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"The Weirdest Thing I've Seen Since Soy Bomb"
2000-03-20, Idaho Center Arena, Nampa, ID
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There are some experiences you can't get from the audio alone. For instance, this is a good recording of a good show. But you can't hear the most notable part. From a fan’s contemporary review:
Now get this: between "Country Pie" and "Thin Man", two blonde bombshells (BBS's) in sequined spaghetti strap tank tops and leather miniskirts brought the band water on stage and flirted. I honestly couldn't tell if they were supposed to be there, Dylan looked surprised and amused. For the rest of the show I could see the BBS's grooving at the far back of the stage, behind the monitors.
So, here's where it gets weird: encore 2 was made up of the acoustic "Blowin' In The Wind" and the electric "Rainy Day Women #12 & #35". After the first verse of "Rainy Day Women", Dylan and the band beckoned the BBS's to front and center stage where they danced up to the last verse, when they retreated to the background by the monitors. This was weird, the weirdest thing I've seen since Soy Bomb. They danced like strippers - slow hip gyrations, the spaghetti straps of their tank tops falling off their shoulders. Dylan really fed off it, hissing his knowing warning to the crowd as if in direct reference to these two women, "they'll stone you..." I just wonder which one was #12 and which was #35.
In 1996, Bob played a concert in Dubuque, Iowa. For reasons unknown, there seemed to be no security. A few songs in, an audience member ended up on stage with Bob and the band. Then another. Soon audience members were freely coming and going - dancing, crowd-surfing, whispering things to Bob. A few people put their hats on guitarist John Jackson.
This lasted the majority of the concert. No one ever stopped them. The band played on, seeming amused if a bit befuddled. It became an (in)famous performance, in large part because the entire thing was caught on video:
Sadly, as far as I can tell, no one caught what the reviewer of today’s 2000 show terms the "BBS's" on video. I'd never even heard of this until researching this show. Instead, what was clearly an, shall we say, unusual show gets slotted into a muddle of random middle-America shows that fans more or less forgot.
But even without any BBS's, there's one reason this show is special that you can get from the audio: the only "Seeing the Real You at Last" of the spring. Now, I'm a huge Empire Burlesque fan. And not like "Empire Burlesque has good songs, too bad about the production" either. I'm a huge fan of the production!
Admittedly, I own multiple Men Without Hats albums, so take my fondness for '80s cheese with as many grains of salt as you please. But he so rarely plays songs from that album that I support any and all appearances. If he starts opening with "Tight Connection to My Heart," I will be first in line - so long as he does the dance move:
But if you have not yet seen the light on the original Empire Burlesque recording, perhaps this grittier live version will be more your speed. Swampy and guttural, this “Seeing” could have been a Time Out of Mind demo. So much for sounding like Prince (as Bob reportedly wanted to on Empire Burlesque); he sounds more like Howlin' Wolf fronting a Louisiana bar band. Even Bob's single-note guitar solo works, a short and staccato machine gun of notes, like that scene in I'm Not There where Cate Blanchett mows down the Newport Folk crowd. The BBS's must not have known what hit 'em.