October 21, 2017
Review by Ronald Alcorn
My girlfriend Mary Catherine and I went to see Mavis and Bob at the First
Bank Center in Broomfield (Denver) without very high expectations. We'd
seen them last year at Red Rocks, and they were good but not great. I've
seen Dylan probably 50 times or so, and the last few years were pretty
iffy. Also, the First Bank Center seats about 7500, and I didn't think
they could possibly fill that...maybe 3-4000 at most. Well, so much for
expectations. First of all, by the time Mavis took the stage the venue
was close to full. Maybe that inspired her performance, but she was way
into it last night. "I feel good tonight! We're gonna have some fun
tonight!" And we did. When she left the stage to a rousing chorus of
"I'll take you there" and a standing ovation, I wondered if Bob heard that
crowd response and how his current performance could ever prompt that type
of response. Two hours later I found out. No song by song from me...the
set list was pretty static...but the classic Dylan songs, the Dylan
originals, the "rockers" were unbelievable. His voice was strong and
clear, the piano up in the mix, and the band perfect. The drums were
featured more tonight than I've seen in the past. The "standards" were
all short and well done and were more like interludes than energy
drainers. They were great. It was performance art. As I remarked to
Mary Catherine, it was more like a classical "concert", where you're not
standing up and rocking all the time but enjoying the performance. After
Ballad of a Thin Man I, in my all encompassing knowledge, turned to Mary
Catherine and said, "let's go, that's it." But wait...they're not
leaving! Then Bob and the band tore into Learning to Fly, and just killed
it. The place went wild. Standing ovation, people in tears. Bob and the
crew stood back in the rear or the stage and took it in. It was a
Review by James Strohecker
• Tight set. Focused.
• Fast and furious show. No gaps. Rocking and upbeat all night.
• Encore was a surprise. Hope he continues it.
Bob Dylan blew in with the fall winds to the Denver area to present a
fresh approach to his songs and fresh look to his stage/performance and an
out-of-the-blue encore song that knocked this show out of the park.
Out of the chute, Bob’s voice was fresh. And the tightness of the band
reflected the smaller size of the stage setup: they’re closer together.
The stage setup is smaller and more compact, with the subdued floodlights
at the back facing the audience. Dylan now has more of a direct presence:
his piano is smaller and has been moved more to center stage, the drums
are back left. As a result, Bob sings directly to the audience from a
standing / sitting piano position and when he takes center stage with the
mic stand, he’s tightly coupled with the band.
However, you can’t talk about this tour/Bob’s shows for the last
couple years without mentioning Mavis Staples’ performance. Mavis, who
opened for Dylan, gets the audience rocking and rolling – like the
Staples Singers used to. She belts the tunes, moves on the stage and
engages the audience. Last year, at Red Rocks, Mavis filled the night air
with a wicked show. Tonight at Broomfield was no different. She was
cutting, and wicked with her melodies and vocals. And she mesmerized the
Late in the performance, she spoke to the audience: “This next song is,
‘March on the Freedom Highway.’ It will be on our new album, coming
out Nov. 17. This song is one we sang on the March. THE March -- from
Selma to Montgomery,” she said. The audience roared before, during and
after the song. It was super-powerful.
Mavis finished her set with a rousing, “I’ll Take You There.” . . .
A most excellent performance.
The Dylan performance opened as usual with a Stu Kimball riff from the
wings of the darkened stage as the rest of the Band walked onstage, and
jumped into a bouncy, “Things Have Changed.”
As they did all night, the group moved quickly through songs with very
little time between them. They cranked out It Ain’t Me, Babe and rolled
into an upbeat, high note, Highway 61 Revisited. Bob then moved to center
stage for Why Try To Change Me Now – where he crooned with both hands on
the mic stand. Unlike years past when his crooned songs seemed to be
surprise performances that broke up the set, all night in Broomfield the
songs seamlessly flowed together. The sound melded well, as did his stage
movement from his piano-to center stage- and back.
Bob was energetic with lots of stand-up piano playing, gigging legs and
hand on hip statuesque end-of-song focus at the end of tunes. He was
resplendent in a metallic-colored jacket, black pants with a white stripe
down the side of each leg and all-white cowboy boots.
As he’s done in the past, Bob re-mixed approaches to songs – they all
seemed upbeat – and there’s a whole new energy to the performance.
Songs have been moved around the setlist. Summer Days is now early in the
set and had a hard drum backbeat with Donnie on the fiddle. Well played
The show just flows better now. And the band is back to baseline rock and
roll with tight melodies and playing around Bob’s lyrics.
Melancholy Mood was short and to the point. More upbeat than ballad,
followed by Honest With Me that featured Tony Garnier’s hard bass beat
and Charlie Sexton’s solid guitar riffs.
