Reviews

Memphis, Tennessee
Orpheum Theatre
April 25, 2006


[Jim Maynard], [Howard Weiner]

Review by Jim Maynard



I can die happy now... I finally got to hear Bob Dylan perform Blind
Willie McTell in Memphis! IĻm so glad I got tickets for the Tuesday (May
25 ) show at the Memphis Orpheum instead of the Monday tickets. This was
about my 15th or so Dylan concert (I lost count), thankfully Bob comes
through or near Memphis regularly, but something tells me this may be my
last one.  You never know... I was especially happy to finally get to see
Dylan in The Orpheum, the last few times were the baseball field shows
with Willie Nelson, which were just not as intimate as a good
auditorium/theatre show. (My favorite Dylan concerts were my first one
back in 1992 at the Robinson auditorium in Little Rock, and in 1999 at the
New Daisy, a small club down from the Orpheum near Belle Street in
Memphis.) The Orpheum was not quite as intimate as the New Daisy, and I
had gallery seats which they ≥upgraded≤ to row F Balcony seats.  The
Orpheum in Memphis is a beautiful renovated/remodeled old theatre.

I hoped the sound would be good for a Dylan concert, but it was not as
good as I hoped.  Lots of cave/echo sounds up in the balcony which made
some of the harder songs, when Bob strains his ragged voice to its limits,
hard to make out. Things started out pretty rough with Most Likely You Go
Your Way (not one of my favorites).  But he shown on the slower songs,
displaying a still powerful/expressive voice on Mr. Tambourine Man,
Masters of War (a great version, slow, he enunciated every word and
syllable with his deep baritone voicečand I yelled ≥Impeach Bush≤ at the
end,  hope it makes it on the tapes:), The Lonesome Death of Hattie
Carroll (another of my wish-list songs, and a standout for me).  It took
me a few minutes to recognize Down Along the Cove (the band cooked and
jammed) and This WheelĻs On Fire.

Of course he and the band rocked on High Water and Summer Days.

The highlight for me (next to Hattie Carroll, one of my favorite Dylan
songs that makes me eyes water up every time), was Blind Willie McTell! 
Bob always skips this song in Memphis, until tonight!  Dylan sung the song
slow and put a long of effort into singing the lyrics, and the band gave
it smoking and simmering arrangement.

Dylan played a lot of harmonica, particularly on the end of the first few
songs.  And his keyboard was  a little louder in the mix and he actually
plays some synthesizer stuff.

And the light show was interesting.  Not Pink Floyd, but it was the most
light show IĻve seen at a Dylan show, not too much, but perfectly matched
the music and songs...

Sometimes Dylan concerts are memorable for what happens off stage.  A
couple of elderly couples sat nearby, surrounded by mostly younger folks
and a few stoners and some on harder stuff.. One guy fell behind me and
bashed his head open on the cement stairs, which broke my concentration on
Dylan for a bit... One elderly couple was really into the show, swaying
even to the hard rock thunderous Like a Rolling Stone and All Along the
Watchtower (which seems to get louder, harder and more Hendrix-like every
time I hear it), and this is one Dylan song regular I never get tired of,
a perfect way to end every concert.  I was thinking the older folks were a
little too old for this song, until I realized they were probably about
DylanĻs age!

All in all, another very good Dylan concert, probably my last, but I got
want I wanted.  Hattie Carroll and Blind Willie were worth the price of my
tickets!

--------
Oh, Merle Haggard was pretty good too, IĻm not a big country music fan and
not too familiar with his work, but I can see some similarities between
him and Dylan.  They are both outside the mainstream of their respective
musical fields (rock/country), Merle said in an interview here that he
quit listening to country music and hated the new video-oriented country
music. I really liked ≥Are the Good Time Really Over≤ song, when he
mentioned Nixon lying to us on TV and I yelled out ≥& Bush!≤  HeĻs no fan
of Bush either, which  he has made clear.  He sing some of his ≥patriotic≤
songs with a tongue in his check, like when he stopped the song at
≥remember when a Joint was a bad place to be..≤ backed up and changed it
to ≥was a good place to be.≤  And IĻm sure when he wrote ≥Okie From
Muskogee≤ was probably smoking a joint :)

-- 
Jim Maynard
Email jmaynard2@earthlink.net
Web Page http://home.earthlink.net/~jmaynard2

[TOP]

Review by Howard Weiner



Oh Mama

Wow! ... Dylan was Dylan like never before. Before I try to
describe what went down night two at the Orpheum, I have some more
ass kissing to do. I forgot to mention how exquisite Girl from the
North Country was on Monday. At first his new arrangement of North
Country was hard to sallow, but now itís like a naked romp through
a cleansing fresh meadow. Most Likely You Go Your Way ignited the
evening. So I donít have to break out a thesaurus, every tune was
impressive bordering on spectacular. Bobís recital of Mr.
Tambourine Man was something to behold. Heís taken one of his
finest studio vocal performances and turned it into something
wonderfully obscene. 

In the afternoon I had the pleasure of making my maiden voyage down
the Mississippi River. Itís official, Iím a sailor. Bob performed
Down along the Cove, Absolutely Sweet Marie, and High Water later
that night. It was all a simple twist of Jack Fate. Based on the
sight seeing announcements, I suspect the riverboat captain was
smoking horse tranquilizers. Luckily I was grooving to Grateful Dead
covers like Big River and Sittiní On Top of the World. Stormy Monday
had some heavy hitters, but Tuesday was twice as potent. Masters of
War, Hattie Carroll, Donít Think Twice, and Blind Willie Mc Tell is
thick and heavy. This was easily Dylanís best twelve song set. Itís
not easy to compare the brilliance of this evening to letís say
11-11-02 at MSG where he played 21 songs. By the way, he was donning
a similar outfit to that MSG concert. Bob was all black with red
trimming and silver rhinestones on his hat. 

The crowd up front never sat down. Iím proud to report I was among
the hooligans. Security and all the employees at the Orpheum were a
class act all the way. That Blind Willie Mc Tell was scintillating.
Denny Freeman had a huge night on lead guitar. On Donít Think Twice
he stepped out on three solos. The sound was vibrant; you could
feel Garnier and Recile pounding away at you. Itís time to stop
crying about the loss of Larry Campbell and Sexton. This band
rules.

Who says you canít repeat the past? Of course you can! I was
starting to go through Summer Days withdrawals, but Dylan cut loose
with it for the first time in about 15 shows. The instrumental was
stunning, Tony was spinning his stand- up bass like a Chanukah
dreidel. There was no climax to the jam, it was a thrilling tease.
On the Dylan pool website some nut claimed this was a boring tour. I
realize Iím on a lucky roll by catching Vegas and the two Memphis
shows. Iíve done a lot of touring over the past 25 years, but
nothing is like The Bob Dylan Show in April of í06. That organ sound
Dylan has going is spooky. During Watchtower, it sounded like the
theme to the TV show the Munsters. Lurch, Thing, and Lilly are
smiling somewhere. Merle had a great night as well. He broke out
Blue Yodel #9 and actually played Okie. These three prototype shows
Dylan has created this tour are astounding. Look at those set lists,
nothing but the best of the best of the best. Once again Dylan has
raised the bar, these Memphis shows are the cultural high point of
Western civilization.

Howard Weiner

[TOP]

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