Reviews

Kansas City, Missouri

Municipal Auditorium
Music Hall

May 10, 2015


[Cortney McKay], [Marty Traynor], [Andrew Hammond]

Review by Cortney McKay



Music Hall in Kansas City, Missouri is an Art Deco theater and was a
brilliant choice that nicely complimented "Shadows of the Night" Bob.  The
theater is an architectural masterpiece of both the 1930's and today and
provided a great backdrop as Bob and band blended together a set list of
classics and many selections from 2012's *Tempest. *In fact, gracing the
stage were two white busts of what appeared to be the Greek goddess that
is seen on the cover of*Tempest.  *In regards to the Hall, I was delighted
by the quality of sound and much obliged to the house rules of no drink in
the theater as well as the assigned seating. It seems that too often
general admission shows take away from the stage as people move about and
clumsily spill their drinks, so the opportunity at a venue with reserved
seating was a delight. In days past it looks like the Hall has hosted The
Who, Crosby and Nash, Procol Harem, and others. I don't know if those
shows had opening acts, but this one didn't...another brilliant highlight
of the evening.

Now on to Bob. Compared to years previous I've been out of the loop. It
had been almost 5 years since I had seen him live and in that span of time
I had rarely even consulted bobdylan.com, so for all I knew he could have
finally written Chronicles Vol. 2. The night before the concert I did take
to consulting "Bob Links" for the current set list and reviews of the
current tour. I then knew that going into the show  that it would be more
of a melancholic tear-jerker than a dancing fest of "Watching the River
Flow" or "Summer Days." Based on a wonderful review of the San Antonio
show it was brought to my attention that Bob was missing his ring and that
the feel of the show may have an intentional theme of what one might call
"a broken heart."  The Kansas City show and all other shows to-date opened
with what could be labeled as a stage of anger- "I used to care, but
things have changed" to ultimately ending with a stage of desperation that
pleaded "stay with me." It could be that Bob is just screwing with us and
it isn't reflective of his being "love sick," or "tangled up in blue," but
I tend to think it's a reflection of his current and ever continuing truth
which is that of "love & theft."  Despite a couple of women's desire to
dance through "Blowin' in the Wind," the show's mood had an almost
existential vibe of what it means to be human and attempting to deal with
feeling and emotion through song.

At times, Bob was most adamant about his lyrics claiming "I'm sick of
love!" and putting one hand on his waist and standing in a pose that
declared he actually was fed up. He also walked back and forth across a
small portion of the stage, at times almost pacing.  His interactions with
the grabbing and releasing of the mic stand was highly amusing.
Additionally, the lighting of the show was an exceptional compliment to
the character of each song and definitely played a role in communicating
if the audience should focus on the entire band or just focus on Bob and
most of the time it was "focus on Bob."  I was slightly disappointed that
Charlie and Tony didn't get some kind of acknowledgement for their
incredible playing and long-standing loyalty,  but I guess that just
wasn't part of "the show."  Bob did speak to the audience right before
intermission.  His words I could not discern based on a combination of
audience noise and Bob's tendency to what I think is an intentional
mumble.

After an approximately 20 minute intermission the 2nd half of the show
started with "High Water (For Charley Patton)" and then moved into an
utterly breathtaking rendition of "Simple Twist of Fate." This was the
third time of the evening, but for the first time in the 2nd half that Bob
masterfully owned the harp. The first half of the show was amazing, but I
thought the 2nd half was nothing less than phenomenal.  Throughout the
show there was a great balance of Bob being centered at the mic and Bob at
orchestra right on piano.  I think the stage setup was probably pretty
good no matter where you were seated.  In years past it was unfortunate
when Bob was standing at the keyboard staring straight into the stage wing
or down at the keyboard, so I was happy to see him front and center or
seated at the piano with animation and looks toward the audience or band.

