Seattle, Washington

Paramount Theatre

October 17, 2014

[Steve Rostkoski], [Mervyn Duddy], [Carole Kanani]

Review by Steve Rostkoski

I managed to secure tickets for all three opening nights in Seattle for
this latest leg of the Never Ending Tour. The last time I went to multiple
shows was in 1995 when Dylan also played the Paramount (I had to miss the
similar 2005 stand). When he's opened past tours in Seattle,  Dylan has
often dropped a few surprises into the shows. Seattle's 2002 performance
premiered Dylan's switch to keyboards that has remained to this day and
featured a setlist peppered with Warren Zevon and Rolling Stones covers
(this is still the most fun Dylan show I've seen). The two opening
concerts in 2009 were the first following the official return of guitarist
Charlie Sexton, which ratcheted up the excitement level considerably.
Strangely, when I saw Bob and his band last in 2012, Sexton seemed
relegated to the background and Stu Kimball took over most of the lead
guitar duties. It was still a good solid show, but some of the fire was
missing. Bob's vocals were also quite rough that night.

It was Kimball who introduced the show on Friday night with a strummed
western-sounding theme, as Dylan and the rest of band took the darkened
stage. They then launched into "Things Have Changed" using a similar
urgent arrangement of recent performances. The sound was crystal clear,
perhaps the best I've experienced at any Dylan show. He stood center
stage, gripping the microphone stand with one hand, occasionally backing
away to do a little dance between lines. Dare I say, his voice sounded
great. Very nuanced, without much of the growling or "upsinging" that can
get bothersome.

Next up, "She Belongs to Me" in a more unique rhythmic take of the
original tender ballad, and one of the very few visits to Dylan's early
catalog during the evening. Most of the setlist took from later albums
including Time Out of Mind, "Love and Theft," Together Through Life and
Tempest (which was totally neglected at the 2012 show I attended). Even a
relative obscurity chosen by Dylan was from his more recent work. I knew
the sweet country waltz sounded familiar, but I couldn't place where the
song came from. It turned out to be "Waitin' for You," a track he penned
for the 2002 movie Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

The stately ballad "Workingman's Blues #2" from 2006's Modern Times
showcased how Charlie Sexton has stepped to the fore once again. Instead
of his usual blazing solos though, Sexton used little riffs and motifs to
add texture to the songs. In this song, he kept pulling it in and back out
of a minor key jazzy feel that was mesmerizing. Since he now stands behind
Dylan's piano, the two often play off of each other, with Dylan
establishing a theme on keyboards and then Charlie embellishing it on
guitar. "Duquesne Whistle" featured this fascinating interplay extensively.

In fact, I'm impressed with how all the musicians in Dylan's current band
have developed and built upon these songs. Sometimes Dylan's backing bands
fall into a boogie/country swing formula that gets to sound all the same.
This is certainly not the case now. From the edgy thump given to "Love
Sick, to the gentle heartbreak of "Simple Twist of Fate," you get the
feeling that these guys are ready for anything and everything. "Long and
Wasted Years" is an unusually structured, dramatic tune from Tempest that
made for an unexpected closing number, but this band tore into it so it
felt like a natural fit. The crowd loved it. It honestly left me
breathless. The encores of "All Along the Watchtower" and "Blowin' in the
Wind" afterwards just seemed like icing on the cake.

On to night 2. . . 

Steve Rostkoski


Review by Mervyn Duddy

Often when I set out on a road trip (or in this case a rail trip), to see
a string of Bob Dylan concerts, I wonder if it's really going to be worth
it.  This is not because I have ever been disappointed, but the disbelief
of friends and family at my desire to see him as often as is practical
apart, I always wonder if he can continue to bring those magic moments
that set him apart in the later years of his performing career.  It seems
inhuman for one artist to still be able to thrill in so many different and
unusual ways, fifty plus years on.

There are still two performances at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle to
go, but I knew from song one on Friday night that this trip would be a
special one.  I loved all four shows in the Bay Area two years ago, with
the only disappointment being that although there were plenty of gems to
remember fondly and savor, he did not play any Tempest songs.  He
rectified that last night with six from Tempest, and only five of nineteen
that were recorded before Time Out Of Mind.  It may be true that the
scariest words out of a musician's mouth is "And now I'd like to play a
couple of songs from my new album", but Dylan is one of the few from whom
such performances elicit a huge surge of excitement.

This was a far more subtle, measured and contemplative set of performances
than is usual from his arena and amphitheater concerts, and as someone
next to me remarked, this show would probably not work as well in an
arena, but for a theater like the Paramount, it was perfect.  Forgetful
Heart from San Francisco in 2012 was one of the standouts for me of that
set of shows, and he gave it a very different, quieter treatment at the
Paramount, but it shows his skill as writer and performer that it was
again a standout with much gentler backing and vocals.  And his vocals
overall last night were wonderful.

One of the things I most appreciate about Dylan's performances is that he
seldom takes the easy way out.  Here is a man with an unparalleled catalog
of songs, and he could play them straight up and down at every show and
people would come and see the myth and go home happy to have seen the 60s
icon, checking off one more must-see artist.  But Dylan, as the number of
songs from his later period that he performed last night attests,
continues to be a man in a state of development and evolution.  He not
busy being born is a busy dying, I guess.  At this rate, he'll never die. 
Even the earlier songs that he did do, such as Simple Twist of Fate and
Tangled Up In Blue had lyric changes that show just how seriously he takes
his songs and performances, retaining the interest and appreciation of
people who have seen him multiple times over decades.

Can't wait for the rest of these shows.


Review by Carole Kanani

It was a warm night for October in Seattle on Friday, October 17, 2014.   I 
walked up one block from the Paramount Hotel to the Paramount Theater.  
My seat for tonight 4th row center, right in front of the grand piano.

The gong sounded at 8pm, lights went down, the audience quieted down 
as the sound of the lone guitar filled the room.  Lights dim, we could see the 
band coming out and there he was in his signature hat easily seen in the dim 
lights.  The whole front section stood and cheered as the boys in the band 
picked up their instruments and Bob stood at the microphone and filled the 
theater with a rather cool kind of country version of Things Have Changed, 
we in front the section remained standing throughout the song.

Bob's was in wonderful voice, strong and clear, sometimes so tender it 
brought tears to the eye.  He seemed to dance between singing at the mic
and playing the piano.  Each song a mysterious journey into the soul of the 
moment.  Highlights were: Duquesne Whistle, the band was absolutely 
smokin' hot, one thought the curtains could of ignited from the heat.  Love 
Sick - so forceful and powerful it made us all feel love sick!  Forgetful Heart 
and Long And Wasted Years were heart ripping.  The encore Watchtower 
and Blowin in the Wind were absolutely beautiful tender versions of those 
songs.  Bob's harp playing was beautiful and soulful, again there were times 
when it would bring a tear to the eye.  All in all it was a most enchanting 
evening.  I had a ticket for Saturday night as well.  

Carole Kanani
Lummi Island, Washington


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