October 12, 2007
Review by Don Handy
Well, it's a fine, crisp fall night for yet another round of Bobball,
where we have a ball seeing Bob. Tonight's game is in a small arena,
seating around 5 to 7 thousand. In his autobiography, Chronicles, Vol. 1,
Dylan relates how he once told his manager back in 1989 that he wanted to
play the same halls that he had played at the year before. This is the
third time that he's played in this area within the past year, and two out
of the three places that he's played he's never played before. The other
one he'd only played once before. "He not busy being born" and all; it
seems as though he likes discovering new places, while at the same time
generating familiarity with a general area, like the best of both worlds.
We've never even heard of this facility before, but it's kinda cozy, for
Right you are. I would say that the first half was a low-scoring affair,
but that would indicate that there was some scoring involved.
Yes, Amos Lee has great influences, which he wears on his sleeve - soul,
Van Morrison, etc. - and he has a fine voice, but he doesn't do anything
new with his talent. It all seems derivative and he fails to make any of
it his own.
Well, it was a rather interesting half-time show. We're used to seeing a
marching band, yet the on-field talent was just one person.
Yes, I remember back when I used to go to see games just to see him.
Haven't seen him in 16 years, due to the albums seeming tiresome, and I
thought I could detect a Billy Joel-ness about him. Tonight he reminded us
that he is a strong performer who knows how to put a song over, relying
basically on his voice. At times he reminded me of Randy Newman, and other
songs sounded like contemporary folk standards. Well done.
Now we're about to start the second half. What's that scent? Are people
No, it's incense, coming from the field of play. That stuff does seem
Okay, here's the kick-off. The ball comes to Dylan and he fumbles it! He
jumps on it and recovers it, but there's no return. We were hoping that
he'd grab the bull by the horns and play "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,"
which we've never seen him do before and which he has been opening shows
with recently. However, he decided to open with the exact same song he
played in this area roughly three months before, "Rainy Day Women #'s 12 &
35." It's a fine version, but it's not one of our favorite songs to begin
with. In fact, for some time it was my personal least-favorite Bob Dylan
What happened to change that?
He released "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum."
Oh, right. Anyway, first play of the second half and Bob takes the ball,
he drops back deep in the pocket, and throws it into the stands for a
Simply amazing. You might say that he's done it before, and that other
people have done it as well, but it still never ceases to amaze me. What
this indicates is that we're here, we're alive and receptive, and this is
a celebration not just of one person, not just of a body of represented
work and/or art, but of life itself. It's like what the Neil Cassidy
character in On The Road states: "We know time." This is our time, and
we're going to make the most of it.
At any rate, it was a splendid rendition of "Don't Think Twice, It's All
Oddly enough, the teams haven't changed sides. In fact, I'm not sure that
there's any defense at all out there. Dylan keeps throwing balls into the
stands and the scoreboard keeps adding points every time.
Yes, that was a fine "Watching The River Flow." I got the sense during it
that Bob's deconstructing his songs, and that you need to have the
fluidity and intelligence to really appreciate what exactly it is that
he's doing in these songs tonight.
The third pass is an absolute stunning rendition of "Love Sick." Bob
really seems to have found the passion in this song tonight, as well as
the means to express it. The last time we saw this song performed was when
Jack White did a genius version of it at the Masonic Temple in Detroit,
making it his own. Bob definitely reclaimed the song tonight.
Right. I don't think even Paul Williams would look down his nose at an
audience tape of this one. Which brings to mind the question of why Bob
doesn't allow his audience members to purchase a copy of the night's show
immediately following the performance, as the Pixies did. People are going
to tape them and share them, you'd think he would want to get a cut of the
action. Failing that, you'd think that he'd want to allow the
audience-recording aficionados to have a high-quality copy of the show.
The next one that he throws into the audience was also tossed-out during
his last performance in this area three months ago, but we don't mind. In
fact, we were hoping that he'd do it again, as it's such a fine groove.
