Ann Arbor, Michigan

University of Michigan
Hill Auditorium

November 6, 2019

[Don Handy], [Laurette Maillet], [Dave Inman], [Don Ely]

Review by Don Handy

Before last night’s show, two ushers told me that I couldn’t use my
binoculars.  What, Bob Dylan only wants a hundred or so people to see that
he has wrinkles, at any given point of the show, rather than 110? Looking
around at the audience before the show, at least 90% of us have felt the
effects of wicked gravity, which we can see every time we shave or put
make-up on. So stop hiding in the shadows, and being such an asshole. I
suppose on the next tour we’ll have to check any and all glasses and
contact lenses at the door, and on the tour after that we’ll all be
issued sleeping masks upon entry, which we’ll be forced to wear
throughout the show. We’re already paying a pretty penny to see him
perform; the added hoops he makes us jump through are not amusing.

At the risk of this becoming a gripe-fest, is Dylan really so cheap that
he can’t afford to play some music before the show? It did give me a
chance to reflect undistractedly on exactly what I was doing there, and
the best I could manage is that, while one can’t resell a  memory,
should one need to, it is also something that will always be with you, as
part of your collective experience. 

The show itself is as good as advertised, Dylan in fine voice, performing
passionately throughout the show. While not a nostalgia show, he does
manage to touch base with points in his past. For instance, the first song
I ever saw him perform live is “When I Paint My Masterpiece” and, even
if I do manage to see him again, the two versions I’ve been lucky enough
to witness will still be experienced-defining bookends, not unlike that
which Marianne Faithful has done with “As Time Goes By.” Of similar
impact were “Lenny Bruce” and “Girl of the North Country,” both of
which I’ve seen him perform several times in ’81, and which brought
those shows back to my mind, even though the performances were distinctly
different. Most of the rest of the set is of equally stunning
high-quality, a level that we’d be lucky to catch a few songs at during
any given show. Credit should be given to Donny Herron, as his violin and
steel-guitar work substitute for the Hammond B-12 organ sound of earlier
years, sweetening the medicine like the proverbial spoonful of sugar. Even
the songs that I normally dislike sounded great, save for “Pay In
Blood.” The way I figure it, Dylan has always been aware that he’s
playing a character named Bob Dylan, and that these days the character of
Bob Dylan is that of an old bluesman, which includes some noxious
attitudes. Thing is, Dylan has also spent much of his career playing
against expectations, and that several of the Tempest songs are clichés.
This includes the set closer, with it’s sexist Madonna/Whore, or
Mary-Queen/Harlot, complex, even if it is wrapped in an elegant, moving
waltz-time melody. Aren’t you glad that you’re not me? 

As such, I couldn’t help but take the first song of the encore rather
personally. Then again, doesn’t it reflect on all of us who write
reviews of his shows? Well, I knew exactly what it was that I was going to
say when I got home. You may disagree, but I believe I got it. Was also
interesting to see him close with an old classic that I don’t believe
I’ve ever seen him do before, a sublime mixture of the old and the new,
much like the show in it’s entirety.

On the way out the door I bought a program and, stuck in a line in a
parking garage afterward, I opened it to see, in large letters, “Dylan
‘ The Greatest Artist of our Time?” Christ, I thought, what an ego.

Don Handy 


Review by Laurette Maillet

Ann Arbor. I will certainly appreciate this one. As I was uncertain to be
in, having been rebuffed in the afternoon by Dylan security... They
believe I'm a "freak"..What do they know? I relax. First row....on the
balcony. Plunging view on the stage. Bob is dressed with a suit I've seen
before; black with embroidery, pink shirt(it looks from far) and white
shoes. His pants will stick in his boots after few piano plays. Who cares?
The first song and second are disturbed by folks taking their seats. Bob
started right on time. " Highway 61" is a must. My spirit finally getting
high. I am here for the show.  The sound is good. His energy is high. I
am back to my karaoke time. Even " Honest with me" captures my
attention.  "Make me feel my Love" reminds me why I am here for : " I've
been to the end of the earth for you..." Every single song is great
tonight.  The public is into it. I hear some applause after the Bob Britt
solo on "Pay in blood". And applause for " Thunder...". The first row will
stand up for "Ballad.." but will be asked to sit down. Can't be too much
enthusiastic! That will disturb security people! Ah ah. "Lenny Bruce" will
stir up some consciousness. Some folks shear at the line "he was the
brother that you never had"... " Ballad..." Is a must. Too bad it is
almost over. I started to be happy and warm(physically and spiritually). 
I don't know if Bob could do a lot longer, he still appears stiffed body
to me. A little bit static. But the voice was powerful. The harp breath
taking. I say thanks to my precious Angel.(who asked me if Bob who
do....Hurricane??).  I am still mad at "Security Bob" and all those
"clowns". They do a great job but a little bit of humanity would be
appreciated. Who said the Fans are enemies? Thank you Bobby.  
May your heart always be joyful.


