Review by Mary Clare Kersten
I'll remember this show for a long time because, despite the seating on
the floor, just about everyone stood for the entire show. We were seated
in the 31st row, and being a "stander", I was dreading the end of the
opener, Maggie's Farm, because I thought I would be shamed into sitting
down. But no one--no one!--sat down. Some people started sitting down
when Bob sang "When The Deal Goes Down", eight songs into the set. Then
most got back up on their feet. Good for the fans! Great for Dylan!
This was the first show I've been to where Bob was positioned more to the
right side of the stage and was facing left, facing Denny Freeman, Tony
Garnier and George Recile, with Stu Kiimball to the right of Dylan and
behind his back, and Donnie Herron looking down onto Dylan's piano. We
were to the right of stage center, but we still had an excellent view of
Dylan's face with all his wonderful expressions.
Being a huge admirer of Dylan, I thought he and the band performed every
song extremely well. The audience loved it. Good energy to the entire
performance. All of Dylan's bands have seemed really good to me. This
one seems characterized by its ability to function as a true band. In
other words, this band doesn't seem to showcase one player. One "voice"
rarely dominates. I was very aware of Donnie Herron's fiddle playing on
"It's All Right Ma"--but only that one time and I liked it a lot. The
band is excellent. I went onto Denny Freeman's website when I got home
and thought how I'd like to buy his cd's.
"Thunder on the Mountain" opened the encore--and that was really great. I
managed to get down front and got to watch Tony Garnier's concentrated
smile on that one. Bob didn't seem to connect tightly with our crowd,
despite our enthusiasm. But he certainly connected with his music, moving
and grooving behind his piano.
There were lots of people from my home town--Bainbridge Island--sitting
down on the floor. After the show they caught the ferry that we just
missed. I understand they tried to go to our local pub when they got
back, but Bainbridge closes up early. So they ended up in one friend's
house. They just couldn't let go of the energy--we all know that feeling.
We love you, Bob!
Review by Tim Whittome
It is not easy to write that even two days after Friday's show at the Key
Arena in Seattle, I still feel quite depressed - to the point, where if
Bob comes around again, I might at least think twice before going or not.
Being the huge fan that I am, though, I don't think this mood will last
too long. I hope not at any rate.
It's not that Dylan didn't sing well, but the band were way too loud and
had zero subtlety. The Kings of Leon who were the supporting act were
cranked up way loud ( I didn't bother sitting in on them) and no one
thought to turn the volume down for Bob with the result that he was
difficult to hear and shame on me for applauding so loudly when he started
Just Like A Woman because for the split second there I thought he was
starting Visions of Johanna which of course he didn't go on to play. I
write this by way of illustrating how badly distorted the sound was all
Maggies Farm was wonderful - oddly, one of the best versions I have heard
in recent years and It's Alright Ma was great as it always is, but nearly
everything else has seen better days - when the ubiquitous Summer Days
ended, people were already walking out which was a pity as they would have
heard the first life Thunder On the Mountain. if they had hung around.
