page by Bill Pagel
Review by Josh Wilker
In the days leading up to this show I read Dylan's
great new book and Ratso Sloman's work of Gonzo
brilliance about the Rolling Thunder tour, "On the
Road with Bob Dylan." I was extrememly charged up to
see the show but also prepared for possible
disappointment, as I had loved Dylan's earlier band
with Sexton and Campbell (This was my first time
seeing Dylan since an emotional Madison Square Garden
show in NYC just a couple months after 9/11). But the
opener, a blistering "Maggie's Farm," cleared out any
cobwebs of comparison I might have had. This band can
make a pretty ferocious swampy stomping noise while at
the same time proving the perfect outfit to back the
"Nashville Skyline" Bob. As for the latter of those
two talents, I can't think of a better band to be
sauntering along behind their frontman as he
crooningly rhymes moon and spoon (as in the second
song, "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight").
It was my first time seeing Dylan in his new
incarnation as a piano man, and my first impression, a
visual one, was that his hunched-over posture reminded
me of something, but I couldn't remember what it was.
Then when he swaggered out from behind the ol' pianny
to center stage to deliver a harp solo my excitement
at seeing him move around--"my god, he can
WALK!"--made me realize that I'd been associating his
question-mark posture at the keys with an image of an
old crusty fucker leaning on a walker.
I never did find myself missing the beautiful vocal
harmonies of the previous band, I think in large part
because of Donnie Herron's masterful work on the pedal
steel. With the old band, those harmonies on
particular songs (e.g., their soaring version of
"Blowin' in the Wind") made the songs into vaulting
sun-blasted temples of sound. Herron provided similar
alchemy, breathing brand new life into a version of
"Like A Rolling Stone" that levitated the entire
building. There were plenty of other highlights: a
malevolent "It's Alright, Ma," a swinging Western
Swing "Summer Days," a fragile and paradoxically
rousing "I Believe in You," and, most especially, a
"Desolation Row" that made time dissolve--there was
only this bubble of song, nothing anywhere but the
aching magic of Desolation Row. When the show ended
the band gathered at center stage and stood there like
gunslingers as the curtain came down. The crusty old
fucker had done it again.
Review by Jeff Gerdin
Given the reviews from recent shows on this tour, I was prepared for the
worst. Fortunately, the show was quite enjoyable. While no one would
acuse the band of being tight, the songs, for the most part, were well put
together. Part of the fun of seeing Bob is wondering what is going to
happen next. It's exciting. With Merle (great show) you can count
impeccable timing, musicianship and timing - entertaining but missing that
element of musical danger and adventure that Bob has. Neither approach is
necessarily better, it's just personal preference.
Maggie's Farm rocked and the extended work out of Down Along the Cove
allowed each of the band members to turn in stellar solos. From the
balcony seats, the sound seemed well mixed. Bob played lots of harp
(actually playing it most of the time!) and his voice was markedly better
than last year at Kenosha - though nowhere near what it was just a few
years ago. The jazzy guitar solos in Moonlight were every bit as good as
when Charlie played them and there was tons of great violin and steel
guitar on the more countryfied numbers. The band as a whole had the
dynamics down to allow Bob to be heard throughout and the general
confusion noted at previous shows seems to have been worked out.
Recommendation: go see Bob.
Review by Seth Kennedy
The show was incredible. No, it was astounding. No, there are no words for
it. I arived late for Amos Lee, as did Merle Haggard (his van pulled into
the alley as I was walking towards the venue). What I saw of Lee was
really great though. Merle Haggard played second. He was OK, but I'm not a
country fan, so I didn't enjoy it too much. Bob was.....wow. He opened
with Maggie's Farm, and rocked the house down, setting the tone for the
rest of the show. I'll Be Your Baby was a solid follow up to it. This was
followed with a rocked up It's Alright Ma, with the obligatory aplause on
the line about the President of the United States being "forced to stand
naked." Then came the bluesy Down Along The Cove, and an emotional
Desolation Row (the crowd sang this one so loud thatit coaxed a thank you
from Bob afterwards). Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum and Moonlight brought some
shades of new Bob to the so-far oldies show. Then it was back to the
oldies with tour raritie Ballad Of Hollis Brown, and then You'll Go Your
Way and I'll Go Mine, which coaxed another thank you from the Man himself.
