March 13, 2010
Review by Kathleen
I can't believe I'm writing another review, you know I like to lay low. But I was
back at my hotel at my computer by 7:33 p.m. and "Shelter from the Storm"
was so zany, plus I'm super responsible and Bill asked, so review it is. Here we go:
First off, due to extreme luck and some cunning, I avoided being crushed to death
the past two nights. Tonight I didn't have a ticket, but a charming couple sold
me number 108-a kickbutt number for face value. (Thanks guys!!!!) I also found
out why things are so wild on the GA floor--security is walking back and forth
behind the rail with a sign that says for everyone to move forward and stand closer
together. Word from Brad, who was in the tiny balcony the first night, is that the
entire floor is a crunch.
Let's see, the guys were in black tonight, Bob had a black with white polka dotted
scarf. Charlie had white boots to match Bob's scarf. They all looked lovely, as
usual. I think the black very fitted suits are the best ones.
Tonight was a very very good show.
Mobile-A nice strong opener and it had a lot of forward swinging motion. (It's also my
favorite Bob dance song, so I was thrilled to the extent I could dance-the nights you
can move your arms, you can't always move your hips, though.)
Man In Me-I really have grooved to this song all the times I've heard it lately and also
have enjoyed Bob being center stage. On all the songs center stage this tour he has
made REALLY big motions with his arms. (Also on a fair number of slow songs that he
was on keyboards, he didn't play sometimes and rested his left hand on the side of
the keyboard and turned a bit toward the crowd to emote.) The trumpet, unfortunately
(as with most of Donnie's instruments), was back to being barely audible.
Charlie was playing the tele and had a couple of very countrified phrases.
I'll Be Your Baby-More countrification…bring it on. Bright and happy. Bob was into it
Rollin' and Tumblin'-I don't know if I can be objective because I love this song, but it
seemed like a way above average version. Charlie is the slightest bit understated, and
he left some gaps, then pulled us back in. Everyone on stage was pretty animated.
Hattie Carroll-Beautiful and a real audience pleaser. It's so interesting to me to see
which songs the crowd connects with in Japan.
Tweedle-a solid version. (Better on 3/12, though also hard for me to be objective
because I hate this song so much.)
I Don't Believe You-Bob was just spitting out the words as the song demands. The
band is fully over jet lag, I'd say, and they were ALL dancing to this one. Charlie
was kicking his white foot behind him, Tony was swinging his hips and facing George,
Donnie was lunging toward Bob, and Bob was way into it. (Stu was obstructed in my
view.) This is obviously one they like playing, and that made the energy contagious.
The arrangement this tour is for fun's sake.
Hollis Brown-It was where it should be, dark and minor. I was standing right in front
of the speaker and only had one ear plug, so I had to break it in half, which is to say,
my ears were not as stuffed as they usually are. So, why I could see Donnie's hands
moving on the banjo, but not hear a note, I don't know. Maybe on the other side of
the stage it was louder. I'm fearful he's turned back down, which is a crying shame.
Shelter from the Storm-this was the breakout hit of the night. TOTALLY new
arrangement which I see is already up. It started out like a disco song ("Staying Alive"
maybe) then in morphed into a very non-cluttered soft song, focused on Bob's vocals,
THEN solo time--Stu on acoustic, Charlie, then Donnie on pedal steel (fingers moving
and I could hear him finally! gorgeous sounds coming out!) They all got to take solos
with only slight (if any) rhythm section accompaniment. It was wild, it was way out.
It was like three songs in one.
Highway 61-Not much different, but fun and danceable for all involved.
Not Dark Yet-Also a huge crowd favorite with Bob spreading his arms out so wide I
thought he might bust a stitch. Bob has been very cute and serious and leprechaunish
and fascinating in the crooning center stage songs in Japan.
Thunder on the Mountain-The extended blues jam version. By my estimation there was
at least one "extra" jam. I am really diggin' Charlie on this one, which is a surprising
to me as you guys all know how I feel about Denny's playing! (Okay, I admit, Charlie's a
close second.) Charlie's "at least I didn't learn the blues from Led Zeppelin" blues
sensibilities are delicious additions to this Bob's upbeat perfect lyric song. Bob was
rocking out. The song was absolutely swinging.
