Review by Ray Padgett
Getting to the show today was certainly less hectic. Had a mini get-together
with Steve and Dan (standin' on the gallows), with whom I had road tripped
to Comstock Park and Columbus, at at Jimmy John's near the venue. The
place was recommended as a great place to eat before a Sears Centre show
by the Chicago Tribune, so I organized it there. Little did I know it was just a
sub chain. Why they recommended it was beyond me, but we had a nice
dinner and Bob-filled conversation nevertheless.
Headed over to the venue afterwards, where I picked up a poster. They look
great this tour (as seen on the left). Steve had some pretty crappy seats for
tonight's show, so I filled him in on the little quirk of the section I was sitting
in, about thirty rows back on the floor. Due to a venue screw-up it was
general admission, and no one was checking tickets. He decided to take me
up on the offer and we grabbed some great seats over to the left, in just the
right place to see Bob.
But first, of course, were the Kings of Leon. I'd been sorry to miss them
yesterday and was excited for their show. They were pretty fun to watch,
but got old after a little while. Why they were opening for Bob is a mystery;
with short frill-free garage/thrash rock songs, they seemed to be the exact
opposite of him. Go figure. When they came onstage I thought they were
roadies. Dressed in white shirts, they were long-haired and dirty enough to
qualify. Well, except the bassist, whose unbuttuned tight black shirt made
him look emo and out of place. I knew a few songs, The Bucket and Slow
Night, So Long, both of which were played very faithfully to their album
counterparts. The lighting was going nuts their whole set, which made for
an extra layer of entertainment. I was ready for them to be done after a
Bob came on, and opened with...Maggie's Farm. A decent enough version
of a song that is usually just that, decent enough. Obviously disappointing as
an opener, and one of the worst he's used in the last year. Absolutely Sweet
Marie, Things Have Changed, Most Likely, Cat's in the Well...all these songs
have fun, memorable riffs that get the audience dancing. In its current
incarnation, Maggie's Farm simply doesn't. It's got texture and a
carefully-orchestrated backdrop for which Bob to sing over, but nothing
much else instrumentally. Anyway, that's all more a criticism of the song
in general, as opposed to tonight's version, which was fine.
I heard Donnie start the pedal steel intro to the next song, and I thought
I remembered what it was. The intro went on for a little while, during which
time I kept my fingers crossed. Success, it was She Belongs to Me, complete
with some great downsinging. Having not seen any shows this spring, this
was a first for me, and was quite well done. Not a masterpiece like versions
earlier in the year, but still done with care. His voice clearly didn't need the
time to warm up that it did yesterday, as from the first line on his voice was
swelling and fading in top form. I got the feeling this might be a good show.
I was somewhat expecting Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum here, but instead
we got another song off Love & Theft,
and a much bigger treat: Lonesome Day Blues. I'd seen it once before, in
Chicago '05, and this one blew that one out of the water. A truly epic
performance tonight, Bob belting and screeching each line out. The second
line was done differently (and better) from the first every time and the third
line was always treated with just as much care. Every verse better than the
last, with many individual highlights. In "He's not a gentleman at all - he's
rotten to the core, he's a coward and he steals" Bob delayed each clause a
little bit, making you think he wasn't going to get them all in, but just hitting
'em dead-on one by one. I remember him doing something nice for the
second "I was trying to make out what it was," but I don't remember what
exactly. Additionally, Bob was as animated as I've ever seen him, dancing
around during the instrumental breaks, and doing a little funky-chicked
number at one point. A highlight not only of the concert itself, but of all
the shows I've seen.
I've gotten better at guessing songs from their openings. During my summer
shows I got it wrong several times, but didn't get it wrong once at the
Chicago shows. Positively 4th Street was a first for me, and one I'd wanted
to see. However, having heard a lot of pretty bad versions over the last couple
years, I was a little apprehensive. Not to worry, Bob wasn't taking any song for
granted tonight. In a song where he used to upsing every line, that only
showed up occasionally, and never sounded bad. The current version has been
described as more remorseful than aggressive, but I disagree. The fact that it's
quieter just makes it seem angrier to me, more passive-aggressive than
outrightly hostile. Every line tonight sounded like he meant it and I'd hate to
be anyone that song was directed to last night. The last verse sent shivers
down my spine before he went into a nice harp break.
