April 10, 2013
Review by Ernest Gurney
Somewhere beyond Dali's "Persistence of Memory" and Kurosawa's "Rashomon"
lies the ever-fluid landscape of Dylan's Never-Ending Tour. Even when the
setlists are "locked-in-tight" as this tour seems , no concert is ever a repeat.
And this is as it should be, as you listen to Bob and watch his stage preparation.
Mirrors explode flashbulb blasts of light into meaningless brightwash. The sets
begin with an open plea to the audience to perhaps try living the experience,
instead of filming it, watching it through tiny cellphone screens or I-pod cameras.
Take a moment to read Wendell Berry's "Vacation" (poetryfoundation.org) and
you'll get the same message. Start experiencing your life, instead of "preserving
Concert experiences are cocoons, nestled within a time in one's life. The
evening in Lewiston brought with it a unique dinner at Guthrie's, good food
wrapped within walls displaying posters of Guthrie, Dylan, Coltrane, Waits, and
spent-note trophy instruments. The friends gathered, the air fairly smoked with
thoughts and eager hopes. The first of the evening quaffed fully with brazen
joy. Off to the concert, cracked open by these new kids so full of wild visions,
crazy words, yawps and all emotion. Dawes, a foursome of nice California boys,
harmonic, well-versed and talented. New to the majors, up and coming and all
those words you hear. A solid set of new songs, they could have played longer,
they could have tested the crowd more, but it was a teaser of a night (all night)
and they were happy with the part they played.
An unexpectedly short interlude between performers and the lights are out. But
no overblown introduction, no Appalachian Spring, just some noodling guitar work
and the full band pops into "Things Have Changed". Of Dylan's many dystopian
songs, I've preferred "Everything Is Broken", where all the damage is around you.
"Things Have Changed" is the song of a man broken on the inside. A much darker
concept. Dylan is in full tragic narrator mode, center stage, hunched and just a
little bit "mad". Spooky dark "mad". This darkness continues into "Love Sick" and
"High Water"…the territorial reefs and shoals of doctor-less eyes that have seen
way, way too much. It's rough out there. But Dylan has the voice for it, all crags
and shatter, harmonica solos sweeping lighthouse arcs into the ink of night.
Backing away from center stage, Dylan sweeps behind the grand piano and
changes the tone of the night with a whisper of brighter things. "Soon After
Midnight", tender… loving…delivered as a rose would be. Explorations continue
and I won't labor each of the offerings by Dylan into some "meaningful" moment.
Dylan plays, moving across the human page of experience as if solving a crossword.
Over here in the upper left corner we have spiritual pursuits ("What Good Am I",
"Spirit on the Water"), down in this section we're dealing with "Early Roman Kings"
and "Pay In Blood" with a little nod to "Scarlet Town". He's everywhere. He
throws 16 songs out in 90 minutes. Some truncated (a roughed up edit of
"Tangled Up In Blue" the best example of draconian brevity), but for most of them
it's just a crispness in delivery. The band seems "reined in" for want of a better
term. There are moments for musical elaboration that are not pursued, solos
unexplored. The maps of the songs become sketches, with shadings and hints.
There are some free-form movements, most notably in some evocative harmonica
solos by Dylan. His lungs still blow but the larynx can be replaced by the harp, a
deliberate transformative instrument. Truly time-shifting shapes of sound.
The flashes from the inner camera? I'll try to be brief. "Visions Of Johanna" ….lyrics
laid upon a meme of Tom Thumbs Blues, that lazy "Lost in Juarez" lilted riff pulling
Johanna into the sultry Mexican heat….. Watching Duke Robillard, august and
reserved, ply his trade with aplomb, humble yet confident. Not a note wasted.
"Early Roman Kings" stacked onto the soul of Muddy Waters…."Beyond
Here Lies Nothing" surveying the treasures of the heart. And "Scarlet Town"….Yeats
and Blake, Burns and all those eternals…. striding ghosts and ancient curses.
Then …… "All Along The Watchtower" followed by "Ballad of a Thin Man"….which
do you prefer? "No one knows what any of this is worth"? Or "Something is
happening and you don't know what it is"? Are they the same? Explain. You have
one page for your response.
Life and Life Only……and what is wrong with that? Can an experience become both
communal and individual? Dylan's concerts seem to be a valiant attempt. Each of us
sitting in Plato's Cave….but when we leave the stadium? Did you see what I saw?
Did you hear that phrase? Did he say…????
