Detroit, Michigan

Fox Theatre

November 13, 2012

[Bill Royaloak], [Christopher Oxie], [Don Ely]

Review by Bill Royaloak

"Pay in Blood" thank you Bob and his Band. Yes we were the chosen ones to
hear a most fluid track live from "Tempest" last night at the 4500+ seat
Fox in Motown.  It was surreal, suddenly a steel run and tada it's live
folks! I still have the hair standing on my neck! This really happened.

That was the ground zero of a fabulous performance 1st by Mark Knopfler's
band and then Bob and that crack collection of talented players he drives
around with. 

The day was ominous, chilly and nothing shining...typical November when
the gales come early...Knopfler emerged with the perfect sound for this
late autumn season like steam off the Great Lakes. Lots of bells, whistles
and fiddles, awesome honky tonk piano, mandolin, of course the gushing
guitars and so much more....definitely worth checking out. There were
times during his set that invoked memories of The Band, Dire Straits and
the sounds of Rob Roy (the movie).  Just a fantastic sound from eight
players. Bob always brings so much with his shows...Leon, Elvis,
Mark...these are priceless shows!

Then after a beer in the lobby I got my 1st row balcony seat, kiddie
corner from Bob's piano ( great view, great sound)...the band shows up
with IBYBT casually strolling on stage and the mood is set for kind of a
mellow night worth lots of listening in this grand old theater (think a
bit larger version of Bob's HS auditorium in Hibbing). The crowd was full
and appreciative, subdued content to hear our friends play their hearts
out. And they did! Brightening up this dreary night, a Tuesday no less.
Really glad they changed venues from 20k seat Palace to more intimate Fox

The song list was well balanced and very enjoyable. Great singing, players
all in sync pretty much, piano leading the way, great arrangements. The
familiar obligatory home stretch flew by especially after hearing "Pay in
Blood".  I love all the later records so I shouted "Thanks Bob!" after
PIB, love the new stuff! What a night!

Thank you Mark, your band and Bob and your band for ending the year on a
very cool bunch of notes! Love Theme Time Radio (wanna hear Bob talk? He
talks allot on BDTTRH...tune in)!

Bill Royaloak


Review by Christopher Oxie

It was a  brisk November evening as we stepped out of the car in front of
the 90 year old Fox Theater.  I was privileged to spend another remarkable
evening with the renowned Dr. Robert Schuler.  As time goes on, there are
few things in life that equal what this man has accomplished and to spend
even a few minutes with him makes you a better person.  As it has been
these last few years, we had just arrived from an overseas engagement
where Dr. Schuler accepted The Queen's Award for Exceptional Service.  We
were joined by The Duchess Susan, who's corsage was led by the sparking
Lady Amy.  As we arrived, the ushers greeted the good doctor and brought
us to our Dr. Schuler's private table on the second floor.  After an
exceptional meal, we made our way to our balcony seats for the opening act
Mark Knopfler.  I am not sure why he was chosen to play on this particular
tour but it is safe to say that the will never be back to Detroit.  To
hear him play was like hearing the soundtrack to Braveheart and Titanic
played at the same time.  This is not 15th century Scotland and that type
of music was so boring to listen to, it was like having a sharp stick in
your eye for an hour.  A rather long set change happened, giving the crowd
a rare glimpse to the loading area behind the stage.  

Dylan and the band strolled on to the dark stage unannounced and checked
their instruments.  Dylan was dressed in a black suit, with a red stripe
down the side of his pants, but he was not wearing his signature hat.  No
sign of his Academy Award.  The stage was sparse with only 4 can lights
behind the band and a large spot light on the floor directly behind Dylan.
 The band was at an angle to Dylan as he was off to one side with his
keyboard and grand piano to his right. 

1. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - Nothing remarkable about this one.  It was
the first indication that Dylan was in a good mood and was singing clearer
than I've heard him in recent years.

2.  Don't Think Twice It's Alright - Dylan pulled out his harmonica for
the first time.  Band was joined by Mark Knopfler who just seemed to
appear with no introduction or notice from the crowd.  His strange way of
finger picking his guitar was very loud in the mix.

