November 9, 2012
Review by Bob Shiel
First, Mark Knopfler was simply outstanding and worth the price of
admission, no doubt.
Bob's performance was the best I have seen since 2002 when Larry and
Charlie were still in the band. Starting with a rousing instrumental
version of Sweet Home Chicago with Bob on guitar for the only time of the
evening, To Ramona was sublime with Knopfler sitting in for songs 2-5...I
did not care for the versionas of Tangled Up In Blue and Things Have
Changed in the 3 and 4 slots...
The entire rest of the set of songs 5-15 were excellent, perhaps with one
exception of Thunder On The Mountain...Forgetful Heart, Desolation Row,
Blind Willie McTell, Like A Rolling Stone, Highway 61, Levee's Gonna
Break. Watchtower, Blowing In The Wind, Make You Feel My Love, amd Ballad
Of A Thin Man were wonderful versions with Bob's voice in fine
form...Desolation Row, which brought me to tears of joy for a full 3 or 4
minutes, was perhaps the best I have ever heard, and I have herad some
good ones, with magical sycopation between Charlie's licks and Bob's grand
piano...Stu was particularly in great form and took more leads than
Charlie, which surprised me in a good way...
By the way, I loved the Just Like A Woman fake out at the beginning of
Blowin In The Wind...Bob is a magical trickster...love this side of him...
This was my 56th Bob show, and my first since South Bend in 2009...I only
went because of the new album, having bought tickets before I realized
that he is not playing any of it...however, it makes me feel hope for this
planet to know Bob is in such powerful shape on the road, not to mention
an album that I am fond a playing in my car stereo at high volume...
I attended with two accomplished Chicago musicians, Tom Boyle and Mike
Burton...Tom accurately described Bob's band with the following...they are
a free flowing jazzy rock band within rehearsed boundries...I was
disappointed Charlie was not let out of his cage at the end of Levee's
Rather quiet crowd...the United Center has never sounded better since the
upper balcony was curtained off...we paid for cheap seats and the sound
was great...saw 2/3 of Bob's show from seats stage left up close because
nobody was sitting or policing the area, so we could see Bob real well,
especially with binoculars...he truly looks to be in top health...
Love you Bob...and love your new CD...
Review by Dave Moyer
Bob and his band earned a night off after a three-night run that culminated at
the cavernous United Center in Chicago last evening. The sound was good
and Bob's singing solid throughout. The third level of the United Center was
curtained off, but the rest was mostly full, holding about 8,000 or so.
Travel arrangements were less than smooth with people coming from all over
the place, but eventually most of us met near the Ogilvie station to eat at a
place called Dylan's, no less. I was with some diehard music lovers with various
levels of Bob indoctrination. I was on show number 32 with my long-time
running buddy along as well. He ran up to Madison Monday on his own and
rates this show as better. My 18-year old son (who, without hesitation,
selected the red Rolling Thunder T-shirt) was on show number three, another
friend had seen him with us a couple of times, and then there was the fifth
in our travel party, who has been a holdout since 1991, when he saw what
he considered a sub-par show in Evanston. Happily, he enjoyed himself, my
son had a great time, and everyone left mostly happy campers.
Knopfler opened up with a solid, professional set, featuring excellent
multi-instrumental musicians, performing songs that encompassed a wide
range of styles and musical traditions.
Then, out comes the man, hatless, to center stage and grabs a guitar to
lead a hard-driving instrumental jam. I loved it. People took to it, and
everyone was off and ready. Bob returned to the piano, and put his hat on.
For no apparent reason other than to give us all something to talk about, his
hat changed back and forth from black to white. He was in black with his
band in matching gray suits on this night. Three songs followed with
Knopfler joining in. Knopfler's guitar style is so distinctive, and I think it
provided an interesting texture to Tangled Up in Blue, but Bob's band is
very tight, and overall, it gave things a different sound, not necessarily a
The show was very consistent throughout, without some of the typical highs
and lows that can characterize the ebb and flow of a Bob set list. If not too
many lows, there were a few highs. so here is one person's take on the show.
