Reviews

Chicago, Illinois

Aragon Entertainment Center

October 29, 2009


[Oscar Montes], [Braulio Escobar], [Melissa Buckler], [Kevin Carolan], [Trevor Townson]

Review by Oscar Montes



There were three lines to access the Aragon Ballroom, 1 for the "hot seats"
which meant early entry to the venue, "pre-sale seats" which meant to entry
after the hot seats and before the regular tickets, what a mess!

10 different songs from the show in Rockford! That is great!

The crowd was wonderful, people from all over the world, Italy, Greece, England,
Mexico, etc. Bob was wearing a black shirt with purple spots and black pants and
a purple jacket as well., black hat too. He began with River Flow, everybody
including me tought it was leopard skin! Then a lovely Girl from the north
country with Bob on guitar, everyone just loved it. The time came for Behind
here lies nothin', great performance from together through life, Just like a
woman was next with Bob on guitar and harp, what can I say? Everybody loves this
song. The levee's gonna break was the following, Jesus it was so powerful, so
full of energy, everyone dancing on the floor, excellent! I feel a change comin'
on was the following with Bob on harp, sweet performance. Stuck inside of mobile
was next, great song, great performance. My wife's home town with Bob on guitar,
really rocky and bluesy. Tweedle dee & tweedle dum with Bob on center stage was
wonderful, Bob really enjoyed performing this tune. In the next song Bob was
playing the keyboard and then moved to the center stage to play the harp:
Working man's blues # 2. Highway 61, really powerful, some people in the third
row were showing stickers to Bob with the logo of highway 61 on it, Bob saw
these stickers and he smiled. Ain't talkin' was great as usual! Thunder on the
mountain was the following, everybody dancing rock n' roll on the floor. Ballad
of a thin man was great with Bob on center stage playing the harp.

The encore, the same as in Rockford. Like a rolling stone, the crowd just loved
it. Jolene, nice performance. All along th watchtower, this song is being
performed in this tour so powerful, great indeed! 

Let me add something else, Bob was really enjoying the show, he looks so great,
so full of energy, so connected to the audience, smiling with his Band everytime
he could, specially when some saliva came out of his mouth! This man will never
stop amazing me. Thank you Bob, it was an unforgettable show! Can't wait for the
one of today!

Oscar Montes
forever_young74@hotmail.com

[TOP]

Review by Braulio Escobar



Bob was in Chicago tonight for the first of three nights at the Aragon  
Ballroom. I came in from Oregon to catch 2 of the shows, then back  
home for a college football game Saturday evening. I saw the Oct 8  
show in Eugene and was impressed at how energized and engaged Bob is  
at this stage of this tour. I credit the return of Charlie Sexton for  
revitalizing the show.

The Aragon venue is in north Chicago next to a CTA station so getting  
there was a snap for this out of towner. The room is elegant and a  
better showcase than MacCourt, the basketball arena Bob played in  
Eugene. What can be said about Bob that has not already been written??  
This night Bob was ON. No prisoners. No regrets.  He opened with a  
muscular version of Watch the River Flow that was more aggressive than  
the version 3 weeks ago. I was able to stand close enough to watch the  
band’s interaction. Steady Tony and Stu watch Bob like hungry hawks,  
doing their best to keep up with Bob’s shifts and changes. Donnie was  
in good form sitting behind Bob’s piano and grinning like the luckiest  
man in the world when the band hit a musical sweet spot. Charlie has  
been turned free. To get him back, I wonder what deal Bob made with  
him. Charlie is not in the background like the days with Larry  
Campbell in the band. He usually stands stage center unless he draws  
close to Bob and they then take the music to new highs. True team  
work. No doubt, Bob is grinning and enjoying himself. Crouching,  
pointing, dancing he is truly in charge. When he stands center stage  
singing like the second coming of Frank Sinatra we witness a new Bob,  
song and dance Bob.

Highlights? Just Like a Woman. Bob center stage, the band subdued and  
Bob crooning and hypnotizing the crowd with his phrasing of the  
lyrics. As Johnny Cash once said, that song alone was worth the price  
of admission, the rest of the concert was free!! Workingman’s Blues  
#2, I Feel a Change Coming On and Ain’t Talking were outstanding. The  
music seemed to get disjointed during Stuck in Mobile with the Memphis  
Blues Again and a few other songs. I think Bob was going in new  
directions and the band had to struggle to keep up with him, just when  
you thought it was all going to discend into musical chaos, it would  
saved by Charlie or Bob and all was good again. Hwy 61 is also  
evolving....it is much changed from the Eugene show now more sparse  
and less in your face and down your throat rock and roll..... BUT the  
real killer, worth the price of admission all alone is Ballad of a  
Thin Man. No mention of turning in the ticket to see the geek....Bob  
in front, arms wide pointing and directing and ...well something is  
happening, but you don’t know what it is.....whew. Thanks Bob, see you  
tomorrow.

