page by Bill Pagel
Review by Jack Dumpfy
Dylan and the band were as tight as ever. Musically and song
selection-wise, this show was the most wonderfully diverse, interesting,
eclectic, and rich I have seen. However, the Allstate arena is about as
comfortable and inviting as, well, the massively frigid piece of enormous
concrete commercialism that it is. So there was that annoying contrast.
I really wish Bob's touring company would stick to smaller venues that
emanate with as much character as the old troubadour himself. What does
he care, does he really need that extra 900 grand or however much he rakes
in? I realize that there's a price on style, but that's a lot of designer
boots and various black suits with colored stripes down the side. This
time he sported the red-striped garment.
I have never gotten a cowboy hat, though, and I was hoping for one. Well,
Dylan is the only man who can pull off a quasi-mullet, so I will settle
for that. But enough about style. In regards to the music, I was not
surprised by the Piano or the Zevon, Young, and Stones covers, seeing as
they seem to be staples of this current tour, but I was greatly thrilled
to hear them. I saw Warren on Letterman the other night, on which he did
a great version of Mutineer, and I was hoping Bob would fuel my current
newfound appreciation for the tune. He was successful. I was content.
Lay Lady Lay was a highlight, very faithful to the original; I will
comment that songs like that one have really been around the block, for
example, the version on "Hard Rain" is quite a different thing from the
one on Nashville Skyline. But now, Bob seems to be less interested in
this experimentation and more focused on just playing songs as if they
were written yesterday-- fresh, but faithful. Maggie's Farm and Just Like
a Woman also support my conjecture... tonight they resonated (off the
concrete walls and plastic beer advertisements) with the classic, silver
and gold feel they're known for. Then there was Summer Days. Good god.
Tony jumping around, the extended instrumentals. This thing was a work of
sheer energy. If only the folks at Allstate would have cranked it even
louder. My rule of sound is that you should not be able to hear other
people's conversations within the venue unless they are shouting in your
ear. Oh well. I envy you folks who may have been closer and those of you
who will get to see this incredible tour in a less stupidly huge venue,
one not designed for a semi-professional hockey league.
Review by Gary Baughn
If you were a casual Dylan fan and this was your first Dylan concert you might
be a bit bewildered. Bob is playing the piano? A lot? Bob is covering the
Stones? Warren Zevon? Neil Young?
But since this is my 10th Dylan concert in 4 years I react somewhat differently
to these seemingly paradoxical developments: PIANO????? STONES????? ZEVON?????
I exaggerate, because thanks to Bill Pagel's site I knew what and who he has been
playing on this leg of the NeverEnding, but, you know, someone can warn you about
a pie in the face but that doesn't make it any less wet or funny.
Like everything else he has ever done, Bob's piano playing is idiosyncratic, but
he seemed very comfortable, and I felt that the piano allowed him to find something
different in some songs tonight, notably It's Alright, Ma and the Love and Theft
material (maybe these songs were written on piano?).
He even seemed more in control behind the keyboard, as if somehow the piano allows
him to get into the rhythm, or shape the rhythm more than the guitar. At the very
least, it is just one more aspect of a song that he can play with, and that is what
many of us go to see: what is he up to now?
The sound at the Allstate was excellent (the wood in the ceiling?), and Bob's
voice was the strongest I've heard it. He really seemed to be into what he was
singing, and used the wide range of his ravaged voice's expressive possibilities
to paint the meanings for us with strong brushstrokes.
The material selection of this leg of the tour is bewildering. Warren Zevon's
inclusion is touching because of his illness, and deserved because of the quantity
and quality of his output. But why salute the Stones, whose songwriting career has
been marked by coming up with a riff and a chorus and calling it a day (yes, I know
it is their 40th birthday, but since when has Bob cared about anything like that?)?
And why salute Neil Young, who deserves to be saluted, but who gets plenty of
attention on his own?
Maybe the Zevon inclusions misled me; maybe these weren't salutes. My next thought
was he was calling attention to artists who are known for political incorrectness.
