Reviews

Cleveland, Ohio

Plain Dealer Pavilion

July 14, 2007


[Charles Cicirella], [Carsten Molt], [Tom], [Robert Gonzalez]

Review by Charles Cicirella



Crazy beautiful sonic churning burning salacious wild
night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you
don't think this band has any guts listen to Honest With Me from this show
and your mind will change if your mind can and is open to change. It
wasn't till Don't Think Twice, It's All Right that I felt things really
started to burn. Bob's vocals were fierce while at the same time heartfelt
and is often the case with a Bob performance the songs became something
else altogether as you find yourself connecting even more because Bob for
whatever reason seems to be more invested and plugged in. The place they
played (formerly Nautica in what will perhaps someday again be The Flats)
was right smack dab on the water so though there was the usual curtain
behind them you could see on one side a warehouse that has been turned
into luxury apartments and on the other side two skyscrapers which were
great to check out during the Imperial Empire line in Honest With Me and
at one point during one of the Modern Times songs a rather large ship
(probably was the tour they have on the river) went past and it was so
great especially when if you looked around other sides of the arena you
might see a bridge that had seen better days or other rusting metal
structures making the whole scene like some Mad Max junkyard which for me
anyway is the perfect place to check out Bob the futuristic ancient bard!
Now we move onto Watching The River Flow a song I can just about always do
without and yet (as was the case for most of the night except for a Stuck
Inside Mobile that did not completely grab hold of me) last night's
performance was very intense and Bob's vocals were totally packed full
with dynamite - it was one of those Bob performances where he used his
growl to great effect - taking  one word and really ripping into it and
then stepping back from the keyboards maybe turning his head even grinning
sometimes like hey what did I just do - it was funny - it was really
blissful and it was honest to the core. I also loved how on several
numbers he would with open palm make these hand gestures toward the
audience to place further emphasis on a particular line he had just
delivered and though I am one of those who don't ever feel Bob needs to
directly address the audience because he is always doing that in the music
and singing anyhow it was great to have him so obviously including us in
the performance - the venue was sold out and if you were right up front
(which I was thank you Jesus!) and turned around you could see that even
in the bleachers there were no vacancies. I also want to say that it
obviously was not just Bob's vocals that were creating such an intensive
and at times even menacing feeling but this band who were right in the
pocket with Bob as he led them and us over the cliff and into other lands
where fairies and dragons somehow co exist. It is no surprise that It's
Alright, Ma was a tour de force for just about every version in Europe as
well as every version here in the states this tour has been a ravaged
state of the union to a land of amnesia where truly nothing is sacred and
that crazily enough even includes the thousand or so golden calves that
Bob has sucked the milk out of (go Bob go!). He really has immense
presence and you can tell that even the band recognizes this as they all
turn up the heat and this very much includes Donny whose violin playing I
always found to be used to great effect especially in this particular song
where rock meets country and neither one are ever the same again. Imagine
if The Stray Cats went on the Louisiana Hayride or The Grand Ole Opry and
the sparks that would inevitably fly. I do not know what to even say about
the next two numbers because again I found myself so deeply affected by
Bob's delivery and how dug in he most definitely was - To Ramona was a
real dressing down but not only that it was also a bittersweet warning of
sorts (if such a thing is even possible) to someone who he knows is either
already being sucked down or who is soon to be sucked into feelings that
will forever haunt and ultimately turn this person into some scathing
bitter empty ghost whose Spirit has sunk in Lake Erie or some other
cancerous body of water or stagnant pool. Now onto the two absolute
highlights of the night for me My Back Pages and Honest With Me. I saw My
Back Pages in Louisville in 2005 and while watching it I so very much felt
like I was experiencing the man - the poet who wrote this song  while also
experiencing how much this song and these lyrics still meant to him and
tonight in Cleveland it was taken up two or three thousand notches as Bob
stood out there laying himself completely bare and this was not the legend
- the man who had written Like A Rolling Stone or Blowing In The Wind or
Tangled Up In Blue or you name your favorite song this man has constructed
and deconstructed so many times during his unbelievably prolific and
fragrant career no the man standing before us during this song was just a
man (any man and every man) - a human being telling himself just as much
as he was telling us all about crimson flames and half-wracked prejudice
and phony jealousy and the self-ordained professor's tongue too serious to
fool and like all truly honest to God art it wasn't anything that should
be hung in the museum but in fact something living that needs to be shared
and experienced right out in the fields and the cities - something you can
ride like a donkey into the center of town or wear like a backpack or flak
jacket into both adventurous and sadly confrontational situations - the
words are no longer words nor are they actual warnings or signs no they
are more like notes - sketches about a very human condition where you are
no longer old but younger than that now because with experience comes
inexperience and the circle is never actually broken nor is it completely
round or without some obvious dents and lapses of cooling memory. The next
song was Honest With Me which was more like a declaration of
interdependence delivered at breakneck speed and I absolutely loved how
toward the end Donny was all smiles banging his head toward Bob making it
very clear that yes Bob we are really knocking this one right out of the
park. I'd read in a recent review how the band did not seem to be enjoying
themselves and that Tony was not his usual smiling self and yet last night
Tony was all smiles from the very beginning to the end and I also loved
how during Highway 61 George looked like a kid on Christmas morn enjoying
his bran' spanking new drum set making lots of joyous noise and totally
having the time of his life. You can absolutely tell how very much these
guys enjoy playing together. Blowing In The Wind was a jazzy blues haunt
that at the end was as loud and rocking as anything that had come before
it which brings me to the Modern Times songs - now do not get me wrong I
love the record and yet the times I have been fortunate enough to see
these songs performed live I often felt like they were delivered somewhat
tentatively not like the were unsure of how to play them but just that
they were not yet fully invested into them while last night nothing could
have been further from the truth and again Bob's phrasing was a huge part
of this as he delivered each and every word like an expert surgeon who
performs each and every operation like it were his last and the entire
operating theater became a killing floor where souls were not killed but
actually reunited with former selves they had lost touch with in the day
to day grind of life and life only. Nothing even remotely aseptic or
sterile about these performances (including the warrior delivery of
Thunder On The Mountain and Bob's vocals which sounded like they were
originating directly from the mountain where Moses once took up residence
for a scant moment or two) as Bob and his cowboy band played the River
Styx. CLEVELAND ROCKS!!!

