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A Couple of '60s Icons and a Venue Worthy of Them

September 15, 2002|ROBERT HILBURN

Just after a summer that gave us some of the best young bands in ages, including the White Stripes, the Hives, the Vines and Trail of the Dead, what's more fitting than a fall highlighted by two of the '60s forces that inspired them?

The good news isn't just that Bob Dylan, who miraculously has regained the emotional intensity of his prime, and the Rolling Stones, who at least still have those classic songs, are coming to town, but also that they're playing the intimate, 2,400-capacity Wiltern Theatre.

Dylan will reopen the 70-year-old venue, which has been closed for remodeling, with a three-night stand starting Oct. 15. He accompanied by one of his best bands ever. Rock's most influential songwriter is playing with such cocky authority and desire these days that he can delight you with a song from his last two superb albums, "Time Out of Mind" and "Love and Theft," or dress up an old favorite in an imaginative arrangement that may make it hard to recognize for a few seconds.

The Stones are at the Wiltern for only one night, Nov. 4, but it too should be special. We can all talk about how these grandfathers shouldn't still be prancing around the stage, but once you start hearing the music, the cynicism melts. That's because songs such as "Tumbling Dice" and "Wild Horses" are still magical, and the band plays them with conviction and flair.

Also a must at the Wiltern: Ryan Adams, the prolific young singer-songwriter with influences that range from alt-country to punk, plays Oct. 23. He's fascinating live. Basically a shy performer, he needs time on stage to work his way into a comfort zone, so stick around to the end. At the El Rey earlier this year, he played 90 minutes or so in workmanlike fashion and then advised anyone who was tired to go home. Adams and his band then went on for another hour--and it was brilliant.

Two other key Wiltern shows--Ani DiFranco, who has enough provocative songs to keep things moving, and Badly Drawn Boy, the English singer-songwriter whose "About a Boy" is one of the year's most enchanting collections. They play Oct. 24 and Nov. 8, respectively.

Elsewhere this fall, especially promising nights include Rhett Miller on Sept. 24 at the Troubadour, Carlos Vives on Sept. 28 at Universal Amphitheatre, Elvis Costello on Sept. 29 at the Mayan Theatre and Oct. 1 at the Long Beach Terrace Theatre, Bright Eyes on Oct. 10-11 at the El Rey Theatre, the Detroit Cobras and the Dirtbombs on Oct. 10 at Spaceland and Oct. 11 at the Knitting Factory Hollywood.

Plus Linda Thompson on Oct. 12 at the Troubadour and Oct. 13 at McCabe's, Spoon on Oct. 23 at the Troubadour, the Rolling Stones on Oct. 31 at Staples Center and Nov. 2 at Edison International Field in Anaheim, and the Strokes on Nov. 1-2 at the Greek Theatre.

On the album front, the singer-songwriter brigade will be well represented. New albums arrive in stores on Sept. 24 from Beck, Ryan Adams, Peter Gabriel, Rhett Miller, Steve Earle and India.Arie. Two weeks later, Sinead O'Connor (new arrangements of some old Irish tunes), Ron Sexsmith and Tom Petty. Badly Drawn Boy and Santana are due Oct. 22. Johnny Cash and the Wallflowers release albums Nov. 5.


Robert Hilburn is The Times' pop music critic.

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