Cadillac Palace Theatre
October 6, 2023
Review by Adam Selzer
As long a stretch as Dylan has played with few or no setlist changes, the
Rough and Rowdy ways has become a fascinating high point. The shows I saw
in the first six months of the tour were all terrific, but it's amazing
how much the show has evolved since then. Visually, musically, and more -
it's a totally different show now, even with the same songs and most of
the same band.
And tonight in Chicago was a very strong show, with Dylan in great voice
and clearly seeming to enjoy himself. Even when he forgot what came after
"bring someone to life" several time over the course of "My Own Version"
(the sort of mistake that really threw him on the last Chicago show,
nearly two years back) he just seemed to be laughing at himself and
Met up with a lot of the regulars before the show - Michael Glover Smith
and Matt Steichen, with whom I did a Hibbing/Duluth trip over the winter
that was WAY more fascinating and instructive - simply overwhelming really
- than I ever imagined it would be. Ray Padgett, who went from being a
gawky kid who hanging out before the 2005 Auditorium shows to being one of
the greatest Dylan writers of them all. There were people I talked to in
DC back in '21, or before the other Chicago shows. Ross Berman, one of the
best songwriters in town today (who predicted Dylan would open the Chicago
show with "Goin’ to Kansas City.") We met up at Monk's, just a short hike
through a canyon of skyscrapers from the theater.
The Cadillac Palace is a gorgeous old vaudeville house-turned movie
palace-turned-theater, 2500 seats in the heart of the loop. A bit east on
Randolph was the city's first real theater, Rice's, which hosted actors
like Junius Booth and Charlotte Cushman. Across the corner is city hall,
on the site of the pre-fire City Hall, where Lincoln's funeral was held
(the next-to-last of many) and where "The Battle Cry of Freedom" was
premiered at a rally in 1862. It's part of a stretch that became known as
"The Rialto" in the early 20th century, a strip of theaters that included
the old Iroqouis, site of a deadly fire. In the 1910s the cops tried to
assassinate Barney Bertsch, a payoff man whom they feared would rat them
out for taking bribes from fortune tellers. The first time Al Capone made
the papers in town was for drunkenly crashing his car into a parked taxi
on this stretch of road. I could go on and on but I've got two more nights
to cover. The point is: last night Bob Dylan played the Cadillac for the
first time since time since 2014.
That 2014 show was terrific, but I only went to one night of the run. It
was early in the "static setlist" period, and the shows were just starting
to get back on track after the more hit-or-miss period of the previous
several years (also, i was sort of broke). But this time around, things
aren't what they were. The spring and summer shows that leaked (come on,
they all leak) have been thrilling to hear, I'm listening to more shows
than I have in years, and I want to catch as many as I can.
Bob Dylan got us all excited from the start with a surprise cover of the
Butterfield Blues Band's "I Was Born in Chicago," which had him not only
calling out the city's name repeatedly (even if the song is hardly a rosy
tribute to the city), but singing that he was born in 1941, which just
happens to be true (whereas the song's lyricist, Nick Gravenites, was
really born in 1938). Bob was singing the HELL out of this song, and the
show roared to life right out of the gate.
'Most Likely" was strong and conversational, telling its story in a way
that I don't normally pick up on from that song. A groovier-than-it-was
"Multitudes" had me gasping for air, and "False Prophet" was propelled by
stick-flipping theatrics from new drummer Jerry Pentecost, who brought
some new muscle into the songs and was a blast to watch. "When I Paint
My Masterpiece" is tighter than it was early on, the first of many songs
tonight that would start out with Dylan on solo piano, a development
worked into the show some time after the show I saw last Spring.
Throughout, Dylan was smiling more than usual, thanked us frequently,
and seemed proud of what he was doing. The singing was top notch.
On tapes of this tour I usually skip ahead to hear "Black Rider" first,
which grew from its sparse arrangement to something that reminds of The
Doors. I still contend that the speaker in the song is Death and the black
rider he's addressing is Dylan (which makes the line after "hold it right
there" hilarious), but of course it contains multitudes. That was the
impression I had after that first night of the tour in Milwaukee: that
"I Contain Multitudes" isn't on top of the back of the album cover just
because it's the first song - it's a label, like "Eat Me" or "Drink Me."
Much as I liked the album, the songs truly opened up live.
And more multitudes within the songs keep revealing themselves. Last time
I saw "My Own Version of You" it was stripped down, with Dylan practically
street-preaching a capella for long sections, all fire and brimstone and
rawhide whips. The new version is fast and fun, like the Highway 61 band
fronted by Vincent Price. We're past the point in history where we could
actually see THAT pairing happen, but as "Philosophy of Modern Song"
says, music transcends time by living within it.
Then was one of the great revelations of this tour: the new arrangement of
"I'll Be Your Baby," with nearly the whole song done solo piano, with that
Rolling Thunder cantillation, before the band finally kicks in roughly
halfway through to do a sort of "version B" of the same song. "I'll be
Your Baby Tonight" has never been a highlight of the night for me before;
it usually just feels like an uptempo tune put in for pacing, a little
moment of levity. Now it's astounding.
The show continued apace, with only "That Old Black Magic" seeming off to
me tonight, though there was something odd and fascinating about the
languid "Goodbye Jimmy Reed," which opened with Bob giving a couple of
glares to Doug Lancio as he started playing the opening licks (Doug played
a largely-inaudible acoustic pretty much all night, if not ALL night. Even
False Prophet had him on acoustic guitar). I suspect that by the end of
the tour this song is going to sound a lot different than it does tonight.
