Ames, Iowa

Iowa State University
C.Y. Stephens Auditorium

October 23, 2019

[John C.], [Marty Traynor], [Don Ely]

Review by John C.

On October 23, I attended my 16th Bob Dylan show.  This show i believe was
the best musically that I have seen.  At one time I looked at the set
lists and probably had seen 100 or so different songs, Wednesdays setlist
included several songs I hadn't seen before. This also seemed like a well
conceived setlist. From the very beginning I could tell this was going to
be special with Bob on the guitar for the first two songs.  Highway 61 was
clear of voice. One of my favorites was Simple Twist of fate that nearly
had me in tears, beautiful. I don't want to go through every song but
there was top notch harp playing and piano playing and poignant vocals
throughout. Trying to get to heaven, lenny bruce, girl of the north
country, and not dark yet all were special. The encore was attention
grabbing for its variety from previous encores, excellent renditions of
these two songs. Only a few shows into this tour but this band is tight
and are blending well. On a side note I took my 95 year old mom to this
show and she loved it, even “dancing” to ballad of a thin man. The
only other show she saw was 2001 in Sioux city Iowa, (check out the
reviews of that show, nobody believed me of Bob running along front of
stage slapping High fives). 


Review by Marty Traynor

There are some benefits to seeing two Dylan shows in four days. One of 
them is to observe how different the shows are. Different highlights arise 
from different shows even when the set list is identical. For example, the 
Lincoln show started strong from the moment the band stepped on stage, 
whereas it seemed to take until Simple Twist of Fate, the fourth song, for 
the magic to set in. But once it did, the aim show was full of highlights. 

First and foremost, Dylan's harp playing is as good as it's ever been, and that 
was showcased on Simple Twist. Then Can't Wait was performed in such a 
way that it conveyed a sense of urgent anticipation, taking the song to 
another level. Then Dylan's vocal and harp playing on When I Paint My
Masterpiece absolutely made you feel that he had already accomplished that 
feat. I never thought I'd say Make You Feel My Love would be a highlight in 
a Dylan show, but it certainly was in Ames. The strong performances 
continued throughout, especially on Girl from the North Country and Not 
Dark Yet.

As in Lincoln, the band benefited from having two exceptional guitar players 
and Donnie Herron's violin playing made a great addition to the overall 
sound. After the Lincoln show I was convinced that it was a top level 
Dylan/band performance, one of the best I've witnessed.  The Ames show 
wasn't quite at that level but it certainly was a solid set, with some 
outstanding highlights.


Review by Don Ely

To use an exclamation of unknown origin: WOW! That was my initial 
reaction after the close of Bob Dylan's latest pageant as unveiled the 
evening of October 23, 2019 at the comfortable C. Y. Stephens 
Auditorium in the oasis of Ames, Iowa. Once again Bob has reinvented 
himself with new arrangements of practically every song in his set. How 
many lives has this guy got anyway? Hopefully we'll never find out! He 
has once again succeeded in reinvigorating His Band as well, but that 
should come as no surprise with this crack outfit. A couple changes 
have been made: Big Stu left the group a little while ago and has been 
replaced with guitarist  Bob Britt. Half of one of the world's best rhythm 
sections, drummer extraordinaire George Recile has also departed, due 
to illness I'm told, and George, we send our prayers in your direction. 
His seat is now in the capable hands and feet of veteran Matt 
Chamberlain, whose resume includes jobs with Edie Brickell & New 
Bohemians, an early stint with Pearl Jam, and the 21st century line-up 
of Soundgarden. So these guys are rarin' to rock!

