Reviews
Baltimore, Maryland
Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

November 24, 2023

[Barry Gloffke], [David Mendick], [Sergi Fabregat]

Review by Barry Gloffke


This was the penultimate show on my itinerary for the 2023 leg of the
Rough and Rowdy Ways Tour... number 14 of 15. Last stop, Baltimore, MD for
two weekend shows. I've never been to Baltimore, and probably never will
again, unless Bob returns. It was a four-hour car ride from my home in
NYC. I arrived early to get a feel for the area. Parked in the nearest
garage, found a place to eat, then waited for the doors to open. The
atmosphere was low-key outside the arena, I ducked in early to see the
layout of the orchestra. My seat was 6th row center... not a desired spot.
Fortunately for me a friend in the arena told me that her family could not
make the show, so I was able to take a fifth row aisle seat to Bob's
right... perfect! The show started off with some sound issues, not loud
enough, and a crackling from one of the speakers, which continued
off-and-on through the entire show. I think they may have been using some
house amps along with the tour amps as I did not recognize the stage
set-up from previous nights. The sound improved as the show progressed,
but the show itself never really took off. Don't get me wrong, it was
another really good show, but something didn't click for me. The audience
certainly did not help, as it was a very passive group... too much
reverence for our hero. And I had the usual hassle of being asked to sit.
How can you ask the Dancing Cowboy to sit?!?! I will pick out some
highlights. I cannot imagine a slower or more ominous version of BLACK
RIDER than tonight. Bob was into this one... he was growling! A very cool
and slightly different tempo to MY OWN VERSION OF YOU or what I like to
call the Funky Frankenstein. Fabulous guitar work by Bob Britt on CROSSING
THE RUBICON. Very nice piano playing by Mr. Dylan on ALONE WITH YOU and
I'LL BE YOUR BABY TONIGHT. A slowly flowing CROSSING THE RUBICON. SERVE
SOMEBODY rocked. And the finale of EVERY GRAIN OF SAND concluded with a
blistering harp. Nice!! It may not have been in the top ten, but this show
was still so good, and the entire experience so thrilling that I cannot
wait for the next. These Bob shows are intoxicating and addicting. As I
have only one more show to attend, I'm in a melancholy mood. It was nice
to see some Bobcats so far from my home. Mangala... thank you so much for
the seat. And thanks for being a good friend. Gary from England, I'm glad
I could help you get a ticket for tomorrow's Saturday show. Ian, safe
travels for the rest of the tour. Jeff, how do you always get a front row
seat? Melody and Steve... wow I can't believe that conversation we had
about Bob Dylan's paintings. I'm sure I'm leaving a few names out... such
is life, such is happiness. Good to see all of you... especially the ones
I do not know, but who recognize me from previous concerts... it's always
great to chat with the vagabonds and gypsies that follow our hero.
Tomorrow is my finale. Don't you miss it!

[TOP]

Review by David Mendick


Dylan was astonishing. The curtain was back up tonight. I love the long long 
intro to watching the river flow. I was sitting to the side in a box right 
over the stage. I wasn't looking down on an 82 year old man. I was looking 
down on  Bob Dylan. And again it's the new version of the new songs. It's a
perfect show from start to finish with highs throughout. Rubicon. Key west
is mesmerizing. Mother of muses quite beautiful. I don't know how I'm
going to handle tomorrow's show when I get off the tour bus. Am I saying
goodbye to Dylan or is he saying goodbye to me. Had this discussion with
my Dylan pals Ava and Rae. I think we're probably just going to cry
together. We'll see. 

David Mendick

[TOP]

Review by Sergi Fabregat


You (well, me) never know how you (me) would experience the last (my last) 
show before going back home. Furthermore, if there's no more shows after 
that is more bearable as you can't do anything more about it, but when 
there's not only a show after your last but in fact it's in the same city 
it's hateful to be leaving town in the morning knowing that Bob will be 
playing there that same night. That is the theory.

I tried to change my flights to sneak both the Beacon show and Baltimore #2 
when more dates were added, but it was too expensive so had to settle with 
just 10 shows this fall (I'm not in command of myself anymore :lol: ) and 
Baltimore #1 was my last 2023 concert.

