Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Theatre

October 29, 2007

[Jeremy Quinn], [Jim Friestad ], [Marsh Birchard]

Review by Jeremy Quinn

Last night's delightful Dylan show was my first of the year and his last.
Super to see him back on the guitar, looking out from under the brim of a
wide, Rolling Thunder-era hat; he has a way of noodling & ambling around
the melody - very harmonica-like - during his solos that I could listen to
all night - particularly effective on the mellow, very country 'I'll Be
Your Baby Tonight'.  'You're a Big Girl Now', back on keyboard, was a real
treat, beautifully sung (especially the ascending cry, "I know where I can
find you/in somebody's room!") with a few new lyrics and cries of 'We love
you Bobby!' from the audience.  Loud shouts from the crowd at the end of
'Spirit on the Water'; "you think I'm over the hill/you think I'm past my
prime/let me see what you've got", as Bob sang "you've" with an edgy
emphasis not on the record, almost a dare.  Some new lyrics for
'Workingman's Blues #2' as well, referring to twilight on midsummer's eve,
and his not believing folks would want him around. . . a measured
performance that opened into the heart of the evening, with a terrific
'Things Have Changed', the best 'Under the Red Sky' I've ever heard (very
complete, very moving and fun; Bob's voice in great form)  and an 'Aint
Talkin' with a lively beat, like clicking train wheels, and staccato
fiddle from Donnie which gave the song a fresh and compelling drive.  A
warm feeling during 'I Shall Be Released', with Elvis and Amos taking
turns with the stanzas, and a solid, rockin' finish.  His voice has become
a pool of water, and he has total control of how much light gets in - it
is sometimes clear, sometimes murky, but always in motion.  To more cries
of 'We love you, Bob!' after introducing the band, and as if she were one
of them, he said, ". . .and here's a woman in front who's been working
with her cell phone camera all night - man, she ain't seen or heard
nothin'!"  From the line-up, at the standing ovation, he shuffled to the
front of the stage at the end to receive a bouquet of yellow roses, then a
quick wave and one more tip of the hat.  Until next year -"

Jeremy Quinn
Chicago, Illinois


Review by Jim Friestad

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good, Amos Lee and Elvis Costello. 

Amos Lee kicks serious butt and was the most professional part of the 
10/29/07 concert. His group was tight and loud. I've been to many 
concerts and those guys can stand up to anything. What a cool lead guitar 
player he's got! And awesome rhythm section and keyboard kick ass dude! 
They simply kicked my butt.

The last time I saw Elvis was 1977 or 8 in Schaumburg at Beginnings. It 
was his first tour of the U.S. with the Attractions and I still have the 
pictures. Elvis shows he's the real deal and to this day he can stand and 
deliver with the best of them. A real pro. His songs dealt with great 
issues of today, mainly a country at war, mostly with itself. He ended 
singing straight to the crowd away from the mic, truly stirring.

The Bad and the Ugly,

Bob needs a fresh band I think. He's got a great rhythm section and the 
others need to find something else to do. Several miss cues. At one point
Stu Kimball stopped playing during 'Like A Rolling Stone' and Bob was 
turning around towards him like, 'Hey, where's that other guy I'm paying
to play guitar?'. Why do they put one guitar player on opposite sides of the 
stage, do the guys hate each other? Stu played awesome and the other 
guy stunk, accept when he played slide or the jazzy songs. He was full blast 
playing leads that a three year old could have played! Time for Denny to 
take a break, but if Stu's not going to play sometimes maybe he doesn't 
want to be there either. 

There was also a serious battle going on at stage right or left as you look at 
the stage. Two girls decided to stand the entire concert blocking the view 
of several rows of people who continually yelled at them to sit down, even 
during slow songs. Security was two Jabba the Huts sitting on the stairs 
whose only moves were to flash flashlights at people. Security was 
overwhelmed at the end when everyone came down the isles for 
up-close looks.

At the end Bob did not seem pleased. A very firm scowl was all I could see.  
Hope he takes some action on his band situation.

Jim Friestad
Chicago, IL


Review by Marsh Birchard

50th bday.  My beloved Nancy standing next to me.  She's treated me  to a
Chicagotecture tour with this night of Bob the capper on a  wonderful
first visit to the Windy City that was neither windy nor  tore me to

Elvis and Amos in support.  Now how Talmudic is that?  Bob wearing  
the wide brimmed hat that signifies the righteous.  Or shields the  
eyes of the rounder?