Which brings me to my main point - Dylan played a miserly three songs from
Modern Times (doesn't he like his new album? - Modern Times is shaping up
so far to be the least or worst promoted new album since Knocked Out
Loaded was ignored in 1986 when nothing got promoted). Part of the
problem is that this latest tour on the evidence of the Seattle show is
proceeding with essentially a Love and Theft sound from his band which
doesn't work with the new songs. Modern Times is a more nuanced and
subtle work and despite the current band playing with Bob on it, none of
the three songs he played had any of the nuance and subtlety of the album
versions because the Love and Theft sound is all wrong to back the new
songs with. He needs to add more violinists and a much softer sound to do
justice to most of the new material. The existing sound that he has
played with for so long now, just doesn't work so well with these Modern
Thunder on the Mountain was a pale shadow of its recorded cousin and When
the Deal Goes Down and Workingman's Blues were not much better. Their
placing so deep in the set, at positions 8 and 12 suggests that Bob either
hasn't rehearsed the new material, he is uncertain about it, or, worse,
doesn't like it. I can't believe he is still using Summer Days and the
same old encores. A performer of his stature and longevity knows well by
now how to place new material in the set - think back to 2001 when Love
and Theft songs punched their way into the set list, or the late 1997
shows when Time out of Mind got promoted with an urgency sadly lacking
with Modern Times. Even further back, what about how the Oh Mercy songs
worked their way into the set lists at the Beacon Theater in New York
City? What Good Am I was not only the second song of the night but the
sound got reworked on the older material to accommodate the new material
throughout the rest of the sets. At Seattle's show, Modern Times got
jerked into the set almost as an afterthought as if Bob realized all of
the a sudden that he had a new album to play with, but then again, it has
been five years, but to close with Summer Days which we have all heard a
zillion times by now and which most of us are sick of filled me with the
most despair of the whole night. Thunder on the Mountain would have
fitted in well at this spot and had we got Ain't Talkin which we did not
(sorry reviewer from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) as the first of the
encores, the show would probably have redeemed itself somewhat.
So all in all, very depressing but I do think that down the road, Dylan
will get better and will wake up to this strange new reality we have of
our hero having a number one album again and the joy of seeing him at such
a dazzling peak of creativity.. I guess, like the Swedes who get
depressed at always being at the opening of European tours, I am griping
that Seattle is first off with the new tour, very much at the rehearsal
stage of live performances of the new album. By the time, he gets to New
York and Philly, he will have probably played everything from the new
album, but if he carries on as he is doing now, he won't. There are signs
though from the Portland set list that he is waking up - they got four new
songs, but this doesn't make me feel any better that we got a miserly
three songs, and had Vancouver been my only stint, I would be incensed
right now at only getting a paltry two songs!
Review by Dr. F. Alias
A magnificent show. The band was in fine form and rocking the place
from the get go. Maggie seemed to have aged three years. Positively 4th
Street featured beautiful lyrical guitar a la Garcia. Just Like A Woman
was bookended by gorgeous instrumental pedal steel music. In Hard Rain his
voice cracked just enough in "I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of
young children" to cut deep and send new chills all over.
I thought the crowd loved the performance. There werent many but they were
all raucously respectful. After much cheering we got an encore. And the
band kicked off Thunder On The Mountain with the awesome energy
befitting a new show. Does he always sing the first verse again at the end
of All Along the WatchTower?
Note: I have not seen Bob in a while. My first non-guitar show. The
lighting was gorgeous throughout. From metallic purple hues to
countryside yellow. He and the band struck a fine pose before exiting
stage. Getting in sync to bow but only there is no bow. Bob preserves all
great american performance traditions.
Review by Bernie Wilson
My wife Donna and our son Sam drove down from Kelowna B.C. for the show at
Key Arena in Seattle. It was a long drive and well worth it. The opening
act Kings of Leon were neither here nor there. They cranked out their post
' Strokes' sound tightly and loudly and then they were gone. They wouldn't
have been my choice as an opening act for this tour, but we didn't drive
that far to see them anyway, so what does it matter?
Bob's set had kind of a fresh look from the last time we saw him. More of
a no nonsense look. Not as opulent. Not as warm, but straight to business.
His band, i guess we can't call them his touring band anymore, looked and
sounded like high end professionals. They were all dressed in grey suits
and most wore a hat. Donnie not included. Bob was in black and looked like
Zoro showing his piano teacher what a riverboat gambler would look like
playing pinball under the bright lights.
I'm not going to bore you with a song by song detailing. I will say
that there were many highlights. The lowest point and i don't think
that it even deserves that assessment would have been Positively 4th
Street. Lonesome Day Blues had a very raw and aggressive blues thing going
on. It's Alright Ma was punched out with it's usual adrenaline. You've
seen the set list and i will say that nearly everything was played with an
absolutely satisfying delivery. I should mention however, that 'When The
Deal Goes Down' was played there was a feeling of magic in the arena. A
feeling of mutual consent that we were all very privileged to have yet
another new Bob Dylan album to enjoy.