We drive homeward…..crash…..tomorrow I swim in the morning, speak with a
French woman who speaks of a dog killed after the concert, grind my forehead into
And Life only.
Review by Zoo Cain
Lewiston, Maine, Colise'e. Wednesday. A brisk 44 degrees. Dawes raps up
a set, mostly from their third albun, which is brand new. It is eight eleven
p.m. Heard that Jackson Browne discoved Dawes. Truth be told, i'm not
into hearing anyone else when i come out to see Bob Dylan. Enough said.
Great audience as usual. Real nice vibe. Those that get Bob Dylan,
totally get him, and come from far and wide to be part of musical history.
Eight thirty four, they are out and roaring, chugging fast like a frieght
train. Hearts are beating thousand times a minute. Slowin the train down
with methotical, righteous playing on Love Sick. Bob is front and center.
I'm sick of love, i wish i never met you. High Water coming straight at
us. Superb playing. I believe i'll dust my broom. Soon After Midnight,
with Bob going to keyboards. A rockin lullaby. Early Roman King, guiding
the Light. Oh, is there anything more marvelous than a Bob Dylan show?
Tangled Up In Blus is indeed a tangled mesh of heavy duty music, stunning
lyrics, singing that dances, while the Master also plays keyboards. Pay
In Blood, heavy, heavy, heavy. I pay in blood, but not my own. A mellow
Visions Of Johanna. Spirit On The Water turning on the tap. The fountain
of spiritual water. Sounds like a Christmas song, with lead guitarist
looking a lot like Santa, while playing very fine.Clear harmonica all
night. Beyond Here Lies Nothing, but the moon and stars. Bob on his
feet, center stage, conducting this crazy circus. Strong, strong, gleeful
harmonica playing. Nobody could play the blues like Willie McTell. Back
on the keyboards for What Good Am I. Thunderous, tremendous backbeat
throughout glorious set. Jitterbug madness with Thunder On The Mountain.
Ya got something to say, speak up, or forever hold yer peace. Pieling us
off the ceiling with a superb Scarlet Town. A very incredibly inspired,
strong All Along The Watchtower. In the middle of the song my hand
flailing, i accidently sent a women's phone into orbit, while she was
shooting video, directly behind me. No wher to be found. So upset me i
could not get into Ballad of A Thin Man. She bing full of grace, kept
telling me not to worry, and that Bob Dylan was much more important.
Thank God right after the show the phone was found by a young man rows
ahead after it bounced off him. What a great concert!!!! The band was so
damn good and Bob Dylan once again showed the true belivers, why we belive
Review by Susie Maxwell
Concert Review by Newbie Dylan Fan Susie
Beer. That's all I could smell as I entered the pre-game show. It was a
As for the game? It seemed to be won if knowledge and expectations
of Dylan matched with experience. That hungry desire was everywhere
as I passed through the aging crowd to find my seat.
I had no idea what to to expect, therefore matching nothing with a
game I am not privy to anyway. But I am privy to my senses. Smell,
sound and sight. And my senses were activated and satiated while
experiencing Dylan in a kinda voyeuristic manner. The guy is very cool.
The Dylanheads -- who graciously let me tag along -- were a living .com
on everything Dylan. The particulars didn't mean anything to me. I was
fascinated with their high level of engagement with their Messiah and his
material. They masterfully exegeted songs like all music scholars do using
tradition, reason, experience and lyrics. They located all in solid Dylology.
They compared common ground and points of departure. I can't run
with this coalition of fat cats, so I'm gonna let them pass me by, with a
nod of respect and appreciation for their depths.
Time to settle into my own seat. Good seat. Off to the side, yet close
enough to keep me in contact, like that thin mysterious space between
two magnets prior to their grabbing each other.
I loved the music, heard a few songs I recognized, and was blown away
by some harmonic rips. Overall I thought, "That was a steady and clean
blues concert". Once in a while I'd close my eyes, letting the wet
gravely voice and spot-on band go deep inside. I'm pretty sure I felt a
communal vibration on occasion, limited access to a world I never really
knew. With each song's entry and exit, it was fun to observe the
gracious and larger group exchange nods, looks and thoughts.
Dylan appeared like a scrawny, cocky old rooster wearing side-striped
pants with a real and proverbial feather in his cap. That and everything
else I saw was the real gift of the night. Nobody ever said my eyes
would be treated better than my ears. True eye candy. Watching Dylan
on his stage was like peering into a special box, all close and purposeful.