We saw Donnie get out the violin, and I was hoping for something special, but
Steve knew immediately what it was going to be: It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only
Bleeding). There are some songs that I enjoy no matter how many times I see
them (Highway 61, Watchtower, and even Summer Days), but this just isn't
one of them. He did the song quite well, but I just can't get into it anymore.
Oh well, the crowd loved the "naked president" line.
I was pleased to hear The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol and he did a nice
version of it. I'd gotten it once before, at the Aragon in '04, and I think I
prefer that rendition. This was a nice version, better than average probably,
but I still was slightly underwhelmed. I feel like I should have liked it more
than I did; maybe I was distracted or something.
Rollin' and Tumblin' was better than it was last night, without question. You
could hear Denny somewhat better, but the main difference was in Bob's
delivery. He was far more into the lyrics, doing different things to each line like
he had done in Lonesome Day Blues. The obvious highlight was "I ain't
nobody's house boy, LORD KNOWS I ain't nobody's well-trained maid." And he
sure as hell wasn't.
Donnie picked up the banjo and I was expecting High Water or Blind Willie
McTell, but was very pleasantly surprised to get The Ballad of Hollis Brown. I'd
seen it once before, and it was well-done then, but nothing like this. He sang
every line beautifully, as if he was telling the terrible story for the first time.
The band meshed to perfectly complement his delivery, Donnie's playing rising
and falling in volume just where it needed to. Another huge highlight. The
only problem was these two girls behind me, tipsy I imagine, who were talking
and laughing very loudly. I asked them to be a little quieter as nicely as I could,
and they obliged...
...but were apparently pissed at me anyway, as after the song ended one of
them shouted at me "Buddy, you need to calm down!" Now, I couldn't imagine
being more calm than I was, and knew I had done nothing to deserve this
outburst, but it got me down anyway. I don't like making people mad even if it
is their fault, so I was upset about it during most of Most Likely (You Go Your
Way and I'll Go Mine). Just couldn't focus on it. To their credit, though, the
girls stayed quiet the rest of the show.
The opening chords to the next song pulled me back in. I knew what it was,
but still couldn't believe it. I never thought I'd hear a song off Desire live, but
as Bob nailed the hell out of Joey I knew I'd been mistaken. People lambast
this song as glorifying a murderer, but I love it anyway. Just take it as fiction if
need be. Bob sure seemed to believe what he was saying tonight, telling the
story as it was written to be told. Every time he came to an especially-familiar
line (which was often), I was surprised all over again. I just couldn't believe I
was getting the opportunity to see this live. Definitely the biggest surprise I've
gotten yet (I've only seen ten shows) and a very well-done one at that.
After that gem, Bob deserved a bit of a break, and got it with Highway 61
Revisited. As usual, the band carried it, and performed it quite well as always.
The only notable part, other than the light show previously described, was a
lengthy organ solo by Bob, with Denny layering some crisp fills over top.
I hadn't realized there were only two songs left in the main set. Had I, I
probably would have been a little more disappointed to get Workingman's
Blues #2 again, instead of Nettie Moore or Spirit on the Water, but it's still so
fresh to me live that I loved it again. I'll need to listen to the two recordings
to compare it to yesterday's, but they were close. He threw in another little
addition, saying "They worry and they hurry and they fuss and they fret, they
waste your nights and days - sure they do!" Bob was definitely in the zone
tonight. Denny did some good things too. The thing with him, is that he's
kind of like Freddy Koella, either on or off. The only difference is his highs are
nowhere near as high...and his lows aren't as godawful. He could for sure
use a few more transcedent moments though.