[TOP]

Review by Carsten Molt



It was a sunny and pleasant Saturday afternoon as i made the trip from 
Pittsburgh to Cleveland for my 35th Dylan show. Due to circumstances
beyond my  control, i was delayed departing Pittsburgh and was unable to
make the preshow  gathering. i did have the good fortune of meeting up
with my friends Sam  and Jane and spent the bulk of Jimmie Vaughans
opening set chatting with  them.

The Plain Dealer Pavillion is a excellent venue. It used to be called the 
Nautica Stage when Dylan last played there in 1996. It is right on the 
Cuyahoga river and the backdrop to the stage is a great view of the
Cleveland  skyline.

After seeing Jimmie Vaughan three times last summer and being bored all 
three times, i was not interested in seeing him again. i only caught the 
last few songs of his set and what i heard was just as boring as i found
it last  summer.

The sun slowly set and the diamond sky appeared over the venue and before 
long, there he was, Dylan, center stage with guitar in hand.

1. Cats In The Well- This was the expected show opener and while Dylans 
voice was a bit gruff, the sight of seeing him on guitar made up for any
vocal  shortcomings. Overall, it was a pretty good version without being
anything  overly special.

2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right- Definitely not one of my favorite 
Dylan songs but i was surprised how much i enjoyed this version. Dylan
handled  the lyrics with care and it was a quite moving version of a song
that i am  usually bored by.

3. Watching The River Flow- i enjoy this song more every time i hear it. i
especially like how it has regained the melody of the studio version.
Dylan was really leaning into the vocals and he gave Denny Freeman 
room for a couple of  brief solos that were well done.The crowd 
cheered really enthusiastically after  the song.

4. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)- It no longer has the same  
arrangement that they used in Europe on the spring tour. It is also not
the  arrangement that i witnessed last summer. It seemed like a hybrid
between the  two. It was a really strong and robust version. Dylan nailed
the lyrics and  Donnie Herron played some nice but muted fiddle parts.

5. To Ramona- This was very sweetly played. Dylan was singing at a mid 
tempo pace squeezing the emotion out of the lines. He added some unique 
phrasing  to the words "your cracked country lips, i still wish to kiss,
as  to be by the strength of yourskin.' This is one of my favorite
Dylan lines and  he nailed it beautifully.. It was one of the highlights
of the show.

