November 5, 2009
Review by Carsten Molt
My traveling companion and i made the 2 hour and 15 minute trip from
Pittsburgh to Canton on Thursday afternoon and found the civic center with no
problem. There were still a few hours until show time so we decided to explore
the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the William McKinley presidential library.
Neither of those were overly interesting but passed the time.
The Canton Civic Center is a rather bland and typical arena. It has a
seating capacity of
5,200 people and while there were still tickets available, it seemed to be 95%
full by show time. Phil and i made our way to our seats in the 4th row and
chatted to the very friendly people in the seats next to ours. Everybody that
we encountered were nice and really excited that Dylan was playing in Canton.
Eventually, the lights went down and after a eternity, Dylan was introduced
and then the lights came up and the fun began
1. Watching The River Flow(Dylan on keyboard)- This was a pretty scorching
version. Dylan was bobbing and weaving behind his keyboard and Charlie played a
good but short solo.
2. Girl Of The North Country(Dylan on guitar)- Dylan sang this slowly and
tenderly. Amazingly and thankfully, the crowd was all but silent through the
ballad instead of whistling and hollering as they often do during the slower
songs in Dylan's set.
3. Lonesome Day Blues(Dylan on keyboard)- As powerful as ever even though
Dylan's voice almost got drowned out by the guitars at times. It didn't seem as
inspired as some renditions but it was still a good version.
4. Love Minus Zero/No Limit(Dylan on guitar)- Dylan dug deep into his bag of
vocal nuances for a very tender rendering of Love Minus Zero. Although, Dylan
only played guitar on 2 songs tonight, on both songs, his guitar lines were
pretty interesting and inventive a supposed to simple strumming.
5. High Water(For Charley Patton)(Dylan on harmonica at center stage)-
Donnie started the song off with some nice banjo playing. As the song
progressed, the music took on a dark, swampy groove which fit the song well. At
the songs conclusion, Dylan played his first harmonica solo of the evening
which was great.
6. If You Ever Go To Houston(Dylan on keyboard)- There was a lot of nice
call and response guitar playing between Charlie and Stu during the
instrumental passages and Dylan gave a warm and clear vocal performance but
something seemed amiss during the latter parts of the song. Phil said that he
thought it was a problem with the mix for a moment or two.
7. Cold Irons Bound(Dylan on harmonica at center stage)- i really like the
current arrangement of the tune. Dylan held the harmonica in one hand and the
microphone cord in his other hand and dug really deeply into the song in
both his singing and harmonica playing. Charlie did a lot of deep knee
bends and burned a hole in his guitar with a volcanic solo.
8. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall(Dylan on keyboard)- Every word was clear and
every nuance was nailed to perfection. This was a stunning version and got the
loudest crowd cheer of the evening.
9. Honest With Me(Dylan on keyboard)- This was a tremendous version, Stu
and Charlie traded solos back and forth while Dylan pounded away on his
keyboard and delivered the words in a clipped staccato fashion before screaming
the last lines of each verse. George really propelled the song forward with his
drumming which gave the rest of the band the freedom to color the song upon his
rock steady framework.
10. Workingman's Blues #2(Dylan on harmonica at center stage)- Dylan sang the
song from behind his keyboard before taking his spot at center stage to deliver
his best harmonica solo of the night. He sang the song with a lot of conviction
and emotion. It probably was the highlight of the night.
11. Highway 61 Revisited(Dylan on keyboard)- This was not a surprise but
the way it was played was. Dylan raced through the first couple of verses and
then Charlie got a chance to showcase his guitar skills and did he ever. Sparks
were flying as he tore into his guitar with intensity but always in his
tasteful manner. After Charlie's solo, Stu took a nice guitar solo but it paled
in comparison to what Charlie had just done. Dylan sang the last verse and
wrapped the song up in a stately manner.
12. Ain't Talkin'(Dylan on keyboard)- i was hoping to hear this song again and
it didn't disappoint. Donnie's violin playing was exquisite and nicely turned
up in the mix. The audience was dead silent as Dylan carefully and slowly sang
the song in a hushed and chilling way, The crowd gave Dylan a thunderous
ovation after the song ended.
