November 8, 2019
Review by E.B.
“I crossed the river just to be where you are....” but the young lady next
to me drove up from Alabama, so a hat tip to you young woman! While
he didn’t play Mississippi, a favorite of mine, we knew very well the playlist
of this tour ahead of time and it is a joy to behold.... Bob Dylan and his
band are firing on all cylinders and putting it into overdrive.
Bob Dylan commands the stage, even playing with his back to the band!
He plays guitar on just the opener but it was a treat to see and
throughout the evening he comes center stage to embrace the crowd
and sing, and see and be seen, and deliver the goods. A powerful
commanding and intense embrace it is.
Our audience this night in Northern Kentucky, comprised of residents and
travelers, and we were adoring, enthusiastic, happily affectionate and at
times giddy, at times somewhat somber (appropriately) and throughout
very grateful and respectful. A few flash photographers were escorted
out, thankfully, because, hey, it is annoying people! Knock it off! Some
dancing in the aisles ensued, civilized swaying and muted dancing was
My doubts over what the quality of the sound would be in a college
basketball gymnasium were put to rest from the jump, it sounded great.
The sound technicians were able to achieve an intimate soundscape
with dynamic range and lots of clarity in the mix, Bob sounded absolutely
great, the band was loud and ferocious and I loved it.
The Highlight for me was, first off: no doubt about it, hands down, worth
the price of my ticket and then some, “Not Dark Yet.” Amazing. Touching.
Artistically performed and delivered with care, craft and emotion beyond
any description in written form, it is like .... seeing the steam rising from a
lake on a crisp November day backlit by the sun, at dawn celebrating the
breath of life and knowing those breaths are numbered perhaps but
precious... it’s like that.... okay, you can’t write about it, you have to
sense it in person, so .... go do that, go, get yourself there. Then try
and write about it, good luck.But you will feel it, that is the important
thing. You owe it to yourself to go.
Somewhat off topic: some thoughts that may be of interest, perhaps you
may not know, as the Kentucky residents next to me did not know, Bob
Dylan has a line of spirits, which includes a “Tennessee Bourbon” Straight
Bourbon Whiskey, that’s what the label says, now.... but if you are from
Kentucky bourbon is only made in Kentucky, so.... delve into it people if
you have an interest, it was a matter we “discussed” cordially.
Also: coming soon to Broadway, if you are not yet aware, there is a
production of “Girl from the North Country” at the Belasco theater
previewing Feb. 7, 2020 and opening March 5, 2020. It is described like
this: “Bod Dylan’s inimitable songbook is authentically transformed into
this achingly beautiful story of a down on its luck community on the
brink of change in Duluth, Minnesota in 1934.” Note: Bob is not in it, it’s
his music, .... I know nothing else about it except you may be interested
to find out more, if that’s your thing.
And thank you Bill, your web site is a treasure to behold in all these
various reviews of people trying to convey what it means to each of us
individually and collectively to be a Bob Dylan fan. Keep on Keeping On!
Review by Laurette Maillet
I leave Ann Arbor at 5a.m. after waiting in the cold for more than one
hour. Fortunately not alone. A group of three students are also
unfortunate. The Greyhound station is closed for the night. I arrive by
Greyhound after a layover in Detroit in early afternoon. Cincinnati looks
like a pleasant city. The sun is shining. I managed few hours of sleep on
the bus. I'm feeling good. I decide to walk the distance to my AirBandB
to discover some of the city. One hour and a coffee later I check in. The
house is huge , so are the two dogs barking at me. One is about my size!
The bed looks comfy but against all wisdom I will go straight to the
venue instead of taking a nap. I'll sleep when I'm dead! The city bus
trip is one hour and 1.50$. Cool.
The BB&T Arena is a sport arena, capacities 10000. I worry not for a
ticket. The buses are parked in the parking lot. Only one guardian is
taking security measure. I spot a man and a kid who carry a Bob Dylan
album and a pen. An autograph Mr. Dylan? Nope. "Security Bob" will
talk to them and they will move away. I'm sorry for the kid! Barron walks
Bob to his bus after the soundcheck and that's it for the afternoon. All
disappeared in warm and comfort: food and a nap. I find a warm building
inside the campus. Unfortunately the restaurants are close, so is the
Starbuck Coffee. I will starve a little bit longer!
By 6.30p.m. the doors open and the folks get in. I am confident.
Before 7p.m. a man walks to me and says " yes, I have an extra ticket
but on my telephone." He seems kind and pleasant so I go with him.
