October 18, 2012
Review by Mitch Meyer
I went to the two San Francisco shows this week, the first Dylan shows I've
seen since the first two shows in New York City in November of 2010. I first
saw Dylan with the Band at Madison Square Garden in 1974 and have seen
him about 30 times over the past 12 years.
Since Dylan started up his tour again a couple of weeks ago, I've been
reading about fans walking out on his concerts in Canada, lifelong Dylan lovers
announcing that he's washed up and can't sing anymore, etc., etc. So I have
to admit that I went to the first show on Wednesday with somewhat
diminished expectations, even though I've never seen Dylan do a bad or even
mediocre show. (I have attended some Dylan shows that weren't great
because the venue wasn't great: like in cold, soulless basketball arenas where
most of the audience seems to have no idea what Dylan Live is all about.
Those nights Dylan was great or at least very good, but the energy wasn't
right and the overall experience was sort of flat, but that wasn't because
Dylan wasn't playing and singing his heart out.)
So at the first show, on Wednesday, Dylan comes out on stage and he is fired
up and great and ready to go from the first note. Terrific from the first
moment. Frisky, animated, committed. And everyone around me, who had
waited on line for hours and were standing and swaying near the stage, said
they felt the same way. Two nights, two great shows! Highlights: explosive,
moving versions of "Love Sick," "Visions of Johanna," "High Water," "Chimes of
Freedom," "Forgetful Heart," and more, and heck, even a fantastic and
fascinating new rearrangement of "Cry Awhile"! I don't get it, people. These
shows were terrific, and the energy and enthusiasm all around me was equal
Maybe these shows, with all the committed fans standing near the stage,
gelled whereas some others elsewhere didn't. And I know that Mark Knopfler
is attracting some Dire Straits fans that just aren't into the whole Dylan Live
thing. And I saw a few of them walk out.
About his voice, you don't go to a Dylan show to hear Robert Goulet, right?.
I want to hear expressiveness and engagement with the lyrics ... and he was
totally absorbed in telling the story of every song both nights. His voice was
full of power, tenderness, sarcasm ("You've been with all the
pro-FESSSS-orrrrs…) -- whatever the song called for. His voice was great
for these songs and this music.
I know that Dylan Live is very much an acquired taste. If you haven't
acquired it, his shows are awful. If you have, and you still like it, there is
virtually no live performance that equals it. I just feel lucky that I, and
apparently just about everyone around me near the stage the last two
nights, am still loving that taste. I cannot wait for the show outdoors
tonight at the Berkeley Greek amphitheater! Go Bob! Don't listen to the
critics. Just keep doing your thing. Loads of us love it.
Review by Dennis Hengeveld
After a night which seemed to short we were back in line for San Francisco
round 2. The weather was the same but the atmosphere was different than
the first night, with the usual suspects at the front, mixed with a small
number of so-called "VIP people" that thought they were more important
than anybody else. After a minimally different set of Mark Knopfler the
stage was set up and Bob and band came on, opening once again with
"Watching the River Flow" on organ. A first highlight came with Love Minus
Zero/No Limit, one of my favorite songs which Bob seems to play at just
about every show I am not at...except this time. A beautiful, softly sung
version, it was followed by Things Have Changed with Bob fooling around
with the audience, something which he enjoyed through out the night.
I can get upset when reading certain reviews and read that Bob fails to
connect with the audience; San Francisco #2 once again proved that Bob
does connect with the audience...and in a great way. I realize that it
might not be the conventional connection that seem to dominate concerts
these days, but there is plenty of interaction if you want to see and
believe it. Especially tonight, with the many hand gestures, smiles and
eye contact moments with the front rows, it soon proved to be another
The show was one long highlight, with great versions of Hard Rain, and the
best version of Chimes of Freedom I ever heard, the song that initially
pointed me towards Bob (and I never turned back since). Love Sick was
another highlight, with Bob's intense Piano dominating the song. Once
again there were the familiar songs, a brief introduction that we are all
able to recite, and the grand finale, by which time night two was history.
Review by Barbara Rigby
Almost did not go to tonights show. First off thanks to local Sonoma
County radio station KRSH - won 2 free tickets a couple of months ago for
tonight. At the last minute friend who was going to go with me
ditched,(too bad for them, their loss).So ended up driving the hour into
the city by myself, and then drove around for an hour looking for parking-
parking karma was not good tonight. Consequently only caught the last few
songs of Mark Knopfler and band. Seats were great,balcony first row,
center stage at Bill Graham Auditorium and I had remembered to bring the
binocculars. Shout out to Bill and Sarah from Sacramento who were in seats
next to me, it was their first Dylan Show ever and we had a great time.
Like the new stage set up with framed mirrors next to monitors (or were
they tablets with images filtering across them?) and new lighting. No
introductions, just straight into a high energy Watching The River Flow
with Bob standing at the electric keyboard. And the energy flowed all
night, it did not let up. Bob moved to the baby grand piano for the rest
of the night when he wasn't playing harmonica and singing center stage. He
owned that stage, prowling around, looking sexy and sounding the best I've
heard him in ... well a long time. His piano playing was easy to hear in
the mix and deservedly so, he was, most definitely, leading the band.( No
guitar playing by Bob tonight, I think he is one of the most under rated
guitar player's around - maybe tomorrow night I'll get to hear him play).
Donny was right behind him looking over his right shoulder and I don't
think he took his eyes off Bob once during the night as he moved between
playing the steel guitars, mandolin, banjo and a beautiful fiddle/violin
on the Blowing in the Wind encore. The rhythm team of Tony and George were
their usual fantastic selves.
You will have seen the set list for tonight. All good. Highlights for me
were the new version of Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, Love Sick and a
personal favorite, Ballad of a Thin Man(with Bob's voice looped and echo
added at the end of the lines). The evening flew by.
Tomorrow night is Berkeley and the Greek. I hear it's all sold out. I
bought my ticket early. Looking forward to hearing what songs he'll play
Review by Dean McDaniel
The show was awesome last night. Bob's voice sounded great, and he was
really jamming on that grand piano. Kudos to Jim on sound...best sounding
show I have seen! 14 songs but a full length set... maybe little extended
jamming going on? I saw at least one Dead Head spinner with his shirt off.
Lots of his setlist staples from the last few years were included, but
seemed to be re-arranged. Watchtower and Hwy 61 sounded new and fresh with
Hwy 61 less rock and roll and a little honkey-tonk with Bob on piano jams.
Lovesick, Things Have Changed....solid setlist.
Get ready for a great tour!
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists