Cadillac Palace Theatre
October 8, 2023
Review by Adam Selzer
Tonight was the weakest of the three nights in Chicago, but perhaps the
most interesting. I was reminded of Luther Perkins' great line when asked
about his simple guitar solos; "They're looking for it; I found it." Dylan
seemed like he was looking for it a lot tonight. Sometimes he found it;
early on there was a piano riff that he hit upon, seemed to like, and kept
up - the sort of thing he'd do a lot back in the late 00s, early 10s. If
there's one word to describe the Chicago stand, it'd be "playful," and
tonight that playfulness veered into a bit of mischief.
"My Own Version of You" started out fantastic, then Dylan started messing
around with the cadence and melody more, like he was trying to land on
something like that "Mr Tamourine Man" that appeared in Towson 2000, or
that New Orleans "Hard Rain" from a few years later. But he never quite
landed anywhere he wanted to stay, and that seemed to happen in quite a
few more times over the course of the night, as he looked for a new
rhythm, a new melody, a new piano riff. If the results weren't as powerful
as nights when he's more locked in, it was fascinating to watch, in any
case. All night long, he was searching: even before "Every Grain of Sand,"
he was literally searching through his lyric book, and kept turning pages
looking for something in it all through the first verse, singing and
browsing the plastic-sleeved pages at the same time.
All this is not to say the show was bad - there some definite highlights,
and a few songs ("I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" stands out) that were the
best outing of the three night stand. "False Prophet" was awesome,
"Rubicon" smouldered, "Key West" continues to mesmerize and "Mother of
Muses" has been great nightly. "To Be Alone With You" was excellent. "I’ll
Be Your Baby Tonight" should really be turning up twice in the setlists,
as it's effectively performed twice. A generally complete performance of
the song is done in the "nearly solo piano" style, then the full-band
version is essentially a second complete performance, like the
back-to-back versions of "Forever Young" on "Planet Waves." And even if
Dylan didn’t seem to find what he was hoping to, he seemed to be having
fun trying, laughing during lines at several points.
Once I'd described the new stage setup as "cartoon gangsters huddled
around in their hideout" it stuck with me; the whole time the band seemed
like they ought to be on the lookout for other gangsters dressed as cops
pulling up and saying "all right, which one of you mugs is Bugs Moran?"
It's a subtle but effective theatrical setup, giving the impression that
these guys are up to no good, and you're watching something almost
illicit. There are those who would say a rock star 60 years into his
career playing mostly new material, and almost nothing that could qualify
as a hit, IS illicit. Certainly with most musicians who rose to fame at
the same time as Dylan, you'd have to sneak into a private session to see
anything like that. And out in the lobby they were selling "Vintage" 1992
Outburts of Consciousness Tour shirts that are not really vintage, or, I
believe, even a reprint of an actual 1992 shirt. It's like one of those
"retro" band shirts you can buy at Target. Scandalous! Add your own snark
about autopens here.
Really fun pre-show gathering at Rossi with Ray, Mike, Henry, Roberta,
Liz, and a couple of new college students from Kalamazoo. Interesting that
I'm so often in Dylan fan gatherings where having seen my first show in
1995 gives me an earlier start than many of the people I meet, something
that sure never happened in the old days. But that's linear time for you,
right? A young woman in front of me at the show fell asleep at one point
and cheered wildly at others; another person told me they were sitting
next to 19 year old college girls who were ecstatic the whole show. The
walk from the bar across the river, past the Chicago Theater where Bonnie
Raitt was playing, past the crowds heading into Hamilton at the
Nederlander, was just pure magic. What a city this is.
Celebrity sightings abounded tonight. I had a "great show/thanks" shout
out with Jerry Pentecost on the street before the show, some others saw
Tony Garnier talking to John Cusask outside the "staff only" door inside,
and a guy from Sex and the City was seen lurking around at various points.
I’ll be interested to hear if the show sounds more focused on tape than it
did in person, which of course happens sometimes; maybe some of the
"weakest of the three despite highlights" mood outside the show afterwords
was partly because of the lack of any setlist surprises after two nights
full of them. But as of the morning after I stand by my assessment: not
the best night of the stand, but in some ways the most interesting to
watch. It makes me wonder how much different the show will be by the time
I catch up with the tour again in Brooklyn.
And what the heck was he trying to find in that book?
Review by Hermann Rechberger
Chicago night 3 brought no "town-specific" song. What does it mean or
should I better say: does it mean anything and: who cares? Just a reminder
for all speculations: it was the same setlist as on night 2 in Kansas City
so it was more or less to expect when he is doing more than one show at
the same place. First surprise was that there was no "fanfare" intro.
Lights where dimmed, the band came in and after some strumming they
started into Watching The River Flow. Bob came in and did the first two
songs, obviously in good mood from the very beginning. A very beautiful
melodic I Contain Multitudes followed. Bob has changed some arrangements
slightly to previous night. When I Paint My Masterpiece has a very long
instrumental part with great piano playing between stanzas 2 and 3 and
another long instrumental part at finish, he also extended some other
songs so my guess is the overall show time wasn't really shorter with 17
songs instead of 18. The most specific difference was the audience. Night
2 has the loudest and enthusiastic of all 3 nights, the whole theater sang
the line "what a long strange trip it's been" together with Bob and he was
enjoying it! But it was a bit annoying during songs like Mother Of Muses,
those who are shouting and piping should better go to a Springsteen show.
At night 3 the audience was very polite. Friendly applause, but far away
from beeing too enthusiastic. Let's see what would make Milwaukee famous!
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