July 12, 2007
Review by Brian Bocian
The Toledo, OH show marked 20th or so (I lost count around ’01) Dylan
show. I’m a Toledo native so it was great not to have to travel several
hours for a show. For a hometown guy, this was a special night.
A little irrelevant pre-show info. My parents live two blocks from the
zoo. They called me at 9 am this morning to tell me that Dylan’s semis and
tour buses were rolling down the street. This was very exciting news. I
mean, how often does Dylan drive down your street? My sister flew in from
Orlando, FL for the show. I picked her up at the Detroit airport around
11am and we spent the rest of the day fishing in the Maumee River – its
right across from the zoo and flows into Lake Erie. From the river, after
showers, we met my parents at their place for some drinks then we all
WALKED (how often do you get to walk to a Dylan show?) to the show.
Jimmie V. was concluding his set when we arrived at the gate. He popped up
at the merchandise table shortly after his set to sign autographs. While
in line I joked, “I wonder what the chances of getting Dylan to sign my
poster would be?” Laughs all around. We all know that Bob doesn’t like
signing autographs. I had the opportunity to shake hands with Mr. Vaughn
and inform him that I saw his brother perform at zoo back in '89.
At about 8:30 “Bob Dylan & His Band” took the stage. The introduction
brought a few laughs to the crowd. The first tune was tight, but once
“Masterpiece” was underway it was clear that someone was grossly
out-of-tune on stage. Unfortunately it was Bob. You would think…you would
think, his guitar tech. (if he still has one) would have noticed the
discord coming from the stage. But Bob seemed to be on his own in this
department. He tried to tune his Fender in between a few of the numbers,
but his efforts were fruitless. If I can offer constructive criticism, I’d
suggest Bob invest in a $90 guitar tuner. Surely he can afford one. Mind
you, I love Bob Dylan more than any other performer in the world, but the
guitar portion was a let down despite his efforts to change the set-list a
bit for us Toledoans.
Once on the keyboard, the show’s momentum picked up. “Floater” was a nice
surprise for sure. I took walk for a refreshment during “LARS.” I tried to
savor the moment as I listened to the tune bounce off the WPA buildings
(see the US History chapters on the New Deal for more info.) of the Toledo
My sister and I then pulled a few strings (us locals have connections) and
made our way to the front row where we witnessed blistering renditions of
“Thunder” and “Watchtower.” From there the show was over. Just one more
recommendation for Bob, (I don’t mean to be nitpicky) have a stage hand
remove your mic-stand after the guitar portion. The empty stand blocks a
clear view of Dylan from the high priced seats to the left.
All and all it was a great night in Toledo, OH. Perfect weather and
gorgeous venue. If you have been fortunate enough to see and hear Dylan
over the past decade, you may find that the current tour lacks the punch
of the Larry / Charlie combo of the early ‘00s and the risks and
experimentation that occurred when Freddy joined the band. I don’t want to
sound like one of the bastards in Europe during the ’66 tour or those who
booed Bob at Newport, but I get the sense that the band, and perhaps its
leader, is getting tired. The recent shows seem more melancholy than those
from a few years earlier. Perhaps this is just another metamorphosis of
Bob Dylan. My observation is entirely subjective. Bob always proves us
wrong. Maybe this admirer’s capacity to witness Dylan shows has become
saturated, or maybe I’m just tired and older. I guess the bottom line is
for everyone to get out there and enjoy if you get the chance. Don’t
expect miracles. Mr. Dylan has already provided us with
years of recordings and performances. Anyone with a modem now has access
to the shows courtesy of the tapers, traders, and Bob himself.
I’d love to travel to the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on
Saturday night, but can’t make it. My guess is that the sets will be
speckled with a few surprises throughout the remainder of the tour. Enjoy
Comments by Marty
Just got back from the Bob Dylan show at the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater and
was surprised you already had the set list posted. That's fast!
Anyway, it was a really nice show. The weather was beautiful for an outside
show and I had a great time. Just a couple of observations:
-- Disc Two of George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" remastered CD was
playing over the P.A. while the stage was being set. Don't know if Bob made
that selection, but it was nice to hear his friend and fellow Wilbury while
waiting for the show to begin.
-- Bob had a terrible time getting his guitar in tune and then getting it to stay
in tune during the first few songs where he played guitar. It was almost a relief
when he set his guitar down and moved to the keyboards for the rest of the
-- Several females in the audience were wearing Leopard Skin Pill Box Hats
which I thought was wonderful although he unfortunately didn't play that
-- There was a Grammy(?) award displayed on one of the amplifiers. Also Bob
didn't speak to the audience except to introduce the band during the encore.
But I guess that's usual.
Anyway, I really appreciate the work you put into your website. I was
keeping an eye on the ever changing setlists you've been posting so I would
know what to expect during tonight's show. It was a good show. Jimmie
Vaughan and guest vocalist (first name Lou Ann) were really good. Thanks.
