Reviews

South Bend, Indiana

Morris Performing Arts Center

May 17, 2015


[Bob Shiel], [Jim Nichols], [Peter Smith], [Don Ely]

Review by Bob Shiel



Dylan show 57 for me was highlighted by the company of one of my seven
nephews, Danny, who just accomplished the distinction of graduating from
Loyola U. in Chicago.  Danny, a knowledgeable music fan and musician in
his own right, had only seen our friend Bob once, back in '96, just before
one of Dylan's finest live performance eras from about '97 to '02.  What a
difference 19 years makes, as Danny thoroughly enjoyed Bob's locked-in set
list, especially Tangled Up In Blue.  All of this delighted me to no end.

Having seen this current theatrical presentation by Dylan's band back in
November in Chicago, I was struck by how differently each song sounded.  I
can't really put my finger on in, but suffice it to say, these ain't no
cookie cutter arrangements.  I get the sense that each night new life is
breathed into a set list that I would describe as a fascinating adventure
into the heart, not only of we the audience, but of Dylan himself.

Since this was the last show on this spring tour through the east coast
and Midwest, I was holding out the nutty fantasy that a slight change in
the set list might occur, but no such luck.  Instead, Bob took us on a
mesmerizing, unwavering ride, but I couldn't help pondering the whole
concept of "change" that was introduced on the opener Things Have Changed.

After some wonderful, fresh guitar strumming by Stu Kimball, the band
broke into the Wonder Boys best song Oscar winner, which obviously
suggests that Dylan's whole act has changed, the world as we know it has
changed, we as individual fans have changed, and the music industry has
changed.  This could go on and on.  After all, the only constant is change
itself.  Yet, in the midst of perpetual change, Dylan seems to sing about
a place within beyond all that.  Somewhere only artists and spiritual
seekers are familiar with, both of which Bob Dylan is.

Whether it be Bob's harmonica on She Belongs To Me, his playful piano
lines on the next four cozy numbers Beyond Here Lies Nothing, Workingman's
Blues #2, Duquesne Whistle, and Waiting For You, let's just say Bob's bag
of tricks got the first set off to a spellbinding start and did not let
up.  Pay In Blood's graphic portrayal of viciousness personified brought
this little happy merry-go-round to a screeching halt.   Then, this
re-worked Tangled Up In Blue that finds the abandoned car out west leading
to a dark, sad night in the wilderness, followed by Bob not only being
destroyed by somebody's smile in Love Sick, but he/she had the nerve to go
through his pockets while he was sleeping, too!

Thus, we were ushered into a rather lengthy intermission and chance to
meander around in the lovely, ornate Morris Center For The Performing Arts
in downtown South Bend.

Set two found Bob at center stage for a toned-down (from the past, at
least) High Water and reverent Simple Twist Of Fate, doing his best body
language communication of the night, backing off the mike a few steps
between verses, re-approaching it with great vigor several seconds before
bracing his entire torso in order to belt in the next line like he really
meant it.  Good stuff.

Then, he was back to his piano bench for Early Roman Kings before
traversing to center stage for Forgetful Heart.  This alternating back and
forth persisted for the next four songs, Forgetful Heart, Spirit On The
Water, Scarlet Town, and Soon After Midnight prior to closing the second
set with Autumn Leaves off Shadows In The Night, a rapturing addition to
the set list I heard back in November.

After a fairly brief interlude, during which a loud ovation never wavered,
Bob sat at the baby grand and ran melodic circles around the chords of
Blowin' In The Wind, looking like a 12 year old having the time of his
life.  Love you, Bob!

The concert closed with Stay With Me, a song I fantasized he would play on
Letterman's show for a whole week before it was announced/confirmed that
this little daydream of mine was right on the mark.  Who would have thunk?
 Chatting after the show with one of Bob's equipment handlers, who I
bumped into in a sort of ante-lobby, I was told in a most definitive and
self-assured manner that Bob plans to sing something on Letterman that
he's never played live.  After an unsuccessful slight pleading for more
specifics, I told him I respected his professional prerogative, ethics,
and desire to keep his job, thanked him, and went off on my merry
post-concert way.

What's great about South Bend shows is that an hour is saved on the ride
back to Chicago due to the time change.  Easy in, easy out, free parking,
and down-home folks all around including at the oyster bar across the
street.

2 hours later, as I parked and made my way to bed much after my bedtime,
all I could think about was this image of Bob Dylan, in an oversized
black/white trim western wear jacket going down to just above his knees, a
cream cowboy hat, and black boots...crooning his heart out 1 week before
his 74rth birthday and a few days after B.B. King's death.

[TOP]

Comments by Jim Nichols



I'm not a fan of a static setlist but if a live album isn't made from this
run of shows, it will be a huge disappointment. I knew what songs to
expect but had no idea how good they'd sound, even after seeing him in
Seattle last fall. 

Music sounded great. Voice was strong. It was beautiful. 

Can't wait for my 45th show. I've been smiling and nodding all day. 