And then I thought, maybe he's just like us (Blasphemy!) and likes to sing songs
that say what he feels (Brown Sugar-his taste in female company is well-documented,
and Old Man-well, he is one). I was glad I didn't have to sit through the End of
his Innocence (ok, if you are saluting songwriters, Don Henley has helped to write
some good songs, but you have to consider the Character Factor, especially in an
But as my friends pondered these possibilities on the way back to Packer Country,
I realized, like every discussion about Dylan I've ever had, one of us has the
tail, while another is wrapped around one leg, and the other is sniffing at the
trunk, and each one of our opinions about who Dylan is and why he does what he does
is just a ridiculously small part of the Legendary Elephant, Whose Thoughts are
Elsewhere before we are done clapping for that always-hoped-for second encore. He
will always be one step ahead of us, because he sees roads where we see forests.
It may be better to enjoy the ride than to keep questioning the driver. That
overblown intro, so different from all the years before, is one more laugh he is
having at our pitiful attempts to categorize him. He is "the poet laureate, the
guy who….etc., etc., etc.," and much more. The truly accurate intro would be the
length of a concert.
Brown Sugar was stupendous. Once you've heard this band do it you don't need to
know why they are doing it. If Mick or Keith were there I think their cold English
blood would run hot with jealousy. This song is so good you don't need to prance
around the stage. In fact, if you had a great band at your disposal, and could do
any song you wanted, wouldn't Brown Sugar be on your short list? (mine: BS, I Saw
Her Standing There, Already Gone, Rolling Stone, What I Like About You) (I refuse to
be held to this list)
Old Man could not be done better. The steel guitar and the many ways it applies
to the singer made this a special moment.
Accidentally Like a Martyr is a song I am not familiar with, and this presentation
was an excuse for the audience to sit down, but Mutineer has great lyrics,
especially in Dylan's voice, who was born to rock the boat, while we listen.
As for Bob's own material, who else can be over 60, have all that material to play,
and build a concert around his last two albums? And it works. Those are great
songs, that have already evolved, and please old and young fans alike. This is an
incredible achievement. We all have our favorites, they all can't be played, and
he doesn't have to, because he has the excuse of new stuff that everyone likes.
Over 500 songs and #502 is as good as #7. Was Emmit Smith hitting the hole with
as much power last week as he did as a rookie? I don't think so.
For a guy who has written a lot of songs about avoiding the expectations of others
(I ain't lookin' to fight with you,/ Frighten you or tighten you,/ Drag you down or
drain you down,/ Chain you down or bring you down.) Bob has finally trained us to
have none. Don't expect hits, or talk, or the song you want, or the song he did
last time, or harp, or guitar, or the usual intro, or the same drummer, or two
encores, or dancing around on stage. Just expect a great band, some great songs,
a reasonable price, and him. And maybe, next time, the Sousaphone.
Reviewer's Note: I call him Bob, not because I imagine that my listening to his
music has somehow evolved into a mutual friendship, but because I am too old to
call him Mr. Dylan. Unless, of course, I somehow get to meet him, in which case
I undoubtedly will be so nervous that I will sound like Chester and say
"Mr. Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh-Dylan," as we heard for all those years on Gunsmoke.
Review by Ross Collins
Having not seen Bob since the Illinois State Fair in August 2001 and
seeing the recent setlists and reviews had me very excited for Bob's
Chicago stop at the Allstate Arena. The arena which holds about 15,000
was about 3/5 full. The only second level sections filled were those near
the stage but nevertheless, the crowd that was there was eager to see Bob.
Lights out, music on at 8:10 with the normal introduction. I personally
preferred "Ladies and Gentlemen," etc.,etc.. from the old days but my wife
(Bob newbie) seemed to enjoy the history lesson. Intro over and here's
Bob looking pretty spiffy in his black shirt and pants with the red
stripes. He looked a bit like a doorman but seemed in good spirits.
I've never been a big fan of Maggie's Farm although I do like it better
with the re-worked piano arrangement. Bob spoke here and said "thank
you". My first Bob speak but not the last. The highlight was song 2, "In
the Summertime". I have always loved this song and Bob did a great job
with it. Tombstone Blues was well done and I really enjoyed Accidentallly
Like a Martyr. Both Bob and the boys were in fine voice throughout. The
new arrangement of "Things Have Changed" was awesome with lots of piano
and prominent guitar parts. I've never liked "Lay Lady Lay" all that much
but found it great in person. Larry's pedal steel riffs are still going
through my head. "Just Like a Woman" was probably my second favorite
moment of the evening. It sounded a little reworked from recent versions
I've heard and was just great. Harp solo was both epic and ethereal.