With a powerfully quiet presence, Dylan's musical equipment lay in
command under somber cloaks until it was their turn to be revealed.
The stage was big and industrial, but the illumination dampened and
softened its edges. Like an intentional aperture setting, our eyes were
dialed down and into focus on the small splay of musicians in the
seductively lit room. Move in close. Pay attention. You came to see this.
Who knew you could paint with electricity? Black and white, shades of
grey. Sepia tones. Smudges, streaks, blotches. My retinas sipping off an
old cocktail. Mmmmm, soothing.
Like dutiful guards, a few sets of functional lights took turns containing,
blurring, and defining the atmosphere. There were no accidents. All was
particular and controlled. Choreographed and exquisite. Tight and distant.
Brown and murky tones created a sense of memory. Black and white
chaos created order. Fans of illumination gathered the wandering. As you
can see, the music was secondary for me.
At the end? No sounds from him. All eyes on him though. He and his
band came out center stage. No words. Just gestures. Perhaps an
obligatory gaze at the audience and an obvious hand signaling applause
in the direction of his band.
Art. I didn't expect to see that.
Review by Jim Mello
Time is also a Slow Boat
Thanks to Ernie and Susie for setting the pace here. And, to Ernesto for
the crib notes/set list which will assist my blurry memory.
So, somewhere between Susie's "no expectations" and Ernie's "ever-fluid"
never-ending "landscape" sits my slow boat/jet plane.
Here we are (were) watching the shape note shifting Zimmerman soon to
turn 72. Back when we were encountering early Bob, '72 was a year in the
very distant, almost unimaginable future. 72 was where old people roamed.
Grandfathers and other ancestors. Anyone who remembers the '60's
wasn't there. At 62 and counting the sixties now is a very sharp two-edged
Enter Zimmy deciding to play the Colissee in nearby Lewiston, Maine…again.
Raconteur less. Dawes full. I liked Dawes…of course… I love the laid back
SoCal sound…The Byrds…Buffalo Springfield…and yes, the oft maligned
Beach Boys. Hollywood. Movie stars …sun, fun, and gorgeous harmonies
that mock and hide the harsher realities of this existence. Gorgeous
harmonies that point us to paradises...real, lost, regained and perpetually
imagined. Endless summers. Anti-archetype of the mill ridden world of
Lewiston and the great northeast. Endless summers. Timelessness. Hints
of eternity. Playground for Jackson Browne, to whom Dawes is compared.
I love their adolescent joy of fronting for The Bard. I loved their ballsiness
at not letting that stop them from performing well; confidently. I liked the
semi-novelty of a lead singer (front man) slinging a lead guitar and playing
some damn good, string bending, bluesy/rock and rolly, appropriate riffs
and instrumentals. I loved the dramatic tension in the songs…with plenty
of feeling (Bob were you watching?) and of course the Romanticism. They
got bonus points from me for good intelligible, hearable lyrics. I thought
their live performance of the songs I knew from their 2nd CD sounded
better, more full, edgier, live than on disc. And it was ballsy to play
several new tunes which imho held up well and made n me want to hear
the new CD. Retro, but new. The cycle of life. The cycle of Rock and
Roll, "Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts". P. Simon.
Enter the hero of the last/lost generation. As noted by Ernie in his review
and Lu "live in the moment" sans the soundtrack/promo. Dylan live and
naked. All of a sudden we were there, or he was: a spectre (rooster,
indeed). The antenna of the 60's, now on a wavelength we can't quite
comprehend. Out of synch with any current realities. Almost timeless.
Almost eternal. Ghosts of the 60's floating in and out of view, riding blues
notes and songs sometimes so twisted even the faithful take a stanza or
two to recognize. Tangled up in Blue, for example.
I love Bob the front man. Wooden. Tense. Intense. Once thought of
Dylan as the most intense person on the planet. That is often the missing
ingredient in the gazillion Dylan covers. Wearing the most god-awful
pants anyone has ever dared to come on stage with. And, it doesn't
matter. Pity anyone who's looking for Dylan Newport '65. Pity anyone
who's here because "this might be the last time we get to see him"(us
included)( It is my sincere belief that Dylan will die on stage. If he doesn't
then we can conclude there is no justice, and maybe no "God in His
heaven"). So, we get front man Bob for the first three numbers: a
murky "Things Have Changed" (could barely hear the wheelbarrow line),
an appropriately pained Love Sick ("I'm Sick of Love"…though we know
that Dylan like Solomon before him won't give up that ghost any time
soon), and the ever apocalyptically relevant "High Water". Thanks you ,
Bob. To my disappointment, Bob slides through the temporary darkness
to the grand piano, where he stands and sits (looked like a Catholic Mass)
for the next five numbers…plinking, and plunking…somewhere between
jazzy improv and world weary elementary piano…to his heart's content.