The reality, however, proved to be much more different, as I left the 
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with such a deep feeling of gratefulness, happiness 
and fulfillment after 4 shows that have been, even if by little, a step up 
from the ones I saw before Halloween, which already seemed to go in a 
deepening direction compared to previous legs. It can well be just me: the 
more shows you see, the more you understand them, connect with them and 
embrace them, instead of the contrary, which should be the obvious given 
the same setlist and no suprise covers these last few concerts. However, 
I've left these last shows with an almost undescribable feeling of 
enlightenment, how the beauty can be achieved while acknowledging the 
reality of death and time, how meaningful these songs and the man who 
sings them can be that almost every other human interaction that happens 
away from this seems farceful and deceiving. Funnily, I suspect about 
other people's intentions and goals, as I suspect mine too, but I don't 
doubt Bob when he is performing on a stage.

Don't get me wrong, I trust people and tend to see the positives, but in 
the end there's such a few amount of persons who really care about each 
of us, who care about the most profound feelings, the hopes and fears, 
and in a way that's only natural but also so sad. When I'm witnessing Bob 
perform, is as if someone is singing out loud about all these emotions, 
not ashamed to dance through them, to be weird to the regular folks, to 
share the loneliness, to try his best to be his own self, everchanging, 
multitudinous.

I saw this tweet that got me thinking about this all:

“Before this concert I always sort of felt like there was many Bob Dylans 
within Bob Dylan. What I realize now is that there’s actually just one 
Bob Dylan, and the forces that drove him in the past are the same forces 
driving him now. It’s a train that keeps on moving forward.”

I've written myself about the different Bob Dylans, the multiple personas 
and all that. How we also contain multitudes and this kind of things. But 
from what I saw in Baltimore, and then reading then this tweet, I may want 
to reassess a bit the idea.

I used to observe Bob's shows as enclosed experiences during which 
different Bob Dylans would manifest and express themselves, waiting for 
some songs to make their moves and give the show an specific mood or 
direction (I think specially about 2019's renditions of 'Like a Rolling 
Stone' or 'Not Dark Yet'), as if those songs and how they were performed 
could determine the nature of the experience per se. In a way, the shows 
were like a world inside or outside *the* world that had this lifesaving 
quality, so to speak. I remember thinking "if he nails 'Honest With Me', 
it will be a great show", what an stupid thing to think. I spent the whole 
pandemic hoping for Bob to go back on the road and bringing back to me 
these pills of elevated fadeaways.

I've noticed, also reviewing the shows, that I've let myself to immerse 
more and more with the concerts themselves, thus during the shows I relate 
specific lines and words to specific personal images or experiences and 
I'm not afraid of losing that inflection or missing Bob doing this if in 
exchange of that I get to feel more. The bottomline of all this is that it 
has taken me quite some tens of shows to understand that in order to be 
really happy following Bob I have to allow myself to be in sync with the 
songs every possible second, not after the song, not after the show, but 
during the whole show if possible. Of course is not that I've not been 
doing this at all until now, but I think that a greater part of what has 
allowed me to enjoy these last 4 shows to the point of innocent, 
constantly clean slate, purity which I've felt during most of them has 
been this active effort to focus to the extreme on the live present.

Thus, if during the show there's only one instant of present time after 
the other, there can't be more than one Bob Dylan, and this is everything 
I came here to say today: that in Baltimore I had the infinite pleasure, 
possibly not for the first time but surely for the first time I can say 
it without a doubt, that Bob and I, two persons at any given time, shared 
a moment of truth.

Due to where I was seating in row 3 and due to how he was seating at his 
piano, when Bob looked to his right he could easily see me. I've 
sometimes been afraid of locking eyes with him (I'm not the best at that), 
but in Baltimore I felt pretty confident and during a couple of moments 
that he looked at me for a moment I held it back, not much different to 
other nights I've been close to the stage, as in Newark, where I could 
swear that he looked at me during most of the first lines of 'Crossing 
the Rubicon'. But during the first instrumental part in 'False Prophet', 
when he started playing the piano more lenghtly and as I was nodding my 
head to the fantastic rhythm, him nodding his head too, he looked at me 
again, and then I knew it was now or never. I kept looking at him and 
continued to nod my head, and then the most incredible thing happened: 
he did the same, and for easily 20 or 30 seconds we were looking to each 
other in the eye and nodding at the same rhythm. This was 4 days ago and 
I still clearly remember the goosebumps I felt when Bob started singing 
again and this moment was over, and it was so different to anything I've 
felt ever before; it wasn't pride, reverence, excitement or whatever, it 
was more like acknowledgement. I can say, and this I say it with 
profound happiness, that I felt respected when Bob Dylan looked at me.

