Reviews

Providence, Rhode Island

Capitol Theatre

November 26, 2021


[Larry Fishman], [Laurette Maillet], [Jim Mello]

Review by Larry Fishman


The Venue:    Iíve seen Bob three times in this beautifully restored
theater and enjoy itís art deco ambience, grandeur and detail.   It was
fixed up many years ago by the lovable rogue Mayor Buddy Cianci whom even
after his passing is still talked about with a mix of head shaking and
admiration.     Providence for years was known for its architecture, good
food, Brown University and Mobsters.   The gig was sold out and filled
with the greying baby boomers that you would expect.  I paid through the
teeth for ďthe Silver Package,Ē hereís hoping they donít send me
another crock as merch that comes with the seat. 

Bob.    Suited and still thin as a yard stick, he spent most of the night
standing behind his piano and then alternately sitting down to hammer out
a solo.   On numerous song, he would sashay Biden like a few steps away
from the piano and grab a hand held microphone for a few verses.  Heíd
then scamper back behind the keys with two micro lights no doubt
illuminating the lyric sheets.  He definitely is less mobile  At one
point, he sauntered over more to the center of the stage for a verse and
the place burst into applause.  Think about that.  The crowd bust into
applause for walking across the stage - weíre a crazy lot.   He is
singing - for the most part - with the precision of a safecracker.   Maybe
itís the break of two years or maybe he drinks a few extra cups of tea,
but he sounded fantastic.   He was focused, on target, direct, near cosmic
and nuanced.   No harp tonight unfortunately.   If Moses parted the sea in
the 21st Century he would have used Dylanís Harmonica than his walking
stick. 

The Band   So it was a big shake up for the band and the beloved Charlie
Sexton quietly has left the fold once again.    Good luck kid - hope to
see you again.   My first hot take on the new guys is that it is mixed
bag.   Doug Lancio was stationed behind Bob and his piano and frankly was
largely invisible.   Charley Drayton was married to the lead singer of the
Divinyls and Iím thinking has some impressive credentials, but was under
miked and didnít seem to bring much to the party.   Iím not a drummer
guy, but thought Matt Chamberlainís brief tenure was excellent and felt
George Recile jazzer vibe brought alot.   Bob Britt - however - is a
different story.   Along with Bobís piano, his tasty guitar licks
dominated the sound of this band.   He strikes an impressive figure black
suited and standing like a gunslinger as he swaps out guitars and plays
with panache and verve.   Donnie Herron has been on this journey for many
years and while I enjoy his contributions I have never quite put him the
Larry Campbell class.  And finally Tony Garnier, of course, is
grandfathered in.  He is as essential to Bob as a hammer and nails are to
a carpenter.    Many of the songs started with the band slowly strumming
their instruments and then the song would form.  Similar to the Band in
Tour 74, but different.  

The show starts with the band ambling on stage I seem to have heard some
kind of recorded music as the fellas start to create little noise and we
begin the night...

1.  Watching the River Flow.   Iím thinking that they didnít turn up
Bobís Mic and I couldnít hear the first couple of lines.   It wasnít
until the next tune that they got all the kinks out of the sound at which
point it was excellent for the remainder of the evening  And of course it
takes a couple songs as well for Old Bob to clear out the cob webs of his
vocal chords.  While this might sound like the tune was a misfire, I still
enjoyed it.   I canít think of a better commentary on Covid.   And can
you we say that none of us will miss Things Have Changed opening these
shows.   And no more replica oscar on stage, in fact the stage is lit but
empty.    

2.  Most Likely You Go Your Way.   As the mix cleared up, Bob was clearly
in charge.  Toward the end they slowed   the tune down to stop and then
Bobís vocal takes them back home.  Fun stuff.   

3.   I Contain Multitudes.  Clearly has become a favorite of the faithful
as there was applause between lines.  As he stood next to the piano with
mic in the hand he kneeled into some of the lyrics giving an extra pop.

4  False Prophet.   Time for a thumper in which he combines the difficult
with the beautiful.  As I was listening to the Rough & Rowdy way tunes
this night I was thinking about how dark so much of the imagery is.   Even
still after all these years, his songwriting has bite and bile.  In terms
of the performance, Bob Britt front and center dominating.  

5.  When I Paint My Masterpiece.  The acoustic instruments get broken out
along with Donnie Heronís violin and the song is reworked as a spry two
step.  You get some sweet spoken/sung vocals amidst a bit of sloppiness
from the band.   Some lyric changes too boot.  

6.  Black Rider.  Quiet and ominous.   Some dark stuff like hacking off
arms with swords - yikes.   Ambient and powerful.  This is not a song that
bridges between his older work and new, itís the fast moving water
beneath the bridge.   

7.  Iíll Be Your Baby Tonight.  Spry and riff filled, nice little
musical jam in the middle.   All  night we got some nice instrumental
flourishes.  I think this song had Brittís one proper guitar full
fledged guitar solo.  

8.  My Own Version of You.  Another wild, dark tale, wow man, whatís
going on in that head.   You simply have to love that he rhymes Robot
Commando with Marlon Brando.   I think I will need either Freudian or
primal scream therapy to full understand it so basically Iíll be
wresting with this song for awhile.