Yes, "The Levee's Gonna Break," and it does seem as if it has broken, with
a torrent of music springing forth. Every so often Bob surprises you by
giving a stellar performance when you didn't really expect one. The ones
we've witnessed that would fall into this category would include the time
he played the Fox Theater in Detroit in '91, the Palace of Auburn Hills
show in November of '97 and, especially, the St. Patricks Day show at the
State Theater in Detroit in 2004. This is becoming one of the best shows
that we've ever seen him give.
The next touchdown is a touching rendition of "When The Deal Goes Down."
It's a bit of a bittersweet moment, as it appears that he's not going to
do "Workingman's Blues #2." However, this show is so fine that it really
doesn't matter at this point.
"Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" is kinda a lull in
tonight's performance. Last fall it was one of the highlights at the
Palace of Auburn Hills, and even though tonight's rendition is on a par
with that level, it seems like treading water during tonight's game.
I think he heard you exclaim "Yes!" at the start of the next song.
Well, I couldn't help it. "Workingman's Blues #2" is, far and away, my
favorite song off of Modern Times. It was such a relief and a joy to hear
the opening notes.
And what a wonderful version it is. Someone e-mailed a link to us of his
performance of it on YouTube, done at the beginning of this tour down in
Texas. But the vocals on that pale in comparison. Bob is actually singing
some of these lines tonight! He's been in fine voice throughout the night,
I don't think he's garbled one word, but this is spectacular. The audience
applauds after every verse.
As if that weren't enough, the rendition of the next song, "Honest With
Me," is like molten lava! The team has grabbed hold of this one and is
exploring every nook and cranny in the melody. This was never one of my
favorite songs off of Love & Theft, but if it had been recorded like this
than it would have been!
Yet another song off of Modern Times, "Spirit On The Water." This is the
show he should have done when he first toured with that album! This
certainly isn't just a greatest-hits show, in support of his latest,
Even "Highway 61" sounds good tonight. "Nettie Moore" follows and, like
"Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" before it, it was a
highlight when he did it last fall, but is just a sweet interlude tonight.
"Summer Days" has the raucous fire that was always inherent within, but
never fully realised by us before tonight. By now the score is so
lop-sided that it's ridiculous; I think the score-keeper has just been
letting the numbers roll along continuously. But the team definitely went
for a two-point conversion with the last song of the set. "Masters of War"
has an excellent restructuring. The last time we heard it was as a
heavy-metal denunciation, which was quite effective. This version allows
the vocals to be more personal, more heart-felt.
During the two-minute warning we yell and scream our heads off, even
though it's inevitable they'll take the field soon enough. And it
plays-out as expected, "Thunder on the Mountain" followed by "All Along
The Watchtower," but there's life breathed-into them tonight, and we want
this moment in time to go on as long as possible. But the next minute must
lead us to another day eventually, and as we can see the sweat dripping
onto Bob's keyboards we know that he's tackled enough tonight. After the
lights go on and we're filing out even the people in the balcony are still
screaming with joy, and all we hear murmured from our fellow
time-capsule/time-travellers are expressions of gratitude.
'Till next time...
Review by Chris Oxie
Once again, I had the honor and privledge to spend the evening with the
local Dylan expert and legend in his own right, Dr. Robert Schuler. Due
to some time constraints, we did not have much time before the show to
"hang about" but we were able to see some old friends on the way in. Dr.
Schuler was accompanied by trusted assistant William Kost.
Let me start off by saying that the Convocation Center may be the worst
place I have ever been to see a show before. The child size seats were no
match for even an average size man and the tightness in which the seats
are packed next to one another allowed for even the casual observer to
know what religion the person next to them was. If anyone other than your
own band ever plays here, due yourself a favor and skip the show. The
mostly geriatric audience was not amused either.
