Rochester, MN - September 7, 2006

The Pre-show We roll into Rochester on the day off, and land after about 8 hours of driving at the Motel 6 on the outskirts of town. After a brief stop to let ourselves stop vibrating from the drive, we head downtown to see what the city has to offer. It is mostly deserted on this Thursday night, but we manage to find quite a decent and not too expensive Italian restaurant, Victoria's. Over 200 menu items, and in this highly scheduled week- drive, sleep, wait, rock it out at the show, repeat - with not much room for deviation from the predetermined itinerary, it's one of the toughest decisions I'll make! I settle on the eggplant al bianca (or something close to that) - breaded fried layers of eggplant over fettuccine with spinach and mushrooms covered in a savory Alf redo sauce. Man is it good, especially washed down with a bottle of Italian Sangiovese, a wine you can really chew. Walking back toward our car Kait asks the oft-asked question on these trips: "Where are we?" I think for a moment and reply, "Rochester, Minnesota." At that I hear a little chuckle on the sidewalk behind us and turn to see one of the Jimmie Vaughan crew walking behind us. He obviously understands that feeling of not knowing where you are, another town and one more show. We chat for a minute, telling him that we're huge Bob fans but also really enjoyed Jimmie last night and look forward to the next three shows. We arrive at the venue at our typical early hour; a security guy at first tries to stop us on our way in but when we tell him we're here to line up he directs us down the sidewalk to a set of chairs already in place, informing us that some people came and set them up around 2 AM and then promptly left. Ah, the old stake out a spot and go snooze in a warm bed until late morning scam. Well, can't really be bothered to worry about it and we nestle into our sleeping bags for an additional couple hours of rest in the dawning light.
Soon familiar faces arrive. It turns into a nice day, windy but sunny and warm. Rochester, MN is after all, according to Bob on Theme Time Radio Hour #1 'Weather', one of the windiest cities. All in all it's a pleasant time, catching up with some old show friends from around the Midwest. One of them, Matt, informs us that he is going to propose to his girlfriend, Jennifer, at the show tonight! They met at this same ballpark two years ago, on the first ballpark tour. So aside from the fact that we are all primed to see Bob in a few hours, there is this other excitement in the air!
Mid-morning I head back to the Motel 6 to get showered, packed, and check out of the room. I walk into the lobby to more familiar faces, but these are ones normally seen on stage. It's Elana James and Whit Smith, and I enjoy meeting and talking to them. I say that it's nice to see that we frequent the same quality establishments while on the road, and commiserate about having to make the funds stretch. We laugh together about the brief preview that is in the Rochester entertainment guide there in the Motel 6 lobby, which has Jimmie Vaughan and Junior Brown playing in Bob's band and Hot Club of Cowtown opening the show. Whit's really nice and says that he felt sorry for us night before last in Ft. Wayne, where it was raining and cold. Ah, well, it's all part of the gamble! Nice weather today though it seems, and he asks me if I'm going for a swim in the pool. No, I say, I'm actually checking out and have to go back to the line, which I think confuses him a bit since the show's not for seven hours. Back in line the local TV station shows up and conducts some interviews with the fans about what makes Bob so good and why. Our friends encourage us to be on camera and represent the fan club, and once the reporter hears that there's no getting out of it. She makes us practically sit in each other's laps so that we can both be heard through that microphone that she clips onto Kait, and we mostly emote about Bob's live performances and how they are better than anything else. Once we're all in and situated, Jen goes to use the Portable potty and Matt determines that it's time to pop the question. So she comes back and before she's able to sit back down Matt's on his knee and whips out the ring, she says yes, and everyone there in the first 4 rows or so starts clapping and cheering while they kiss. It's quite a moment! The Show
Cat's in the well. I approve as this as the opener; it also made a good first encore song. I like the way Bob's organ notes, as well as Donny's violin, soar above the stomping rhythm. It's a nice contrast, the swampy and pounding and the ethereal and floating. Tonight Bob sings "The road is going bumpity-bump" the first time through, rather than the horses. It's funny because there was a stretch of road there yesterday coming into Minnesota that was like driving on poorly fit together slabs of asphalt that rattled us something good. Bumpity-bump indeed. You Ain't going nowhere. Tomorrow's the day my that bride's gonna come! Yaaaaay! So what if he's been doing this most nights recently, it still seems meant for Matt and Jen tonight! Denny's soloing is nice and twangy on this one, trading back and forth with Bob's harmonica. Denny's a very economical player, not flashy, but he gets a lot done