Montgomery, Alabama

Montgomery Performing Arts Centre

April 15, 2015

[Rev. John Wm Klein], [David Bond]

Review by Rev. John Wm Klein

It was a lovely evening in the Heart of Dixie. My wife Linda and I
traveled from Auburn University to Montgomery with great expectations that
were not disappointed. The first song in the set was "Things have Changed"
and they sure had. Just three hours before I had "been standing in the
gallows with my head in the noose" defending my doctoral dissertation. The
Dylan concert was my wife's congratulatory gift to me for the successful
defense. I did successfully defend it and "things have changed." Now I am
reflecting back on my over forty years as a fan of Bob's work. It has
spoken to me in every trial and triumph of my life. Once again it did so.

It seemed to me that the audience was older, more appreciative than
animated. When I came home I looked at myself in the mirror and realized
why, at age sixty-nine, I still appreciate so much the creation and
re-creation that are integral to Dylan's poetry and music. Those looking
for the classic Dylan my have found it hard to recognize. "She belongs to
me" was there in yet another revision. "Workingman's Blues," third in the
set, was awesome. By this point there was a mesmerizing quality to the
concert. Tony Garnier on bass (just think Tony had been with Bob since
1989) and George Recile on the drums provided a rhythmic bass line that
drove one song after another. Linda said, "Bob, is singing better than in
Birmingham five years ago (13 October 2010)." He was. It became our game
to see how early we could spot just exactly what Bob was reinventing. I
got "Tangled Up In Blue" on the second phrase. Very creative work, with
Bob center stage with harp then on the piano, and soon the auditorium was
joining on the refrain.

After the intermission, we heard what in my opinion, was the best song of
the night: "High Water (For Charley Patton)" with Donnie Herron on the
banjo. This kicked off a steady progression of well-performed numbers in
the set culminating with Linda's favorite: "Spirit on the Water" - it was
very beautifully presented with Bob on the piano.

The encore numbers "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Stay with Me," from his new
album Shadows in the Night, were more beautiful than energetic, graceful
and reflective. As we exited the theater we heard only positive reviews
from those around us. Thank you Bob for another great concert and for
helping me celebrate another great moment in my life. May the unending
tour never end. 


Review by David Bond

Going to the concert I was wondering how I would react to "The Set" as 
many refer to the almost always unchanging set list of the last year or so. 
I found out during the concert and continued to as I sit down a day later 
and write, that what I experienced and am still experiencing is "The Show".
I first saw Dylan with the Band in 1974, and have since seen Rolling Thunder, 
the big band tour in 1978, the Gospel tour, and several of the so called 
Never Ending tour concerts from 1988 onward. What I heard and saw last 
night was the most thoughtful, well planned Bob Dylan concert I have ever 
seen. Another term that comes to mind is scripted, but like a play it isn't 
really the same each night as there is a humanness brought to every 
performance that makes each unique. Having only heard tapes and seen 
videos of this show (and last night remembering again how different those 
media are in comparison to hearing and seeing it live)  I would have to rate 
the performance last night as very, very good. 

The Montgomery Performing Arts Center holds 1800 and has excellent 
acoustics. It is the smallest venue on this leg of the tour and at this stage 
in his career, I don't think Bob is well served by anything outside or much 
larger than this. The show started with Stu strolling on to the stage playing 
the acoustic intro and after the band assembled Things Have Changed was 
first up. To me it seemed like both Bob and the band got right into it, 
which was especially notable on the up tempo numbers. There is a lot 
more acoustic instrumentation in this show, but, again, hearing it live, it 
really rocked, or better put, it jumped. This band is so tight and though I 
don't have the technical knowledge to assess Bob's ability as a piano player, 
the piano was very central to the sound, very well integrated and I could 
see all of the players being attentive and right there with Bob.

In the first set some notable songs included: Workingman Blues #2, where 
to my listening (using the Atlantic City tape as a reference) he rewrote 
four of the eight lines of three verses and completely rewrote all eight lines 
of another verse; Pay in Blood had a force and power that I hadn't heard 
on the album; Tangled up in Blue was magnificent (it was at this point that
Bob really began to get into his phrasing and to my hearing he kept it up 
the rest of the night); Love Sick was outstanding (and very interesting to 
hear after reading in the AARP interview that he considered it his best 
song about heartbreak and loss) and being right before intermission, 
seemed to leave the sense "there's more of this to come". Which there 

The second half of the show opened with Stu again strolling onto the 
stage strumming and High Water taking us back into the world of capricious 
nature, human folly and the eternal hope for redemption. Continuing with 
the emphasis on phrasing there was the wonderful little rewrite in Simple 
Twist of Fate: "Found a note she'd left behind/'What'd it say?'/ Said you 
should have met me back in 58'/We could have avoided this simple twist 
of fate" with Bob having a perfect pause right after the question. Forgetful 
Heart continues to be a show stopper. Scarlet Town was haunting. Soon 
After Midnight should have told any of us that Bob could deliver the songs 
on Shadows in the Night. Long and Wasted Years was both a strange and 
powerful way to end the second set.

Stay With Me is exactly the right end to this carefully scripted show. From 
the opening song saying "I used to care, but things have changed" to  
"till I find to my wonder that every path leads to thee, all that I can do is 
pray, stay with me.. stay with me" I can't help but feel that we have been 
lead somewhere. And we have.

David Bond 


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