August 7, 2010
Review by Gene Senger
Since Bob hasn't been to St. Paul-Minneapolis since election night when Obama
won, I've hit the road for the 3 shows in Chicago last October and most
recently, Kansas City, tonight. Oh my goodness, Bob and that cowboy band just
tore the place apart with an unpredictable and exciting set list, topped off
with powerful, howling and growling vocals by Bob. Dear reader, just know that
Bob is only more powerful now at age 69, his phrasing continues to be
interesting. Don't be fooled by looking at a set list and thinking that
nothing's changed. Those songs are definitely not the same ones you heard the
last time. This band has become so tight that it feels like they're writing new
songs, in real time, in front of you as you sit there trying to remember how
that song used to go, this new live one is so much more interesting, raw nerves
exposed, soothed over again by the familiar lyrics, now coming from a 69 year
old blues singer with his smokin' cowboy band coming to a town near you soon. My
advice is to not wait for this to come to you, go chase it! Chase it right now
because there's nothing like this. Anywhere.
St. Paul, MN
Review by Braulio Escobar
If you ever go to....Kansas City.......I flew in to KC for the third show of
this summer’s tour. The local folks said it was a cool evening, but for this guy
from the Oregon coast it was hot and sticky, just like this show at the
Starlight theater, an 8000 amphitheater. Meet some folks in the parking lot who
had seen the show in Oklahoma the previous night and they raved about the
performance. Since we were in Missouri I was in a Show Me state. Opening was a
30 min set by a young duo looking like LDS missionaries singing acoustic gospel
and blues. They seemed thrilled to be on the bill. A quick set change, lights
dim, fanfare begins and Bob skips on stage, gets behind his piano and the band
roars into Watch the River Flow and then Senor. The set then ebbs and flows. It
opened to a rock roar, and hits a middle introspective stage with Just Like a
Woman, Hollis Brown, Hattie Carroll and Working Man’s Blues #2 then blast to an
end with Ballad of A Thin Man and the encore. How does Bob continue to thrill?
Is it the interplay he enjoys with Charlie Sexton? There were several moments
where Bob would take off somewhere new on the keyboards, forcing the band to
keep up while rifting back and forth with Charlie. All of this under the steady
gaze of Tony Garnier on the bass who doesn’t miss a beat, with Stu Kimball
standing on the left side playing rhythm guitar with an occasional tasty lick of
lead. And then it all comes back to Bob. This evening he was not a grumpy old
man. Energized and in his element is how best to describe it. His voice was
clear, sometimes phrasing in a staccato chant and sometimes standing stage
center singing, playing his harmonica while leading his band and moving his arms
like an old style song and dance man selling magical musical potions. Like the
tour poster says....Don’t You Dare Miss It!!!!
Review by Tom Dunn
Castle venue buzz
Dough Rollers a hollerin'
Watching the River
Summer heat settles
Señor haunts Starlight
Wishing you would go your way
Big man will not move
Azure pink sunset
Legendary set list feel
Rollin' n tumblin'
Another road trip
Bikers blazing southern trail
Near my wife's hometown
Just like a woman
Fans sing along with delay
Poetry slam in the air
Hollis hushes crowd
Hoping for seven breezes
Whole other level
Back to back ballad jangle
Poor Hattie Carroll
Fat sticks to your ribs
Pre show Gates BBQ fix
Oscar Cry A While
Bobby and his band
Only ones working tonight
Boot blues # 2
Black suit Fedora
Gray suit orchestra sweating
Like election night
Bob felt a change comin' on
At Minny's Northrup
Bouncer picks up chair
Thunder on the mountain strikes
Faithful storm to front
Cue moody lighting
Thin man center stage with harp
Growling eyes connect
Encore cheering roar
Hearts with secrets to conceal
Rolling stone unites
Queen Jolene dancing
Charlie wants to make a call
Guitar soul echoes
Almost 40 shows
Watchtower burns the night sky
One for the records
Review by Michael Mahoney
There are lots good things to say about the Bob Dylan show at Starlight Theatre
in Kansas City on Saturday night. But there are elements about the venue I don’t
care for. Maybe it's me. Let’s just say at the end of the show, I thought the
ushers were very eager to do their jobs. The return of Charlie Sexton is an
overwhelming improvement in this band. He seems to brings an energy to the
music. He makes the entire band tighter. He seems to give Zimm new zest to his
performance. Sexton often played center stage with strong, peeling licks. He
sometimes bends down to one knee, as if genuflecting to the music. Now, to the
fellow in the white hat. Zimm appears to have re-inserted “performance” into his
performance art. Saturday night Dylan actually acknowledged there was an
audience of several thousand people. No, he didn’t say much. Just once, on the
band introductions did he remark, “Thanks friends”. It’s how he played and sang.