3.  Things Have Changed - A real uptempo treat.  Dylan was at center
stage, very loose and almost, dare I say, "head-banging."  He was even ad
libbing lines:  "...the next 60 seconds can feel like an eternity...and
that's a mighty long time!"  Far superior to the horrific version played
in August 2011 at Meadowbrook.

4.  Tangled up In Blue - Dylan was a bit out of sorts during this song. 
The mic he uses when he plays harmonica dropped to the floor.  The crew
rushed up behind him but he never stepped away from it.  Eventually, he
reached down and picked it up himself, to the astonishment of all around

5.  Beyond Here LIes Nothing - First time Dylan played the grand piano. 
Mark Knopfler was still on guitar and walked off, to no applause or
mention by Dylan at the end of the song.  Nothing special about this song,
but it did have a very Latin flavor to it.

6.  A Hard Rain a Gonna Fall - Again at the grand piano.  Nothing new
about the arrangement.

7.  Pay In Blood - Another worldwide premiere for Detroit.  The last one
was "Get Out of Denver" back in 2004.  The absolute highlight of the show.
 It was played very well and sounded just like the record.  Dylan was
still in very fine vocal shape, with some wolf man thrown in here and
there.  Played on the grand piano.

8.  Love Sick - Another unexpected song.  A fan yelled out a request
before the band started playing.  Dylan laughed and said "we'll play that
one later."  

9.  Highway 61 - This is when the long time fans began to get their
belongings in order.  Played at the grand piano, it was the usual
arrangement.  Stu Kimball took the leads on this one.

10.  Mississippi - Another unusual selection and very well performed.  A
180 degree improvement from the disastrous performance debut at
Meadowbrook in 2011.  Charlie took the leads on this one.

11.  Thunder On the Mountain - I kept looking for the police to see if
they were going to arrest Dylan for subjecting his fans to this song
again.  The "hairy one eyed king" logo made its first appearance.  It is
such a horrible song, I cannot mention anything more.  

12.  Ballad of a Thin Man - Another highlight of the show.  The lights on
the stage, and Dylan's eerie presence made this a show stopper.  It if it
had not been for Pay in Blood, this would have taken the house down. 
Dylan grabbed his hat, turned up the echo and really brought it home. 
Just think evil carnival barker and you will sense what it was like....

13.  Like a Rolling Stone - Nothing new.  The typical "Thank you
friends...I'd like to introduce my band right now..."

14.  All Along the Watchtower - played at the grand piano, it was a very
fast arrangement.  Not like they were trying to get off the stage, but a
rolling version that stood up amongst the other songs of the evening. 
Band line up for a 10 second acknowledgement from the crowd.

15.  Blowin in the Wind - Performed at a lower tempo than most in the
audience were used to, it was also in line with the rest of the evening. 
A quick bow and off they went.

Another enjoyable evening at the Fox Theater.  The move from The Palace
was maybe the best call of the year.  While the Fox was at three quarter
full (and that's being generous), The Palace would have seemed to be
completely empty.  Hopefully, Dylan will make his way back to Detroit,
another residency at the Fillmore would be in order, very soon.


Review by Don Ely

The advertisement read, and I paraphrase, " Bob Dylan will perform his
greatest hits along with songs from his new album, Tempest "

Tonight's show was originally booked at the basketball arena that is the
Palace of Auburn Hills, but that was apparently a little too ambitious for
the denizens of Motortown, as the venue was changed to the much cozier Fox
Theater due presumably to lack of ticket sales. I was actually looking
forward to the suburban Palace date as it's much closer to home, but made
the trek down to the heart of the Gritty City with just as much
anticipation in my veins. And why wouldn't I? The Fox is the most
exquisite theater I've ever had the pleasure of having patronized,
trumping even the Auditorium in Chicago or the Midland in Kansas City. It
is the rarest cut among the diamond movie palaces of the 1920's, polished
up and glittering for the next century to marvel at it's wonders. One
could stare into the glowing red eyes of those gilded elephants all night,
or at the multi-colored ball that hangs high above the floor, and be
transfixed and fully entertained for the evening. My very first experience
at the Fox was when I saw R.E.M. / The Replacements / The Three o'Clock in
1985; the place was a beauty then, but in the intervening years owner Mike
Ilitch, the heart and soul of Detroit business, has tweaked it into a
truly World Class venue. And you wouldn't want to throw basketballs around
the might break something!