This was my 100th Bob Dylan show, and I chose to spend it in the 
company of members of the Skillet Fork Society of Dylanologists, all of 
whom hail from oases within the beautiful Big Sky Country of the 
Hawkeye State. Terri responded to my Boblinks posting after Cedar 
Rapids 7/9/05 and we corresponded for a few years after that. Her 
husband Rod ( ringleader of Skillet Fork! ) is also a big believer in the 
Grateful Dead and has a good working knowledge of music history. He 
once hosted a segment on a local radio station called " Rod's Weekly 
Dose Of Dylan ". Also in attendance were their friends Pat and Bea. We 
were able to break bread at a restaurant in Ames beforehand. Fine folks

We were scattered about the main floor of the auditorium. Expecting 
the usual folding chairs I was pleased to find instead plush seats as the 
floor curved upward to the back of the room. Curiously my Seat 1 was
located not on the outside but in the center of the row. To date the 
only variations in the set are in the opening two numbers ( an exception 
being " Long And Wasted Years " in the Irvine encore ). " Beyond Here 
Lies Nothin' " and " It's All Over Now, Baby Blue " were the chosen ones 
and we agreed on that. Though I've seen many Baby Blues this was the 
first in quite some time if I can remember correctly without looking it up. 
Bob's voice was a little rough here but of course that doesn't bother us. 
The contemporary standards " Highway 61 Revisited " and " Simple Twist 
Of Fate " were driven by Donnie Herron on lap steel and fiddle, 
respectively. With four tracks in the set I'm pleased by Bob's renewed 
focus on Time Out Of Mind; " Can't Wait " features a complex new 
arrangement that challenges and teases the music receptors in my brain. 
" Tryin' To Get To Heaven " and especially " Make You Feel My Love " 
(a song I never much cared for originally ) achieve this as well. It would 
be an interesting exercise to compile the most recent performances of 
TOOM material and compare them with the album. Talk about yer 

" When I Paint My Masterpiece " is a brilliant addition to be played every 
night and was a crowd favorite once the lyrics became clear. I'd seen 
only two previously. " Honest With Me " and " Pay In Blood " : rebirth l
ooks really good on them. It seems not that long ago when people 
were disappointed that Bob didn't allow Charlie Sexton free exploration 
of his craft. He's most definitely " off the leash " in 2019 and look out 
'cause you might just get burned from the heat! Two of the most 
notable performances were quiet ones, however. " Lenny Bruce " is 
poignantly rendered, driven by Donnie's fiddle. And for me " Not Dark 
Yet ", always an emotional touchstone, was the centerpiece of the 
evening. It can be seen as Bob Dylan growing older but with still much 
to say, it can be seen from the standpoint of our own mortality, it can 
be seen as a storm warning in these New Dark Ages. A fresh 
arrangement and stunning execution drove the spike straight into the 

Beyond here lies recognition: I didn't even realize " Thunder On The 
Mountain " had been played until checking the setlist! Guess I wasn't 
catching the lyrics but I thought it sounded a lot like Elvis' " Little Sister". 
Bob does it again! " Soon After Midnight " benefits from a quicker pace 
and " Gotta Serve Somebody "...…. it may sound jaunty but it sure as 
Hell ain't!! Are you listening Donald John Trump and your enablers? Of 
course not, but you should be! The second punch would be " Ballad 
Of A Thin Man ", with renewed vitality after beginning to fall a little 
flat in recent years. One of the top titles on my unofficial wish list of 
songs I've never seen Bob play was " It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It 
Takes A Train To Cry " and this one fulfilled all my wishes. I was 
concerned it might be dropped after the spring and summer tours. 
It was the perfect number to close a hundred and I look forward to 
more of them. Good times, good friends, and another show the 
following night. What more could a travellin' man ask for?

A couple further notes that contributed to the richness of the day: at 
the massive Iowa 80 truckstop/fuel complex just west of the Mississippi 
banks I pulled up to a pump for refueling. From the other side of the
island I could hear sounds of a squeaky harmonica emanating from a 
vehicle there. Sho' nuff it was a recording of Our Man Bob. The driver 
was a young man in his early 20's, an itinerant musician from Oklahoma 
on his way to another joint. He was accompanied by the More Blood, 
More Tracks box and said it was his favorite music of all time! There is 
hope for the future after all. And to keep the circle unbroken: this 
version of " Lenny Bruce " at my 100th show was the only one I've 
seen since concert no. 1 at Clarkston 6/12/81. Seeya out on the 

Don Ely
Rochester, MI


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