I Believe in You seemed to be a strategic choice, with the Pope's
saddenening death earlier in the day. The crowd resounded with aplause,
seeming to agree that it was a strategic choice. Then came typical
show-closer Summer Days. It brought the crowd to its feet, and there we
stayed as Bob walked back over to his piano. No one expected what came
next. From the opening chord of Like A Rolling Stone to the song's
conclusion, it was a non-stop dance party. This song actually brought m
eto tears, as it is my favorite song, and I did not expect to hear it at
all. The encore was a standard Sing Me Back Home which, again not being a
Merle Haggard fan, I could have taken or left. Watchtower was the typical
Bob Dylan Band blues jam of a closer, and sent the crowd out rocking out
like no other. Looking back after the show, it was one of those setlists
that you see on this site, and just hope you get something like it. This
was absolutely the greatest show that I have ever been to. This show
answered the question I've been wondering about shows with this kind of
setlist: how does it feel?
Review by Don Ely
"A great life has passed into the tomb, and there, awaits the requiem of winter's snows"
-text accompanying the fresco on the west wall of the Auditorium Theatre
"O soft, melodious spring time; first-born of life and love"
-accompanies the fresco on the east wall of the Auditorium Theatre
Spring is a time of renewal and it was on a sunny spring evening that the all-new Bob Dylan
Show rode into Chi-town, the second night of five over all. Setlists from this tour may resemble
those of the last year or two, but a number of changes have taken place that indeed make this
show fresh and exciting.
First, a final thought about Larry Campbell. Cowboy metaphors aside,he has ridden off into the
sunset to be replaced by not one,but three fresh horses. While attending gigs of the Campbell/Sexton
era, and being amazed every time, I was sure that was the band to end all bands, the last word on
Bob Dylan. But life has a way of regenerating itself, people come and go, and we move on. It's the
very nature of life. Larry had contributed six years on the road backing Bob, and "he been on the
job too looonnnng". He will be missed, but it was his time to leave.In his stead we now have a trio
of very able replacements ready to step in and step up.
Earlier dates on this tour elicited mixed reaction among Boblinks correspondents. Dylan seems to
take his bands on the road having had little rehearsal time, often leaving new members in a lurch.
We saw that with Stu Kimball last year and Freddie Koella the year before that. Last night at the
Auditorium this band was firing on all cylinders, fed by the boundless energy and presence of fiddle
player (you call it violin, I'll call it fiddle) Elana Fremerman. This lady adds brilliant facets of
shimmering light to these songs we've known and loved for years. Donnie Herron ain't no slouch,
either. He brings multiple talents to the table, and I especially liked when he'd join Elana for a
two-pronged fiddle attack! Who needs a guitar army when you've got this stuff goin' on? He plays a
great pedal steel, too, as on "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight." That song was written so long ago with
this very merry band of minstrels in mind. A custom fit.!
I wish I could recall specific moments of who played what, or did what, and during which song. By the
end of the night, though, it becomes one piece, and trying to jot down notes in the dark never works.
Stu played some great solos,and newcomer Denny Freeman tossed off a few himself. On occasion Bob would
amble toward center stage anbd blow a harp solo, while at other times remaining behind the keys when
playing harmonica. His keyboard work was nicely restrained, so as not to get in the way during quiter
moments. "Down Along The Cove" was vital again."Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)" was
rock solid, and I absolutely love the new "Moonlight". Sprightly and vigorous, it steps lively with
springtime's melodious tone, more than ever before. "Ballad Of Hollis Brown" was excellent and well-
received; I saw this for the first time last fall in Kenosha and was hoping for another this go-round.
I think the biggest highlight had to be a beautifully-rendered "I Believe In You"; I can't help but
feel this one was for John Paul II, as it was on this spring evening the Holy Father was freed of his
earthly bonds to renew his life in the Kingdom of God.
