Boise State University
Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts
June 28, 2022
Review by Sam Orloff,
Bob's March 28th performance at the Velma V. Morrison Center on the
Boise State campus was quite spectacular. It was fitting to listen to a
set that opens with "Watching the River Flow" at a venue located
immediately along the bucolic Boise River. There was no signage
indicating that the troubadour himself would be performing, save a
large television screen in the lobby. Anecdotally, locals also seemed
unaware that Bob Dylan was coming to town. Even so, the actual
performance sufficiently made up for this understated advertising. Having
previously caught the Rough and Rowdy Ways tour in New York,
Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Memphis, I must say that Bob's voice
sounded better than at any of the other four shows (and by extension,
better than it has in a very long time).
The crowd itself was initially quite tame. There was no standing when
Bob first came out, and during one of the pauses between songs, a hot
mic picked up someone questioning whether there was "anybody out
here?" This helped to increase the energy in the theater, and by the time
Bob played "Goodbye Jimmy Reed" near the end of the performance, a
substantial portion of the audience was clapping along to the bluesy beat.
This left Bob unfazed, although there was a brief (but palpable) flash of
concern across Tony Garnier's face. Such liveliness carried over to the band
introductions and Bob was quite jocular.
Bob opened on the guitar before migrating to his perch behind the piano
for the two best renditions of "Watching the River Flow" and "Most Likely
You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)" that I have heard so far on this tour.
It was great to attend a show where Bob and his band opened so strongly.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the performance was Bob's decision to
begin several songs, including "False Prophet" and "Gotta Serve Somebody,"
by playing alone on the piano for the first verse, with the band joining in for
the subsequent verses. This choice had a quite a transformative effect on
these pieces, which had previously been the loudest and most rocking
portions of the set. While it was unfortunate to lose out on the (by
octogenarian standards) high-octane rendition of "Gotta Serve Somebody"
that I found to be a highlight of the Memphis show, the clarity and
crispness of Bob's voice during the song's opening lines was quite moving.
This is also consistent with a broader trend in which Bob appears to be
toning down his excellent band (just compare the accordion-rich versions
of "Key West (Philosopher Pirate)" Bob performed on the East Coast at
the end of 2021 with the slightly more austere rendition he has favored in
his shows over the course of 2022).
Another notable element of this Boise performance was the usually
unassuming "Melancholy Mood," which Bob performed standing at one of
the mics on the center of the stage. This seemed especially appropriate
for a Frank Sinatra cover and was perhaps the most intimate moment of
the set. It went a long way toward evoking the smoky lounge atmosphere
that Bob sought to capture in last summer's "Shadow Kingdom."
Bob played excellent harp solos on "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and
especially on "Every Grain of Sand." Along with "Gotta Serve Somebody,"
"Every Grain of Sand" appeared to be a crowd favorite (Idaho is clearly the
place to go for fans of the "Trouble No More" era). During the final verses
of the latter song, the theater went completely silent as Bob beautifully
sang about "the violence of a summer's dream" and "the bitter dance of
loneliness fading into space." Just as at other shows, you could hear a pin
drop. It was a brilliant way to close out a performance that provided
further evidence that Bob Dylan's still got it.
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