Jim Nichols

[TOP]

Review by Peter Smith



After seeing shows at NJPAC and the Beacon in the fall, I wondered over
the winter what changes would come after the release of Shadows and a
couple of months off the road.  What struck me at the Morris PAC in South
Bend on Sunday night was how ever so subtle changes could make for an even
more enjoyable performance by Dylan and his band.  Restraint was the word
that came to my mind at intermission when I spoke with the guys on the
soundboard Sunday night.  To me, the vocal performance was even clearer
than the fall, Dylanís phrasings and tone were more musical.  And the
band has mastered this material as they respond to the nuanced changes
Dylan brings every night.

It was a warm and slightly humid night in the Bend.  The sun didnít set
until well after intermission.  Downtown Indiana rust belt was almost
lively walking toward the theater.  A restored 1920ís marquee flashed
alternately BOB DYLAN ---- AND HIS BAND.  Next door, the 10 story LaSalle
Hotel has been empty for 40 years, but it shows very early signs of a
restoration project.  Inside the Morris, the audience in the orchestra was
primed, and their enthusiasm was in contrast to Dylanís delicate moves
on stage.  They stood through the first two verses of Things Have Changed,
and then they stood and raised their hands after most of the songs before
intermission.  Tangled Up In Blue was wildly well received.  That said,
there were at least 100 hundred seats in the back of the orchestra that
were empty.

The guys on the board confirmed there was Dylan a soundcheck before the
show, as there always is, but the songs will not be revealed.  They did
confirm the soundcheck was the origin of Shadows.  They opened up when
asked to compare acoustics of recent venues -- The Fox in Detroit is
better than the hall in Columbus and the Fox in St. Louis, the Beacon is
far superior in their view to the NJPAC. They will be travelling to Europe
with Dylan next month and they did record the Shadows album. I was enticed
by the South Bend show a few weeks back when it became apparent it would
be the last US date this Spring.  I became intrigued when I learned that
Aaron Neville would be in South Bend the same day (he was awarded the
Laetare Medal by Notre Dame at its commencement Sunday morning).  Fresh
from reading of Dylanís praise of Aaron in his MusiCares speech, I
thought there might be some magic at work that would bring them on stage
together.

I learned from a friend Sunday morning that was not to be.  When she asked
Aaron if he would be at the Dylan show that night, Aaron told her with a
twinkle, ďno, but you go backstage and tell Dylan I said hello, and tell
him God bless.Ē Relieved of that anticipation, I was able to enjoy the
show and focus.  Save the grand dreams for rock ní roll heaven, when
Dylan is united with all the influences he called out in his speech, the
living and the dead.  Until that time, dates like his South Bend show in a
restored landmark can only serve to inspire those dreams.

[TOP]

Review by Don Ely



The final night of this particular tour, and the close to a compact little
spring road trip that brings fond reminiscences of Akron/ Kalamazoo/
Bowling Green just two springs ago. My only previous experience with South
Bend was just passing through on a sunday return from Chicago in 1985, and
at that time I declared it the most boring city I'd yet visited. And a
college town at that! They may not roll up quite as many sidewalks as back
then, but it's still pretty quiet. However, arriving in town with plenty
of time to spare before the gig, I did come upon one of the best pizzas
EVER, at Bruno's, just a few blocks up Michigan Street from the venue.
Redemption is at hand for the traveling man!

The Morris Performing Arts Center may sound in name like a newer building,
a part of the Notre Dame campus even, but it is in fact another gorgeous
old movie theater. And the most intimate yet! I was quite surprised how
small the Morris actually is, and my seat in Row N was much closer than
anticipated. The audience was the usual wide range of ages, with a few
extra older folks who may not have had the opportunity to see Bob Dylan
before. Wonderful Indianans, close to the earth and close to the heart.
Once again Bob Dylan and His Band took the stage, this time a little worse
for wear. Bob's voice started out more roughly than the previous two
shows, and during the first half the proceedings were a little more rushed
in comparison. There were instances when the band seemed confused somewhat
as to what Bob really wanted. By the time " Love Sick " rolled around, Bob
cut Charlie's solo short and ended the song.  I love small towns and small
venues, and during the intermission patrons were allowed out front of the
theater for a smoke or just to breathe some fresh air and watch the
fountains if they wished. Everything nice and calm, no need for
overbearing security, nobody's out of control. There were a pair of South
Bend police officers there but they were talking to each other keeping an
eye open while minding their own business. Kinda like the old days! I
walked up to one of the ushers and asked, " since we're all on the loose
out here, is it OK if I return to my car to drop off my poster? ". She
said as long as I had my ticket I would be allowed reentry. How about that
in this day and age! Rarely have I had that experience. By the time I got
back the second set was underway, and the break had served everyone well.
Things had been smoothed over and Bob and band were synchronous once
again. At Row N I had been sandwiched between some larger folk and it was
pretty warm, so upon returning I grabbed an open seat in the last row
where I stood for the final few numbers. Sound was just as good if not
better from there. All in all it was a pretty good night, and after the
icing on the cake, the two lustrous minutes of " Stay With Me ", it was
over. Until the next time! 

Don Ely
Rochester, MI
92 shows, 22 states, since 1981

[TOP]

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