Review by Jim Furnish
Thunder On The Memorial Coliseum
I'll come right out front and admit I'm a bit
intimidated over the idea of attempting to review this
show. All the adjectives would be trite. Any and all
descriptions of what we heard, what we saw and what we
felt can and will be told better than I by someone
Was it the proverbial "Toure de Force"?
Was it a stunning masterpiece of a performance by the
pre-eminent musical artist in American pop culture
It was all that. It was all that and more.
Initially, when this show was announced, I had
reservations and doubts. The Coliseum. Worst house in
town for acoustics. I've been attending Dylan shows in
Portland since 1966 and I shuddered at the imagined
prospect of having the music and vocals distorted,
mangled and lost in that brutal chamber of echoes.
Thank the Gods for modern sound tech equipment and the
presale seating offers that placed us on the floor and
And after hearing this current band twice in 2005 I
was more than pleasantly surprised to hear them come
into their own regarding the material. Gone was the
earlier stiffness for now, after a year and a half of
touring, they were looser and, if you will, flashier.
Donnie Herron on the pedal steel seems to provide
nifty riffs and glizzandos to tie the melodies and
verses together at just the right times, and of course
Recile and Garnier do the yeomen's share of propelling
this outfit along.
Loud just comes with the shitty hot dogs and weak
lukewarm coffee at The Coliseum.
Dylan was in fine voice and brimming with energy
coming off of a six week break-but the impression I
got was that these guys did work together quite a bit
during the hiatus. They had to have to make the new
songs sound so rehearsed and polished.
We did have hopes of hearing songs from the new album,
and we did hear them.
Four, yes, four of them.
Plus very groovy renditions of "Memphis Blues Again",
"Simple Twist Of Fate", "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
"Masters Of War". It was a dream setlist and it went
off with out a glitch or a hitch.
It was a great thunderous booming affair from start to
finish. A triumph. One for the books. One to always
Sure hope they can keep it going (don't see any reason
why they wouldnt) for the folks planning to attend the
fall tour. If you've got doubts or misgivings about
seeing this Modern Times version of The Never Ending
Tour, do yourself a favor and put them to rest and go,
for God's sake, go. You'll certainly be glad you did.
Review by Dave Harper
Heard someone say "Ol Bob's voice aint what it used to
be", alas and alack, I gotta tell you, it's true, the
voice is much better. No kidding.
Three shows into the current tour and like a distant
train still shaking the rails you feel it and hear it
long after its outta sight. This Portland Coliseum
show was powerful and evolved. I believe some of the
strongest versions of some of his works. Kind of
performance some might have thought had come and gone.
Nothing laid back or lazy in this bunch.
In a nutshell: Bob looked cool as hell, had the right
kind of hat and made no mistakes. Even when the new
song, one of four from Modern Times, seemed to wobble
and nearly collide through a few turns, by songs end
we knew we'd just seen and heard something large.
These new songs from Modern Times are such treasures
I'm afraid to overplay them. Of course I will. The
sense I'm getting from the "hits" this time around is
these are more than tweaked up tempos or altered
expressions, I'll say these songs are flat out better.
All of them. More defined, transparent. Maybe the
improved enunciation or sharper audio, keener playing
perhaps. Even warhorses you might have thought lame or
needing a shot, had some kind of wings. Never thought
Just Like A Woman could still grab the heart and flood
the eyes but it does. Or Masters Of War, I swear the
best version I've ever heard him do.
About Bobs stage position, depending on where you sit,
you may only see profile or his back the whole time.
But it wasnt a hang up, was more an inside or onstage
point of view. kind of like a studio session set up.
It's a kick to see Bob and his band work. No fluff, no
foolin, completely engaged from first to last and a
damn lot of fun goin on.
Musicians, young and old could learn from this outfit
how to rock out without blowing your brains into the
lights. The opening act Kings Of Leon wailed hard and
long as they could but I couldnt make it out.
These ears would've preferred Ollabelle, Amy Helms
group, or Mavis, maybe someday. I'm not complaining.
Lot of the audience were into Kings Of Leon.
The songs presented in this tour are, to me, as timely
and important as they've ever been, and, this time
out, Bob's belting them to the max.
By the time he cut loose with Thunder On The Mountain
at the encore you could've sworn it was Dylan 30 years
ago. Knocked me out. What a magnificient moment . Saw
some real tears around us.
