Reviews

Vancouver, British Columbia

Rogers Arena

October 12, 2012


[Luigi B.], [Jerry Tenenbaum], [Jeff]

Review by Luigi B.



It is not easy to transfer emotions into words, not for common people, at
least. Bob can, but I doubt I will be able to convey what happened friday
night at Vancouver,s Rogers Arena. Let's give a try, anyway. I was in
sombre mood after viewing the setlists from the Prairies leg of the tour,
I understood Bob wasn't much into neither guitar playing nor live
rarities. I also had to forgo an all-family concert for my two very well
Dylan-read daughters, courtesy of the Vancouver-style inflated price for a
sidestage seat bought 6 weeks in advance. I heard of people buying
thousand-bucks packages for the reserved stalls. I do not belong to that
income bracket and so I parted with wife and children around 6 pm heading
for the Arena on an underground train. Daylight was fading away as rain
kept on pouring, I had a not-so-rainproof jacket and the Pacific Coast
damp was gnawing at my bones. When security at the entrance directed me to
joining a three-people queue under a leaking daisy, I just started to hope
that all this was to be compensated by His music. The crowd was a nice
cross section of city type, squinted on baby-boomers with attached spuoses
and occasional offspring, clearly in tow of Main Fan in Charge of
explanations, paying for expensive merchandise and booze (sorry about
that, but as Italian I am still at odds with anglo attitude towards
alcohol drinking). I was so excited that just went straight into the wrong
section and row, and started to loose myself into the conversations I
could overhear. Long gone concerts and emotions few free into the
cavernous ice venue. Then it was Mark Knopfler time to warm us up. I felt
even a little guilty to get bored after 30 mins of mostly faultless music,
but I was there for something else. And when the lights went off and
without a warning, He came out of the wings, cream coloured hat blazing in
the night, and the bluesy intro of Watchin' the river flow started, I knew
I was there for that something. Could he have done better than evoking To
ramona from 50 years ago? You never got what you want but what you
deserve, and refusal is not an option with Bob. So you put up with a
concert without Him playing guitar, without stratoclassics that few years
ago were main staple of his concert, and discover the True meaning of a 71
years old poet and entertainer, mostly sitting at a grand Piano when not
crooning wisdom sentences with a mike in his hand and a harmonica in the
pocket of his heavy dinner jacket. Was he mostly grinning or acting or
playing fancy chord through Times have changed, Tangled Up in Blue and
later High Water? Wasn't everything ringing truer than a all classic
concert? And they are not classic anyway? Maybe for this I bought a
Thunder on the Mountain t-shirt, before the concert... Anyway, highlights
apart, a concert to remind us of the sorrowful state of things ahead.
Still relevant today, for sure. 

Luigi B.

[TOP]

Review by Jerry Tenenbaum



The Roger's Centre is a vacuous hockey arena that serves hockey well  and
musical concerts less well.  In such a setting, we saw Mark  Knopfler and
band and Bob Dylan and Band last evening.  Both overcame  the sad lacking
of arena rock and the sound was acceptable.  Mark  Knopfler's delivery of
his recent catalog and particularly the  material from his superb album
"Privateering" was fine.  With a  wonderful backing band, the blues were
bluesy and the celtic Irish  material took you to another place.  The
Knopflerian guitar of course  was existential and made this performance
superb.  The same cannot be  said for Dylan and his band.  Overall, we
both felt the performance by  the Band was uneven.  If you are going to
see Dylan sing his songs,  forget it.  This is a recital of his lyrical
poetry sometimes growled  and sometimes spit out with venom.  It is a
different and evolving  rendering of material previously sung and has to
be interpreted in a  new way from the way we have heard Dylan before.  It
worked well for  most of the blues high tempo material (tonight
unfortunately not for  "Watchtower") such as "Watching The River Flow",
"Thunder on The  Mountain" and "Highway 61".  It worked less well for the
welcomed "To  Ramona" and "Love Sick" was a letdown (a beautiful song that
was  played by the band in what can only be described as 'dire' and 
atonal).  They missed the boat on that one totally.  Dylan was best 
centre stage with mike and mouth harp in either hand.  He was lively  and
animated, seemingly happy and alive, dancing and prancing as a  typical
'song and dance man' (recital though it was).  He seemed  involved and
committed.  The sound mix failed him at times tonight and  as noted, and
for the reasons given, sometimes the overall delivery  worked and other
times it fell short (not unusual of late for the  Dylan concerts I have
attended).  I was happy to hear 'Desolation Row'  and 'Tangled' but
disappointed by the arrangement of the latter and  the rendering of the
former.  'Thin Man' was superbly delivered.  The  Dylan instrument of
choice is the piano but the playing, when you  heard it through the mix,
was elementary but appropriate. We went  hoping to hear a song or two from
'Tempest', knowing that only one  song ('Scarlet Town') has ever been
played in the few concerts so far.  
  We were disappointed but not surprised.  Perhaps we'll get 'Duquesne 
Whistle" or some of the others in the future.  I'll see Dylan and 
Knopfler again in Toronto. I am a true fan and keep the faith as so  many
do, waiting for the gems to appear and they do.  Dylan is clearly  doing
what moves him and directs him at this moment, and recital rock  is what
it is.

[TOP]

Review by Jeff



First off - Dylanís piano is too high in the mix.  Dylanís piano playing -
which is commanding the musical focus - is sometimes a little wonky.
Desolation Row almost sputtered to death mid-song during a fumbling
rudimentary piano lead. Most of the lead breaks are piano. Like when he
started up with lead guitar, Dylan seems to be doing his learning (this
time on piano) on stage in front of paying customers. Charlie Sexton is
being underutilized, leading one to wonder why heís even up there.

That said, this was easily one of the best Dylan shows Iíve yet seen. He
was animated and engaged, his singing was really good, arrangements were
excellent, the music felt different from number to number, and there were
a few outstanding highlights. 

To Ramona was a great second song. Tangled Up In Blue had some new lyrics.
Cry A While had a very interesting new arrangement. Both High Water and
Love Sick were really really great, particularly the former. An extended
piano riff in the middle of Rolling Stone gave a whole new point of
interest to the old warhorse. I couldnít help but observe, as Dylan sat at
the piano, left leg askew, emphasizing lyrics with amusing hand gestures -
he has become the ďsong and dance manĒ he joked about all those years ago.

A small but steady stream of people walked out of the arena during Dylanís
set - as I suppose always happens. I imagine their conversation while
heading out the doors contrasted the Knopfler set - which was indeed
extremely tasteful and competent - with the sometimes apparently
ramshackle Dylan set, and to an extent they would be correct  in their
observations. But Knopfler is a predictable sort, and so there is no
challenge to the audience. Personally, I much prefer Dylan,  the rewards
are much greater if you are willing to go where he is going. Bob remains
open to his music, and heís working out some new things on this tour.

[TOP]

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