October 24, 2014
Review by Marty Traynor
My reaction to this show, this 2014 staging of Dylan and band, is that it was
both more laid back and more powerful than the NET shows I have seen
before. I will try to explain.
Dylan commands the show from start to finish. The set list has been largely
static recently, and I had wondered about that - some of the joy of going
to dozens of shows over the past few years has been the expectation of
variety, that in three or four shows you would hear lots of different songs.
Fans attending multiple shows went seeking surprises. But the surprise in
fact is that this show revealed how Dylan has molded a set list that allows
him to use his time-limited voice to maximum advantage while keeping
enough of an improvisational feel that both the audience and his band must
stay tuned in at all times.
The set list itself is heavy on newer material than on the greatest hits of the
past. It is a fan's set list. Only Tangled Up in Blue, All Along the Watchtower
and Blowin' in the Wind are songs a casual fan (or non-fan) is likely to know.
Most of the songs are from the 21st century, were written to fit Dylan's
voice, and were largely recorded live in studio, usually with members of this
band. At times, these songs came across so well they sounded like alternate
The Dolby Theater is a great place to see a concert. The seats are
comfortable and the sight lines are very good. Best of all, the acoustics are
great. Over the past 22 years, many of the venues I have seen Dylan
perform in were sports arenas, baseball parks, and big amphitheaters. There
is a certain energy in those settings, but even in the best of them the sound
is muddy. By contrast, the Dolby is like a recording studio that just happens
to allow over 3,000 people to sit in. In particular, that's important for this
show, featuring so much quiet intensity. You could pick out every detail of
the instrumental interplay, notably between Charlie Sexton's guitar lead and
Donnie Herron's many instruments. This was notable in the banjo- guitar
work in Forgetful Heart and High Water as examples.
Other random notes:
* Dylan wore a nice light gray suit and hat, plus beautiful two-tone boots.
His harmonica solos were, as always, transfixing. He has an amazing stage
presence as he traipses between center stage and the piano.
* We sat in an upper mezzanine and that gave us a great view of the stage.
In particular, George Recile was more visible to me than ever before, and he
is clearly an amazing drummer. Evidence was the way he flipped the sticks
between standard heads to brushes and back on numbers like Duquesne
Whistle and AATW. His contribution to Early Roman Kings was another
* I do miss the energy of concerts where people stood up a bit more. Start
to finish, the only time I saw people stand was at the encore point and after
the finale. Maybe it is due to the set up of the venue, perhaps it's the set
list, which is heavy on dark messages and is musically more moody swing than
rock, and perhaps it is because the volume seems to be turned down so
Dylan's voice can be heard more clearly.
* there were a few songs that rushed to a conclusion, especially in the
second half of the show. The band would be playing, Dylan would stand and
walk around, and tHen it seems he passed some secret sign that told them
to end the song, and a couple seemed to end gracelessly.
* Forgetful Heart is a highlight of the show. Dylan always seems to
enunciate the lyrics and the tune is sweet as played in concert
Overall, I'd like to see this set again. That's what Sunday's show is for!
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