13. Thunder On The Mountain(Dylan on keyboard)- The sing started off well but
it never really seemed to take off. It was well played and sung strongly but it
never really caught fire. It wasn't that bad but it wasn't that good either.
14. Ballad Of A Thin Man(Dylan on harmonica at center stage)- Any
lingering disappointment that i felt after the previous song was quickly
replaced by the fun of this rendition. Dylan was wiggling his legs and was very
animated. Charlie and Dylan were exchanging grins and the harmonica solos were
smooth and skillfully played.
15. Like A Rolling Stone(Dylan on keyboard)- No surprise here but it was
well done and Dylan altered the phrasing during the verses before singing it
straightforward during the chorus which elicited a audience sing along.
16. Jolene(Dylan on keyboard)- It was bouncier than usual and featured
some nice guitar interplay between Stu and Charlie. Dylan laughed at somebody
in the crowd at one point buy i don't know for what reason.
17. All Along The Watchtower(Dylan on keyboard)- The expected show closer was
well played and Charlie played a nice but short solo. Dylan's vocals were a bit
gruff during the first verse but he sang the rest of the tune well.
A. The band was excellent. Charlie Sexton was phenomenal all night long and
he shared many smiles with Dylan during the show. He did have trouble with his
guitar cord at times. Stu Kimball was much more active than normal and his
playing was more audible than it has been since 2004. George Receli and Tony
Garnier both were rock solid and seemed to be sharing many inside jokes. Donnie
Herron seems to be the glue that holds things together at times. His pedal steel
guitar was a bit low in the mix but his violin and banjo playing fit nicely
into the mix and were well played.
B. Dylan's voice was strong and i didn't detect any vocal flubs or
mumbling. His guitar playing was inventive but i would have preferred it if he
played more of it. His keyboard playing was decent; it is rarely more than
that. His harmonica playing was beautiful and his solos were nicely placed.
C. The crowd was really into the show and were attentive during the
ballads and a bit boisterous during the upbeat numbers.
Of course, these are just my opinions and it is only the way that i
experienced the show. i apologize for any typos and for the length but i tend to
ramble, Any feedback or corrections are welcome In Bob we trust.
Review by Dan
Watching: a staple played well, energy and execution pretty high at the start
Girl from the North: really fun arrangement, fine example of the songs yielding
many ways to play them Lonesome Day: average tune played pretty well, filler
Love Minus: sweetly done, something about these lyrics always captures the
songwriter aspect Highwater: banjo brings his whole sound alive, too bad not
used more, wish song was played quieter (it's a picking song) Ever Go to
Houston: a lot of fun to hear, played well Cold Irons Bound: my oh my what a
tasty version, the rhythms and soundscape strong, love the centerstage
mannerisms Hard Rain: usually like this played sorta singalong-y yet this
version bloomed to where his phrasing took over and this fresh thing was born
Honest with Me: let's be honest, this is pure filler Workingman: didn't feel
like the crowd really knew this song yet the delivery of it grabbed ahold of
them, always well played Highway: not bad, is there anything wrong with rotating
this out of the line-up once in awhile Ain't Talkin': fabulous atmospherics,
sung well Thunder: played alot faster, really roared, fun Ballad: played OK,
another one where do they really have to play 162 games Rolling Stone: fun
phrasing, the "how does it feel" really goes over well with crowds that are into
it Jolene: cool to hear, definately has an encore feel Watchtower: guess he has
to play it for the oldheads, would love to see him leave us with a
quiet/spellbinding sound once in awhile Summary: Really good show, seems to be
renewed energy with the CSexton additon, his interacting with the star of the
show appears to breathe something into the whole thing; whether it was an
average mix or them still working it through, couldn't hear CSexton distinctly
enough; a very loud rock show which is a great experience and yet would love to
have heard the soundscape varied every once in awhile, allowing some of the
acoustic/picking which is wonderful to hear both from this band and with these
song/treasures (the standup was only used four times); obvious fun is the star
of the show's antics behind the keyboard and, now, his motions when he sings
without an instrument, wow; MVT: call it Girl from the North with Cold Irons a
deserving runner-up Thanks Everybody
Comments by Jim Strickland
Oh my stars! How I've missed Charlie Sexton. Rachela and I saw Dylan in Canton
last night and he rocked the house, thanks to the cutting guitar of Charlie
Sexton. Since Charlie and Larry Campbell left the band, Dylan has gotten by
with a competent backup band, mostly due to Tony and George. But last night,
the magic was back. Bob must've felt it too because he was smiling like crazy
and coming out from behind the organ four times to stand alone at the mic,
paying careful attention to singing the song, signaling the joy of sharing it
with his audience by his outstretched arms. Whereas his former lineup seemed to
be fixed on the stage like cut-out figures, Charlie took command by moving
across the entire stage like a caged panther. Bob seemed to be drawing on
Charlie’s guitar-god energy, his licks pushing the songs to what they were meant
to be. Charlie Sexton gets Dylan, and it sure is good to have him back.