Bob's wardrobe choice for the evening was a creme colored suit with black
stripes up the pant leg, a black shirt with a men's white silk scarf tie
and a creme colored Stetson hat.  Unfortunately I wasn't close enough to
make out the boots, but I'd like to think that they were creme colored
with big black stars on them. Backing up a bit, I want to say that this
show started very close to its 8:00 start time. I think around 8:05 there
was the sound of the introductory gong to start the show and then what may
or may not have been the sounds of "Ghost Riders in the Sky."  I think the
show ended around 10:15 or so.  On another note, I'd like to give a
shout-out to the East-West Touring Company and Geoff Gans for an amazing
concert poster with a fabulous Warholesque design.

Despite the shows lack of dancing ability the people made it fun.  A guy
in the crowd yelled out "Happy Birthday, Bob," a young couple next to me
admitted it was definitely different but they still managed to find joy in
that difference and stayed the entire show, a woman in the restroom stall
next to me produced her own rendition of "Love Sick" while doing what she
needed to do and a woman with long thing braids that could have easily
been a part of the Willie Nelson family danced throughout the honking and
impatient drivers leaving the parking garage.

As for the specific songs, I'll admit that I was secretly hoping that "Pay
in Blood" was going to transition into a cover of "Brown Sugar," and while
that didn't happen something else did...I was blown away by the live
versions from *Shadows of the Night.  *It's a good album, but hearing a
couple of the tracks live made the songs much, much more powerful and will
undoubtedly increase my enthusiasm toward the studio versions.  In
previewing the set list, I thought that ending with "Autumn Leaves" as
opposed to "Like a Rolling Stone" or "All Along the Watchtower" seemed
anti-climatic, but I was incredibly wrong.  For all the goodness of
timeless masterpieces such as "Like a Rolling Stone" or "All Along the
Watchtower," they don't stand a chance up against Bob at the mic singing
"Autumn Leaves."  I don't know that I've ever gone to a concert and been
moved to tears, but this practically did it. In conclusion, I've found
that whatever time and distance there has been between my involvement with
the Bob scene, that some things never change and that the lyrical and
musical talent of Bob is and always will be very much a part of who I am.
Jack Frost has done it again and if he ever dies I know a little part of
me will die too.

[TOP]

Review by Marty Traynor



Dylan's shows have become so relatively lacking in variety lately that a review 
reflecting much variety from someone who has attended multiple shows 
becomes as much a review of the host city, venue and crowd as of the music.
So Kansas City is a place of wonders (the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art), good 
food that has not been in Arthur Bryant's pit, and a good music hall, albeit one 
with seats crushed so closely that they make air travel in non-premium seats 
seem spacious.  And the crowd was really nice except for the 5% or so that 
seemed to be unable to sit for more than 7 minutes without walking out, 
evidently to either purchase or eliminate beverages.  Why bother going to a 
concert if you are just going to pop up and down constantly?  GrrrÖ

The setlist was a virtual carbon copy of the past few nights, and close to the 
list Dylan has performed for over a year.  The only change from the setlist of 
the last concert I attended (Hollywood last October 26) is the addition of 
"Autumn Leaves" before the break for encore.  And a fine addition it was.  
On both "Autumn Leaves" and "Stay with Me" his singing was terrific and I
thought the music, live, was better than on the recent "Shadows in the 
Night".

Other highlights included "Early Roman Kings" and "Duquesne Whistle", which 
featured particularly nice work by Charlie Sexton and, as always, George Recile.
I have grown to appreciate what a great drummer Recile is watching him back 
Dylan for nearly 15 years.  Sexton stood out on "Lovesick" and "Soon After 
Midnight" featured nice work by both Sexton and Herron.  And I have always 
enjoyed Donnie Herron's viola playing on "Forgetful Heart".  

