Review by Michael Mahoney
The Midland Theatre is one of those old grand halls that are disappearing.
It's owners say it's relic of the 1920's; intricate designs and
classically decorated, the Midland makes you believe you are somewhere
special. James Taylor admired the ornate stage just a few days ago, and
wondered aloud to his audience 'how did the wrecking ball miss this one?'
That special feel Taylor mentioned was on display Monday night for Bob
Dylan at the Midland. He opened with a solid version of Things Have
Changed. Those who watched the set lists closely almost immediately
figured out the rest of the evenings song line-up. I guess that's one
good thing about the "static" set lists. I still prefer a little more
flexibility. Anyway, Dylan's voice was clear. The band was strong. Much of
the audience gave Zimm a standing ovation when he walked on stage and
remained standing and dancing to the music. A strong start to what would
be a good show. The Band easily moved thru one of the evenings
hi-light,s:' Times'. Again his voice was strong and the melody of this
important Bob Dylan song was recognizable to almost everyone. I sensed
there was some gratitude in among the casual Dylan fans, or the first
timers, hearing a song early in the show that they recognized. As others
have said regarding earlier shows on the tour, Bob's Harp playing was very
strong on this, and several other songs Monday at the Midland. But the
harp on 'Times' was one of the evenings hi-lights. 'Tweedle' followed up--
raising the tempo and the mood of the room from anthemic Times to a solid
groove. Although this bad sounded strong, Tweedle, in my mind, proves the
point the best band of his NET days, IMO remains the Campell,Sexton team.
Just an observation, no complaints with the song. Memphis Blues was next.
Besides beings one of my favorite Zimm tunes, this tune was the hi-light
of the evening. Dylan's phrasing on this tune was outstanding, sometimes
he sounded trapped, other times doomed. It was one of the strongest
versions of a song I've heard countless times before. Love Sick followed.
Dylan keyboard work here caught my ear. The organ sound he's working with
now is a good match for this band and his work now. This was a major
re-arrangement of a song I've liked in concert for several years. It comes
off well. Maybe it was a the influence of Merl Haggard and the Strangers,
Dylan's work on I'll Be Your baby Tonight has a Texas swing to it that fit
the song well. The pedal steel guitar fills the bands sound in nicely and
really works here. Thin Mman followed. This was a respectable job, but not
the hi-light of the show. One personal treat came next. Despite seeing
many, many shows over the years, I've never caught a live version of She
Acts Like we never Have Met, until now.Well Done, Mark another off the
list, Now bring me Blind Willie! The new riff on Cold Irons Bound has me
torn. I was with several friends who loved the new arrangement. I guess
I'm not one of them. My problem is I don't care for the basic riff
carrying the song. Can't win 'em all. But-- Donnie's work on the lap
steel was impressive. He cut some licks I've never heard that instrument
make before. Lay Lady Lay, another crowd favorite especially for the
casual fans. Nice staging touch with small "stars" illuminated the black
curtain. Cat in the Well whipped up into a bluesy froth. Very Nicely
done. The encore was a nicely done version of the warhorse LARS...and
stripped down Watchtower. I know some folks get tired of hearing these
two at the end. But there are lot of folks who expect the classics. And
it's not either of of these song are dogs. Tip 'o the hat to the Hag; I'm
not as big fan of his music, but was impressed by his professionalism and
tight band. Although he ought to just let the reins go and let those guys
whomp a jam for a while. It couldn't hurt. Very solid KC show. Pick it up
if it circulates, you won't be disappointed.
Review by Cortney McKay
Place: The Midland Theater
Time: The Best Time Ever
The Evening began at exactly 7:30 with The Strangers playing a couple
tunes. Then Merle Haggard came out and did his bit. Since I was there for
Dylan I wasn't much concerned with his set list, but a couple nice perks
were "Workin' Man Blues" and "As Time Goes By." Merle Haggard and the
Strangers played until like 8:45 and then it was time for the Dylan stage to
be set up.
The usual Oscar made its appearance along with the guaranteed smell of Nag
Champa incense. However, the eye logo curtain was not used as a backdrop
(I assume they are not using it for any of the shows this tour). One nice
thing was that the keyboard was placed more in the center of the stage
(which meant center Dylan, as opposed to sometimes when it is more off to
Aaron Copland's "Hoe Down" more commonly known as" The Beef Song"
followed by the Dylan introduction started off the show. Bob started the
evening with the whole reason he has an Oscar sitting up on stage- he
sang or rather kind of mumbled through "Thing Have Changed." It was
the most inaudible of all the songs I believe. It was a great beginning to
the night, because after that one song it was pretty predictable what
was to follow. The whole show in fact pretty much resembled the set
list for the Las Vegas show.