Braulio Escobar

[TOP]

Review by Melissa Buckler



The joint was jumpin '... much to my surprise, really. It had been almost 30
years since I saw any concert at Chicago's historic Aragon Ballroom and 15 since
I had seen Bob . Frankly, I had really low expectations in general. I had read
the acoustics were worse than ever at Aragon, that Bob's tour was one big
commercial affair and that Bob's voice had "issues". My main objective in going
was to give my young daughter the opportunity to see THE legend and fulfilling
that objective alone would suffice.

Don't believe everything you read. 

Because this venue offers general admission only , we set out for the Aragon
early afternoon. When we arrived , we were thrilled to see that only a few
people had lined up- a pleasant and mellow , but energetic crowd, ages spanning
40 wonderful, Dylan filled years .

A good 2 and half hours before we were even allowed to go into the theatre,
Andre' , apparently with the tour , comes out. He greets us all , asks to look
at our tickets and begins organizing people according to what they had
purchased. I've been to well over 100 concerts in my lifetime and I have NEVER
had that kind of personalized , professional, and reassuring treatment. The
antithesis of a "commercial" tour. Andre' , you rock!

We had a smooth and pleasant (though self- hurried) entrance to the grand
ballroom and easily secured an excellent viewing position that we were hoping
to earn with our wait.

Gone are the dingy carpets and metal folding chairs that I remembered from the
'80's -replaced by a new hardwood floor ( no doubt what the place originally
had). Besides that, the million dollar bash of a building built in 1926 was as
interesting , beautiful , and full of character as ever. In my opinion, a
perfect venue for Bob Dylan .

Before we knew it - there they were. There HE was ,Bob, in all his purple suited
glory. The joint WAS jumpin' , how could it not be . The band was smokin' . Bob
was Hot . I was... stunned ! He sounded GREAT! (playlist can , of course , be
seen here on boblinks ( http://www.boblinks.com/102909s.html ).

I have to admit , it's hard not to notice Charlie Sexton . He brings that
classic, wild eyed "rockin' roll DUDE extraordinaire element to the band. But
there is no question , this is Bob Dylan's band and he commands it wonderfully.
I just can't say enough about each and every member of the band - the total,
rich , sometimes mystifying sound they manifest as a whole - effortlessly
transitioning from one music genre to another, all classified as DYLAN. 

What did I like most about the whole experience ? That Bob seemed happy .
Grinning like a chesire cat throughout a majority of the concert, he was clearly
having a good time and made us aware that WE knew what was happening there, even
if Mr. Jones hadn't a clue. 

[TOP]

Review by Kevin Carolan



We arrived from England on Wednesday for the 3 shows at the Aragon Ballroom,
attracted by the prospect of seeing Bob up close at a real venue in a fantastic.
and for  us, unexplored city. From the moment we first sighted the old Art Deco
ballroom from the conveniently positioned CTA train station close by, we knew we
were on the right track.This was to be my first sight of Bob since the fantastic
second show at The Point in Dublin 5 months ago, a show which went straight into
my top 10 seen over the past 30 years. Much has been written about the
reintroduction of C S to the line up, and the impact this has had on Bob and the
rest of the band, how Bob has somehow been rejuvenated, so when they took the
stage I was prepared to be blown away.From the opening bars of that eternal
clunker " river flow" my heart sank,this song should have been dispatched to the
never to be played again pile years ago and why He persists with it " God Knows"
! When it was followed by yet another vocal murdering of the beautiful Girl from
the North country ( partially saved by some lovely guitar from Charlie and Bob )
I was ready to pack up and leave. The first highhlight after a poor first half
was Wifes Home Town, a massive improvement on the album version. The star of the
how came shortly after with a totally fantastic Workingmans Blues, Bobs vocals
on this were nothing less than bloody amazing !!, it was quite rightly loudly
acclaimed by the crowd.Then the band tore into "61" they had a ball and took the
song to new heights. The end of the main set was Bobs Chaplinesque performance
on Thin Man. it was another stunning, vocal and visual masterclass.The de rigeur
encores were ok , probably the best being Jolene, which contained some fantastic
bass lines from T G ..Overall a good show, with enough highlights to give hope
for tomorrow night!Definately " work in progress though.

