Akron, Ohio
Akron Civic Theatre

October 21, 2023

[Murray], [Sally Colussy], [Tom Karel], [Sergi Fabregat]

Review by Murray Davis

Silver mercury sound Dylan been searching for has been found. This is 
my second show I have attended of the current tour and during many 
of the songs Bob would start off just him singing a couple of verses with 
his piano than the band would join in.

When the band joined in, a sound was created that one is at lost to 
describe sort of a jazz country blend with Bob's piano providing or 
pushing the sound to a Frank Zappa, Grateful Dead type vibe. 

His piano playing adding to the songs where in the past his harmonica 
would play, that extra layer of sound, but the piano adds more 

The biggest difference between the shows which are about a year 
apart is the current concert was more refined, Bob has crossed the 
Rubicon and is creating music that is indescribable.

I do wonder what, "All along the Watchtower," would sound like 
with his piano providing the Hendrix guitar solo, but maybe at next 

Murray Davis


Review by Sally Colussy

[First I'd like to acknowledge my fear of writing this. Not only because of 
the negativity which I'm about to express but, also, because Boblink 
contributors are generally excellent writers--and I'm definitely NOT. In fact, 
most of the writers around Bob are exquisite wordsmiths, but here goes.]

I have gone 'to Bob' for comfort since I was 7 or 8, even before he even 
released his first album, when Peter, Paul and Mary were singing his phrases. 
I have always gone to Bob's music to comfort and to challenge me.  Last 
week was disastrous in my life. Death is all around me right now. Passings 
of a relative, a trusted friend and a beloved business colleague and a 
personal 0health scare occurred in short order, knocking the stuffing out 
of me.  I decided to take a wild hair,  jump in the car, drive 2 hours and 
hope to score a seat--for comfort. 

However, the audience at last night's Akron concert needed to be 
spanked or, at least, given some lessons in social graces. The absence of 
respect for the performers and fellow audience members was 
breathtakingly absent. 

I've been to countless concerts in the last 60 years and many of them 
were 'Bob' concerts.  

NEVER have I seen so MANY people straggling in and being seated for 
27 MINUTES following the concert start, particularly in such a formal 
theater.  How do I know it was 27 minutes? I was seated directly behind 
one of the soundboards which held a clock. People, Bob starts ON TIME 
and if you had done a minimum of internet research you would have 
known this. Your lateness is a distraction to everyone in that space.  
You should have gotten there earlier. 

And after only 15 minutes of audience 'seated' behavior, they began to 
traipse up the aisles [to get a drink? use the restroom? consult their 
phones in the lobby?].  Again, a serious distraction for your 'audience' 
neighbors and maybe for the performers. Do you REALLY need that extra 
drink?  Why didn't you use the restroom before you came into the 
theater?  Why don't you, as an adult, know how much liquid you 
can intake allowing 
you to sit for an hour and 45 minutes?  IT'S NOT THAT LONG. Why is 
that phone so important to you that you have to consult it even 
though you've spent a lot of money to attend the concert?  Few phone 
calls are that pressing.  Seems like our society is forgetting The Golden 

And what about the modest applause following the songs?  If anyone 
had done their 'due diligence' they would have known Bob retools his 
tunes, both lyrical composites and musical styles, when performing.  Did 
you actually listen to ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS?  He's giving us a music 
lesson during the concert.

And the guy who ran across the large horizonal aisle yelling at the sound 
guys about [the concert? the sound?] being "a piece of shit."  It's my 
understanding Bob has bad arthritis in his hands, so occasionally his piano 
riffs go off the rails which, for a few songs,they did last night. Yes, it was 
discordant for a short time and I guess the sound guys can't anticipate 
when it may happen so they can't turn the piano down in the mix.  [Just 
guessing, however.]  Personally the discordance doesn't bother me b/c 
he's there and he's choosing to be there, he's 82, he's possibly in some 
pain and yet he keeps on ticking {I'll spare you the "keeping on" 
reference.}. Would it help to have fewer band members play with him 
during that brief time--kind of like discordant jazz?

Well, there were a few other things, but I've taken up too much space 
already.  Thanks for letting me vent-----ahhhhhhhhhh.  I feel better 


Review by Tom Karel

I try to catch Bob every time his tour rolls through the Northeast or
Mid-Atlantic states, but last year that didn't happen.  I was determined
to make amends this time around, so my daughter and I decided to go to the
Akron, Ohio show.  It was a five-hour drive for each of us - she from
Indianapolis (where she had seen Bob a few nights earlier) and me from
Lancaster, PA. This was her 75th Dylan show (!!!) and I am 75 years old,
so it seemed like the perfect thing to do.

