March 15, 2010
Review by Kathleen
3-15 off the cuff review under a strict time deadline
I was in the middle of discussing cultural sensitivity with my Japanese
pals, and Bob being late, and wouldn’t ya know it, he came out nearly on
Grey flowy somewhat pinstriped suites on the guys with black shirts. Bob—white
hat, grey/blue shirt, sparkly things down the side of his pants, a vest and coat
jacket both with brass buttons.
Bob still knows where he is going on stage.
Of the banter I could hear with Donnie, one of them was “I can’t figure out
how…” Something like that. Not tons of banter or band jocularity tonight.
But everyone played well, was focused, and seemed happy enough.
Show in general started a little slow, but got better and better.
Songs (A few thoughts)
Seńor was an arrangement centered on the harp. Lovely.
High Water—great version, you could really hear Donnie tonight on
everything, yeah! Check out the banjo break.
Levee—Bob was laughing at something throughout the end of the song while he was
doing some wild keyboard stuff. Also there seemed to be a Dickey Betts thirds
guitar thing going with Stu and Charlie at the beginning of the song.
Trying to Get to Heaven--hauntingly beautiful vocals by Bob and yummy solo
Cold Iron Bounds—New arrangement still… it’s good. Two or three times the
song just flat out stops. One of the times was half a beat longer than the
others and pretty dramatic.
Desolation Row--Bob had a lick going…
Mobile—I know all the haters of this song are going to find this hard to
believe, but this was pretty much the crowd (and Bob and the band maybe
even) favorite of the night. It was an arrangement totally built around
the harp. Bob could barely get the harp away from his mouth in time to sing the
lyrics, it had so much harp. Great harp playing all night--it was really really
a harp night. Anyway, I was lucky to be in the dance section of the audience to
begin with and this was a real dance-o-rama.
Man in the Long Black Coat—this is a very new arrangement you are gonna
love. Guaranteed. I have no idea how to describe it though. The bass is
the base of the song is pretty much all I can say.
About this time in the show, I got busted for having a flashlight, so I
don’t have many other notes. I do recall that I danced an earring off
during Thunder on the Mountain (amazing I didn’t dance any clothes off)—my
part of the audience was in a frenzy for anything danceable starting with
I’d better clue you in on what you are going to hear on the recordings
because we had major Bob talk. The really groovy Deadhead (kid) Japanese
guys who made Bob a guitar and have been trying to give it to him, finally
succeeded. (It was a really pretty guitar, looked like a Fender Thinline
reissue tele with an F hole, but it was a strat. Natural finish, a little
darker than blonde, though. Handmade.) Anyway, these guys have been
holding up a sign asking Bob to receive the guitar, and so before the band
intros, Stu took it on stage and got it over to Bob. Bob said, “what’s
this, who’s this for…is someone trying to give Stu a guitar? Stu, you’ve
got yourself a guitar.” There was a note with it and Bob said, “Should I
open it?” Bob rested it on the keyboard, then Charlie held it up and walked it
around. The moment was very light-hearted and heartening. Then Bob said, “I’m
going to take this with me.” He was giggling during band introductions,
especially when the word guitar came up.
The entire exchange is one of those rare and great concert moments that I
live for and a reason to travel to other countries to hear Bob. I am sure
it could not have happened anywhere but in Japan. Starting the first day, I was
like, yeah, right, they are gonna get that to Bob. But, there it went, right to
Bob in a perfect flow of what was going on between Bob and the Japanese
Lots of high fiving was going on and hugging, people who didn’t even know
the guys were in a huddle at the end. Big fun tonight, big fun.
I did the previous review quick and dirty so it would get up before everyone
heard the recordings and wondered what was going on. But there is so much
intrigue about the guitar, I’ll say a little more.
Like I said the body was like one of those Fender Thinline tele reissues
with one F-hole, but strat pick-ups/knobs. I don’t know the wood, but it
had a very nice grain with a natural finish. The wood was not blonde, but
not dark at all. The neck was a dark wood, I don’t think ebony though, and had
a cherry blossom (white) pattern on the front of it, that I do not think was an
inlay. But it looked nice. The hardware was stainless (no gold), the tuners
were amber-orange and you could see through them a bit. There was a little
(this isn’t the exact word) plaque inside that said something like Bob Dylan
commemorative guitar Japan 2010 or something like that.