Review by Dave Inman

Tonight is my 22nd Dylan show, all in the last 15 years.  Saw him first as a 
college student in 2004.  Exactly 10 years, my wife and I were seeing his 
Fox Theatre show in Detroit.  Though my last show was 2017, Dylan and 
the boys had a very refreshing performance tonight. 

Dylan came out in a black sequenced suit with bright, white boots. 
No hat.

I was seated in the upper balcony, but the steep slope of the seating 
made me feel like I was sitting above Dylan, like watching a Roman 
gladiator at the Coliseum. 

The younger guy sitting next to me, Garrett, it was his first show. Told
him to enjoy seeing Dylan on the guitar for Things Have Changed, he 
probably won’t play it after this song. Pointed out the Oscar statue near 
the piano amps that Dylan won for this song. 

The crowd was excellent. During the slower tracks, you could hear a pin 
drop. There were no drunken idiots yelling out for Bob and very little 
conversing during songs.  During quiet, almost piano solo renditions of 
Masterpiece and Lenny Bruce, the crowd was laser-focused on Dylan. 
I can’t recall if the first harmonica blasts came out during It Ain’t Me 
Babe or Simple Twist of Fate, but the crowd showered Dylan in cheers 
after each solo. I think this spurred Dylan into the bigger and longer 
“H Bombs” (harmonica bombs) that were to come.

The band has reinvented many of the older and newer songs and it 
was so refreshing and welcomed.  Highway 61 used to be boring (after 
hearing it played the same way 20 times) but this new arrangement 
was interesting.  Songs like Honest With Me, Can’t Wait, and Early 
Roman Kings were fun unlike many other performances I had ever 
seen.  The boys seemed to be having fun with the new arrangement 
and mid-song tempo changes. 

Trying To Get To Heaven was given a more upbeat treatment and it 
worked ok. The original arrangement and lyrics are bone-chilling.  
Speaking of bone-chilling, the hush of the crowd and the slow delivery 
of Girl From the North Country seemed to drop the temperature of 
the arena.  You could feel the winter winds hitting heavy on the 

The performance was soaked with emotion. A woman in front of me 
openly weeped during Trying To Get to Heaven. You could hear 
sniffles during Lenny Bruce and Girl From The North Country.  After 
Make You Feel My Love was finished, the younger man next to me, 
Garrett, turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, “We buried my 
mom in August and played that song at her funeral. I’m so glad I got 
to hear that song tonight. That song alone just made my night.”

Security was tighter than I’ve ever seen, especially way up high. I 
heard a bootleg of a show from a few weeks ago. I heard the new 
arrangements and lyrical phrasing. That bootleg is one of the reasons
I attended this show. I wanted to experience the “new” Dylan 
arrangements.  I’m not saying he needs to have a Tapers Section like 
the Grateful Dead, but let people record a few minutes of a song that 
means so much to them. 

The new drummer, Matt, was rockin and great.  Bob seemed to give 
a lot of cues to Donnie to pass onto the other guys. He used to signal
to Tony all the time.  Charlie hasn’t aged a day since 2004 when I first 
saw the Sexton-Campbell lineup.  Charlie played lead most of the night, 
but the new guitar player, Bob Britt, also had some nice solos. 

If you’ve seen Dylan a bunch, you will appreciate this tour more than 
most recent tours. If you’ve never seen Dylan, he mixes enough hits 
with the newer tracks. Don’t sleep on his albums from the last 20 

Thank you Boblinks for all you do. Thank you Dylan for staying on the 
road and entertaining us.  May you stay Forever Young. 