A cold drizzle did not dampen the enthusiasm and camaraderie outside the
theater.  In the nearby parking garage we spotted a small car from Ontario
with a BOBDYLAN license plate.

Inside the gorgeous old (1929) Moorish-designed Civic Theater, the band
came onto the stage first and played an opening fanfare.  A few minutes
later a small figure shuffled out from the wings holding a white cowboy
hat.  The audience roared.  Bob sat down at the piano, put on his hat
(which stayed on through the entire show), and we were underway.

The first thing that hits you is that Bob is in serious physical decline. 
Several years ago, while he mostly played the keyboard or piano, he would
do several songs standing center stage with a mike stand.  And he was
lively and playful, often tossing the stand around and moving all over the
stage.  I last saw him two years ago and then he was more rooted to the
piano.  He only did one song standing, then sort of hurried back to the
support of the piano.  Now, on Saturday night (and on the last couple
tours), he spends the entire concert at the piano, sometimes sitting for a
song, often standing, and sometimes doing both.  He did venture out a bit
to talk with Doug Lancio and Tony Garnier once or twice between songs - or
maybe they came over to him.

From our third row seats we could only see Bob's eyes and hat when he sat,
but happily he stood for most of the songs.  Our phones were locked in
pouches during the show so I couldn't discreetly take a photo of the man. 
But it was a treat to be able to see him so close.  Unfortunately, I
couldn't see Jerry Pentecost unless I stood up, but his drumming was

Despite his fragility, Bob delivered a strong set: he was in good voice,
good humor (several "thank you's" after songs and frequent smiles), and
played a lively pounding piano.  At times he seemed to be channeling Jerry
Lee Lewis.  The crowd loved it.  The set list on Bob Links says that he
played the harp on Every Grain of Sand, but there was no harp.  Sigh.

To no one's surprise, he continues to play around with the now very
familiar songs.  Some of the new treatments are captivating (especially
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight, with the slow and tender beginning, and When I
Paint My Masterpiece) but others are puzzling.  It took me several verses
to identify My Own Version of You.  The man next to me marvelled at the
reinvented To Be Alone with You, which I had forgotten was in the set
list.  Key West was a real treat, and now sounds more like the album
version than what he was doing on recent tours.  The crowd really liked
Gotta Serve Somebody and Masterpiece, but the most effective and riveting
song was Black Rider.  Bob sang that with minimal accompaniment and every
word was clear and crisp and menacing.  After an excellent jaunty take on
That Old Black Magic, we were hoping for some sort of Akron-themed song,
but instead he reprised Dwight Yoakum's South of Cincinnati which he did
the previous night in Cincinnati.  The crowd cheered every time he sang
the line that mentioned the Ohio River.  I told my daughter, "Maybe Bob
thinks he's still in Cincinnati."  At the end of the song he said a few
words about Dwight Yoakum.  Also, at the very end, when they all lined up
for bows, Bob yelled out: "And how about this band!!!"  Then he slowly,
carefully walked off the stage and that was it.  A magical and memorable

Tom Karel


Review by Sergi Fabregat

Well, a tiny introduction before the show review: I managed to avoid almost 
all spoilers (I knew Bob kind of played different covers depending on the 
city and also something about a new approach) but, funnily, I knew nothing 
about what in the end mattered the most (more on this later). Also, this 
Akron show was experienced under the influence of the worst jet lag ever, 
being awaken at a Dulles hotel since 3am after the most freezing flight ever 
from Barcelona to Washington and then, the day of the show, catching another 
flight to Cleveland, then train to the center, then bus to Akron. Given all 
that, I'm extremely happy that a nice lady told me after the show "I think 
anyone has enjoyed the show more than you". I hope this wasn't the case but 
thanks lovely lady.

Strangely for us, we hit the Civic almost 40 minutes before showtime as the 
tickets are will call, so we enjoy the theatre and the really spectacular 
lobby. As we were in the balcony, we had a gorgeous view of the fake star 
speckled sky and the Renaissance-like decoration, with fake trees and 
alabaster statues (one guy told us that it was real alabaster). Truly an 
unforgettable view to kick-off our tour. Lights go down and the guys go out, 
lights go up and first thing I notice: Bob's not there. Second thing: there 
are a lot of road cases behind the band that serve as the backdrop of the 
stage, integrated in it as they are fully lit in a somehow neutral blue light, 
with the usual curtain further back, also neutrally lit. I remember from the 
ome show that the disposition of the elements, visually, was distanced of the 
lynch-like atmosphere typical from the start of the tour in 2021, as if the 
dust and smoke were settling down an we were starting to have a glimpse into 
the reality behind the magic. Well, now we're a step further on that.