The guitar felt like Japan, calm and peaceful. The guitar maker was a
sweet, humble, and cute (if that’s not too lecherous to say given our age
difference) young man. His friend he was with owns a guitar store near
Tokyo (I was telling him how all those stores are like museums because all
the really nice U.S. vintage guitars are there) and both of them were
well-versed in rock n roll which was fun for me. And their other friends
were pretty funny and happy go lucky.
The guys with the guitar were down by Stu, making a pretty big commotion by
holding up a big sign about the guitar and waving their hands; although I have
definitely seen Bob’s band (mostly) ignore bigger productions. (The guitar was
in a soft case.)
Here’s why I think the guitar made it onstage: It’s like my soulmate, Rex
the Wonder Cat, and the birds. Rex would watch the birds on the porch
through the sliding glass doors all the time. He knew there was a door and he
couldn’t get them; but every day at some point his instincts would
uncontrollably get the better of him. He would lunge at the birds and bang his
head on the glass.
So it is with guitar players. I don’t know if the fans dangled the guitar
the other nights (I think they did), but I was telling them if it got to be
their last show on the rail they should show it to the techs. Anyway, they took
it out of the case during the encore and Tony, Stu, and Charlie, all had to have
a look. You dangle a nice guitar in front of a guitar player and they can’t
help themselves. It’s like a curvy woman, they have to have to look at it or
preferably have their hands on it. It’s irresistible. Up it went, and before
it was over, Stu, Charlie, and Bob had all held it for awhile.
I think it was a brilliant move, especially as a goodwill gesture in a
country where, like I said, these things have meaning. I think the people
standing near the guitar maker who knew about the guitar to Bob mission felt
like it was a coup for Japan. Also, it settled things down at the front of the
stage, so everyone could relax. That was the fourth show, and it would have
gone on for several more shows--guitar lugging into a GA show, finding room for
it, signage, making a racket.
Still I’ve been worried that Stu might have had to do extra push-ups or Hail
Mary’s to atone.
Meantime, in a time capsule from 3/18 thrown back into this review, I had a seat
in the balcony that night and, aside from getting hassled again about my itty
bitty blue almost no light flashlight I use for 5 second a song to write the set
list and instruments, it was a nice perspective on the show. I think since no
one does anything wrong ever here—the pedestrians even wait for the green walk
sign to cross the street--that anyone doing anything even slightly out of line
is in trouble. I guess I’m a rebel in Japan.
But, I digress. There is an American vernacular compound word that you are not
supposed to write on public websites that describes perfectly the scene on the
floor at these Japanese concerts, especially right near Bob. The first part of
it is “cluster.” I can’t wait to see what being Number 1100 is like tonight.
Review by Jamie Boot
I was at the show last night too, my third, as I couldnt make the thursday
night show. First time to see Dylan since in about 8 years, since been
travelling and living in Japan since then. Just wanted to add to Kathleens
comments about last night. The crowd was great, as they have been for all
the shows. Really orderly and attentive. I was second row stage right and
there was none of the pushing and shoving that I have read about. I even had a
little bit of space to swing my hips. I think the crowd wanna hear every word
and arent into drunken ramblings mid song like the UK and US audiences. They
also dont really rock out so much I suppose, well they do, but in a very
understated Japanese kinda way. Anyway I was as close as ive been for a bob
show, maybe Besancon show in 94 was the only time Ive been closer, but anyway, I
could see Bob well and his interactions with the band a lot. He was fairly buddy
with Don, often talking between songs, from what I could make out it was
confirming songs and their key (A flat for Trying to get to heaven). Tony often
took off his bass and went over to Bob to confirm what song they were doing or
how they were gonna do it. Bob was wearing a MASSIVE diamond ring on his left
hand which I hadnt seen before. He was getting well into it and loads of arm
gestures and those funny little dance moves we all love, he was grinning
maniacally for a few songs and as Kathleen said was cracking up about something
during the jam at the end of Levee.
A little about the songs and the guitar incident
Watchin the river flow- a solid version but not one of my faviourites. It
was absolutely pissing it down with rain outside so I reckon he played it
cos of that. I still miss the days of the old I am the man Thomas etc
openers with everyone singing.