Another nice version of Summer Days closed the main set off. All eyes today
(or at least) were on Stu most of the time, watching him and Bob to see if
he would keep playing the whole song. And he did. I didn't see Bob pay any
attention to him at all, though Stu seemed quite apprehensive, eyes riveted
on the man behind the keys. Bob was too busy dancing again to notice.
A much shorter encore break tonight, lending creedence to my suspicion that
something had been going on backstage yesterday. They came back out after
sixty seconds or so and performed another great version of Thunder on the
Mountain, even better than last night's I'd say. Everyone who told me
beforehand that this one kills live was right; it's a real show-stopper. Hearing
him say he was going to "get me an army, some tough sons of bitches. I'll
recruit my army from the orphanages" put a grin on my face, as did him telling
his unnamed opposite that he didn't give a damn about their dreams. I was
absolutely in a trance during this one, hanging on his every word, and boy did
With George's charicteristic bang, we went into Like a Rolling Stone. Once
again, I'll have to listen to the recordings to compare it to last night's, but I
enjoyed it once again. In addition to singing along on the chorus, I found
myself listening for each of his characters to pop up: Miss Lonely, Napoleon
in rags, the chrome horse and the diplomat. And they were all there, in
position as always. Hearing it tonight made me remember what an incredible
song this is (not that I'd exactly forgotten), so I guess that says something
about the performance right there.
The band intros contained a snippet of Bob talk, about Denny I think, but I
didn't hear what it was. Nothing too much at any rate. All Along the
Watchtower was better tonight, with the riff louder and Denny's guitar clearly
plugged in from the get-go, but I still didn't think it was one of its better
airings. Something about this current arrangement seems to drain it of some
of its oomph. The one song where you couldn't help but bop around has
All in all, an incredible show, much better than last night's (which I had
enjoyed quite a bit too). One of the best Dylan shows I've seen for sure
(and the one that pushed that number into the double digits!) When Bob
is on, he's on. And he was definitely in the right mood tonight, doing each
song as if he might never perform it again. I don't know what inspired it,
but an awesome show from beginning to end. Can't wait til Portland and
Review by Jeff Kurtzman
Bob's second night in Chicagoland was a magical experience---even my mom,
a non-Dylan fan at her first Bob show gave it a 10+. In summary, I will
say of the 10 shows I've seen with his current band, this was the best.
The interplay was tight, the arrangements were energetic, George and Tony
were brilliant as always, Denny Freeman's guitar playing and especially
soloing was much more confident and interesting, and Bob was locked in as
evidenced by his frequent bouts of "dancing" behind his keyboard.
The first half of this show was a tour de force through the modern blues.
Having just seen Robert Cray and Eric Clapton, I believe Bob's version is
much more relevant, with songs like Lonesome Day Blues, It's Alright Ma
and an absolutely blistering version of Rollin' and Tumblin', which should
silence all those Denny Freeman critics out there. Even the slow songs
like Hattie Carroll and Hollis Brown were given energetic arrangements by
Bob's passioned singing and George's up-tempo brush drumming.
The second half of the concert showed a rock band at the height of its
powers. Joey was almost glam rock and Dylan's singing on this song was so
full of vigor it's impossibly to think he's 65 years old. Most Likely
You'll Go Your Way and Highway 61 rocked as always. I wasn't too excited
about hearing Summer Days for the umpteenth time but Bob, as always,
redeems---the interplay he sparked between his organ and Denny's guitar
was awesome. The encore songs were all bright, shiny, vigorous versions
and capped off the night with the crowd buzzing with energy.
Bob stood center stage with his arms half raised in triumph like a
stiff-limbed boxer/troll, and another crowd knew they'd been in the
presence of genius. One can only hope that Bob continues to provide this
treat for a long time to come...
Review by Bob Shiel
Turned out I couldn't keep myself away tonight after persuasive words by
M. Stillman. The evening got off to a cold, blustery start in the search for
good seats in the parking lot ticket selling banter. A man actually gave me a
ticket which I ended up not needing, and when I attempted to sell it for
$45 under its face value, I was given $10 more than I asked for. And the
buyer was very gracious in his appreciation!
