Review
Huntington, West Virginia
Keith Albee Performing Arts Center
Performing Arts Theater

November 30, 2023

[Robby Parsons]

Review by Robby Parsons


After reading the rumors about this possibly being Dylan's last tour, I
had mentioned to a few people that I really didn't want to miss this show.
My very first Dylan show was on August 19th, 1994. I was 16 years old and
had used my own money to purchase two tickets to a show at the I.C. Light
Ampitheater in Pittsburgh, PA. One ticket was obviously for me, the second
was for my father, who had turned me on to the music that has become such
an important part of my life. My father passed away in 2010. He and I
attended a number of Dylan shows together throughout the years. In 1997,
my first child was born, who I named Dylan.

In October of this year, my now 25 year old son, showed up to a function I
was attending to tell me that he had purchased two tickets to the November
30th Bob Dylan show. One for him. One for me. 29 years after my first
Dylan concert experience, my days of seeing the master would conclude with
the perfect bookend.

I'm going to give a brief synopsis of the show, but mostly I want to
express that the last 29 years have been a blessing to me. This show could
have sucked and it wouldn't have mattered. I was at this show to bid
farewell to a best friend who doesn't even know I exist. I have seen many
excellent shows over the years. This one wasn't one of the finest, but it
was special to me. I was thrilled to be there with my Dylan loving son,
Dylan.

As Bob walked onstage I felt a nostalgia overcome me, that has still not
yet subsided. Since last night, I have found myself thinking back to many
pleasant memories of my life. I hearkened back to the car ride home with
my father following that very first show. I found myself hoping that my
son would one day think back fondly to November 30th, 2023.

When we took our seats last night in the beautiful theater, the first
thing I noticed was a man sitting two rows in front of us blowing on a
harmonica. I looked at my son and said, "Oh, I was hoping." True to form,
the man didn't stop playing his harmonica when the band started, so I had
to inform him that I wasn't there to listen to him play. Luckily, he
didn't bring out the instrument again.

The show started off with tons of energy. Watching The River Flow started
off with an arrangement eerily similar to the song "West Virginia, My
Home," and for a moment I thought Bob was giving us a cover in honor of my
home state. It was not meant to be, but I was enthralled by Watching The
River Flow nonetheless. I immediately noticed how much more prevalent
Bob's piano was in the mix compared to other times I have seen him. And at
82 years old, he is obviously not opposed to learning new tricks, because
his piano chops have improved significantly.

Following another classic selection of Most Likely You Go Your Way, Bob
and his band dialed up the first of many songs from Rough and Rowdy Ways,
much to my delight. The newer stuff had such a freshness to it. This is
the only time I have seen Bob on this tour and I absolutely LOVED the new
arrangements of these songs. I Contain Multitudes was beautifully
constructed. A vast improvement to an already stellar song. False Prophet
had a very similar feel to the album version, but the arrangement was much
more dynamic and powerful. I found myself marveling at the attention to
detail and care given to the material by drummer Jerry Pentecost.  I was
super impressed with his playing. In all of my past Dylan concert
experiences, Tony Garnier was the unquestioned leader of the band. Last
night, Dylan took on that role as his own, which was really fun to watch.
Pentecost hit all of Dylan's cues with an ease I don't know I have ever
witnessed from a Dylan drummer, and there have been some good ones over
the years. After only one show I would say Pentecost is probably my
favorite of the bunch.

Now on to the only "complaints" I have of the music. It started with When
I Paint My Masterpiece. I found Bob Britt's playing to be intrusive for
much of the night. His acoustic guitar tone was absolutely atrocious. When
he came in on Masterpiece, it was not only sonicly jarring but he seemed
to be off rhythmically for the first few bars as well. His playing, while
technically good at times, lacked the nuance I felt was needed throughout
the evening. In contrast, Doug Lancio's playing was tasty, yet almost
inaudible for a lot of the evening. Donnie Herron was brilliant in his
role on violin and pedal steel. The only other complaint I have is that I
thought the band seemed completely disjointed on Key West. It was easily
the weakest song of the night.

The highlights of the show to me were the absolutely stunning versions of
Black Rider, My Own Version of You, and Mother of Muses that I got to
experience. Holy cow! Dylan and his band have taken those songs to new
levels.

Overall, I would grade this show a solid B. For an 82 year old musician,
that's a hell of a grade, if you ask me. If this is indeed the last time I
get to see Bob Dylan "Live & In Person" then I just want to end by saying,
"Thank you, sir." Nothing but love from me to you.

Robby Parsons
New Martinsville, WV

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