Seoul, South Korea

Olympic Gymnastics Arena

July 27, 2018

[Jeff Beresford-Howe]

Review by Jeff Beresford-Howe

It's hard to imagine a less welcoming or warm hall than the Seoul Olympic
Gymnastics Arena, where Bob chose to open his latest tour, but what can
you say? Bob was on and it was a wonderful show.  As has become
traditional at first tour stops, he was trying some stuff out: opened with
"All Along the Watchtower" (!), played "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and
closed with "Gotta Serve Somebody." (A nod to Seoul's very large Christian
community?) "Watchtower" was a bit of a train wreck: his microphone was
off for the first half, and presumably because of the in-ear monitor
systems, or the stage mix, Bob didn't realize it. Finally, a roadie told
his bass player, who told Bob, and Bob switched microphones, continued
with the last verse as if nothing had happened, took another instrumental
break, then sang the first two verses. And speaking of that instrumental
break, it featured a very tasty electric guitar solo from none other than
Bob, who played electric for both "Watchtower" and "Don't Think Twice"
before retreating behind the piano.  The band is really digging into the
tunes, playing with the arrangements, and giving Bob tons of room to
vocally improvise: he did a lot of spontaneous writing in  "Masterpiece"
and "Serve Somebody," and, as always, "Tangled Up in Blue." To tremendous
effect -- the sound in the gymnastics arena was, much to my surprise,
superb, and I was 9th row center. I could hear every word clearly.  (The
Seoul audience had something to do with that too: like Japan, and so
profoundly unlike the good ol' USA, they listed quietly during the songs,
then cheered like crazy in between tunes. I love seeing shows in Asia.)
Bob knocked "Autumn Leaves" clear out of the park. Holy shit. I got
goosebumps. Besides that, though, no evidence of Sinatra. His arrangement
of "Tangled Up in Blue" turns it into kind of a jocular barroom story. I
loved it. "Masterpiece" was magnificent, everything you'd hope for it to
be. Kudos also to "Make You Feel My Love," which swooned a bunch of
teenage girls, who I guess are familiar with it as an Adele tune, and
"Tryin' to Get to Heaven." The audience was quite young -- I'm 59 and I'm
guessing I was in the oldest 5% of the crowd. Sat next to a 17-year-old at
her first Dylan show. She speaks great English and told me afterwards that
her favorite part was "Early Roman Kings," which she described as the
"nasty one."  I live in China now, so my chances to see Bob aren't
frequent; my last show before this one was Sapporo in '14. I was telling
my friends that this was likely my "valedictory" Dylan -- my last chance
to see him. But I think I was wrong. He looked and sounded great, and he's
definitely having fun. I don't see why he'd want to stop, or any sign that
he'd have to.


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