In summation. the venue was pretty good for it's size and i though the
sound was good. The musicians were solid gold and played as though there
wasn't a chance in hell they would ever let their band leader down. Bob
sang with the enthusiasm of a man whose entire career lay in front of him.
He pumped out his amazing music like thunder. Oh yeah, i guess i should
mention that we were the first people on the planet ever to hear a live
version of "Thunder on the Mountain". In closing, I'm choosing Thunder on
the Mountain as the highlight of my night. Nice work Bob.
Review by Paul Zickler
Bob returned to the Key Arena, not the most acoustically pleasing
concert venue, but judging by the size of the crowd and the
overwhelmingly positive response, a pretty good choice for this
tour. The vibe was exciting, with lots of young fans and folks who
obviously hadn't been to see Bob for a long time, if ever. He came out
looking great and moving beautifully -- I've never seen him dance so
much, and he pointed at the audience numerous times. He's got such an
easy command of this current band, and they're really tight compared to
when I saw them a year ago.
If there was a theme tonight, it seemed to be old favorites, maybe
even songs we don't expect Bob to dig up all that often. She Belongs to
Me was lovely, as was Just Like a Woman. Positively 4th Street was a
nice surprise to me, and both It's Alright and Highway 61 were absolutely
smoking. The crowd definitely ate up the rockers and the bluesy numbers
much more than the ballads, particularly It's Alright Ma and Highway 61,
both of which were smoking. Unfortunately there were some moments of
upsinging on 4th Street, as well as Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall. I was
excited to hear the opening chords of that particular song, but I thought
this version of it fell kind of flat. The only highlight was when the
band played through the verse twice under Bob's harp solo at the end --
very quiet the first time, then building to a tremendous finish. The
same technique worked even better on a really superb version of Tangled
Up in Blue. Of course, everytime he plays it the lyrics change a little,
but I had never heard the couplet "she was working in the Tropicana when
I stopped in for a beer/ I said I was on my way to Atlanta, she said I
can see that from here." Wonderful!
Summer Days was a highlight yet again for me. In the past it was
always the big rave up with the amazing solos, but this time it was Bob's
finest moment vocally in my opinion. He really nailed it, and the crowd
went bananas. Both the new ballads (Deal Goes Down and Workingman's
Blues) got a so-so response from the crowd, but when he pulled out
Thunder on the Mountain as the first song of the encore, it really got
people going. I feel privileged to have been in the audience the first
time that song was ever performed live, and what a performance it was.
It's great to think of how it will continue to improve with time as well!
Speaking of which, I was trying to estimate how many times Bob has
played Like a Rolling Stone in his career. It has to be between two and
three thousand times, doesn't it? Yet he still invests the song with
such life and energy. I think the love people have for this song and the
appreciation being shown by the media for Bob's continued excellence
really come together when Rolling Stone is played. Bob's dancing during
both of the two old warhorse encores was terrific. In Watchtower, when
he sang the line "all the women came and went," he did a little shimmy
that I swear was his impression of a woman. Maybe I imagined it, but I
did have binoculars, so I could see his expression, and that's what it
looked like to me. This was just one of many joyous moves Bob made from
behind that keyboard.
After the last encore and the bow/non-bow (I dig the matching gray
suits for the band, by the way), the crowd stayed on their feet,
cheering for several minutes. Everyone I saw or talked to or
overheard on the way out was thrilled with the show. Thanks for
rocking Seattle yet again, Bob!
Review by Drew Kampion
Kings of Leon opened with explosive, straight-ahead energy that
lifted the lid on Key Arena this night in Seattle, but the thickening
crowd of mostly middle-agers seemed to be sitting on their hands.
Whatever. This quartet (which appears to be two pairs of brothers) was
absolutely on fire ... seemed a synthesis of 40 years of rock and roll
... loud, tight, vigorous, impassioned, bold, and on a mission.
