October 24, 2019
Review by Ed Newman
Warm Welcome for Dylan in Minnesota: Bringing It Home at the Mankato
The stage had an old-timey surreal theatrical feel.
(Those are mannequins in back)
I wasn't planning to see Dylan on this current leg of the Never Ending
Tour, but the reviews have been so strong I couldn't help myself.
Tuesday evening I checked to see what was available and grabbed a
$12 seat ($17.17 after fees) and then began working on how to get
to Mankato from Duluth. When all was said and done, the experience
Thank you to Rich & Sue Hall who gave me the lift to Mankato. Rich
said this was his third major concert this week, having seen Willie
Nelson and another big name in Vegas at the beginning of the week.
Dylan has been doing five concerts a week right now, and his vocal
punch shows no signs of letting up.
Dylan's muse on a pedestal, stage right
Despite the knots of rush hour traffic in Minneapolis, and a Thursday
Night Vikings game at US Bank Stadium, we navigated through just
fine and there were no chewed off fingernails. After scarfing down a
burrito at Kato Tacos, I passed through the security checkpoint and
began circulating around the arena, grabbing a few fotos and greeting
a few friends.
Upon finding my seat, still early, I had a chance to get to know a few
of the others who were in the not-so-prime location for viewing the
band. Roger and Debbie Seberson, from White Bear Lake, have been
to somewhere between 40 and 42 Dylan shows. Jon Erickson of
Bloomer, Wisconsin was attending his 49th concert. And young Brook
Honig, who also drove down from Duluth but grew up in Wichita,
Kansas, was attending his first Dylan concert.
* * * *
At 8 p.m. the arena lights went dark and a cacophony of electronic
sound erupted from the darkened stage as the players took their
positions. When the lights came on Dylan was standing at the mic,
guitar in hand, gold embroidered jacket, black slacks with a gold stripe
on the outside of each leg down to his white boots. Hair frizzy and
wild, voice strong, "Things Have Changed" was this night's opener.
The energy in the room amped, or was it adrenaline pumping into
After the first song Bob permanently discarded the guitar and took a
seat at the piano for a beautiful rendition of "It Ain't Me, Babe" that
felt sincere and pained. When he stood to deliver the last verse the
crowd responded. When "Highway 61" kicked in the totally amped
crowd was all in. The guitar players did the two step in sync, silver
jackets glistening in the lights, Tony Garnier giving a fabulous bass line
underneath. My feet were shuffling and the room was moving.
Bob remained at the piano for "Simple Twist of Fate," with variations
in the lyrics plus an extra verse, instrumental breaks between. The
playlist was following the pattern of his Denver show.
For Can't Wait, Bob left the piano and grabbed the mic, backing to
mesh with the band at the back of the stage. This was a funky
variation of the song, with especially strong emphatic singing. "I don't
know, said I don't know, how much longer I can wait."
The stage went dark as Bob re-positioned himself back at the piano
to perform "When I Paint My Masterpiece." The tune and tempo were
different, but the singing sizzled and was heartfelt. Halfway through he
went to the back of the stage again and grabbed his harp, which
seems to never fail to please the crowd, finishing the last part of the
song as a vocalist.
iPhone view from the cheap seats. Binoculars got right up close though.
Moving back to the piano he took his Jerry Lee Lewis stand, legs spread
with his weight on the right foot, belting out "Honest with Me" from
Love & Theft. This was followed by his taking a seat to perform "Tryin'
to Get to Heaven Before They Close the Door" from Time Out of Mind.
This and later "Not Dark Yet" brought to mind how many of Dylan's
songs deal with the finite nature of life and issues of meaning. On his
very first album we have selections like "See That My Grave Is Kept
Clean" and "In My Time Of Dyin'" and ten years later "Knockin' On
Heaven's Door." It's a recurring thread appearing several times this
Donnie's violin opening to "Make You Feel My Love" was sweet, and
used frequently during the show. Bob tucked himself back into the
band again on this song, delivering lyrics with visceral power, holding
the mic to his face with his right hand, punching the air with his left.
This is where some of the action takes place.
There was a new arrangement to "Pay In Blood," which opened with a
guitar intro. Bob, standing again toward the rear of the stage, balanced
on his feet with legs spread, throwing that left hand forward with each
phrase, like a boxer jabbing, only his fingers would be spread sometimes,
squinting as his phrases burst out from a deep part of his diaphragm.