Regardless, we are In the city of Carl Sandburg, and in the presence  of
another Great American Poet.  Emphasis on Great, American, and  Poet. 
Isn't there a story about young Bob knocking on Sandburg's  door? Turned

It's the Bob Dylan Show, emphasis on Show and he is the conductor.  
Trashed voice?  Yes.  A 70 date tour takes its toll, I think that was  the
overriding impression I was left with.  But with galvanizing  opening
acts; a band that is so exquisite it rivals the band Willie  put together
for the Songs of Cindy Walker; and playing in a hall  that must be
unrivalled in American theatres, Bob does it up right.

Cats In The Well. My dear departed Jamie characterized this as an  
anti-war song. I hear it through his ears.   "the world is being  
slaughtered and it's such a terrible disgrace".  It's the warmup -- a 
little muddy as Bob gets the throat limbered -- but with the twice 
repeated lines, it gives the audience a chance to hear an obscure  song
from an under appreciated album.   Lay Lady Lay is interminable  but gives
the audience his only ever top ten hit.   " you can eat  your cake and
have it too".   Those here to repeat the past,   commune.  I sit.  I'll Be
Yr Baby Tonight, gives the band a chance to  warm up its country swing jam
band chops. Emphasis on warm-up.  Bob  is indecipherable on this one and
bad acoustics can't be blamed.  I'm  getting weary.  And the night is
young.  Oh me of little faith.

I'm talkin to myself in a monologue.  Jamie and I debated and never 
resolved our divergent interpretations of Bob.  Jamie heard him 
unequivocally as a prophet, with every song parsed through the  biblical
prophetic tradition he saw Bob consciously working within.   I, brother of
a poet, am more amenable to the song and dance man  side.    The songs
stand alone and complete unto themselves.  They  mean what they mean. Bob
seems to order his shows to serve those two  audiences.  Either yr there
for the legend and the entertainment and  the songs' meanings are elusive
and shifting, or yr there to hear The  Word, and you come with knowledge
of the body of work and a set of  preferred interpretations for each song.
 But I digress.

Formalities over.  You're A Big Girl Now.  Variant lyric: "I can  
change I swear / I done that before / Think about it / I won't ask  
you anymore."  Every word distinct and performed with care.  "Love is  so
simple to quote a phrase / you've known it all the time / I'm  learnin it
these days."  I sing to her beside me.  Now he's dropping  it into

These are the centrepiece songs:

Rolling and Tumblin'. Perfect blues in this town.  Lethal bottleneck  from
Denny. Spirit on the Water.  This is what I came for. A nice sounding
hall,  perfectly pitched playing, loose and alive. Cry A While. Chugs
along.  More blues.  "could be your funeral my  trial" .  Sonny Boy smiles
from the rafters. Workingmans Blues #2.  Another variant lyric:  "if I
told you my  whole story you'd weep..." "sometimes I find it hard to
believe  someone would kick me when I'm down."

The heart of the order.  All sung with presence, conviction and  
energy.  But energy flags.  Motor's starting to stall.

To my ears he slumps through a mangled Things Have Changed.  The  
invocation of ennui seems to drag this one down.   I think I heard  
someone yell Judas.  Irrelevant now as it was then.   Under the Red  Sky,
an unexpected treat.  Sung well. Followed by a workingman's  version of
Highway 61.  Then the ambitious one for tonight.  Ain't  Talkin.  But, I'm
afraid he's short on gas and it kind of trudges.   Summer Days, like a
star athlete's jersey number, should have been  retired after the
scorching Charlie Sexton gave it every night a few  years back.

After that we're into the legends show.  "You're invisible / you've  got
no secrets /  to conceal " rang out in the gathering dusk.  Elvis  and
Amos return for the improvised I Shall Be Released. Elvis sings, 
"Standing next to me / In this lonely crowd / Is a man who swears  he's
not to blame. Second encore: Thunder does.  All Along The  Watchtower. 
The joker or the thief? Ever the plowman.  Time for the  winter break. 
Goodnight my love / May the lord have mercy  / on us all.

Marsh Birchard


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