6. The Levee's Gonna Break- Dylan switched from his guitar to his keyboard
for this sing. I had a feeling that we were going to get "Rollin' and
Tumblin; "  but we got this instead which thrilled me as i really wanted
to hear it. It was  as good as i heard that the live versions were. It had
a lot more life than the  album version. It crackled with energy and the
band was really grooving in the  pocket. A definite highlight.

7  My Back Pages- This was not the best version that i' ve heard of  the
song but it was still a very good version. Dylan seemed to struggle to hit
some notes a couple of times but other times, he hit them perfectly with
no  problem. Dinnie Herron appeared to be playing some really nice violin
on  the tune but he was really low in the mix.. Dylan ended the song with
a short  but pretty harmonica solo.

8. Honest With Me- i didn't recognize the song at first. It has a totally 
different arrangement. After i got over missing the slide part that i
always  enjoyed so much, i really liked it. Dylan was singing really
loudly, almost  yelling the lyrics. Denny Freeman played a tasty solo that
was pretty scorching  in its intensity. 

9. Spirit On The Water- This is one of my favorite songs on the new album 
and it was great. Dylans vocal delivery was spot on and the bands playing
on the  tune was sublime. Of course, the crowd loved  yelling "no!!!!" 
when he came to the line 'you think i'm over the hill?".  Dylan ended the 
song with a majestic harmonica solo.

10. Things Have Changed- This was a pretty disappointing version.  Dylans 
keyboard was turned up really loud during the tune and he played  some of
those weird circus sounds on it. The song sounded pretty muddy. i don't 
know if it was the mix but the band sounded like a wash of sound on the
tune. It  was kind of a throw away version.

11. When The Deal Goes Down- i wasn't sure if i'd like this song live but 
it was beautiful. Dennys solo was long and was full of nice jazzy touches,
Dylan was playing with the phrasing and it worked perfectly. Actually, the
entire tune  was almost perfectly done. The crowd was quiet and 
respectful during the song  and roared in approval at its conclusion.

12. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again- I don't know 
what this great song ever did to deserve such a awful arrangement. It 
was just a  muddy, loud  non-melodic wall of noise. i must admit that
Dylan was singing  the song with all of his heart and soul .It is too bad 
that it was marred by the  wretched arrangement.

13. Nettie Moore- After the previous song, anything would be a breath of 
fresh air and this was all that and a lot more. Donnie Herrons violin and
Stu  Kimball's finger-picked acoustic set the tone, and Dylan responded by
singing  tenderly and sweetly, the  heartbeat of the drums, bass and lead
guitar  barely audible. Dylan took the crowd with him to some special
place in that way  that only he is capable of doing.  This was the highest
of  the  highlights of the show. .

14. Highway 61 Revisited- i was thrilled that he decided to end the show 
with this instead of :Like A Rolling Stone" or especially " Summer
Days".It was  a really powerful version with Denny Freeman cutting loose
with a couple of  searing, soaring solos. It was a kind of short version
butit was a sizzling  version while it lasted.

Encores

15. Thunder On The Mountain- This was a musical train wreck. Actually, the
performance might have been good but the sound was really muddy and it
was  difficult to hear any of the instruments clearly. Dylans voice was
strong but  the instruments were like one big muffled, muddy roar.

16. Blowin' In The Wind- This is not a song that i am usually fond of but
i  really liked the version a lot. The new arrangement seems to have given
the song  a fresh feeling. Instead of just being a memory, it seems to
have a more current  vibe. At least, that is how it feels to me.

Notes:

A.  Dylan was in good form. His voice was very strong and he seemed to 
really be enjoying himself. 

B   Denny Freeman was stepping out more than i have ever seen him  before
and he seems very relaxed and confident in his role. His playing was 
inventive and perfectly suited to the song being played all night

C.  Tony Garnier and George Recile were as solid as ever. Recile and  Tony
seem to have a really good on stage relationship. musically and 
personally.