Playing's the thing. A nice, sweet…Dylan, too is an incurable (apocalyptic)
Romantic…Soon After Midnight.
Then the almost indiscernible "Tangled…" which, if memory serves me well,
has become a crowd favorite, especially when played with near original
arrangements a few tours back. Dylan the shape note shifter…twisting his
own words and history almost beyond recognition. Enter the ghost of
Tangled Up in Blue past. Back to the original LP…often proclaimed even
now to be his best. Certainly stands up well, which reminds me that in
spite of all this "the live in-the-moment experience is the best experience"
touring, when he dies it will be the recorded documents we will treasure.
"We all did feel the same, we just saw it from another point of view…
tangled up in blue". Bob's, I'm moving beyond the 60's but I was there
farewell…echoing down the decades…to this strange new millennial
decade where we all have different points of view.
Early Roman Kings and Pay in Blood finally and finely animated live. Welcome
Tempest songs. The first sinister enough to help us hear the frustration
that twenty centuries has changed very little, and the second, with its
double entendred reference to Jesus, connecting us again to both
centuries. For those who are paying attention, Tempest is a religious
Which brings us to Visions of Johanna, one of the 60's songs that makes
Dylan Dylan. No one else ever came near the lyrical dynamics of this song
and most of that 18 month Bringing it all Back Home…Highway 61,...Blonde
on Blonde torrent of song. No one. Tonight the unfamiliar arrangement
jars, the missed lyrics filled in by Lu singing next to me build the bridge
between the past and the present. I flashback to the 60's: hearing these
songs when they were fresh. Not just nostalgia, but timeless, haunting and
haunted. Dylan defying you to hold him there. The song's memory sucking
you through the vortex of time. Inner adolescent meets inner middle aged
man. The memory of the suburban teen trying to figure out the lyrics,
entranced by the images, holding court with the sage musicologist able to
quote chapter and verse of the Dylan canon. Thank you, Bob, and (if there
is one) Thank you God. Where would we be? Where would I be without
this master of open disguise…who provide, no, provides, a continual
soundtrack to my life. Almost always a quotable Dylan lyric. So, we can
forgive the horrific striped pants.
And the pedestrian moments in the songs and the less unpredictable set list.
He's paid his dues and even though I would love it if he would go back and
do recognizable arrangements of these gems they are at least, embedded in
my gray matter, ready to be vomited up in the nursing home near you.
I am relieved when he slips back to the mic…like a Blues Brothers American
idol wannbee to sing a soulful Beyond Here Lies Nothing. Finally Dylan
connects with the intensity…that energy he couldn't contain back in the day.
His blues roots...aging blueman modeling…producing a moment worthy of the
ticket price. His soul exposed. The at-one-ment missing all night in the
perfectly technically played restraint. Dylan stays center stage to deliver an
ok blind Willie McTell, perhaps the best Dylan song we almost never got to
hear. Less memorable than the piercing rendition he performed at the
Bangor Water Front a summer or so ago.
He changes place...back to the grand piano, and the time signature for an
almost too slow What Good Am I?…the musical confessional question that
challenges anyone willing to "take off their mask"…not to mention still
recovering Catholics…flagellum always at the ready. An enjoyable Summer
Days and a pretty solid Scarlet Town pave the way for a too restrained
Watchtower, the ghost of Hendrix leaving the arena.
But, to my pleasant surprise…a ballad of a Thin Man encore…complete with
"electricity painting" with lights (thanks Susie for tuning me into the lights
from the beginning of the show) . Though not as mask piercing as the
Water Front version in Bangor, where there was no doubt he was talking
to us, the audience, this version seemed again to resurrect the sleeping
intensity and helped end the night for me on a satisfying note.
Not a great show, but a good one, enhanced by good friends, Susie's Dylan
debut, and an unexpected Logan appearance. Add to that a memorable
and enjoyable pre-gig gathering at the heretofore unknown Guthrie's I echo
RDD's "thank you for the days…those sacred days you gave me" as my end
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