Review by David Allin
As I send this in I note that no one has yet posted a review of the
2006/11/03 concert at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario,
Canada. I was there, but after the show I was not in the mood to write in.
A speeding ticket on the way and a seat way back, high up, and to the
right(!) did not put me in a positive frame of mind. Regardless, there
were stand-out performances in London: “Maggie’s Farm,” “It’s All Right,
Ma,” “Not Dark Yet.” and “Nettie Moore.”
The Toronto concert threatened to have its own troubles. Tickets that, I
was assured, were mailed 14 days before the concert had failed to arrive,
and extremely heavy traffic in a steady rain left us late and without
supper. Replacement tickets then beer and a meal during the Foo Fighters
left me in much better spirits. It was my location, however, that made all
the difference: seven rows back, three seats right of centre; soon
improved to six rows back, dead centre; and then five rows back, three
seats left of centre.
Between the Foo Fighters’ set and Dylan’s I talked to a fellow on my left
to discover that he was a very selective fan. (He argued that “Love and
Theft” was sub par album.) His bizarre tastes became clearly apparent
when, after “Lonesome Day Blues,” the third song, he told me that he hated
the song. The grin that had cemented itself on my face during Dylan’s
masterful delivery started to crack. What did this guy want? Where were
his ears? Why was he standing next to me? I had to get out of there. I
moved up one row, then up another. Clear sailing for the rest of the
evening. (Notes: a lyric change in “LDB.” Instead of the “wishing my
mother alive” line, he sang something like. “I can’t believe I’m still
alive.” Because the ballots for the US mid-term elections were being
counted, perhaps the “naked President” line in “It’s All Right, Ma” may
have evoked a stronger cheer than usual.)
I was not the only one in the arena who was enjoying himself more than in
London. In London, Dylan had displayed a workmanlike presence; in Toronto
grins frequently played on his face. In London he had seemed to have a
battle with Stu—without turning around Bob frequently quieted him down
with the his hand; not so in Toronto. In London he stood relatively
impassively as he acknowledged the crowd. In Toronto there was much more
interaction with the audience. (A woman three rows ahead of me had her
night made when she traded grins and gestures with Bob.) There was one
apparent glitch: during “Rolling Stone” he looked in vain for the correct
harmonica. Instead of harp we got an extended instrumental break.
Just before he began the band introductions, Dylan reminisced about
some smaller venues he had played in Toronto. He then commented, “I
used to have a backing band from Toronto: Levon and the Hawks. Does
anyone remember them?” From the cheer that rose up it was clear that more
than a few of us did.
All in all, a concert that had me shaking my head in disbelief; Dylan is
so much in control of his craft. This one is definitely in my top five. My
wife said it was the best she had ever attended. The guy who had been on
my left asked me afterwards how I had liked it. “Terrible concert,” I
said. He agreed! Go figure.
Review by Paul McGarry
Drove down to the show in a constant drizzle, with enough traffic to
choke a mule, but as we got closer to the Air Canada Center I realized
this was going to be a major event in TO. I had seen him at this venue
in 2001, when only the bottom section of seats were full (9,000), but to
my amazement and with a little help from opening act The Foo Fighters,
the place was jammed!! Young and Old alike were on hand for this
mid-week musical spectacle. The Foo's opened precisely at 7:30 with a
mix of old and new material and even though they are not my cup of tea,
they entertained with lots of flare and stage banter. Dylan and his men
in grey hit the stage at 9:03 and even though I was hoping for something
different, I was blown away by their rousing opener "Maggie" it had
driving rhythm and power to spare and I hate to admit it but they put
some new life in that old girl and was one of the night's highlights for
me. I won't go track by track but I had my first "Positively 4th" which
was nice, and a slow bluesy "It's Alright Ma" (almost sounded like "High
Water") Dylan inserted the slow numbers at just the right time, "When
the Deal Goes Down" gave the audience a chance to catch their breath and
hammered home the fact the he can still bring it with "Highway 61". I
have had a chance to watch this well oiled machine over the last couple
of years and have really grown to enjoy these boys. "Masters Of War" was
thrown in for good measure and "Tangled" sounded reborn (which I didn't
think was possible). On "Nettie Moore" I don't recall hearing Dylan's
voice so clear and committed to a song in some time... even "Summer
Days" was enjoyable to hear. The encores were predictable as usual,
although I didn't like the fast version of "Thunder" All in all it was
nice to see Dylan in front of a sold out crowd, touring with a new CD
and doing what he does best..he definitely is just a song and dance man!
