Cadillac Palace Theatre
October 7, 2023
Review by Adam Selzer
The bar across the street from the venue was selling Rough and Rowdy Old
Fashioned, made with Heavens Door spirits. They cost 18.50, and were..
okay. Good and all, but not as good as you'd expect. This set our
attitude: in the pre-show gathering, we all agreed to keep our
expectations low after a great night full of surprises. We'd probably just
get a standard setlist tonight, nothing special, just a good, enjoyable
entry in a great tour.
And even after the reprise of last night's opener, "Born in Chicago," I
settled in for a normal night. The energy in the crowd seemed more sedate,
at least where I was sitting. And I was exhausted. These things figure in
to how we experience concerts, after all. For the first several songs I
wasn't quite as engaged as I'd been the night before, but found myself
thinking that if I just heard the two tapes, I might think night 2 was
better. Bob continued to seem like he was in a playful mood, goofing off
on the piano and doing runs all up and down the keyboard in "Most Likely."
It was a fun night; with performances on the level of last night.
Then, something changed. After a magnificent "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight,"
he moved into a "Crossing the Rubicon" that just COOKED, and from then on
nearly every song seemed better than it had the night before. "Key West"
was mesmerizing, "Jimmy Reed" came together better, and "Mother of Muses"
was simply beautiful. I'd dry-swallowed an ibuprofen before the show and
really wanted to go grab a drink, but just couldn't find a minute when I
was willing to step away.
Of course, the biggest surprise was the one I'd been predicting: when we
hit the "Surprise Song" slot, Bob turned and said something to Tony, and
then then drums kicked into "Truckin!" The crowd was on its feet, going
nuts as Bob sang one of the greatest and most iconic rock lyrics he didn't
write: "What a long, strange trip it's been." Sure, that line has become a
cliche now, something you use as a high school yearbook quote when
everyone knows your trip hasn't been THAT strange, but it became a cliche
for a reason. And best of all: the cover was tight and well performed. Bob
nailed the lyrics, unlike some of the early outings in Japan.
In the band intros, Bob noted that Tony seemed to have a lot of friends in
the town, and Tony, as he did in the formation last night, raised his arms
in triumph. As much fun as Bob seems to be having this leg, I've seldom
seem Tony seem so delighted. The new band setup, with Tony and Doug
playing guitars, pointing them right at Bob, like soldiers moving forward
in a crouch on some old movie poster is great. With the "bare black bricks
and road cases" backdrop, the show moves from being a night in that weird
room from Twin Peaks to a band of cartoon gangsters huddled around in
their hideout, waiting on their fleet footed guides from the underworld
(I'm still not sure if the backdrop is exactly real or a light
After a strong "Grain of Sand" we all noticed Doug was still strumming his
acoustic guitar, and everyone around me noticed - another bonus song! This
was a smoking "Killing Floor" by Howlin' Wolf, another Chicago blues
Next to me was a young couple who came in not knowing at all what to
expect, and were amazed that I was going to more than one show of the run.
I always worry about these people; just last night I heard an older guy
sneer "He didn't play any of his old hits" (a complaint you can forward to
1964, when it was fresh). This isn't Bob Dylan's greatest hits show - the
marquee last night just said "Rough and Rowdy Ways." I told them to just
go with the flow and enjoy it - Bob will be singing just what he feels
like, and even if it's a song you know, it might not sound like the album.
He'll sing it like Miles Davis might play it. They might have enjoyed a
greatest hits set more, but they enjoyed the show as it was, and
afterwards had some good questions about what's different night to night,
what it's like to go to so many shows. Not everyone's gonna get the itch
to see them all, but most anyone who isn't dead set on seeing a 60s
nostalgia concert is going to have a good time at these shows. And it's
what we love about him - who else at 82 is using their latest album for
half the set? Who else would I see and marvel at some line of phrasing,
some minor arrangement change? A new tour is a chance to create something
NEW, and he not busy being born...
Anyway, it was a good concert and great to see so many friends. What the
heck is he gonna play to pay tribute to Evansville in December? Are these
local tributes just for cities that really lend themself to it, or will
there be more nights ahead like night 2 in KC, with just the standard
Rough and Rowdy Ways tour set? I can't wait to find out.
Review by Nancy Cobb
The first two shows in Chicago are the first I've seen after Milan and
Rome this summer, and the stage layout has changed significantly. Also
Bob has a new "custom" baby grand that sounds as if it has been
electrified with a fuller, more brilliant sound than before. The band is
spread out on stage in an oval behind Bob with Doug on the extreme left,
then Tony, Jerry and his drums in the middle, then Bob Britt and Donnie on
the right - each about 6 feet from Bob with a clear view of his hands. On
previous RARW tour legs, Doug was stuck behind Bob very close to his
piano and mostly invisible to the audience. The stage floor in Chicago
was clean and free of cords and equipment with the gear stacked behind the
band on shelving which was covered in a light grey cloth for the second
show for a more modern minimalist appearance with noirish light and
silhouettes and no light show or bright colors. There was only a single
mic for Bob at center stage which he never approached until the end of the
show as he accompanied himself on the piano for every song and did not
play the harmonica (or guitar). A beautiful Every Grain of Sand was
followed immediately on both nights by a cover of a local hero's song, the
first night it was Muddy Waters' 40 Days and 40 Nights that few in the
audience seemed to know, and on the second night it was Howlin' Wolf's
Killing Floor which the fans met with a rolling wave of ecstatic applause.
Many people had been standing since Bob had done a third cover of the
Dead's Truckin' and a few even tried to approach the stage, which was
dealt with immediately by security. In prior shows Bob would talk about
the town or a native son, but now he is playing their music in the opening
or closing slot, or both! He literally hopped to the center mic to bask
in the wild reaction at the end he knew he would get from the show and the
new song choices.
Epilogue- I wound up missing my train on Sunday due to the Marathon, and
was lucky to see people I knew that helped me out of a jam. The Sunday
show had no covers but Bob seemed happy and relaxed and we could even hear
him laughing during I'll be your Baby Tonight. And he closed with an
absolutely gorgeous version of EGOS. This tour just keeps getting better
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