The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Saturday, November 23, 2002
LIVE 2002: I've been a devoted Dylan fan for nearly two decades, but I never managed to see him live until last night. It was a fine show. Midway through, apropos of nothing, I thought about yelling Judas!, but I managed to hold my tongue.

The high points: there were many, but I'll just list my three favorites. One was a mandolin-driven "Shelter from the Storm" that almost made me believe that his band was channeling the Band. Another was an intense, downright evil performance of "High Water." And then there was "Summer Days." That one began normally -- the boys were playing '40s-style jump blues instead of the 12-bar rock they'd brought to other blues numbers, but the song seemed otherwise unexceptional. Midway through, though, something seemed to catch fire, and soon we were listening to a mad swing rave-up that brought the entire hall to its feet.

The low point: the show's opener, a perfunctory and sloppy "Maggie's Farm." It took the musicians about three songs to find their groove, and this performance suffered the most in the meantime.

The strangest point: "Drifter's Escape" was so radically rearranged, it sounded like Sly Stone on speed. But even stranger than that was the concert's intro. I'm quoting from memory, but this is pretty close to what the man introducing Dylan said:

"Ladies and gentlemen, the poet laureate of rock'n'roll. A man closely identified with the '60s counterculture, who then disappeared into a haze of substance abuse in the '70s, only to find Jesus at the end of the decade. By the end of the '80s, most people wrote him off as a has-been, but in the late '90s he turned his career around with some of the strongest work of his career. Ladies and gentlemen, Columbia recording artist Mr. Bob Dylan!"

Did Dylan write that long and not so flattering speech himself? Or was an overzealous announcer fired as soon as he stepped down from the microphone?


posted by Jesse 12:16 PM
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