St. Louis, Missouri

Fox Theatre

May 11, 2015

[Jason Guthrie Barton], [Tom Burke]

Review by Jason Guthrie Barton

"Until 7:00 pm tonight, for all intents and purposes, I was done w/ Bob,
at least live.  After seeing Wilco a few weeks ago, I seemed to have
subconsciously transferred my affections to Jeff Tweedy and his band.

(At all times, I require a soulful, charismatic songwriter as a touchstone
in my life - one I can call upon during times of duress, and usually,
there's only room for one in my head at any moment!)

Vol. 3 of my overdue, library copy of Telltale Signs had been all-but
glued to my car stereo for months.  But, after seeing Wilco live for the
nth time recently, it suddenly felt less vital, lifeless even.

In a flash, my connection to Dylan had seemingly unwound and, for the
millionth time or so, I had cast aside one musical avatar for another - in
this case, Bob for Jeff.

Nonetheless, after a sudden re-appraisal after talking to a friend - (I'm
sort of fickle like that!) - I decided to dash to the theater in the hopes
of finding a ticket.

By the time I approached, it was nearly 8:30 - 30 mins after starting! 
However, I grabbed a ticket from the box office and walked in.  After
bypassing my section in the rear, I found an aisle seat 5 rows from the

This tour, as everyone knows, is a continuation of Bob's cowboy/crooner
persona w/ minimal staging and lights. In addition, Dylan's set-list is
mostly unchanged.  Luckily, the mirrors are gone, but the stage is still
shadowy and subdued, as befits his recent sound, and the elegaic quality
of his latest record.

Tonight, Dylan and the band sounded fantastic.

At times Bob appears to be channeling Tom Waits, standing inscrutably at
center stage, clutching the mic stand w/ one hand, gingerly.

Even if Dylan's band is decidedly smoother, less carnivalesque than
Waits', the effect - from Dylan's gravelly delivery to the shadowy,
theatrical lighting - is strangely similar. At times, they even sound like
a musical act from an unreleased David Lynch film - something btwn "Blue
Velvet" and "Mulholland Drive." 

Between verses, Bob glided effortlessly around stage, at times even
shuffling his feet in a nearly-imperceptible boxer's shuffle.

He alternated btwn center stage and his piano at right, depending on the

Recent ones, from "Tempest" and "Shadows in the Night," are particularly
inspired.  Clearly, Dylan has honed this band to produce the blended,
edge-free backing that his recent album requires.  However, as a result,
blues-based songs like "High Water" sounded particularly flat.

"Early Roman Kings" and "Scarlet Town," however, were seamless, in
particular, the latter's apocalyptic mood perfectly synched w/ Bob's
crooner persona and the minimalist lighting on stage.

"Long and Wasted Years" and "Autumn Leaves" were particularly inspired. 
I'm not sure if the album versions are as short as the concert versions,
but they appear to be truncated to two, if not one, verses.  They're
short, yet perfectly abridged.

Within moments of ending, the house lights had returned and stagehands
were dismantling the equipment.  As the rear curtain pulled back, it
exposed brick and scaffolding behind it.  At that moment, the artificial
construction of Bob's latest persona, the crooner/cowboy, was reinforced
in my mind.  Like all his personae preceding it (as countless others have
noted), his latest vestige is merely another in a long line of
performative transformations, a co-mingling of public and private
appendages, depending on his ever-changing nature.  In this case, it's
sheer perfection.


Review by Tom Burke

Amidst the eccentric Siamese Byzantine décor of St Louis' fabulous Fox Theatre, 
the loud gong signaling the start of Bob Dylan's Show and Concert last night 
seemed completely appropriate.

Not detouring from the established set list of this leg of his tour, Dylan delivered 
a solid workmanlike performance before a polite, appreciative, St Louis audience. 
Despite performing for his 3rd successive night, Dylan's voice was in excellent 
form as best evidenced by his ability to flawlessly deliver, late in the show, the 
challenging passages from Autumn Leaves and Stay With Me. Having attended 
the highly praised December shows during Dylan's 5 night run at the Beacon 
Theatre in New York City, I was concerned that he would not be able to match 
the energy and dynamism of those performances. Thanks, both and equally, to 
Dylan, and his incredible long time backing band (this group deserves consideration 
for induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame) my concerns were unnecessary. 
As noted the show began with Dylan and the band launching themselves into a 
snarling version of Things Have Changed. As they worked their way through the 
1st half of the show, it seemed the band and Dylan drew energy from each other 
culminating in emotive and cutting versions of Tangled Up in Blue and Love Sick, 
on the latter, Stu Kimball's insistent guitar work was tremendous.

Following a brief intermission, an appropriate, given St Louis' situs hard on the 
banks of the Mississippi River, High Water (for Charlie Patton), featuring Donnie 
Herron's fabulous banjo playing, opened up the second half of the show. 2nd 
half highlights included a strong delivery of Early Roman Kings, with Stu Kimball's
determined work on the maracas and George Recile's hypnotic drumming 
representing my personal song highlights. Another high point late in the show 
was a beautiful rendition of Soon After Midnight.

As alluded to earlier, Dylan's band is fabulous. They play with such attention to 
detail and exquisite technical skill. Their talent and absolute professionalism is a 
huge reason why this particular leg of Dylan's NET is so strong and a must see 
show. In addition to the personal performance highlights mentioned above, the 
consistent and precise lead guitar playing of Charlie Sexton and the beautiful 
bass playing of Tony Garnier, particularly his incredible mastery of the stand up 
bass, should be noted as show highlights. Not to be forgotten, in discussing the 
music making skills of the band, and in fact providing its own high level of 
excellence and mastery, was Dylan's wonderful harp and spirited piano playing!

Concluding the night, Dylan sang that all he can do is pray, asking us to, 
"stay with me". On nights like this, it's such an easy request. 


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