with a few notes. Bob's harmonica sounds like a duck call on a few notes of this one and it's funny. Like on other solos tonight he does a good job of whipping up the crowd. Tweedle. I like the way the instruments weave in and out of one another, and around George's tribal beat and cymbal accents. It's a great example of how this band creates such tasteful layers, everyone doing their thing all out but not stepping on the others. Bob's the quintessential band leader, a point here and a chin-thrust there to bring it all together. Lay Lady Lay. This song is always a crowd pleaser and I hear squealing girls behind me. The way they do it tonight the song goes between building up to exciting crescendos and dropping back down nicely, this band is so good at bringing the volume up and down. Bob plays around, singing, "You can eat your cake, and have it to." Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat rules! This really gets the place rompin' and stompin'. Bob sings it so derisively, like it's meant to be sung. He's really moving behind his keyboard, and cracking himself up. He keeps turning from his keyboard ¾ of the way around to the audience, pulling way back from the microphone at the end of each verse, and holding out his left hand to the beat. Then he attacks the keyboard again, swiveling his legs, really laying into the keys. We're all going nuts! Yeah I know what he love you for! That brand new Leopard Skin - hu-huh - pillbox haaaaaaaat! The harp solo is among the best of the night, accompanying himself on organ, and again the band is doing the greatest job of bringing the volume way down and building it back up with Bob's harmonica and George's drumming leading the way. Wow. Ballad of a Thin Man. Something's happening here. This is one song I think is great with the organ tone and Bob does a great job playing on it. More loud harp. Highway 61. This is wicked and played fucking loud and whips the front row into a frenzy. Got a thousand telephones that don't eh-RING! By the last couple minutes Bob is laughing audibly as me, Kait, Matt, and probably others are pumping the air with our fists. As it gets to that fist-pumping part each time Bob will finish the line, look to George who is more often than not cracking up, then swivel toward us front row people, like he's cueing us too! Forever Young. Whew, a breather after those last three. It's a very pretty version and sung very heartfelt and hauntingly beautiful. Bob sings this a lot when I see him in Minnesota. I remember seeing footage of Senator Paul Wellstone's funeral in 2002 after he died in the plane crash that some believe was sabotage, and this song was played. Again, this band sure has a way of building a song, maybe it's the layers of instrumentation. The part before Bob's harp solo is crashing and powerful, and then they all drop out and it's just the lonely sounding harmonica, but then it builds back up again and has the crowd roaring before it wraps up. Back into the heavy stuff with Watching the River Flow. Donny's steel guitar is awesome in the intro and sets a rocking standard for the song. Some of Bob's best vocals on this one. He gets into a groove and starts intoning a series of lines similarly and he's almost getting a little out of breath but then he absolutely belts out the first time through, with a bit of tremolo, "and my true love soooooooooooo close at hand!" and again turns half to the audience with a grin and a flash of his diamond rings! Great, great guitar interplay and George is looking from one player to the next and absolutely pounding away, this is how this song was meant to be played. They bring it down a little but there's no holding back now and it explodes at the end and so do we! Simple Twist. I was hoping for this, it's in my top five favorites probably. They slip so easily into it after all the rollicking craziness of the last one. It's very floaty and I absolutely love the organ on it. Bob's inventive with the vocals again. Or lack of vocal, as is the case in this line: He told himself... and he pushed back the blind. OK. Then Bob raps a little: But he just.could anything.but a simple.twist.of fate. Very nice guitar interlude. Now I haven't been counting songs or anything but I'm expecting to go into Summer Days when, YAY!, the opening beats and notes of Things Have Changed! It's a little slowed down, and with violin. I miss this one, and it's great to hear it. Again, the layers of music achieved by this band is admirable. Its got almost a far eastern flair with the violin, like snake-charmer's music. Summer Days gets a pretty wild treatment, in keeping with the energy of the rest of the show, and Bob's laughing at all of us again, and probably at himself too. I'm counting on you love, come on and give me a break! They return after a few moments of course, and Bob's literally strutting out onto the stage, it's awesome. I like the instrumental noodling around before the crashing start of Like a Rolling Stone, and of course the organ rules on this one. Then Watchtower, then Bob's sprinkling fairy dust on us out of his hat and the moon is comin' up. You better take your diamond rings and flash 'em, Bob.
Review Location: 
Mayo Field, Rochester, MN
Review Date: 
Thursday, September 7, 2006
Review Author: 
Caroline Schwarz