Review by Jeff Kurtzman
The Toledo Zoo Amphitheater is a unique venue built by the WPA in 1934
(19 and 34 as XM radio Bob would say) and it inspired one of the highlights of
the evening's show. During band introductions, Bob commented, "George
Recile on the drums...and speaking of zoos, George takes his dog with him on
the road everywhere we go, but still he ain't nothin' but a hound dog.
" Maybe Bob thought he was introducing songs on his radio show...
While there were many excellent performances, the set list may have
overemphasized the slow songs a bit and that, combined with a maybe-too-mellow
crowd let the excitement level sag at times. Nevertheless, Bob and the band
turned in a number of truly memorable versions of songs. "When I Paint My
Masterpiece" as a rarity was a welcome addition. "It's Alright Ma" in the new
"Subterranean Homesick Blues" style keeps getting stronger and stronger
every night. The groove is sinister and irresistable at this point. "High Water"
was swamp rock at it's finest---the band really came together to blow through
this one. "Highway 61" and "Summer Days" contained some fiery pyrotechnics
that balanced the subtle and nuanced slower songs, whose effectiveness was
only lessened by too much unfortunate audience talking and disinterest.
Surprisingly, though, the biggest highlight was the version of "Like A Rolling
Stone" that closed the regular set. Having been given a short hiatus so far this
tour, for the most part, this song has started to reappear and it is reborn. Bob
is singing passionately and forcefully, rather than ruefully as it has seemed the
last couple years, and the guitar work is much more passionate, featuring an
extended intro and conclusion with chiming folk-rock guitar that would make
the Byrds jealous. It's good to have this old standard back.
While I'm sorry I missed "My Back Pages" by one night, any opportunity to see
Bob is a good one. No matter how far I have to drive (in this case 5 hours),
there's always a moment or two of musical magic that make each concert
unique. If only the tickets for sold out Cleveland and Indy, weren't so
expensive on eBay...I'd make those drives, too...in a second. Thanks, Bob!
You are the man!
Review by John Atkins
I wouldn't even try to count how many Dylan concerts I have been to over
the years, but I can enumerate that this was my second concert this year,
one in UK where I live, and second in America catching a great night in
Chicago a few years ago. Sadly Toledo was not amongst the best in any
category. Venue was great and we had fourth row center seats, the nearest
I have ever been to Dylan. When he walked out I was amazed how old he
looked and how thin he was. He even had the old man's shuffle when he
walked. The first five numbers were pretty poor as Dylan's guitar was so
far out of tune. He tried to correct it between numbers, being give a
note by Freeman, but things got worse not better. Buy a tuner Bob, or even
better, be like Stu Kimball where for the most part if wouldn't matter if
every string was out of tune as his acoustic rhythm playing is totally
inaudible. Shame as Masterpiece was a welcome inclusion to the set list,
and Bob was singing well on Lay Lady Lay, despite the out of tune backing.
When Bob switched to keyboard the whole concert changed gear but I was
amazed how few people were totally engaged by the music preferring to
converse with each other and passing friends as loudly as they needed.
Dylan's security were also entertaining, moving people from the front at
regular intervals, and freaking at the sight of camera phones. What do
they think is going to happen? People selling the images for millions.
One final gripe, is that the closer you are to Dylan's band the more they
look like they could be waxworks. The only life I saw from Kimball was
when he changed guitars. Herron smiled from time to time, and Garnier
showed signs of life midway through the night. For the most part they
looked like a tired old bar band going through the motions yet again.
Summer Days makes me wish for Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell, although
in fairness Thunder On The Mountain deserves its encore spot and is yet
another Dylan classic. My fanciful wish for Man Gave Names To All The
Animals was left unfulfilled and I think this was a night of a band and
singer honoring their commitment without adding that little magic to make
it a memorable night.
Review by Eric Shaver
I attended the Sterling Heights show and the Toledo show and thought both
we're pretty good. It's seems there's plenty of reviews for the first one so
I'll tackle Toledo. First off I loved the venue. Very scenic and very intimate.
The sound quality was good as well. Cats in the Well got things rolling.
I was kind of hoping we wouldn't get this one but it was by far the best
version I've heard. Then the treat of the evening for me, When I Paint My
Masterpiece. Never heard this one live before and it was great. Bob followed the
melody really well and it was a dandy. Things kept cooking with Watching the
River Flow. Nice crisp version as well. At some point Bob's guitar went out of
tune and I thought that kind of messed up Lay Lady Lay but I was excited to
hear it anyway. It was a treat to see him play guitar but he definately seems
more at ease behind the keys. And the his keyboard was pretty loud in the mix
which was surprising. Bob does some quirky playing at times but for the most
part he sounded alright. He really sings his more recent songs with passion.
The Levees Gonna Break was fantastic. It's not one of my faves on Modern
Times but it was a dandy live. And the girl that in the front row that Bob was
singing to all night should be at every show. Spirit on the Water appeared to
be done just for her. Highway 61 kicked butt as always as did Summerdays.
