Reviews

Detroit, Michigan
Masonic Temple Theatre
April 12, 2005


[Don Ely], [Christopher Oxie], [Marc Schemansky], [Michael Ugorowski], [Charles Cicirella], [Jack Schulman]

Review by Don Ely


The last time I was in this building Frank Zappa was on stage. Supporting his "Tinseltown Rebellion" album
on the brand new Barking Pumpkin imprint, you could see Ike Willis sing "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?", 
or Frank step over to stage left to shut up and play his guitar as only he could. Prior to that, on this 
killing floor I had seen the expanded and incredibly rhythmic Talking Heads promoting "Remain In Light", 
and the Joe Jackson Band hawking their special brand of "spiv rock" during "I'm The Man" tour. On that 
particular night, October 18, 1979, opening for Joe was a band of New York misfits called The Ramones. 
That was my first time seeing the bruddahs from Queens, and their combustible set, rock 'n' roll the way 
it should be played, ignited a rock 'n' roll love affair that lasted until the horse ran it's course, and 
ultimately, the demise of it's jockeys. Over the years I attended nineteen Ramones shows, a personal 
record for most gigs attended of any one band. Until now.
 
A quarter century since that Zappa show at Masonic Auditorium (as it was known then), I was back at the 
re-christened Masonic Temple Theatre to attend my fortieth Bob Dylan concert. That's a rock 'n' roll love 
affair that will last beyond either Dylan's or my own mortality. Set in the middle of Desolation Row, in 
Detroit's Cass Corridor, Masonic's outer environs belie the hidden jewel within. The narrow concourses 
with low ceilings, the stage large enough to accomodate large bands, the architecture and magnificent 
design of the auditorium ceiling and walls, all brought memories flooding back of past rock 'n' roll 
glories. Now it was time for the beer joint bands to enliven this venerable theater with a country flair.
 
We were running late and so missed Amos' set, which didn't matter to me as much since I had seen him twice 
in Chicago. 7pm is just too early on a work night, as evidenced by the many folks arriving the same time 
(or later) as we did. Beverages were poured in a separate room off the concourse, and after winding through 
what must have been the most orderly beer line ever, we settled in for Merle's iron brand of honky tonk 
entertainment. I was pleased to notice that Mr. Haggard mixes up his sets well from night to night; there 
were several selections not performed at either of the Chicago appearances I attended April 2-3. Happily, 
one of those selections was "Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down", which I knew from Elvis Costello & The 
Attractions' 1981 album "Almost Blue". My introduction to country music came more through Elvis C., 
"Stranger In The House", "Radio Sweetheart", and "Different Finger", than from the genuine article. He 
made it cool for this young rock 'n' roll dog to even like country music.  Merle and The Strangers played
one or two other drinkin' songs and gave another sterling performance that delighted the crowd. Merle was
light-hearted as usual, told a joke about Kenny Chesney's diminutive stature, and even did his best 
impression of Bob, which if you're not too thin-skinned you'da thought was pretty funny. "The answer my 
fren....."
 
You'd best notify your next of kin, as this wheel did explode! Bob Dylan and the only band that matters 
proceeded to swing into action with "Tombstone Blues". These set openers reveal how powerful this big band 
can be when functioning in precision as a tight unit. Stu rocked, Elana rocked, Donnie rocked, each one 
taking a turn at an incendiary solo on guitar, fiddle, and steel guitar, respectively. The energy level was 
sustained throughout the slower "I'll Remember You", Elana Fremerman shining once again "on fiddle and bow". 
It astounds me the head of steam she gets up all the while wearing heels! Put some hotshot guitar player in 
hockey skates while performing on stage, to see if he can do it. My money's on Elana! 
 