On the key board, they have moved his mic ever so slightly. He now turns and
sings TO the audience, rather than staring straight across the stage at the
band. And his playing there has improved. They’re confident enough about it that
his keyboard is no longer always buried in the mix. At one point on 'Thunder in
the Mountain', he flipped it into Hammond B-3 mode and played a smart solo.
Lotsa fun. Zimm now frequently leaves the comfort of the keyboard and strolls
about the stage. This has been an evolving part of the show over the last couple
of years. He takes center stage on his guitar pieces; center stage for harp
solos, and center stage, sometimes to sing. When there, he seems at ease using
hand and arm gestures to make points about the lyrics. That sort of small thing
makes him more accessible to the audience. And as you know, if you read this
page, some folks are there just to hear the hits. Musically this was a most
interesting show. A ‘new’ opener. At least for this tour. ‘Watching the River’
was strong, punchy. A good one to start out with, but nothing exceptional. Save
for the fact that it was different from shows #1 and 2. ‘Senor’ is a personal
favorite for me. So he scores with that. It was a here for the first time, he
strolled away from the keyboard on a masterful version of a really good song.
Since this is a blues band, ‘Hell’s My Wife’s Home Town’ is right in the slot.
Another first for me and on the tour. This is when this show starts picking up
steam. Pretty faithful to the released version, but with the power you’d expect
live. The same thing happened later in the show with ‘Cry A While', a greasy
bluesy stomp that featured one of the best harp solos of the evening b y Zimm.
This a band you’ love to hear a Chicago blues joint. A very average ‘Most
Likely’ is saved by Sexton Saturday night. It was the first of many stand out
pieces by him this evening. He is just a damn good guitar player! There were, in
my mind, two show stoppers. Workingman’s Blues ‘ is one of them. This tragic
tale may seem to grow just because of the of the hard times we’re living in.
But the performance Saturday night had some underlying rage, and anger to it. My
notes show that this seemed to be one of the more intense readings I’ve heard
from Zimm in years. Honest folks, he was into to this song like nothing I’ve
seen from him before. It was fascinating. His phrasing, sharp all night long,
was especially good here. He was in good voice as well. That’s a potent
combination when Zimm has both. He did tonight. The other highlight was
‘Jolene”. I’ve been waiting for Zimm to unleash this one for a couple of years.
In the #2 encore slot, on every other night I’ve seen him play this--it just
seemed to be a rehash of the released version. I always hoped he would let this
one roll out a little more. With Sexton in command on guitar, it just takes off.
The band jammed a bit in the middle of this song—which is what was always
needed-----turning into a 6-or 7 minute song--the song really blossomed. I
always try to pick on something when I see Zimm. I looked hard Saturday night in
KC for something to yelp about. Can’t find it. This was a Bob Dylan show that
could be enjoyed by the B-cats…and the folks just out for a hot Saturday night.
Very fine show. If they’re around---as his posters says sometimes---Don’t You
dare Miss It! Thanks
Review by Bill Burns
The show opened right on time with the
h-kids-they-sounded-so-much-like-old-black-bluesmen. Jack Byrne & Malcolm Ford
(son of Harrison) were snazzily dressed, with Ford looking a little bit like the
19yo Bobby Dylan from the Greenwich Village days. It was appropriate these guys
should open for Bob, given the folk music revival heritage that Dylan himself
came out of. How many acts just like this, young white folks playing old black
gospel tunes have been on stage before an appearance of a young Bobby back in
the day? If you haven't heard these guys, go YouTube 'em. They're worth a
listen. The Dough Rollers were pure throwback fun.
After a short break, just time enough to grab a beer and a burger, Bob & the
boys took the stage, opening with a fine Watching the River Flow, which, being
the standard blues number it is, made for a good ramp-up tune for the group.
Just as soon as that was done, the band launched into Senor, and Bob grabbed his
harp & headed for center stage. In recent years, you were lucky to hear him
play harp on two or three songs in a set. That wasn't to be the case this
It was good to hear Most Likely You Go Your Way next, but this is one which,
nowadays, you have to appreciate Bob's phrasing, since the melody's all gone
from the vocals. That's the case with most of his older stuff, though. I've
been to enough Dylan shows not to expect too much here, and I'm glad as all get
out he's still around to sing 'em, however ragged they may sound.
My Wife's Hometown isn't one of my favorites from his newer stuff, but it
was great to see Bob grab the guitar that Charlie Sexton opened playing on
Watching the River Flow. Anyone who's been to his shows for the past 5
years or so will know, it's rarer now to see Bob on guitar. But Bob looked for
all the world like he was having a good time, nodding silent, well-oiled
directions to the band, and the delivered a fine Rollin' and Tumblin' next. Then
Bob & the band started right into Just Like a Woman, and the folks who came for
the oldies and their slightly tipsy girlfriends swayed and sang in the spaces
left by Bob's rephrasing of the chorus.
