Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Theatre

October 28, 2007

[Dan Chester], [Dave Moyer], [Tim MacNamara]

Review by Dan Chester

Rainy Day: granted just a warmup, pine for the days of "Roving Gambler"
Don't Think Twice: sweet version, any tune involving the standup bass
stands enhanced Tom Thumb's Blues: really different arrangement, couldn't
quite place the title from the snatches of lyrics caught, overall it
didn't happen Love Sick: not a fan yet this is where an evening of strong
singing took off, not won over yet well done Levee Gonna Break: wow,
interesting on the album, tonight he/they found a vein and it was the mine
that almost  broke, this what was hummed in the post-show glow Blind
Willie: they do this well Stuck Inside: not rocking like the GESmith days
yet a faithful/fun version When the Deal Goes Down: what this band does
well, sung well 'Til I Fell: not a fan, turned sorta bluesy, filler
(especially when one thinks of all his other possibilities) Workingman's
Blues: nectar version of a song that keeps growing on the listener and
that now stands with Floater and Spirit on the Water and Sugar Baby as the
creme de la gems of the last couple albums, seems to truly enjoy singing
it Highway 61: ratcheted up a little late, simmering nicely by the end
Nettie Moore: another one slowly earning it's space in the canon, some
great lines delivered well, what was hummed upon waking the next day
Summer Days: hold off on the worn-out-merchandise truck for now, really
rocked, kudos to the band for the reinvigoration Ballad of a Thin Man: not
really a fan, strong, strong version, he found a fresh, captivating
phrasing, showcasing his Artistry Thunder: shouldn't have taken a break,
singing fell off a bit, rocked solid, crowd really dug it Blowin':
treat-mendous arrangement with the violin/guitars/keys almost sounding
like horns, had a Mayberry Strut feel if that can be a description Call it
a great show. Hats off to ChiTown for their Theatre ( I could study it's
ornate-ness during "'Til I Fell"). Band had quality night. The singing,
for whatever reasons, was stellar. Truly appreciate the experience.


Review by Dave Moyer

Bob's management company very cleverly held out on announcing the 
Chicago shows until after a friend of mine relented and bought tickets to 
the Bloomington show on the 20th.  A couple weeks back my oldest son 
made the plea to see Bob in Chicago.  Tickets were still available, and 
naturally I relented.

What a great decision that was.  Bloomington was, in my opinion, the 
worst of the 25 or so shows I have seen.  Last night's show was very 
strong.  My faith in humanity is now restored.

Bloomington was rather uninspired, but mostly I attribute my 
disappointment to the set list, which I would describe as a nightmare.  
When the Deal Goes Down, Spirit on the Water, and a poorly delivered 
Workingman's Blues #2 and 'Til I Fell in Love with You, combined with 
an All Along the Watchtower that couldn't get off the ground, and you 
have five out of the 16 songs right there.  A couple highlights along the 
way just weren't enough this time.

Fast forward to last night.  Was I watching the same performer?

First off, kudos to both Amos Lee and Elvis Costello.  Amos is a real up 
and comer, and Elvis was enjoyable as well.

And now, to the main course.  Often it seems to take a few numbers 
for the show to take off, but my compliments to the chef.  This show 
was solid start to finish.  I would suggest the highlights were Just Like 
Tom Thumb's Blues and Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues 
Again.  (Another note from Bloomington:  Rainy Day Women #12 and 
35, this night's opener, was the only Blonde on Blonde song the entire 
evening, perhaps a partial explanation right there of that show's 
shortcomings). Thunder on the Mountain is always enjoyable, but this 
time many of the other standard fares had noticeable life, and Bob 
seemed to trust his voice and pull off his intentions much, much more 
effectively.  Working Man's was delivered the best I have heard; a 
seemingly revamped 'Til I Fell in Love with You worked, a blistering 
Summer Days and Highway 61 Revisited were played with intention; 
and even When the Deal Goes Down, which I thought should be 
relegated to the file the reads, "Songs Never to Be Performed Live," 
was enjoyable and well-received by the audience.  When the Levee 
Breaks was strong, as it was in Bloomington, Love Sick was good, 
Nettie Moore was well done, and Blind Willie McTell was our nugget 
for the evening.

There was simply nothing to nitpick.  It was a completely enjoyable 
show all the way through.  On the way back to the train, a young girl 
said, "I like the songs he played."  I turned around and asked, "Have you 
seen him before."  She said, "No, this was our first time."  Another older 
couple next to me said, "Really, your first time."  I extended my hand to 
both her and her presumed boyfriend and said, "Welcome to the club."  
After a pause, I said, "You'll be back," and she nodded, "I sure hope so." 

One question for Mayor Daley.  Could we get a sports bar or pizza joint or 
something near the Theater District to supplement the ample number of 
McDonald's, Potbelly's, and Dunkin' Donuts?       


Comments by Tim MacNamara

My review is different.  It concerns the unfortunate atmosphere frequently
surrounding Bob in concert.  

The usher told me and the guy next to me to sit down several times.  The
usher!  The (old) man in front of us told me and the guy next to me to be
quiet.  You can't stand?  You can't be happy?  You can't feel the music? 
I don't understand.  It's not the opera.  It's not Shakespeare.  It's not
the library.  Is it possible I am too young, at 41!, to see Bob in
concert?  The crowd makes or breaks Bob's concerts.  This time, they
ruined it.  Stand up.  Let loose.  It's Bob - live in concert.  


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