"Lonesome Day Blues" was a minor letdown, a tiny complaint as I just don't feel this song works as well 
live as does the studio version. Things picked right up as "This Wheel's On Fire" was served up next. This 
is one of my top ten ( or twenty, or thirty...) Dylan compositions, and this revitalized line-up did it 
justice. Frontier justice, that is.... "Watching The River Flow" was restored to greatness after having 
been sometimes played without due respect in recent years. "John Brown" was unexpected, first one I'd seen 
since Columbus 11/10/01, and fairly rare in the set. "Absolutely Sweet Marie" and "Under The Red Sky" are 
two more perfect fits for this band. For me, I would say the number one musical highlight of the evening 
had to be "Bye And Bye". Watching Elana Fremerman and Donnie Herron duel passionately on their violins was 
a joy to witness, like two master swordsmen fencing for the big prize. If memory serves, it was during this 
number Bob blew the best of several good, meaningful solos on his ancient and well-traveled harp. Bob was
possessed of bright spirit and solid foundation and seemed to me to exude that confidence of "hey, these 
guys are one damn fine band and I'm damn lucky and proud to be out here with them night after night". The 
Songs remain in capable hands.
 
Another town, another joint, rollin' down the road, eighteen wheels aflame with rock 'n' roll and country 
music. The Bob Dylan Show lives on!
 
Don Ely       
Rochester, MI
kingsnake78@hotmail.com

[TOP]

Review by Christopher Oxie



I was fortunate to attend the Detroit show with local Dylan expert Bob
Schuler.  While I was disappointed with the previous night's show in Mt.
Pleasant I was ready for another great show in Detroit.  Being at last
year's March 16th show, Dylan had a lot to live up to, with the "Get out
Of Denver" encore.  I am sorry to say that he fell way short.  Among other
things, giving Detroit a recycled show from Chicago last week, with the
exception of "Don't Think Twice..." is insulting.  The welcome relief of
not having "Summer Days" or "Honest with Me" taking up set list space was
appreciated but it was not near enough.

With Amos Lee hitting the stage unannounced there were a fair number of
people in the audience to see him.  I felt bad for him as he looked like
he had never seen that many people at one of his shows before and he
seemed generally scared to death.  He was holding his guitar like his life
depended on it.  I enjoyed the music, even if the lyrics were a little on
the lightweight side.  I did enjoy his guitar player, who could be a twin
to actor Kevin Pollak or Rob Schneider from SNL.  He made some interesting
faces throughout the set as if he was enjoying something we did not see. 
Amos played for 30 mins and was done.

At 7:45 Merle and his band came on.  He opened with "Big City" one of my
favorites.  He ran through the first part of set and then paused to say
hello.  He seemed generally overwhelmed by the reaction from the crowd and
took of his blue glasses to get a better look.  He did a few more tunes
and announced that they were just a beer joint band and that the Masonic
Temple was way out of their league.  Merle then said "What do you want to
hear?"  He then said "You want me to impersonate Bob Dylan don't you?"  He
then started to sing the first verse of "Blowin in the Wind" in a very
high, whiny voice.  He got a big laugh for that.  He then said he was
going to introduce the Strangers and they all said hello shook hands with
each other.  Merle looks up in years and had to be helped off the stage at
the end of the set.  I hope that the old folks home he stole the rest of
the band from don't get upset that they are gone.  They were solid but
some of them looked like they were ready to fall over.  

From 8:30 to 9:00pm the curtain was down and people ran to get their
drinks and posters.  At 9:00pm the usual announcement came on and the
curtain went up.  The Band was in the usual grey outfits and Bob was in a
black suit with red here and there and a red tie scarf and a black cowboy
hat.  

1.  Tombstone Blues:  This was unexpected as the opener.  I had not
heard this live before and I enjoyed it.  I was surprised that the right
side of the main floor sat down immediately and the left side stood for
the entire song.  The "sit down Gestapo" were on top of anyone who dared
stand too long into a song.  It was down right annoying to see them run up
to someone and tell them to sit down.  