"Old Man" was great, all the recent reviewers who said how great it is are
absolutely right. Just spectacular phrasing and arrangement. "Mutineer"
was very good and I think it was after this song that we got Bob speak #
2. Bob said something to the effect that a reviewer said how he had
mumbled through the song, obviously referring to a recent performance, and
that we all heard how good he did it. Bob was really in good humor
throughout the show which was great to see and seemed pretty comfortable
at the piano. "Summer Days" was a barnburner. The guitar work at the end
has to be heard in person to be believed. Stunning.
2 song encore seemed a little short and I really thought Bob was coming
out again but no such luck. All in all a great show that even my wife
enjoyed. Bob rules!
Review by Chad Vandemark
Man what a show! I've been to a lot of Dylan shows since
the mid 80's and this definitely ranks up there with the
best. The infusion of new songs, new versions of old
songs and Bob on piano together have brought a new
powerful presence to the shows.
"Accidentally Like A Martyr" and "Mutineer" were
reverent versions that almost brought a tear to my eye.
The versions of "Tombstone Blues" and especially
of "It's Alright Ma" were spec-freakin-tacular.
Bob played piano for the majority of the show and did a
great job too. Charlie really ripped off some great
solos throughout the night. Larry did too of course but
in my opinion Charlie was on fire tonight more than
Oh and Bob actually spoke to the audience after Lay Lady
Lay- he said something to the effect of, "Someone wrote
that I mumble, that I mumble that song when I sing it.
Whoever wrote that- knock him out."
I can't gush enough about how good the show was. Plus I
had some of the best seats, if not the best seats I've
ever had for a Dylan show- 2nd row! I would swear that
Bob looked at me and my friend during the line up before
the encore and nodded his head.
I've always found something lacking in the more recent
Bob D tours but I found nothing this time. Great from
head to toe.
Review by Jim Doran
We arrived at the Allstate arena about an hour
before showtime . All seating was reserved so we
had time for a few cocktails in the Blue Demon
Room . The arena has a reputation for poor
acoustics but they have had some improvements
over the last few years so we'll see . Had some
good seats , row 13 on the floor . Bob and the
boys came out around 8:10 . Not a full house ,
but a good crowd (12,257). Had just seen a
standout show in Las Vegas 12 days earlier and
was hoping for another gem . Thats exactly what
was delivered . I' ll touch on the highlights .
" In the summertime ". This is the
first time Ive heard this one live and I hope its
not the last .Beautifully sung . - "
Brown sugar ". Yea , Yea, Yea , Woo . Really gets
the crowd involved . The band really cut loose on
this one . - " Lay, Lady , Lay " .
It's been a while since Ive heard this one . Bob
had the crowd hanging on every verse . Haunting
steel guitar by Larry . - " Cold
Irons Bound " . Really love the new arrangement
on this one . Sounds as good if not better than
the studio version . The crowd really got off
when Bob put extra emphasis on the line ," The
winds of Chicago will tear you to shreds ".
" Just Like A Woman " . Just like LLL ,
have not heard this one in a long,long time . Bob
brought out the harmonica for the only time
tonight. SO SWEET ! - " Old Man ".
Bob actually talked before this Neil Young
classic. He said something about people saying he
mumbles the words . Well let me tell you there
was no mumbling on this one . Another crowd
favorite that the band nailed right on the head.
" Mutineer ". I have never heard this
Zevon song in any form before tonight . What a
beautiful song . Bob brought this one across as
clear as the November sky outside . -
" Bye And Bye ". First time Ive heard this Love
And Theft song live . Not one of my favorites
before but a different song tonight . Maybe its
the electric piano but I really enjoyed it .
" Summer Days ". If this was the only
song they played tonight it would have been worth
it . Ive never seen them have more fun with a
song . From Charlie duck walking to Tony spinning
his stand-up bass around , this one must have
gone on for a solid 10 minutes plus . Near the
end of the song Charlie , larry and Tony all
stood around a smiling Bob and put on a rousing
finish that brought down the house and ended the
main set list . - The encore
followed with BITW and Watchtower . I wish Bob
would change the last song he plays every night .
