Winnipeg, Manitobak

MTS Centre

October 5, 2012

[Gord Ellis]

Review by Gord Ellis

This was my first Dylan show since March 2004, at the Kool Haus in
Toronto. That was such a good show - and I was so close - that I thought
I`d never need to see another show again. But that was three great albums
ago, plus Knopfler was opening,so...

Mark Knopfler and his band were superb. No song by song review, but he
went from strength to strength.The sound and playing was impeccable.My
buddy Bill was in heaven. Privateer was a highlight. 

After a half hour break or so,Bob and his band came on to the sound of Stu
Kimball`s blues guitar licks. There was Bob, looking good. My first
thought was he was striking a very Rolling Thunder Revue look. He opened
with Watching the River Flow, on organ. A stong version, with great
singing. Right away, I noticed Bob was way up in the mix, and the guitars
were too low. For my ears anyway. This would continue the whole show

We had really good seats, 4th row middle.So I could see everything. Bob
was havng a hoot, smiling at Tony and Donnie. He seemed to have little
interaction with Charlie and Stu, which surprised me. But this would
continue all night. An electric It Ain`t Me Babe and Things Have Changed
had people bopping and cheering. Nice to see Bob on a telecaster. His
guitar was loud and strong.

By the time, he got to the grand piano , it was clear he was going to be
very high in the mix. Each plunk of the piano roared out. Bob was the
loudest instrument on stage. He played like a jazzman, pulling out little
riffs and runs. They were interesting, and lead the band, but it was
sometimes hard to hear the rest of the boys. This made for some
"interesting" moments. Bob was singing great, though, and the band was
very tight as usual. I can only assume that this mix was directed by his
Bobness, as no sound man in this day in age would actually leave the mix
that way without being directed to.

This mix issue really showed up on Tangled up in Blue.The root suspended
chord guitar riff was low, and Bob's plunking keys were super loud.So
trying to follow the chord changes was really hard.You could see the band
doing their best to follow each other. Was this the mix they were getting
as well? Again, Bob was having a great time, like a kid on an new toy.
Legs kicking, playing one handed. Chaplinesque. But adjust the mix a bit,
and this would have been a killer. As it was, it really never got cooking
like it should have. This happened time and again. 

Which is not to say I didn't enjoy the show. I did. Bob was really into
it. Ballad of a Thin Man was the best Dylan performance I've ever seen
live in 6 shows over nearly 27 years.He really performed and played great
harp. The crowd at it up. It was awesome. No keys, by the way, so you
could hear the band perfectly.And they were great.

Highway 61 also caught flight, and the giant piano licks blended right in.
But Charlie was hemmed in. It was really weird to see him strumming
away,barely audible. Same with All Along the Watchtower and Rollin' Stone
He is such a monster guitarist. But Stu Kimball took nearly every lead. 

I`d assumed there would be several new songs. But the only Tempest tune
was Scarlet Town, and it was almost perfect. It also got a very big cheer
right at the first few bars. People have been listening to the new album.
It sounded fantastic and I really wished that Bob had trotted out a few
more like Pay in Blood, or Dusquesne Whistle. They just will work with
this band and mix. If this is the new mix. 

It was a short show, just 15 songs. Including a very odd Blowing in the
Wind encore, that had Bob standing at the keys, plunking out a repeated
riff that the band would follow. Then it was over. 

I should mention it was very close to a full house at MTS,and there was
the usual range of oldsters, kids and people having a real religious
experience seeing Bob. So it wasn't quite what I expected, but when is it
with Bob? I do feel he is wasting the talents of Charlie Sexton by boxing
him in so much, but that's Dylan. And no Knopfler cameo. Again, typical
Bob. And more new songs please. But it was really great to see him again
having so much fun. Roll on Bob.


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