9.  Early Roman Kings.  A reworked version that used to be dominated but
the drum pattern and now a little slower, but still the blues and it still
rocks albeit at a lower volume.   No longer as defiant, but nice to hear a
fresh take on this beloved song.  The band tip toed through the tulips on
this one.  

10  To Be Alone With You.  Time for a little countrified swing with violin
and acoustic guitars.   A bit sloppy as the trading of solos between Bob
and his mates was a little messy.   I know, I know, give them time.  

11.  Key West.  A stunning, nuanced and beautiful version.  Bob was crisp
and right in it.   I donít love this song the way others do.   I like it
in the way same way I like Pledging My Time, but I donít love it like
Hard Rain.  Anyway, it was beautify performed with Britt armed with a
flying V and I love Donnie Heronís accordion.  Not be confused with
Margaritaville.  

12.   Gotta Serve Somebody.  The crowd roared after this reworked and
rewritten song.   Maybe some were happy that they recognized a song
finally, I donít know.   Lots of new lyrics and anything from the Gospel
years is A Ok with me.  I finally heard some drums...

13.  Iíve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself to You.  Sung like a crooner
and he elongated a couple of words here and there that gave me an
appreciative chuckle.  Is it me or does it have a similar melody to Key
West.  Got some great singing, man.  Among my favorites from RRW, it has
the right mix of mystery, insight and weirdness.  

14.  Melancholy Mood.  And speaking of crooning, it was time for a Sinatra
song.  As simple as a heartbeat.  This was short and to the point,
faithful and on the mark.  I like alot of that material, but not sure my
shelf needs to sag with 5 CDs worth of it.   

15.  Mother of Muses.  Another somber song with Bob giving us a confident,
nasal and warm vocal.   There were a lot of slow songs on this night.  But
count me in.  Iíve always like the slow stuff and would vote for a
ballad over a rocker any day.   

16.  Goodbye Jimmy Reed.  There is so much to love in this song, this ode
to the great under appreciated bluesman.  ďYou canít play the records
because the needle got Stuck.Ē  Just alot of fun and it garnered quite a
bit of applause.

17.  Every Grain of Sand.   Before launching into the final song, he
introduced the band and made a few chatty comments.  Really.  Look forward
to hearing the bootleg so I can remember the stuff.  One of the lines was
about the band being bunch of Puritans.   This beloved song is an
undeniable master work and was simply lovely.  A number of years ago I got
into an exchange with a music critic of the Wall Street Journal who
crritized one of the rhymes.   I started the exchange taking offense that
he puts miserablist Joni Mitchell in the same category as the man from
Hibbing.  A wonderful close to the night.  

Iíve been deeply listening to Dylan for much of my life and have come to
know his art quite well.  Iím reminded tonight - not entirely.  Not even
close.  

So nice to be vexed, boosted and masked too see Bob Dylan once again after
nearly two years. Thrilled to see if my inspirerís tour moniker of
2021-2024 holds true.   If Tom Brady can win Super Bowls in his 40ís,
Bob can play for a couple more years.   Iíve lost track on the number of
shows, maybe 60 or 70, but at least I got one more coming tomorrow night
in my home town of Boston.   See you there.  

Larry Fishman
Larry@thebigstockbroker.com 
www.thebigstockbroker.com

[TOP]

Review by Laurette Maillet


Last night, Thanksgiving night, I was all by myself in my dorm. I went to bed early.
Get up at 7 am and take trains to Pen station. I buy myself bagel and cafe and 
then queue for my Flixbus to Providence. It starts raining but I'm safe.

Arriving in Providence on time I walk 20 minutes to my couchsurfing host house. 
Alana is Jewish but speaks less Hebrew than me. Her friend is from India and speaks 
Indue...tonight there will be a big party with a bunch of students from the 
University. Cool!

I relax until 5pm. Even though I need a ticket it doesn't make any sense to be at 
the venue too early. I walk down to the PPAC and....I realize I've been here 
before. Not the last tour but the one previous. I remember clearly waiting around 
the bus in that back alley.
I take a walk in the city and by 6.30pm I put my sign out : I need a ticket.
I don't wait too long when a nice Lady with two young women hand me a 
paper ticket.

I check the BD bus until 7.30pm. Suzie comes and goes but no Bobby. He will 
get dress in his bus again? No one around except ...me.

I take my seat on the balcony. Mask required.
I am on the aisle so I can check my legs on "Save somebody".
I look for my friend ,who should be right in the front. She is. But the stage is 
so far away and so high Bob will see no one in front. And probably do not want 
to.

He is RIGHT on time.No Beacon crowd by the bus :).

"Watching the river flow" is again a rehearsal for the sound. By now it should 
be perfect ?? Bob is holding the piano, more incertain of his stand than ever.

"False prophet" is behind the piano. He tries a step or two on "Black rider" 
but holds the piano again. His voice is great though. Powerful.

Only "Save somebody" is waking up a dead audience.

No piano on "Melancholy mood" and Bob moves next to Tony only during 
the second part of the song. Bob scooped and static.