The band as a whole really cooks but I think Denny needs to cut it loose a
little. He's clearly capable but leaves too many holes. I'd like to see Stu take
a few solos. He's got the chops and is a heck of a blues player. But Bob's
in charge and as long as he's on the road heading to another joint I'll be
there checking him out. He is Bob Dylan after all! When he comes to your town
enjoy the show because he is truely one of a kind.
Comments by Jason Blakeley
i still can't believe people take the time to write anything negative
about this man and his band. fuck the fact that the guitar was slightly
out of tune. who cares. how often do you see bob fumble with a guitar?
never. that's what i thought. i'd rather watch bob dylan try to tune a
guitar for an hour than read one sentance of your negative, and poorly
this show was fantastic. "when i paint my masterpiece" was insanely good.
maybe that's because his masterpiece is 5/8 done? who knows. we could
all ask for more, but we must be happy with what we get at a dylan show
these days. there's just too much good to mention the bad. just like his
too much good to mention the bad. if you like to dwell on negativity,
dwell on my middle finger. rock on dylan. long live the legend. long
live the legacy. long live the music. long live the tour...
Comments by Don Ely
" Smooth like a rhapsody ", indeed! Bob's performance at the Toledo Zoo
Amphitheater was a 180 - degree turnaround from the previous night in
Sterling Heights. Ninth row seats certainly contributed to this impression,
but Bob and the band were definitely smokin' the special stash at this gig!
The Toledo Zoo has to be one of the most beautiful venues in America.
Lush greenery abounds. Attendees stroll over bridges and past a few of it's
permanent residents before descending into the amphitheater itself, which
is a bandshell whose facade is designed in a vintage Southwestern motif;
you expect to see Santa Ana and his crew storming the Alamo! We'd been
here a couple times in the '90's to see The Tragically Hip, but the setting is
even more serene than I remembered. During Jimmie Vaughan's set we
relaxed along a wall while sipping brews, which provided a nice soundtrack
for watchin' the girls go by. We were well - primed by the time we headed
to our seats and Zim was ready to make his entrance. He came onstage
with His Band and had that real disoriented expression that I've seen
before, looking like he doesn't know WHERE the hell he's at, but as soon
as "Cat's In The Well" commenced, he snapped into it business - as - usual.
But tonight it was anything but the usual moves! As I listened to the intro,
I thought, could it be? it is, isn't it?, but we all know how some songs share
similar arrangements so I couldn't be sure. Last night what I thought was
Hattie Carroll was actually "My Back Pages". When I heard the phrase
"Spanish Stairs", I knew: Bob was bestowing upon us with all his grace a
most powerful "When I Paint My Masterpiece"!!! Time slowed to a crawl as
the man Bob Dylan waxed rhapsodic and I high - fived the guy in front of me.
Crystal clarity in the delivery, if not the meaning, only Bob can lay claim to
that, though we interpret as we wish. An emotional high point of the night.
"Someday, everything is gonna be different", and it already was. A song
rarely performed anymore, and although I'd seen it at Ann Arbor 11/21/96
we were most appreciative of it's inclusion in the set.
It was a perfect gesture that Bob remained in 1971 for a perfect rendition
of "Watching The River Flow". This was an era that often slips beneath the
radar but that produced some fine songs that are under - rated by many. I
really enjoyed this, and the band (magnified by our ace positioning just right
of center) was as tight as Paris Hilton's bathing suit (or was that Alicia
Keyes'?). Another stalwart "It's Alright, Ma ( I'm Only Bleeding )" followed,
nd then a fifth Bob - on - guitar selection, a lovely "Lay, Lady, Lay" that was
gentle on the mind to round out the opening salvo. Moving to his keyboard
Bob gave us a suite of Mississippi Flood songs: "The Levee's Gonna Break",
"Floater ( Too Much To Ask )", and "High Water ( for Charlie Patton )".
Levee was the strongest I've yet heard, and a well - played Floater ( not
really about the '27 Flood, but hey, it floats! ) actually made me nostalgic
for Love And Theft. Time moves much too quickly, no? "I Don't Believe
You ( She Acts Like We Never Have Met )" satiated our jones for the
dominant riff, and " When The Deal Goes Down " has proven itself to be,
along with "Nettie Moore", the best live performance from Modern Times.
"Thunder On The Mountain" began weakly, but after a nice improvisational
bridge the band saved the song in the second half. Shades of Fall '04,
during the band intros Bob told us a joke! As accurately as I can remember,
it went like this: "...and speaking of zoos, George takes his dog with him
on the road everywhere we go. He loves the hound of music!"
Nyaaaaaach! Probably wouldn't have made Lenny Bruce's act, but we
love ya anyway, Bob!
This was the fifth and final show I've seen on this leg of the Never - Ending,
and I would venture to say the best, though I wouldn't have missed any
one of 'em. All you folks on down the line, and in Australia / New Zealand,
have some great times to look forward to! For us stateside it looks like we'll
be seein' ya on the fall tour!
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