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[whitespace] Dylan Revisited

Folk-rocker shows that he's still a vital rock & roller

By David Espinoza

YOU KNOW THERE'S something special about this town when Bob Dylan decides to play not one, but two nights here. Such a sentiment wasn't lost, judging from all the brouhaha raised over the man's visit to the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium March 15 and 16. There were live "action" news broadcasts, front-page stories from unnamed dailies, and perhaps most telling, huge lines that snaked down Center Street throughout the two days of his scheduled performances. Remember the line for The Phantom Menace last year? That's kids stuff.

All the hype notwithstanding, the basic fact of the matter is that Dylan is an artist perfectly deserving of our highest regard. Like his contemporaries the Rolling Stones, Dylan's appeal spans far beyond the Boomer generation--something readily noticeable at both shows. There were old men with long gray beards in attendance as well as teens, twenty- through fiftysomethings, parents and their kids.

During the March 16 show, Dylan once again proved that time hasn't slowed him down--it's only made him wiser. Performing in front of a simple backdrop and dressed smartly, he cooly led his four-member band through mostly bluesy rock & roll, occasionally bringing out the harp for a few solos.

It's poetic that Dylan, who began his career playing elegant folk music almost 40 years ago, and literally founding the genre of folk-rock, still knows how to rock. After all, the man has written enough rock classics to fill 500-page books. What's more, the over-the-hill Dylan is still producing quality music--1998's Time Out of Mind shows as much, and it's an album which he heavily drew from on both nights. Dylan ended both shows with a cover of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," while March 16's set included "Highlands" and "Tangled up in Blue," as well as other classics like "Maggie's Farm" and "Highway 61."

For every tune that Dylan brought out, the favor was returned with deafening, drawn-out applause. Though not one to talk a lot between songs, Dylan took some time on March 16 to say he'd like to franchise Positively Front Street (named after his tune "Positively Fourth Street") before beginning the upbeat "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again."

Without a doubt, one of the most goose bump-producing moments of the show March 16 came when, during the encore, he turned out a rock & roll rendition of "Blowin' in the Wind." It was a good show for him as it was for the thousands who packed the Civic. "I think I speak for them all when I say we wish we could play here every night," Dylan quipped while introducing his band.

Thanks, Bob, we wish you could too.

Wrecking Havok

And now for a completely unrelated topic--hardcore punk rock's most underrated band, AFI, comes back to town Sunday for two shows at 6 and 9pm at the SC Vets Hall. (With the Nerve Agents and Death by Stereo. Tix are $8, all ages.) It seems like only four years ago when the quartet fronted by "Mr. Furious" Dave Havok first played the Vets Hall basement--and now look at them, all grown up and headlining their own shows.

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From the March 22-29, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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