[TOP]

Review by Trevor Townson



What a terrible noise, it was absolutely terrible just nothing like I had  been
reading about before I decided to come. In no way would I be coming back here
two more nights running as the loud and booming overhead noise was rather 
painful on the ears, they should have dug some holes and buried them all deep 
were my thoughts.

Anyway time to leave The Loop and head further North for the real reason  
that I was in Chicago.  First day I decided to walk from Loop to Aragon, no small
feat I am told later by a couple in front of me on the rail but I knew that 
already of course being stood on the feet that had done it. At least by walking 
it had given me an opportunity to see a little more of Chicago from the ground 
but by the time of reaching Lincoln Park I was weakening a little.

One of the main attractions of Lincoln Park is the zoo but I walked  
straight on by as I am not too interested in them, I guess I do not like the 
idea of all those animals looking at me.  Further on I am stopped by an out of 
town American couple who ask me for directions to the zoo and I think that they 
were a little bit surprised to be given perfect directions by an Englishman.

After the park I decide to go off-piste away from my original itinerary 
and soon find myself lost and walking in the wrong direction down  Belmont
Avenue where I come across a place advertising itself as the worlds largest
Halloween store.  Looking in the window I could not really see what I was 
looking for so I decided to go inside and ask the assistants.

“Do you have any Bob Dylan masks?” I asked.
“Never heard of them”  they reply.
“Well someone must have done them at one time” I said.
“Must have been long before our time” they say.
“OK, I will just take a dead wasp instead” I said.
“We do not sell dead wasps either” they say.
“Well you have some in the window!” I said.

The final stretch up N Lake Shore Drive was a bit of a struggle but  
eventually I arrive at the junction with Lawrence and I feel to be on the home 
straight.  Walking along Lawrence it begins to become apparent that this is 
probably not the best part of town for a foreign “tourist” to be walking
alone in so there was a slight sense of relief as just ahead I see facing me
the huge letters spelling ARAGON on the outside of the theatre.

I had been confused over what time it was ever since landing as even the  
airline had announced things wrongly at one point! I asked the young lady in 
line in front of me to confirm the time which is why I know that I joined the 
queue at precisely 13.09.

Just the one queue at that time but it was split into three queues later  
on, one being for VIP entry, one for pre-sale ticket holders and a third for all
the rest of the GA tickets. The tickets were identified as to which queue 
applied by a letter reference on the top of it, VIP entry also required a yellow
wrist band to be worn for clearer identification.

The idea was a phased entry with the VIP ticket holders and those having 
tickets obtained via Bobdylan.com getting an early entry. All other GA  
ticket holders followed on into the venue 30 minutes later from a queue  
organised around the other side of the building.  By VIP I do not mean that we 
were queuing up adjacent to film stars and presidents and the like just that the
VIP ticket holders had paid a premium to get in early and first. The entry was 
controlled well and proved safe and fair and it must have been good for Bob to 
see a few new faces on the rail made possible by the premium priced 
tickets.

Shortly before the start of the show a DJ from the local Rock radio station 
comes up onto the stage to welcome everyone to the ballroom and to say a 
few words, this also proved to be the case the following two nights too.

Two guys without hats on stage tonight as newly re-joined Charlie joins  
Donnie who is also as normal without hat and what an opener as Bob steps  
straight into Watching The River Flow. Charlie was certainly adding a lot of 
show to the concert and it was good to see movement and other things 
happening on stage to make your eyes wander around rather than standing 
stone faced gazing  at Bob for the full show.

Charlie was not the Charlie I remember from the days when he was paired up 
with Larry as he was now moving all over the stage of his own free will and 
seemingly doing his own thing.  Playing his guitar apparently with one hand and 
even one finger on occasion as he just seemed to have to prod a string to get
something musical out of it. He would then spin the guitar around so that the
strings are facing his body. I understand Hendrix played the guitar with his 
teeth but if Charlie was going to play the guitar like this now that would be 
impressive but from what I had seen so far I would not have put a bet against 
it.

First night was a very good all round performance and I would not have  
walked away disappointed if it had been a one off event but I knew better was to
come. Must say that first night Workingman’s Blues was outstanding as was 
Ballad Of A Thin Man the way Bob not only sung but performed these songs. 

To end Ballad Of A Thin Man Bob has to prod Charlie on the shoulder to get his
attention to provide the opening he needed in order to introduce the harmonica
ending. Bob was standing there with twin braids on his sleeve looking  like the
General pulling back into line the enthusiastic younger Officer, Brilliant. 

Trevor Townson

[TOP]

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