Dylan's harp playing (on "She Belongs to Me", "Tangled Up in Blue", "Simple 
Twist of Fate" and "Forgetful Heart") was masterful, especially on "Simple 
Twist".  His piano playing is always enthusiastic and seems to have improved 
with time.  His voice was great, as mentioned, for the new songs, and his 
interest in singing seems to be in inverse proportion to the age of the song 
(he absolutely talked the two "Blood on the Tracks" songs, for example).  

The biggest cheer of the night was for the "Kansas City" line in "High Water".  
No surprise there.

[TOP]

Review by Andrew Hammond



Yes, Virginia, there is definitely a Santa Claus. The problem is I feel
like I opened my presents before he got here and I ruined my surprise. Bob
Dylan hasnít played in Kansas City since 2010, a fantastic show and
probably my favorite of the six times Iíve seen him since 1986. Since I
havenít been able to travel to see Bob Iíve spent the past five years
following him almost daily on this website and watching all the bootleg
videos I could find on youtube. Itís definitely the next best thing to
being there but I sort of wish I had cut all that off when I found out
Iíd be seeing him.

There are pros and cons to sitting on the front row of any show. I got a
call at about 2pm from Shelly at the Music Hall box office. She was
letting me know that our seats at extreme stage right might have an
obstructed view and she had a couple of other options for us. She even
held the seats until we arrived so we could decide for ourselves. I
thought this was very kind and superior service on her part, especially
considering the show was sold out. We looked at our options but my wife,
being the trooper that she is, insisted I have a front row seat to see my
hero. Hence, due to a speaker at the corner of the stage, I had a perfect
view of Uncle Bob, Stu Kimball, and George Recile, a chest to head view of
Charlie Sexton, and no view of Tony Garnier or Donnie Herron. As much as I
love the piano, it made a terrible window.

The show was complete 1930ís Noir. Dark. And Iím not talking about the
lighting. Bob and the Band were not nearly as dimly lit as I was
expecting. The stage setup was straight out of an old Hollywood
soundstage, with Kliegl lights at the back, a few dummy microphones across
the stage and footlights in front. The darkness is in the set list,
calculated and finely crafted. The themes seem to be Change and Loss, with
a little Revenge on the side. From the opening gong and chug of the
exquisite Things Have Changed to the plaintive closing lines of Stay with
Me, this show is about  a guy whoís put it out there for 50 years and
hasnít exactly walked away unscathed.

Things Have Changed honestly brought tears to my eyes, probably because
Iíve been waiting so long to see Uncle Bob. The stage is set deep. Bob
probably got no closer than 20 feet, but with the stage only about 3 feet
high it felt personal. Workingmanís Blues (#5, maybe?) is still his
latest masterpiece and has evolved into a spoken-word delivery. The only
song on the list that puzzles me is Waiting For You. I feel like itís
sort of a clunky dud that doesnít quite fit.

The absolute show stoppers for me were the Shadows numbers, Autumn Leaves
and Stay With Me. Thankfully I had forgotten which song might come next
after Long and Wasted Years. I wondered if Bob had too, since he looked to
be pacing a bit. Then came the eerie, dripping notes from Donnieís pedal
steel, conjuring up images of Daliís melting clocks. Bob stepped to the
mic, one foot braced behind him as if he were about to throw a knockout
punch, and delivered the goods. Iím telling you there wasnít one bit
of hesitation in that manís voice. I donít think heís ever sounded
so good. There was even a hint of vibrato, which Iím positive Iíve
never heard before. Although brief and with no refrain, it might be the
finest version of Autumn Leaves Iíve heard since Nat King Cole recorded
it in the 50ís.

If there has been any doubt about Bobís voice, it should all end with
Stay With Me. The audience, respectful and well-behaved throughout the
show, hung on every word of this delicate prayer. Again, no lack of
confidence or hesitation in the delivery.

I left the show satisfied yet with a feeling of melancholy that lingered
through the night and most of today. So yes, Uncle Bob. Your strange magic
has moved me once again.

Andrew Hammond

[TOP]

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