2.  I'll Remember You:  Another song I had not heard live and it took the
crowd way down.  Not many people knew the song and it was their first
chance to get a good look at Elana and discuss amongst themselves how hot
she is.  Bob sounded great on this and was animated throughout.

3.  Lonesome Day Blues:  This is a great song and I enjoyed the
performance.  Again, many people did not seem to know this one and they
seemed lost with it.  It did not get the response it deserved.  Lot of
good guitar work from Stu and Bob's vocals were gritty just as they should
be for this song.

4.  This Wheel's On Fire:  I hardly recognized this song.  When I heard it
in Comstock Park last August it was a solid rocker.  This version sounded
as if they were playing at the local country fair.  Elana was in her
element her and played some good runs.  I preferred the harder version
from last year's shows but this is a different band.

5. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum:  This is where the whole show began to
spiral down.  I don't know anyone who likes this song let alone wants to
hear it every night.  Most of the crowd did not know it and they took
their first opportunity to hit the bathrooms and get another drink.  

6.  Watchin the River Flow:  Last year, this song nearly brought the
house down.  Last night, it was a solid effort but this new version had a
much mellower feel to it.  Nice harp from Bob and the slide guitar was
great.  Elana was a little more involved but she is so far down in the mix
that it is hard to hear everything she does.  Again, I prefer the harder
version from last year but this was a solid effort.  Didn't do much to get
the crown going though.

7.  John Brown:  What was this?  John Brown?  I did not know this one at
first and it was not until I hear the civil war lyrics did I know what it
was.  A very haunting song that was played to perfection.  I enjoyed the
performance and the stage lighting was also right on.  It was the
combination of the musical quality and the beautiful stage that kept the
people in their seats.  I think that most people expected a rocker for the
next number and they got it.   Well, not really.  By now, most of the
crowd was trying to think of what songs they remembered off of their copy
of "Greatest Hits" and wondered if they would know anything Bob was going
to play.

8.  Under The Red Sky:  By now, the crowd was completely lost.  Again, the
stage was lit beautifully but the drink line was getting longer and
longer.  The guy who was selling posters in the seats actually ran out and
had to go back and get more.  Dylan was at his peak with this song. His
voice was clear and articulate.  The band was tight and I really enjoyed
hearing this song.  I have not heard it live before and it was a welcome
surprise.  It got a loud response from the audience when they finished\
but it was a combination of us who appreciated the song and the others who
were screaming for "Blowin in the Wind"..

9.  Highway 61 Revisited:  This really got the people on their feet (but
only for a few seconds and then they had to sit back down).  A decent
version but more country than rocker.  Elana was lost in the mix
completely as Donnie was duplicating the slide whistle in the original
version with his way too loud slide guitar.  It sounded great but it left
the crowd wanting more.  I guess that is the point but to follow up with
Rainy Day Women or Cry A While or Down Along the Cove would have sent them
over the edge.  In typical Bob fashion we got....

10.  Bye and Bye:  It was hard to stay awake at this point.  I like this
song and Bob did a fine job with the vocals.  Another highlight for Elana
and Donnie on duel violins but the bubble was burst at this point. Just as
the people got ready to dance and shout they are forced (literally) to sit
and wait this one out.  A great performance but a let down as far as the
show was concerned.  At this point the crowd was looking for something,
anything that they knew and could identify with. Bob says here you go and
gives us.....

11.  Absolutely Sweet Marie:  What?  What the hell is this?  I heard
that from the people behind and in front of me.  Unless you go way back to
Blonde on Blonde you were out of the loop and from the looks on the faces
around me, there were plenty on the outside.  This was the first song
where people were walking out.  The song was well done and Bob had the
band tight and right on with his vocals.  The band seemed lost towards the
end but Bob brought them back.    When this song was over, Bob went over
and said something to George,. and Tony.  He was waving his hands and Tony
turned and ran over and got the big stand up bass from the side.  

