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