Phoenix, Arizona

Comerica Theatre

October 4, 2018

[Jesse Anderson]

Review by Jesse Anderson

It was my first Dylan show in over sixteen years, so quite an exciting time for 
me! Iíll just start by saying a lot has changed in those 16 years in terms of 
how people attend concerts, mainly due to the ubiquity of cell phones. The 
intense and militant push by security to have everyone turn their phones off 
before the show was something Iíd never seen before (anywhere), but 
when the show began the effect was stunning. The lighting and lack of 
screens lit up everywhere gave the show a feeling of almost a parallel 
existence. But I digress.

What was remarkable to me about the show was how focused Bob was on 
the words and how up front his voice was. His choice of songs really made 
me think a lot about his themes of power, love, hard times and betrayals. I 
wouldnít be so foolish as to guess his motives in song choices, but I have no 
doubt he chooses them to leave a strong effect on the listener. Iíd also like 
to applaud the sound crew (and would love to know the mic and effect 
chain on his vocals) which put his voice so front and center. The only times 
I had trouble making out what he was saying was when he would sit down 
at the piano and get a little further away from his mic.

Iím ashamed to say, partially because of the length of time since Iíd seen 
him, that I didnít realize that Stu was ďmissingĒ. I did note that there was a 
sparser sound than Iíd heard on recent tapes and some gaps in rhythm 
between drums / bass and lead guitar / piano. I felt like George really kept 
things together. There were also a few spots where I noticed that Charlie 
hadnít yet figured out what to do on guitar. In my opinion (and you can 
listen to the recording) this is most evident on the beginning of Love Sick
 - he plays the chords a bit arpeggiated and the pulse is not really there. 
You can hear his approach change as the song goes on. Iíll also note that
there were three vocal mics set up in a row front and center. I donít know 
if this has been the ďstandardĒ stage plot but on WMB #2 (the first number 
Bob did off piano) he walked to the front mic and started, then decided to 
go back and stand by Charlie and Tony on another mic. You can hear on 
the recording that the sound folks didnít have the correct mic turned on in 
this jumble for a couple of lines. To sum up though, I will say I did like all the 
space in the music, disregarding the few stumbles.

In terms of performances I thought Masterpiece and LARS stood out, as 
well as a few others - Honest With Me, Gotta Serve Somebody as well. I 
llove WMB #2 but sadly admit I prefer the 2014 version a bit more. I know 
(and appreciate) that Bob changes the melody of most of his songs but felt 
in some place like there wasnít really much melody there. Highwater 
especially just sounded weird (made more sense when I realized a couple 
days later that he was singing it to the recent arrangement of TUIB!). 

Overall, I thought the concert was tremendous. The dedication to getting 
the lyrics across was probably the best Iíve ever seen live by anyone. A 
great show!


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