Washington, D.C.

DAR Constitution Hall

November 25, 2014

[Roger Catlin], [Alexander Leik], [Marcus Chacona], [David Mendick], [Steve Sorensen]

Review by Roger Catlin

Two blocks from the White House Tuesday, where a Ferguson protest was
raging on, Bob Dylan sat between the columns at the DAR Constitution Hall
and asked one more time, “How many years can some people exist, before
they’re allowed to be free?”

It got a bit of a rise from the crowd, this sorrowful notion that more
than a half century after he first wrote it, he had to ask again. So did
the line “How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many
people have died?”

Echoing in a place that itself banned Marian Anderson from singing there
in 1939 because she was black.

But Dylan, at 73, has long since stopped being a kind of political oracle,
a singer of social action that helped shape music, a generation and the

On an unusual tour that has him playing the exact same setlist night after
night for the past month, he seems to be favoring more the balladry in his
own catalog and that of others — the Frank Sinatra “Stay with Me”
closes the show, foreshadowing his album of standards out next year.

It’s not because, as he claims in the opener, “I used to care, but
things have changed,” from a song that has since been sold to Chrysler.
He may be at a point where he is simply appreciating the beauty of song
and joys in a melody.

Also: the fun of being a performer.

After years of appearing coiled in tension on stage, behind the guitar he
played for decades, here he was in a kind of white zoot suit and hat —
like Jim Carrey used in “The Mask” holding the mike stand,
unencumbered by instrument, tilting it as he crooned, stepping lively
around the stage when he wasn’t.

More than half of the show he stood at the microphone, with no instrument
but the occasional harmonica wail; the rest of the time was at a grand
piano, where his chords and countermelodies had more prominence than they
might have on past tours, sometimes guiding the band (he also played
“Blowin’ in the Wind” on piano, an instrument not usually associated
with the song except by Stevie Wonder).

Dylan’s voice may seem on perma-frog, judging from the grit on his last
album, “Tempest,” which dominated the set list with six out of the 19
songs. But he’s also able to adjust his growl, so that some of his
singing was surprisingly sharp and clear.

The music mix in the hall Neoclassical hall was superb, his sometimes hard
to distinguish voice clear above the longtime quintet that so well serves
his music, with Charlie Sexton on guitar.

I wish maybe there was more of a sense of place in Dylan’s performance,

And not just the usual political commentary of “Even the President of
the United States sometimes must have to stand naked” from “It’s
Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” or the whole of “Tweedlee and

I mean the specificity of this place, retold on the recent “Narrow
Way” — “Ever since the British burned the White House down,
there’s a bleeding wound in the heart of town.” The DAR hall is
located in the block between the White House and the Octagon house, where
Madison lived for six months 200 years ago this year as the city rebuilt
from the War of 1812.

“Narrow Way” was one of just four songs from “Tempest” that
isn’t being played on the current tour, which if nothing else acquits
well the latest studio output — the rock of “Early Roman Kings” and
the wistful groove of “Pay in Blood” all pretty much in the same
arrangement as they were on the 2012 recording. It wasn’t entirely true,
though, as the chassis of its opening “Duquesne Whistle” has been
completely retooled as a shuffle.

Dylan is the only performer who came to fame from the 60s (or 70s or 80s)
who doesn’t rely at all on the early tunes. He’s always refused
nostalgia as a common response to his material; even when he was playing a
lot of it, he treated the songs like living, ever evolving things,
sometimes having little to do with how it was originally recorded.

He did that again on the handful of pre-1997 material he included,
especially a “Tangled Up in Blue” whose verses seemed chopped in half;
its “Blood on the Tracks” counterpart, “Simple Twist of Fate” came
a little more intact, but with its own new internal engine. The only other
old song in the set? A rearranged “She Belongs to Me” as the show’s
second song.