ERK is definitively boring. Should try another song.

The public is polite or bored. Difficult to know! But for sure extremely quiet.

I check Bob Britt guitars. On " Key west " he's got one with a funny shape; 
a rocket for the space? With Donnie's accordion it gives something to look 
at. They're all dressed in black and except for Doug Lancio...all static.

My highlight would be "To be alone with you" and "Jimmy Reed " indeed.

Not the best show ever. Of course I know the setlist by heart and the 
routine. Bob again cracks a joke before introducing the Band. But tonight 
with no conviction or reaction from the crowd. A kind word for Donnie Heron 
and also Tony Garnier. And I leave. I want to see the Star escaping the Fans. 
Of course EGOS is on. Well! Of Fan there is only me. Across the street. 
Because I have my phone out, a member of the Dylan crew, decides to take 
my photo. After Suzie, another girl...I must be a big menace !
So I take a video. Bad girl! Bob is all wrapped in black and grey hoodie. 
Walking all by himself with Suzie and the bodyguard just behind.
The musiciens follow in their own bus.

Bye Bobby. See you tomorrow.

Take care.

For me the night goes on.
My friend Alana is having a home disco party.
I share with great nice young people from around the world studying in Providence.
They don't really care about Bob Dylan.  Roopam, from India, never heard of him :(

[TOP]

Review by Jim Mello


To put this review in context,†Iím writing this review in the back seat
of my car (I wish it was a Buick 6) as we travel home from RI by way of
Keene, NHÖfairly close to Lowell, MA and the ghost of Ginsberg and
Kerouac. All night during the concert I had flashes of live Dylan through
the ages and phases conjured up. Iconic Newport here. Recently revisited
Rolling Thunder there. The Apostle Bob, in between.† First off, it was a
very†satisfying show! Ernieís theory of, and love for, live music was
vindicated. The live renditions of the Rough and Rowdy Ways songs were
strong. Dylan was very engaged with them. In a couple of songs, like My
Own Version of You, the performance†was more like a dramatic monologue
than a song. Beat poetry meets William Shakespeare. Move over Hamlet
soliloquies. Very powerful. Some lyric changes noted†as they flew past.†
The band was blues based tight all nightÖ17 songsÖeven the Sinatra
"Melancholy Mood" had a tight jazz/ blues groove to it. There was a nice
reworking of When I Paint††my Masterpiece. I was dancing in my seat.
Black Rider and Good Bye†Jimmy Reed cooked! Dylan was channeling and
integrating his life long love of blues. He didnít play Blind Willie
McTell,††but Blind Willieís†spirit was there. As I listened though,
to Dylanís integration of all this,†I had this thought that Dylanís
version† of the blues is a form based on Western†Existential Blues. He
references both literally and metaphorically Moses and the Muses.He
appears to be trying to meld them together. References†to all human, and
especially Western history are invoked, along with specific American
history, like the Civil War. They are all present and wrapped up in the
lyrics. Murder Most Foul was present by its absence.† Interesting to me
in the light of the "are song lyrics poetry" debate is that here's Dylan,
post Nobel Prize, still melding together high brow and low brow lyricism.
He is the academically baptized††Song and Dance Man. And, indeed, I oft
found myself dancing in my seat. Infectious rhythms accompanying stream of
consciousness highly allusive lyrics.A thinking artist's version of
American Bandstand...I don't always get the allusions or cant always solve
the enigmatic bi-polar references, but Ill give it an 80, because I can
dance to it. They played a totally reworked version of Serve Somebody.
Strong Blues/rock with many lyric changes. Wish I could have a copy of
them. New cultural† and cliche riddled references leading to the same
conclusion as the studio version. Which side on you on with a spiritual
twist. The venue, the Providence Performing Arts Center (formerly Loweís
Theater, where I saw Van the Man †circa 1972) is a great, exquisitely
restored venue from the Gilded Age. It had a very church- like ambiance
where reverence for any thing that still might have some sacredness to it
was honored, especially music.. Security was tight, which lended support
to the sacred space vibrations. Designed to keep us safe and illicit
recordings eliminated , the bonus tracks of that were there was very
little crowd distraction. All the energy got focused on the music and
Dylan. No wide screen bipolarity and distraction, no spectacle producing
lighting. The sound system settled in by the fourth song and was clear for
the most part for the duration.† Interestingly, he made some reference to
he and his band being Separatists, as he introduced them in the context of
being in Providence where a statue of Roger Williams overlooks the city. I
speculate he could be referring to religion, politics or art. Go ask Lord
Cromwell, I think he knows.† At this stage of my life, seeing and hearing
the enigma that is Bob Dylan live, brought to mind an expression a
colleague of mine once shared about trying to survive in unhealthy,
challenging and painful situations. He calls it creative sociopathy. Last
night, I saw this late stage version of Dylan as a sterling, though
exasperating, illustration of this theory. Currently he pleads for
inspiration in a new song to the Mother of Muses, and of course; has
followed an entire family system of muses throughout his career, as he has
tried to individuate and create his art. What more could we ask for from
any artist?† As I said at the beginning...it was a satisfying concert.

Jim Mello

[TOP]

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