Kansas City, Missouri

Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland

October 20, 2019

[Micheal Mahoney], [Bill Burns], [Andrew Hammond]

Review by Micheal Mahoney

This was a very strong show.
Interesting arrangements and very accessible to the casual fan.
But first, some people did not get their money’s worth. 
According to the ushers at the Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland, “per
the artist’s request”, no one was allowed into the theater while the
artist was performing. Dylan’s show started at 8 pm sharp. That meant at
least 100 people, maybe more, were not permitted to take their seats
during his first song, “Beyond Here Lies Nothing”. Or, if they left
their seats to get a drink or use the restroom during the show, they had
to wait for the end of a song to return to their seats. If that was the
artist’s request, he short changed some loyal fans. Dylan’s stage
management people could have easily held the curtain as people were taking
their seats. It’s a tradition in show business anyway.  If that was the
venue, laying it off on “the artist”, that’s bullshit. The show: The
sound was well mixed. The new drummer and guitar seem to be getting their
legs. Donnie Herron and his steel guitar and violin is an amazing artist.
This is a show that centers on his recent career. And I like it. The old
chestnut, “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” is a personal favorite  and
was done well. It was the 2nd song after “Beyond Here Lies Nothing”.
Bob and the Band then hit the burners on Highway 61. Zimmy stood at an
upright piano slamming it out like he was Jerry Lee Lewis. He did that
several times through the show. Dylan,on the next song,  has changed some
of the Lyrics to “Simple Twist of Fate”. It’s still a magical,star
crossed story. It remains an elegant tune.
 Bob took center stage for much of the number.
Interestingly, he tends to stay  deep in the stage, standing back by Tony
Garnier on bass and the new drummer. He’ not on the apron for most of
his solo takes. During his solos, Bob sometimes bends and the waist,
placing his left hand at or near his thigh. Often  he looks like a fighter
in a crouch.  Seems to add to the intensity of his singing. Especially on 
“When I Paint My Masterpiece”. Which seems like it was played at an
even slower tempo that some previous shows on this tour. It is majestic
and a hi light of the show. “Honest with Me” has Bob back at the piano
doing the Jerry Lee thing again. The phrasing on this number was
particularly strong and good rocker. “Trying to Get to Heaven” seemed
to be played at a little faster tempo than what I have heard on this tour
so far. Maybe it’s me, but it did not seem to have the same plaintive
charm as some of the earlier shows. Could be the arrangement. I am all for
him re-arranging things. This just didn’t hit on all 8 cylinders for me.
“Make You Feel My Love” was a conventional take on a good song. Pay In
Blood” was a gem. It had real strong phrasing. And when I described Bob
standing at center stage, sometimes  seeming to be in a fighter’s crouch
a bit when he snarled out the lyrics, this was a great example of it.
There’s some venom here, and it’s rich. “Lenny Bruce” follows. I
am mystified why this is in the set. This is great melody with bad lyrics,
in my opinion. Is there here because Dylan’s thinks it’s tribute to
someone who spoke truth to power in the grip of the conformist 1950’s?
Because he thinks this  is also a time to speak truth to power? Or is it
because Dylan worries about a rise in anti Semitic thought? I don’t
know. Never will. But what was apparent in Kansas City is he seemed really
committed to the lyrics. Have at it. Bob and the Band hit the hi lights of
the show from here forward. “Early Roman Kings” was a raunchy, nasty
loud blues hum dinger.  He and the band just belted the hell of this.
Great fun. He followed this up with a tender “Girl from the North
Country” with Bob knocking this wonderful ballad out of the park. Jose
Altuve’s pennant winning homer for the Astros was not struck as well as
this. Interestingly, this seemed to be the most recognizable tune to many
in the theater when they struck the first notes. Just saying. A
re-arranged “Not DarkYet”is the gem of THIS show, and from what I can
tell, the early part of this tour. Now it’s a spooky tune fitting the
 It has the same fatalism as the TOOM version. The guitar play on this is
 spectacular. Bob’s singing is fantastic. The phrasing is elegant. You
 must hear this if you have not already. 
This is the only point in the show that Bob steps not just to center
stage, but upfront. And he delivers the mail, baby! He & the Band put 
some heat the smoldering embers left by “Dark”, with a hard rocking
“Honest With Me”.  This is a great change of pace at exactly the right
moment. He then rolls into “After Midnight”. It’s only me, bit seems
 seems to have kind a New Orleans funk to the number that serves it well.
The full set finished with a new version of “You Gotta Serve
Somebody”. This is a lot of fun. It has a harder, faster tempo. It’s a
one off arrangement that I think works well.
 And best off all, new lyrics. All new lyrics as far as I can tell. Really
 like it. 
And the song retains  it’s woe-be-unto-you message, just fine. 
The encores in Kansas City start with a traditional, and well done version
of “Ballad of a This Man”. I love this song, even though I spent
decades as a journalist. And boy, “Thin Man”does not like reporters. (
I think we all knew that about Bob :) ) The evening ends with a nice,
bluesy version of “ It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It takes a Train to.
Cry”. It’s one of my favorites. This is a great Bob Dylan show. It’s
different. It’s accessible for the causal fans And it’s well done. 


Review by Bill Burns

I headed downtown about 6pm and flipped on my Uber Driver app, setting
the destination for the Midland, hoping to snag a bobcat or two on the 
way in to the show. I got a short distance rider, dropped him off and then 
got a ping for another pickup just as I was dropping the first one off. I 
picked 'em up at Maloney's, a sports bar. At least they didn't make me wait 
for them. But they were bobcats, if youngish, 20-somethings. Ugh! Smokers 
are the worst! I don't mind if you wanna smoke, but criminy, you guys stink! 
They were pretty oblivious to the Dylan playing in the car, but the guy went 
on and on about running into Dylan a few years back in a bar near a show he 
was attending. She seemed enthusiastic about the show, but I think she 
was mostly a glom-er on. They were nice enough, but kinda meh for riders, 
getting out at another bar right around the corner from the Midland for 
more beers before the show.