The darkness descended and when the lights lifted he was at the piano
to sing Lenny Bruce. One of the emotionally charged tender moments
of the concert. It's a great song, though perhaps was a surprising
addition to his Shot Of Love album. There were new lyrics now. On the
original he sang:
Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lives on and on
Never did get any Golden Globe award, never made it to Synanon
Last night, however, he sang:
Never did make it to the Promised Land, never made it out of Babylon.
When Bob sang, "I rode with him in a taxi once, only for a mile and a
half but it seemed like a couple of months," he sang it with an affection
you could feel.
The verses were re-arranged so that near the end of the song it
sounded to me like he sang, "He's on a Christian shore, he didn't want
to live any more." As opposed to the original, "He's on another shore...
" The effect was mesmerizing for me, and a beautiful rendition of the
song. I wrote in my notebook, "Wow. Wow. Wow."
(For more on Lenny Bruce, see: Intersections: Dylan, Lenny Bruce and
a Quiet Funeral for the Beats.)
And then we had Bob back at center stage for "Early Roman Kings."
I know he loves to sing the line, "I ain't dead yet. My bell still rings." In
Duluth (2013) he hand a little white hanky in that left hand as he put
his hand out. Last night he did that hand gesture without the hanky.
"Girl from the North Country" followed, with a huge response from the
audience of Minnesotans who especially appreciate this Minnesota tribute
of sorts. His piano playing was again tender. Tony played his stand-up
bass with a bow, and the song ended with a big applause.
I know that "Not Dark Yet," which followed, moved quite a few of us.
It was a time of meaningful reflection.
After the encore, lights went on and we made our way to the exits.
The concert's pacing was perfect as he leapt into the plundering
uptempo "Thunder on the Mountain," a whomping boogie blues riff
with guitar breakouts between verses and dancing down in front of
the stage with solos for all. With a head signal to Tony the band did a
tight wind out.
"Soon After Midnight" and a totally rockified "Gotta Serve Somebody"
closed out the 17 song set, Lights out and a lengthy foot-stomping,
hollering, whistling for more followed. After a suitably long pause in the
noisy dark they returned for the two song encore that has been in
their standard during other concerts lately. "Ballad of a Thin Man,"
again with guitar breaks and a harmonica solo, and "It Takes a Lot to
Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry."
Oh yeah, it was a good concert.
And thank you Zane and Miriam for getting me home safe and sound
afterwards. The only thing that could have made it a better night
would have been seeing Northern Lights as we headed North back
to Duluth. Maybe next time.
Review by Susan Laing
stark honesty... running bare is what I take away from last night's
'Bob Dylan and his Band Live and In Person' performance … it was Bob
letting it all hang out. The open neck shirt baring the gravity of time
for all to see; no pencil thin moustache, light make up to flatter the
complexion or hats of stature.
Likewise there were no ornamental solos woven into the fabric of
the night by the band.
The nineteen songs amply filled the space creating a perfectly
balanced plain weave; warp of instruments, weft of voice.
The stage underlighting created an enormous cavity, almost an
arched cathedral effect emphasizing the diminutive human frames. Bob's
performance comes from somewhere … it does not correlate with time
ticked out by mortal clocks and this disconnect only serves to highlight
his art which will likewise defy mortality.
The mannequins frozen in time and gesture reveal the stark contrast
with this revealing acceptance that time and change are symbiotic …
between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act,
falls the shadow (ts Elliot)
Review by David Maeda
Mankato was my 49th Bob Dylan show. If that seems like an impressive
number, the woman who sat next to me, who had to be at least 20 years
younger than me, and saw her first Dylan show in 1996 (mine was a decade
earlier) was attending her 55th show. She overheard me talking to the guys
next to me on the other side answering the question what is my favorite
Dylan album? “Street Legal” which is the most effective documenting of
a nervous breakdown ever. The young woman chimed in it also was her
favorite Dylan LP. She fell in love with Bob’s music after hearing
“Changing of the Guard” on his Greatest Hits Vol. 3 LP. I just about
proposed to her on the spot.
After the show I got on my hotel’s elevator with a guy I’m guessing
was a bit older than me. I asked if he had been at the concert. He said he
had. I asked him how many times he had seen Bob. “Over 200...” He flew
in from Germany for this leg of the current tour.
What is it about Dylan that creates/causes such devotion among so many?