The road cases being there shocked me the whole show, like if that 
performance was an improvised thing, as if those guys had just popped up 
there, played for a couple of hours, and then ciao. It's been like that with 
Bob for many years, of course, the non-talk an everything, but this visual 
statement means more in my opinion. In fact, after the show those same road 
cases, of course, were used to put in the instruments and stuff, and we even 
saw a big door opened directly onto the street, and the light from outside 
getting in, as if the reality was only a prolongation of the performance, or 
the other way round.

Bob not being there from the get-go points to me in that direction too. It's 
a true sight, the band playing, the void piano in the middle, like a statue, 
the road cases like a wall of transient silence behind, but no Bob Dylan. 
Another lynchean wink, to me, to 'Mulholland Drive' and the Club Silencio. 
One day, he will not be there, you've been warned, don't complain. Of course, 
fortunately, he trots to the piano after half a minute like a boxer, like a 
big rock star would do but it feels just different. He didn't look at the 
people, wave of anything of course, he was straight to the piano and to the 
songs, in a commitment that is both a statement and a lesson. One day, I'm 
not there, but not yet.

The big, big surprise to me, is how different most of arrangements sound, and 
how happy I feel of not having been aware of that before. In a way, I don't 
want the cover slot to arrive as I want to concentrate on the almost 'new' 
songs. Bob finds a strange rhythm in 'River Flow' and he sings accordingly, a 
bit suzannesque like last fall in Paris but not quite that. Everything just 
sounds so different to me, and after some songs I notice that Doug Lancio is 
almost all the time on acoustic guitar, and that Jerry Pentecost is also 
playing the drums differently, more sparsely maybe, and there's some 
simplicity in all of it, some travelling light (like the one that illuminates 
the cases) that makes it all flow and flow, making me draw a big smile on my 
face. He is doing it all again: dragging my ass to Akron (with all due 
respect) feels so worth it to witness that in real time.

The different sound experience is, it seems to me, because of the mix, with 
everything beautifully merged, with just a bit of more prominence to Bob's 
voice, who gives, word after word, a surreal delivery, walking the line 
between sentiment and irony in ways it seems impossible to follow up. 
'Multitudes' has a brand new arrangement, more coastal and less rural, and 
it reminds me of another Bob song but I can't figure out which one exactly. 
With 'False Prophet', things get serious for good, and I try to write down in 
my mind those mind-blowing moments, as for example how he sings "What are you 
looking at?", menacing and mocking all the same. Few times before I've 
experienced a show in which the line between transcendence and irony was so 
blurry, and to me the current visual aspect of the show is crucial to that; 
I'd say that even the hat adds to this.

With 'Masterpiece', it all starts to get personal for me. My last show was in 
Rome and, let me tell you, Rome was such an unforgettable experience for me 
that afterwards I thought that if for any reason that would've been my last Bob 
show, I would've been 100% happy with that. The good thing with Bob is that, 
yes, it looks like he's moving but he's standing still, but also the other way 
round, eppur si muove. Akron's 'Masterpiece' was a good example of that: Bob 
forgot the play the bridge and he went for the "sailing 'round the world" line 
right after the "train wheels" part, and then he commited so much to the last 
lines that the song was elevated to new heights, concatenating words like a 
trapeze artist (how he sang "mussels", omg), followed by an instrumental outro 
with everyone throwing everything out the window.

Then I started on trying to focus on catching the depths of Bob's singing as 
he was doing it, and 'My Own Version of You' was such an amazing example of 
that. When you look at a Picasso and see everything distorted but somehow 
making sense and being a whole, that song felt like that. Some words were 
strengthened so much, so one with the band, that the energy was almost 
unbearable. It happens sometimes during Bob shows, there's this concentrated 
energy of the present you can feel and experience but not describe, and those 
bits, I think, are what make you come back show after show. Sometimes they 
are presentend in a more upfront manner, like in 'Baby Tonight' where Bob 
plays with the audience directly ("takes your shooooes offff, have no fear!", 
he defies us), and the energy is palpable and plainly enjoyable, but there 
are these more subdued moments in which this happens differently, like in the 
"bring it to St. Peter" part in 'Version', where Bob seemed to get in the 
hidden meanings of his own words so much putting impossible pressure on them, 
ending with a crushing way to sing "decency and common sense". My ass all the 
way to Akron for moments like that one, it's been already so worth it and 

The surprises kept coming, with a semi-new arrangement of 'Crossing the 
Rubicon' with, attention, what to me were tropical vibes, like on the way to 
'Key West' or something and, again, in the middle of what felt like a relaxed 
performance, counterparts of the most crude realism: "what are these dark 
days I see, in a world so badly bent, how can I redeem the time, the time so 
idly spent". Of course we can't save the world, but to me it is troubling to 
be around with the unfair amounts of suffering occuring everywhere. This 
connection between the joy of performing and the hardships of the outer world 
is increasingly present in the show, and I find it refreshing and even 
political. Crossing the Rubicon like an awakening, like in fact the whole 
show could well be. 'Rough and Rowdy Ways' could be an album born on the 
dreamy state of the confined pandemic and is slowly finding its way onto the 
reality of man, who knows.