No heavy security tonight : no metal detector and they don't even
search my bag. We take our seats all the way up, plunging again to the
stage. Far far away! He explains to me that he got two free tickets from
the Veterans association. They gave away 320 couples of tickets. Woah!
More than 600 comp tickets tonight. His girl friend is sick and couldn't
make it. So he decided to use the ticket for good. Me. Thanks Randy.
The show. Right on time...
Bob is wearing is white/cream jacket and black pants. And this is all I can
see. The sound is good and right away "THC" is powerful. The Band well
1.Things Have Changed (Bob center stage on guitar, Donnie on violin)
2.It Ain't Me, Babe (Bob on piano, Donnie on violin)
3.Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on piano, Donnie on lap steel)
I jump on my seat and dance.
4.Simple Twist Of Fate (Bob on piano then center stage on harp, Donnie
on violin) The changing of the lyrics are not new to me.
5.Can't Wait (Bob center stage, Donnie on lap steel)
6.When I Paint My Masterpiece (Bob on piano then center stage with
harp, Donnie on violin) Always beautiful. And if only I could paint my
masterpiece and make things different.
7.Honest With Me (Bob on piano, Donnie on violin)
I start to appreciate the rythme. The Band is good tonight (or is it me?)
8.Tryin' To Get To Heaven (Bob on piano, Donnie on violin,
Tony on standup bass)
I am in Heaven.
9.Make You Feel My Love (Bob center stage, Donnie on violin)
Sweet but never my favorite.
10.Pay In Blood (Bob center stage, Donnie on pedal steel)
Oh yeah! Strong. And I hear
"I got dogs that could tear you limb to limb
I`m circling around in the southern zone
I pay in blood, but not my own"
11.Lenny Bruce (Bob on piano, Donnie on violin)
Not sure I will ever like it.
12.Early Roman Kings (Bob center stage, Donnie on pedal steel,
Tony on standup bass)
I'm a little bit tired of it. What about " Mississippi "? For a change.
13.Girl From the North Country (Bob on piano, Donnie on lap steel,
Bob Britt guitar with bottleneck, Tony on standup bass)
Bob Britt is doing a good job.
14.Not Dark Yet (Bob center stage, Donnie on pedal steel)
Tonight I hear some lyrics' echos bouncing on the top of the arena.
Is this new? It gives an even more sinister effect.
15.Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on piano, Donnie on lap steel)
I can't stop stamping my feet.
16.Soon After Midnight (Bob on piano, Donnie on lap steel)
I do my karaoke. That song is so sweet!
17.Gotta Serve Somebody (Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel)
Might be the Devil, it might be the Lord!
I signal Randy that I have to move down. My last bus is due at
22.15p.m. I don't want to miss it. I go down the floor.
18.Ballad of a Thin Man (Bob center stage with harp, Donnie on pedal
steel) Incredible version. He should do this one before in the setlist.
19.It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
(Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel) I wait for the final bow and
Waiting with me at the bus stop is a young Mexican student. This
was his first Dylan show and he is satisfied. (The two Dylan buses are
passing by us. I wave bye to the drivers. Dylan's driver answers by
blinking his lights! Cool!) We talk more on the bus ride. Axel is
studying philosophy. I recommend him to focus of the Bob Dylan
songs from the 60's and he recommends me to read Hume(the
philosopher).That bus takes me right to my home and I go straight
to bed with.....a satisfied mind.(but an empty stomach). Cincinnati
was a pleasant trip. I met great people. The weather was agreeable.
Bobby is still in full capacity.
So see you in Akron.
Review by Kevin Waters
Another outstanding show. Bob & his band were excellent. The set list
is amazing, incredible. All the songs feel so damned “personal.” Almost
The arrangements are always unique & interesting, and I appreciate how
new arrangements keep us listeners on our toes. The balance between
‘rockers’ and ‘ballads’ is perfect. Mellow piano, then serious guitar work.
And Tony, of course, keeping it all together.
Things Have Changed — I like seeing Bob on guitar. Lovely opener. “I’m
trying to get as far away from myself as I can...”
It Ain’t Me, Babe - mellow, Bob on piano. It may be my least favorite
song in the set list, but it comes off beautifully. Singing along is easy.
“...a lover for your life & nothing more...”
Highway 61 - “God said to Abraham, ‘Kill me a son.’” What else needs to
be said? Very cool version. The night is getting hotter.
Twist o’ Fate - Bob on harp near the end...like the sweetest sound ever.
I never get tired of Dylan “soloing” on the harp. A tender version. He
played with the lyrics on this tune. Very well done. Touching.
