St. Louis, Missouri

Fox Theatre

October 22, 2007

[Eric Jonjak], [Kevin Behrndt], [Mark Perry]

Review by Eric Jonjak

Saw  Bob's show in St. Louis tonight, after the Bloomington, IN and
Bloomington, IL shows.  Sorry to all of you who missed this one, as it was
absolutely fabulous.  Bob is singing as clearly as I have ever heard him,
and the band is better than you could dare imagine.  Hearing this show is
a powerful and delightful experience.

In Indiana, John Mellencamp came and sat in the folded up bleacher seats
to my left as the show started.  I had a nice fantasy that he would go up
on stage and join Bob for a duet on Son House's "John The Revelator" or
"Death Letter Blues" but that didn't happen  (I figure if you are going to
dream, dream big.)  I liked Mellencamp's covers of Son House songs, and I
am sure old Bob knows all of those songs too, so it should have happened. 
Maybe next time.

But tonight, there were several highlights:

From the front row, I saw that Bob played lead guitar on the first three
songs.  That was a delight.  I am sure he does it because it is fun for
him, and if that keeps him touring, I hope he never stops.  Of course,
Denny Freeman's guitar part backing him was so rich and full that if Bob's
guitar went dead, the song would have been fabulous anyway.

Bob did "Visions of Johanna" tonight, and it was wonderful.  Of course, it
always is, whether he does it acoustically or fully electric.  Great song,
great performance.

Elvis Costello and Bob did a fabulous version of "Tears of Rage," just the
two of them with each playing an acoustic guitar.  Elvis seemed more
confident of the words and sang lead with Bob backing him up.  A wonderful
song, a performance that surpassed any wild dream.  If the two of them
decided to do a tour where the whole show was them doing duets, I would
not miss one of them.  The voices were beautiful together, they sang with
great enthusiasm.  This was a rare treat.

Then, the final encore was "All Along the Watchtower."  Apparently
something had been bothering Bob about his keyboards, as his instrument
tech spent some time adjusting the stops and hitting the keys during the
break between the main show and the encores.  During "Watchtower,"  Bob
first seemed mildly annoyed and then laughed out loud after he sang the
first lines.  Don't know what was going on, but the song was as powerful
as ever.

This was a wonderful show, head and shoulders above the two Bloomingtons. 
The theater here is fabulous, a restored old theater with a huge elephant
head above the stage and with statues of characters from the old fantastic
serial movies decorating the walls.  There are publicity shots of hundreds
of stars on the walls, with pin ups on the walls of the men's
room....Betty Grable, Lucille Ball, dozens more....hope they were amused
by the view.  Maybe the theater helped inspire Bob to do a transcendent
performance.  Whatever it was, I am glad it worked.

I first saw Amos Lee several years ago when he opened for Bob in Seattle. 
Since then, he has put together a stronger band, he is writing even more
great songs, and he is singing with much more confidence.  The  first I
read of him was that Norah Jones thought he was a special talent. Happy to
say I think she is right.  See him if you get the chance.  "Night Train"
is just a delight, and he has many more great songs.

Elvis Costello performed with wonderful enthusiasm.  I think he is having
the time of his life.  He knows how to involve the audience in everything
he does, and he is writing even better songs than he has in the past. 
Love the anti-war message, love the way he sings and plays flat out
holding nothing back.  And "Allison" still  knocks  me out, as do the new
songs about Eve and another about a war widow.  If passion and singing can
stop a war, maybe we will be out of Iraq soon. 

Going to a couple of the Chicago shows.  I hope they are as good as this
one was.

Eric Jonjak


Review by Kevin Behrndt

For my 15th Dylan show in the last 9 years, I was once again privileged to
see the master troubadour in the opulent majesty of the Fox Theater in St
Louis, a true gem of a venue in midtown. This was the third time I have
seen Bob at the Fox, the first was my very first Dylan concert in 1998,
one that is still hard to top from both a set list and experience
perspective. The last time he was at the Fox was just last year with Merle
Haggard. This time of course Elvis Costello was on the bill, a performer I
have never seen live despite the hundreds of concerts I have been to over
the years. Have to admit was never a big fan of Costello for some reason,
but I was curious to see what he was like in concert.

It was a rainy night as fall hit St Louis finally. I have mixed emotions
about seeing Dylan at the Fox for several reasons. The sound is usually
very good, and of course the sightlines in the 4500 seat venue are all
outstanding for the most part. I had seats very close, left center about
12th row, no complaints there. The battle that is always waged at the Fox
is between those that want to sit down and enjoy their $80 seats without
standing the whole time, and who can blame them as the venue has the
feeling of a "sit down" theater with its plush comfy seats and great
sightlines---and those that want to "dance" and stand up the whole show. I
also don't blame them, as there are some songs you just want to move to.
The problem is that if a few stand, more have to, and ultimately you are
faced with standing so you can see and irritating those behind you, or
sitting and listening and watching the backs of people all night. In a
theater like the Fox, especially since much of the sales of the good seats
is through the local PBS fund drive, the sitters usually win, which is
good for all from a sightline perspective, but tends to stifle the vibe
and enthusiasm a bit compared to say, an outdoor ballpark show. This show
had that same tension, and it was a Monday night, although as the night
wore on, there were more and more up front who started moving around a bit
and it loosened up somewhat.