Review by Jerry Tenenbaum
I wasn't going to go because I've become tired or arena shows in
general. (you know..bad sound, too far away, who is that up on that stage
anyway?) But yesterday the Dylan bug bit me yet again (as it always
does). So I got on line with Ticketmaster and asked for the best ticket
still available. I got section 110 row 7 at the Air Canada Centre. I
had no idea what that meant. So, I was pleasantly surprised when The Bob
Dylan band came out and there was Mr. Dylan at eye level facing me with
his keyboard. (my seat was on the side of the stage; not at the front).
Indeed, I had lucked out! The show was once again very good as has been
said in the previous reviews. The band is tight. At the end, when Bob
introduced them, he made reference to Levon and the Hawks in some sort of
a comparative (you'll have to hear the tape to hear exactly what he said;
but no question about the reference to Toronto and Levon and the Hawks as
one of his previous bands. That was really nice.) As for the songs:
Highlights form e were a great Maggie's Farm (opener) with a newish
arrangement for me, all the blues numbers (Lonesome Day Blues, Rolling
and Tumbling especially), and Tangled. I found Positively 4th Street
tepid on this occasion. Don't Think Twice was inspired and believe it or
not, new life in Like A Rolling Stone with the Dylan keyboards up front
for a couple of verses. It's Alright Ma.. has a new treatment and was
angry and tense. The new songs (especially Nettie Moore and Thunder got
excellent treatment). Summer Days rocked as it always does,
Straycat-like. Harmonica works was superb tonight whenever it appeared.
This one shouldn't be missed. Kudos to the sound people at Air Canada
centre for excellent sound both in the wonderful Foo Fighters acoustic
set and for Dylan's presentaton. Maple Leaf Gardens was never, ever like
Review by Christopher Smith
it was a sold out night in toronto for anyone trying to see bob dylan and
band.but for those who were on the inside it was their lucky night. bob
delivered the songs with an enthusiastic rough-grace to them and exuded
sheer class throughout the evening. the band was in top form as they
ripped though a perfect setlist.playing old songs with newer arrangements
intrigued the crowd.4th street had a nice punch to it while it's alright
ma was a wild ride. the crowd loved them.masters of war was played
new-style as well and the audience took a real liking to that one for
sure.when bob and the band pulled out the new numbers the crowd really got
into them...sometimes more than the classics.rollin and tumblin' did
exactly that but with full steam ahead. previous to that was when the
deal goes down,and it sure did it for the crowd for they responded with
solid applause.for my 34th dylan show i got what i wanted.....perfect
musical craftsmanship,great setlist, fun with friends and an
evening with the world's greatest.
Review by Matt Doyle
Bob put on another enjoyable show on his return to Toronto. I liked the
new arrangement for Maggie's Farm, its got a real laid back feel to it.
Masters of War was greeted with loud applause and Bob put on an excellent
rendition. He started coughing later in the show, which continued
intermitently throughout the rest of the concert. Bob seemed to be in
good spirits when he introduced the band. Making reference to The Hawks
as his old band, Bob proceeded to mention his current band.
I could have done without Like a Rolling Stone, its over-played and
needs to be given a rest. All Along the Watchtower was great, but I
really wanted to hear more soloing from Denny Freeman.