Mark Knopfler and his eight-piece band took the stage and proceeded to
dazzle the audience as they had last night in Grand Rapids. The setlist
was the same excepting possibly one number where the drummer switched to
washboard and I believe it was the flute player who jumped behind the kit.
The sound was clearer and more defined than at Van Andel, and here I was
seated in the top row of the third balcony! To get to my seat I rode an
elevator operated by an attendant, another tip o' the hat to a more formal
era long since passed. That was a first for me; I never knew public
elevators existed at the Fox Theater. I've really become a fan of Knopfler
and his post-Dire Straits work over these two nights, and would love to
see him again as top bill of his own concert. If there's a minor criticism
it's the lack of early Dire Straits material in the set; not necessarily
the big hits, but something like " Water Of Love " would be golden in the
hands of this current band. Knopfler's certainly one of the best opening
acts Bob Dylan has ever taken on the road, and really I view this as a
tour of co-headliners; it's that strong a bill. Between sets I wandered
around the theater and grabbed a bottled water for the duration. Spotted
in a stairwell was Mike From Ferndale, who, as he succinctly phrased it,
was seated in the " smokers' section ". 

I could hear Stu Kimball strumming the opening notes as Bob Dylan and His
Band walked on, so I hustled back in time for " I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
". Once again Mark Knopfler joined in on the next four songs, though I
don't remember seeing him on " Don't Think Twice, It's All Right ". With
his white hair and light-colored clothing he may have just blended into
the lights and instruments from a distance. " Things Have Changed " and "
Tangled Up In Blue " were extra tasty for numbers played so frequently,
and " Beyond Here Lies Nothin' " brings a different sort of vibe, a nice
contrast stylistically and thematically to the songs played so far. The
former Dylan sideman's stint concluded, the rest of the musicians carried
on with " A Hard Rain's A-gonna Fall ". The piano gives Bob another weapon
at his disposal, but while I prefer piano to synthetic keyboard most any
day, he still plays his share of off-key strokes that lessens the
relevance of whatever his choice of keyboard. Then, to my absolute
astonishment, for only the third time this entire tour Bob bestowed upon
his audience a World Premiere from his spanking-new album of disaster
songs and murder ballads, Tempest! One of the best ones, too, in " Pay In
Blood ", sounding great to my ears and so familiar, like the band had been
playing it for years. Why Bob chose to unveil it before our crowd one can
only imagine... perhaps because there were more partisans in this
virtually sold-out downsized tour stop, or due to his pleasure at being
able to play a gorgeous theater amid all the austere sporting halls.
Whatever the reason I was thrilled to get it, though crowd response was
about the same as after any other song. This was followed by what I would
deem the only misfire of the night: " Love Sick " requires that creepy
organ cheese to be effective. Without it, it's just another number. Where
are you now, Augie Meyers?

From there the set duplicated the previous night's roster. Charlie Sexton
played some nice leads on " All Along The Watchtower ", as this
arrangement doesn't ape Jimi Hendrix in the least. And while the
definitive full-band rendition of " Blowin' In The Wind " will for me
forever be the Larry Campbell / Charlie Sexton outings of 1999 - 2002, how
many times will we get to witness Bob Dylan pose those plaintive
questions? Tonight's was a timeless performance taking place on a stage
that transcends all time, as only The Master's Apprentice ( Bob Dylan's
not God, after all ) could deliver it. In the word of UK Boblinks
correspondent Trevor Townson.. " Brilliant! " the end of another
year, Blessings to Bobcats the world over, and here's looking forward to
many more adventures in 2013!

Don Ely
The Rochester Travellin' Man     


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