12.  Masters Of War:  This was unexpected but at least the crowd got to
hear something that they had heard of.  Bob was dead on with the vocals
and the rest of the band was paying close attention to him throughout the
song.  Stu played acoustic well and Donnie added to it on the other side. 
There is another guitar player in the band but his contribution is so
minimal that if he fell over no one would notice.  Elana had some nice
fills here.

Bob came to center stage and accepted what the crowd gave him.  He
barely looked at us and seemed to be anxious to get out of there.  Elana
was bursting as she wanted to at least wave to us or something but she
stood there like a statue not daring to move.  They all did the rock star
trot and after what seemed like an eternity, they came back out.

13.  Don't Think Twice its Alright: This got a huge response from the
crowd.  It was not that it was a greatest hit but it was from the "old
days" and that is what they had been screaming for all night.  Bob
delivered song note for note with the rest of the band and they seemed to
benefit from the pep talk I'm sure they got between sets.  Tony seemed to
be in a bad mood from this point on.  The song sounded great and clear. 
Bob, still hunched over introduced the band.  Donnie, George, Stu and
Denny got a polite response and as usual, Elana got a big response.
I miss the jokes about George and his windshield vipers...

14.  All Along The Watchtower:  The crowd was beside themselves with
this one.  The violins seemed out of place here in such a powerful song.
It was nothing we hadn't heard before and the stream of people leaving to
beat the traffic was big.  Once they were done it was back to the center
stage for the statue pose and as the curtain came down my thoughts of that
second Detroit encore was put to rest.

I would like to say that I am growing more and more despondent about the
song selection.  When the tours start, there is all the buzz about what
songs will be played and on and on.  Once it starts, there are a few
nuggets here and there but over the last 3-4 years, is there really a
difference in the songs he plays live?  I say there is not.  I was
horrified to see that he played almost the exact same show last week in
Chicago.  Detroit getting a recycled show from Chicago?  Talk about an
insult!  Why did we spend all that money and time to see Bob when we could
have just downloaded that show from the traders?  Seeing him the previous
night in Mt. Pleasant was a let down as that show sucked for lack of a
better word.  It seemed that they wanted to get out of there as fast as
they could.  

Detroit has always been supportive of Dylan even if he has skipped the
city on numerous past tours.  After the triumphant shows from last year,
last night was substandard.  Amos was no Hot Club and I would not expect
to see him join the band for the summer/fall run.  I have to ask, what is
in store for the summer with Willie Nelson?  Another "do you know what
song this is?" lightweight set or are we going to get what we came for? 
For those that are seeing him for the first time, it has got to be a
thrill just to see the person who did all those things decades ago. For
those of us who go from state to state and city to city, this has got to
stop.  I would like to see a show where 12 of the 14 songs haven't been
played in at least 2 or more years.  Sure, LARS and AATWT will be there
but if I wanted to hear the same ole show over and over again, I don't
need to go to the show.  I hope that Tweedle and Honest with Me are
banished like the Hurricane has been.  You have a master violin player and
you leave one of your best violin based songs off the set list?  Never
mind the message; it is a great song that people want to hear.  I would
rather hear Hurricane instead of Tweedle Dee or Summer Days.  What about
you?


I am bracing for what I guess will be another baseball tour this summer
with Willie.  I hope that it is more of all of us want.

[TOP]

Review by Marc Schemansky



The concert started on time with Amos Lee performing an inspired set of
songs.  He is a good performer and certainly has potential for a bright
future.

Merle Haggard came on next with a full band.  He looked like a true
country gentleman.  His voice was beautiful and his performance very
polished.  At one point he did an imitation of Bob Dylan.... a nasal twang
line from Blowin' in the Wind.  He got a real kick out of it. He ended
with a beautiful version of Nat King Cole' Unforgettable.