Never did sit in my "real" seat and ended up with a close side view 2 sections
from the stage 3 rows up from the main floor (on the left facing the stage so
Bob was clearly visible). This was after a security guard chased several dozen
of us out of the aisles around and in front of the sound board.
The Sat. night crowd exceeded last night by about 15%.
The civil outlaws appeared in grey suits with black shirts, except for George
who wore a black short sleeve shirt and a grey beret to match the others'
suits. Denny sported a green necktie and black derbies were everywhere.
Bob was in all black from boots to hat except for white buttons and trim on
the pockets of his western shirt.
Briefly, the show tonight fell noticably short of last night's performance,
which would have been tough to match. Highlights were It's Alright Ma,
which was amazingly rocked up (in a good way), Hattie Carrol, Hollis Brown,
My only other comments are that on LARS Denny played an inventive hot
ead making this song better than last night, as was Watchtower, during
which Bob's phrasing on the second verse ("No reason to get excited")
stood out for its staccato style which danced with pulsing organ chords
that resulted in tremendous build up to climaxes on the last lines of the
verses which fed into hot, sort-of Hendrix solos by Denny.
And during Highway 61, Stu's hollow body Gibson was one handsome looking
instument, at least through my binoulars 110 feet away. Stu did manage to
at least not entirely sit out any numbers, yet I really feel for him in his
practically pathetic stage position and presence. He looks like a good guy for
some reason (a bit heftier bodliy than he was in '05, more of an insurance
salesman look than a rock guitarist).
In general, Bob's voice was slightly less hoarse tonight than last night, but
the overall vibration on stage didn't match last night...nor did the set list,
but that's just me.
Still glad I went. It's inevitably unforgetable.
Review by Josh Miller
Saturday night proved to be the hardest rocking of the
Dylan shows I've been to (Saturday night was my 4th
one), Maggie's Farm, Lonesome Day Blues, HWY 61,
Rollin and Tumblin among the fiercest numbers. The
band seemed a bit more focused than when I saw them
last year, and they also seemed to highlight the lead
guitar work of Denny Freeman more, and he was
excellent. He reminded me a little of a young Robby
Robertson in his ability to pack a lot of blistering
emotion into a relatively short, non-self-indulgent
solo. Being of a melancholy nature, my most favorite
Dylan songs tend to be the slower elegiac numbers, and
this wasn't really the show for those, but I did get a
tear in my eye during Workingman's Blues, my favorite
from the new album. Actually every song on the setlist
deserves mention—it was just a thoroughly rocking
show; even the oddly prettified waltz of his new (to
my ears) arrangement of Hattie Carrol, which I found
myself initially resisting, won me over in the end,
maybe with the comedic help of the drunken lout behind
me, who yelled along with the final chorus ("Now is
the time for your tears!") in the same toneless
bullfrog croak that he'd earlier been using to chant
"White Sox Baseball." (He also later made a
hilariously hapless pass at my wife.) I also notice
that the version of Hollis Brown he did has been
haunting me since the show.
Kings of Leon were good, too. I don't know them that
well but was impressed. I wonder if they sort of set
the tone for the night. Certainly Dylan played a
different show on Saturday than he did when Merle
Haggard was playing with him last year. The arena was
brand-new and actually seemed like it was still
getting finishing touches put on. The sound was good
and it was pretty intimate for an arena. It was not
sold out, surprisingly. I think the arena is trying to
operate outside of Ticketmaster, so maybe they didn't
get the word out as much as they otherwise might have,
or maybe Dylan has saturated the area with his
constant touring, or maybe it’s because it was WAY out
in the western suburbs. Anyway, the crowd that was
there was very into it. A lot of grayhairs, in front
of me a gray-haired lady who had difficulty walking
and a middle-aged guy with some kind of a shoulder
brace I'd never seen before, next to me a gray-haired
guy in a tie-dye and a clearly homemade bowl haircut.