I love Watchtower but knowing its the last song
leaves me longing for more even before the show
ends . Well , Ive got to go and make my
reservations for Fairfax on November 22nd . Ive
heard this might be Charlies last show so I don't
want to miss it.
Review by Shepp
I attended the event while on a business trip to Chicago. I was able to
stay at the Radison hotel next door and walk to the show. I opted to lay
down a few bucks and got a front row seat, 5 in from the right (as you
look at the stage). I was happy to see that Bob's piano was tilted such
that he would be looking right my way as he played. I was fortunate
enough to have a couple guys in the seats to my left that were really
cool. One was a BIG Dylan fan, and the other at his first show and
quickly becoming a fan. Unfortunately, in the seats to my left were a guy
and his girlfriend who were annoying the whole show through. They kept
telling me to sit down during Tombstone Blues, Things Have Changed, and
finally giving up on Cold Irons Bound. I would not sit down, nor would
the other 5,000 people who were on their feet the entire show. They even
had a security guy come and tell me to (half-heartedly) sit down. Again,
I just pointed all around and the security guy left me alone.
Somehow we need to let all those who ever think of coming to a Dylan show
that they will be standing, or don't go. I must say this crowd was really
respectful in that they stood the whole concert. Security even let us
front row people lean on the rail against the stage. The only
disrespectful comment was yelled by another unappreciative fan who said
(and I am sure Bob heard him) "Come'on Bob get the crowd going" after a
beautiful "Bye And Bye". I can't believe how some people cannot
appreciate the "slower" Bob tunes which I love. I would give anything to
hear a whole show of the slower songs. Anyway, the guy got his wish with
Summer Days (which I knew was coming anyway judging from recent play
The venue was really cool, sort of like a small arena in which minor
league hockey teams play, with what appeared to be a wooden roof
structure. Pretty solid, great sound.
The stage was the usual setup with Larry on Bob's left. Bob was without
hat and facial hair. Although you all know the Newport appearance in
"disguise", it was a bit of a surprise to not see the moustache, at least.
Bob wore black with red striped trim. Larry in black long coat. Charlie
in black with some sporty white snakeskin boots which he had fun showing
off from time to time...tapping piano during Honest With Me (I think), and
sitting legs crossed on the drum station at one point. Tony was in his
purple. George with beret. They all looked great, with plenty of smiles
and joking from time to time. Everytime I see them they seem to be more
and more playful. Charlie at several times watched Bob play guitar..that
as if he is learning from Bob look. Also, Larry did a few times in which
he would walk close to Bob playing the piano and provide some motivation
for Bob...you know how Bob just picks it up a notch in the banging of the
keys and in his voice.
Speaking of that voice...Bob was so on tonight. The only minor voicebreak
was during In the Summertime, once. Right from the start he sounded like
the Time Out Of Mind album. It was great to hear him play Cold Irons
Bound...and I wish I could have heard him play the whole album. The most
interesting thing Bob said was right after Just Like A Woman...he said
something like.."I have been accused of mumbling my way through that one,
well they can't say that anymore"...I am curious to hear if anyone else
heard him say that. I don't think I have the words exactly right, but it
was something like that. Needless to say the highlight of the show was in
fact, to me, Just Like A Woman. It was perfect! Best rendition I ever
heard, and must have been for Bob to say what he did. He played the harp
towards the end as well, and played it for a long time. Unreal, a great
Other highlights of the show were an exceptionally performed Cold Irons
Bound which incidentally preceded JLAW...Bob really emphasized the "I was
wrong about 'em all", and "reality has always had too many heads".
Accidentally Like A Martyr was perfect and to hear him say "Abandoned
Love" was great (if only he would play it). Same with Mutineer. And,
Brown Sugar rocked....Bob smiled each time he said..."so good". Since it
was All Saints Day I was hoping to hear "In The Garden"...but was happy to
hear "In The Summertime" for the first time. I really love Shot of Love
songs, and to hear him say "awwwww in the Summertime" was terrific.
Really ever song was played great...I did think the version of Mama You
Been On My Mind was as good as the version I heard in Newport.
God Bless Bob Dylan!
page by Bill Pagel
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