Otherwise, all were tunes he had recorded with this same band; along with
“Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ and “Forgetful Heart” from 2009’s
“Together Through Life”; “Workingman’s Blues #2” and “Spirit
on the Water” from the 2006 “Modern Times”; and only a stinging
“Love Sick” from his 2001 breakthrough “Time Out of Mind.”

The one real head-scratcher in the tour (other than the Sinatra, I
suppose) is “Waiting for You,” a rousing waltz that only appeared on
the 2002 soundtrack for “The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants,” something
that may not be in the collection of some of the most ardent Dylan fans.

If the band looked like a country dance band from the 1920s, the staging
looked like Hollywood in that era, with big golden klieg lights above them
and some footlights in front — all dimmer than some of the stair lights
in the hall, often making it impossible to see through all the shadows.

Dylan remains an enigmatic figure and flinty musical traveler who
continues to reward repeated visits after all of this time no matter where
he is.

Roger Catlin


Review by Alexander Leik

On November 25, 1964, Bob Dylan played the Civic Auditorium in San Jose
California. If that fact alone isn't impressive, how about the fact that
50 years later to the date, his show at DAR Constitution Hall in the
nation's capital did not duplicate 1 song from that set list that pulled
mainly from our hero's work up through and incuding Bringing it All Back
Home (which technically had yet to be relased). In fact, only 2 of the
songs played in Washington DC had even been written/recorded by Bob in
November, 1965. A 3rd had already been recorded by one of our hero's
heros, and if anyone had told you on that night in 1964 that Bob Dylan
would be playing Sinatra tunes 50 years down the road, still on the
road...well, I don't know that Old Blue Eyes himself would have believed
it. That's the world we live in, folks. DAR Constitution Hall is
literally a stones throw from the White House, and with the news from
Ferguson, MO weighing heavy on everyone's minds, the police presence at
the gates seemed more than usual. The casual Bob Dylan fan received more
than a passing glance from secret service/Capital police as I walked by
the President's residence en route to scope out the venue. At 5PM-ish, the
prevosts were safely parked near the back stage entrance to no fan fare
whatsoever. 2 small venue security guards kept watch, one in a foot cast
and Slip Knot T-shirt. The second bus was running, but lowered & parked. I
can only assume that perhaps a pre-show poker game was taking place, and I
didn't stick around for an invite, heading up 18th street to meet an old
college friend. But we were back to the hall by 730 promptly. A very
classy venue, with proper lounge area, more than enough venue staff on
hand to help you get situated. It has hosted its share of rock n roll
concerts over the years, but this was my first experience here. House
lights were flashed about 5 min prior to start of show, and that caught me
as siginificant, as if we were on broadway as opposed to a rock n roll
concert. More on that later. We were ushered to our seats, 3rd row
center, perhaps the best seats I have ever had for a Dylan show. Front row
would have been too close due to the high stage. At about 5min after the
hour, Stu was on strumming the usual intro, and the reast of the boys,
followed closely by the main attraction, were soon out and launched into
"Things Have Changed". My how they have...and it hits me that here's the
main message of this show/perfomance/set list...however you want to look
at it. 50 years on, and things have changed. for the better? for the
Worse? that's for you to decide, and Bob frankly doesn't really care what