My only complaint was that the people next to me proceeded to talk
throughout the entire show, during every song by the Foo Fighters and
Dylan. I eventually moved somewhere else to be able to enjoy the rest
of Bob's set. Was it just me or did Bob have several sheets of paper on
top of his keyboard? Were these the set list or lyric sheets? All in
all, the crowd left satisfied at seeing Bob in person again.
Review by Dave Ford
My 3rd Bob show in 6 nights proved to be the best. A sold out crowd at the
Air Canada Centre was not disappointed as Bob weaved his way through 4
songs from Modern Times and a number of classics. Not many people at age
65 could pack an arena of this size. Bob's completely re-worked versions
of old songs are refreshing - he is adding that rootsy blues sound to all
of his stuff and it works. She Belongs to Me, When the Deal Goes Down,
Masters of War, Tangled Up in Blue, Nettie Moore were all stand-outs. Bob
even said more to the crowd than usual - he talked about Ronnie Hawkins
and the Hawks. The highlight of the night was a beautiful rendition of
Don't Think Twice - it simply could not have been performed any better.
Review by Keith Cooper
Dylan: Highway 401 Revisited
Having caught Bob in upstate New York this past summer, and quite enjoying
the baseball park ambience, I was nonetheless slightly disapppointed
(although not surprised) that nothing from Modern Times was included.
Thus, upon the announcement of multiple Canadian dates I knew I was in.
Quick calls secured hard core Dylan friends to ante up and we soon had
Toronto ducats in hand. Each day, as the early morning caffeine fix
sluiced through my veins, I hit Bob Links to check the set list from the
night before. I tried tracking the songs - wondering if I could hit the
Bob algorithm that would allow me to fearlessly forecast his set list -
and I got close. But in the end, of course, Bob is inscrutable and I was
little more accurate than a telephone psychic.
But I digress. With Toronto in hand the thought of making the run to
Montreal surfaced. My best friend is from Montreal now living in T.O. My
girlfriend's birthday was the day of the Quebec concert - her 30th! And my
other friend was in town and offering a free stay at her downtown Montreal
condo. I may not be able to take a hint, but I know when I'm being
clobbered over the head - this would be Highway 401 Revisited - not seen
since the last Boston (my team) vs. Montreal (friend's team) hockey game.
Only this time for an outcome on which we both hoped: worshipping at the
Church of Dylan the Divine.
We filed into the ACC (Air Canada Centre) for the Toronto concert. We just
caught the last couple of Foo Fighter's tunes, but Grohl was great and we
made a note to catch the whole show the next night.
Bob debuted shortly after with Maggie's Farm and we were off. The sound
was ragged, as was Bob, but it was a fine version. Following another
audio-impaired classic - She Belongs to Me - Bob and the band kicked it
out with Lonesome Day Blues. While the mix was still a little muddy, Bob
and the boys were starting to find a groove.
To interject, it was at this point when the fascists that rule the ACC
(referred to by some as the Anal Corporate Centre) decided to bust a
grandma and grandpa sitting next to us who decided to have a little fun
and smoke some heathen weed. The ACC Blackshirts were everywhere all night
enforcing the corporate policy of No Fun Allowed. Anyone caught dancing
were immediately returned to their seats, and if they persisted in their
enjoyment of the night's music they would be escorted off the premises.
Sad, sad, sad.
After a hit and miss It's Alright Ma, Bob found his wheelhouse. When the
Deal Goes Down brought the crowd into it with the intimacy of his now
almost Cohen-esque voice. Then, after an almost satiated lull, he burst
into a militant version of Masters of War. My girlfriend's favourite song,
it brought gasps from many and a huge cheer. It also marked the true
beginning of the concert.
He smoked into Rollin' and Tumblin'; dropped an impressive version of
Don't Think Twice; and sparked a frenzy with a solid Tangled up in Blue.
After floating a beautiful Nettie More he launched into the predictable,
but fun, 4 song set that he now finishes them all with.
All in all, a solid if not spectacular night.
Following street meat we beat a hasty retreat to the far side of the keep
and piled into the jeep.
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