Dave Inman
Durand, MI


Review by Don Ely


Sometime back in my Young Philosopher days I came up with the adage that
in life " the only thing that remains the same is change ". This was
proven once again as I walked the area of State and Liberty Streets in
downtown Ann Arbor, a city I once proclaimed  " the coolest town in
southeast Michigan ". The bright lights of the State and Michigan Theaters
illuminate an almost entirely different set of shops and businesses.
Thankfully those movie houses are still there screening largely
independent film, but many of the other names along these few blocks are
new to me. Although I reside but 50 miles from A2 I hadn't visited in
several years. It had been even longer since I'd spent an entire day in
town, burying my head in record stores, bookstores, and other unique
boutiques straight up counterculture alley. They've been replaced by
national chains, high end clothing stores, and too many restaurants. Of
course this is a process not new to America, but college towns used to be
nearly exempt from homogeneity, being as they are ( were ) centers of free
thought and expression. Walking through the Diag the absence of flyers on
kiosks was pronounced; they were once ubiquitous in announcing upcoming
music, live theater, or political events. I realize social media has
supplanted paper in this digital age and that it ain't the 20th century
anymore and we're a long way from Oz and much closer to the Emerald City.
But as I see students being swept under the corporate carpet and with
manipulation being so rampant in the contemporary world the dangers of
those facts are driven home. This is multiplied during a period when Truth
and Democracy are under assault and a future where darker aspects of
Artificial Intelligence potentially threaten Freedom ever more deeply.

Those caution lights having flashed, some things about Ann Arbor haven't
changed. Encore Records may be gone but Wazoo Annex remains. Dawn Treader
Book Shop is still on Liberty. TK Wu, my favorite Asian joint: still
there. A great diversity among the student body of the University of
Michigan continues. And Bob Dylan and His Band still roll into the city to
ply their trade. In the past they've played the Michigan Theater and
much-larger Crisler Arena, but tonight's venue of choice was good ol' Hill
Auditorium. I've been seeing shows here since Gary Numan in 1980. Last
night I was here to see Wilco. Had a nice seat for that one, but elected
to watch most of the latter portion from the highest reaches of the
balcony to afford a different perspective on the happenings below. Hadn't
been up there in decades so it was kind of nostalgic. Tonight our location
provided yet another perspective: we were in what turned out to be the
second row from the stage ( technically third row as the first was unused
presumably for reasons of " security " ) but in the first two seats to the
extreme left. This meant some obstructed viewing but much of the sound we
were hearing came from the monitors, which meant we heard what the band
heard. This allowed for a more immediate live feel. Onstage amps which I
thought might blast us out of our chairs precluded us from seeing drummer
Matt Chamberlain, and another piece of equipment kept Donnie Herron out of
view. But we had clear sightlines to Bob at his piano about forty feet
away, and no problem when he sauntered over to center stage near his
bandmates. Charlie Sexton, Tony Garnier, and Bob Britt we could see and
hear well between the stacks; Charlie was closest to us. In my eyes, as he
ages he's looking more like Chet Baker all the time. Bob was attired all
in black, in tribute, I'd like to think, to his friend and colleague
Johnny Cash, whose adventures together have finally been released
officially on Bootleg Series 15. An exception to Bob's wardrobe were the
loose-fitting low white boots he sported, reminding me of a child's rain
gear. Cute! Having not been this close to the action in awhile it was a
keen experience watching the interplay of the band. I was unaware that Bob
Britt plays as many leads as he does; some of what I was attributing to
Charlie actually comes from Britt's guitar. Drums were the dominant
instrument coming from the speakers in front of us, as well as Tony's
upright on a number like " Early Roman Kings ". The quiet verses of " When
I Paint My Masterpiece " and the intimacy of " Lenny Bruce " are amplified
in such close proximity and reverberate through my mind. As does Dylan's
mouthful of volume on " Pay In Blood "; it's not froggy, it's not a growl,
it's just resonant and commanding. He continues to be in great voice on
this tour and blows a potent harp. The set is compact and without walking
around stage in the dark between songs the show moves along at a brisk
pace. The new arrangements kill me, most notably " Can't Wait ", the
almost unrecognizable " Thunder On The Mountain " and the devastatingly
crystalline " Not Dark Yet ". " Ballad Of A Thin Man " is receiving some
of the most acute executions of it's performance history, and " It Takes A
Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry "..... I think it will be some time
before tiring of those. And Bob Dylan still gets the young girls up to

If you're travelling in the Michigan country fair you might want to divert
to the hamlet called Hell. Located not far at all from Ann Arbor it's more
of a dip in the road than an actual town, but who wouldn't want to have a
beer at the Hellhole Bar? Legend tells us that an early settler used to
pay his debts to local farmers with his own bootleg whiskey. Come harvest
time when farmers' wives were inquired as to the whereabouts of their
husbands they'd reply, " he's gone to Hell ". Today there's no bootlegging
going on but you can acquire a wide array of Hell-themed souvenirs, play
Hellish miniature golf, go kayaking, grab a meal, Hell, you can even get
hitched! Some marriages end that way, anyway. They used to have Hearsefest
but it was driven to another town. The phrase " only in America " still
applies here. Now get the Hell out and go see Bob Dylan!

Don Ely
Rochester, MI


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