November 14, 2009
Review by Mo
The Heart of Saturday Night
Bob Dylan and his cowboy band gassed up the buses on the west
coast last early fall and have been a travelin' the highway. Word
spread early that Bob was making a new stand with Charlie Sexton
back in the band.
With three shows scheduled in Boston and three scheduled in NYC
we figured why not one of each we love a road trip when Bob and
the boys are at the end of our line.
We grabbed our bags and headed down the Mass Pike counting
pilgrim hats to Boston. We checked into the Intercontinental hotel
and met up with the Kid before the show.
This was the 2nd show of a three night stand at the historic Wang
Theater now part of the Citi Performing Arts Center. The theater
has been well restored and seats comfortably 3600 people… it was
full. Our seats were up close the way we like them and with a little
luck on the left. Our bones were all a tingling with anticipation that
tonight's show was going to be like something we hadn't seen since
the last century.
I was hoping for the show to open with Maggie's Farm, but instead
got a par for the course "Cat's In The Well". Bob came out center
stage tonight and strapped on the guitar for "Lay Lady Lay" and even
though it seemed to take a few minutes for the troubadour to catch
up and find the groove this song did not disappoint. Tonight's show
did not bring out sacred relics from the big book of Bob; unless of
course you consider "Every Grain of Sand" a rarity. This song along
with "Hattie Carroll", "Ballad of Hollis Brown" , "Spirit on Water", and
"When The Deal Goes Down" slowed and mellowed the show which
could make one almost yawn or head for the lobby for a drink and a
stretch since you weren't allowed to stand up until "Thunder on
"My Wife's Home Town", "Thunder On The Mountain", "Highway 61"
and "Ballad of a Thin Man", re-worked versions that rocked and
knocked my socks right off. If I had been home I would have been
rearranging the living room furniture and twisting the night away with
a finger snap, hip sway and a two step to boot. But it was "Ain't
Talkin' "that I ain't shakin' after the show, with its cowboy rhythm for
few minutes I thought I was out ridin' fences.
Bob Dylan, Charlie Sexton and the rest of the cowboy band are a one
of a kind. The husband spent the night counting Charlie's guitars and
amazed by Sexton's ability to split and go off on his own rifts and then
drift back in, right in sync with Bob.
This show's revitalizing, hypnotizing, Texas style blues boogie, made
you feel like you were barrelin' down the boulevard lookin' for the
heart of Saturday night…and you found it right here in front of you on
the stage of The Wang Theater. Bob Dylan the animated crooner
came out tonight with guitar, keyboard, and harmonica blazing and
captured the heart of Saturday night. Bob Dylan has added a slightly
new twist to his show and it has me asking: "Please sir, May I Have
P.S. We would have liked to have heard Stu's joke, however, the
secret service styled security men that spent the night walking back
and forth in front of us were busy yelling at a patron for dadancing
at a concert so we missed it.
Review by Louis King
Dylan burned with white-hot intensity Saturday night, communicating
his artistic vision with stunning arrangements in a clarion-clear voice.
Gone was the shambolic, often indecipherable delivery of the recent past,
and in its place was a jewel-studded show.
Perhaps the juxtaposition most truly demonstrating Dylan's unmatched
oeuvre was the inclusion of “Wife's Hometown” a couple of songs prior
to “Grain of Sand.” Both were sublime treats, with the former pitting
raucous evil against the latter's divine redemption.
An aside about place and setting: For this show I had the splendid good
fortune to be seated 16 rows from the stage amidst those appreciative
of Bob & the Boys' propensity to rock out with killer jams. Hence
we were soon on our feet bogeying in the ornate theatrical
surroundings, with nary a discouraging word of “Down in Front!”
to be heard. (Shout out to Michelle from Jersey: Don't know if you
are the set-list Michelle, but it was great to enjoy the show with
Indeed, the performance steadily gathered momentum throughout the
night, and with few missteps, rarely faltered in its locomotive pace.
“Cold Irons Bound” had The Bard center stage, blowing fierce harp,
marching in place as if a mad captain and gesticulating as a true front
man. Charlie, George, Donnie, Stu and Tony executed their roles with
incisive chops, and are as deserving of praise as their legendary
“Highway 61” was a super-charged dance-fest, (Dylan out-raps the
rappers when his delivery is on) setting the pace for the unceasing,
mind-bending juggernaut of “Ain't Talkin'” “Thunder on the Mountain,”
“Ballad of a Thin Man,'' and “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Despite the overall brilliance of the concert, the schmaltz factor was
evidenced in “Spirit on the Water” and “Deal Goes Down.”