Amos Lee, who bored the Detroit crowd to tears two years ago, cut his
curls off and learned how to rock and roll. This was a totally different
person than the one who came through the Masonic Temple in the spring of
Elvis Costello came out totally alone with a couple of acoustic guitars
and played for about 45 mins. During the set, Elvis shared some funny
stories about his life (funny to him I guess) and begged for applause
after almost every number. The highlight of his set was when he sang "the
girls from Ypsilanti never seem to wear their panties" during what he
called an election song. Thankfully, not soon after this song, Elvis left
During the break, some jackass behind us got into a scuffle with the local
police. They gave him a talking to and then proceeded to back down and
left the guy alone. The lights went out and the usual "American Fare" was
replaced by something that one might find in an action movie. The usual
introduction was followed by:
1. Rainy Day Women 12&35 - This was the opener I had expected in the
college town. The song was slow and Dylan was trying to get the frogs in
his throat out. Not the response I was hoping for from the crowd, but
2. Don't Think Twice - Two classics in a row. I was beginning to think
that maybe we would have another Nashville on our hands tonight. The song
was played well and Dylan was trying to speak clearly but did not get it
out very well. Big round of applause after this one.
3. Watching the River Flow - This song is almost as bad as "Tweedle Dum".
There was nothing new about it and several people around me began to say
"god these seats are terrible".
4. Love Sick - Hopes were still high at this point as Dylan pulled off a
gem. Well lit with white and red lights, this song had a high class
brothel feel to it. Dylan was clear as a bell and Donnie got his first
chance to show why he is in the number 1 position.
5. The Levee's Gonna Break - The wheels began to come off at this point
as the first of 5 Modern Times songs made their appearance. This song was
a bit more up tempo than in the past and some of the folks at the back of
the floor were dancing but mostly just a lot of "I don't know this one"
going on around us.
6. When The Deal Goes Down - All hope was lost by this point as the
writing was on the wall that this was going to be one low point show.
Dylan reverted to singing this entire song 3 words at a time. The lines
to the bathroom were steady for the next 30 mins.
7. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again - If I would have
had a sharp stick to jam into my neck, I would have done so at this point.
This rather long song was another showcase for Donnie to tear it up.
While no one on stage smiled much, Tony and George were laughing about
something and the song was upbeat and bright.
8. Workingman's Blues #2 - I had not heard this live before and that fact
was the only reason I did not fall completely asleep. Several people on
the floor in front of me cried out "do you know how much I paid for these
seats?!" Clearly, people were tired and getting cranky by the set list.
Things were not going to get better soon.
9. Honest With Me - Nothing new with this one that has not been said
10. Spirit On The Water - Most of the crowd was in daze by this point.
With a rocking previous song, this could have been the knockout punch and
saved the entire evening, but all it really did was send people walking up
the stairs to a drink.
11. Highway 61 Revisited - See number 9.
12. Nettie Moore - People really seem to like this song and while it was
played very well, no one seemed to embrace it. Again, ti was an emotional
let down after "61" and I noticed more and more people making their way
out. For the first time, I wrote down what I thought was next and was
exactly right. 13. Summer Days - Enough already. 14. Masters Of War -
Hear was something people rallied around. Maybe it was because Elvis
Costello had made several references to the "evil Bush" and the need to
get the troops out of Iraq that brought people together for this one.
Dylan was difficult to understand but it got a big hand at the end. The
band walled off into the darkness and for the first time, I actually
thought about walking out to beat the traffic but I stayed in the hope of
hearing Blowin in the Wind or perhaps something other than Thunder on the
Mountain. Being so close to Detroit, you never can tell who will who show
up. But.... 15. Thunder on the Mountain - The highlight of the show was
when the "one eyed hairy king" logo dropped down behind the band. Dylan
was a bit behind in the words and was trying to catch up for the entire
song. 16. All Along the Watchtower - Realizing that the evening was a
total loss, all I could hope for at this point was some humorous comment
from Dylan about Ypsilanti or the band, anything really. The song grew
louder and louder towards the end and after blowing kisses to the crowd
during the line up, the stage was dark for a solid 5 minutes. There was a
feeling in the air that Dylan might come back out and ..........house
lights. All in all, I would say that this was the worst Dylan performance
I have ever seen. The run of the mill set list, the terrible venue, the
nightmare parking lot, and the overall sense that we had somehow been
cheated followed us all the way home. Even though we are all grateful
that Dylan is still out there after 5 decades, it is getting harder and
harder to be at these generic shows when we all know that a few strokes of
a pen to the set list could change everything.