There were some kids, too. One youngster had a t-shirt
with the cover of the original City Lights version of
Howl on it, other kids had Velvet Underground
T-shirts. During Rolling Stone we saw a whole pack of
enthusiastic teens swaying back and forth with their
arms around each other's shoulders. Good vibes all
around. At the end for the huddle Dylan stood there
with his hands in the air like he'd just performed
Review by Jeff Gerdin
Highlights of the show included the new Sears Centre itself. It is a
comfortable, though not intimate place to see a show with good
As others have said, the band is really a band at this point. Songs
have well played intros and outros and the arrangements.
Bob was leading the band and looked like he was totally enjoying
himself. He actually played harmonica - as apposed to mangling a not
The new songs work well - especially Thunder on the Mountain.
Other highlights were She Belongs to Me, a country tinged Most
Likely You Go Your Way and Joey!. I am not a big fan of Hollis
Brown or Hattie Carroll, but they were interestingly arranged and
Bob's voice was good - great guitar by Denny on Watchtower.
Overall, well worth the money. Can't wait to hear more of the
new songs live.
Review by Seth Kennedy
The intro- I haven't heard it in person in almost a year and a half, so I
went nuts. I also talked along with it word-for-word, and my girlfriend
looked at me like I was nuts
Maggie's Farm- always a fun way to kick off a night of revelry in the
magesty that is Bob Dylan
She Belongs to Me- never heard it live before. It was really nice hearing
that one with my girlfriend by my side. Very smoothely done and a nice
follow-up for MF
Lonesome Day Blues- cooked. Period.
Positively 4th Street- heard it at my first Bob show, and it has WELL
improved since 04. Really ace performance of it, too.
It's Alright Ma- I'm gonna have to say that this was, in fact, a hilight.
The band really sizzled on it, and the crowd really dug it. Seemed like
Bob enjoyed it too.
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol- WOW!!!!!!!! Very well done. Bob's voice
was magnificent on this one, and gave me a nice opportunity to snuggle up
with the girlfriend
Rollin and Tumblin- once again, cooked. Donny's steel-work was impecable,
and Denny turned out some steemin' solos as well. Great performance, and a
Hollis Brown- much improved from Spring 05, but I did miss Elana's violin.
Another well done tune none-the-less.
Most Likely- One of my all-time favorite Bob songs to hear live. Got it in
April 05 and then again last night. Bob uncorked not one but TWO harp
solos in this one and brought the f**king house down
Joey- I'll be honest, the song is not one of my favorites. It was very
good in concert, but I'd have prefered Masters of War in that slot. Still
a nice addition though (and fun fact: my girlfriend is from Denver, where
Bob unveiled that tune last week)
Highway 61- as mentioned in a review of an earlier show, that man means
business when he puts the cowboy hat back on and this one kicks in. As in
04, this one quallified for showstopper of the evening. Just wow.
WMB#2- Absolutely stunning. The voice, the words, the music......just wow
Summer Days- I'll admit, anything Bob could close with pales in
comparrison to April 2nd 2005 (my last Bob show, where Bob played Summer
Day Blues, but audibled in Like a Rolling Stone as a closer - the song
hadn't been played in at least a month), but this is the quintesential Bob
show-ender. Sizzled along, great steelmanship by Donny, and a great close
to the show.
Thunder on the Mountain- The faded eye came tumblin' down, and the crowd
went nuts. The song kicked in and sizzled all the way through. It was
quite the encore starter. I approve.
LARS- Being my favorite song overall that Bob does, this was amazing as
usual. Standing there, arm around my girlfriend, soaking in His Majesty
durring this one almost got me to tears. I can never here this song
Watchtower- great tune. I was hoping for RDW1235 as usual, but I got my
third helping of Watchtower instead. I wasn't so much dissapointed as
unsurprised. I just have heard that song, between Bob and Dave Matthews, 5
times in concert now, and would have liked something new. No complaints
though. Great night.
Also, can anyone confirm or deny that the last thing El Bobberino said
before leaving the stage was "F**k the Cardinals"? I didn't hear it, but
I've heard that he said it. If you have any info, please email
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