These syrupy renderings likely go over well among Sinatra-era fans,
but it ain't what they call rock 'n' roll. Likewise, Charlie Sexton's
crouching guitar stance draws a huge “Ewwww,'' in this corner, as
in what exactly is that all about?
Any report on this show would be remiss without mention of the
stately power of “Lay. Lady, Lay' and Bob's stellar guitar work on
Review by Tyler Wilhelm
I have a theory about Dylan. That theory is that when he retires; he's
not going to tell anybody. I can easily see him wrapping up a tour and
being completely finished, without any heads up to his fans. It was for
this reason (along with seeing Charlie in action, and the possibility of
hearing new TTL material live) that I talked my girlfriend into going to
Boston to see our fifth Bob show. I don't take notes during a show
(I don't really see how anyone can), nor have I heard any bootlegs of
the show, so all of the following is from memory alone.
The whole family packed into the car and drove my girlfriend and I to
Boston. We killed time checking out the shops in the area. Right
before the show we had a bite to eat at the Black Rose. The performer
there saw our shirts and jumped into a medley of Dylan tunes (knockin'
on heaven's door/lay lady lay). I turned to my girlfriend and told her "if
Dylan does either of those songs, this guy willed it to happen." After
dinner we took on the long walk to Wang Theatre, which almost killed
me. We said goodbye to my folks and went inside.
The Wang Theatre is a pretty place with great sound great sound and
really small seats (at least in the balcony, being able to hear every word
sung and every note more played makes up for the heat generated by
the claustrophobic seating conditions.
Going up the stairs, the lights began to flicker along with an announcement
saying something like Please Get To Your Seats, The Show Will Begin In
Two Minutes. I sprinted to my chair, only to wait at least ten minutes for
the lights to dim and Bob's intro to start:
Cat's In The Well: compared to many, many other songs in Dylan's cannon,
this one is something of a throwaway. Still, a good song to get the band
and the crowd going.
Lay Lady Lay: I nudged my girlfriend at the start of this one, she smiled.
Dylan strapped on the guitar for the first time of the night. Not the
greatest version. Dylan seemed to be on autopilot here, repeating verses
and just generally not putting too much into it. Still, it was nice to finally
hear a live one off of Nashville Skyline. After this I half expected to hear
Knockin' somewhere in the set.
Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine): Back to the keyboard.
Nice arrangement fairly close to the original with Bob repeating verse and
adding a lot of force to the vocal delivery.
My Wife's Home Town: Bob picked up the guitar for the second (and last)
time of the night. This was the first real highlight of the show for me.
Real slow blues groove, with Dylan playing very solid guitar parts. Very
good vocals as well. This was also the first song where I could see Bob
really interacting with the band. The only new song from TTL, but it
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll: The first time I heard this live was
at Bethel. Before the vocals came in I had no idea what it was. My buddy
called Desolation Row and I started thinking Blind Willie McTell, but nope,
it was Hattie. Same thing happened in Boston, no idea what it was until
the vocals. Sung differently from Bethel, this version was a bit gentler, if
memory serves me right. Although not as good as the first version I
heard, it was still a great version of a great song.
Cold Irons Bound: Dylan took center stage with just a mic stand in front of
him with a harmonica and a mic (for the harmonica) in his right hand. I
personally LOVE it when he does this. Not only was the arrangement
fantastic, changing the swampy original into a driving, pounding rock tune,
but Bob was really alive here. He was moving his legs and accenting certain
lyrics physically, as well as vocally. I distinctly remember him pointing to
someone in the audience during 'I went to church on Sunday, as she
passed by,' thought that was so cool. His harmonica solo sent the crowd
wild. That was definitely a highlight of this show, if not the highlight.
Every Grain Of Sand: Back to the keys. I'm still rattled from Cold Irons
Bound when the group goes into this one, which is my personal favorite
from Shot Of Love. Bob's delivery of this song was rather forceful; I
don't think the bulk of the audience knew what the song was until he
actually sang 'like every grain of sand'. Still a good song to hear,
knowing it doesn't get played too often. I guess it was the only
"rarity" of the night.
Spirit On The Water: I'm not a big MT fan. Don't get me wrong, it's a
great album but I don't think it's as great as other Bob fans do. That
being said I really liked this version of the song. Bob sang it fairly light and
the band played a nice little swing type of arrangement very close to the
original. The entire song came off very well.
