July 19, 2011
Review by Phil Vega
The hot, humid, sultry night at this outdoor venue in Tucson was matched
this evening by Bob's smoking hot set that was as entertaining as any I have
seen him perform. (The first being the 1986 True Confessions tour with TP and
the Heartbreakers as his backup band).
OK, so the lighting effects are minimal, as are the stage backdrops, but the
songs in the musician's canon remain strong, vibrant, syncopated, electric.
From the rousing opener of "Rainy Day Women" to the sublime "Tangled Up in
Blue" to the swing of "If You Ever Go to Houston" Dylan and bandmates
effectively and reflectively presented these and 11 other songs.
The band, decked out in all white suits, some wearing hats, showed no overt
signs of showmanship. Rather they appeared perfectly fine with being marionettes
pulled along by their peerless songwriter/leader.
As for Bob, some feared as he pounded the organ, blew the harp and jangled
the guitar during the course of the show that the sweltering night might
take its toll. The energy he emitted, after all, would have been enough to
work up a good sweat even if he wasn't buttoned up in a dark black jacket
topped off with a wide-brimmed hat.
But instead, Bob seemed to feed off the heat - and perhaps the heat of the
crowd - as "The Levee's Gonna Break" brought fans to their feet as did a
beautiful rendition of "Forgetful Heart".
The show ends with the encore of the ubiquitous "Like a Rolling Stone" and
"All Along the Watchtower".
Going in this reviewer figured it might be the last time seeing Bob. Seventy
years old, nearly 50 years of touring, hundreds of show dates a year - isn't the
end coming soon? Yet, after seeing him tonight the diehard fan and the casual
observer may both come to the same conclusion when asked the question, "when
will it no longer be special to attend a Bob Dylan show?"
After seeing him tonight, the answer my friend is still "blowin' in the
Review by Robert Weinick
I realize that ones take on a particular Dylan show may sometimes depend on his
song choices and what one is looking to hear. I would add Bob's new arrangements
for old songs as well. I was at both shows in Arizona and preferred the Tucson
show. Better venue , I was closer and better sound. I have seen him about 6
times over the last 5 years and here is my take. Dylan is now a crooner in the
vain of Jolson, Sinatra and Bennett. It is the highlight of his shows. His
featured song about every night is Ballad of a Thin Man. He stands at the Mike
without instrument, arms outstretched and just lets loose. If one is taken back
by his voice quality I would point them to Billie Holiday in her later years.
Her voice was diminished but she recorded and sang some of her most memorable
songs (see Autumn in New York). Dylan sings Things Have Changed each night the
same way and really seems to enjoy himself. Add two more that way each night.
He did a new arrangement of Tangled Up In Blue both nights that was just great.
I am not a fan of Together Through Life on the whole but one of the highlights
of both shows was Beyond Here Lies Nothing. Bob played guitar and drove both
Sexton and Kimball to make the song a show stopper for me. I loved the new
version of Forgetful Heart with Donnie Herron playing a beautiful violin behind
a crooning Dylan at the mike. I came to hear Sexton play but was blown away
with Stu Kimball's guitar work on Highway 61. Also great work on The Levee's
Gonna Break. Never payed him a lot of attention in previous shows. I wanted
Cold Irons Bound and I got it in spades. New arrangement that is wonderful. Nice
version of Baby Blue but Visions of Johanna didn't work for me.
Hope that the next time I see Dylan he has (for the moment) retired Rolling
Stone, Thunder On the Mountain, and Watchtower. Maybe he can bring them back
for his 80 th birthday.
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