Memphis, TN
Orpheum Theatre

March 29, 2024

[Adam Selzer], [Robby Prince]

Review by Adam Selzer

After a week in New York (with only light "Complete Unknown" set
stalking), I flew into Memphis this morning and immediately started
connecting with other Dylan fans around the venue, having drinks on
Beale and just wandering around enjoying the town. My friend Henry and
I even chatted a bit with JP Pentecost! The Orpheum is a lovely venue,
and Dylan has a star on the sidewalk right out front - very close to
Robert Goulet's. 

The show opened with the band playing "Watching the River" as an
instrumental - they got pretty well through the whole song by the time
Dylan sauntered out and joined in on piano, and played quite a bit
more before doing any singing. That had to be the longest rendition of
that song I'd ever seen!

The first few songs something seemed to be bugging Bob; at one point
he even set his elbow on the piano and appeared to lean into his hand,
striking an Oscar Wilde sort of pose. From other gestures he made it
was clear something was wrong with his ear monitors. Tony, whose face
is the ultimate baromet, seemed concerned. 

Things picked up with a ferocious "False Prophet" that the crowd
turned into a call and response, then the new "Puttin' On The
Ritz" version of "Masterpiece" that ran dark and sinister,
making you wonder what the hell kind of masterpiece he was hurrying on
back to his hotel room to work on.  Much as I loved the slow piano, I
love the new one, too. The more new arrangements, the merrier. 

After "I'll Be Your Baby," in its new slot after "Black
Rider," Bob simply walked offstage, presumably to fix the ear
situation, and Tony led the band in a spooky instrumental. Michelle,
in the next seat, and I compared notes: We've seen a LOT of shows
between us, but never saw anything like this. The instrumental
stretched on for a couple of minutes, and sounded almost like a whole
new song, but it was the new, more stripped back arrangement of "My
Own Version of You." When Bob eventually returned, he joined into
the groove, sang one line, then quite audibly said "Shit, that's
worse!" into the mic.

But he didn't walk about again, or fix anyone with a death glare; he
just locked in and started singing. The crowd shouted things like
"You got this, Bob!" And damned if he didn't deliver. Whatever
trouble he was having, he sang out a version for the ages.  (Just a
note; having that mad doctor bringing a creation to life song so close
to the "Puttin' On the Ritz" riff gives me delightful "Young
Frankenstein" vibes.) It reminded me of the spring 2022 arrangement,
but that version was more "scary," while this one leaned to

From then on, the show was a marvel. It was like watching a high wire
act. Before "Rubicon" (or maybe it was "To be Alone With You"
he said "Ugh," or something to that effect, as though the monitor
was still on his nerves. But then he locked in again and gave it his
all. It made for a unique, edge of the seat experience for the rest of
the show, knowing it could all blow up any time and having a general
sense that Bob might be flying blind up there. One can imagine any
number of things that could happen in those IEMs - just from my own
experience with similar gear, there's a risk of a screeching sound,
crackling, distorted vocals, bad mix, constant cutting out… any
number of things that'd go beyond rendering them unhelpful and make
it actively harder to perform. 

I'd have to compare it to some other recent tapes, as this was my
first Spring show, but I feel like the band pulled back a bit on some
songs, and kept things just a little quieter, allowing for Bob to
focus hard on singing despite the earpiece troubles. The verses of
"Big River," in particular, were almost entirely a capela, save
for a stray piano chord or guitar note here and there. 

"Gotta Serve Somebody" and "Goodbye Jimmy Reed" shined in new,
faster arrangements that showed up since Fall. "I've Made Up My
Mind" and "Mother of Muses" were both all-timers for me, with
the crowd reacting big to the references to Elvis and Martin Luther
King in the latter.  Bob's mood had notably improved by this point. 
There was harp on three songs, and "To Be Alone With You" had that
cool new "start-stop" arrangement, though the silences were filled
by Tony on bass - it's much more audible in person. 

After the shimmering, newly stripped-down arrangement of "Every
Grain of Sand," several of us rushed from the first few rows to the
lip of the stage, and Bob stepped to the side mic, grinning and
pointing back at people. He'" pulled off a trick, walked onto the
tight rope and done a damn back flip, and he looked like he knew it.
There were no band intros; the most Bobtalk of the night was “Shit,
that's worse." 

Big shout to Henry, Liz, Erin, Garrett, Gary, Melanie, Irene,
Michelle, those two women from Wrigleyville who gave me a Swiftie
bracelet on Beale, and all the other greeat people I got to hang out
with in Memphis. Seeing friends from all over, meeting new ones, and
going out on adventures together is such a big part of what makes this
the best sport in the world, and what a blessing that we're catching
Bob Dylan doing what I think is the best, most unique tour he's done
in my lifetime. Can't believe we get to do it all again tonight!



Review by Robby Prince

Tonight was an absolutely fantastic show. Static Setlist. No band intros.
With a notable exception of a five minute instrumental intro to song 
number one with Bob join again and starting with verse one which end up 
being a nine minute version of the song. 

Possibly related he exited the stage just before My Own Version Of You 
for several minutes while the band was playing. I think he was going to 
get a new set of in ear monitors.


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