August 7, 2011
Review by Marc Schemansky
The night was hot and humid; you could just feel the rain was coming. The
place was filled with a mixture of old hippies, new hippies, Leon Russell
look-alikes, motorcycle mamas, anorexic go-go dancers, duded up cowboys, young
studs with their chicks in tow, dandies dressed like Hank Williams, etc.
etc. In fact the crowd reminded me of the characters right out of Desolation
Row. You could feel the energy in the air; just like old times.
Leon Russell started the whole thing off. He came out with this band and sat
down, waved to the crowd and proceeded to launch into Delta Lady... good
choice, good start. Some of the other highlights were Jumpin' Jack Flash (with
a touch of Paint it Black), the Beatles' Ive Just Seen a Face and of course the
intimate A Song for You (I've been so many places in my life and times, I've
sung a lot of songs, I've made some bad rhymes). He did a good job, a constant
talent. I would love to have seen him come out later with Bob and do "Wathcin
the River Flow", or It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry, but alas
it did not happen.
A quick equipment change occurred: Bob's Academy Award and beads in place, the
intro began and out walked the band. The guys in while jackets (looking like
they were stolen from Count Basie's band) and Bob in black with a white hat.
All dressed up with no place to go.
And off they went.... Starting with a great version of Leopard Skin Pill Box
Hat... this song can sometimes be a throwaway warmup, but in this case it was a
rousing rendition, the band was hot from the first note. In fact, the first
five songs were spot-on... Don't Think Twice, Things Have Changed, Tangled Up
in Blues, and Beyond Here Lies Nothing.. all excellent, complex beats and
rhythms. I have always felt that the best part of a Dylan Concert is when the
band starts a song tentatively or unsure but then finds it's groove and rides it
for all it is worth. Sometimes the interweaving of the guitars, keyboards,
bass, and drums finds a rhytm that is greater than the sum of its parts. You
can see the expression on Tony's and George's faces when this happens; both seem
to be having the time of their lives. Bob starts movin' and shakin' and the
wave of sound just gets intense. Hard to describe but a pleasure to
experience. This night had many of these moments. Talented musicians allowed
to experiment and find their way down a road seldom traveled.
Other highlights were Simple Twist of Fate, Thunder on the Mountain, Ballad of A
Thin Man, and All Along the Watchtower.
A good concert is when the energy of the crowd is palpable, the band is
energetic and inventive, and the overall feeling is uplifting. This was a good
Review by Lan
It has been more than 20 years since Dylan has played at Meadowbrook, a small
amphitheater on the campus of Oakland University. I was again honored to spend
the evening with Dr. Robert Schuler and his wife, the Duchess Susan. We had just
arrived that same morning from Geneva where Dr. Schuler was honored at the
International Geneva Awards. Fighting jet lag, we made the drive to Meadowbrook
and got in the very long line to get in the doors, which were scheduled to open
at 6:00pm but did not actually open until 6:50pm.
Leon Russell took the stage at 7:29pm. Walking with a cane, large white hat,
sunglasses and blue and white print shirt, Russell made his way to a keyboard
that had so many wires and plugs and other equipment attached to it, it looked
like something from the Borg collective ship. It was quickly obvious that
Russell is waaaay past his prime and his "comeback" is nothing more than some of
his famous friends doing him a favor. The days of "honky tonk" rock and roll are
over. His strange version of Wild Horses was a prelude to a pitiful medley of
songs. Russell's Fran Drescher like voice ran through snippets of Jumpin Jack
Flash, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Paint it Black, Kansas City and Roll Over
Beethoven. After more than 40 years in the music business, I would expect him to
have at least a 40 minute set of his own music. Even his guitar player sang a
song. Saying nothing more than "thank you" to the crowd as he finished, he
hobbled off at 8:15pm
It was a beautiful night, slight breeze and blue sky when Dylan took the stage
at 8:45pm. As the usual announcement was made introducing him, the storm clouds
came in strong over our heads. It was clear we were going to be in for a very
wet night. Dylan seemed to be a few steps behind the rest of the band and
walked out alone, his step hurried and a smile on his face as he realized he was
late. The band was dressed in white coats, white hats, black shirt and black
pants. Dylan was in a black suit, white hat, a gold stripe down the sides of
his pants and white shoes.
1. Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat – Voice was clear, band was tight.
A good jam. Sadly, this would not be the case for the rest of Dylan’s
2. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright - Extended opening.
Tony played his standup bass. The wolf man was out in full force and would
not leave until the end of the show. More countrified than I have heard in
the past, Donny played some nice slide.
3. Things Have Changed – Much faster than the original, Dylan’s
harp was way out in the mix. Rain was hammering those on the hill.
4. Tangled Up in Blue – Dylan moved to center stage with his
guitar. Very difficult to understand, his guitar was clear and he played more
than just a few chords as usual. Very loud harp did not help his vocals.
5. Beyond Here Lies Nothing – Still at center stage with his
guitar, vocals improved but still in wolf man mode.
6. Mississippi – A huge disappointment. This is one of my
favorite songs and he destroyed it completely with this performance. Dylan
was yelling the verses and traded organ parts with Charlie’s guitar.
7. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum - Back to center stage with his
guitar, Dylan went into full up singing mode with every third word emphasized.
I am not a fan of this song live and this was another reason why. Rain was
really coming down and people were running for the exits for more reasons than
just the rain.
8. Summer Days – Unusual to see this in the number 8 slot, every
member of the band enjoyed a solo spot, with Tony back on the standup bass.
9. Tryin to Get to Heaven – Dylan’s vocals were choppy and his up
singing was tiresome. Difficult to understand, he played his harp over and
10. Highway 61 – Strange arrangement, vocals were almost incoherent. It
was not until the crowd caught “sixteeee one” did they respond with cheers.
Another opportunity for the band to each have a short solo. A rare
performance where Stu was allowed to take the lead duties.
11. Simple Twist of Fate – Absolute highlight of the show. Dylan was
back at center stage with his guitar. Vocals were clear as a bell. I am
convinced that the wolf man routine is all an act and Dylan can speak and sing
as clear as ever.
12. Thunder on the Mountain – Dylan should be arrested for writing this
song, let alone performing it.
13. Ballad of a Thin Man – The wolf man was back but a very strong vocal
performance. The echo used added a haunting dimension to the performance and
saved it from total ruin.
14. Like A Rolling Stone – Nothing new. Charlie took his jacket off.
George put his on. Dylan introduced the band and said “playin my drums,
George Receli.” I miss the days of Dylan interjecting some humor into his
15. All Along the Watchtower – Almost unrecognizable. A slow, methodical
version, tonight’s performance wasn’t as bombastic or rocking as in years
past. It was almost as if Dylan was trying to put the remaining members of
the audience to sleep. Dylan’s organ was out front in the mix.
The band took their silent bow when they were done for all of 12 seconds.
Dylan took three steps forward, turned, and off they went.
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists