Kalamazoo, Michigan

Wings Stadium

November 8, 2008

[Jim Barrett], [Charlespoet]

Review by Jim Barrett

Living in the USA
of Change…

Fri 10/31/08 Halloween Night, Barack Obama Campaign Rally, Wicker
      Park, Highland, Indiana.  This visit to my neighborhood from our
     candidate was inspiring.  Joined friends for an after-rally party, 
     with enthusiastic hope of the possibilities, a review of pictures &
     beers.  All had already voted.Tues 11.04.08 Election Day, Barack 
     Obama Acceptance speech, Grant Park, Chicago. An historic 
     night, with well over 100,000 attending Obama’s acceptance 
     speech as the first truly progressive President in years. A great 
     night in Chicago!

(Bob Dylan swings into America
from a Canadian Tour, performing four nights in USA,
beginning in his home state at Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis, MN 

"Me, I was born in 1941. That was the year they bombed Pearl Harbor.
I've been living in a world of darkness ever since. But it looks like
things are going to change now." - Bob Dylan Nov 4, 2008..)

Wed 11.05.08 My home state, Indiana goes Blue! 
     (…by a slim margin, fist time since 1964)  I rejoiced in
     electoral intelligence, the end of an incorrigible Bush/Cheney rule.
     Glad I worked for the campaign. (Bob in LaCrosse, WI)(Bob in
     Milwaukee, WI) – Sold Out Show- would have been there with a
     ticket.Fri 11.07.08 Watched Robert Downey Jr.’s “Chaplin” movie, an
     ironic forbearance to the show to follow. Contemplating a road
     trip.Sat 11.08.08- What a week! Woke up a happy American, eager for
     more. (Bob in Kalamazoo,  MI)

Strong coffee and chance for reflection greeted me Sat morn.
I wanted the excitement to continue; to be part of the change blowin’ in
the wind!  Took off for Kalamazoo without tickets, with my 5 yr old son
and my wonderful wife, all very jazzed to be hittin’ the road!~; “We’re
going to see Bob!”   An easy 2+ hour drive playing Live ’66.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday, …“on tour” again.

We heard the sound check while inside the small ice arena
getting last minute tickets; Start & stop song(s) unrecognizable, but Bob
barking key instructions to band.  My kid wide-eyed- “Is that Bob Dylan?” 
Scored three incredible seats, just released, which were placed over the
“box” hockey benches for the home team, putting us delightfully in the
first row of the first mezz. overlooking floor, Bob facing us straight-on,
fifty feet away.  Settling with a beer, and a new poster, a ready stage
never looked so good. I’ve been at Bob’s feet many times, but this vantage
was my best seated view in years. Wished I had brought a camera. 

Opening notes teased “Thunder…” but morphed into “Maggie’s
Farm”.  Maggie’s is a great opener, with
power in sound and lyric. I’ve heard other arrangements, but this was
fast, true to the recording, and rockin’! Dylan pouncing on his new leslie
keyboard. Band rips into it, and crowd responds with each driving,
throated lyric. An immediate thrill!  

Side Notes: (Bob in black with reflective pinstripes on
collar, arms & legs, his movements catching the white-light streams from
above, sides & floor.  Backdrop was huge, classy crushed black velvet
tapestries.  His cream flat brimmed “campaign” hat with black sash,
seemingly from an election era of old.  From the start, he was vibrant,
and the audience seemed to get it, enthusiastically.

The band was arranged directly opposite, almost parallel to
Bob, three guitar necks in shooting squad formation, aiming calculated
riffs.  They are lined up next to each other, tonight in gray suits with
hats, watching his hands for the next quick move.  Bob’s band is an
energized, sometimes stomping, and sometimes subtle guitar orchestra at
his command. Tony & George setting a driving rhythm, the foundation
throughout. Garnier’s importance in getting it down right, right away,
cannot be overemphasized. The keyboard sounded better than it had in
recent memory, and at times conjured a full Little Richard bounce; also
remembering the circus, colaiapy feel sound of Rolling Stone.  

Dylan spent considerable time tonight, also, center stage,
blowing his harp and singing into the center stage mic.  It was great to
see him “out there” a bit, as he always, from my live experiences, has
been behind an instrument. I saw at this show an artist fully engaged in
all aspects of the stage he commands; musically, vocally, instrumentally,
dramatically (especially a renewed enthusiasm for his harmonica~!);
driving the lyrics he wrote quietly so long ago, once again into another
decade…with finesse, verve.  The pacing of the songs, current relevance of
his catalog, even the lighting, was done with full dramatic effect. 
Reflecting today, it is obvious we caught a very good night.  Does this
happen all the time these days?  Makes me want to tour with him again!

The importance of the lighting cannot be overemphasized, as
it added to the drama and peaks of the music like to do not recall from
previous tours.  Lighting stagecraft changed with each song, almost always
white light; clear vibrancy from the back, side lighting creating moods &
shadows, floor lighting (TD&TD) was surprisingly dramatic, occasionally
just lighting the velvet backdrop…very classy, conjuring old-Hollywood. 
“Ballad of a Thin Man” was dark, spooky, especially for the end of the

…And, Now, Back To The

“Rainy Day Women” seemed a bonus opener, with the crowd cheering, 
relishing and lighting up, perhaps both for the song selection & 
audience’s response to Michigan’s recently enacted, progressive new
law allowing medical marijuana.  Bob was especially engaged vocally at 
the end, …setting the stage for treats to come.

An upbeat, glorious rendition of “It’s All Over Now, Baby
Blue”.  Sound was now dialed in, and this
vocal was clear as a bright new morning. This has always been a very
personal favorite, relishing the beautiful, melancholy lyrics as a
timeless Grateful Dead encore. Tonight it was jubilant, uptempo, fun!  Bob
layed this down with joy, in my eyes a celebration…

“All your seasick sailors, they are rowing home.

All your reindeer armies, are all going home. (let’s hope)  

….“It’s (finally) All Over Now…”

At this point I knew this was unfolding as a great Bob Dylan show.  
The selection of “TD & TD” at first was a letdown from the high of 
the 1st 3 songs, but was this was trick & treat!  In a word, this
was a DRAMATIC performance.  The simple white floor lighting 
illuminating Bob’s every subtle move, as he sang sans instrument
in the middle of the stage; This was a Chaplinesque, Vincent Price 
inspired movie, with the (faux) Oscar from his Academy Award win for
“Things Have Changed” (the Wonder Boys- a great movie) still, as always,
set on a speaker right up front (he’s proud, and I love it!)  Bob’s hands
jabbing in loose pistol pose, shooting into the captivated crowd, his legs
dancing, even kicking and his voice riveting lyrics through a powerful
big-band era mic.  This songs performance was unlike anything I’ve ever
seen Dylan do before.  Rock & Roll Vaudeville. 

I married my Irish Colleen in 1999, and our 1st
dance was danced to “Make You Feel My Love.” 
We have attended many Dylan shows together since, but as chance would have
it, this was the first time we had Bob sing it to us since our wedding
day.  We held hands with our little boy between us, and enjoyed a long
kiss as Bob’s heartfelt lyrics stormed our emotions.  A beautiful song,
played just for us, …with great seats….even.

Although I suspected it from the outset, with the double
whammy opener and exquisite “Bay Blue”, ++ selections already, “Levee”
broke it wide open.  A pounding, rhythmic  rave up which had everyone
dancing and havin’ a good time.  Guitar work was extraordinary, and vocal
was seriously great.  

Hollis Brown & Hattie Carroll to follow were both highlights for this 
entrenched Dylan student, appropriate for Dylan to remind us of the 
struggles that has led to election of our first truly progressive president.  

“But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,

Take the rag away from your face.

Now ain't the time for your tears.”

Can you, right now, HEAR him singing this!  Powerful stuff.

Things Have Changed was also apropos, albeit a lull, but
still important, …and music was earthier than I have remembered, with an
acoustic sense and violin.