While things may have changed, he obviously still gets the fact that
change is a continuous thing because they are STILL changing. The
second song of the night was "The Times They Are A-Changin'." This big
hit that everyone there had to have known got the older people excited
because it was something they recognized. Even for those of us who
were not around for its original debut though, it is still something special
and is very relevant to the world today and thus a pleasure for the old
and the young to enjoy. Furthermore, he did a mean harp on this one.
Honestly, it is quite hard to not dance to something that comes off of
"Love and Theft." "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum" kept things rolling and
picked up the pace of things. At this point it seems like the majority of the
venue was in their chairs with the exception of a few dedicated rows up
front and myself who stood or rather danced and moved about while the
rest of my side sat still probably trying to figure out which Greatest Hits CD
they thought this was on.
"To Ramona" was the next song on Bob's agenda. Scaling back from the
upbeat "Love and Theft" song, he beautifully performed this often over
looked love tune. "Your cracked country lips, I still wish to kiss…" his
poetry was clear and spine tingling. This song was a good addition that
added softness to the night, whereas at the Las Vegas show he
apparently inserted "It Ain't Me, Babe" in this slot.
The 1966 track "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" off
of "Blonde on Blonde" was the next song of the evening. It was rocking, I
must say. It was definitely on of the many highlights of the evening. I think
Bob and the rest of the band were having a lot of fun with this one. By
about the middle of the song, I decided this was just too awesome, and
the thought ran through my mind that I must name all my kids "Dylan."
The sixth track of the night was "Love Sick." It was pretty apparent how
they changed the lighting for this one. They turned the lights to like a
yellowish type shade as they started in on this one. It was great. I had
always wanted to see this one live after having heard live recordings of it
and it was remarkable, I almost think I prefer this song "live and in-person
with The Bob Dylan Show" than off the CD. It was a wonderful sound.
"I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," another fantastic song live (along with the rest
of them). I was especially excited to hear this one after having hooked
myself on a previous live version he had performed in Kansas City at the
Uptown Theater. I much prefer the lyrics he currently uses rather than the
original JWH lyrics. It was a slight bit different than the Uptown version,
but it did not vary too much. He sang this particular evening, "shut the
blinds, shut em' tight, tonight its going to last all night," as opposed to "it
might last all night." How optimistic of him.
What I believe to be one of the best song intros ever…started off the next
tune. "Ballad of a Thin Man," was "sweet" and that's all there is to it. I
never would have imagined I would be so lucky to here this one live. Who
is Mr. Jones? Heck…at that point, I didn't care. It was so good, and I am
really glad that Bob was at the keyboard for this one. This was another
great highlight of the evening. Bob's harp playing was amazing, the whole
thing was just jamming and I really can't put it into words.
"I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)," was song nine.
Maybe secretly I was hoping it would turn into the "Royal Albert Hall" concert,
but I was more than satisfied with what I got with the "Midland Theater"
version. In my dream set list of requested songs, this is definitely always up
there. The lyrics are truthful, and the sound is off the charts. Amazing, just
amazing, and I can not fathom how people could sit in their seats.
"Twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound." Cold Irons Bound; talk about
rocking, this one rocked the night away. I made a particular point as he sang
"looking at you and I'm on my bended knee," to see that he bent his knees,
and sure enough he did (as did I). Maybe it was just coincidence as he was
pretty good about being in motion and moving his legs and knees throughout
the night or perhaps it was intended, I guess only Bob knows.
At this point another prominent lighting change occurred. The backdrop had
what looked like a bunch of blue stars shown on the curtain as the rest was
pretty much black, thus it was like the night. I was like, alright, he is going to
play "Shooting Star." Actually, though it turned out to be "Lay, Lady, Lay."
One of my favorite songs, it is simplistic, easy to follow, and heartfelt. I guess
I have high standards for this song because the "Nashville Skyline" version
blows me away every time and the "Hard Rain" version with alternate lyrics has
to be one of his "sexiest songs." Though this night it was not either of those,
smooth or sexy, it truly measured up to everything a good song is. The couple
next to me (married in 1967) finally stood up from their seats and started to
dance, actually most of the place stood up for this one. I suppose a lot of the
older people recognized it and found it sweet, which lets face it, it is.