I turned off my app and promptly found a spot to park a few blocks down 
Main Street and hopped on the streetcar up to the theatre. I was cutting it 
kinda close, and when I walked in, a mellow KCPD cop directed me up the 
stairs to the elevator, then to the top of the venue, 4th floor, for GA 
"seats" in the Chandelier Bar area. Seats was just a metaphor, I guess. I 
arrived during the opener, "Beyond Here Lies Nothing." People were lined 
up two and three deep all along the railing in the bar area at the top of this 
magnificent old RKO movie palace. No way. I moved here and there along 
the throng to the right of the bar. No view was unobstructed, and I'm 
almost 6' tall. Just as I despaired of having spent over a $100 for an SRO 
"seat," I noticed the spotlight nook down the stairs a half flight to the 
upper mezzanine. There was an opening between the two unused spots. 
Nice! I was still pretty far away, but I've been on the front row before 
more than once. I was just happy to be in the same room again for the 
first time in about four years. 

Bob seemed in good spirits, and fine form tonight. His new lineup is pretty 
snappy, if a bit quieter now than the thunderous sounds with George R on 
the drums previously. Matt Chamberlin's drumming was fine, though. I 
thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the addition of Bob Britt on guitar, 
and occasionally slide, on a beautiful, if brief, elegiac "Girl From the North 
Country." It's always a treat to watch and hear the rest of the boys in the 
band, Tony, Charlie, Donnie. Charlie played very restrained tonight, in 
keeping with the overall softer sounding arrangements.

Highlights for me were a beautiful "When I Paint My Masterpiece," with Bob
on the piano at first, but then centerstage on the harp, accompanied by 
Donnie on a gorgeous violin part right before Bob's harp part. The new 
arrangements for "Can't Wait" (a cool, syncopated blues shuffle sort of 
sound IINM). "Lenny Bruce," again with Bob on the upright piano, 
downstage was just a treat, worth the price of admission all by itself. I was 
happy to hear this for the first time ever, in about 35 years of Dylan shows 
since the late 1980s. "Not Dark Yet," with Bob singing centerstage seemed 
more pertinent than ever. There may not be a truer song Dylan's penned 
since, and as he approaches 80, the lyric takes on more weight every day.
I never left my seat, but honestly, I don't recall Bob introducing the band 
at all tonight. 

This setlist is a nice changeup to the past few tours. I love "Watchtower" 
as much as the next guy, but I'm glad he's giving it a rest this time around. 
I love that he's playing a lot of is newer and late-period stuff, mixing in 
with a few of the classic jewels.
On my way out into the night, I stopped outside to snap a pic of the 
marquee with "Bob Dylan & Band - SOLD OUT!," hopped back on the 
streetcar and flipped on my Uber app again. Set my destination for home, 
hoping to catch some more bobcats and BAM! I got a hit right away. A 
doctor named Ralph and his wife were heading my way, so I swung back 
by the Midland and picked them up. They were raving about the show, 
and they said they'd never heard "Lenny Bruce" before…at all. Never 
heard of "Shot of Love," so we had a good time listening to that on the 
way to their house.
I hadn't seen Bob, like I mentioned, in about 4 or more years. Last few 
tours, I've missed opportunities because he didn't come close enough, 
tight budgets at the time he came around, not finding anyone to go 
with (Really!?), and once, because a stupid court case I had to go to 
Mobile, AL to represent some friends at while he was back here at 
Starlight in KC with Mavis. Them's the breaks. I was a bit worried that 
the show might not be that great; after all, he's 78, but man…If you 
get a chance to go…GO!


Review by Andrew Hammond

The Michael Mahoney review says it all. This was a very strong show
indeed, and I agree with his review of the set. Bob Dylan and His Band
were in top form last night. I had heard the new arrangement of Not Dark
yet from the Irvine show and had already figured this would be the high
point of the KC show for me. I was wrong. While the entire show was great
and the reworking of NDY is the most stunning I've ever heard, the opening
2 numbers completely blew me away and set the tone for a new Bob Dylan
2019. Yes, it is a rare and welcome sight to see Bob hold a guitar but it
was far more than that. Bob stood at the front of the stage with a Fender
Tele for both Beyond Here and an unexpected and nasty version of Baby
Blue. He didn't just play, he soloed over and over again. His energy
turned back the clock and he looked like Bob Dylan in his 40's. Anyone
that thinks Bob isn't a good lead guitar player should have seen him last
night! Simple leads, but really intense. The band was really tight. I
think both Matt Chamberlain and Bob Britt are great additions to the band.
Bob was energetic throughout the night, making some really funny goofy
faces during Trying to Get to Heaven. I felt kind of an odd vibe, I think
during Honest With Me. Charlie and Bob Britt were trading juicy solos with
Britt on slide guitar. It might have gone on a little long for Bob because
he finally went over to the piano and pounded a few chords and the the
song came to an end. Maybe I'm wrong. I definitely thought the upright
piano worked better than the baby grand for this show. He played it both
standing and sitting and he did indeed conjure up Jerry Lee Lewis with
that crazy wild hair. On a pre-show note, my wife and I arrived at the
Midland Theater really early and saw Bob's buses behind the building
before we went to the parking garage. We decided to go for a walk and as
we turned the corner to where the buses were we ran right into Charlie and
Matt! I said a few words to Charlie but I didn't recognize Matt and I felt
bad about that later. But hey, I bet he didn't recognize me either!:)
Fantastic show.

Andrew Hammond


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