Desolation Row was flat out excellent. My son was almost certain to hear
Tangled, which he missed at his last concert, but when he also got Desolation
Row, and a great version at that, he was thrilled. My long-time friend got
Blind Willie McTell, his favorite, though I found the rendition a bit on the
Things Have Changed, a staple in the three-hole of late, was ramped up to
double time, which I enjoyed more than drawn-out, bluesier versions. All
Along the Watchtower was very strong as the final song before the encore,
except for some odd phrasing by Bob on one of the verses. Charlie and Stu
seemed to play off each other, and with Bob's piano playing, whatever style
it is you want to call it (though it wasn't bad last night by any means) taking
the forefront on many of the arrangements, there wasn't much of an
opportunity for them to let it go. This is a bit of a shame in some regards.
The songs were pleasing and enjoyable, but when you get 20-second
crescendos to close out a couple of the show-stoppers, like Watchtower and
Highway 61, where you could have two or three different and rousing jams
leading up to a satisfying conclusion, it can be a bit disappointing. However,
those that don't remember the "old" days, were probably plenty satisfied.
George's drumming moved the band along, verse after verse, song after song,
in a masterful fashion. I hope people appreciate what they are getting with
him when they take in the Bob experience.
First the pose, then Blowing in the Wind, followed by another pose, and away
they all go to a night off and, eventually, another town. I have heard Bob
close with Blowin' several times, and it is not always a satisfying way to end
the evening, but this version of the song, with a brief, but perfect harp-filled
exclamation point, was.
My previous two experiences are as follows: 2009 Aragon, Chicago, almost
defies description-damn good; 2010 Overture Hall, Madison, WI, bookends
the opposite end of the spectrum. A Tempest-less set list, Bob on piano,
and rumors that Charlie has been all but silenced-I was skeptical. But Bob
delivered. He's far from done. Next time he comes around, count on this:
Review by Steven Zubel
First, thanks to Bill for this web site and to all those who send in
reviews. It all makes for a richer concert experience.
This is my seventh Dylan show and I've never seen him so energized! No
wonder he played the first few songs hatless, he was on fire! He was
dancing, he was marching, he was bobbing up and down.
His voice was way up in the mix. And other than on "Things Have Changed,"
Bob was easily understood and the songs quickly recognizable.
Bob's piano playing blended in with the rest of the band. (Yes, he was
really playing.) There was only one time he seemed to be just pounding the
Most of the night he sang in a staccato style - but it worked. For
example, "Blind Willie McTell" was just as haunting Friday night as it
was on the CD.
Bob also played a lot of harp. We're not talking about one or two notes,
but solos and riffs. He even used a harp solo to segue from "Things Have
Changed" to "Tangled Up in Blue."
He had new lyrics for "Tangled Up in Blue," and after the verse about the
fishing boat, he cut right to the end of the song.
"Desolation Row" had a south of the border feel to it. In fact the
arrangement was very similar to "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues."
The only disappointment of the night was "Highway 61 Revisited." It wasn't
bad, but it was pretty much the current standard version. Up until then,
we hadn't had a standard version of anything. Bob had set the bar high.
At first I was disappointed to hear "The Levee's Going to Break." While
it does have some catchy lyrics, it's not one of my favorites. But Bob
had a surprise in store for us. He made the song come alive by turning it
into a jazz number.
I really enjoyed "Thunder on the Mountain." It is one of my favorite songs
and Friday night Bob didn't rush through it. He savored the moment as he
played the piano and traded licks with the guitars.
Friday also unveiled a new arrangement (at least for me) of "All Along
the Watchtower." It sounded more like the Dave Matthews Band version than
the Jimmy Hendrix one. This breathed new life into a song that was
getting stale and dated.
When I first learned that Bob was going to play a sports arena I was
disappointed. Usually, in these venues his sound is muddled. But that was
not the case on Friday, the sound was spot on. In fact during the echo
effect on "Ballad of a Thin Man" it seemed that only something as big as
the United Center (where the Chicago Bulls play) could contain Bob.
He ended the show with a harp solo on "Blowing in the Wind." It was the
perfect ending to a near perfect evening.
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