For me, the answer my friend, was my favorite moment in the concert, his
performance of “Lenny Bruce.” Prior to this tour, the song hadn’t
been performed in over a dozen years. After the first few songs, the woman
next to me whispered to me that the setlist was different than the past
few shows. I gave her a thumbs up and said, “I really hope he still does
‘Lenny Bruce.” She smiled. And so when he strummed the opening chords
on his upright piano, she touched my arm in a shared understanding.
“Lenny Bruce” is not a great Dylan song. It appeared on what’s
probably my second favorite Dylan LP, “Shot of Love” the last of his
born again trilogy. He performed the song during his 1986 tour with Tom
Petty and the Heartbreakers acting as his backing band. He performed it at
my first Bob show at the HHH Metrodome and I remember I smiled throughout.
The impetus behind the song is seemingly obvious; both are Jewish
performers who pushed the envelopes of their genres. The line that
currently kills me is “he was the brother that you never had...” What
does Bob’s brother David think of that line? What would my brother Bruce
think if he heard me sing that line with heartfelt conviction? (I once
sang Bob’s “Congratulations” to my soulmate Stephanie Jane,
“Congratulations for breaking heart... Congratulations for tearing me
all apart...” and Stephanie Jane told me not to sing with so much
The Mankato show, this leg of the never ending tour (a label Bob once
bristled at, the false naming of his impressive touring, all things end...
over the past 30+ years) could be dubbed his “Time Out of Mind” tour.
“Time Out of Mind” was released in 1997 and was considered a comeback
at the time, a startlingly clear document of death, depression, blues, and
insight after years of seemingly lost efforts. He performed four songs
from that LP and all were stellar.
I automatically dismiss any best of Bob songlist that dosen’t contain
any song from “Time Out of Mind” because there are so many brilliant
to chose from. If I had to choose what to include on his greatest song
list I would choose “Tryin to Get to Heaven (Before they Close the
Door)” and “Not Dark Yet.” Both Mankato performances were really
terrific. The arrangements were offbeat and strangely effective. Turning
the recorded versions inside out and leaving me as a witness feeling
outside in. Both songs absolutely moved me beyond my current struggles
into a better place. And that’s exactly the reason attending a Dylan
show has for me consistently has been a transformative experience.
Another definitive highlight was “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” I long
considered this a minor song in the vast Dylan catalog but he’s been
performing it on a regular basis the past few years. And it has so many
great lines: “Train wheels are running through the back of my
memory/When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese/Someday
everything is gonna sound like a rhapsody...” and “Newspaper men
eating candy/Had to be held down by big police/But someday every thing's
gonna be different/When I paint that masterpiece...”
In my current visit into the abyss, “When I Paint My Masterpiece” has
become my theme song. I’ve been thinking a lot about my legacy, both my
professional career, and my lifelong need to write something life
changing. For any of you out there who has ever has, or currently is,
wondering how you’ll leave your mark in this world, I invite you to
attend my next session with my latest therapist because I’d love to
At 78 years old, who knows how much longer Bob is willing to give to us,
his fans? There’s a credible rumor he is going to cutback on his
touring. Will I be able to see him for a 50th time? I truly hope so.
Review by Gene Senger
Two friends and I arrived in Mankato by 5 pm and headed to the
box-office to get our front row tickets! Before getting there,
Charlie Sexton came walking toward us and when he was
two steps away from me I said, “Hey Charlie, welcome!”
He pulled his hat down over his eyes, grunted and/or nodded slightly as he
continued charging ahead, leaving us in his dust. No time for pictures or
chit-chat, he appeared to be on a mission. Interestingly, my friend Laurie
reminded me of when Charlie did stop for a picture 10 years ago in New
Jersey. Her husband pulled out his phone to show us the picture,
refreshing our memories. Then we went to a coffee shop before returning to
the civic center. We went up some steps looking for a bathroom and
realized we were on a skyway looking down on Dylan’s bus which was
parked right there. Within 10 minutes we saw Charlie again as he talked to
the road manager before he went in the building. Then Dylan’s
‘dresser’ went into the bus. Five minutes later she came back out,
followed by Dylan in a leather jacket and a hoodie pulled up. It was
definitely him, no mistaking that unique gait of his. They both walked
into the civic center so we went to our seats.
And pretty soon the lights were dimming and I was feeling confused for a
moment, was that Beyond Here Lies Nothing I was hearing? No, wait it
sounds like it could be ... but what?! Then it just morphed into Things
Have Changed. And then I was off and running in a fugue state for over an
hour, living in the second as there was so much to see from row one!