It’s Aright Ma had it’s outstanding, obvious lyrical moment,
and this too, like “It’s All Over Now” was decidedly upbeat, I felt.
Workingman’s Blues was definitely a highlight, with Dylan’s voice creating
seriousness across all the faces I saw.  This was important, somehow,
capturing the ongoing, hopeful struggle of the good people that stood
listening.  Dylan, it seemed to me, treated this particular song as the
showcase of the evening, and all he had went into this one.  While I
didn’t cry, I should have. 

Bringing the crowd back from poignant realty with “Highway
61”, Bob strapped on what appeared to be a Gibson 175 SG, (I could be
wrong on the model), a hollow-body Jazz-type guitar, very deliberately
chomping into a riff that he repeated for most of the song, while his
remarkable band swirled into a steady melodic barrage of rock & roll. 
Again, a thrill, …and at this point my boy is rocking, jumping, dancing,
with fists thrust and a big Bob smile (which, from experience, I clearly

Ain’t Talkin’, frankly, in my mind, was nothin’ to talk
about. I know that this has been a highlight of other recent shows, but,
honestly, for me, tonight, felt like an old man’s tired rant. (maybe I was
just worn out.)    Coming right back, Thunder On The Mountain simply
thundered.  I’ve heard this performed several times, and this transcended
all.  A GREAT performance, with the band enthusiastically rockin it, and
Bob, …well, he was finishing a great show, & he knew it.  

Ballad of a Thin Man was another wonderful, unexpected treat
to finish a superlative Dylan Show. 
Again, overt political overtones, in light of the fact that Mr. Jones’s
conservative ideology has just washed down the drain like watery pudding. 

I must say, this was likely one of the most enjoyable Bob
Dylan shows I have ever had the extreme pleasure to attend.  After such an
exciting week in America, a new President, with my family with me,
unexpectedly great seats, Dylan in top form, at the age of a very fine
wine, changing his act and still blowing my mind,

…and my boy tonight pounding his little keyboard
enthusiastically “singing” most of the lyrics to “This Old Man… he plays
three, he plays nick-knack on my knee…”

I’ve lost count, but this was probably about my 50th Dylan
show.  Thanks to all reviewers who keep
me in touch.   


Review by Charlespoet

Let's begin by saying right off the bat it was most definitely an orange
concert. Purple is great and red is always nice but orange well that is
something else entirely and Kalamazoo was burning orange like an Olympic
torch! Maggie's Farm began this Independence Day and you knew right from
the first notes that this was going to be a whopping good time! After
Maggie's I was amazed when Rainy Day Women began - two openers! Bob must
have felt orange as well - the election still very much in the air and
it makes sense because the stench we have been forced to deal with these
past eight years has to go come hell or high-water and Bob well he's so
very much an open window and it is great to be able to breathe again.
Sniff go right on ahead and I bet you will smell not only victory but
perhaps you will even catch a whiff from the campfire some young woman
started near a dumpster over by that bowling alley. I knew when she
brought out the propane torch we were in for one heck of a good, surreal
and splendorific day & evening! Bob center stage what can I say because
honestly in the 22 years I have been going to see this Gemini Trickster
live never have I seen him so animated and it wasn't just animated I
mean he was Mr. Bob just like he once called Frank Sinatra Mr. Frank.
Bob the crooner ever present and ready to unload and Tweedle Dee
couldn't have been any better if the White Rabbit had run onto the stage
fumbling for his pocket watch. Bob was announcing the birth of a nation
and I don't mean a spokesman for a generation was delivering the good
news or anything ridiculous like that no this was a song and dance man
sowing his wild oats and than some and making damn certain we understood
just what was happening here. Listen to his hurt dejected voice as his
lover walks out the door. I swear not only could I see the clothes that
once were worn by this or that feeble ghost, but I could also feel the
texture of the fabric - it was that kind of night. Bob the prize fighter
- the whirling dervish is coming to your town. Listen and listen good
the proof is in the pudding and you better pray you have a big enough

(for Janet, Dawn, Linda, Joanna, Jay and Roberto!)


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