Boston, Massachusetts

Orpheum Theatre

November 14, 2014

[Francis King]

Review by Francis King

I first heard Bob Dylan sometime in 1963. My parents were, among other
things, folk music enthusiasts. OnSaturday mornings, the living room was
usually filled with the sound from WBAIplaying the likes of Joan Baez,
Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, et al. But then, there was this
other guy, Bob Dylan, with a strange voice andlyrics that no one else
could come close to in their songs. Every time hecame on the radio, we
were mesmerized.

I was seven years old then. Dylan was 21, but,hearing that voice, I
thought I was listening to some weathered old man. A couple of years
later, my father showed me a photo of a young man witha lot of hair and
sunglasses. That's Bob Dylan? I wassurprised.

It's now 51years later. As the song says,"It's not dark yet, but it's
getttin' there." Bob Dylan has nowbecome the weathered old man I thought I
was hearing back in 1963, and a lot ofwater has gone under the bridge.
Throughout the triumphs and tragedies,joys and sorrows, successes and
failures of my own 58 years, his voice, wordsand music have been my sure
and steadfast companion.

On November 14, 2014, I attended my 55th BobDylan concert, this time in
Boston. He wasn't playing anywhere near Nashvillethis tour, so my wife
(who puts up with my obsession like a trooper) and Idecided to make a
weekend of it in Bean Town.

Of course, we knew the set list going in, andI'd heard enough live
recordings over the past year, so there was no element ofsurprise.... Just
the delight of getting to experience this show in person.

At 73, Dylan demonstrates what it means to agegracefully. His current mode
of performance compliments where he is atthis point in life. He is
obviously satisfied and comfortable with his21st Century material, which
dominates his current program, and is well suitedto the limitations of his
aging, but still powerful, vocal delivery. (Andconsider this: who else
among his peers from the 60's and 70's can get on stagenow and perform a
19 song show that includes 12 very good ones writtenafter the year 2000?
As a songwriter, this man still has it.)

Dylan's longtime band is flawlessly attuned tohis music and performance
style. The show comes across like a well-rehearsed play. Everyone is in
character, and knows exactly what to doand when. "Memorize these rhymes
and remember these lines whileyou're out there walkin' to and fro." They
have it down, moving seamlesslyfrom genre to genre (blues, swing,
bluegrass, waltz..... this is decidedly nota rock 'n roll show, and the
band functions as a distinct musical unit; no bigsolos, the center of
attention is Dylan at all times).

The songs from "Tempest" are decidedlybetter live than on the studio
recording (in particular, because Dylan isactually singing the words, not
barking and growling them).Highlights, for me, were "Duquesne Whistle,"
"Pay inBlood," "She Belongs to Me," "Tangled Up in Blue,"Simple Twist of
Fate" "Spirit On The Water'," "ForgetfulHeart,".... Well, heck, the whole
show was a highlight!

There was one surprise. I knew he wasgoing to do "Stay With Me" as the
final encore, and I was expectingto be disappointed. I was really hoping
he'd switch back to"Watchtower" (even though I'd seen him do it countless
times). But, the Sinatra tune was actually a delightfully poignant ending.
Ittook guts for him to attempt that song. No, it wouldn't have turned
achair on "The Voice," but for me, Bob Dylan's is still the voice. There
will never be another like it.


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