Ballad Of Hollis Brown: Fantastic. Bob center stage again giving us a
straight narration of this tune. His voice fits the song perfectly, I was
completely blown away. Towards the end Bob took one blow on the
harmonica, then changed his mind and let the band finish. Rivals Cold
Irons Bound as the overall highlight.
When The Deal Goes Down: First heard this song in Oneonta. That night
it wasn't too good, Bob delivered the vocals very harshly. This version was
much better, sung with the sweetness which makes the original as great
as it is.
Highway 61 Revisited: Highway already? Where does the time go? Maybe
the most powerful version of this song I've heard with some great jamming.
The song seemed to fall apart in the middle for a few seconds but then
came roaring back.
Ain't Talkin': Not a favorite on the album, and this one stuck really close to
the studio version. Still cool to hear, some great delivery by Bob.
Thunder On The Mountain: Not too much to say about this. Fast delivery,
some jamming. During the song an older gentleman ran back and force
across our field of vision, trying to get all of us in the balcony to stand up.
No one did.
Having denied myself Boblinks for about a month before the show (I like
the show's sets to be a surprise) I thought the main set was over. I was
thinking how fast that show went. Then all of a sudden Ballad Of A Thin
Man: Great. The guitars shouting out that wonderful riff as Bob stands a
bit sideways center stage. He sung the lyrics in a playful way in that
fantastic rasp of his as the stage's white lights lit him up. My girlfriend
pointed out the shadows of the band and Bob (Bob's shadow looking the
biggest) on the black curtain behind them. What an effect! Bob ended
the song on harmonica. Possibly the greatest ending of the main set I've
seen in a Dylan concert.
Roadies came out when the band had left to tune guitars, something
I've never noticed before.
After a little while the band came back out and went into
Like A Rolling Stone: Fairly standard version, always great to hear.
After LARS Bob started to introduce the band. "Thank you friends.
I'm gonna introduce my band now…On the guitar, Stu Kimball." And Stu,
who had barely moved the entire show expect to change guitars, walks
center stage and grabs a microphone.
"You know Bob, I went to see a psychiatrist."
Bob goes, "Oh really?" likes he's not too interested.
Stu goes, "Yea, he said I was crazy…well I said I'd like a second opinion…
he said 'Okay, you're ugly too.'"
A few people in the audience laughed and George played Stu back to his
little spot to the extreme right of Dylan's keyboard. Bob goes…"Thank
you Stu…That was really funny," almost sounding genuine. That got us
laughing harder than the joke itself. Bob went on to introduce the rest
of the band, cracking up the entire time.
Jolene: During the space of time between the main set and the encores,
one of the roadies put a trumpet in Donnie's area. I was very excited at
the possibility of hearing my first Beyond Here Lies Nothin', but it was not
to be. The trumpet was left where it was and we got our second Jolene.
Nice song, with Charlie fiddling with the tune's hip little riff.
All Along The Watchtower: Maybe it's because I always know it's coming,
but I just can't get excited for Watchtower. Of course, we stuck around
for it, but I'd much prefer a different closer. Rocked, with a good vocal.
Just as a side-note: Charlie does kick the show up a few notches. It's hip
to see someone acting like a rock star on stage when everyone else in
Bob's band (with the exception of George, who KILLS) is so stiff.
A good part of the audience hung around after the band left the stage.
They cruelly kept the lights off for a while, so the crowd must have been
thinking they were getting a third encore. Having fallen for this during our
second Bob show, we were quickly out the door and onto the streets
Looking forward to the first Bob show of 2010.
Peace and Love.
Review by Joe D.
I was at the beautiful Wang Theater in Boston on Saturday night, for
what was probably my 100th Dylan show. My wife - who'd been to a
couple of shows - and our two college age children - first shows -
joined me. The disclaimer here is that I will continue to see Dylan
as long as he plays, but I'll be going solo!
I feel like the person who calls out the emperor has no clothes...if
you're a Dylan fan - like me - and know the words/songs, you could
follow along (I trace my Dylan concert roots back to the early 70's).
The garbled vocals are standard fare, and part of the deal. If you're
not a regular Dylan concert goer, you were probably like my daughter
who said - at the beginning of Lay Lady Lay - he sounds like a monster
singing. Unfortunately, I couldn't disagree. I know most of the
audience probably has a long standing affinity for Dylan, and knows
what to expect, but I was so disappointed to see my group losing
interest from the opening "Cats in the Well" to the incomprehensible
"Every Grain of Sand". "Spirit on the Water?" Mass exodus for the
rest rooms or concession stands. "Ain't Talkin" was repetitive to the
point of boredom.