Review by Ron Brown
Going to see Bob Dylan in concert these days is a lot like rolling dice.
Sometimes your numbers come up, and sometimes you crap out.
There was a little of both when Dylan and his Never-Ending Tour made
a stop Friday, October 12 at Eastern Michigan's Convocation Center in
It was a typical Dylan crowd - old hippies with gray ponytails trying to
hold on to what is left of their youth; college kids looking for a glimpse
at a living legend, businessmen who look like they swapped their Hugo
Boss suit for an Izod polo in the office closet before setting out for the
When the maestro wants to - or is able to - he can effectively gain the
attention of the crowd after the opening few notes and keep it the
rest of the evening. The evening in Yspilanti started out right as Dylan
and his current band, led by superb guitarist Denny Freeman, gave the
mostly-full arena a swinging version of "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35,"
more affectionately known as the "everybody must get stoned" song.
But after the second tune, a solid rendering of "Don't Think Twice,
It's All Right," Dylan apparently made up his mind that his "singing" for
the rest of the evening would be limited for the most part to grunts
For those who are familiar with his most recent work, both live and in
the studio, this certainly comes as no surprise. And sometimes on that
fateful Friday, it worked, especially with some of the six songs Dylan
played from his most recent CD, Modern Times. Most notable was
"When the Deal Goes Down," featuring a sublime steel guitar from
Donnie Herron, and the rocking first encore, "Thunder on the
And when he spit out the line I hope that you die from the epic and
(unfortunately) still-relevant "Masters of War," you could feel the souls
of warmongers shaking from here to Fallujah, proving with this and the
aforementioned songs that Dylan can still bring the noise when he is
But old favorites like "Watching the River Flow," a painful "Stuck Inside
of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again," and a personal favorite from
Love and Theft, "Honest with Me," never came close to getting off
the ground, and illustrate why attending a Dylan show is often a labor
of love even for the most diehard fans, and you get your heart broken
just as often as you are able to recall why you fell in love in the first
If it wasn't for the band - Freeman, Herron, drummer George Recile,
bassist Tony Garnier, and guitarist Stu Kimball, it could've been an
entirely wasted evening. The current backing lineup has had its share
of ups and downs since joining up with Dylan a couple years ago, but
they were in fine form this night. It's too bad Bob himself couldn't
get a little more inspired by the effort put forth by his cronies.
Yes, it's a blessing that at his advanced age, we are able to still
witness one of the last icons of pop culture still with us. Marlon Brando,
John Lennon, James Brown, and others have either burned out or
faded away, but Dylan will have performed approximately 100 shows
this year by the end of his current schedule.
He does and always will deserve credit for changing arrangements,
even changing lyrics to many of his old standards to challenge himself
and the audience, and his most recent studio recordings show there's
a fire still burning - somewhere.
All was not lost, however. Amos Lee, a young singer/songwriter who is
a veteran of many Dylan shows, opened the evening with a sound
reminiscent of another blast from the past, The Band. His tight and
crisp 30-minute set was followed by an acoustic turn by Elvis Costello,
an obvious crowd favorite who combined energy, a sense of humor,
and a few well-known hits to make a distinct impression.
But one wonders if Dylan is physically able to perform, willing to do at
least some work, or that he is finally getting to the point where his
heart isn't in it anymore. It also forces one to wonder about spending
their hard-earned cash the next time the Never-Ending Tour makes
its way into Michigan.