Amos Lee's band was very good, Merle Haggard and his nine-piece honky tonk orchestra even better, but
Bob Dylan And His Band v.2005 were without doubt the finest and hardest-working musicians on the
Auditorium stage this night. Note to Elana: pester Bob into teaching you to play "Isis"! I'll be going
to the show tonight, and then back in Detroit on the 12th. To you folks in the east,
Don't You Dare Miss It!
Review by Dan Jackson
Another stop, and another pairing with a legend. Haggard up first,
actually second to opener Amos Lee (didn¹t see him), and I was expecting
much, much less that I got. I am at best a novice Haggard fan, but his set
was amazing to say the least. Just an excellent, easy, country swing that
I could listen to anytime. He has a very charming stage presence, and it
should be noted that he and Bob apparently went to the same dance lessons.
Remember back when Bob was on guitar and those random leg twitches? Well,
Haggard has the same affliction. Some more research on Mr. Haggard¹s music
will be done on my part.
On to Dylan. I always try to go opening or closing nights when he does
multi-night stands, as it has been my experience that those are the better
shows. Unfortunately, a drive from Minneapolis and life¹s schedules got me
to the Auditorium Theater for night two. Of course I missed Mississippi
from night one. Night two was the average show I was expecting‹pretty
standard set list. All of the songs from night two have been reviewed
several times on this tour, so I wouldn¹t be able to add much for new
insight. That being said, it was still enjoyable. I think I, and I suspect
many of the other hardcore Dylan fans, expect an awful lot from Bob. Any
time I see what I consider a blasé show from Bob, I force myself to step
back and consider my other current options for musical entertainment. A
so-so Dylan show starts to look good pretty quick! I suppose it is a
twisted take on ³a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.² It
will be a sad day when he finally pulls up on the reigns, so make sure to
enjoy it while you can.
Review by David Smith
My wife and I drove down from Detroit this past weekend to
catch the second Dylan show in Chicago. It was a solid show. The new
line-up in the band is young and brings a new kind of energy to the show.
We certainly miss Larry Campbell, but to see Dylan from the fourth row in
a beautiful theater is a treat, especially when the band enjoys the music
that they are making. The sound is slightly different, perhaps a bit
softer overall then some of the more recent tours. The key is that Dylan
truly seems to be still enjoying himself. To see him play the harp out in
stage center was refreshing. We're headed to the Detroit show early next
week. It'll be good to see a second show--the music is changing yet again
and I need to hear it more to truly understand where he's headed now.
Hopefully, the summer will bring Dylan back to the Great Lakes region
again. If you're able to catch a show during this leg of tour, definitely
do so--you won't be disappointed. And remember, "propaganda is all
Review by Adam Selzer
Beneath one of the murals in the auditorium are the words "A Great Life
Has Passed Into the Tomb. There Awaits the Requiem of Winter's Snow." *
That was an excellent quote for the day. Much of the pre-show conversation
centered around what Bob would play in the "Pope Slot," which was last
night occupied by Forever Young. No one even suggested what may have been
the most obvious choice, "I Believe In You," which turned out to be a
highlight of the night. Best version I've ever heard in person without a
doubt, and maybe the best in years. He really SANG it.
I think I'm starting to see what's interesting about this band - it's the
fact that the guitars are outnumbered. Wheras, before, a lot of songs that
are heavy on organs, etc. on the albums just had the organ part played on
guitar, and ended up sounding a bit messy. With the steel guitar/violin
taking over those duties, an awful lot of songs that weren't meant to be
guitar attacks sounds a whole lot cleaner and more melodic.
On with the narrative portion of the review:
I walked to the theatre today, and again bumped into Amos Lee's
trumpeter - twice. Once about half a mile away, once by the stage door,
where I introduced him to some of the other regulars. Nice guy. I didn't
manage to hear the soundcheck tonight, though. Nate (the trumpeter) said
that they'll probably be later now than they were yesterday, since
everyone is already pretty much set up.
