July 8, 2007
Review by Mike Cogan
I'll start with the positive: The sound at Casino Rama
is amazing, but it still is a casino and many people
only passed through the show for a song or two. The
fellow next to me said, "screw this, I'm going
gambling," after shelter from the storm -I guess
pumping a slot machine is really appealing to some
But it was sad to see so many people with "player
passes" float on through as if they had taken a wrong
turn at the baccarat tables and ended up in a Bob
Dylan concert. This combined with the drive from
Toronto and the nightmare of a drive home made the
evening a challenge...
That being said the first half of the show was
probably as good as it could get on this tour, It
Ain't Me was good, Shelter From the Storm and I
Believe In You were bang on.
I saw Bob in Ottawa on Thursday evening and had good
seats. I have read reviews and complaints about
security but I think it should be remembered that
these are mostly volunteers who really want to avoid
any major incident and that's it (Casino Rama was the
first Bob concert where I couldn't have a beer or
smell pot during the show). In Ottawa I was more
concerned with the total lack of sound quality and
bass that over-powered everything else. I will say
that the Masters of War in Ottawa had a much higher
fever than at Rama as did It's Alright Ma, but again
I think Bob realized during Saturdays's sound check
that his voice would be clear above all other noise in
the Rama room and he really had a chance to sing some
very demanding tunes including a very nice Nettie
I am sorry to say that I liked the 2000 era band
better along with several of those earlier
orchestrations. There was such a wide range of play
with those songs, last night confirmed what I thought
after Ottawa, many songs that most frequently appear
on this tour's set lists are loosing their distinctive
qualities. Songs that I usually enjoy, Summer Days,
Highway 61, Leopard Skin..., just don't seem to be
moving beyond show fillers this tour, again I think
that it is not Bob, I think the band just doesn't have
a feel for the music like Charlie, David and Larry
did. I cite the guitar solo during Like A Rolling
Stone, it sounded almost like a good bar tribute band.
I am sure Denny has all the talent in the world but
maybe this isn't his his kind of show. I also wonder
if George maybe a little heavy for some of the tunes
-he started Masters of War very harshly and Bob even
gave a look over to make sure things would settle
All and all I'll say that it was a very good show even
considering the shortcomings of Casino Rama. I think
the last time I heard Bob's voice so clearly was
Berlin 2000. The set list was very good, much better
than Ottawa (but this is a matter of preference). I
just hope for a more rounded band that can really
bring back the distinction that each song had only a
few years ago.
Review by Christopher Smith
I won't go on and on about every detail but I will say this...
SIMPLY AMAZING! I attended both nights in Orillia but the
second night (my 36th show) was truly inspiring. Bob
delivered a beautiful "I Believe In You" which silenced the
crowd and turned the non-believers into Bob-Fans immediately
(of 5000 seats 2500 were comped). All night he played and
sang crisp and clean and very clear and the band was definately
"on"! Another highlight was a slow but sweet "Shelter From
The Storm" and the strong, hard-edged "Masters Of War"
that followed later on, was intense and tight...again silencing
the crowd and then lifting them up from their seats to
give an enormous applause. Of course the older songs are
brilliant, but I must stress that one of the true highlights of
the night and of both of the shows was "Nettie Moore".
I believe it is an instant classic. Bob weaved delicate vocals
throughout the night but this was as perfect and as beautiful
as they come. The band was tight, the music was right and
once again Bob Dylan gave us a wonderful night!
Review by John Levesque
Bob's two Casino Rama shows were a true doubleheader: Of the 16 songs he
played on the second night, only six were repeats from the night before.
We had second row centre seats for both shows and frankly doubted that Bob
and the band could possibly top the first show. As happens so often with
Bob, he completely defied our expectations: He and the band delivered a
second show that was an absolute privilege to hear and see.
Bob was loose and having a great time, striking vintage poses at the
keyboard and grinning at the band members while running through a
roller-coaster set that was virtually a highlight from start to finish.
It's hard to imagine any show of Bob's that could cover a wider range of
emotional and musical states: From Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat to I Believe
in You; from 'Til I Fell in Love With You to Shelter form the Storm; from
I'll be Your Baby Tonight to Masters of War. Oh yeah, and let's not forget
the perennial showstopper, Nettie Moore (featuring a brilliant solo and
fills by Denny Freeman who was on fire all evening), a blistering The
Levee's Gonna Break and, before many of us had even settled into the
evening, It Ain't Me Babe. The audience was with him every step of the
Two of the most memorable moments from this night of highlights were the
stunning new arrangement of Shelter from The Storm that adds poignancy to
the original, and the sheer spectacle of Like A Rolling Stone fully
restored to its monumental glory. Bob actually sang the chorus, and the
band backed him with tremendous intensity. When you couple this amazing
resurrection of that old warhorse with the brilliant new version of
Blowin' in the Wind with which he closed the first Casino Rama show, you
realize what a magician Bob is.
Bob and the Cowboy Band have hit a mid-year peak. Here's hoping somebody
got the two Casino Rama shows on tape.
Review by Chuck Owen
Well all I can say is that Dylan still has the magic, after seeing both
concerts in Orillia ON this weekend. On Sunday morning I was stopped by a
woman and she said that because I was wearing a Dylan T shirt if I went to
the concert last night. She said that some friends of hers went and said
that it was terrible.
Well I said I don't know how they could say that when Dylan has one of the
best backup band in the business, I've been going to Dylan concerts since
1974, and I said to her that Dylan mixes his set list with a rather nice
mixture of his classic songs with his new tunes off of Modern Times, like
playing "Lay Lady Lay" then following that nugget with "Rollin' And
Tumblin'" and then playing a great set list from "Just Like A Woman" to
"Spirit ON The Water"
I said to this woman that sure alot of people started heading for the
exits right after the second song "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" and
then I said its pretty clear that these were not Dylan fans but roving
gamblers, that would rather lose their money then witness a true living
legend perform for them. Then I said to her if you like Dylan then go to
the concert tonight you wont be disapointed.
