July 30, 2011
Review by Jim Maynard
Dylan gave a great performance tonight on Mud Island in Memphis (July 30), one
of the best I've seen. It was a great day, my mother and brother came down to
Memphis from Arkansas, and we visited Elvis at Graceland earlier in the day. My
brother is a Dylan fan, but I wasn't sure mom would enjoy Dylan as much as Leon
The forecasts called from scattered thunderstorms so I feared rain, and there
were ominus clouds over Memphis and lots of lightening during Leon Russells
lively set of rock standards. I was not familiar with Russells work, but
recognized a few rock classics (Jumping Jack Flash, Wild Horses, etc.) I heard
Song for You for the first time, and I will be checking out that and other works
by Russells. Leon stayed behind his keyboard barely visible except for his long
bright white/gray beard, and he could barely stand for his brief encore, and
looked pretty frail limping off with his cane. I had hoped to hear him join
Dylan for a renunion on Watching the River Flow or When I Paint My Masterpiece,
but he never came back.
I was hoping for Rainey Day Women to open, but since that was played the prior
show, I knew we would get Leopardskin Pillbox Hat, still a good start. Don't
Think Twice was a familiar version, followed by new arrangement of Things Have
Changed, with some good harp. Tangled Up In Blue has undergone another revision,
with Dylan in the center of the stage focusing on his vocals and playing some
really great harp solos. Dylan played electric guitar for the first, and I
think only time, on Beyond Here Lies Nothing, great performance, better than the
album version I think...
The highlights of recent Dylan shows, including Memphis, is when Bob moves to
the center of the stage to sing and play great harmonica solos. Most songs have
also undergone radically new arrangements, usually for the better. First real
standout performance for me was a jazzed up version of Mississippi, with the
crowed cheering the chorus (Stayed in MS a day too long..)
Next came a great loud, rockin' Levee's Gonna Break (given new urgency with the
recent flooding of the Mississippi...) Charlie and Bob did dueling riffs on
guitar and organ.. (oh, Bob is playing mostly organ now, not piano on his
Next great highlight, Sugar Baby. Not one of amy favorite songs from L&T, but
this version was mesmerizing, with bob enter stage, singing each line slowly and
every word was carefully and forefully delivered. More great harp..
Hwy 61 is always a favorite in Memphis, just a short distance from the famous
Hwy 61. Charlie gets to open up with great riffs, dueling with Bob on organ
As the other reviews have foretold, Forgetful Heart is heart stopping greatness.
Bob enter stage again delivering great vocals, best singing I've hear from him
in a while... Bob seems to love these latest songs.
Thunder on the Mountain was delivered fast and furious, hard to recognize, I
think they should slow it down a little, but the best jam of the night saved it
And the last great great highlight of the show, Ballad of a Thin Man, bob at his
best as a singer and performer. The echo effect adds to Bobs powerful singing
of this great masterpiece. He is really getting into this song and putting a
lot into it..
The First Encore was expected, and enjoyable crowd pleasers, Like a Rolling
Stone and All Along the Watchower (this version not as good as others), and we
held out and got a great second encore of Blowing in the Wind....
The crowd begged for more, but it was the end of another great Bob show in
Memphis, Tennessee. And the verdict from mom as 'thumbs up' so I think she is a
bob fan now too... (Only problem was she was in a wheelchair and the row in
front of her stood up most of the show blocking her view..) I had warned her
about his worn out voice and what to expect, but bob is once again using his
voice as an instrument to express new and different things, with old and newer
Thanks bob for another good one... amazing how he keeps going and going.
Review by Ivo Kamps
Dylan's Memphis performance last night was simply stunning. I've seen
Dylan in concert 6 or 7 times since 1990, and this is the most
animated I've seen him. From the opening chords of Leopard Skin
Pillbox Hat to the last harmonica gasp on Blowin' in the Wind, Bob was
gyrating behind the organ, tapping his foot while playing guitar, and
making Sinatra-like hand gestures behind the central stage
microphone. Sometimes it appeared as if he were going to break into
the twist behind the keyboard. It's hard to say whether he was urged
on by the enthusiastic and vocal crowd or simply into his music, but
it was obvious that he was working extremely hard in the post-sunset
86 degree heat, and enjoying it. His vocal performance was
tremendous, especially on some of the quit songs, such as Sugar Baby,
Mississippi, and Forgetful Heart. Sugar Baby, in particular, was
incredible. The voice was steady, crystal clear, and full of
passion. What was also interesting was the way he held his notes on
The Levee's Gonna Break. By now we're all used to Dylan clipping the
end of vocal lines, which is probably easier on his voice, but on
Levee he held them repeatedly, with ease, and to great effect.
Granted, it wasn't like "how does it feeeeel" from the mid 60s, but it
was intense and genuine, adding an urgency that the studio recording
of Levee doesn't have.
The overall sound mix was also wonderful, and much better than last
week in Thackerville (an indoor venue), where Charlie Sexton's guitar
was often barely audible. In Memphis, Charlie's guitar rang like a
bell and provided a much needed counter to Bob's swampy (and often
repetitive) organ playing.
During Ballad of a Thin Man, the sound engineer put some echo on Bob's
voice in strategic places, giving his vocal delivery a powerfully
spooky quality. It may seem a bit gimmicky, something to which Bob is
generally not given, but it works. It makes the song a great climax
to the regular set. One more note on Ballad. During its
Thackerville performance, Bob shouted out, just before the harmonica
solo, to someone to turn off the light. Then, a few moment into the
solo, the spot light slowly came back up, to dramatic effect. I found
this interesting because Bob's shows generally don't use light effects
(no Pink Floyd here), and may suggest that Bob actually does take an
interest in these matters and may of late be developing an interest in
visuals and the "show" aspect of his performance. Maybe it's not too
late for old Bob to learn new tricks. What a night. I'm glad that my
twenty-year old son was there to see it with me.
Comments by Robert Posey
Great show really! I've seen 60+ since 1985 & some undocumented prior. Hot &
humid w/mainly women violating no photo ban. Still awesome Tangled up in Blue,
taking woman in wheelbarrow to Beale St., Levee's gonna break & wow Forgetful
Heart truly heartfelt!
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