you think. The volume was a bit low at first,but I still love the way
George bangs this home espcially the "one - big - lie" line which seems to
me to be the most important partof the song for Bob, signaling that the
show has in fact started, sit your assses down (or get up and dance) and
pay attention. George reinforces this part, excellent! "She Belongs to
Me" is a fine perfomance, perhaps a reminder that "hey, I do have some old
songs", nice harp work, and this has become a proper marching tune. Then
jump 5 decades for "Beyond Here Lies Nothing", Bob back on the piano for
the first time, and Donnie & Charlie really shining here on this one now.
Bob is back front and center for "Working Man's Blues #2" and its here
that I start to think Bob is channeling Axl Rose, Freddy Mercury, Rober
Plant  - hanging on the the mic stand while belting it out, even pulling
the mic stand in which ever direction hs body carfrfies him. But not
completely picking the stand up (that may have brough the house down). He
is a front man for a moment in time :) "Waiting for You" is much better
than I saw in Sapporo back in April, when it was still being alternated
out for "Huck's Tune". They have this nailed now. As many have commented,
the show is taken to a new level with "Duqesne Whistle", and many
recognize this as his latest "hit". The band is in full swing with this
one, led by Charlie. Bob is matching them note for note on the keys. It
is a great set up for "Pay in Blood", which may be turnign into the
highlight of this show. The line about another politician pumpin out the
piss is received well just steps from where it all "happens". The first
set closes out with a fine "Tangled up in Blue", nice harp work from our
hero, and the "Love Sick" that has been rocking the performance all year
is still there. Definitely a highlight. Bob's only word of the night are
to let us know that they will be back in a few. Intermission is where I
figure this all out. This is a performance more than a rock n roll
concert. Take a break, talk about what you've seen and heard so far, what
still lies ahead. We all know what's coming, at least those "in the know".
Again the house lights flash about 5 min before the show resumes, and we
are back in our seats for Stu to stroll out and start "Highwater (for
Charlie Patton)". The second half of this show is clearly built around
Bob's vocals, with some stunning highlights like "Simple Twist of Fate",
"Forgetful Heart", "Spirit on the Water". The band is highlighted on a
phenominaly "Early Roman Kings", hard driving, knock down Chicago Blues,
driven beatifully by Charlie & Bob. And the final 1-2-3 punch of "Scarlet
Town"/"Soon After Midnight"/"Long & Wasted Years" tells us how Bob feels
about his latest work. And we should all feel good about it. As my friend
(who is a big Beatles/MACCA fan) says, none of the "old timers" can rival
Bob's output, or even quality of recent work. The band returns for
"Blowing in the Wind" and a fine "Stay with Me". I saw a very early
recording of this on You Tube, right when they started playing it, and
wasn't really impressed.But they have it down now, and nailed it.
Defnitely many in the audience who were not sure what song was being
played. But it is a perfect finale for this show, almost like a
prayer until next time. And again we are reminded that much like any
artist who takes months, maybe years, to work on a painting, this show has
been perfected over time. And it is being toured around the country/world
for all to see. It is not going to change night after night. It is not
going to use the opportunity to "make a statement" about current political
events within our country. I'll admit, I knew the set list in advance, and
even still, I would rank this as one of the better Dylan concerts I have
seen in 16 years. Stay with Bob, indeed! 


