Montreal, Quebec

Centre Bell

November 16, 2012

[Oscar Montes], [Joseph Curzi], [Bill White]

Review by Oscar Montes

After the NFL game in Buffalo I only slept like 3 hours! A taxi driver who
was supposed to pick me up at my hotel never arrived so I had to call for
another taxi. I finally took my bus to Toronto and then another one to
Montreal. I have to say this has been one of the most tiring trips I’ve
ever had, but hey, when I got to Montreal I knew a great Bob show was
waiting for me. I met my friend Tim from England at our hotel, had a
little talk and decided to skip Knopfler’s performance this night. Great
to see Sue and Jayne at the venue bar called “Le Cage”. I must say we all
had a wonderful pre-show time there. So good to see Susan & Al and Denise
before the show. Now Bob appeared with hat all the show, starting with a
good “I’ll be your baby tonight” and making everybody happy at Bell
Centre. A beautiful “Girl of the north country” was next with Mark playing
guitar on this one and on the following two songs: “Things have changed”
and “Tangled up in blue”. We had another “Early roman kings” which was
delivered so good and make people responded the same way. A beautiful
“Make you feel my love” was the highlight of the night for me, why? It’s
my favorite song from TOOM. Last time I’ve heard it live was back in 1999!
Tweedle dee & tweedle dum was not bad at all. “Desolation row” was one of
the highlights of the night, people really enthusiastic with this one.
“Highway 61” so much better and more powerful than Toronto’s. Another
highlight was “Forgetful heart”, the audience were quiet and respectful
while listening to it. Also a so much better “Thunder of the mountain” was
next and made some people dance.  “Thin man” as usual a permanent
highlight of last tours with Dylan playing beautifully his harp. “Rolling
stone” was the following tune of the night and everybody went crazy!
Lovely performance! “Watchtower” also so good and powerful. The usual
encore song was a good “Blowin’ in the wind”. It seemed for a while that
Bobby was coming for another encore but that didn’t happened! We had a
fabulous after-show party at a bar called Madison’s just across the street
from the venue. It was a pleasure to meet Mike Sutton from England.  Susan
& Al, Denise, Barbara, Jayne and Tim were also there. After this little
party, Tim and I decided to have another shot at a bar just across the
street from our hotel. When we entered this place a local band was playing
Bob’s “Sweet Marie”, then during the rest of the night they did some more
Dylan’s songs like “Queen Jane” and “Cold irons bound”. We just wanted a
shot but it became two or three more! We only slept like 3 hours and now
I’m on my way to Boston on a Greyhound bus. I’ll see my Dylan friends in
Boston again!

Oscar Montes 		 	   	


Review by Joseph Curzi

It's always a special day when Bob rolls into town and last night was no
exception , I guess.  And, the people he brings along are always a treat.
Mark Knoffler and crew were awesome and superb.  What a gentleman and
what a sound.  He knows how to use that "axe"'. Go out and get his new 
cd.  You are in for a treat.  With respect to Bob's show, my friend Mike
said it was one of the best shows he's ever seen.  He loved "Things have
Changed" with Mark Knoffler on guitar.  Myself I knew I wasn't going to
hear "Visions of Johanna" because he had just played it in Toronto, damn!
But, we did get "Desolation Row" and "Ballad of a thin man" Man, these
songs bring you back to your youth, when you were a kid playing the album
on a record player that was handed down to you.   With his Bolero hat Bob
was a replica of his "Rolling Thunder Revue" days (he looked great for a
71 year old) Do you believe it? Also, the new arrangements (with Bob on
grand  piano) , what a genius move! He plays the same songs but he
arranges them differently,  so that the fans who go to many tours (like
me) are never bored. That's to his credit!  I have to comment on his harp
playing.  Seriously, it was the best I've ever heard. What's going on?
This guy gets better with age (like a good bottle of wine) and his
piano playing sounded great. The "Jokermen", my name for his band,
they were spot on!  At one point, George and Tony were giggling to each
other like mischievous junior high students, but what beatsters they are. 
Seriously, if you are debating whether to go to one of his shows or not,
do not stall. Get a ticket pronto!  Now I understand those Bobcats who
follow the tour and go to several shows.  I am on such a high from this
concert that I would like to see the 4 or 5 remaining shows on this tour,
but I would probably end up with a divorce (although my wife loves him
also .  Thank you, Bob, for doing what you do, you don' t cease to
amaze.  Oh , Mitch, I know you were there, wasn't this show a blast. As
usual?  "The Jokermen" and Mark's band are superb to put it mildly!!!!
His poster says "'Don't you dare miss it" and you know what, listen to
him.  We are blessed to be living at the same time as Bob. He is the
"Mozart" and Beethoven of our "Post-Modern"'era. I know that you agree
Barry, and beautiful posters as usual.  And hello to Steve".  I 've been to 
many shows here and there and this is the first time that I write in these 
pages.  It is because last night's show gave me such a high that I can't 
get over it!!!! "Roll on Bob",  but come back soon. God bless you an us 



Review by Bill White

Before a surprisingly full Bell Centre in Montreal, Mark Knopfler and his
seven-man collection of ace multi-instrumentalists musically upstaged Bob
Dylan and his band of experimentalists.

The arena may not have been sold out but from the vantage point of a bar
across the street, we watched a massive number of last-mine walk-up ticket
seekers flocking to the box office and making deals with the numerous
scalpers who had been hawking their holdings since 4 pm, when we arrived
and found a choice parking spot a mere few steps from the front door.

