Reviews

Columbus, Ohio

Ohio State University
Schottenstein Center

November 4, 2010


[Greg Wallace], [Gary Gibson]

Review by Greg Wallace



Value City Arena was half curtained off for the 2010 Dylan show which 
was a change from his recent appearances in 2004 and 2007.  Oddly 
enough, the 2004 show was exactly six years prior to the day, and 
another Thursday in another election week!   I thought the crowd seemed 
small, gray-headed, and polite.   I was probably 20 rows back on the 
floor in the middle in an aisle seat, and stood for most of the show.

The show started promptly at the announced time with Rainy Day Women and 
with Dylan leaning into his keyboard sounding very lively, clipping the 
punch lines in a very wry cadence to my ears.  Alas, toward the end of 
the song his voice abruptly lost the upper range and dropped into the 
croak.

Next tune was a lovely intro that began with Stu Kimball strumming 
acoustic guitar and saw Dylan stepping up to the mike with a guitar and 
surprising us with "if you're going to the North Country Fair."   Dylan 
played some mathematical guitar and croaked unmelodically through the 
number.   Too bad, it was the one new song in our set.

There followed a "Stuck inside of Mobile" with another lovely intro from 
the band, with Kimball still on acoustic and Dylan still playing 
guitar.  On this one the verses were croaked but well enunciated, the 
"Oh Mama" barked, and the "to be stuck" chorus punch line sung in full 
throat like Dylan had gone back 30 years.

Then "Love Sick", dramatic as usual but broken up by some new discord 
(from Herron on pedal steel perhaps), and played often enough in 
Columbus that I went to the beer stand, certain that this version 
wouldn't top the one he played last time.

"Summer Days" followed and my heart sank a bit when I heard the opening 
chords.   However I will admit that Dylan sang it very well and rather 
enthusiastically and the crowd seemed to enjoy it as well.   I kind of 
expected Charlie Sexton to cut loose on his hollow body but he never 
really did.  I'm reasonably certain that Tony Garnier played something 
approaching a solo on his string bass, though.

I was a few seconds picking out the chords to the "Tangled up in Blue" 
intro, which featured Dylan guitarless at the front mike and made me 
think of the 1978 arrangement when I first saw him.   He wasn't singing 
it especially well, and got from the avenue to Montague Street without 
boarding the fishing boat or getting his shoelaces tied.  His harmonic 
breaks were delicious and clearly well planned, though.   I think it 
will be a showstopper by the time he gets to Terminal 5.  This also 
featured stretched images of Dylan's profile up on the big gray curtain 
behind the band, a nice visual touch that seemed subtler than the 
typical huge rock concert screens.

Then came "Tweedle", another Columbus perennial, in which the band 
seemed a bit indecisive (except for the drummer) but the singer very 
animated and delivering the very naughty lyric with obvious relish.  It 
occurred to me that perhaps this was Dylan's current "political" song 
offering.

Next he sang a transcendent "Tryin' to get to heaven", beautifully 
accompanied, standing at the keyboard and playing some harmonica late in 
the song.   This was a repeater from the 2004 show but worlds better.

Then "High Water", yet another Columbus perennial, time for another 
beer.   The banjo was prominent again and Dylan seemed to croak his way 
through the song.

And then a big treat, "Hard Rain", kind of croaky with no real chorus, 
but building and building up to the "what'll you do now" verse, which 
Dylan absolutely nailed.  I don't think he missed a word throughout and 
he sounded like he was coming back to protest by the end of it.  I think 
the entire crowd was buzzing at this point.
So onto the next Columbus perennial, "Highway 61", which started out 
with a well sung first verse, followed by a chopped up next several 
verses sung in cadences that made them nearly incomprehensible.  The 
punch line to the "World War 3" verse was omitted altogether.

The intro to "Not Dark Yet" nearly took my breath away (to my surprise) 
and Dylan didn't disappoint me, standing at the mike in his marching 
band pants and white hat and caressing that very gloomy lyric almost to 
the end.  A triumph!

 From here it was downhill except for the crowd pleasing "Ballad of a 
Thin Man", which has become a very sure thing with its Halloween 
lighting and dramatic delivery.   All in all I was happy, having heard 
and witnessed several memorable performances.

[TOP]

Review by Gary Gibson



Walking through the Ohio State campus to the Schottenstein Center on 
this chilly autumn night, there was not revolution in the air but there was 
music as strains of Blonde on Blonde drifted from passing car stereos.

Indeed, the middle age crowd this night was not here to revolt, but to pay 
homage to the man who shaped so many of our lives, from the Ohio State 
professor in the row below me wiping tears from his eyes during Hard Rain, 
to the 30 something mom jumping up and down during Stuck Inside of 
Mobile.

Having first seen Dylan in 1978 during his Street Legal pseudo Elvis period, 
I know the only thing predictable about a Dylan show is its unpredictability. 
But hey, if you want to hear music played note for note as it is recorded 
may I recommend Celine Dion.

Opening the show with a rollicking Rainy Day Women, I couldnít help go 
back to the seventies when the chorus of this song had a whole different 
meaning, but Dylanís ode to being held down and oppressed still rang true.

In a night of many surprises, the next song was the first. A lovely version 
of Girl From the North Country with Bob on guitar evoked a wistfulness that 
takes you back to your first true love.

Stuck Inside of Mobile showed the power of Dylans band. More than just 
backing musicians, they are an extension  of Dylan himself, adjusting and 
trusting to whatever direction they are being led. Charlie Sextons guitar 
was powerful throughout the song and throughout the evening. His stage 
presence stands out but doesnít deter from Bob. Tony Garniers bass is the 
glue that holds everything together. A consummate professional.

Bobs voice has always changed and evolved during his career. At 69, his 
voice conveys a man who has lived life, but is still searching for more and 
not satisfied with past glory. The voice is still relevant and still has that 
Book of Deutronomy howl. 

This was never more apparent than on the nights outstanding moment. 
Tangled Up in Blue was transformed into the blues, with Bob center stage 
with just a harp. Chills overcame me as Bob stomped his feet while his harp 
playing was magical. 

I am falling periously close to blathoring fandom, but suffice it to say if the 
show had ended here, it would have been a memorable evening. But there 
was much more. Hard Rain was a revelation as the metaphors from so long 
ago still sounded as true to the present day .

As you can tell, my review is more about feel and emotion than technique. 
But doesnít that describe what Dylan has always been. On this night I was 
reminded what it was like to be an 18 year old college student hearing 
Positively 4th Street for the first time. 34 years later the music I was hearing 
was still relevant and important. It was not from an artist who is regurgitating 
past accomplishments. It was from an artist who still has more to say. The 
song was not played, but on this night he gave us Shelter From the Storm 
and as Bob left the stage after asking us " How does it feeeel", I was able 
to say " forever young." 

[TOP]

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