Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee Performing Arts Center
Andrew Jackson Hall

April 27, 2015

[Francis King]

Review by Francis King

Where to begin?   This was the best Bob Dylan concert I've seen in quite a 
while.  His voice sounds great, the band is spot on, the arrangements are 
wonderful and the set list is terrific.  I know that some complain that the set 
list is "static," that he has been playing the same show every night since the 
fall of 2013.  That complaint is unfounded; the set list is only redundant if 
you've gone to multiple shows during this time period, or if you've spent 
excessive time listening to bootleg recordings on line (well, I'll admit to doing 
that) and, therefore, have had your fill (well, I have not, but that's just me).
The fact of the matter is that this set list is fresh and new  for another live 
audience every night in the hundreds of cities Dylan has been bringing it to 
all over the world.  (Time for an official liv album, Bob!)

What made this show a bit better than the last one I saw in Boston last 
November (same set list,  except for the addition of "Autumn Leaves") was 
the excellent sound quality at Nashville's TPAC.  You could hear every note
and lyric clearly.  To be sure, that was partially attributable to Bob's level of 
engagement and his effort to enunciate, but I've noticed his improved 
articulation the last few shows I've attended.  The hall's acoustics certainly 

Another thing about the set list:  This 2013-2015 set list consists largely of 
21st Century material (all very well performed) and a few great rearrangements 
of old gems like "She Belongs to Me,"  "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Simple Twist 
of Fate."  This list is also markedly different from the lists he played at his shows 
in 2011 and 2012.  How many aging  "rock stars" from the 20th Century are 
going to give you that kind of variety, including a load of recently written, and 
very good material?  In the last year or so, I've seen Bob Seeger, Billy Joel and 
James Taylor.  All  three put on terrific performances …. But, they all played 
what were essentially greatest hits shows without much, if anything new, 
and everything (including their vocals) sounded pretty much just like the 
original recordings.  That's all well and fine…. But, for me, Dylan's continuing 
reinventions of his material are far more interesting and exciting to witness.

Another thing about the set list:  By sticking with the same show every night 
for quite a while now, Dylan and the band are bringing the audience an 
extremely polished performance.  Unlike some of his past shows, these shows 
have Dylan remembering all his lyrics, never mumbling to cover a forgotten 
word, and the band knows exactly what to do and when (in contrast to the 
guesswork sometimes required in the past as Bob would improvise on stage 
and his sidemen would have to try to follow his lead on the fly …. Sometimes, 
to be sure, with great results, but other times, just sloppy sounding).  This is 
a very tight show in  all respects.

It is just so great to see this man, at 74, so fully engaged with performing, 
especially his more recent material, which is up there with the best songwriting 
of his career.  Again, I really wish he'd put out an official, sanctioned, properly 
mixed live album!


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