Reviews

Funner, California

Harrah's Resort SoCal
The Events Center

October 13, 2017


[Scott Olesen] [Alex Sherman] [Nancy Cobb], [Roger & Claire Cutler]

Review by Scott Olesen



The fall tour got off to a great start last night.  In fact, right from
the first song Bob set a tone.  Things Have Changed was a blistering,
no-holds-barred rocking version which seemed to say, yes indeed, "people
are crazy and times are strange", and "any minute I'm expecting all hell
to break loose", amongst other things that fit in with the surreal world
we're living in.  Just set a wonderful tone for the whole evening.  He
- and they - were back, and in a big way.  This is the first time I've
seen the old time songs from the Great American Songbook.  My gal and I
love these albums and enjoyed every one performed last night.  Why Try
to Change Me Now is basically a show stopper, it speaks so well to how
Dylan has lived his life and how people still try to put labels on him
and try to limit him one way or the other.  Great song.  I was ecstatic
as he played one of my all-time faves, Thunder on the Mountain, the first
time he's played it in three years so it was a real surprise and treat,
and the bluesy, boogie-woogie beat played well in the basically intimate
gathering at Rincon which is more suited to an epidemiologist conference
than a Bob Dylan concert.  Still, loved the venue, loved the show. 
Desolation Row was a real treat as well, haven't seen him play that in
years.  My gal, who's from Minnesota, and has loved Bob for all these
years but never seen him, I think loved the show even more than I did
(I've seen him about 12-14 times).  She thoroughly enjoyed it.  Oh
yea.  He's really tearing up the piano these days, riffing, soloing,
trashing, rollicking up and down the keys on the bluesy, rock and roll
numbers.  Just having a grand old time and really good.  Better than I
remember when I saw him last in 2014.  Anyway, a huge thumbs up and I
recommend to anyone sitting on the fence, get out and see him (depending
on your financial situation of course).  You won't be disappointed.

[TOP]

Review by Alex Sherman



Bob Dylan and His Band ended nearly three months of rest from touring with
a ferocious set at the Harrah’s SoCal Resort on the tribal lands of the
Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians. During that time, two artists with whom
Bob shared a public friendship, Tom Petty and Harry Dean Stanton,
predeceased the Nobel Prize winner, and I went into the show with some
anticipation for how he might acknowledge their passings, without having
any expectations. Would he slip a Petty cover into the setlist? Or maybe
do a few bars of Hava Nagila, a song he’s performed with Harry Dean? He
did neither, of course. But he did use his first night of the road to
deliver a performance unlike any I’ve seen in many years -- upbeat,
overflowing with life force, and vocalizations that dug deep into every
song in the setlist. The show opened with “Things Have Chance,” in a
new arrangement (at least one I have not heard before) delivered with an
unsettlingly fierce energy that sought to stir the audience out of
complacency. Then, like through a hole in the sky, came the one-two punch
of “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “Highway 61 Revisited,” and things
were really cooking.  This show was going to be good. Bob then sauntered
out from behind the piano, clutched his mic stand with two hands, and
fully committed to crooning “Why Try To Change Me Now,” with elocution
that was generous and clear, and rich vocal tones (grading on a scale
here) that revealed what 3 months rest can do for his voice. There were
many highlights in this show, but two standouts for me was a knee-slapping
country rock arrangement of “Summer Days,” and particularly artful
playing by the band that did more than just serve the songs but also
evoked their colors. In the end, Bob may not have offered a literal
tribute to Tom or Harry Dean, but his performance was full of light, life,
and gratitude for another night on the road. What better tribute is there
than that?

[TOP]

Review by Nancy Cobb



"There ought to be a law against you comin' around."....Bob Dylan

I had never heard of "Funner" but it turned out that it was a name change
by the mayor to promote the new Harrah's resort in San Diego county. 
Funner was not on any google map, and I got directed into oblivion.  When
I tried to call the hotel, I got into a phone loop and was transferred to
the New Orleans Harrahs then Las Vegas Harrahs whose personnel had no idea
where "Harrahs Southern California " was.  In fact they did not even know
the name of the tribe who was the owner.  I got totally lost  on curvy 2
lane mountainous roads with lots of traffic trying to get there. Dylan's
concert started right on time, Stu did a new intro, they played 20 songs,
and it was a wonderful performance.  He did 5 new songs that I have not
heard him do in the past 3 years, including 3 from Triplicate.  After a
rock n rollin' Things Have Changed, came a kinder and gentler " It Ain't
Me, Babe"  (I had always thought that he could not win the Nobel for
literature because he said "ain't" too much but I was wrong).  His fans
now like the "oldies" and gave a standing O to "Why try to Change Me Now".
 Then came a Texas swing with violin version of "Summer Days" followed by
a jazzy "Melancholy Mood" by the Bob Dylan sextet with lots of
instrumental work.  Next came a rather strange arrangement of "Tangled",
then a Berryesque "Honest With Me".  Following that was a real tearjerker
"Where Is The One" and a fighting warrior style "Pay in Blood".  Bob could
have been a great actor if he wanted to.  A wistful and sad September,
then Tryin' to Get to Heaven and the best Early Roman Kings ever.  That
song always makes me laugh.  I am going to stop now because I am going to
see him in Vegas tomorrow and maybe write another review and I don't want
to repeat myself.