Thin Man-more giant arm motions.
Encores were good. I still think Jolene is perfect where it is and Bob, the band, and
the audience members (to the extent they aren't crushed) all boogie along happily.
A few more random ordered, long-winded comments:
Bob's voice has sounded great (mostly, every once in awhile a crack or two). He wasn't
doing any strange vocal affectations tonight--pretty straight ahead singing.
Sonically nice for me as I don't like being jerked out of the whole by one sound.
It was a focused night for sure. Bob to me has been somewhat reserved with the
audience all the nights (a bit less the first), but also the people on the rail near him
seemed to be pretty reserved, just leaning down and watching. He's been chatty and
more smiley with the band as the nights have progressed. There were several instances
of animated Bob whispering to Donnie and Tony that I could hear (but not make out
the words) because I was right in front of one of the speakers.
It's so funny, I have not seen Baron once on stage or anywhere. I don't think security
is really needed in Japan. There are not cameras going off all over the place or people
on their cell phones. (Oh so refreshing!) There aren't people hiding behind every
lamppost, in every nook and cranny of the venue parking lot and all over town, trying
to touch the hem of Bob's garment. It's pretty genteel.
During the second show, some people needed to go over the rail because they were
crushed, so they just hopped over and nonchalantly left without anyone from the venue
or Bob's gang making one movement toward them. I like the nice behavior, calmness,
and efficiency. (Note to all of you I am friends with during the day until five minutes
before we run to the rail: We could all stand to be a bit more civil and more like the
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how nice all the fans here have been to me as a foreigner
(except for the ones flattening non-existent me the first night.) Everyone is helpful, and
having a conversation with the fans before and after is always a highlight. (A shout out to
my insurance salesman friend who traveled four hours by bus for the show and the couple
who rode five hours on a bullet train (is Japan that big?) to get there!) The people here
love Bob as much as everyone everywhere, but their approach is just not uproarious
backslapping loud like us westerners. It's respectful and sweet; it kinda makes a tear come
to my eye. No one is snotty about their fandom, and no one is spouting statistics like Bob
is a baseball card. No "been there done that" stuff. Phew. Japan has offered a lot of
challenges to me personally (I'm a no fish vegetarian), but as with any traveling, the
people make the trip. So peace and love with a big thank you to our host fans!
Oh, and since I won't get to accidentally go on any airplane rides with you this time, and
really truly, this is the last review, I'd also like to send my utmost gratitude to the crew
for all that you do and for being a very comforting sign to me on all my vacations for many
years. (I still have Australian coins in my luggage like you all do.) Hats off to you guys.
I think the Bob and the band had an exceptionally good time at this show this particular
night. Stu looked Stu happy when I could sort of see him. George was grinning away,
sounding good. Charlie was singing along a bit. Tony finally started dancing. And Donnie
was having his Boblovefestsmile thing. The band was smiling and talking to each other all
round and to Bob. The schedule is pretty relaxing for all the travelers, only three cities in
three weeks in Japan. I think it's helping all of us that we get rest, though getting out of
a concert at 7 p.m. is odd. I had this Pavlovian yawning thing going on the way back my
hotel…like I am supposed to be tired after a concert.
Although I agree with the people saying that Charlie is a little bit on a leash, it's probably
a thousand times longer than the one Denny was on, and almost that much longer than the one
Charlie was on last round he was in the band, when in my opinion all he got to do was
plinka plinka rhythm and little embellishments so much of the time with Bob playing giant
piano chords to stop his solos. (But yes, I miss the singing from that time period like we all
do.) For the first time ever, I am appreciating the leash, though, and what Bob is trying to
do/doing-this tour has been very cohesive, extremely well played (well rehearsed?), full of
little surprises, and pleasant. Not reckless joy, more like steady gratification, with enough
variation to make it interesting.
And March 12, which I am not reviewing because I was in concert bliss the entire time
having an out of body experience, was easily one of my top five favorite Bob shows I've
attended. I even liked Honest with Me and Tweedle Dee. Check it out.
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