Osaka, Japan

Festival Hall

April 12, 2016


Review by Wilfen

Review in Two Words:  Enchanted Evening

Highlights:   Bob’s voice and singing overall:  Clear, smooth and smoky,
and charged with “feeling.”  Especially with the “Sinatra” songs,
the live vocal renditions sounded to me more polished and precise, in
regard to “hitting the notes” and diction and delivery.  Very intimate
feeling.  The band:  as always, brilliant—sweet, smokin’ and full of

Standout Songs of the Night (a highly personal selection):   1) What’ll
I Do:  The band was smoothly swaying and swinging, while Bob’s voice
embodied the song’s wistful, longing pathos.  2) High Water (For Charley
Patton): Performed by the band and Bob with more force and feeling than
the studio recording captured.  3) The Night We Called It a Day:  Bob’s
vocals were pure and emotive, unadorned yet delicate from start to finish.
 4) (Encore Tunes):  Blowin’ in the Wind and Love Sick:  The first
(BITW) called across five or six decades, which reminded us (or at least
me) that many of the classic “Sinatra” selections were recorded
roughly in the same era—which should encourage us to resist mentally
filing music according to artificial categories such as time period,
ethnicity, and genre.  The closer for the night (Love Sick) left ‘em
wanting more.  Bob and the band delivered a rousing but still haunting
performance of this great “latter day” classic, bringing the night to
an end.

Less Impressive for this Listener:  1) That Old Black Magic:  While it
wasn’t “phoned in,” it just seemed to lack feeling and fun (for
me)--mostly disappointing.  2) Spirit on the Water:  I enjoyed this tune
live twice in Osaka in 2014, but this time around, it sounded rather
disjointed and jumbled, and for me, it didn’t fit well in the mix of
songs and didn’t add anything much to the evening.

Set List:  The audience was dominated by middle-aged and older folks, and
they seemed especially enthusiastic about the “Sinatra” songs,
followed closely by the classic heavy hitters (She Belongs to Me, Tangled
Up in Blue, Blowin’ in the Wind, Love Sick).  This 2016 show in Osaka
followed the same basic structure as the 2014 concerts, but obviously the
eight “Sinatra” tunes have been worked in.  It could be that “age”
plays a big role in determining how an audience will react to certain song
selections, but at least this Osaka crowd seemed very pleased that Bob
performed the old standards.

Last Words on the Subject:  My strongest impression overall is that Bob
Dylan really focused on presenting the songs in direct and personal way,
which is an amazing feat when a performer is working for two or three
thousand people.  I’ve seen Dylan perform live only about a half dozen
times, but this show felt the most “intimate” and genuinely felt,
perhaps in good part because Bob’s singing just sounded so damned good.


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