As the "Lay, Lady, Lay" fans sat back down, Bob and the band kicked into full
gear for the final number of the main set list with "Cat's in the Well." They
rocked out and ended in fine form. When it was over the lights displayed not
the eye logo, but the crown like looking image in blue on the curtain.
The typical encore presented itself, which was for sure a guaranteed crowd
pleaser. Everyone was up for "Like a Rolling Stone" and really got into it. "All
Along the Watchtower" was the final performance of the evening which he
always does in Jimi Hendrix form, and it was brilliant as usual.
After dancing, moving my arms, clapping, screaming, and jumping, I still could
not have conveyed to Bob how honestly amazing he and his band are. Wow.
Good sound, good form, good lookin'. The best show I've seen yet!
At the end, Bob and all the band members came out on stage and lined up
in a row and took a bow and I walked out tired, but happy as people
remarked to me, "what year were you born" and "you must be quite a fan."
As always, thank you very much Bob, and thank you fellow observers, I am
quite the fan!
Review by Mark Goodwin
Given the magnitude of last night's events, GKSA WyCo Field Office felt it
would be dereliction of duty if we did not fully report, not only the
facts and figures, but the essense of the goings-on, inlucing the ambience
and subtler points. Consequently, we doubled our normal staffing level of
roving reporters from 1 to 2. This strategic initiative allowed for
specialization of responsibilities, and mine were naviagtion to the
theatre and off-beat observations.
Merle Haggard and the Strangers:
Wow. Didn't know what to expect, although I expected it to be great, but
was still blown way. NINE-PIECE BAND! Merle on guitar with the coolest
guitar strap I've seen -- it said MERLE in diamonds or glass or something
shiny. the Strangers (just from memory, but this should be close): another
electric guitar; thin upright electric bass; saxaphone (trumpet);
pedal-steel; keyboards, electric bass; drums; fiddle.
The chairs in the BEAUTIFUL Midland Theatre rocked, literally rocked, so
if you weren't standing, and because almost nobody in our section was I
usually wasn't because I didn't want to block anybody's view, you could
still kinda feel like you were dancin', or at least shakin' and groovin' a
little, while you were sitting down. Merle sang great songs who's names I
don't know without lookin' them up. One was about Vietman and he alluded
to the fact that it is relevant to today's world.
At one point Merle said/sang something like,"and we don't have to listen
to George Bush". Not a vitriolic or offensive or very bitter angry
comment, but just a little uncomplementary, and the crowd immediately
burst out with a boisterous heart-felt ovation. So here you had a group
that is not all ivy-tower leftists by any stretch, just reacting without
thought joyously as soon as they realize somebody is publicly saying
something uncomplimetatry about Bush. That made me happy and optimistic.
The Stage: Six or Seven curtains deep. One of maybe the biggest stages
I've seen indoors. Ceiling is maybe five to seven stories high. Huge, huge
chandelier or big glassy light fixture of some type way up there. Got a
few pictures of the inside of the theatre.
Bob Dylan: my first impression crystalized into words, might not even be
accurate, of the way he looked: cross between matador and Spanish Mafia
Don. I thought he and the whole band looked as sharp as a paper-cut. Six
in the band, I think, including Bob. Five, including Bob, wore black hats
and all six wore black. Bob plays his golden keyboard standing up. We were
close to the stage but the stage was so big we were still a ways away, but
with that disclaimer I'll say Bob looked pretty good for a man of his age,
i.e, he didn't look really old and tired or anything like that. And you
could tell that this the guy in the middle playing keyboards, it was his
band. And another thing, in my very humble and largely ignorant opinion,
he is DAMN GOOD at playing keyboards.
I loved the performance, and came away with this feeling: a good band had
played and rocked for us in April 2006 -- it wasn't all about Nostalgia
and the 1960's or Yesterday or Baby Boomer self-indulgence -- it was a
rocking gig that was relevant to the HERE AND NOW in it's own right. You
take it for what it is, which was awesome, grand gig. There is a cult of
personality around Bob, and that can make everything wierd. Someone
commented to me that Bob is an odd cat, and there is no doubt much truth
to that. BUT...one, he is an artist and artists tend to a little wierd.
(I'm not an artist so I don't know what my excuse is, what's yours?). Two,
his life has to have been Truman Show-ish since he became Bob Dylan the
Myth the Legend the Voice of a Generation,etc. etc. Highlight of the night
for me might have been Ballad of a Thin Man.
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