page by Bill Pagel
Review by Jarrod Thaxton
My wife, my brother and I arrived at the UNO Lakefront Arena about 7:15 for a
7:30 show. A nice crowd was filling in rapidly and almost all seats were full
when Bob and his Band took the stage at 7:45. With no seats behind the stage,
about two thirds of the arena was open to seating. As usual, the crowd was a
nice mix of folks and was very enthusiastic from the start. We didn't have
floor seats this time, but we had a great view from the second row on the
lower level of the arena.
Bob entered wearing a black suit, white and black boots and the white cowboy
hat. The band wore grey and looked very sharp. "I Am the Man, Thomas" opened
the show in a countrified way, and I think some folks in the crowd were a bit
surprised by the Hank Williams-ness of it all! Next, was a very pretty
version of "My Back Pages", with the crowd really getting into it on the
chorus. This was followed quickly by "It's Alright, Ma," which I thought
was one of the real highlights of the show. Bob's inflection at the end
of the phrases was perfect. This version was as good as any he's ever
done of this song. In the 4 spot was "Searching for a Soldier's Grave"
which sounded great and allowed the crowd to take a breath after the
thrill of the 2nd and 3rd songs.
At this point, it was time to step off that lonesome freight train for a
moment and pick up the electric guitar. The band fired up that spooky vibe
from "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" and we were off again. This isn't my
favorite song from Love and Theft, but it sounded great in concert (better
than the original). And then, we had our first absolute gem of the evening,
"Simple Twist of Fate." For a long time, I've been hoping to hear either
"Simple Twist . . ." or "Shelter from the Storm" in concert, and tonight I
got my wish. This version was absolutely perfect and really got to me. As
the Band strummed the first few chords to the next song, I thought we were
going to hear "Lonesome Day Blues," but then, I was elated to realize that
it was "Cry A While" instead. Bob really nailed my second favorite song
off "Love and Theft," and then rocked the crowd right into "High Water",
which was just phenomenal.
Based on the previous set lists, we knew that the next song should be an
"acoustic classic" and we were not disappointed. "One Too Many Mornings"
was the second absolute gem of the evening. The acoustic guitar came back
out, and Bob sang this song with a tenderness and restraint, that I have
rarely heard from him in concert. It was absolutely beautiful, and most
of the crowd was with every word. If I only had a copy of this version of
this song! Wow! Next was "Hard Rain's A-gonna Fall" which was nice, but
didn't reach the heights of the previous song. Only in the last verse did
Bob really bring out the emotion of this song, but the crowd was with the
chorus every time and really seemed to enjoy it. As expected, the 11th
song was "Tangled Up in Blue", which I can never hear too many times. Bob
rushed the first couple lines of each verse, so they were hard to make out,
but he nailed the chorus (much to the delight of the crowd) as well as the
line about New Orleans (much to the delight of the crowd). Also, the harp
solo was very nice.
As usual, song 12 was "Summer Days," and now after hearing it in concert,
I can really see why Bob loves to play this song. The crowd loves it.
Coming right on the heels of "Tangled Up in Blue", it really gets people
worked up into a frenzy. Throughout this one, Bob was dancing (the left
leg thing) and the folks on the floor (young and old) were jitterbugging
all over the place. "Summer Days" was followed by "Sugar Baby." I was
originally hoping for "Mississippi" in this spot, but after hearing "Sugar
Baby" I don't know what could sound better. This song is really fantastic
and in concert weaves a fantastic spell on the crowd. Then it was time to
turn up the volume with "Drifter's Escape," which I probably wouldn't have
recognized had I not known it was coming. Then I was expecting "Rainy Day
Women" and got "Like a Rolling Stone" instead. More times than not, he
hasn't done "Rolling Stone" when I've seen in concert, so I enjoyed this
The first encore began with a rockin' "Country Pie" and then kept the
energy up with "Honest With Me." I was then hoping for "Forever Young"
but instead got a wonderful version of "I Shall be Released." The band
sang harmony on the chorus, and somewhat to my surprise, it worked great.
I was then expecting "Blowin' in the Wind", but instead Bob turned to the
band and said "All Along the Watchtower." They roared into this and the
crowd really went nuts. Near the end of the song, Bob seemed to remember
that he had forgotten to introduce the band, so he did this, and then sand
the 1st verse again. After soaking in the applause for a moment and taking
a couple bows (sort of half bows), Bob made the "that's it" sign with his
left hand and was gone. I thought that probably was it, and my wife was a
bit disappointed that she hadn't gotten to hear the obligatory "Blowin' in
the Wind". But the crowd really stayed with it, and sure enough the boys
strolled back onstage and finished with "Blowin' in the Wind." The crowd
loved it and this time when he left the stage, we knew that was it.
All in all, it was wonderful show, the best I have seen from Bob in the last
ten years. He was dancing and groovin' all night and the crowd really
responded. It seems that every time I see him, he's performing with more
energy than ever before. Not bad for the grandfather of rock n' roll!
page by Bill Pagel
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