The band and the musicianship was top notch throughout, including
Dylan on the organ, guitar and harmonica, but unless you're willing to
play $80 for a ticket to see him front a rocking blues house band,
save your cash. "Jolene" as part of the encore was not a winner either.
Sorry to be negative, but after spending about $400 I didn't feel like
I should have to apologize for a night out. As I said, I'll see Bob
again, but not with guests who I have to explain the words, melody and
meaning to...I knew the drill going in, but wish it had been bette.
Review by Tim Tolbert
The rain had just subsided after a very soggy Saturday in Boston. Bob Dylan
was in town for a three night stand at the beautifully restored Citi Performing
Arts Wang Theatre, formerly known simply as the Music Hall. Dylan has been
here before of course, it was the host of two memorable nights of the
Rolling Thunder Revue back in the autumn of 1975.
From my Orchestra Row G seat I marveled at the range of ages that were
there to see another performance of the Never Ending Tour; for some their
first show ever and for others the second show in a row here in Boston.
As usual, the fanfare began at approximately 7:45 with the now familiar
piped in introduction coupled with wafts of incense emanating from stage
left. Suddenly, the lights went up and there was Dylan and the band
striking up the opening riffs of Cat's in the Well and we were
off. I won't go into a full dissertation on each song tonight but I am
pleased to say this was my most satisfying Dylan concert to date.
I had last seen Bob and crew back in July 2008 on consecutive nights in
southern Spain, Lorca and Jaen to be exact. The Jaen show had been the
better of the two with a very lively crowd throwing roses on the stage with Bob
acknowledging them with a rare wide smile.
Tonight, Dylan seemed re-engaged and re-energized; singing in full voice and
giving extra care to the lyrics; more so than I had ever seen in the previous 10
shows I've attended over the years since 1988. I had also missed not seeing
Dylan front and center over the past few years, staying somewhat sheltered
behind the keyboards on stage left and never stepping up front to fully engage
What a difference tonight and on this current leg of the tour! Not only was
Dylan playing guitar again on a couple of songs, he even traded 'tuneful' solos
with the exuberant Charlie Sexton. Sexton had full reign to prowl center stage
between Stu and Dylan and often crouched down on his haunches, getting closer to
his vintage Vox Amp and showing respect to Dylan. Sexton has definitely sparked
up the band and was absolutely on fire for most of Highway 61 and the show
closing Watchtower, whipping his guitar wire out of the way and off to the side
before each extended solo and stage jaunt.
The real revelation came in the few powerful numbers that brought Dylan to
center stage, alone front and center with his harp and microphone in his
right hand. The crowd loved it and sensed that they were witnessing a night in
which Dylan was truly "on". Seeing Dylan deliver 'Ballad of a Thin Man' at the
front of the stage with the atmospheric muted lights was a standout moment.
Dylan was fully engaged; a true song and dance man, stabbing the air with his
left hand and bumping and weaving with his legs.
Dylan also delivered a stellar version of Every Grain of Sand, seemingly
turning back the clock and singing this song with long stretches in his
upper register, with careful phrasing and a fantastic harp solo as a bonus,
The crowd had been somewhat restrained throughout the evening but Dylan
provided another highlight by accentuating the "You think I'm over the hill,
think I'm past my prime" line in Spirit on the Water . The crowd erupted with
shouts of NO! to the sly delight of Bob. Dylan also had spotted a very
enthusiastic and swaying blond in the third row providing loud encouragement
throughout the concert.
Another highlight was watching young and old attendees move into the aisle
and start dancing during Thunder on the Mountain, a full grin coming across the
face of a wide-eyed Tony Garnier.
The night was capped off as usual with Bob announcing the band, interrupted
tonight by a corny joke provided by Stu Kimball which managed to bring a snicker
and laughter from Bob.
And, with the final bow, Dylan stepped forward, acknowledged the crowd and
raised his right hand, looking out across the theatre before walking off
with his band.
As I walked by the two buses parked on Stuart Street across from Jacob Wirth's
I saw Stu Kimball getting on the bus with Peter Wolf in tow; sadly no sign of Bob,
he must have already been on the first bus. Charlie Sexton then emerged from
the back stage door and hopped on the bus, first taking a minute to wave to the
throng of well wishers gathered on the sidewalk.
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists