Boston, Massachusetts

Wang Theatre

November 13, 2009

[Larry Fishman], [Jimmy]

Review by Larry Fishman

The Wang Theatre is a beautifully appointed, grand theatre in what  
remains of the old Boston Theatre district.   I may be wrong, but I  
don't think Bob has played here since Rolling Thunder back when it  
was called the Music Hall.  The place named for Wang Laboratories  
which was a one time powerhouse in Word Processing and  
Microcomputers.    Dr. Wang gave a pile of money to get the space  
refurbished before his company went belly up in the early 90's.   
Anyways, the place is gorgeous with painted ceilings, gold leaf  
details, clean bathroom, polite ushers and marble statues.

There's been plenty of buzz and discussion on Charlie Sexton's  
arrival.  I saw a bunch of those Larry Campbell/Charlie Sexton twin  
gun shows and love them as much as the next Bobcat.  I always felt  
that Zim held him back a little.  My memory is that Campbell or even  
Bob took the solos and Charlie was primarily on rhythm.  Well the  
times they are a changin' and this is Charlie Sexton's band.  I don't  
think there has been a guitarist with both the stage presence and the  
musical presence since GE Smith.  Charlie's one charismatic dude.  He  
struts, glides, sashays and then gets down on one knee; he slings the  
guitar around and commands alot of attention.  He pushes the envelope  
and pushes Bob - there is alot of interplay, energy and chemistry  
between the two,  Stationed next to each other, playing side by side,  
it's cool to see him the confidence and rapport-between them.  The  
rest of the band seemed to take a few steps back. Tony Garnier, still  
in his 2 sizes too large suit, stood to rear, Donnie Herron situated  
in his usual chair directly behind Bob and hometown hero Stu Kimball  
now positioned far to Bob's right.

The crowd is the usual Dylan crowd maybe a bit older.  It was an  
enthusiastic group that I could see, lots of dancing, shouts, yelps  
and applause for lines.  Many like me seemed geared up for a weekend  
of shows with our favorite Christmas Crooner.   The pre show music  
was soft Diner 60's rock, the limping roadie, the plain stage  
setting, the lit drum kit, stand up base on it's side, keyboard,  
Oscar statue, Bob emerges with black hat, black suit, lime green  
shirt...ahh all's right in the world.  Another Dylan show;

1.  Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat.  The night gets launched with this  
rocker a good tune to clear out the cobwebs in Bob's voice.   Swaying  
and bobbing behind the keyboards, an upbeat start.

2. Girl from The North Country.  Stars are projected upon the  
backdrop, the old fairytale lullaby arrangement from the last few  
tours gets dropped and replaced with a straighter, simpler version.   
Bob playing guitar for the first and only time on the night trading  
solos with Sexton.

3.  Beyond Here Lies Nothing.  A fun and snappy tune with Donnie  
Heron on trumpet, it's got a terrific bordello vibe. Loved it, thank  

4. Just Like A Woman.  A rich, full arrangement with the crowd  
roaring it's approval.  An unexpected twist as a nice organ solo  
subsitituted in the place that we usually get harp.  It was a nice  
take, but the show didn't really ignite until...

5.  High Water.   Not sure that I can really express how much the  
performance of this song moved me.  As it began, Bob jumped to the  
center of the stage, to sing with a standing microphone.   He held  
another mic in one of his hands for his harp.     The song just  
cooked.   And Bob danced.  Danced!,   And Swayed.  Channelling  the  
energy -- It was pure Joy.   Beauty and honesty revealed.  I was  
overwhelmed, I was laughing, I was grooving.  Holy shit!  Bob Dylan  
is dancing on stage.   Amazing, one of those performances I'll never  

6. I Feel A Change Comin'  On.  Back behind the keyboard, the ship is  
now sailing and we get a rarely performed tune faithfully performed.   
He took his first proper harp solo of the night.

7. Cold Irons Bound. Back to the center stage microphone for a taut,  
mature, confident reworking.  Previous versions seemed a bit non  
descript if not swampy, this was hard, tight and focused.

8. Spirit On the Water.   Time to change pace and slow down, the  
crowd responding immediatly once recognizing the tune. And the great  
call and response for the "over the Hill" and "past my prime" stuff  
is always a highlight, love that.

9.  Honest With Me.  There are a handful of songs that I just don't  
need to hear again and I would put this squarely on that list.  I was  
sitting comfortably, nodding along when mid song it just heated up.   
Sexton took over and really lit a fire and turned the knob to 11.    
It started to rip and became a rocking wonder.

10.  Workingman's Blues #2  Count me in the camp that feels that any  
song with the word "proletariat" in it is good enough one.  A sweet,  
bit perfect take on this wondrous meloncholy gem.

11.  Highway 61 Revisited  Time to rock some more with Bob and  
Charlie channelling Michael Bloomfield and Buddy Guy

12.  Ain't Talkin'  The stage lights darken and Bob takes on another  
wierd, strange journey through the backwoods and the big city.   
Sexton adding nuanced archapelos of sound as Zimmy narrates.

13.  Thunder on the Mountain.  This one seems to be a crowd pleaser,  
but having heard the tune on the last 250 bootlegs I could think of a  
few others that  I would rather hear if he asked me.

14. Ballad of A Thin Man.  Performed hard & Loud, more like the Band  
'66 versions than anything else.  Lots of fun with again our favorite  
former DJ returning to Center stage.

15.  Like A Rolling Stone.   This version performed in it's standard  
crowd pleasing, rise to your feet, lift your arms and sing along way  
- maybe a touch faster than the mid tempo versions of recent years.

16. Jolene   A delightful take after the band introductions.  It's a  
minor work, but still an enjoyable one.  I'll take it as long as he  
writes it on the setlist.

17  All Along The Watchtower.   As always a great way to end the  
night and jeez he even let Stu take a solo.  Maybe Bob's weakest  
vocal of the night as he fell into that upsinging, sing song style,  
but the boys in the band carried the day.

What can I say, it was a strong night and I had alot of fun.  I've  
got two more nights of music to look forward to.  I can't wait.

Larry Fishman


Review by Jimmy

Here's a "review" I sent to my teacher who loves Bob Dylan and teaches 
a class on him in high school. He encouraged me to send this to this 
website as it's the first time I've seen Bob Dylan live...
The show was great tonight. After listening to mostly studio recordings 
of Dylan, I wouldn't have expected the style in which Bob and Charlie 
Sexton played (also the backup guitarist was really good too). Charlie 
Sexton is a great guitar player and I'm sure he could play some great 
blues in a style like Stevie Ray Vaughn or Buddy Guy, but the style in 
which he played suited Dylan's music and I like the blues format in which 
Dylan plays these days. 
I was lucky enough to get a few songs off Blonde on Blonde (Note: I'm 
currently working on an "expertise" project on this album) played live in 
a completely different style than studio versions. The opening with 
"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" was awesome and a few of my favorites from 
Dylan (as far as I've ventured into his music) were played such as 
Workingman's Blues #2, Highway 61 and Ballad of a Thin Man (which 
was a great version and good song to break on before the encore). 
They played a really nice version of Watchtower too. As I said, Charlie 
Sexton can play and he made some of the songs I didn't know all the 
more interesting with blues fashion. I also noticed, not only in this show, 
but on all live recordings of Bob that he sings the lyrics the way he wants 
to and I haven't studied different live versions of each song but I'd guess 
he just sings it however he wants on the spot, which probably keeps him 
from going completely mad from playing the same thing over and over 
again.   Bob surprised me in weird ways, but I guess that's expected. For 
instance, I imagined Bob to just sing his songs, pretty much still, and then 
leave. He does really awkward hand expressions and stances. I don't know 
what it is, I just found it amusingly odd. He also dances like an old man at 
his piano, probably because he is an old man. Another thing I found 
amusing was when I was seated, an usher of the theatre went around to 
each section and told people not to talk during the show or else Bob 
might walk off.   It was a fun time and I hope he lives up to the hype of 
"always being better the 2nd night."


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