On the other hand ... sorry. I can't *stand* Bob's band. I mean,
Tony Garnier is a great bass presence, and George Recile is a solid
enough drummer, but – jeez! One would think that Bob Dylan would
surround himself with truly great and inspired musicians – even talent
with some sort of *presence* ... but these guys (Stu Kimball on rhythm
guitar, Denny Freeman on lead guitar, and Donnie Herron on a variety of
instruments) have all the charisma of furniture salesmen. I mean, I'm
sure they're great guys and all, and no question that they're competent
musicians, but there is zero chemistry with this band... for me, at
least, and this was my fourth concert experience with these guys since
they came onto the scene (along with violinist Elana Fremerman) here in
Seattle in March of 2005.
Last night, while Bob was in unusually clear voice and articulated
some of his more complex poetry with precision and nuanced phrasing, the
musical setting of his poetry was so mundane and predictable that I found
myself wishing that Kings of Leon were backing him instead. That Dylan
himself (according to a recent Rolling Stone interview) considers this
the best band he's ever worked with causes me to wonder if Bob has lost
his hearing. I won't attempt to second-guess his motives or strategy,
I dream of Bob on a Wilbury-like tour, backed by guys like Mark
Knopfler, a tight-knit group of musicians that resonate with his
music and share his passion for it – that will feed his passion for it.
This band just feels so totally mechanical, they're so devoid of
surprises, that it simply takes the wind out of my sails... and I
suspect it's gotta have some affect on Dylan, too.
Beyond all that, Key Arena was packed, the sound was decent, and
Bob's set list was terrific, crowded with A-list songs that were, in many
cases, delivered in the most recognizable versions in recent memory. His
set kicked off with an adequate version of Maggie's Farm, moved on to a a
lovely She Belongs To Me, slipped into a rather confused-but-pedestrian
arrangement of Lonesome Day Blues, then a delightfully biting rendition
of Positively 4th Street. He nailed most of It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only
Bleeding), gave us a wonderful Just Like A Woman, an average Highway 61
Revisited (I was *really* wishing for Kings Of Leon behind him on this
one!), and an exquisite take on When The Deal Goes Down (from Modern
Times). Tangled Up In Blue was pretty good (nice harp!), and A Hard
Rain's A-Gonna Fall was fantastic – every word nailed, all the way
through... very satisfying and absolutely relevant to these modern
times. Watching The River Flow was nice, but Workingman's Blues was a
real highlight (the band, predictably, sounded best on the songs they'd
recorded for the new album), and Bob's delivery was especially poignant,
empathetic it seemed with the plight of the "common folk" in our
steadily-polarizing society. Summer Days closed out the set with kind of
a boppy bang – one of those Bob songs that more and more frequently
embed end-times philosophy in a diverting, feel-good tune redolent with
nostalgia for bygone days.
We were treated to a three-stroke encore: a splendid Thunder On The
Mountain (excellent all-round), a solid Like A Rolling Stone (still
bitter after all these years?), and one of the best All Along The
Watchtowers I've heard... again closing out with a repeat of the all-
important first verse, so that the evening ended on a crux truth about
our current global crisis: "None of them along the line know what any of
it is worth."
For those of us who've listened to Bob Dylan since his first album
penetrated our post-1950s complacence, who had our heads and hearts
exploded by his dump-truck load of mid-’60s imagery, and who continued
(and continue) to find the veins of brilliance coursing through every
twist and turn he's made since (it's unbelieveable it would get this far,
even in a world gone wrong, but the cat's in the well), his recent
reemergence into popularity presents a unique opportunity to raise
consciousness and maybe shift a paradigm or two.
But, since lyrics are hard to hear in most venues (how about sub-
titles, along the lines of "follow the bouncing ball," streaming
across the top of the stage?), great messages need to be lifted,
supported, and emphasized by their accompaniment. For me, it's
critical that Bob Dylan's band approaches the level of its leader,
but it doesn't. And it's hard to wake people up if you're also
putting them to sleep.