Costello's set was solo and he plays the guitar aggressively. I
recognized a few signature tunes of course, Veronica, Alison, Peace,
Love and Understanding, etc, and he delivered the songs aggressively and
with passion, but I still can't help but hearing a sameness to all his
stuff. For some reason, Costello just doesn't grab me, unlike a Neil Young
doing an acoustic solo show like this for instance. I also couldn't help
thinking the whole time---this guy is married to Diana Krall? But there
were a lot of Costello fans in the audience and I got the impression many
were there specifically to see him more than Dylan. He recieved a nice
response from the audience as he left the stage.

One of the downsides of checking this site and knowing the setlists
ahead of time is then being disappointed when you know you won't hear
certain songs. I was kicking myself before the show for not making the 2
hour drive to Bloomington, IL on Saturday night to catch Dylan there also,
especially when I saw that setlist. Its been awhile since I have caught
Don't Think Twice, Its All Right, Tangled Up in Blue and Masters of War,
three of my favorite tunes, and it seems he plays them lately right before
or after I go to see Dylan. So I knew going in we probably wouldn't get
those songs, which was a bit disappointing.

Dylan still delivered a varied set which did include a few nice versions
of songs, but no 'omigod, I haven't heard that one for awhile' moments.
Overall, the vibe and feel of the show was laid back it seemed, some very
mellow and soft songs that no doubt contributed to the sit down mood at
the Fox.

The band was wearing a lot of expensive looking black leather suits this
night, in contrast to the more western looking light colored garb they had
worn the last time I saw Dylan this past summer at Kansas City's Starlight
Theater. As the band took the stage, I spied Dylan's Academy Award on the
amplifier behind Bob. The band looked sharp.

Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat was a welcome opener, although I couldn't help
thinking, turn the sound UP more. The drums needed to sound louder, and
even though we were close, to my ears the sound was muted. It seemed to
pick up more as the show wore on. It Ain't Me Babe was fine, although I
would have preferred Don't Think Twice. Bob played electric guitar on the
first three songs as is standard these days. Watching the River Flow seems
to be one I am catching a lot lately. Love Sick was sparkling, and got the
audience going a bit, as the casual fans around me recognized this Grammy
winner. Bob's vocals were delivered with more clarity in this and the last
concert I saw in Kansas City than I ever remember---a credit to the sound
system at both places and the mixing, but he is singing with more diction
and clarity than I remember for example in his 3 night run at the Pageant
in St Louis in March 2004.

The Levee's Gonna Break was a surprising highlight for me, as this song
sizzled and rocked in a bluesy way, and got the audience more involved.
Denny Freeman's lead solos by the way throughout the concert I thought
were delivered very tastily. The concert than proceeded to trade upbeat
numbers with quieter tunes which tended to keep people in the seats.
Spirit on the Water, Honest With Me and then a gem, a sterling delivery of
Visions of Johanna, again with crystal clear vocals. Probably the
highlight of the main set. Things Have Changed was another, ahh I have
heard that before for the casual fans. Workingman's Blues and Ain't Talkin
I am still getting used to. Sandwiched between that was a nice rollicking
version of Highway 61 Revisited, which I hadn't heard for a while and was
used to in the past hearing that as the closing song of the set or in an
encore. Summer Days I have heard way too much in the last few years but
its a good crowd pleaser. Then, instead of Masters of War, we got Ballad
of a Thin Man, which Dylan had also closed with when I saw him in KC, but
it was a rousing and passionate set closer, and I could finally hear Bob's
organ better. As I said, as the set progressed the sound volume picked up
which got the crowd more involved.

After what seemed like a longer than usual exit, we were then treated to
the highlight of the evening--Elvis Costello and Dylan came out together
with acoustic guitars and sung Tears of Rage!, which I had never heard
before live. I had checked the setlists so I knew that this duet had not
been done before on the tour, so I turned to my buddy and said we are
seeing something unique here. A great performance, although Elvis kind of
led the way, but it made the evening very special and worthwhile to get
this 'first'.

Dylan then closed with a rollicking Thunder on the Mountain and the
always incendiary All Along the Watchtower, which was satisfyingly
delivered. I had gone to this show with a friend who was not really a
Dylan fan, and had only seen him once back in 1991 and he thought it was
the worst concert he ever went to. That was back in Bob's electric guitar
grinding days. I had assured him that he will have a different perspective
on Dylan after he saw this show. Bob didn't disappoint. My friend was very
impressed with the clarity in Dylan's vocals this time around, very
impressed with the quality of the band, and liked the bluesy, rockabilly
feel of this music. He told me it was 10 times better than his first Dylan
experience. And on top of that, we got to see something special with the
Tears of Rage duet. All in all, another special and satisfying night of
seeing the Master at work as the band stood tall and proud in formation to
the ovation from the crowd.

Kevin Behrndt 


Review by Mark Perry

Eric Jonjak wrote a wonderful review of Bob's St.  Louis Oct 22nd show,
most of which I agree with. However, from row "S" which I guess is around 
row 19, Bob's voice was absolutely shot and unintelligible.  

Now I have seen Bob around 15 times, not a lot by many Dylan fan standards,
but enough to have a frame of reference.  This show was special for me
because I brought my 14 year old son Dylan, to his first Bob show. Yes,
I named my first son after Bob. My wife likes to remind me that I left her
in the hospital the night after my Dylan was born to go see Bob in concert.
Hey, I had the tickets for months what was I supposed to do?    So I'm not
a fly by night Dylan fan, and I feel qualified to say Bob's voice was
absolutely shot. I know the words to the songs, yet I could not
understand him. I felt bad for my son. After the show I asked my son 
Dylan, what he thought and all he had to say was" it was long". 

The set list was awesome, the theater was amazing, the duet with Elvis
was special, but Bob's voice was gone.

Mark Perry


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