Love And A Thief. Bob Dylan Live. (sans wireless)

“I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love” –
Make You Feel My Love

Just saw Bob Dylan perform tonight. By the energy of tonight's show, I'd have to say that Bobby pulls out all the stops to show his love for his audience. He loves to play.

On the latest last stop of his never ending tour Bob Dylan stomped into the newly re-opened Pacific Amphitheater — a mere and thinly disguised venue in a remote corner on the grounds of the Orange County Fair. Where else can you pay $75 face value to see a county or state fair 'has-been artist'. Later this week? See Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music) for just under $100. Only in Orange County. At the fair.

But Bob Dylan is far from “has been”. His 1997 Time Out of Mind swept the Grammies and his songs have been featured on a number of television shows and movies including The Sopranos and his “Things Have Changed” featured in the Michael Douglas film Wonder Boys garnered an Academy Award for best original song. On Friday “Masked and Anonymous” his attempt at screenwriting and acting opened in New York and Los Angeles to mixed reviews.

But tonight Bob Dylan rocked. From a heart wrenching “It Ain't Me Babe” to a rockabilly crowd pleasing dance number “Summer Days Bobby D proved once again what a tight band and years of touring experience deliver: a show that connects with the crowd and the resulting artist/audience synergy rarely achieved with today's pre-packaged and homogeonized acts. Those like Dave Mathews who just the night before delivered a lackluster and poor performance at the new Home Depot Center in LA just north of Orange County.

I got to share the experience with my buddy QMan, who happened to be in town and was motivated to check out his 15th Dylan “eventuality,” QMan is the quintessential Dylan fan. As my guest blogger here's his take on tonights show:

I rate tonights Dylan concert based upon my past Dylan experiences a “B”. Bobby brought us up, but he didn't take us over the hump which I have had the pleasure to know. The last time I saw him do the hump he rocked. Tonight he simply teeter tottered us. He'd bring us up. Then he'd bring us down. It was a good solid performance. The sound was excellent. His vocals were above average and he seemed to be in a chipper mood. I will say it the first time I'd ever seen him strut the stage sans instrument flailing his hands in an awkward and uncomfortable to watch way. By the same token, I understand Bob's shy nature and feeling lost without something to do. On top of all that, it's the first time I've seen him perform an entire concert without touching a guitar. He was quite content leading his band by pounding the keyboards all night. I'm always hesitant to choose a favorite song from any performance because it would be like trying to pick out your favorite bite of a delicious steak. But pressed, my favorite song of the evening had to be the big crowd pleaser, Summer Days. –Qman, July 27, 2003

“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke,
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.”
All Along The Watchtower

QMan and I discussed the latest controversy surrounding Dylan where it is believed he “lifted” lyrics from a book by Dr. Junichi Saga, the physician and writer from Japan. We both agreed that the songs Dylan apparently ripped off would have been just as good without the lifted lines. Dylan has been quiet and to date hasn't commented on the accusations which I discovered when in Washington DC at Supernova in an article that appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal on July 8th.

Another thing. Not a wireless intrument or microphone on the stage. Pure plugged-in rock and roll with a mix of folk, blues and country rockabillty thrown in.

“Everyone has been ripping off Bob Dylan for the last 40 years. Give the guy some slack.” QMan, July 28, 2003 while looking for and finding The Giant Western Sausage at The Orange County Fair.

I've been trying to get as far away from myself as I canThings Have Changed

For the last 29 years Bob has relentlessly been crisscrossing the continent and the globe on what is affectionally referred to as his “never ending tour.” Whether he's on the road trying to get far away or simply closer to his audience, one thing is for sure, Bob Dylan is a legend. Love him. Or hate him. You simply can't ignore him, nor his influence on music and culture.

Damnit. And I just love the dude. Great show Bob. Thanks.