Dylan And Petty Stage A Triumph At The Forum
By Robert Hilburn
The Los Angeles Times — August 5, 1986
Imagine the odds against writing songs (notably “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Blowin’ in the Wind”) that become statements of idealism and independence for one generation, and then being able to sing those songs two decades later–a virtual eternity by pop standards–with your own idealism and independence still intact.
The fact that Bob Dylan was able to pull that off in a generous three-hour concert Sunday night at the Forum underscored the triumph of his most confident tour since the ’60s.
Dylan–who was joined during the closing “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox of Eurythmics and Al Kooper–has made all sorts of puzzling twists in his lengthy career, but he remains–in a field that often seems to encourage self-destruction and self-caricature–a man of provocative and unbending artistic will. Yet Dylan wasn’t the whole story Sunday.
Because attention was focused on him when the tour swung through Southern California earlier this summer, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers seemed like sidemen–although excellent ones. This time, Petty and company were more like co-stars, drawing ovations from the audience with both their endearing, idealistic expressions (“Straight Into Darkness”) and their playful new tunes. The only sour note–aside from frequently muddy sound–was when Dylan thoughtlessly invited fans in the back of the arena to come down front, causing a rush through the aisles and potential confrontations with ushers.