Review by Marcus Chacona

Brought my 12 year old daughter to her first show and got her a Spirit on
the water T she liked. As he came out she said he looks older than
expected but more vibrant and wondered about the black stripe on his white

1.	Things Have Changed Stu came out strumming followed by the band was
energetic and The band was tight as expected. The mix was little off till
Bob shot the FOH guy a few looks and it immediately shaped up. 2.	She
Belongs To Me Bob emphasized don't look back and the band sailed through
this classic. 3.	Beyond Here Lies Nothin' my kid sat up and said I know
this one and had the house swaying. 4.	Workingman's Blues #2 seemed a
little unrecognizable but a good arrangement with plenty of room for the
band to show their stuff. 5.	Waiting For You 6.	Duquesne Whistle was
another one she recognized from our rides in the car.. 7.	Pay In Blood
first highlight of the night with a great intro and my yelling 'not my
own' embarrassing the kid. One of my personal favorites of the past 10
years. Bob was moving around the stage and seemed to enjoy his music more
than the sitting crowd. I just wish everyone was up dancing like Bob
8.	Tangled Up In Blue got the crowd going after they figured out what it
was. Some changed lyrics I can't wait to figure out.  Huge applause and
standing ovation. 9.	Love Sick second highlight with the clock ticking
they brought it down to intermission. (Intermission) 10.	High Water (For
Charley Patton) again Stu by himself at first then they came through with
a fast paced rendition. 11.	Simple Twist Of Fate soft and sweet almost
exactly as originally arranged. 12.	Early Roman Kings a great look back in
time with Donnie and guitarist paying very close attention to what Bob was
playing on piano matching note for note. Drummer was smithing ear to ear. 
13.	Forgetful Heart with low playing from the band was outstanding. Bob
voice was clear and crisp and he was really engaged again moving around
the stage leaning mic stand. Sound was great, clear and lyrics sung with a
ton of emotion. Lady rips shed the stage whipped off her American flag
shirt and three it on stage.. 14.	Spirit On The Water Told her this was
her t shirt song. Breezy arrangement that had us all moving in our seats.
15.	Scarlet Town brought the mood down with. Quiet crowd and made me
listen closely to the extended jams from the band exceptionally delivered.
16.	Soon After Midnight another soft and well delivered piece.. 17.	Long
And Wasted Years backdrop was lit up and band seemed louder with the boys
totally focused on the music. Not many bands pay as close attention to
music as I've seen from this group. Perfectly played and sung. 

18.	Blowin' In The Wind had everyone up one their feet and I know even if
my daughter didn't get it it's a gift she'll keep for ever. My gift to
her. 19.	Stay With Me we agreed to split and get a hot fudge Sunday. My
daughter final comments were that he sounded better in person since he now
seemed real and not just another artist I try to explain and their
relevance. Having second row seats made it all the better and she kept
asking about his security as if it was close enough for her to reach out
and touch why wouldn't someone just do it. I told her people, leave him
alone out of respect and hope this remains true. I explained this is his
life and deal he made. She said she new I could have included a number of
people to go with me and thanked me for taking her.  This is a gift she'll
always have and probably won't realize it for years to come. 

Marcus Chacona


Review by David Mendick

Sitting in the shadows of the great monuments of Washington, D.C. Is the
majestic Constitution Hall. I'm very fortunate to be one of the lucky few
to have seen Dylan at the 9.30 club - was even there for his soundcheck.
As for last night at DAR Constitution Hall - well, it doesn't get any
better. Howard you were right. After 15 years of evolution and change,
some big some small, everything has fallen into place. At 73 Bob Dylan is
now at his live best.  His singing, his voice is amazing. On Forgetful
Heart he is magical. I've never loved Blowing in the Wind for the last
number of years but last night it was magical. I wish I could be in New
York for 5 incredible nights. As Stay With Me ended I dashed outside to
see Bob get on his bus - somebody yelled out "we love you Bobby" 

David Mendick


Review by Steve Sorensen

My wife and I had pretty decent seats off to the left side of Bob and the
band last night. Seeing him in a number of concerts over the last several
years, this one seemed to be Bob at his best on every level. His harmonica
was creative and came in at just the right times with just the right
volume. His voice was where it needed to be without those earlier problems
voiced by certain critics. It was just fine. Everything seemed to flow
from one song to the next like it was meant to be that way in a special
way as I had not heard in any other concert. It's as though there was a
special ambience to it. Maybe it had to do with the atmosphere of the
concert hall itself; the beautiful layout of the Daughters of the American
Revolution Constitution Hall with its stately pillars and decor, not to
mention the fine lighting that matched the theme of the lighting on stage
most appropriately. The house seemed packed. It was almost dreamlike and
will be a night to remember indeed. It seems Bob repeats the last three or
four songs in his concerts out of more than simple convenience. I hope
more people catch that and perhaps perceive a meaning there. The very last
song in his encore, Stay With Me, was subdued, beautifully done, and
included a kind of spiritual mood to it especially as you saw some of the
artists form a semi circle around the front facing inward as they were
playing in a sort of fellowship or brief moment of comradeship closing the
performance on not just a classy professional note but a serious one, too.

Steve Sorensen


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