Kalamazoo, Michigan

Wings Stadium

April 20, 2013

[Jerry Spanbauer], [Don Ely]

Review by Jerry Spanbauer

I had the good fortune to attend the show in Kalamazoo last night, nearly
six hours from my home in Wisconsin but feeling like my efforts were
well-worth it. Thanks to the fantastically written reviews above, I will
keep things brief and add a few comments. 

It was my 32nd show and my girlfriend's first. She is a huge music fan,
but is more into obscure alternative acts, so I was curious as to how she
would perceive the show. The bottom line is we both loved it. She
appreciated Bob's no-frills approach, was pleasantly surprised by his
vocals, and loved the band. Bob was animated, energetic, and committed to
putting on a quality show with solid vocals and excellent harp playing.
Duke's playing was excellent as was the rest of the band. Donnie is more
audible than previous tours. I am not a huge fan of "Thunder On The
Mountain," and it was the one song where the words were difficult to make
out, but they rocked the house and Tony's stand-up was perfect. Seeing
"What Good Am I" was a treat and that harp/guitar interaction between Bob
and Duke on "Beyond Here Lies Nothing" is a show-stopper. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the venue, Wings Stadium. Knowing it was a
hockey arena made me skeptical, but the sound was fine and the place had a
lot of charm with excellent vending and a very friendly staff. In all, I
have no regrets about making the trek to Kalamazoo. It was time-well-spent
with my sweetheart and my old pal! 

Jerry Spanbauer 
Oshkosh, WI 


Review by Don Ely

Record Store Day! If SuperBowl ( Registered Trademark ) Sunday is a
National Holiday for football fans, then Record Store Day ( trademark for
and of THE PEOPLE! ) is a National Holiday for music fans. Before leaving
on this Bobtrip I'd chosen two locations to visit on this chilly, windy,
snow-flurrying Saturday morning in Akron, Ohio. At the first, Square
Records on W. Market Street, folks were lined up out the door of the small
shop. Too tiny to accomodate the throng, as a few customers left a few
more were let in. The wait was about a half hour, but it allowed time for
conversation with other enthusiasts, and isn't that what brick and mortar
is all about? Engaging with flesh and blood and minds and hearts and not
hard drives and microchips? Akron is a friendly town and the cold and
waiting were soon forgotten. Once inside I scored the Grateful Dead Lp of
1966 outtakes and live tracks assembled by their current archivist David
Lemieux. I also found Bob Dylan's entry into the RSD sweepstakes, the "
Wigwam " demo 45, as well as Flaming Lips' new grey matter-expanding Cd "
The Terror ". I always love what that band does. From there I shot
crosstown to another independent, SoundChaser Music. Here I purchased a
Record Store Day exclusive live Lp from another favorite band, Calexico,
who hail from Tucson, Arizona and were founded by ex-members of Giant
Sand. Perhaps the biggest prize, however, was finding The Lost Tapes 1968
- 1975, a box set from German experimentalists Can that I'd been seeking
since it's release about a year ago. Though on my wish list I never
expected to discover it in a place like this! I would find that good karma
would follow me all day long.

Back on the turnpike I drove the width of Ohio and into Indiana where my
intention was to pick up I-69 north into Michigan to I-94 west to
Kalamazoo. A momentary brain blip ( the sanitized version of what occurred
) caused me to blow past my exit, and the next offramp was 23 miles down
the road. I had my trusty road atlas at the ready ( I'm too much of a
luddite for GPS ) and once through the toll booth I headed across the
Wolverine State line and into the town of Sturgis. I knew Wings Stadium
was at exit 81 off I-94 and I could see that on the map, but the way there
was not completely clear as not all the county roads on the map are
marked. So with my instincts and those highways that were indicated, I
found my way through the villages of Mendon and Vicksburg and located
Sprinkle Road, which I knew would take me to the Bob Dylan show tonight!
God is my pilot ( I'm the co-pilot ) and good karma my backseat driver.

More good fortune! I was able to book an inexpensive ( but not cheap )
room that was a mere walk across the parking lot from the venue. This
saved the $10 parking fee I would've had to pay, so in essence I got a 20%
discount on my hotel room. And take that walk I did, and was able to score
a much better ticket than I thought I would at the gate. For the shows in
Akron and Bowling Green I'd bought tickets a couple days in advance, as
Ticketmaster advised that there were " not many left ". But for Kalamazoo
I thought I'd take my chances and see what happens. 

I have previous experience with Wings Stadium. In 1994 we drove out from
Detroit to see Smashing Pumpkins, one of four gigs we'd catch within a
year on their Siamese Dream tour. The most memorable thing about that gig
was the opening band Red Red Meat, who rolled footage of the long car
chase scene in the Steve McQueen film Bullitt. All those roaring engines
and especially the screeeeeeeeeching tires bounced off the stadium
concrete and made your teeth shatter! This venue has a long history of
hosting rock bands and Bob Dylan has played here several times, most
recently in 2008. But my 83rd time seeing Bob was my first time seeing him
at Wings Stadium. The crowd was good-natured, out for a saturday night and
ready to have fun.

I caught more of Dawes' set this time. They are a very good young rock
band, a four-piece combo from Los Angeles with your basic
guitar/keyboards/bass/drums line-up. They have a talented singer/guitarist
in frontman Taylor Goldsmith and both the keysman and drummer sing
harmony. Their songs are melodic with touches of country and Americana,
nothing too fancy, but enjoyable. They got a really warm reception in
Kalamazoo. After a short intermission Bob Dylan and His Band hit the
stage. I was seated just off stage left, which meant Bob's back was toward
me Most of the Time, but that's all right, mama 'cause I know what he
looks like! Sound quality is key for me and tonight it was excellent. I
was much closer than last night so I could see much more in the lowered
stage lighting as well. So for the first time ever, that I know of, Bob is
playing the same set each and every night. Lone exceptions are " Highway
61 Revisited " as the set closer at the first show in Buffalo, and
occasionally dropping " Thunder On The Mountain " in favor of " Summer
Days ". Bob's not a kid anymore, maybe this is how he needs to do it from
here on out, or maybe it's to accommodate new guitarist Duke Robillard,
who may not be that deep in the repertoire just yet. Whatever the reason,
I thoroughly enjoyed three concerts in three straight nights. I had no
problem with knowing what was coming next; in fact it's better than being
disappointed with " oh no, not another Tweedly Dee! " This set is a
winner, with 75% of the songs from 1983 or later. " High Water ( for
Charley Patton ) " has a nifty series of false endings that tickled the
crowd. " Early Roman Kings ", " Pay In Blood ", " Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
", and " All Along The Watchtower " are all great band workouts.  The
current arrangements of " Things Have Changed " and " Blind Willie McTell
" are great. The former has an improvised intro ( as does the reworked "
Watchtower " ) that the band plays as they enter the stage, and the latter
another series of false endings. As a Dylan vet and a guy who " gets "
Bob, I love to watch an audience who is having fun and is appreciative of
what this man has brought to popular, American, and World culture, and
loves and appreciates what he brings to the stage on any given night. This
crowd was right there, in the moment.

" What good am I if I'm like all the rest
If I just turn away, when I see how you're dressed
If I shut myself off so I can't hear you cry
What good am I?

 What good am I if I know and don't do
If I see and don't say, if I look right through you
If I turn a deaf ear to the thunderin' sky
What good am I? "

Bob Dylan gets it

Don Ely
The Rochester Travellin' Man
Rochester, MI


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