Sacramento, California

Power Balance Pavilion

October 20, 2012

[Brian Fugate], [Greg Bowerman], [Chris Raley]

Review by Brian Fugate

Bob Dylan's performance in Sacramento was unlike anything I've seen
before. Bob's show evolves and changes just like all of us. In 15 shows
since '01 and another back in '93 Bob has inspired me each time. This time
I got to be front row center with my girlfriend (it was her birthday)her
sister, her brother-in-law, and her uncle. Before Bob and the band came on
we started the evening with a very enjoyable set from Mark Knopfler and
his band. These guys were really good and the sound was great. I
particularly remember enjoying Privateering, Song For Sonny Liston, and So
Far Away but the rest of the set was not lacking in any way. We found out
during the band intro that one of the band members, Jim Cox, was from my
home town of Oroville which is about 70 miles from Sacramento. When they
started setting the stage for Bob it was a little alarming to see that
everything was being placed further back on stage then it seemed it should
have been. Mark Knopfler and his band were noticeably closer to us than
Bob was going to be. When the first mirror came out I was getting a little
more worried. Luckily there were only two mirrors and neither was blocking
our view of Bob. Tony on the other hand couldn't be seen for much of the
show as he was far back in the center and the mirror in the center of the
stage blocked him pretty regularly. I was mildly stunned when I heard Bob
start singing You Ain't Goin' Nowhere. He was right there 15 feet in front
of us playing on the keyboard and I was fully expecting him to open with
Watching the River Flow. My first Bob CD was Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (first
cassette was Blood On The Tracks) and it was great to hear an old favorite
from that cd open the show. I just leaned up against the rail and didn't
sit down for the rest of the night. Next up was Girl From The North
Country. I'd heard Bob close the show in '93 with this half a lifetime ago
in Sacramento at the Cal Expo. The harmonica on this one was played from
his seat at the piano and was a lot louder for us than we he played it the
rest of the night. This song and the first seemed to go by so fast. The
keyboard blocked our view of the bottom of Bob's face from 2 of the 5
seats we had when he was at the piano but we traded spots throughout the
night so we could all get a look. When Bob came out front to grab the mic
for Things Have Changed the mic holder gave him a little trouble and he
had a grumpy look on his face for a second but then he proceeded to knock
this performance out of the park. He was as animated on this song as I've
ever seen him. Great showmanship on stage. He was strutting and thrusting
his hips at times. Bob had a ton of hand gestures and cool expressions
during this song. He stayed up front for Tangled Up In Blue and his
enthusiasm continued as well. I loved hearing the switched up lyrics for
this song and it was good to hear this all-time favorite again. He played
it last time he was in Sacramento in 2006 when the building was still the
Arco Arena instead of the newly named Sleeptrain Arena (Power Balance
Pavilion is what is printed on the collectible poster) but that was before
he came out front and did the song and dance numbers that he does now. I
really do enjoy the out front stuff. In '09 at the Berkeley shows Charlie
really got out front and low-down and it seemed like he and Bob were
really feeding off of each other. Now he seems to hang back with Stu and
we could see him pointing to the sky in the sound tech's direction to get
more volume during Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. The Lonesome Death of Hattie
Carroll and Ballad of Hollis Brown were both songs I expected and I really
enjoyed that he sang Hollis Brown out front. Mississippi was another good
surprise. I love this song and it was great to hear it again after hearing
it once in Reno in '05. I thought he sang it beautifully and the piano
playing was better on this song, too. The final songs included Highway 61
Revisited, Ain't Talkin', Thunder On The Mountain, Ballad Of A Thin Man,
Like A Rolling Stone, All Along The Watchtower, and Blowin' In The Wind.
It was nice to hear Ain't Talkin' but Thunder On The Mountain was the true
standout of the bunch. Bob really went off on that one at the piano and at
the end of it Donnie and Bob exchanged huge smiles and a handshake/high
five before Bob actually strutted behind and around the piano for nothing
more than to strut his stuff for the audience. He seemed very pleased with
the performance of this song and rightfully so. I hope soomlos was there,
too. Ballad Of A Thin Man had Bob out front again and giving us more of
his cool mannerisms. Like A Rolling Stone was followed by the Band Intro
and with something said about Donnie's steel guitar. All Along The
Watchtower was good to hear in the setlist again and after a short stand
in front and take a break the band came back to finish up with Blowin' In
The Wind. For the first time I didn't see a song that I hadn't seen played
before. I expected that might happen after reading the reviews but I am
surprisingly not disappointed. I thought for sure we'd see a debut from
Tempest when I bought the tickets but realized it wasn't likely in the
days leading up to the show. Oh Well. I used to care but things have
changed. From the front row in Sacramento Bob is definitely still busy
being born. It sure is nice to hear "Thank you friends" once again.