I want to highlight, related to that, two verses monstrously delivered in 
'Key West': "I'd like to help ya, but I CAN'T" and "I do what I thing is 
right, what I think is best". Beyond the horizon line there's paradise 
divine, but what we have now is this: impossibilites and insecurities. The 
realisation of that is also part of that undescribable energy I said before 
and that double-faced sense of the lyrics goes literally beyond the sea. It's 
funny because when Bob sings "Beyond the sea" it makes perfect sense within 
the song 'Key West', but my mind always deviates to the Bobby Darin song, one 
which also speaks of getting somewhere to never again go sailing. I can only 
speak for myself, but I feel I'm on the road to somewhere, and in a way I'm 
both sad and happy that eventually I'll get there. This feeling vertebrates 
the current shows heavily, that "how much longer can it/Bob last" is obvious 
to the energy, obvious to Bob I'd say, hence the road cases. As we all 
should be, ready to go anywhere, ready for to fade.

'I've Made Up My Mind' featured also a 100% unexpected semi-new arrangement, 
specially felt on the drums and even the rhythm, with Bob trying new things 
and a fellow fan leaving during the song telling me "thank you for being a 
fan" for how visibly I was enjoying it all, and me feeling humbled as he 
also told me that he was 76yo and Bob had been with him all his life. That 
kind of strange connections is what makes it all worth it.

As I hadn't look into setlists, I didn't know if it was 'Old Black Magic' and 
then something else like in Rome or directly to the cover slot, so when the 
standard started, as much as specially the end was such a KILLER moment by 
Bob, I wanted to have some new song to put in the bag. I felt again humbled 
and happy for having made it to Akron in which felt like the most tiring 
journey ever when 'South of Cincinnati' started, though I didn't know the 
song I felt the delivery that Bob gave was so heartfelt, specially during the 
chorus, that it moved me deeply. The conditional "if" and then "I'll be yours 
again" is the kind of promises we all want to keep. I don't know if these 
location-related promises have any special meaning, but my take is that, in 
regard to my 'theory' about the show opening its heart to the world, the 
world is also coming in, so Bob is placing himself and his songs in the 
waters of a bigger river, making himself no more and no less than them. Just 
before, he sings it: "a river that sings". He's pouring the cup and passing 
it along, we'll see if someone is willing to take it.

'Mother of Muses' got alos such a beautiful semi-new treatment in the form 
of a more sparse arrangement and, to me, I felt Bob's delivery more prominent 
all the way, and maybe my point is proved by how most lines were received by 
the audience. By the end, when he announced "I'm travelling light", another 
line with a heavy double meaning that I just got a few weeks ago, the energy 
felt really elevated and transcendent.

First lines of the, yes, new 'Goodby Jimmy Reed' were a bit temptative, but 
by the "Godspeed" part, oh my, he had us all so in his beautiful pocket. One 
of the gems of last night's show was how Bob's delivery has improved or 
changed to the point that the same word can be taken by its own meaning but 
also as a comentary of itself, enhancing the depths of the spoken (or sung) 
language in ways that for me are the real reason of his Nobel Prize. With the 
new 'Jimmy Reed' arrangement, less rhythm-bound, Bob can experience more with 
all that, and the good prove of it is how he said "juice", as he literally 
sip the word like in "juzzzz" or "jeeezzz", like a theatre actor might do. It 
was such a funny, childish moment, yet at the same time such a good example 
of how far this show and this songs can and have gone, and is in those stupid 
moments when you can get a glimpse of the secrets of the world. What the hell.

My dad was born in 1944, and yesterday would have been his 79th birthday, and 
that feeling was all over the show for me. There was this moment in 'Every 
Grain of Sand', in the "like every sparrow falling", in which Bob gave the 
word "sparrow" a heaviness that made the verb almost innecessary, the sparrow 
was obviously falling without having to specify it. My dad also left with many 
unsaid things between us, and last night I truly tried to remember his last 
request, but I couldn't. Bob sang that "onward on my journey, I've come to 
understand, that every hair is numbered", and I agreed with that long time 
ago, but maybe last night it hit me like never before. When you feel as if 
those songs are as much Bob Dylan's songs as your own, maybe that's also some 
form of lighting the torch and looking to the east.


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