After a simply majestic "Every Grain of Sand," which had people breaking
into cheers after every verse and crowding up toward the stage, I leaned
in to give a proper "end of show" cheer, but Bob kept on playing the
piano, going into another song that no one around me could identify - and
had to wait a minute to find, since our phones were in the Yondr pouches!
It turned out to be "Forty Days and Forty Nights," a Muddy Waters song.
Two Chicago surprises!
Paul Williams once compared watching several Dylan shows to watching a
year's worth of performances of "King Lear" (which had it's first Chicago
performance down the street at Rice's in 1848, starring Edwin Forrest,
with Cordelia played by the future Mrs. John Drew, matriach of the
Drew-Barrymore family) Well, "Rough and Rowdy Ways" is two years worth,
just about, and you see that played out in this tour more than in any
other., Despite few changes in the source material, the show evolves, it
changes, it morphs, it finds new gems within itself. I left tonight on a
cloud, listening to an awesome street band playing a brassy "Kashmir"
which is the kind of thing that happens here, in a town that Conde Nast
just named the best big city for the seventh straight year. What a town,
where you can see Bob Dylan at such a peak three nights in a row! I'll
catch a couple more after these next month, and then swing around to the
end of the tour.
One last note: Dylan's delivery of "Mother of muses, wherever you are"
reminded me of Jimmy Durante tonight. From a quick check, Durante played
this theater back when it was brand new. See everybody tonight! What a
great hobby this is.
Review by Hermann Rechberger
What a difference!
I saw Bob 9x during the summer tour in Europe and I was sure it
couldn't get better! Yesterday's Chicago show proofed that it could!
It all started with the first song. Bob didn't walk on stage with the
band. He waited 'til they started to play and then he came in in
typical moves, but full of energy, enjoying the reaction of an
Born In Chicago pleased the audience but the first song that was an
absolute surprise for me was the new arrangement of I Contain
Multitudes. Melodic and swinging and a great vocal changed the song
The whole show was more piano-driven than all of the former Rough
And Rowdy tours since 2021! Sometimes he is really hammering it.
And, he did a big part of the show standing instead of sitting.
When he was standing behind his piano he really looks as his great
idol Little Richard!
By the way, Goodbye Jimmy Reed was so deconstructed that it was
hard to recognize!
All in all a fantastic experience and even after all these years
this might be the best show I've ever whitenessed!
Keep on keeping on, may your song always be sung
Review by Patti Rain
What a beautiful setting in Chicago to hear Bob for 3 nights in my
I had just traveled to Italy this summer and added 8 days to my
5 week trip when I learned he was playing in Lucca!
It was the most beautiful setting, sound was magnificent, audience
practiced attentive listening ... best show I have ever seen of Bob,
but he seemed a tad frail. Last night he seemed much stronger,
Mind you Lucca was after a long haul thru Spain...
The sound was the issue last night. Piano was too loud, voice
too low, steel guitar too low & the lead way too low
The arrangements were awesome, orchestral & sometimes pure abstract
jazz ! He loves his piano. And I love him so much... he brought me
to tears several times...
Tonight I hope we can hear his poetry better...
Review by RD
...my thoughts sitting four rows center.
...lights dim, slowly come back up as band saunters on stage... suddenly Bob
walks out and heads straight to the piano (center stage, not angled,
straight front so everyone can see him during the evening)... the moment Bob
is spotted the audience leaps to their feet, applauding and yelling. It is
amazing how much this man is loved. ...bob has been opening his tour dates
with a song appropriate (in some way) to his location... tonight it was Paul
Butterfield's I Was Born in Chicago. ...audience loved it and remained
standing for the next few songs. ...some quick observations. .there's no way
getting around it ... it is breathtaking thinking you are in the same room,
same space, twenty feet away from Bob Dylan. I once had the honor of
sitting first row, literally able to reach up and tough his shoes if I had
so wanted (this was the Sexton/Campbell days when Bob played guitar stage
right)... he is a Legend and in life we really have so few Legends and
chances are we aren't going to be in the same room with them for almost
two hours. .when Bob speaks, the crowd erupts... known for not saying much
or anything at all, tonight he thanked the crowd several times when a song
ended and each time the crowd roared… it's amazing how the littlest 'thank
you' or smile or head nod can rev up the crowd. .many songs were newly
arranged with Masterpiece and Rubicon being excellent examples of making
great songs even better, .Key West, newly arranged and sounding great, but
I do like the original and always wanted to hear that version done live
with Bob singing softly and the band playing quietly as the words to KW
are beautiful and hit hard to those of us who might be ole enough to be
thinking of 'what's next' when this journey ends. .the days of Bob getting
up and singing crooner style center stage are over now… once he's at the
piano he's either sitting or standing behind it... When night was over and
Bob stepped out for the band's bow, crows went wild when they finally got
to see him head to toe.. .the crooner microphone was set up on stage and
throughout the concert I wondered when he might step out for a number, but
he didn't. Then, when he stepped out and up front to take that bow I
realized that mic stand is now there for him to hold on for balance... but
regardless, at 80 he's still throwing knockout punches in every city he
plays in. .Bob's voice is powerful, the gravelly sound (Christmas in the
Heart) is gone... His voice is strong and clear and well-toned. .Bob and
the band did one hell of a job with That Ol' Black Magic... had the place
rocking. .Every Grain of Sand was the penultimate song of the evening and
half the orchestra seating came up front to watch him play... Like I said,
the Man is a Legend and we all seemed to know this might be the last time
he passes through Chicago. .Bob ended the night with a Muddy Waters
favorite, Forty Days and Forty Nights. .it was a wonderful evening.
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