Review by Mitch Rath
In a nutshell, last night's Bob Dylan concert at the fill-in-the-blank corporately
sponsored local Seattle arena (in this case Key Bank, or Key Arena), was an
overall high-energy BLAST. All the songs covered last night were mid tempo
to up tempo songs, and really suited the over-large venue perfectly. I almost
did not attend the show at the Key Arena under a self-imposed boycott of
that arena/barn, buying a ticket just a couple days ago. The last experience
seeing Bob play there in 2002, while a great show, left me feeling fully
disconnected from the event; completely outside, looking in. Well, consciously
or not, His Bobness and band pulled the crowd in and held on tightly all night,
thanks to the energy of this now fully synched virtuoso ensemble of musicians.
For Bob Dylan's part, his voice was typically miked way up in the mix of sound,
which worked out really well; there are still plenty of nuances of phrase and
word play to be heard, and he uses what's left of his voice to full advantage.
The last time Bob rolled through for 3 gigs at the lush Paramount Theater in
Seattle, in March of 2005, the shows were stately, elegant, and the music hit
me as ranging from downright pretty, to punchy rock and roll. And the addition
of Elena Fremerman, with her stand out violin playing and beautiful stage
presence, was a nice a new dimension.
So, the stage set up went this way last night, and they've mixed up the layout
a bit: Stu Kimball stage left extreme, Tony Garnier next, dressed in the usual
mafioso dark suit with abbreviated peak fedora, then George Receli on durms,
with the usual reversed cap on his head. Seated next to George was Don
Herron on pedal steel, and then out front just to the right of Don, Dylan
playing a much smaller keyboard than I have seen, and lastly, extreme stage
right was Denny Freeman.
The show kicked off with several knockout performances in a row, and forget
about reading the setlists and dismissing outright frequently played tunes like
Maggies Farm. Both Maggies Farm, which had a different sound than the last
shows I've heard, and surprisingly, She Belongs To Me, were powerhouse songs,
the vocals on She Belongs To Me I have to hear again, it just floored me how
energized this former acoustic gem had become.
I thought the flow and energy just kept rolling along until a slight drop around
Just Like A Woman; not a bad version at all, I just don't recall being
Once Highway 61 Revisited began, I was mildly disappointed, but again the
frenetic pace of the song, and talent of these players, kept my full attention.
The band, as I mentioned, is reaching a peak, if they can impress in this arena,
something's truly happening here.
When The Deal Goes Down was a crowd favorite thanks to the successful
marketing of Bob's latest jewel, Modern Times. It was faithful to the album
version to my memory and sounded great live.
The next two were absolute highlights for me, and I wouldn't have guessed it
if you showed me the set list prior to the show. Tangled was so amazing, and I
can't tell you how weary I had become of that song back in the late 90's early
2k's, with all the live show versions afoot; absolutely thrilling. Hard Rain was a
beauty as well, I just can't recall the highlights on it, but it was a joy.
The final numbers included two more new ones, and of these, Thunder On The
Mountain was just a cooker, and undoubtedly for me, the best live rocker to be
rolled out so far from Modern Times, but it's early in the tour.
Summer Days was good, but that one for me will always have to compete with
the job the Campbell/Sexton band version had done with it, and I got stuck in
the trap of comparing the two, when it really is a kick tail version by the latest
I ended up exiting a bit early to buy a poster and beat it on out of there before
the crowd left, but I heard LARS, and most of Watchtower as I made my way
around the arena perimeter.
So finally, I'm running around the exterior of the big concrete arena, and I stop
suddenly in stride. Looking down through some bars of a fence wall I see Bob's
tour bus, engine running, door wide open. I stood there for a moment and tried
to even fathom the life this man has led. What came to mind was the line, "I'm
an old boll weevil looking for a home, and if you don't like it, you can leave me
alone". I smiled to myself and went home. I like it still, Bob.
