October 26, 2010
Review Christopher Oxie
I was privileged to spend a glorious fall afternoon with world renowned and new
minted retiree, Dr. Robert Schuler. After more than 5 decades, Dr. Schuler has
decided to slow it down a bit and concentrate on his writings. Seeing how this
was a extra special evening, Dr. Schuler's wife, the Duchess Susan, joined our
party. My lovely wife Amy also came along as an aide to the Duchess.
We spent the afternoon visiting some of Dr. Schuler's old haunts on the campus
of Michigan State University. After an excellent dinner, our driver took us to
the front door of the MSU Auditorium. I was dismayed to see the long lines of
people trying to get in the front doors. As it turns out, there were four
entrances into the building but all four lanes of people were being funneled
into one doorway where they were ripping tickets. This, coupled with the fact
that the merchandise booth was directly in front of us, made for a very
congested, and long process to get in. We finally made our way through and
after saying hello to a few old friends, we got to our seats.
There was no opening act scheduled and I asked one of the workers what time they
expected Dylan to start. I was told that he plays for 1:45 mins and that they
were trying to hold as long as they could but they had been told he sometimes
just walks on. Before she finished her sentence, the lights we down and the
usual announcement was made. Dylan came out in a grey hat, black coat, black
pants with a red stripe down the side and a black silk kerchief. Dylan, knowing
that the "storm of the century" (which never really materialized) was upon us,
gave us "storm" related songs throughout the night.
1. Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat - Dylan started off at the piano for this one. It
was clear and the sound level was excellent. For the first time with this
current band set up, Dylan projected video images on the back drop. The images
were black and white pictures of what looked like clouds, train depot's, old
warehouses, and occasionally, Dylan himself was projected on top of them in a
ghostly like manner. The song was nothing new and sounded as it has in the
2. It's All Over Now Baby Blue - First of the "storm" references as the storm
had passed over East Lansing. Dylan moved to center stage with his guitar,
which was a burnt orange color, with a wood grain pick guard. I only mention it
because it appeared to have some damage to the horn where the toggle switch is.
Again, nothing new with the arrangement and it moved as it should.
3. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again - I cringed when I heard
the first verse. I am not a fan of this song and most in the crowd seemed a bit
confused at what was being played. Dylan took a lot of the leads on this one
and played his guitar quite a bit and was out front in the mix.
4. Just Like a Woman - Dylan moved back to the piano. I liked the 2005
versions of this song much more than the one played here. Stu and Tony were
singing along with the crowd on their side of the stage and Stu had a big grin
on his face the whole time.
5. Rollin and Tumblin - Charlie seemed to have some issues with his guitar
during the entire song. His non-stop fiddling with the knobs and dials was
enough to drive you to drink. He was almost gone in the mix and only when the
last minute or so of the song was being played was I able to hear the slide he
was trying to get out. "second "storm" reference to the high winds that whipped
around all night, blowing stuff around. Donnie was constantly looking over at
what Dylan was playing, trying to figure out what chords were being played.
6. Masters of War - Nothing new about the arrangement. Tony brought out the
stand up bass for the first time. There was a huddle in front of the drums at
the end of the song with Dylan, Charlie and Tony.
7. Summer Days - "Storm" reference number three as "summer nights are
gone" and "I'm leaving in the morning just as soon as the dark clouds life"
were sung with some enthusiasium. Nothing special about the song
other than it seemed a bit rushed.
8. Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall - Dylan was forever swiping the back of his head
near his neck in an effort to deal with the gallons of sweat he was producing.
He tried to add a fit of flair each time he did it. I counted a total of 17
times. Another "storm" reference as it had been raining for hours when the show
9. High Water (for Charlie Patton) - Dylan moved back to center stage, with
this phone mic in hand and his harmonica. Donnie broke out the banjo and this
arrangement worked well. Obviously, Dylan was having fun with the song
selection as we got another"storm" reference with the "high water" reference and
"high water risin' the shacks are slidin' down" lyrics.
10. Simple Twist of Fate - The absolute highlight of the evening. Those that
will get the recording will no doubt agree. Clear as a bell, and expertly
played. This song alone is the reason to get a copy of the show.
11. Highway 61 - The downward spiral begins. Most of the 20 somethings jumped
up when this one started. It rocked like it does but did seemed to be a bit
12. Workingman Blues - Dylan moved back to center stage for this one. It was
nicely done but the crushing heat in the building was almost unbearable by this
point. We were dripping wet just standing in our seats.
13. Thunder on the Mountain - Horrible. This is one of the worst songs ever.
It was difficult to understand what was being said, but, no one seemed to care.
Final "storm" reference of the evening.
14. Ballad of a Thin Man - Another highlight of the show. Dylan was in "full
airplane mode" during this song and had his arms out at his side and was flying.
He was also constantly pulling his pants up by the waistband. The lights went
down and the band walked off in the dark. The roadie came out and started
removing instruments from Donnie's side of the stage. That was the first sign
that we were getting the usual encores.
15. Jolene - Again, no one really wants to hear this one anymore but,there it
was. Band introductions after the song was over.
16. Like a Rolling Stone - Nothing to report here. It was just as you have
heard it before. Once it was over, they lined up for about 10 seconds and
walked off. There was a fleeting moment where I thought we might get Watchtower
as the lights stayed off for just a bit longer than expected but, he was gone.
All and all another enjoyable evening with Dr Schuler and his wife. Looking
forward to many more!
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