Senor- great, powerful version with Bob centre stage and his arms flailing
all over the place. nice harp work from what I can remember. I wasnt
planning on a review so my details are gonna be vague or inaccuratte i
reckon. This song works well in the number two slot
Baby tonight- preferred the sat version, but Bob was definitely enjoying
playing it, spitting out the lyrics and the crowd were pretty receptive to
the song. Nice to see bob on guitar but really think he should be playing
acoustic and stay away from those guitar solos we have to endure. Leave
those to the professionals Bobby.
High water- Really enjoyed this- I think its lost a bit of power from when I
remember it back in the early 2000's but a great version all the same. The banjo
is more percussive than the picky versions of the past but it was quite high in
the mix. BTW this is the first time ive seen this line up and I feel a bit sorry
for old Stu on guitar, he doesnt get to do much does he? Charlie Sexton was on
fire all night, lost count of how many guitars he played, he was getting down on
his knees and getting really into it and exchanging lots of cheeky glances with
Bob and the band. He is really attentive to what Bobs doing and keeps an eye on
him to make sure he nails all the changes, you can tell Bob gets lost sometimes,
particuarly when jamming, but Charlie helps to bring him back into the groove of
Levee- nice extended jam at the end. you can tell they were all having fun
on this one and getting lost in the simple structure of the song. Bob was
experimenting a lot on the keyboard and some great guitar work from Charlie.
Loads of laughs at the end as they were trying to bring the song to an end.
Trying to get to heaven- very tender version with more nice harp from Bob.
he was playing well tonight, especially when he was sticking relatively
closely to the melody. Bob really sings these songs well doesnt he, he seems to
far less experimental with the vocals of the more recent songs, maybe just he
hasnt had much time to mess around with them
Cold irons bound- nice atmospheric version- started off pretty quiet and
then built up from what I can remember. enjoyed it
Desolation row- great vocals form Bob- another crowd pleaser. Not sure about
Charlies first clunky guitar break which he kept coming back to but a nice,
Mobile-was surprised to hear this in the middle after being the opener on
sat. Real rocking version, built on Bobs harp work which was very strong.
During the chorus he was blowing on the harp between every few words, I dont
know where he was finding the breath! It did result in the chorus becoming a bit
stilted but was entertaining to watch. Again crowd really got into it and got
the biggest cheers of the night from the main set.
Man in the long black coat- really nice, simple version, with Bob singing in a
deep growl. Very few instrumental breaks and only basic rhythm from Bob.
Probably my highlight of the night, but pretty short.
highway 61- Another crowd pleaser and solid version
Spirit on the water- good too, but Bobs vocals werent as clear as they
usually are on these croony later songs.
Thunder on the mountain- nice thumping version, although not as nice as
previous nights. Bob seemed to get lost with the vocals at the end following the
rhythm part of the guitars that continued over from the jam.
encores- pretty much what you would expect. Rolling stone was almost sing
along-able and Watchtower was a kind of cross between the stilted version of
friday and the straight verison of saturday. the surprise came when after
rolling stone, when Bob was just about to introduce the band, Charlie walked
over with a strat with a note on it and handed it to Bob....Bob kinda said
'Oh!!...Whats this?'.. and Charlie explained it had been given to Stu.....Bob
kinda looked a bit awkard as it had put him off his introductions and he
obviously needed to address the fact that hed been given a guitar... so he puts
it on his organ and said 'Looks like someone gave stu a guitar...come and get it
Stu'... so charlie took it back over to Stu....Then I think Bob kinda realised
that may have seemed a bit rude so he said 'I like that guitar really, I'm gonna
keep it right here by my side'....So Charlie theatrically took it back to Bob
and then it was taken by a stage hand to a big applause. Just as he starts
Jolene he says something like 'Im gonna keep that guitar by my side, just like
all you nice people'..All in all it was a nice Bob moment, dealt with in that
awkard kinda way only Bob could. At the end when they were doing the bows,
charlie pointed to the guitar guy and told Bob that he had given him the guitar
but Bob didnt react at all... I bumped into the guy at the end and it appears he
makes handmade guitars for a living. Lets see if its on stage tomorrow!
Anyway, this has turned into a really long review when i'd planned to write
something short. Last show for me tonight.
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