Seattle, Washington

The Moore Theatre

October 4, 2009

[Steve Rostkoski], [Tim Whittome]

Review by Steve Rostkoski

The keyboard is no longer king. Instead, Dylan spent much of the evening center
stage singing and/or playing guitar. I haven't seen him this animated since the
1995 dates. Part of the reason for this revitalization is the return of
guitarist Charlie Sexton. He and Bob stared each other down throughout the show,
pushing, goading, playing off each other like two stalking panthers. Sexton is a
showman and Dylan is not about to let some younger whippersnapper upstage him,
so Bob HAD to up his game. And he delivered, too.

The pounding gospel number, "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking," served as a
statement of purpose that things have changed. I've always loved the version of
this song that Dylan sang with Mavis Staples and the rendition this night came
close to its raucous splendor. Bob then cooled things off with a haunting
"Shooting Star," bathed in low amber lighting and delivering some tender
harmonica lines. Donnie Herron's trumpet bleats signaled the start of "Beyond
Here Lies Nothin'," sounding much heavier than on the Together Through Life
album. Dylan and Charlie exchanged guitar licks on "High Water" (with Bob
holding his guitar almost upright, Bill Wyman-style), somehow enhancing both its
bluegrass and rock 'n' roll qualities at the same time. "Not Dark Yet" was
another center stage sublime moment. When Dylan did play keyboards, he seemed
more inventive and the organ's timbre was closer to a Hammond than Farfisa. His
waltz riffs gave "When the Deal Goes Down" a charming glint. A menacing and
satisfying "Ballad of a Thin Man" ended the main set and we were all sent off
into the night with a rousing, if rather predictable, encore of "Like a Rolling
Stone" and "Jolene." I expected another song or two, but Bob decided to leave it
at that. About the only disappointment was "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum," never
one of my favorites, but even it was saved by Sexton's blazing guitar work.

There were times during the concert that I couldn't believe what I was seeing
and hearing, feeling lucky to be in the same room with the man and these
musicians. That's a good feeling. After seeing him in 2006, I didn't know if I'd
be really excited about a tour again, but here I am in 2009 wondering what Dylan
will do next. And excited about it.

On to the next show. 

Steve Rostkoski


Review by Tim Whittome

If there was a certain irony to Bob Dylan playing a show in a place named
after a now defunct Seattle-based company, he didn't really show it through any
comments or introductions between songs.  As anyone who has heard tapes of the
Houston shows from 1981 will attest to, or from comments from many of the 1986
shows with Tom Petty, Bob has not been averse in the past to making comments on
local characters and misfortunes.  Not on the night he played the WAMU Center,
though, unless you count the overall mood of the set list as one of scorn for
humanity in general?  I digress, miserable though the loss of Washington Mutual
has been for Seattle, most of the time, we are trying to move on here and then
there is always Boeing to depress us in the wings.

Anyway, Bob's two Seattle shows were almost uniformly outstanding.  Great
new opener in Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking - not immediately recognizable to
this reviewer at the Moore Theater but a powerhouse arrangement once I got more
in tune with its opening bars at the WAMU Center.

I think that on balance the WAMU show was the better of the two, despite the
fact that Highway 61, Honest With Me and a somewhat tired Thunder on the
Mountain all graced the latter show along with the usual tuneless Lay Lady Lay -
a song that has not worked well live since a brief outing in 1984 (notably at
Barcelona) and the raucous 1976 Rolling Thunder versions.  For much of the last
twenty years or so of the Never Ending Tour, this song has rarely worked however
Bob has tried to work it.  At this point, I can't even give him full marks for

The Modern Times and Together Through Life songs all worked very well indeed
with the exception of the now tedious and largely tuneless Thunder on the
Mountain and for this Seattle audience, it was nice to get to hear Nettie Moore
for the first time.  Those who were at the Key Arena in 2006 - his last show in
the Seattle area - will well recall that we got shortchanged with only three
songs from Modern Times.  Tremendous versions of My Wife's Home Town, Forgetful
Heart and Beyond Here Lies Nothing testified nicely to the strength of Bob's
recent work - especially in live performance.  Not so sure that Jolene will
continue to be popular with audiences after multiple hearings but this is often
the case when Bob doesn't toss in variety in some set list slots but becomes
predictable. Highway 61 and Like A Rolling Stone have long since passed their
sell by dates in live performance short of being slowed right down and
dramatically changed. This said, another tired warhorse, Honest with Me- now
performed to its dying breath as a song - did still have some life in it with
Dylan moving center stage and gesticulating to some inner muse.  Same for the
great versions of Ballard of a Thin Man that graced both nights in powerhouse
arrangements.  Dylan still manages to keep this old staple fresh and alive and
one of the reasons for this is that in live performance between the 1966 and
1984shows, the song stumbled a little and has only picked up well since the 1984
European Tour and 1986 and 1987 outings.  Others may well disagree but I have
never really enjoyed the 1978 and 1981 versions of this song but since those
years, it has definitely made a good comeback live and the performances in
Seattle were no exception to this.

Unquestionably, a wild looking Charlie Sexton added some panache and energy to
both shows and at the Moore, he played some solos from the floor of the stage. 
Bob seemed delighted to have him and the two would play to one another in an
intensive dance - Bob looking mostly inscrutable but intent on his guitarist and
Charlie looking focused and energized, eager not to disappoint boss or audience.
 The remainder of the band was much as usual - tight, rehearsed, competent but
largely lacking the stand out flair that Sexton brought to the shows.  In
introducing the band, Dylan finally recognized Tony Garnier as someone who has
been around a long time.  Where once Garnier was introduced as the man who was
playing bass 'tonight' as if he had just dropped by, now he gets introduced as
the guy playing bass 'as usual'.  Tony has been playing with Bob since the Den
Haag show of 1989 - a staggering 20 years now and age appears to be finally
catching up on him. Interestingly, both he and Bob appeared to be displaying
almost identical and somewhat expensive looking diamond and silver wedding
rings!  Anyone know anything on Bob's status here - can there have been a third
marriage no one has known about?

If I had to make one suggestion, I would say that I wish that the band had
more subtlety in their artistry.  They throw every instrument into every
song and more slowed down arrangements I think would help Bob's voice a lot
because one of the two questions I always would love to be able to ask him is
'how do you stand it night after night throwing so much of your voice into each
song?'  The other question would be - 'Do you take away many memories of the
towns and cities you visit?'  For example, 'Did anything strike you about
Seattle at this time?'

Apart from my usual criticism of the way that American audiences move around
incessantly during shows, the crowds on both nights were hugely enthusiastic and
it was certainly a relief that after a three wait for us Seattleites that Bob
had finally put the poor memories of his lackluster 2006 show at the Key Arena
to rest.  For this we can be thankful and I hope that he can keep up this pace
down the road as he inches across the country towards New York.

Tim Whittome
Seattle, Washington


Click Here
to return to the
Main Page

page by Bill Pagel

Tour Guide
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location