The band moved into Tryin’ to Get to Heaven, that now has evolved from a
sad ballad to a melodic fast-paced, “loungey” rendition, with Bob
sitting and singing from the piano. They followed with, Once Upon a Time,
with Bob center stage reminding the audience that once upon a time
doesn’t exist anymore. Smooth and focused.
September Of My Years was sultry and echoing, with strong bass bow playing
and guitar calls to follow Bob’s crooning.
Like the Autumn Leaves song later in the set, September Of My Years
provided some breathless wows from the audience and thoughts of the chill
of life’s journey in the lyrics as we experienced Bob’s fall concert.
The band moved into a demure version of Tangled up in Blue. Tangled, a
song that used to be an acoustic runaway, is now performed as a ballad
with care and piano-seated reflection, backed by interspersed Charlie
guitar riffs. Interesting version. Oddly cool.
Early Roman Kings picked up the pace again with a buster beat. They
followed with an upbeat, semi-twangy Desolation Row.
Thunder on the Mountain had a new intro, and bounced into a rock and roll
version, where Bob let loose the “horses” and allowed the band to rock
this out a bit.
Autumn Leaves provided another thought provoking, loungey bass
bow-driven sound that filled the auditorium. That led the performance into
an inspired Long and Wasted Years.
An upbeat Blowing in the Wind showed off some fine fiddle work by Donnie
as Bob cranked on the piano, and the band headed into what we expected to
be a two-song encore. Ballad of a Thin Man was a stand up at the piano
approach with Bob rapping the lyrics to a fine finish.
Tight two songs. We expected them to do the "stand in front of the stage"
as we were grabbing our coats. But wait . . . they set up for a
final/third song and roared into the introduction to, “Learning to
Fly.” It was a wild, loud, big tribute to Tom Petty. And a fitting
finish to an excellent performance.
Bob’s Tom Petty tribute – playing “Learning to Fly” perhaps in
memory of his long-time tour buddy and fellow Traveling Wilbury’s band
member – was cranked out and solid. An excellent close to a fine
evening. Check this song out if you can find it. Well done.
Frankly, this was one of the better shows I’ve seen this year. And one
of the better Bob Dylan performances I’ve witnessed in a long time.
• Tight performance means go, go, go to a show, show, show.
• Mavis Staples is worth every penny of the ticket price on her
own. • Time keeps passing; given the departure of Dylan-era
performers, you don’t want to regret you didn’t catch his show on this
tour. And it’s worth it. I’d pay again – a few times – to see this
current Bob Dylan show. Maybe I’ll see you later in the tour.
Review by Laurette Maillet
From Salt Lake City to Denver.
The bus is right on time. That was a night bus and I slept all the way. I
am supposed to meet Jeff at 7 am but he can't make it so I take a train to
Westminster where my CS host lives. Jacob will pick me up at the train
stop in Westminster. I have a private room. We have a nice chat and Jacob
and his girlfriend will take me to Boulder then to a Tea factory. Time to
relax and getting ready for the show in Broomfield. Jacob gives me a ride.
4 young follows offer me a ticket. I follow them and find myself 10th row
center on the aisle. Cool! Mavis is fantastic and changed a bit her
setlist. She sure will take you there...wherever is there! Stu is on and
the Band takes position. Bob is dressed in black : shining black jacket,
black shirt, black pants with the white straps. His hair is dishevelled.
The venue is not a fancy one, neither the public. First song and the
public in front is all up. Many folks will never seat down. Randy in front
of me will be up all the show blocking my view of Bob at the piano. He is
a Bobcat of long time so .... I tolerate with all my good spirit. Barron
passes by and smiles with good humour. Some smoke can be seen here and
there and the smell is familiar. Though securiry is strict for the
cellphone (there was a metal detector at the entrance ) tolerance is 100
% for weed!Welcome Colorado! Bobby must be intoxicated for he is rocking
and rolling like never before. Song after song the public is getting
wild, so do I. Lucky I had 2 slices of pizza for lunch, I've got some
"It ain't me Babe". I hear voices behind me "no, no, no it ain't me
Baaaabe' "Once upon a time".Yes! He heard me and kept that song on the
setlist. Thank you my Dear. "Tangled up in blue" is recognised by an
attentive public. "Desolation row' and the boys next to me are singing
along. On and on, rows after rows the Fans are standing up, dancing and
singing along. Great! I am not the only crazy freak tonight. The crowd is
all up for 'Ballad of a thin man' and I make a move to reach the rail in
the dark when.... Bob starts again on the piano. Whoa! A third encore and
this is a Tom Petty song "Learning to fly". Why , here, in Colorado, after
4 shows?? A mystery! But this is a vibrant and heart full homage to his
friend and companion. EXCELLENT SHOW. Excellent public. Thank you
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