Oshawa, Ontario

General Motors Centre

November 12, 2008

[Jeremy Schneider], [Sluggo], [Howard Gladstone], [Val Roberto]

Review by Jeremy Schneider

Bob’s getting a good, long look at Canada this season.  From the mountains
to the prairies, to rattle around Ontario for a 6-pack of shows on this
leg of the tour -- he’s taking the whole North Country in.   A story
appeared in a national newspaper the other day about Bob paying a visit to
the childhood home of Neil Young during his pass through Winnipeg.  He sat
in Neil’s old bedroom, and looked out the window – the very window that
Shakey would have looked out of when strumming on the guitar. It was a
moment for Bob, knowing that he would have been doing the same thing at
the same time in Minnesota.  

Cut to the city of Oshawa on the Lake Ontario shoreline, population
140,000.  General Motors is the lifeblood of the city.  But since the
economy tanked, the rapidly deteriorating GM had to slash a ton of
manufacturing jobs, thickening the already dark clouds hanging over
Canada’s auto sector.   The venue for the show is the two-year old General
Motors Centre (to be rebranded if/when GM finally goes belly-up).  The
facility itself is solid, although the box office and the staff working
were totally incompetent.  Arriving from Toronto 90-minutes before the
7:30 call time, I waited 15 minutes at the window for them to locate my
pre-paid ticket.  Going through stacks of tickets in unmarked envelopes to
find mine was a test of my patience.  Then, with ducat finally in hand,
the electronic scanner at the entrances failed to recognize my ticket. 
So, back I went to Will Call to get confirmation that they actually sold
me the seat.  The whole process smacked of stupidity.  This kinda shit
doesn’t happen in Toronto, but anyway… 

On the night of a full moon, Bob opened the set with a powerhouse WICKED
MESSENGER (Editors Note – Nice call Dan S.) with his old buddy and Toronto
bluesman Paul James supplying wailing guitar leads from a corner of the
stage.  The sound is this place is quite good; a far cry from the jumbled
mess of sound that plagued my previous Dylan mission in Hamilton last
summer.   Chalk it up to the smaller, more intimate venue which maxed out
at 3000 spectators.  His mood and his voice were great from the top. JUST
LIKE TOM THUMB’S BLUES hit second in the batting order, a very textured
and fun version which saw him take centre stage for an erudite burst from
the harp.  The audience lapped it up when Bob was front and centre at the
mic, he was more of a showman from that position.  He kept the rock
rolling with THE LEVEE’S GONNA BREAK in the third position.  The stalwart
Tony Garnier swung through the number on a stand-up bass while
super-utility guy Donnie Herron (the only member of the troupe not wearing
a hat) bended and twisted the mandolin.  Smiles went all around the stage.

The next sequence of the set list is what elevated this show to a
bootleggers dream.  He slowly hit the keys in that familiar TANGLED UP IN
BLUE intro before drummer George Recile brought down the hammer and kicked
it into gear.  The revamped version was slower and more deliberate than
the standard reading that he’s been trotting out. And while Tangled has
been a mainstay in the set lists lo these many years, recently he has
reduced its frequency.  It was a melodic, reinvented version breathing new
life into the old warhorse.   Next up is HIGH WATER, which IMO is the
preeminent song from the TOOM/L&T/Modern Times trilogy.  The metaphor is
striking and inherently applicable to the state of the economy (“All the
gold and silver being stolen away”).  On this track Donnie really cuts
loose with the banjo licks, while Paul James answered and elevated the
tune through an alchemy of scales.  My jaw dropped to the floor when Bob
launched the Cowboy Band into the next number MAN IN THE LONG BLACK COAT
-- a rarity and a treat that I’ve been waiting, pining to see live ever
since my first Dylan concert experience back in 1992.  I turned to the
dudes next to me (who were counting on me to tell them what songs they
were hearing all night) and told them that so far, this is the best set
list I have ever been a witness to.  He’s rewriting the lyrics again here
(“I went down to the river/But I did miss the boat”).  Paul James stepped
aside at this point as Denny and Stu, both dressed in immaculate black
suits and hats, took their positions side-by-side on stage left.  On the
strength of the first five tunes, Bob presented us with TWEEDLE DEE and
TWEEDLE DUM in the 6-spot.  While this tune never quite did it for me on
the album, I gained a new respect for it here.  Bob was at centre stage
again, doing the harp thing, and doing some deep knee bends.  He would
turn and point at the guitar players, directing the flow of their
individual solos.  Denny and Stu were trading riffs on this one, a feat
that was totally enhanced by the fact that they were side-by-side, and not
on opposite ends of the stage like previous tours.  DESOLATION ROW was
really hammed up.  Bob was actually laughing at certain points.  He and
Donnie had this playful thing going on.  His phrasing was again reinvented
and there was no sign of the up-singing technique he’s employed in the
past.   For the last few stanzas of the marathon song, Bob was hitting
every syllable like a hammer (“And no—bo—dy has to think a—bout
De—so—la—tion Row”)

The Back 9 of the set began with choice readings of ‘TILL I FELL IN LOVE
WITH YOU and SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE.  Both tunes were thematically
interrelated – in how love has got a way of tearing a world apart.  What a
great, heartfelt combo full of yearning, loss, and despair.  Despite some
of the tour’s previous shows where Bob occasionally takes up the guitar,
there was no sign of his axe tonight.  He was content to alternate from
the keys to the harp, with the audience especially enthused when he was
front and centre.  For the remainder of the set Bob toyed with the tempo
and pacing. HONEST WITH ME was the rock-this-joint selection before he
brought the mood significantly downbeat for a poignant WHEN THE DEAL GOES
DOWN.  Back up tempo again for the stalwart, barn-burning HIGHWAY 61, and
then down again for the atmospheric, essentially spoken word reading of
NETTIE MOORE.  After the high-energy closer THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN Bob
left the stage, the ravenous audience thirsty for more.  LARS and
WATCHTOWER was your standard fare in the encore.  