The real treats in this set came when the banjo teased the beginning of
Ballad of Hollis Brown. You could tell from the crowd's reaction that most
mistook it for High Water (for Charlie Patton), but it was soon apparent he was
digging deeper into the catalog for this one. His rearrangement on this tune
was really different, and made you listen for the story of Hollis Brown's
desperate estate and the grim fate borne on the seven breezes. In the heat of a
summer evening at Starlight's outdoor amphitheater, so packed you wished for a
single breeze, you could feel yourself right there on the South Dakota prairie,
listening as the shots ring out.
Bob followed hard on that great early gem with another story song from his
early days, a beautiful, haunting Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, again
with a new phrasing and reworked vocal that made you work to listen for the
story of William Zamzinger's ignorant brutality.
After a brief pause, Donnie picked up his violin, and I thought to myself,
man, that boy's momma oughtta be proud o' her little Donnie, all growed up
and can play so many danged instruments! So he led the band into the great L&T
tune (the only L&T tune in this set), on which Bob's gravely voice is
exceedingly effective, spitting out & wincing the lines "Well, I cried for
you-now it's your turn, you can cry awhile."
What followed was what I think is clearly one of Bob's greatest of his late
songs, "Workingman's Blues #2. This song just resonates in these times, and it
has that chiming sound of some of his finest, legendary songs, and the long
anthemic verses. It's songs like these, where Bob can stretch out and really
speak, that make a Bob Dylan show one not to be missed.
The band got the crowd revved up, and unfortunately so for all the folks
who, by now, were tired of standing up, since everytime a faster-tempo'd
tune cranked up, everyone stood to get a better look, and the sweat started to
roll down your back as the breezes were once again stifled, the only air moving
coming from the whirlwind of the second most celebrated stretch of road in the
country, Highway 61.
All during I Feel a Change Comin' On, and As the opening strains of Thunder on
the Mountain sounded, Charlie occasionally squatted down, as if the guitar was
heavy on his back, and he looked up at Bob, and Bob made faces to the girls in
the front rows, and seemed to be enjoying himself, and playing as a true member
of the band, the Oscar statue upstage to his left, draped in Mardi Gras beads
all but swaying to the beat.
Bob moved back to center stage for Ballad of a Thin Man, and the oldies
crowd swooned again, but it was worthy, and Bob seemed to really be basking in
it at this point, the lighting from below casting an iconic shadow of the
balladeer on the black cyc behind him, the shadow of Stu looming large beside.
It was truly a great reading of this great song. Something was happening here.
After the obligatory rest, during which the crowd seemed rather lackluster
(maybe it was the presence of so many folks who know the drill; it ain't
over till they sing Watchtower), the band returned, and were graced with not the
usual two song encore, but three, with Jolene thrown in. I have to confess, I
still need some time for the new record's tunes to grow on me. I'll take it as a
"Saturday Night Special," I suppose. Watchtower, the obligatory closer was
dished up, the band whipping it into extra overdrive with Charlie's guitar and
Stu throwing in for good measure, and Bob & the band stood centerstage, surveyed
the crowd and bid us all good night.
Get ready, Lincoln, NE! The Bard's in town!
Review by Cortney McKay
The third show of the “Forever Young” tour, Kansas City- was quite
The stage was set with Dylan’s keyboard closer to stage center, than stage
right. The incense smell prompted the coming-on off the poet laureate
introduction, and with that came my own predictions of a Leopard-Skin-Pillbox
Hat and a Lay, Lady, Lay set list. I was wrong. Watching the River Flow began
an evening of 17 songs, including the addition of Jolene in the encore.
Without covering each song in full, I can say that Bob was frequently distinct
with his enunciation of each word, particularly when stage center at the
microphone. Bob was sharp with harp in hand, and limber with knees that clearly
It was a choice set list with the perfect combination of the Ballad of Hollis
Brown, the Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll and the more recent Workingman’s
The band looked stylish in their matching tan, while Bob sported black pants
with a white stripe up the pant leg, black boots, black hat, a silver bolo,
white shirt, and sparkling silver guitar strap.
The show ushers consistently kept after those attempting a camera flash, but by
Thunder on the Mountain, I think they gave way. It was at this point the ushers
left their stage guard and allowed the crowd to move against the stage railing.
I effortlessly managed my way to the front row center. It was part way through
Balled of a Thin Man that I got the attention of Bob’s squinty little eyes, and
Animated Bob + Keyboard Bob + Guitar Bob + Harp Bob + Good of Singer as Caruso
Bob + Unpredictable Bob = the perfect evening.
Watching The River Flow
Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
Ballad Of Hollis Brown
Cry A While
Workingman's Blues #2
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