After a short break Bob arrived dressed in a black suit with tailoring
reminiscent of Hank Williams with red detailing.  He looked ready for
business indeed he was; he started with a strong version Of Tombstone
Blues... a great start...  with Elana playing the fiddle and dancin' and
flyin' around the stage like Peter Pan.  Excellent

Some other highlights were a beautiful "I'll Remember You".  "Lonesome Day
Blues" was pretty loyal to the album version and Bob seemed to be enjoying
the song.  I thought the best of the evening was John Brown and Highway
61.   Bob sang John Brown slowly and with a lot of feeling... it gave us
the chills.  Highway 61 Revisited was done as straight ahead rock and
roll... with Elana driving the song with repetitive fills... very hard,
very strong, very exciting...  you could feel the power.  Don't Think
Twice was a good choice for an encore with AATW ending the party.

Marc Schemansky
Detroit

[TOP]

Review by Michael Ugorowski



This was Bob's 5th visit to the state of Michigan in the last 13
months.  I had not been to the Masonic Temple in Detroit (my hometown) for
over 20 years.  Being there brought back memories of Foghat, Bad Company,
Robin Trower and a bunch of other rock bands I saw there in the 70s.  Amos
Lee came on at 7 and played for 29 minutes.  An enjoyable set.  He came
out to one of the mercendise tables and signed CDs after his set.  Merle
and the Strangers  were very good and tight.

A nice variety of songs, some talk between songs, Merle  being on the
bill was one of the reasons I decided to go. Bob opened with Tombstone
Blues, the sound was very good, vocals clear.  My girlfriend thought the
harp solos, with Bob coming out to center stage,  were best she has heard,
as if Bob was playing in her living room.  As with others the song list is
a bit of a problem.  I could go 10 years and not hear Tweedle, Hiway 61
and Watchtower again.

It would be nice to hear some new material.  I really enjoyed Under a red
sky, I'll remember you and Absolutely Sweet Marie.  The band was tight,
Stu's solos were rockin', George and Tony held the bottom down, and Donnie
and Denny, stage right filled in with a few solos.  Elana's violin brought
a nice change to songs.  One gripe, with the Masonic Temple charging a
$3.00 per ticket "restoration fee", you would think they could fix the
doors on the stalls of the balcony women's restroom. Mike in Michigan

[TOP]