Review by Don Ely
Friday was indeed a rockin' night at the Convocation Center, a night of
fire, fun, and frolic both on the stage and off. For me it was a return to
the tour since catching the incandescant Nashville first night, and a pair
of " average " Bobshows in Duluth, Georgia and Clemson, South Carolina. I
abstained from filing reviews of any of those 'cause by the time I
returned home to the Motor City it was just too dang late. Also, the three
correspondents who covered Nashville captured the essence perfectly, and I
wasn't gonna be the johnny - come - lately who'd mess with that. Still,
the urge to throw in my nickel I can't resist, so I offer a brief synopsis
before returning to the Ypsi matter at hand.
The chance to see Bob Dylan at Ryman Auditorium was not to be missed. The
heavenly sound of the Mother Church of Country Music bolstered by the
spirits of all those performers to have graced her stage, and all those
audiences who've cheered from her pews combined to create a truly special
aura. Amos Lee and his band played an enjoyable warmup, and he obviously
has grown as a performer since the Bob & Hag tour of Spring '05. Elvis
Costello was a bit of a surprise entry, as he wasn't announced as being on
the Ryman bill. His voice reverberated through the small hall with the
fervor of a Pentecost. I'd taken the tour of Ryman earlier in the day and
watched Bob's crew set up the equipment. " Say ", I said to the tour
manager, " didn't you used to be Albert Grossman? " " No ", he said to me,
" I'm Libby ". That night Bob took that stage with a mixture of reverence
and the guts to say, " hey, I'M one of the best, I BELONG up here
alongside Uncle Dave Macon and De Ford Bailey and Patsy Cline and all
those others! " We got only three guitar numbers, but then we got " You're
A Big Girl Now ". And when that Famous Nashvillean Jack White appeared out
of a candy - stripe haze to present the WORLD PREMIERE of a song lost
since 1975.....it was all just too much!! JW shredded the Hell out of "
Meet Me In The Morning ", squeezing ev'ry last lemon drop, the juice
runnin' down his leg, distilling a GREAT Country Blues from what is
essentially a great country blues. Bob passed the torch and it was thrown
down in showers of sparks. The Man smiled, glimmered, " that's my boy! ",
and The Band Played On.
After the thrill of Nashville, Duluth and Clemson were more of a letdown.
Bob's voice was very rough at Duluth, and the highlight of the night for
me was the finest " Rollin' And Tumblin' " I've yet seen. Still, the young
couple from Florida who were staying at my hotel raved about the show,
with the gal being particularly enamored of " Masters Of War ". So it's
all about perspective. Clemson I arrived to late, very late; the seventh
number, " John Brown " was being played as I sat down. I'd spent the
afternoon in Athens, GA, however, and then tooled on down to Thomson to
look up Blind Willie McTell resting outside the Jones Grove Missionary
Baptist Church, and I wouldn't have changed that. Driving in the wrong
direction from Anderson, SC to Clemson cost me half an hour, so that's
where I really lost time.
So now the tour has wound it's way to my neck o' the woods. Friday was my
first visit to the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center, and it
was a happy one. My buddy and partner - in - Dylan Dan Teo and I arrived
too late for Amos, and we caught Elvis' set from the concourse. It
disappoints me that El is playing primarily the same sets, with a couple
numbers dropped in and out here and there. I've been buying Costello's
records since 1979 and seeing him live since 1982 and am still a big fan,
but these solo gigs do get a little tedious. It's not as though he has to
rehearse a band, and his catalog is so deep that you'd think he could
choose at least a few songs right then and there. So me 'n' Dan just had
fun upstairs till it was time to head downstairs where the real fun would
" Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35 ", never one of my favorites in the past,
makes a great opener. Bob and the band sparkled right out the gate and
didn't let up. Note to Jennifer Juniper of London, Ontario: we WERE the
coolest people there! We might have been a little too noisy for the folks
around us, but it was that kinda night! No time for sittin', only time for
dancin'! She fancied " Love Sick ", and I went for " The Levee's Gonna
Break ", while the entire house loved " Workingman's Blues # 2 ", which
hits home like a cruise missile in Michigan's ravaged economy. They were
oddly quiet during the audience participation portion of " Spirit On The
Water ", though. Go figure. Bob's vocals were perfect throughout the show
and despite an " average " setlist the band were engaged and spot on.
