Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Essar Centre

November 9, 2008

[John Levesque], [Shmuel B.]

Review by John Levesque

To judge form tonight's show, people with tickets to the rest of the
Ontario leg of the tour are in for a treat. Bob and the band are in
excellent form, his voice is as clear and supple as I've heard it in
recent years, and Bob really works the stage and the songs. 

He strapped on his guitar twice last night, during a wonderfully bluesy
Don't Think Twice early in the show, and in the middle of Highway 61,
kicking that song into overdrive. All of the rockers (Highway. 61, The
Levee's Gonna Break, Thunder on the Mountain, Honest With Me) were
absolutely torrid, and Bob sang these songs with the mastery of someone
who's been doing it for more than 45 years.

As reported in previous posts, Bob plays a lot of harmonica, usually
wandering out from behind his keyboard to do so. He also sings at times
from the centre-stage mic. The band is totaly responsive to the needs of
individual songs. Standouts included Blind Willie McTell, a totally
heartfelt I Believe in You, When the Deal Goes Down (with harmonica
solo!), Nettie Moore (a soulful treatment that was sung more than spoken),
and the night's beautiful closer, Blowin' in the Wind. Hell, the entire
show was a standout.     

A note about the standing vs. sitting issue: We had front-row seats and
enjoyed the opportunity to sit and fully absorb the music. As we were
streaming out of the Essar Centre, I overheard someone loudly complain
that the people in the front rows weren't even standing, as though sitting
during the songs amounted to a negative verdict on them. There are many
different ways of marking respect for Bob and his incomparable music. We
were on our feet for the encores, but it's also a joy to sit and savour
every moment.

John Levesque  


Review by Shmuel B.

I can't help but say something personal about this, my eighteenth
privilege to see Bob in concert. I flew from Manhattan to 
Toronto and met my older brother at the airport there and we
flew together to Sault Ste. Marie for the show. Now I'm telling this
because some of you out there probably have an older sibling who
introduced you to Bob Dylan; and probably you're as grateful to them as I
am to my big brother.  My brother was in Grade 12 and I was in Grade 7, he
sixteen going on seventeen and me eleven going on twelve in the Fall of
1967.   That Fall he brought everything Bob Dylan had ever released into
our household and he played pretty much nothing other than Bob (Seargent
Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band being one exception). From him, I
learned the full library up to and including Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits
(1967); so by the time John Wesley Harding was released in late 1967 I
was a dedicated twelve-year old fan. And my older brother brought it home
the second it came out.   So I was at the Sault Ste Marie concert with my
original Bob mentor, a process that began over forty years ago for me. So
this night was full of honor and full of thanks from me to my big brother
who turned me on to Mr. Dylan (and Mr. Jones. Queen Jane et. al:-). And I
think any of you out there with older siblings who did the same could
relate to how special this was for me.   My older brother loved the show
and so did I.  For a big brother who bought all the early records and for
his little brother who learned them by osmosis, Bob opened with
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Blonde on Blonde, 1966), and then went into A
Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, 1963), one of three
songs he played from that monumental work (Don't Think Twice It's Alright
and the closing song, a heartfelt Blowin' in the Wind being the other
two). These were jewels without binoculars :-) (we had perfect stage right
seats).   My big brother particularly liked I Believe in You, a nice gem
from Slow Train Coming (my mentor never quit buying Bob).   So...I think
three from Freewheelin' pretty much speaks for itself. And as I remember
it Bob also strapped on the guitar three times, but maybe it was only
twice as your set list indicates (think twice, it's alright:-).   And
finally, in all eighteen shows I've seen spanning 35 years, I don't ever
remember Bob playing so much harp. What a delight. His harp playing alone
would make these concerts worth the listen.   Not just for me and my
brother was Bob Dylan big news in the small industrial town of Sault Ste
Marie (population 75,000), Ontario, The Sault Star ( on
November 10 had a concert review as the lead article covering the top
third of the front page, with a picture as well. The headline beside the
picture of Bob reads: "Dylan's no-nonsense stage style no surprise". And
for anyone out there interested, my brother and I thought it was a
fair-minded review.

Shmuel B.
Tel Aviv        


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