Charlie Sexton is playing lead for Bob on this tour, so I expect they had something special cooked up for Austin. Dear Jesus. The thing about a modern Bob concert is that he plays the songs with a different rhythm and tempo that you're used to, and he says the words differently, so if you're not extremely familiar with a song, you might not realize what you're listening to. All you know is that it rocks. To that end, I'll list the songs that I could make out.
The first one was Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather. Damn, just the way the music dropped out from under his shattered and gravel-packed voice at the last line.
Next was Maggie's Farm. In all of the first three songs that I could recognize it felt like he was reminiscing about the events that had led him to write the songs. This was especially pronounced on Lay Lady Lay. Stay lady, stay. Stay while the night is still ahead.
At that point I was in heaven, and then from out of an unfamiliar rhythm came Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're trying to be so quiet. Holy shit, Visions of Johanna. And he still sneers when sings the one with the mustache says 'Geez, I can't find my knees.'
And then Tangled Up in Blue. Both times I've heard him sing it, he's left out the stanza that begins with She was working in a topless place and I stopped in for a beer. I don't know why. I do at that point I was certain I could die happy. I didn't realize we were only getting started.
A brief lights-down intermission, and he was back, wailing a melody on his harmonica which teased and hid and then built itself into Like a Rolling Stone. I couldn't believe it. The song that brought me to Bob. It was followed by a song I didn't recognize and then the evening hit it's peak.
He played Blowin' in the Wind. I heard Bob Dylan play Blowin' in the Wind. I had thought that was an experience lost to the world.
And then, to slide it just over the line, he closed the show with All Along the Watchtower.
And then came the most poignant moment of the show. The three solid minutes of Bob standing on stage - black hat, black boots, black jeans, black shirt, black Stratocaster - while the waves of adulation poured over him. He didn't wave, he didn't spread his arms; he just stood there and accepted the love. And I could tell that this why he did it.
Bob Dylan at the Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas, Febuary 24th, 2002.