Bob Dylan Goes Hawaiian But Forgets To Say 'Aloha'

Folk-rocker's tropical show included such protest songs as 'Blowin' in the Wind' and 'Forever Young.'

MANOA, Hawaii -- He certainly wasn't dressed for the tropics, wearing

a

dark suit and sporting a disheveled, white-guy afro. His pasty-white skin

seemed a stranger to the sunshine. He wasn't even briefed on the

appropriate island greeting.

But he is Bob Dylan, after all.

And to his Hawaiian contingent, at least, that's all that really mattered

Saturday.

As if living in paradise were not enough, that night brought an extra treat

to Oahu residents when the folk-rock legend returned to the islands for a

pair of highly anticipated concerts. Dressed like a New Yorker, Dylan took

the stage of Andrew's Amphitheatre, on the campus of the University of

Hawaii, with little fanfare. Staying true to his reportedly iconoclastic

nature, he rarely addressed his fans, even failing to give the requisite

"Aloha."

Opting instead to allow his voice and his guitar to do the talking, Dylan tore

through a no-nonsense, hour-and-a-half set that featured a number of tunes

off his most recent recording, the Grammy Award-winning Time Out Of

Mind, including "Cold Irons Bound" and

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Dylan,_Bob/Love_Sick.ram">"Love

Sick" (RealAudio excerpt), a few classics, such as "Blowin' in the

Wind," and a healthy dose of good old-fashioned guitar solos.

Missing, however, were such signature songs from Dylan's legendary

repertoire as "The Times They Are a-Changin'," "Like A Rolling Stone,"

"Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Knocking on Heaven's Door." But his presence

seemed to supercede any sense of disappointment.

Dylan's last performance in the islands was six years ago, a concert at the

Waikiki Shell in which he reportedly spent much of his time with his back to

the audience. While Dylan -- who has become more personable with his

recent performances -- still seemed a bit hesitant onstage at Saturday's

show, he eventually loosened up and even managed to smile a couple of

times.

In many ways, the crowd was a tribute to the generation gap that Dylan has

filled through the years. Hippies, now in their 40s and 50s, turned up

decked-out in tie-dyed T-shirts and sandals. Alongside them were similarly

clad college students and a few younger kids and their parents who

conceivably had come

for a lesson in rock 'n' roll lore.

Robert Bowson, a 19-year-old college student, voiced the opinion held by

many of the younger audience members. "I thought it rocked," Bowson said.

"Even though he's old, he still rages. The guy is rock 'n' roll history."

"I didn't think there'd be this many kids here. I thought they were too

cool for this," said 49-year-old Don Wilkes, who grew up listening to

Dylan.

Dylan switched back and forth from electric guitar to acoustic guitar.

During an acoustic number, pedal-steel guitarist Bucky Baxter grabbed a

mandolin to fill out the subdued sound. For much of the show, Dylan and

company played loud, straight-ahead rock 'n' roll, heavy on guitar solos

and yet still full of the tender, rhyming couplets that showcase Dylan's

elegant prose and heartfelt delivery.

Many fans seemed to have trouble thinking of Dylan as anyone but the

outspoken young folk-singer who rallied a nation to grass-roots activism in

the '60s. And from a distance, you could almost imagine him in that role

again.

At one point, two fortysomething guys yelled, "Stop the war!" as if the

historic '60s- and '70s-era protests over the Vietnam War were still heavy

on the minds of youth.

Finally, during the encore, Dylan sang a few of the classics that first

made him famous as a philosopher, poet and activist. The crowd went wild

for the opening chords of marijuana-advocating "Rainy Day Women # 12 &

35."

As guitarist Larry Campbell laid into a soaring solo toward the end of

the song, a light rain began to fall on Dylan's congregation. It was just

what the crowd -- overheated from dancing in place -- needed to cool down.

As a grand finale, Dylan ran through a revamped rendition of "Blowin' in the

Wind" and a fervent delivery of "Forever Young."

As people streamed out of the open-air theater, many said they had the sense

that they had just witnessed true rock royalty.

"I'm just glad I got to see him. He's such a legend," Maggie Perloff, 31,

said. "I knew it was going to be amazing ... and it was."