

+++

The Brian Setzer Orchestra was a great opening act. It was very different
from any other opener I have seen. It is the second opening act I have seen
in which I left with the thoughts of picking up one of their albums.

Bob opened the night with a clean, tight version of Gotta Serve Somebody.
The harmonies were pretty good and it set the tone for what was to become the
best Dylan concert of the three I have seen.

Dylan next moved on to Million Miles. Bob's vocals were good and the guitars
weaved in an out of his words perfectly. The band has come a long way since
their October 26 show in Indianapolis.

Stuck Inside of Mobile was good, but some of the words were slurred. I think
it could have been a little better. Next was the most pleasent suprise of the
whole evening, You're A Big Girl Now. I knew Bob had been playing a tune from
side one of Blood On The Tracks in this spot a few shows earlier so I was
hoping he would do so again. He came through with one of the better vocal
performances of the night. It was definitely worth the price of admission.

Next was a kick ass version of Silvio and then Bob moved into the acoustic
set. The acoustic set was somewhat intimate. What I mean is that the volume
seemed to be turned down more in this set than in the previous acoustic sets I
have seen. The arena seemed to shrink a little as Bob sang a great version of
Mr. Tambourine Man in which Bucky played a killer dobro. Excellent versions
of Desolation Row and Tangled Up In Blue followed. The lyrics to Tangled Up
In Blue stayed true to the version on Blood On The Tracks except that they
moved from third person to first person about mid-song.

The Times They Are A-Changin' Rounded out the acoustic set. Bob seemed to
really put an emphasis on the line "Senators, Congressmen, Please heed the
call..."

Bob then moved on to Make You Feel My Love and Can't Wait. He started Can't
Wait off a little differently than on the album and I think I like it better.
Both of these songs were clear and tight.

The set ended with Highway 61. Bob really got into the groove on this one.
You could tell he was having a good time with it by the little moves he made
with his guitar and the crazy faces he made.

The encore opened up with Love Sick. A killer version. The song gets better
every time I hear it. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat was up next and seemed to get
the crowd going about as much as they did all night. Don't Think Twice, It's
All Right was up next. Bob got out the harp on this one and played a killer
solo at the end. One of the best performances I've seen him do on the harp in
person.

The night ended with Not Fade Aaway. The crowd got excited by this one. It
was a great rendition. As many have written before, the song is appropriate
for our hero as his greatness will not fade away.

All in all, the show was the best of the three I have seen. The other two
were 11-22-96 in South Bend and 10-26-98 in Indianapolis. Bob and the band
seem to have really put it together. Dylan even said before introducing the
band that "Some say this is the best band I have ever had." Bob's vocals were
there all night, the best I have ever heard him in person.

If you can see Dylan soon, do it. You will not be disappointed.

--Drew Smith
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