Lowell, Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts Lowell
Tsongas Center

November 20, 2010

[Stephen Johnson], [Owen Boynton], [Dan Fleming]

Review by Stephen Johnson

I was looking forward to seeing Bob and his Band this time around and was
not disappointed. Bob was in fine form and seemed to enjoy the evening. As
some recent reviews have commented on, the Band was a bit tentative in
spots, and Charlie especially appeared to be disconnected and occasionally
inconsistent, as if Bob's resolute preferences and his steely gaze were at
odds with Charlie's urge to let rip or with his relatively tame lead
guitarist antics (the shimmy-shimmy and the power cord whip). There were
several lovely and rocking breaks, and a few wonderful passages, notably
on Highway 61 and Simple Twist of Fate, but at other times the ensemble
seemed just professional in the best but limited sense of the word.

That said, it was a wonderful night. Bob is truly the lion in winter now,
and he has a charming swing and gentle swagger, his ragged but often soft
voice expressing and interpreting his astonishing songs, accented with
delicate arm movements and body punctuations on the organ and the harp,
bringing a smile and eliciting a tear. It's impossible for me to separate
the meanings and the significance of his music accrued over 45 years from
the specific reality of a particular evening and show. I'd like to think
that in small measure I've learned not to argue or to judge, and only
offer this testimony in my role as an admirer and witness.

The set list was transcendent and whether it was just the beauty of the
moment, or that the venue was in Keroauc's home town, or that the end
horizon of the Tour is in the near distance, and next week brings him back
to New York City, the songs and the set list were sublime: the addition of
Change my Way of Thinking is an excellent development, and It Ain't Me
Babe was majestic. To hear Simple Twist of Fate and Tangled Up in Blue
together on the same night was amazing, and Visions of Johanna is always
and forever too deep for tears. I am wary of commenting on Not Dark Yet
since it is the 'last song' that can be sung, at least to my ear,
combining heaven and hell, darkness and light, and the glory and weakness
of humanity together in a few stanzas framed by its haunting chorus. And
then there were the other songs too, each wonderful and evocative in their
own way. A great and special night.

Stephen Johnson


Review by Owen Boynton

Another good show, as expected on this tour.  "Visions of Johanna" stood out
from the first nine songs, as did "Simple Twist of Fate."  Both of these were 
handled with care and were quite beautiful, as would be expected.  However, 
it seemed as if Dylan was holding back; he meandered back to the harps on 
"Visions," picked one up, tried it out, then left it, and resumed the organ.  No 
harmonicas played after all.  And at times on this night, Dylan seemed a touch 
tired, as if he were saving his reserves.  "It Ain't Me, Babe" had a clear vocal and 
good guitar work (which has been impressive for Dylan on this tour), and the 
current arrangement of "Love Sick," especially Dylan's circus-organ on that, is 
powerful stuff, and was again in this show.  With "Tangled Up in Blue" the 
energy rose up a level, closer to what fans might expect after some recent 
shows.  It seems to me that his going center stage and singing, without 
instruments, is the key here: doing that, he commits to the show, which then
takes off.  Most nights, this happens on the second or possibly fourth song.  We 
didn't get it until the ninth tonight. "Tangled" was, as all the center stage songs 
are, very good, and drew the crowd in the entire arena up a notch also.  "Not 
Dark Yet," center stage, was another strong-point, achingly slow, and the harp 
solos were especially well executed. "Ballad," as always, reigns (someone should 
put out a compilation of the best dozen performances of the song from this tour, 
because as great as all of the performances I've seen or heard have been, the 
differences between the song from night to night would be fascinating to hear).  
Finally, whereas "Jolene" sagged, "Like a Rolling Stone" struck my ears and eyes 
as strong during this show, but at this point,  it's difficult to really decide when 
that song works especially well. Of adjacent interest, on "Tweedle Dee," Dylan
didn't play guitar, leaning on the organ instead, and only half-heartedly at times, 
walking back from it and awkwardly standing watching the band play during what 
was maybe intended as a flight of guitar soloing that never got off the ground 
very far.  All in all, a good time to be had, without spectacular highs, but also 
without lows worthy of complaint, and with, as always, four or five songs that 
alone make the trip and wait worthwhile and more.


Comments by Dan Fleming

I caught the shows at UMass Amherst and UMass Lowell this weekend - it's
a great time to be a Dylan fan! Here are a couple comments:
Another strong show. It's really hard for me to picture this band turning in 
anything other than a superb show.   I enjoyed the previous night's show 
in Amherst a little more than the Lowell show, but this show was very 
enjoyable.   One stand-out over the previous night was "Simple Twist OF 
Fate". One of my favorite songs, and this was a nice arrangement. I loved 
Bob's guitar work on this one. 



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