Proof positive of such an attractive double bill in Montreal.

The show started bang on at 7:30 with Knopfler humbly ambling toward stage
centre with his now infamous red Fender Stratocaster. Instead of pumping
his fist in the air as on previous tours, he only needed to pluck a couple
of riffs to announce his unique presence to the roar of the audience. 
What followed was a mostly Irish/Scottish selection of unfamiliar but
exquisite songs with oddly familiar melodies. It was fantastic to hear
Knopfler in concert again - his playing sends chills up my spine every

From night to night on this tour, Knopfler's setlists vary slightly -
along the lines of Neil Young and Crazy Horse these days (we see Neil with
Patti Smith in Ottawa next Saturday!) - so it's no wonder the band is
tight. All the same, the thoughtfulness of the arrangements and the live
results were sublime and often jaw-dropping. You could close your eyes (if
you really wanted to) and imagine your own movie to go along with each

The third-last song in the set (Hill Famer's Blues?) featured an epic duet
between Scottish fiddler John McCusker and Madison, Wisconsin, double-bass
master Glen Worf that nearly brought the house down - twice! The standard
encore (So Far Away) almost predictably got the crowd on its feet,
satisfying the nostalgic craving for something - anything! - from the
back-catalogue. That track simultaneously brought back memories of Dire
Straits and did those memories away completely - such is the distance that
Knopfler has travelled musically since he closed up the Dire Straits shop
and moved on to greener if less commercially appealing fields of endeavor.

A scant 30 minutes after Knopfler's band of aces left the stage, I saw Stu
Kimball in back of stage left as a roadie handed him an acoustic guitar.
Then there was a loud "click" through the PA as said guitar jolted itself
into the PA system. In the darkness, with the crowd cheering in
anticipation, Stu started hammering away at an unrecognizable set of
chords. He was only getting revved up. 

Typically, Dylan's set was a wide-ranging affair, featuring mid-60s
classics. "Early Roman Kings" and "Forgetful Heart" were pleasant
surprises. Admittedly, "Kings" was nothing like the version on the new LP.
Knopfler is a stunning temporary addition to the band - and it was a
privilege to see and hear him jamming free-form with Dylan. As always, I
could have done without "Make You Feel My Love" but the crowd seemed to
like it a lot. (I'll likely have to suffer through Neil's "Born in Ontario
this coming Saturday. or maybe I'll go get beers instead)  

"Desolation Row" was spectacular - the best of the songs in the set.
"Blowin' in the Wind" positively glowed in its new arrangement with Bob on
grand piano. (Research indicates that just over 50 years ago - in July
1962 - Bob's version of a then brand-new Blowin' was recorded live in
Montreal at the long-since defunct Finjan Club)

However, comparing Knopfler's band with Dylan's is a nightmare for
Bob-philes. Bob's band is almost always either on the edge of genius or
completely at sea trying to follow the leader. Some of the versions of the
songs are great and the rest. well, frankly, it was a bit of a dog's

All too often, IMHO, the experiment just doesn't work: witness Donnie
Herron arching over his pedal steel, guitar or whatever, peering at Bob's
every move, trying desperately to figure out what to play next. He seemed
to get it right throughout. 

Kimball's cast way off to the left-hand side of the stage - out there in
the distance, in a way. As I recall, generally, his role was to strum that
acoustic and inaudibly at that. Not so long ago, his brilliant electric
guitar playing was front-and-centre in this band. Last night, at the Bell
Centre, when he finally had an electric guitar in hand, his riffs in
Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee were at least half a bar too damn late. What
the heck's goin' on? Was he fired and then asked to stick around for the
end of the tour? A lame-duck guitar ace?  Maddening..

Sexton, Recile and Garnier are happily in the pocket throughout. Often,
Sexton looked like he was having technical problems but he was pretty low
in the mix (another maddening aspect), so it was hard to figure out what
his deal was.

The other contrast between the two groups is that Knopfler's bunch have
fun, stepping out and about onstage, stomping their feet in time with
beat, etc. The gentlemen in Bob's gang are penned into their reserved
spaces. Only Bob moves around - and gingerly at that; but it was fun to
watch when he suddenly rose from his seat to pound out piano chords, or
feign boxing moves at centre stage, holding his vocal mike in one fist and
the harmonica mike in the other. Other elements on the plus side of the
ledger: I liked the sparse lighting - they've kept the light-stands raised
at haphazardly different heights onstage. The echo on Bob's voice for
"Ballad of Thin Man" worked for the most part. And Bob's voice is as
strong as it's ever been in the past dozen years or so.

Finally, there's the issue of boosting the star's performance in the audio
mix. In Knopfler's case, this works well. He often tones himself DOWN so
his guitar - sublime as it is - doesn't overpower the rest of the band. 
Dylan, on the other hand, lets it all hang out and the harmonica, in
particular, is deafeningly loud. 

Given our parking space, we were able to get from our seats some 20 rows
back on the floor, out of the building, into our vehicle and onto
Autoroute 720 in about 12 minutes. In the process, we passed a massive
trailer beside the Bell Centre that had a good dozen massive electrical
cables plugged into it. I suspect the show was recorded but if any of that
ever sees the light of day, it's anybody's guess. Knopfler's entire set,
"Desolation Row" and "Blowin' In The Wind" deserve the exposure. 

And again, for the record, happy 50th, Julie!


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