Kettering, Ohio

Fraze Pavilion

August 5, 2011

[Greg Wallace], [Charles Cicirella]

Review by Greg Wallace


The Fraze is a lovely smallish outdoor venue tucked backed in the 
woods in the middle of the Dayton metro area and this night had a 
pretty big crowd.  It was hot, humid, and still and the beer lines 
were very long.  Dylan opened with a spirited Pillbox Hat featuring 
his almost r&b organ sounding low and throaty like 50's Ray Charles 
and with clearly enunciated singing.  Next was a nicely introduced 
Girl of the North Country growled incongruously just like it was in 
Columbus in late 2010.  Things have Changed followed with Dylan at the 
mike and it was enough of a romp that it wasn't immediately obvious 
what the song was.  This version didn't quite stay aloft because the 
lyric wasn't well projected after the first couple verses but I think 
he's onto something with the presentation and it should be a treat 
once he gets it down.

Tangled was better than Columbus 2010 because he projected the lyric 
throughout although he omitted the Delacroix and topless bar verses.  
Again he was the instrumental focus standing at the mike playing some 
proficient harmonica.  The crowd seemed very pleased.  Next was Beyond 
Here Lies Nothing which had debuted when he opened with it at the 
Dayton ballpark in 2009.  I missed some of it because I went to get my 
beer and that was a walkup, sign of an appreciative crowd: nobody in 
the beer line on the fifth song.

Mississippi seemed sedate and the crowd didn't really respond to it.  
Tweedle was deliciously surly and then we got a real treat with 
Desolation Row, omitting only Einstein and the Titanic and very well 
projected, although I would niggle about the instrumental breaks where 
none of the players really stepped up (probably it was Dylan's spot on 
organ and he didn't come up with anything especially memorable).  
Levee Breaks was a fine groove but went on for a long time and Dylan 
probably sang the taunt twenty times before finishing with some 
jeremiad that I didn't quite catch with the band playing a long 
finishing chord and Recile swishing the cymbals.  There was plenty of 
time during that tune to catch up on any new dance moves from strange 
big ole white guys approaching unconsciousness.

Trying to Get to Heaven was a lovely performance with some musical and 
appropriately very blue harmonica.  Highway 61 was a train wreck in 
which the band lost their way and Dylan chopped up the lyrical 
cadences like a second language student.  They were all grinning ear 
to ear, either from enjoyment or from the cocked up rendition.  Then 
we got Simple Twist of Fate which was a fine effort, even if it lacked 
the unbuttoned drama of a mid-nineties rendition.  On Fate Dylan was 
again the instrumental star, this time on guitar playing very tasteful 
lower register licks like he was Curtis Mayfield or Steve Cropper.  Bravo!

Next was the audience participation boogie of Thunder, not one of my 
favorites.  Thin Man was rasped with great effect and with the echo 
contraption magnifying the singer and made a big impression on the 
crowd as usual.  Then a wittingly accented Rolling Stone omitting the 
diplomat verse and including some interesting pauses ahead of the 
verses, perhaps to allow the singer to gear himself up.  This Rolling 
Stone was not the "if you insist" pace that it often has been but 
something more dramatic like the record.  Then the band intros with 
the echo contraption back on (nice touch!) and finally a brief 
Watchtower sans cheese and splendidly projected by the singer so the 
words carried all weight and drama (also much like the original record).

Dylan and band wore their grey suits throughout and that must have 
been quite warm.  But Dylan was clearly very energetic and committed 
throughout the show and at 70 he's still learning some showbiz 
tricks.  He also struggled manfully with his wayward instrument and 
seems to have reached a tactical accomodation.  There were plenty of 
lunges into higher notes, no upsinging that I can recall, and 
generally strong lyrical projection which is kind of my measure for 
the presence that makes a Dylan show fun.  Don't miss him!  Alas, no 
Visions and no new songs for me, but the Desolation Row was the bomb.


Review by Charles Cicirella

"I've had too much of your company"

It's hot. I went in weighing in at 140 and I bet I came out ten or fifteen
pounds lighter. Bob is still very much a boxer as he sparred with each and
every one of us this very night in Kettering, Ohio. I am starting to believe
perhaps he just throws darts at a map to decide where this rolling thunder
musical troupe of mayhem and masked avenger goodness will show up next. Bob
always pulls out all the stops when he plays Ohio and perhaps that is because in
1965 in Cleveland they did not boo him or maybe just maybe it's because he truly
feels at home in the Midwest. For me things really started to heat up during
Things Have Changed. He really seems to get quite a kick out of the lyrics and
when he is standing center stage bringing this song to life I discover myself
transported to another place where paying the ultimate price makes perfect sense
when looking into the assassin's eyes. The venue was completely uncovered so you
could see the moon as Bob and his cowboy band proved just how good live music
can be when the musicians are dug in and their fearless leader does not mind
taking it on the chin every now and then. Simple Twist of Fate was a highlight
there's no denying that as it reminded me of past relationships I've been in and
am still struggling to move passed. I have to make special mention of Desolation
Row though because it was truly exceptional as Bob really seemed to hunker down
and take great care with every single word. From beginning to end I was
completely transfixed and it made me feel like I was watching Ginsberg read
Kaddish or Kerouac reading an excerpt from Desolation Angels. Kettering, Ohio
was good medicine for what ails you!

Charles Cicirella  


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