Ontario, California

Citizens Business Bank

August 19, 2010

[Bob Edwards], [Howard Mirowitz]

Review by Bob Edwards

In Ontario, I experienced a short, slow-moving at the beginning show. It was
enjoyable once it started cooking after Tangled. The first few songs were far
from groundbreaking performances, but most of the audience seemed to be excited
just being in the presence of the man who wrote such great songs as RDW, Love
Minus Zero and Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again. There was as
much audience participation in the Just Like A Woman sing along as I've ever
heard from a US-American crowd. Tangled was intensely performed with new (to me)
arrangement and most of the verses dropped. The arrangement and energy were
cool, the dropped lyrics were not. Things picked up with High Water and Love
Sick through Ballad Of A Thin Man which ended the main part of the show with
some strong vocals. I moved to the back and gave my seat to a friend for the
encore which was nothing special, but again really appreciated by most in the
audience. The crowd loved the whole show as far as I could tell. I talked to
three Dylan concert virgins who said they really liked it and wanted to see more
shows in the future. Not a lot here for the hardcore fan who wanted an unusual
setlist, but still a fun show for me. Guess I'm easily pleased. Where I was
standing (4th row, a few seats audience right of Zimmy) the sound was great.
Keyboard was high in the mix, and while he's no Jimmy Smith, Dylan sounded
better skilled than in the past. Very few total fuckups and for the most part he
provided interesting and complementary playing. He was smiling a lot, working
the crowd up front with broad Pavarotti-style arm gestures, especially when he
stepped out front with mic and harp. As to the opening acts, I think John
Mellencamp mainly appealed to people of a certain age who watched a lot of MTV
in the 80s. For them his classics were a nostalgia sound track and they really
liked it. People either really dug him and rocked it or sat bored through his
set. (I'm nervous writing "dug" after the above "dug" digs, dig?) The Doughboys
were interesting. Two very young men, dressed up Thirties-style, playing old
school guitar and singing country blues in a Howlin' Wolf/Tom Waits/ Johnny
Rotten hybrid voice. Love and Theft, indeed. I guess every generation some kids
get the blues revivalist bug. Nice to see. All in all, I'm glad I went to this

Bob Edwards
San Diego


Review by Howard Mirowitz

The arena, which I would estimate had a capacity of about 10-12,000, was
only about 85% full. There was an additional opening act, a Delta blues duet
called, I think, the Dough Rollers, who seemed to be trying to channel the
ghosts of Son House and Charley Patton, although they were both white and
young.  They played stuff like Stack-O-Lee and High Water Everywhere and
chain gang songs and so forth in a real growly raspy foot-kickin' emotive
performance that was kind of charming to watch. They couldn't have been more
than about 20-25 years old. 

I'm not very familiar with Mellencamp, but he got the crowd going a bit with
a mixture of new stuff from his album that he just released (produced by
T-Bone Burnett) and hits, where he had the audience singing along with the
choruses. He didn't play that little ditty 'bout Jack and Diane that used to
be his signature tune, though, which disappointed me. ("Do your early
stuff!") His band is very tight, with a very talented female violinist. 

Then Bob came on to a strangely mumbled Hamburg intro ("The poet laureate of
rock-n-roll," etc.). Rainy Day Women was the usual jumble of improvised
lyrics, Bob walking out from behind the keyboard at the end and strapping on
a guitar. Then he played a very nice version of Love Minus Zero, still on
guitar. He continued on guitar for Memphis Blues Again and then went back to
the Yamaha for Just Like A Woman, during which, following Mellencamp's
example, he stopped singing in the chorus so that the audience could chime
in with "just like a woman," the way he does in Europe. Rollin' and Tumblin'
was fiery, with Charlie cutting loose on a couple of great solos while Bob
growled just like the Dough Rollers. Then Bob walked out again from behind
the Yamaha to center stage with his harp and sang a very odd version of
Tangled in which he went straight from breaking up on the docks that night
to Montague Street, leaving out all the verses in the middle, and then to
the last verse. High Water was interesting to compare to the Dough Rollers
version of the Charley Patton original. Love Sick was well presented, if far
more strident than the Victoria's Secret commercial :-).  Highway 61 started
out rockin', until Bob tried to do a call-and-response organ-guitar duet
with Charlie, but it didn't jell, and the song kind of lost its way. Bob did
a workmanlike job on Workingman's Blues #2; then, on Thunder On The
Mountain, he again attempted an organ-guitar duet with Charlie. This one
worked a little better, although Charlie didn't quite get fully into the
spirit of it. And on Ballad Of A Thin Man Bob again came out from behind the
keys to center stage. His harp leads throughout the night were all
cross-harp, and they were all very simple, almost primitive. After the
obligatory break, Bob wrapped it up with Like A Rolling Stone and All Along
The Watchtower and it was over. 

The contrast between Mellencamp and Bob couldn't have been more instructive.
Mellencamp interacts with the audience, bobbing and weaving and shaking his
fist and holding out the mike at them to encourage them to sing along with
the choruses, telling stories, even bringing his son on stage to play the
last song of his main set. And the audience responds. But his actual
material just doesn't hold a candle to Bob's oeuvre. His new tune off his
album with T-Bone was so simplistic, so -- almost -- naive. It had a kind of
Cat Stevens meets Up With People feeling to it, with just a tinge of Old
Wierd America to make it seem "authentic." Bob, on the other hand, was
interesting to compare to those two young guys who opened. The fact that
they chose to play Charley Patton's High Water Everywhere, and then Bob
played his High Water, got me wondering whether Bob played it because they
played it, or whether they played it because they saw Bob's set list first,
or ... ? 

Charlie has definitely made a difference in the sound of the band. But oddly
he seemed to be a bit out of sync with Bob during this particular
performance. Bob's voice is still the same, as far as I'm concerned, but he
seems more focused and energetic in his phrasing with Charlie around, and
that has the effect of raising the level of the performance. All in all, it
was a much better show than the last time I saw Bob live, which was at the
Santa Monica Civic Center Auditorium in 2008.


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