Brian Fugate


Comments by Greg Bowerman

"The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious
thought." Thomas Beecham There were a lot of distractions at this
performance, the people leaving, the sound (Bob Dylan's voice does not
need further distortion), Bob's piano playing and especially the obnoxious
security people at the venue. I will take the last of these into
consideration before going there again. But the fact remains that Bob
Dylan and his band rocked the place hard and without a break. And every
time I turned my head off, it was a great show. As I hear is usual, the
songs were reconstructed, but they retained their essential spirit. Ballad
of a Thin Man was spooky/creepy. Tangled Up in Blue was wistful.
Expectations are high when you see a legend, especially for the first
time, but they were met so well. 


Review by Chris Raley

The show on October 20th, 2012 marked the tenth time I have seen Bob 
Dylan live.  The first concert dates back to 1992, and for all of them I have
been accompanied by my father.  A love of Dylan's music is something we 
have shared for many years, but this show was the first to which we were 
able to drag my brother.  He is a classically trained, professional violinist and 
not one to listen to Dylan, but he has always appreciated Dylan's place 
among American poets.

Fortunately we got my brother to a good night.  Dylan was in great form, 
and the strong opener boded well for the evening.  Mark Knopfler gave a 
fabulous, smooth performance, but, even though the two artists have 
worked together in the past, I was concerned during the break that Bob 
would be too jarring of a contrast.  However, with "You Ain't Goin Nowhere" 
Dylan took hold of the audience, singing like a champ and setting the tone 
for a really clean concert.

What came across the most to me were the arrangements of the songs.  
Ok, we're among fans, so it's understood that he reworks stuff constantly.  
Sometimes this pays off, sometimes it doesn't.  An average concert for 
him can be a mixed bag in this regard.  On the 20th. though, nearly every 
song paid huge dividends with a fresh feel.  "Things Have Changes" had a
kind of Johnny Cash groove to it while "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" took on 
a restlessness and drive that turned Dylan's growl into a menace.  And 
Saturday, October 20, 2012 marked the first time I really enjoyed listening 
to "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" live.  "Highway 61" was a great blues 
number that felt gentler and less forced or rushed than other versions I 
have heard, and "Tangled up in Blue,"  always a wonderful song to hear live,
continued its lyrical metamorphosis.  Two major highlights were "The 
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol," which I had not heard live before, and 
"Ain't Talkin'".  The latter came in the last half of the show and was simply 

While Dylan is, no doubt, the prime mover behind these arrangements, he 
surely owes hefty bonuses to his band.  Charlie Sexton and Stu Kimball 
worked their tails off start to finish, keeping the blues alive and the
interplay tight and precise, while Tony Garnier and George Recile locked it 
all together (including their band leader) and didn't let go of it.

As for the man himself, he didn't fail to fascinate with his stage presence 
and musicianship.  One moment he was dancing around center stage with 
the mic (all angles and stiff movements) then he was at the piano, then he 
was groping behind something for a harmonica.  And yet he was spot on 
wherever he was, whatever he was doing.  His brief harp solos were 
poignant and meaningful, sounding like he'd rediscovered the instrument 
after a few years of very little presence in his shows (I'm thinking here in
contrast to his famous one note solos that run the length of the chord 
changes).  What he did at the piano showed a range of dynamic and 
subtlety that I hadn't heard from him before.  Vocally he was on top of the 
lyrics and, in his best moments, discovering melodic fragments out of the
charred remains of agitated, rap-like phrasing.

In a word, Dylan was intentional.  I say this because so often the impression
is conveyed that he lacks musicianship.  Dylan doesn't lack musicianship.  
Like everyone he has good nights and bad.  He is, however, very, very 
eccentric.  So, yes, there were times when he banged the crap out of the
piano because it pleased him to do so.  And there were times when he 
seemed to relish busting out our ear drums with the harp.  He's Bob.  What 
do you want?

I only have two quibbles with the concert.  "Girl from the North Country" 
didn't come across well.  When I heard Stu Kimball lead into the song with 
the straight ahead finger-picking approach I was hopeful but concerned.  
The last time I had heard the song, Dylan had tried it in some kind of 
sea-chantey form that was just awful.  So, ok, this version wasn't that bad, 
but it still wasn't good.  It lacked the intimacy that song really needs and 
Dylan's staccato delivery of the vocals didn't help matters.  Furthermore, 
am I the only who thinks the second songs in Dylan's sets seem to suffer?
My other minor frustration was that I didn't hear enough lead time from 
Charlie Sexton or Stu Kimball.  They kept the fire blazing, make no bones 
about it, but by the end of the show, when it was clear that the awesome
solos those two guys are capable of weren't coming, I was a little 
disappointed.  Some of my favorite memories of Dylan's shows include 
fantastic solos from Sexton.  However, I was delighted to see him back 
with the band (I hadn't seen Dylan since Sexton was back) just as I was 
delighted to hear Sexton on the new album.  His approach to his
instrument always shines through.

By the time "Blowin' in the Wind" was finishing, Dad and I were, over all, 
really happy with the performance.  The mix had been great for the most 
part (although at times the piano was a tad loud), the band had rocked 
our socks off and Bob had supplied yet another installment of fresh 
versions of songs that continue to mean a lot to us. 


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