The sign on the window of Amigo Grill said "Open," but hte door was
locked. So we posted our own sign on the window directing poolers to
Exchequers, a restaurant down the road (the nearest thing we could find
that was open) where we settled in for a pizza dinner that couldn't be
beat. Lots of the poolies from last night, plus Disco Stu, Marcel, Ryan,
Kevin, and others.
Everyone was friendly and in a good mood outside the show. Federica said
she needed some cheering up, being Italian and Catholic, but she seemed
cheerful ("I'm a very stange person," she explained). She's really been a
After another charming Merle set, Bob and the band came on to a set that
wasn't quite the knockout last night was (seemed more of a band show and
less of a Bob/Elana show), but had some solid, solid highlights. Bob's
vocals are still sounding great.
Maggie's Farm - tight arrangement that worked really well. Never
meandered - well liked by all.
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - bout the same as always, but the violin adds a
lot to the country feel. Nice center stage harp solo.
It's All Right Ma - now we're talkin! Another tight arrangement with great
solos by everyone and great vocal delivery by Bob.
Down Along the Cove - the old guitar version was a bit messy and hard to
understand. The new band cleans it up a bit, though it sort of seems like
just another song.
Desolation Row - HOLY moley. Nothing too special about the arrangement -
just about like the 1999-2002ish version with the addition of a violin and
an electric guitar, but a great delivery by Bob, including the following
verses: Postcards, Cinderella, Moon is almost Hidden, Ophelia, Einstein
Disguised as Robin Hood, Midnight All the Agents, NERO'S NEPTUNE (lovely
to hear 10-15 dorks like me scream with delight), Letter. Never did I
think I'd get to hear the Nero verse to this one. And I've only heard
Einstein once before, back at Newport in aught-two. Nice violin work,
appropriately enough, and Donnie on a weird Mandolin/guitar type of thing.
Very glad I got to hear this again. This and It's All Right Ma in the same
show (instead of the two trading off the three spot from night to night)
was very cool.
Tweedle - just when you thought it was safe. Seemed like a very quite song
tonight, maybe because I spent half of it thinking about how cool
Desolation Row was.
Moonlight - sounds good with the band, but Bob just wasn't there vocally
(though he did hit some high notes). The only ime upsinging has really
bothered me much.
Hollis Brown - at first I thought that, lacking the wolfman growl, it
wasn't as spooky as last year's version, but I found myself being sucked
in and taken for a ride. Like a psychological thriller instead of a
Most Likely - sweeet. This is another one where burying the guitars
helps it sound much more melodic. Much more like the album version than
most versions I've heard, and some great singing.
I Believe In You - here we have what may well have been the highlight. Not
burying the song in guitars gives the melody a chance to shine, and shine
it did. Bob really SANG it - focusing even on the melody, and singing the
"oh" part as it should be sung. Truly a heartfelt performance. SOme called
it the best since 81, and I've not heard a post-81 that would make me
inclined to think otherwise.
Summer Days - already? Same old. first song of the night to be a repeat
from the night before.
Like a ROlling Stone - only song of the night where the guitars stood out
- Stu took a fine solo here. Bob flubbed some lyrics.
Sing Me Back Home - very nice indeed. Lovely song, well sung. But
where's Merle, anyway?
AATW - very cool. Elana's solo reminded me a bit of Devil Went Down to
Georgia, which seemed to work. Minor lyric change at the end - the joker
says "I'll give you no relief," if I heard it right.
In all, another solid show, a bit less interesting in terms of the
setlist, perhaps, and with a few more lyric flubs, but the highlights were
HIGHLIGHTS. While neither Denny nor Stu is really doing much on guitar,
the band has come together very nicely, and Elana is still smiling.
See ya tomorrow, kids.
* - I originally assumed that the quotes under the mural were from
Shakespeare, or maybe something someone said about Abraham Lincoln (who
actually spoke in a building next door. John Wilkes Booth performed at the
same stage next door, as I understand it). However, the quote was actually
written by Louis Sullivan, the architect himself. He submitted the quotes
to an English professor to see if they were all right, and the professor
said that it was fine, though he wasn't sure he understood the line. It
really isn't the most sensible line, if you think about it.
page by Bill Pagel
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