Notably, the way the musicians all watched and listened to one another,
like it was still rehearsed but also open to improvisation. During It
Takes A lot to Laugh It Takes a Train to Cry, Dylan’s head was bowed
down toward the piano, he was jabbing in thrusts, eyes closed, listening
to Charlie behind him just completely SHREDDING his guitar. This is the
first time I saw Dylan watching the others too, just as carefully as they
watch him. What surprised me was Early Roman Kings! It’s not that I’m
a big fan of the song but the way they do it now is something to behold.
It’s been slowed down, still a shuffling blues sound but now Dylan has
time to really stretch out the vocals with nice open long bluesy notes.
Very forceful singing, maybe my favorite performance of the night.
Surprise! And again the guitars were really wailing on that one. At one
point when the band was really rocking, there was just a one note rest and
Dylan took one finger, jabbed one key on the piano and the band followed
with a thunderous return. Very dramatic. My thought was this guy really
knows how to lead his band. This is getting too long .... Lenny Bruce was
hypnotic, you could’ve heard a pin drop. Ballad of a Thin Man was
intense as ever. As we drove back to St.Paul I reminded my friends that
Dylan was on the same road as us, headed to Milwaukee. We wondered if
maybe we shouldn’t be on our way there too. Whew!
St. Paul, MN
Comments by Thomas J. Lallier
Mankato Minnesota, actually the windiest city over 100,000 people. Learned
tat from listening to Bob. Best show since Telluride 2001. I like the
Charlie Bob Britt combo. After going to the better part of 200 shows, this
is one to see.
Thomas J. Lallier
Review by Paul Metsa
Bob Dylan is in complete command of and at the peak of his artistic
powers, and in my mind, there is no doubt he is now America's most
powerful and creative working artist, sharing his magic and mojo, while
heading to another joint, that are completely American made. His show in
Mankato, MN on 10/24/19 reminded me of both his importance again, and why
there was never any reason to count this Iron Ranger out. I never did. As
an Iron Ranger myself, and a professional musician and songwriter inspired
in large part by the shadow of his influence, I was completely blown away
by something at this show, that I had never before witnessed. I am not
sure I could actually figure out what that was. What I did see, was an
artist in such complete control of his catalogue teasing his songs like a
cat playing with a mouse, leading America's greatest working rock band
like Bob Wills with a bullwhip, playing harmonica with the rhythmic hammer
recalling Little Walter with the trunk of his Cadillac full of cash, and
standing up playing an upright piano conjuring images of him breaking into
the Moose Club on Howard Street in Hibbing in '56 or '57 serenading Echo
Helstrom, his Girl From the North Country while midnight blessed them both
keeping all cops away. Not unlike many of you, Dylan has been part of my
emotional and spiritual fabric for 50 years- imagine having your favorite
dog that long! He changed, we changed, and back together again for a night
witnessing his glorious, Top of the World Ma, show incorporating every
American Icon worth remembering. What I experienced in Mankato, while
remembering who I was, and he was, and over all those decades, life and
life only. All of that. An affirmation cloaked in mystery, faith be both
damned and counted on, art in both the smallest and largest of moments.
Those icons, touchstones really that he offers up, the purity of Lenny
Bruce, the reminder that the City Fathers betray us daily, his tightrope
walk between Lawrence Olivier and Liberace meeting Billy the Kid in the
middle of the high wire, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters, Ricky
Nelson, Allen Ginsberg, and so much more, wrapped in the Coat of Many
Colors that is the American Spirit at its core, in all of it's ragged
glory, and knowing at the end of the day, and in this particular at this
show, Dylan's band could jump any juke joint, or VFW dance floor at
midnight anywhere in America, and realizing, as he proffers and transmits
the ghosts of all that made this country beautiful, but more importantly
mystical, he is probably just fine with that
Review by Don Ely
" HE LOOKED AT ME "
The logic that courses through the mind of a Bob Dylan devotee dictates
that once you're already out on the road seeing a show, you might just as
well attend another! So it was that after Ames, Iowa on Wednesday night I
continued up the highway to Mankato, Minnesota for Thursday's event. I
love seeing Bob in his home state and this was my fifth since 2000. That
one, actually ( Rochester 3/31/00 ) was the very first Bob Dylan road trip
I undertook. Mankato is a small city, a beacon of civilization set alone
amid the prairie of the Great Midwest. I love the Big Sky Country of
southern Minnesota and Iowa; it's never boring as some may think and makes
for a serene crossing of the miles. I am truly in awe of the wind farms,
especially when the gigantic blades are fully in motion! Seeing a single
blade being shipped on a flatbed truck puts me in mind of one of those "
tall tale " postcards from around the turn of the 20th century picturing a
giant watermelon or other exaggerated produce. Not to be outdone by the
farmland Minnesota also has some of the nicest rest stops out there, with
scenic hiking trails and picnic tables if you're interested in more than
get in, get out. The Straight River Rest Area off I-35 and Enterprise Rest
Area off I-90 overlooking the inspiring Rush Creek Valley are but two.