The Bob Dylan show is a mystery train deep in time and
space and its still hauling us in. For my hard earned
social security dollars I'm more than glad to be on
By the way, I spent more than 40 years on the air
playing all kinds of music and I gotta salute disc
jockey Bob on the XM satellite hookup.
Absolutely and totally right on.
Review by James Hillary
We showed up for the concert after a surreal bike ride along Portland’s
waterfront, lights shimmering on the hazy river. My four-year-old daughter
(whose enthusiasm for Dylan is almost as profound as my own), sang
“Watching the River Flow” from her tag-along carriage. I laughed. Mary
quipped, “Maybe he’ll play that one, sweetheart.” And surely he did later
in the show, a rousing, heavily blues-laden version. This was one of our
semi-psychic pre-show moments.
Tombstone was okay, but a weak opener. Tom Thumb’s Blues was cool with
pleasant a harmonica solo. Rollin’ and Tumblin’ Earlier, as we downed a
beer at the bike-lock area, I predicted that he would premier this song in
Portland. Mary looked at me in astonishment when they launched into a
very tight version. Nice slide action by Denny on this one too.
It jump-started the performance with vitality. The band suddenly seemed to
suddenly wake up. Masters of War was surreal and highly relevant to
Portland’s politically-charged atmosphere. Bob’s keys had a creepy,
funereal affect throughout, and he annunciated each word, nearly growling,
‘til I’m sure that you’re dead!’
Stuck inside of Mobile jammed – sounded a lot like a live ’78 version.
Just Like a Woman had a favorable appeal, noted particularly nice steel
action by Stu. Highway 61 sounded okay, but I’ve seen it twice before.
Nothing new here.
When The Deal Goes Down nearly brought me to tears, a lyrically beautiful
ballad – and so what if Bob reads Timrod on the toilet, and digests it as
he does? Cold Irons Bound rocked solid. Bob brought us to our knees again
with a dusted off Simple Twist that met with uproarious approval by the
crowd. Nice acoustic work by Donnie. Watching the River Flow rocked all
blues-like. I was hoping he would do Tangled or It’s Alright, Ma, but no
He pulled on our heartstrings once again with a poignant Workingman’s
Blues #2, another example of his new material so substantive and mature.
I really desired to hear more of Modern Times, but am grateful for the
nuggets he threw to us. Summer Days sparkled and seemed to breathe easier
than at Chiles Center last year. Once again, Lonesome Day Blues would have
been better, but no complaints. The song seemed to stand out as more being
more energetic, but nowhere near as cool as Bend in ‘05. The band was
obviously having a great time.
Thunder on the Mountain cooked and we were thankful he threw us this bone.
Like a Rolling Stone and Watchtower – like old faithful they blew right on
schedule, but nevertheless sent the crowd into a frenzy.
We sat in the stands, quite high up and to the right. Luckily we had
high-powered binoculars. One odd thing that perturbed my wife, but I just
laughed and said, “that’s so Bob,” is that we never once saw his face, but
on occasional profile when he would turn to blow on the harp and in the
end when he and the band and bowed. Like I said to her later, “Do I need
to see Bob in order to hear him rock?” Even though Bend was a better venue
(after all, you can’t get better than sitting on the grass, the sun
painting Oregon’s Cascades pink while lightning flickers in the dark sky beyond
with Bob singing “I Believe in You”), this show more than met my expectations.
Review by Gerry Greeve
Just to be brief..the reviews posted so far from Vancouver, Seattle, and
Portland capture the high quality, emotion, and energy...In many
respects we are experiencing an evolution of this band where the nuances
are often the reward. This show was in the same league as Reno in April
which was one of the highlights of my 40 years of going. I have been
"odd man out" on Modern Times (pretty repetitive song structures from my
perspective) BUT he picked the great songs from the album and did a
great job. Seeing the video with SJ on "when the deal goes down" should
be required for listening. Portland danced, danced, danced - it was old
timey wasn't it...BUT..used to be Bob's shows were the ones where you
could rush the stage and crowd in - he often invited people up on stage
with him...sigh! no more - the brain police have gotten to him too...but
we were rocking in the rows anyway...
the thing that is striking me right now is the very broad song
selection...he's done ~30 different songs our of 47 in 3 shows..whereas
last spring the the Reno and onward the set list was esentially
identical for the first 3-4 shows...I don't know what that means but we
may be looking at some killer tunes as the tour proceeds.
And in defense of KOL...they kick butt...crank it up chilluns...the base
player was great..hot lead licks, great drummer, and the lead/rythym
chap drove the agenda HARD. Tight group and clean sound...
all in all an excellent show..
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