Comments by Tom Pachuta
Bob Dylan in my hometown! I couldn't miss this. I sprung for fourth row seats
and was treated to an excellent show. My first Dylan show was in 1980, and I
think this show, overall, was the best I've seen. The band was on fire all
night. I've been reading all the reviews about the effect Charlie Sexton has
had on the band and couldn't agree more. While this band has always been tight,
Sexton adds a 'certain something' that takes things over the top. Dylan was the
most animated I've ever seen him -- lots of smiles and the most emotive vocals
I've heard from him in years. The set list had some surprises. Houston was the
only Together Through Life song in the main set. Love Minus Zero was the
shocker. Beautiful rendition that stunned everybody around me. Also finally
got to hear my first live Girl From the North Country. Dylan is definitely
enjoying this tour and it's coming out through the whole performance. Great
Review by Don Ely
Was six crooked highways led me to Canton, Ohio this pleasant autumn evening.
Leaves glazed over with the dew of the season glistened in light thrown by
streetlamps and headlights. Trees stood naked but not embarrassed as only those
without conscience or inhibition can. By the morning light they would all
sparkle and twinkle after Jack Frost waved his magical wand across air chilled
like champagne. Coming attractions of holiday cheer and good times to be had
were trumpeted in living color on message boards outside the arena. Inside a
full house warmed themselves by the communal fire as magic of a musical sort
heated up the stage: Bob Dylan and His Band had come to Canton to spread their
own good cheer.
'Twas not a Christmas show given by these men come from far and wide, but they
came bearing gifts of timeless beauty and eloquence and they presented them with
the greatest of care. " Girl Of The North Country " echoed with laughter of a
fair-haired maiden slipping away hauntingly like the will-o'-the-wisp over a
cold northern bog. " Lonesome Day Blues " and " High Water ( for Charley Patton
) " evoked ghosts from a different past, a time and place piled high with bales
of cotton, fueled by canned heat and served by the Yellow Dog. Aching souls of
the present were soothed and afforded some compassionate relief by way of "
Workingman's Blues #2 " and it's empathetic tale of hard times this time. The
most frightful vision was yet to come, a frozen warning that if we don't use it
we're gonna lose it, that we all better straighten up and fly right, 'cause " A
Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall ", and the storm will come with the thunder of four
Thoughts of apocalypse were on the minds of neither musician nor audience for
very long, though, as both connected with one another in the spirit of mining
light from the darkness. Rock 'n' roll was revisited without the spilling of
blood down Hwy 61, and Jolene came just a-walkin' down the street, hips swingin'
and sashayin' in time to the music. Only the Thin Man received a stern
reprimand, and he deserved all the harsh words, each and every one. At least the
Rolling Stone can hold out hope for redemption.
That these six bringers of harmony and keepers of Faith have come to the heart
of America with hearts wide open is restorative enough. That they have come to
Canton, Ohio to share their message is an epiphany.
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