D. Donnie Heron is a excellent musician. Unfortunately, he seems to be
very  low in the mix most of the time.

E. For the life of me, i can;t figure out what Stu Kimball is doing up 
there, His playing is rarely audible and when it is, he isn't doing
anything  that adds anything to the music. Several times during the show,
he stopped  playing his guitar and just stood there for a few minutes at a
time.

F. The crowd was pretty laid back. They were quiet and attentive during
the  ballads and seemed to really be into the music.

G. There were a few clunkers but there were may more highlights. This was 
the best show that i' ve seen since Kent 2002. though Buffalo 2005 comes 
close. Dylan really delivered the goods tonight and i had a terrific time.

Of course, these are just my opinions and it is only  the way that i 
experienced the show. i apologize for any typos and for the length but i
tend to  ramble, Any feedback or corrections are  welcome.

In Bob  we  trust, 
Carsten  Molt  
carstenbmolt@aol.com
(mailto:carstenbmolt@aol.com) 

[TOP]

Review by Tom



It was a beautiful night in Cleveland last night....weatherwise.  This was
probably my 40th Dylan show since Blossom, 1988.  More importantly, it was
probably my last. The plain dealer pavillion is an acoustical
embarassment. The old Nautica (which was on the same site up until about 5
years ago) was perhaps the BEST outdoor venue in the Cleveland area. This
pavillion, with its silly white umbrella ceiling, sounds like an airplane
hanger.  I made it a point to get floor seats so that the sound would not
be as bad as it was in the back bleachers, however, being in the 17th row
did not help much. The sound was still washed out and bouncy.

Bob and band took the stage a little after 8:30 

I won't bother with a song by song review.  The songs are for the most
part interchangeable in their lack of energy and mood for a live concert.
The Modern Times songs seem to be an especially silly choice for live
performance in these types of venues. Better suited perhaps to be played
at low volume in a 75 seat supper club, or during a wedding reception at
cocktail hour.

With the exception of "Honest with Me," this band sent very little
energy out to the crowd.

HOWEVER!!!  I will say that Bob was in good form.  His phrasing was
pretty good, his range was decent for a post-1997 show, and he was
very energetic in his delivery most of the time.

That being said, this current band is about as exciting and dynamic as
sorting laundry. The 2 guys on the right side of the stage (MY right as I
face the stage) should be dismissed as soon as possible. The guy playing
the pedal steel, violin, etc... was highly ineffective in adding much of
anything to the overall sound. Likewise, the guitarist who stood near him
was inaudible much of the night.  The soundman, who from what I can tell
was ON the side of the stage instead of straight back from the band (where
he could benefit from hearing what WE'RE hearing) mixed the band to sound
like a bland vanilla shake.  This band could benefit greatly by
SUBTRACTION of members.  As usual, Tony played wonderfully and is a joy to
watch perform.

Seeing Bob, which used to be an event, a display of non-conformity,
raw energy, and musical excitement has turned into a trained-dog act.
Although these pups look very nice in their matching GRAY suits, they're
still just trained dogs.

Things have changed, which is fine by me and how it must go. I will
continue to cherish and enjoy my field recordings from 1991-1997,
however I believe this will be the last time I pay substantial money
(over $20) to see Bob live (at least until he does the solo acoustic
tour...).

Tom 

[TOP]

Review by Robert Gonzalez



I was at the Plain Dealer Pavilion show last night.  What a great venue to
see a concert.  It's located right on the Cuyahoga river, and during the
show several local charter boats cruised by behind the stage.  At one
point, a giant ore carrier appeard coming around the bend in the river and
floated by behind the stage as well.  The show was fantastic with some
great versions of Don't Think Twice It's Alright, Stuck Inside of Mobile
With The Memphis Blues Again, My Back Pages, Nettie More and many many
others.  The hi-lite of the night for me was that he changed the final
encore to Blowin' In The Wind instead of Watchtower.  It was a beautiful
version of the song, and a great ending to a fantastic evening.  For those
who have never had a chance to visit the Flats in Cleveland, get there
soon.  There's so much to do, and with all of the beautiful lights on the
historic bridges over the Cuyahoga, and the city sky-line lit up as a
backdrop, it's one of the most incredible
views you'll ever see in your life.

[TOP]

Click Here
to return to the
Main Page

page by Bill Pagel
billp61@execpc.com

Current
Tour Guide
Older
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Page
Songs
Performed
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location
Cue
Sheets