The Kings Of Leon were my favorite opening band for Dylan excluding the Grateful
Dead, Santana, and Merle Haggard, 'cause they don't count. Some folks will be
put off by the volume; these guys play loud and hard, but damn well. And I think
now, looking back, therein is the theme of this arena rock 'n' roll tour.
Comments by Gino d' Cafango
Just saw Dylan at the Key Arena - what a show! He didn't play guitar but I didn't
mind. My first time seeing him live. What a master. He looked as though he was
commanding a ship and the band were his shipmates and he knew exactly what to
do and where the ship was going. Dylan continues to raise the bar higher and
higher - too far for any mere mortal to reach. The band knew just when to pour it
on and when to hold back and when to let Bob wail away with one hand for him
(on keyboards) and one hand for the company (on harmonica). Dynamic.
As soon as the show was over, his bus drove south on I-5 heading for Portland.
All business. Straight no chaser. I love Bob Dylan.
Review by Ginger
No amount of words are enough to describe seeing Bob Dylan live.
Experience has taught us that he will do what he wants when he wants and
we love it and will always. Last night he rocked the Coliseum (Key Arena
for the new generation). He extolled and foretold, and, most of all in my
mind, put his love for us out there with his beautiful poems that say what
we can never say. When the Deal Goes Down is one of the most perfect love
songs ever! Thank you, Bob.
New arrangements for old lyrics built on the excitement as we waited to
hear the next one. Will this be a new or one of those we've never heard
live? You couldn't tell until you heard the lyrics, which was so much fun
for those of us who think we know all the words to everything he's ever
done! Those newly converted Dylan fans had to look around puzzled until
someone could tell them what this one was. And, the new arrangements were
great -- you had to move to them, which we did. I felt sorry for the
people who weren't on the floor because they pretty much had to just sit
there. We on the floor were up and moving.
We could hear his voice very clearly and the band was excellent as they
provided a rich, full sound with their expert playing. It was plenty loud
enough, but somehow didn't overwhelm Bob's voice. They are very
professional and classy and their respect for him is apparent.
After he sang the first seven songs, I was getting worried that we weren't
going to hear any of his new songs but then he wowed the Arena with a
straightforward version of When the Deal Goes Down. It was so stunningly
beautiful that the entire arena was in silence listening to every word.
Then came Tangled Up in Blue, which had us jumpin and movin. My son and
his fiance' attended their first Bob concert and were just in awe.
He really had me fooled for a minute when I thought I had lucked out and
was going to hear one of my favorites, Every Grain of Sand, with the
opening chord progression the band played, but then out came Just Like a
Woman. I don't know how he does it -- it was just gorgeous.
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall hit us all with it's beautiful delivery. His
voice is so mature and speaking as a woman, pretty sexy. I've not heard it
done as well as that version before. We heard Workingman's Blues #2 from
Modern Times and you can tell that the working class in the audience
appreciated it -- there were many shouts and whooohoos -- I think the
revolution is on...
Summer Days was the last song on the main set and then we knew he would
come out and do Like a Rolling Stone and All Along.., etc, for the encore
BUT instead they gave us the first live presentation of Thunder On The
Mountain and wow!! was it worth waiting for. I kept thinking about the
people who left early thinking they knew what as coming. All Along the
Watchtower's arrangement was particularly great and went longer than
usual. We loved it.
I should mention the Kings of Leon, the opening band, because they really
have a unique sound and got our attention. The lead singer FACED an
"oldies" crowd straight on with courage and delivered a flawless
performance. He has a nice voice and showed us the feeling in his
presentation. Frankly, I realize today that the only drawback to Bob's
performance is that we never get a full face shot of the guy until the
very end. I miss that because the visualness, along with the sound, is
what sticks when you leave the concert and you want to remember the face
of the person who's singing to you. Still, It was just a great, memorable
concert full of energy, beautiful music, and the great Bob mystique!
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