And Sunday's concert was equally spectacular, Dylan mixed his set list
again rather well. I really enjoyed "It Aint Me Babe" followed by "I'll Be
Your Baby Tonight" and "Shelter From The Storm" was a great addition,
because outside there was a terrific thunderstorm.
I really enjoyed both nights in the north country with Dylan, and I'm
happy to see that Dylan is still on top of his game. Bob keep that "Never
Ending Tour" going and keep on Rollin' and Tumblin' and I'm looking
forward to seeing that tour swing by again Bob, thanks for a very
Review by Jeremy Schneider
Nestled between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching in South-Central
Ontario, Orillia (population 30,000) is part what is known as Lake
Country. Stephen Leacock used the city as the basis for his 1912 novel
"Sunshine Sketches," and Gordon Lightfoot calls this place home. In fact,
Gord was also on stage Sunday night 35 kilometers down the road from
Casino Rama, fuelling speculation that he might turn up to jam onstage
with his good friend Zimmy, or vice versa.
Casino Rama is the largest employer in the area, and the 195,000 square
foot facility sits on the Chippewa First Nation Indian Reserve. Advanced
and trustworthy scouts reported to me that Saturday night's show (the
first of two Rama gigs) suffered from formulaic mediocrity. Bob et al
muddled through an uninspired playlist, and a botched reading of "Tangled
Up In Blue" left a lot to be desired. But that's the beauty of a Never
Ending Tour. With a calendar loaded with 100 shows per year, there's
always a tomorrow. So it goes...
Sunday night at Rama marked my eighth Dylan mission since 1992. Some
would consider that a lot, but to others, that is a paltry figure. But at
this point, I can decipher when he is on, and when he's mailing it in.
Sunday's reading would fall into the former. Granted, I might be a tad
bias here, due to the fact that I scored the best (by far) seats I've ever
had for a Dylan show (4th row, stage left). I could see the whites of his
eyes, did not have to stare at a screen to see his face. There's a measure
of intensity that cannot be detected unless you're right up front.
The rock began to roll with "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat." After a 3.5
years behind the keyboard exclusively, Bob was a gunslinger again,
reintegrating the axe into his repertoire - a sign that the arthritis is
abating from his 66-year-old hands. From the first strains, we leaped
from our seats and swung to the groove. Problem was that we (eight of us
in the group) were the only ones among the 5000 members of the audience
that were standing. The crowd - typically Canadian - sat on their hands.
The section behind us saved their loudest applause for when we sat down
after the opening number.
"It Ain't Me Babe" hit out of the two-hole... a fine reading, with an
understated interplay between Bob's axe and Denny's lead. "I'll Be Your
Baby Tonight" came third, pretty standard all things considered. Batting
clean-up was "It's Alright Ma," which has been a mainstay on the Modern
Times tour. Still one of his most profound pieces of poetry. The crowd
did not seem to react to the "Even the President of the United States must
sometimes have to stand naked" line, a line which never fails to draw an
applause from State-side audiences. The band has really tightened up
around this piece: it remains a highlight, night in-night out.
Usually, once a show Zimmy inserts a "unique" number into the playlist.
This is what the hardest of hard-core fans come to see. This time around
he laid out "I Believe In You" which was a gem - subtle, wistful,
majestic. From then on Bob traded his axe for the keys. With his 2001
Academy Award perched behind him on his amp, he led the cowboy band into
"The Levee's Gonna Break." The high water mark of this show was "Shelter
From the Storm" (first time I've ever seen him pull this one out of the
bag) a reading that bordered on the sublime. Once again, it was the
understated approach that really came through. Denny Freeman laid out a
gorgeous solo during the bridge, which Bob followed up with a harp
sequence that was a thing of beauty. Next up was another unique number
"Till I Fell In Love With You" which was played in the murky sub-tempo
that made "Time Out of Mind" such a stunner. "When the Deal Goes Down"
keeps getting more intricate with every reading. Denny's muted solo was
spot-on, causing us to shoot out of our seats to applaud, to which Denny
smiled at us, and nodded. That's the absolute best about sitting up
close, they can really hear you, and see you, and acknowledge you.
"Masters of War" never misses. "Highway 61" swung. I made direct and
sustained eye contact with Bob during "Nettie Moore." When he sang the
lyric "You can do what you please you don't need my advice" it was as if
he were channeling a message right through me. Then he leans in,
growling, cold " "Fore you call me any names you better think twice."
Maybe this has happened to you before - when the eyes of the idol lock
into yours. Granted, you have to be in the first few rows to experience
it. It was chilling, almost over-powering. I had to look away and avert
my eyes. It was sensory overload.
"Summer Days" served its usual rock-this-joint role, before "LARS"
kicked it into overdrive. For some reason, not even Rolling Stone could
get this crowd on their feet and dancing. Perhaps many of the spectators
(half of which, I hear, were comped their tickets) had blackjack and slots
on their minds, and not the living legend singing perhaps the preeminent,
most anthemic rock and roll song ever recorded. So it goes...
The encore was your standard fare: "Thunder On the Mountain" and
"Watchtower." But Gordon Lightfoot never showed up. When we got outside
after the show we learned why. Orillia was being pummeled by a torrential
electrical storm. Every two or three seconds the night was illuminated by
legs of lightning. And a hard, hard rain.
by Jeremy Schneider
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