The Mankato Civic Center is a pretty nondescript building that sits
downtown across from the Minnesota River. So bland, in fact that I
neglected to return next day for a photo op. It seems to be a
multi-purpose facility ( convention rooms, etc ) that includes a hockey
rink where the Minnesota State University Mavericks play on home ice.
Seating was a wee bit confusing as I thought I was in the correct Row G
Seat 12, but further down in what I thought was the same section was
another Row G Seat 12. Turns out this was actually a different section,
temporary stands added for live performances. Although I had to kind of
view the show through a railing sightlines were good and most important of
all, sound quality was excellent. 2018 was the first year I hadn't seen
Bob since 1995; he didn't make a stop in our area and I couldn't travel
while I was taking care of my mom. So I'm beginning a new streak!
Tonight's concert equaled that of the previous evening. " Things Have
Changed " and " It Ain't Me Babe " were the alternate openers. In the case
of the latter a little thrill goes through my heart whenever Bob Dylan
bestows upon a Minnesota audience a composition dating to his earliest
days in the land from which he sprang as an acorn before daily growin'
into the venerable Mighty Oak. " Girl From The North Country " is perhaps
the finest of those. Played to a nearly-full house the audience was
engaged and cheered to songs like " Simple Twist Of Fate " and of course,
Dylan's harp solos, which are very strong and vital right now. Great also
to see him bringing out the guitar, even if but for one song. It was fun
to see again " Can't Wait ", " Pay In Blood ", and " Thunder On The
Mountain " and further wrap my head around the changes. Interesting too to
discern the changes in stage layout, with Bob's upright piano moved closer
to the center. From where I was positioned I was facing him, and when he
was seated all I could see was his head and that hair bob-bob-bobbin'
away! He continues employing those fantastic vintage canister spotlights,
and that warm amber color scheme. Somber costumed sentries stand aloof at
the rear of the stage ( probably to frighten patrons into refraining from
using their devices! ) but they Ain't Talkin'. Tryin' to get a poster
before they close the door I witnessed the encores from the back of the
floor as the aroma of sweet leaf wafted through my senses. Another
brilliant evening, and a terrific commencement of the next hundred shows.
During the afternoon drive from Ames to Mankato I detoured from the
freeway to visit Clear Lake, Iowa and the Surf Ballroom. January 31, 1959
was the date young Bob Zimmerman ( or was it Elston Gunn? ) braved a
freezing Superior wind with iron ore dust blowin' through his hair no
doubt to see his rock 'n' hero Buddy Holly at the Duluth Armory. I never
forget in Bob's anecdotes of that night the words he said about Buddy: "
He looked at me ". Charles Hardin Holley and his musical kin The Big
Bopper ( J. P. Richardson ) and Ritchie Valens ( Ricardo Valenzuela )
would go on to play another show in Green Bay before landing in Clear Lake
for a gig at the Surf Ballroom. As legend and Heaven knows, it would be
their last before joining The Greatest Band Not Of This Earth. Today the
Surf is still swingin' and still hosting bands; Midland had a show booked
the same night as Dylan in Mankato and crew were setting up the stage
while I marveled at the interior of the Surf. The original 1933 building
was destroyed by fire with the current version having been erected in
1948. Vintage wooden booths, fixturing, and art remain, and you can
imagine kids of the late '40's and '50's going to the sock hop and
enjoying malteds and cheeseburgers while having good, clean American FUN
and going to see Buddy Holly and company on that fateful night, a beacon
in the Heartland. I know I was moved and I wouldn't even be born for
nearly two years! Grab a flyer from the Surf and you can drive 5-6 miles
outside town, walk a quarter mile into a cornfield and pay respects to
Buddy, J.P., Ritchie, and the pilot at the memorial located at the actual
crash site in the middle of Big Sky Country. And a friendly farm dog might
just greet you with a lick and a smile. And that, Charlie Brown, is what
the Heart Of America is all about.
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