Denny Freeman, though not a guitar wunderkind by any means, provides solid
fretwork now that he's been taken off the leash. " Nettie Moore "
continues to inspire quiet reflection, and " Masters Of War " continues to
be right at home in these Modern Times.
This was a night of revelry at EMU, and a damn fine evening of music. No "
Ain't Talkin' " just yet, but opportunities will present themselves at
Columbus, Dayton, and Louisville in the days to come. Even though I've
been skipping multiple sets by Amos Lee and Elvis Costello, if you haven't
seen either, or are only going to one show, be sure to be in town early!
Comments by Tom Lallier
I thought I should thank some people tonight.
First. Thank you Bob truly a superb effort, really liked Nettie Moore;
Thank you Denny, the solo on Spirit was a work of art;
Thank you Tony for the solo on summer nights;
A special thanks to the Eastern Michigan concert staff who put the rows of
seats so close together you had to literally crawl over the people in your
row at the breaks to get a beer, next time go GA;
A huge thanks to a crowd so asleep at the wheel it was impossible to
tell if they were breathing;
A warm and friendly thanks to the guys in row 8 stage right for swearing
at my wife for the audacity of actually standing and dancing during a rock
and roll show;
Finally, a big thanks again to Bob for recognizing it and playing a
dirge at number 14.
Enjoyed the show but don't know if I would go back to Ypsilanti to watch a
rock show, certainly hope Columbus has a pulse.
Review by Tim McAllister
It was a gas seeing Costello for the first time, especially so up close
and solid. My wife even liked him, and she normally hates his music, based
on his tendency to mate with women who are substantially younger than he
is, and his tendency to switch wives every so often. He managed to play a
pretty good mix of very old and very new stuff, but I wish he'd been able
to play at least twice as long. And I'd rather have seen him with his
band, but alas. All in all, he is a funny little man, and I like him very
much. Also, his cranium is much larger than I ever imagined. I believe
that's called A Big Fat Irish Head. I too possess one of these.
This was my seventh Dylan concert. Mr. Dylan was hit and miss. When he
first came out he looked bored and pissed, and he played the first song
bored and pissed. He perked up for Don't Think Twice, but Watching The
River Flow was a mess. Love Sick was excellent, and he always likes
playing new songs, so the next one was good too. He didn't seem to be into
Stuck Inside Of Mobile very much, but it came off all right I guess. After
that, he was fine the rest of the show. Masters Of War is the single
greatest Bob Dylan performance I have ever witnessed. The orange lights,
the smoke billowing across the stage, it was almost like a mini war right
there. I could almost see him rerecording that song and putting out a
single and a video, and taking the world over again. So intense and
venomous. Anyway, the encore was fun, then Bob Dylan went away.
This happens to me at every Dylan concert. At some point during the
show, it hit me that Holy Shit, That's Bob Dylan Standing RIGHT THERE
Singing Songs! It never ceases to amaze me.
Review by Mark & Kathy Green
After the negative comments we read about this show, we felt compelled
to write in. We have seen eleven shows in the past ten years and this
was by and far the best! Bob sounded great, the band was tight, and Bob
was more animated than we recall him being at any of his prior shows.
Perhaps being in the first row we were able to have a different
perspective and see things not seen by those in the back.
MAY BOB ROCK ON FOREVER!!!!
Mark and Kathy Green
Mt. Clemens, Michigan
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