Bob Dylan – Live at the Murat Theater November 5, 2002, a Surreal Evening

Bob Dylan played two shows in Indianapolis at the Murat Theater’s Egyptian Room, a rarity, on an election night, November 5, 2002. Over the two shows, he plays a total of 32 songs, including 26 different songs, which was amazing. The shows were general admission and standing only. The first show was sold out. The second show only had a few hundred people in attendance, so we got right up front. Bob and his band were hitting on all cylinders that night and it was evident that Bob was enjoying himself. This band is arguably my favorite band of Dylan’s – Tony Garnier on bass, George Recelli on drums and Larry Campbell and Charlie Sexton on guitars, obviously outside of The Band. A few highlights for me were Watching the River Flow, Summer Days, You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere, Drifter’s Escape and Tears of Rage.

A few days earlier on November 2, we saw Bob’s show in Dayton at the Hara Arena, which was run by union toughs, which is another story in itself. That show was transcendental, probably the best Dylan show I have ever witnessed. The combined two shows at the Egyptian Room run a very close second.

Julie and I were pretty much in Dylan heaven and completely into the shows. As the second show’s Summer Days was nearing its end, I said to Julie, let’s skip the encore and head to Dylan’s bus. I saw where it was parked when were headed to the Murat.

So off we went, first stopping by by merch table to get a poster for the show. They were sold out. Oh well, too bad. As we headed outdoors we were kind of excited that we might get to see Bob and the band out in the real world, which would fun. As we rounded the corner, there were two buses, the Bob bus and the band bus. There were only a small handful of people there, maybe five, hanging back away from the buses.

We waited just a few minutes and out pops three of the band members, Tony, George and Larry. They hightail it onto their bus while waving and smiling to us. Just a couple of minutes later, out comes Dylan. The tiny little group of us that are standing there go into complete silence and I think we are were literally holding our collective breath. Bob is flanked by two huge men. I mean, really huge, and they looked pretty darn strong. At this point, I figure that this was it; the big gents were going to scurry Bob onto his bus, which would be totally understandable. The big guy on Bob’s right leans down and says something to Bob. I thought at this point we would be shooed away, which again, would be totally understandable. They kept walking toward us and are now easily less than 20 feet away. Then I hear Dylan say, “It’s okay. I’ll meet them.” Holy shit. I must have misheard what Bob said, or heard what I wanted to hear. Then, with his bodyguards in tow, Bob comes right up to us and asks us how we are doing and if we liked the show. Everybody in our tiny little group were totally cool, and we started having a conversation with Bob about the shows, his tour and several other subjects that, today, have slipped my mind! One of our tiny little group asked Bob if he would sign something. Bob said, sure and asked what the guy had. There I was without anything for Bob to sign. I always have something for an artists to sign and, over the years, I have been fortunate to have gathered many signed records, etc. That night, I’ve got zip. Even the poster for the show had sold out! Damn.

Julie had moved over to the side by the band’s bus to watch the spectacle. I went over and asked her what I should do. She handed me a ball point pen and said have Bob sign my ticket, that’s my only choice. I suddenly realize that she was standing next to Larry Campbell and they were both leaning against the bus in conversation about what was happening. Then, Charlie Sexton rushed right by us onto the bus. He was sick with a mega cold. Tony Garnier also came off of the bus and was hanging around watching the spectacle too. Quickly, I asked Tony to sign my ticket.

So, back over to Bob. The conversation continued. A young woman asked Bob if she could give him a hug. Bob said sure and they hugged for several seconds. They thanked each other and then the young woman’s tears began to flow. I asked Bob a couple of more questions, trying my best not to be silly or stupid. He obliged with sincere answers. Then, I asked him if he would sign my ticket, and he said certainly that he would. We talked for another few minutes and then Bob said that he had to get going. We all said our goodbyes and wished Bob safe travels. I headed back over to Julie and Larry who bid us adieu. Our tiny little group stepped back and watched the buses head out into the night.

What was incredibly special about all of this is that Dylan was welcoming, warm and conversational with a small group of strangers. There was none of the stereotypical snarky Dylan that has been seen over the years when dealing with the press or the clueless public. He spent about fifteen minutes with our tiny little group simply having an impromptu visit and was as nice as he could have been.

Twenty years later, the idea that this actually happened still bogles my mind. Larry Campbell told Julie that this NEVER happens, NEVER EVER. But it sure did that one very special night.

Set lists from the shows:

First Show
Maggie’s Farm (Bob on piano)
I’ll Remember You (Bob on piano)
Tombstone Blues (Bob on piano)
The End Of The Innocence (Song by Don Henley and Bruce Hornsby) (Bob on piano)
Watching The River Flow (Bob on piano and harp)
Brown Sugar (song by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)
Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic)
Highway 61 Revisited
Sugar Baby (Bob on piano)
The Times They Are A-Changin’ (acoustic)
Old Man (acoustic) (Song by Neil Young)
(Bob and Larry on acoustic guitars, Charlie on electric guitar and Tony on electric bass)
Honest With Me (Bob on piano and Larry on slide guitar)
Bye And Bye (Bob on piano and Tony on standup bass)
Summer Days (Tony on standup bass)
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (acoustic) (Charlie on electric guitar)

Second Show
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (Bob on piano)
Carrying A Torch (song by Van Morrison) (Bob on piano)
Tombstone Blues (Bob on piano)
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob on piano)
Things Have Changed (Bob on piano)
Brown Sugar (song by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)
My Back Pages (acoustic) (Larry on violin)
Drifter’s Escape (Bob on harp)
High Water (For Charley Patton) (Bob on piano)
Tears Of Rage (Bob on acoustic guitar)
Old Man (acoustic) (Song by Neil Young)
(Bob and Larry on acoustic guitars, Charlie on electric guitar and Tony on electric bass)
Honest With Me (Bob on piano and Larry on slide guitar)
Floater (Too Much To Ask) (Bob on piano)
Summer Days (Tony on standup bass)
Blowin’ In The Wind (acoustic)
All Along The Watchtower

1 Comment

  1. Hello Ron, I read the whole story and enjoyed it very much! I’ve never been a big fan of Dylan but may have to start listening. I know that at least two of my friends are, yourself included. I heard that he just came out with a book. Maybe I’ll read that too. Give my greetings to Julie. Peace, Denis

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