This was, hands down, the single best Bob show I’ve ever been witness to.
Just look at the set list!  All you bootleggers, keep your eyes peeled for
this one.  He caught lightning in a bottle in Oshawa.  

P.S. A special shout out to Rusak and Roots.  Good to see you boys!

Jeremy Schneider


Review by Sluggo

Possibly the worst ever time for an artist to try sellout the General Motors 
Center here in an auto manufacturing town, with the entire world balancing
on the edge of bankruptcy..Even though admission prices were very 
decent, folks are hanging tight onto their hard earned bucks and there was 
a less than sellout crowd for what was otherwise a very entertaining 

Probably the standout song for me was Desolation was huge a 
majestic soundwall, impenetrable but alluring.....the band rocked hard..les 
pauls and strats .. Dylan seldom spoke , he did say "thanks fans" at one
point..there is no bullshit none..nothing unecessary to the show ...a very 
subtle lighting effect with a huge dark back drop acting as a screen of sorts 
that allows projections of moonlit stars and patterns throughout the 
show..subdued lighting gave the atmosphere of an old timey vaudevillean
stage...the players dressed in black head to toe with panama and fedoran 
adorations, bobby himself in a wide brimmed white panama....Seeing the 
poet laureate of rock and roll for our generation takes a few minutes of
just getting past the WOW factor..then you settle in to listen to a very
hard working tight -as -family band...sweet jeebus one guy alone played 
Pedal Steel ,mandolin, guitar,fiddle and banjo . My only complaint is that 
dylan never played guitar..he sang alone and with harp but played
organ most of the night..He is simply just a passible organist ..seemed like 
he had that leslie ramped full throttle all night ..throwin` in fills here and 
there that were occasionally completely wrong, in fact he threw the band 
off a couple times once during a solo of freemans , bob was an entire 
verse ahead somehow or other..on the other hand it was a very good 
show with a great setlist and I just love how after 40 plus years of doing 
some of these songs he can still inject life and sincerity into them..different 
arrangements abound and the fun is in sitting trying to guess what the 
next song is.

The sound was typical hockey arena sound..bottom heavy and muddy..what 
are you gonna do..Dylan has elected this time round the globe to take his 
craft into places mere mortal musicians fear to tread and this is the arena acoustics.

There were eleven of us, everyone had a great time.  
Magic moment time! the venue was only two blocks from where the old 
U.A.W. union hall used to be..the Hawks use to rock hard here playing 
teen matinee dances back in the early 60`s.. history peeking aroundthe 
corner and all those years ago this listener absolutely went to pieces listening 
to that epic radio rock song Like a Rolling Stone which shattered all 
conventional wisdom at the time about what should or shouldn`t be
allowed, in relation to a pop song..The Hawks were with Dylan that fateful 
day in England when someone in the crowd hollered "Judas" because they
were playing fast hard and loud and in bobby`s words [as he yelled back to 
the heckler ]' PLAY FUCKING LOUD"..and last night they played Like a
Rolling Stone some 40 years after the fact and it was still fast hard and 
fucking loud...attaboy bobby...take that roadshow on to sudbury tonite 
and slay them miners..



Review by Howard Gladstone

Having experienced Dylan's other recent southern Ontario show in Hamilton
4 months ago, I was looking forward to tonight's show on the other side of
Toronto, in Oshawa.   For some reason, the tour has avoided Toronto
altogether in favour of these two smaller cities.  There is something
special about these small town shows and the very appreciative and
attentive audiences.  It was a solid show, the band was tight and smoking
as always; the sound was excellent.    Vocally, Bob was strong.     Dylan
really never does anything the same way twice, and sometimes the
permutations become almost bizarre. Two old standards,  "Just Like Tom
Thumb's Blues" and "Tangled Up in Blue" were  almost unrecognizable.  I
quite enjoyed them, and was amazed that they could stray so far from the
original conception, almost as if Dylan was an interpreter of someone
else's work.  Bob also moved out from the keyboard to play harp stage
central a number of  times.   Local guitar hero, Paul James, who has sat in 
with Bob  before, played with Bob on the first five songs, while the regular
players sat out, and did a fine job.  Some highlights for me were "Man In
The Long Black Coat " and "Simple Twist of Fate" - where for a couple of
verses, Bob's voice sounded beautiful and plaintive.  Most of the rest of
the night he was busy re-phrasing everything to keep it fresh.   We had
11th row floor seats, on the right side, so could see Dylan playing the
keys clearly.  The keyboard parts are really interesting, and Bob's
playing is becoming  central to the arrangements.   His playing is
typically in counterpoint to the band, going in the opposite direction, 
--  hard to describe, but grounds things nicely  I guess my only
disappointment was that the set list did not really excite.  I've been
hoping to hear "Jokerman" or "Blind Willie McTell" but have never been so
lucky.  And I'd still like to hear Bob on guitar occassionally.   And
maybe crack a smile, but hey that's only me.   .  Till the next time.  

Howard Gladstone


Comments by Val Roberto

I just read the reviews from the Oshawa show on this site. Do you allow
bad reviews on this site? I can't believe these guys saw the same show I
did. Bob sucked. Sound was off. The vocals were way too high. There were
no lights. Spotlights with no changes for every song. Why not some kind of
backdrop? Or a screen? Even bar bands put on SOME kind of show. My
first...and last Dylan show. And yes I am a fan or I wouldn't have been
there to start with

Val Roberto


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