Of course, it took me a couple or three songs to recover from that 
properly (though I can say that 'Masterpiece' was REALLY GOOD), and even 
'My Own Version of You' seemed a bit soft to my ears, but whatever, I 
came back for 'Baby Tonight', which was absolutely sassy and I'd say that 
even dirty, specially for that nice modern venue. Again 'Crossing the 
Rubicon' was one of the highlights as it had been since specially the 
last European tour, with some lines crazily strened out, Bob putting real 
effort in getting from them all their juice: "I turned the KEEEEE, I 
broke it off!". I've been having the time of my life this whole last week 
to be honest, really unexpectedly I could say.

For maybe the first time during a live performance of 'Key West', and I 
link this to the present-living idea that can allow you to feel more, I 
thought about Hiroshima when Bob mentioned Truman after the "I do what I 
think is right - what I think is best", and it felt quite terrifying. 
I've thought other times about how some parts of 'Key West' can refer to 
the bomb dropping in 1945, but usually during the shows I think more 
about how I relate to the song. It's curious and made me think that 
during this specifical show I thought about that historical event, maybe 
I got it a bit personal as I was in Hiroshima last april, and I shed my 
fair amount of tears at the museum.

Boyfriend noticed another brief eye-locking moment at the beginning of 
'I've Made Up My Mind', is quite a special song to us, maybe Bob saw me 
reacting more or something, and the performance surely featured again 
this 'new' quality I've been sensing this fall in which the song is a 
bit more raw, less delicate sometimes, with Bob being less melodic and 
more chopping when repeating "I've-Made-Up-My-Mind-To-Give-Myself-To-You". 
I get that aesthetically can be unsual, but to me it, again, brings the 
song back home, it's more proletarian, and despite the ticket prices, 
most of us in the audience are that in the end.

I've come to think that 'Made Up My Mind' is my better half's song to me 
and 'That Old Black Magic' is mine to him. I'm less lyrical and more 
esoteric and mysterious, so to speak. So a love song saying "lovin' the 
spin I'm in, under that old black magic called love", with its upbeat 
tempo and its silliness, is perfect for me. All in all, and this is 
corroborated by third parties hERe, I got so excited that even the man 
himself noticed it and he cracked up a laugh. From there on, a lovely 
and passionate performance under that old black magic called love!

The sight of Bob playing 'Goodbye Jimmy Reed' fully standing (that is, 
not leaning a bit, fully vertical) was a triumph of all sorts, makes me 
think of that great Wong Kar-Wai movie called 'The Grandmaster' in which 
the concepts of horizontal and vertical merge with martial arts and 
Chinese philosophy, and Bob seemed then easily 20 years younger, taller 
and really on top of his game, delivering the last verse in such a hot 
fashion.

I refrained from dancing during 'Goodbye Jimmy Reed' to not disturb 
anyone, but when Bob started playing the harp in 'Every Grain of Sand', 
I automatically stood up, hoping nobody was annoyed, but I thought that 
it was the less I could do for that man. My parents warned me not to 
waste my years, I still got their advice oozing out of my ears: 
"Standing is a sign of respect". I needed to feel that respect, not for 
him to see it, but for me to acknowledge it.

I had the fortune to be surrounded during the show by some lovely fellow 
bobcats that gave it that wonderful friend-gathering feeling, but I have 
to say that those two ladies behind us that told me that they enjoyed 
the show a lot "vicariously through me" touched me quite fondly.

2024 can't come soon enough!

PS: I don't spend much praising the band in the reviews, but how they 
are all playing, specially Doug and Jerry and even more specially Tony 
is a gift we'll miss one day.

[TOP]

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