Review by Charles Cicirella



THE SHOW LAST NIGHT WAS QUITE HONESTLY ONE OF THE VERY BEST DYLAN
ENCOUNTERS I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED BAR NONE HE CAME OUT WITH A RAGING AND
I DO MEAN RAGING TOMBSTONE BLUES AND IT NEVER AND I DO MEAN NEVER LET UP -
REMEMBER HOW PITTSBURGH WAS QUITE STELLAR AND HOW PARTS OF IT WERE EVEN
TRULY SONIC WELL LAST NIGHT WAS LIKE THAT FROM BEGINNING TO END AND MY
FRIEND WHEN YOU EXPERIENCE IT I KNOW YOU WILL AGREE - BOB IS ON FIRE AND
LIKE HANDLE SAID UNLIKE THE CHICAGO'S (SHE WAS AT FRIDAY AND SATURDAY)
WHERE HEARING THE INSTRUMENTS WAS NOT ALWAYS VERY EASY TO DO LAST NIGHT
EVERYONE COULD BE HEARD PLUS SHE SAID UNLIKE CHICAGO WHERE BOB NEVER TOOK
HIS EYES OFF ELANA HE WAS TOTALLY MORE VESTED IN THE OTHER MEMBERS LAST
NIGHT - NONE OF US WERE RANK STRANGERS TO BOB LAST NIGHT - CARY WHEN HE
PLAYED THE HARP CENTER STAGE AND HE DID THIS SEVERAL TIMES IT WAS LIKE
JESUS AT THE SERMON ON THE MONT - LONG HAIR BLOWING WAVY AND FREE AND THEN
HE TOOK IT UP TO YET ANOTHER LEVEL WHERE MARTYRS WEEP BECAUSE MARTIN'S
REFORMATIONS AND LUTHER'S DREAM-SPEECHES JUST COULD NOT DELIVER TOTAL
ABSOLUTE INNER PEACE TO ANYONE Ė WHOSE CONCERNED ABOUT BOBíS VOICE? THE
MAN HAS A TOWERING INFERNO IN HIS THROAT BUT CARY IT IS TOTALLY SOMETHING
BOB CAN TURN ON OR OFF DEPENDING ON WHERE HIS HEAD AND YES HIS HEART MAY
OR MAY NOT BE AT - HE IS A SCORCHED DIRT ROAD BLUES MESSIAH AND THESE
PEOPLE WHO COMPLAIN WELL MAYBE THEY SHOULD GO DO CRACK WITH WHITNEY AS SHE
SINGS ABOUT THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL AND THEN FALLS FACE FIRST INTO HER
OWN CELEBRITY VOMIT IN SOME NON-DESCRIPT ALLEY IN BEVERLY HILLS - BOB HAS
BECOME BLIND WILLIE MCTELL - NO ONE HAS EVER QUITE SUNG THE BLUES LIKE
HAMMOND'S FOLLY NOT IN 61 AND NOT TODAY - HE SET FIRE TO THE MOTOR CITY
AND THEN WHEN WE WERE ALL SUFFICIENTLY BURNING HE POURED MORE GAS ATOP THE
ALREADY HOTTER THAN A CROTCH FLAMES - JOHN BROWN WAS A VOCAL I'VE NEVER
EXPERIENCED BEFORE BECAUSE IT WASN'T JUST ABOUT THE ABSOLUTE PRECISE
INFLECTION HE EXHIBITED NO HE ACTUALLY CONJURED UP JOHN BROWN - CARY I
FELT THE MEDALS DROP DOWN INTO MY HAND AND MASTERS OF WAR WELL BOB MADE IT
PERFECTLY CLEAR HOW HE FEELS ABOUT THE STATE OF THINGS BECAUSE ACTUALLY
THINGS REALLY HAVEN'T CHANGED ALL THAT MUCH AND THE PERSIAN DRUNKARD IS
STILL FOLLOWING EVERYONE OF US - YOU KNOW ME - WE GO BACK TO BEFORE THE
GREAT FLOOD SO YOU KNOW I AIN'T JUST SOME SYCHOPHANT WHO SLAPS PEOPLE'S
SCALY REPTILIAN BACKS AND GLAD HANDS THE STUDIO AUDIENCE WHO POSSESS ONLY
DARK EYES - I AM STILL ON FIRE - I WALKED OUT OF THERE LIKE DAY OF THE
LOCUSTS AND HE DID IT IN LAS VEGAS AND HE DID IT LAST NIGHT IN DETROIT USA
- YOU'RE RIGHT NOT TO LISTEN TO PEOPLE'S NEGATIVITY CAUSE TRUTHFULLY THIS
WHEEL IS BURNING FROM A LONG, LONG TIME AGO AND WHEN MY MEMORY DOESN'T
SERVE ME WELL I CRY LIKE A BABY AND PLEAD FOR MERCY ON BENDED KNEE. 

Charles Cicirella
charlespoet@adelphia.net 

[TOP]

Comments by Jack Schulman



really enjoyed merle haggard and amos lee/good opening- brought along my
14 year old daughter-loves bob-encouraged her to listen to a variety of
his songs- masonic was perfect for him- packed, small, intimate-great
audience of mostly middle age men-bob's band was excellent- bob's voice
was better than ever-great song selection-only negative was 'tweedle dee'-
not a favorite of mine- bob on harmonica was certainly a highlight of the
show-js

[TOP]

page by Bill Pagel
billp61@execpc.com

Current
Tour Guide
Older
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Page
Songs
Performed
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location
Cue
Sheets