Nancy Cobb
Palm Springs, CA

[TOP]

Review by Roger & Claire Cutler



Well, it was a Fun evening. Would one expect anything else for a show in
Funner, California? If you’ve never heard of Funner, you’re not alone as
even Google is unsure of its existence.

Bob was in good form and this was a great show. He and his voice seemed
well rested for the first show on this next leg of his Never Ending Tour.

My best friend and I had tickets to see Bob in our backyard in Victoria,
BC, the last show of his most recently completed leg. But the show was
canceled for “scheduling reasons” - whatever that means. Some scholars
lamented that perhaps Bob was in ill health and the Tour may finally be
over, while others speculated about whimsical Bob. In any event, given our
disappointment this past summer, we were most grateful to have the
opportunity to travel somewhere, albeit to nowhere, to see him perform.

Funner is indeed an odd place. It was originally just a Harrah’s Casino in
the middle of nowhere, a little over an hour inland from LA and San Diego.
Now it's an attempt to create an "amusement town" in the middle of
nowhere. But like most places in the middle of nowhere there's not much
going on. Last night however there was certainly a buzz in the casino
before the show. Aside from the obvious Dylan worshippers present (Bob
t-shirts, bandanas, Bolero hats), those who were there to gamble were all
very aware that His Bobness was in the building. And I am now the proud
owner of a magnificently designed t-shirt pleading “Oh Mama! Can this
really be the end? To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues
again".

The auditorium seats a little over 2000 with its entrance right off the
casino floor. Not a bad seat in the house, although as we were 4th row
dead center, we were indeed blessed. Bob, in black with pin stripe pants
and white boots, and his band came out a 9 pm sharp. Crowd was standing
and roaring. Bob with no hat! This was going to be intimate - nothing to
disguise the secrets in his eyes!

The show started with the standard and unremarkable Things Have Changed,
and a low key It Ain't Me Babe. Things did change and moved into high gear
with Highway 61. It was a great rock version - Bob standing and pounding
the piano and the crowd jumping. With his hair standing up and the halo
from the stage lighting, it did indeed seem reminiscent of those 60’s
photos when the creativity flowing from Bob’s head was impossible to
ignore. Thankfully we haven’t had another world war in all this time,
however I fear these days it’s simply a matter of completion of building
the bleachers in the sun.

Other older songs that Bob delivered with equal intensity were Desolation
Row and Thin Man. The audience’s reaction seemed to be one of awe for
these literary and musical masterpieces; and that they are still so
powerful half a century after they were first performed. Nobel prize
worthy! And just to illustrate that The Sage continues to be busy being
born, Bob’s version of Tangled Up was classic Bob: changing the lyrics in
almost every verse, catching the crowd off guard, and leaving us to
continue to analyze and explore the tormented relationship(s).

The most intriguing performance was Trying to Get to Heaven. It had a
completely different beat and melody than the Time Out of Mind version;
unrecognizable at first but the crowd quickly became captivated. Bob
calmly performed sitting at his piano. One did not sense any angst but
perhaps more an acceptance that what will be will be. I think he’ll get
there. He may be the last one through the door, but he’ll get there.

Thunder on the Mountain may have been the most powerful performance of the
night with the band letting lose and Charlie Sexton having some solo
moments. It definitely created a ruckus and culminated with Bob leaving
his piano for the last verse and grabbing a mic center stage, contorting
and channeling Chuck Berry. Bob certainly did all he could do and he did
it right then and there. Great stuff!

Bob played a quartet of songs from Tempest (the sculpture along with his
Oscar statue behind him). I think song for song the Tempest pieces are the
most powerful in his current set lists. Long and Wasted Years is performed
so mournfully at center stage with a stand up mic and a defeated man -
very moving. Pay in Blood and Roman Kings were very compelling performance
as Bob sings of the treacherous and lecherous. Some in the crowd were
waving their handkerchiefs in the air.

As has become routine now, Bob "crooned" a handful of his beloved Sinatra
songs. I’m not a fan of these songs – one or two in a set list might be
interesting as Bob prances with his stand up mic while delivering a
sentimental performance. But 5 or 6 of these performances is a little
trying; particularly when he could deliver a similar performance with so
many of his own creations that would be captivating (Shooting Star or Dark
Eyes?). Perhaps I’m in the minority on the Frank songs' inclusion in the
set, as I must report the crowd was certainly appreciative of these
performances. I am developing a suspicion that they are actually Frank
fans crashing the party (after all, we were in a casino not far from
Hollywood, Palm Springs and Vegas – just saying.) At least most of these
songs are very short in duration but I remain perplexed by Bob’s obsession
with these works. I suppose I should let Bob be, and accept his plea in
the words he croons, although did not write, Why Try to Change Me Now?

One last “complaint”, sadly Bob did not play any guitar, that is not
unusual, but no harp was most disappointing!

Blowin’ in the Wind was performed as an encore. As many times as I’ve
heard him perform it, and I'm usually hoping for a different song, I am
always amazed, and moved, at how the audience simply becomes transfixed,
with everyone reciting the words with Bob, as if joining in a Sunday
prayer.

Amen Bob!

Roger & Claire Cutler
Cobble Hill, BC

[TOP]

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