Can’t Wait - rocking. Hard not to dance. The band is so solid. They’re
fun. And gifted. With chemistry, it seems.
Masterpiece - Bob’s singing here is good. He has plenty of energy,
interest, & engagement. “Got to hurry on back to my hotel room...
”followed by something like (this is a close approximation, but only that)
“gonna wash my clothes, lock the door, keep everybody out; til I paint
my masterpiece.” The second (or was it the 3rd?) verse with new lyrics
was even better, though the exact words escape me (should’ve wrote
them down). The last 2 verses ended with “everything’s gonna be
beautiful, (pronounced “beee-you-to-full”) when I paint my masterpiece”.
A definite highlight on the night.
Honest with Me - more raucous cacophony on this one. The band having
fun. Bob on piano, singing with gusto. “Lots of things get in the way
when you’re trying to do what’s right.” This isn’t one of my ‘super-special
favorites,’ but it was smoking tonight.
Trying to get to Heaven - “...before they close the door.” As with last
week, he sounds like he sincerely means every syllable. As someone else
said, listening to Dylan sing this is surreal. Like VanGogh-ish.
Make you feel my Love - “put your hand in mine; come with me” was, I
think, an alternative lyric here. Cool version.
Pay in blood - the band was grooving here. This song was meant to be
played live. I love the studio version, but it truly soars on stage. “My
head so hard must be made of stone; I pay in Blood but not my own.”
Lenny Bruce - sooooo cool. “Never did make it to the promised land,
never made it out of Babylon.” Piano & vocals were both superb. It
seems like he enjoys playing this song. Glad to see it in the set list again.
I’m not sure I can get tired of this song. Donnie’s violin is haunting
whenever he plays it, & especially so here.
Early Roman Kings - potent. Another chance for the band to play loud.
I thoroughly enjoy Dylan, center stage, singing his guts out. “I’ll drag
you down to the house of death...”
Girl from the north Country - lovely. Really beautiful. Soft & quiet, but
packing some emotional wallop. Bob’s piano playing was cool. His vocals
were even better. I think the crowd loved this song.
Not Dark Yet - maybe the pinnacle of the evening. Powerful version.
“...don’t even hear the murmur of a prayer...”
Thunder on the Mountain - Jamming! Electric & wild. They were all
having fun on this one. “Some sweet day I’ll stand beside my king...”.
Several extended riffs here. When it was over, I needed a cigarette
or a shot of something. Really, really good.
Soon after midnight - great piano playing. Singing was serious & soulful. I
thoroughly enjoy hearing him sing, “I’ll drag his corpse through the mud.”
Gotta Serve Somebody - “you may be in a honky tonk, may be in a
nursing home...you may be on the wagon, may be on the road....” -
Bob played with the lyrics on this tune more than any other.....And it
Ballad of a Thin Man - great phrasing. The band was hot on this one.
It takes a Lot to laugh...- perfect finishing song. Bob Britt lit it up, &
Dylan’s singing was brilliant. “If I die on top of the hill...”
I’m not sure where, but in one of the songs Dylan sang an alternate line
(Masterpiece?) about feeling like “my cup is running over.” I always,
always enjoy the Biblical allusions.
I love the mannequins & the stage lighting.
Randy, if you read this, thanks for the book. Enjoy Akron & Pittsburgh.
My friend Dr. Johnston & I were glad to make your acquaintance. If you
make it back to Cincinnati, I’d love to see you again. Or maybe I’ll catch
you on the road someday.
Another wonderful show. The man keeps on keeping on.
Can’t wait to see him again.
Review by David Di Menna
Voice? Strong! Band? Tight! Age? Fuhgeddaboudit!! All around great
performance! Bob was in his element and did not disappoint!! He was having
fun, smiling (at times), and absolutely jammed on the piano and harmonica.
Highlights (for me) include Pay in Blood, Lenny Bruce, Girl From the North
Country, Not Dark Yet, Ballad of a Thin Man, and Highway 61 Revisited was
an absolute jam and alone worth the price of admisson! The band was
dynamite and on point, the stage lighting was simple (but very effective
and moody), and the crowd was a mixed bag of raucous and silent. (I don't
get the whole silent, sit on my hands, hero-worship thing. Bob even says
to get over it.) Anyway, if your on the fence on whether or not to get
tickets, GET THEM!! Don't know how much longer Mr. Dylan will be doing
this but, whatever juice he's drinking, I want some! Special thanks to
Bill Pagel for all you do at boblinks, all expectingrain contributors, and
to John Hammond Jr. and Johnny Cash for believing when not many did!!
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