October 27, 2009
Review by Kevin Larson
Great Show in Rockford; the combo of a day off prior and having good ole'
Charlie Sexton back had Bob dancing and playing in fine form. The entire show
was wonderful and does anyone know why Bob loves to spend Halloween in Chicago.
Boo - Bob has consistently spent a few days in Chicago on or about Halloween for
The Metrocentre is not a bad venue and from our 6th row / dead center seats the
sound was great. Cat's in the Well was a nice opener but I was hoping for Gonna
Change My Way... Who knows maybe that will be the opening Song Friday at the
Aragon; hope so! Cat's in the well took on a Fall sense to it "leaves are gonna
Fall", and it must have been Black CATs. Next - Don't Think Twice had Bob
cranking lead Guitar and it was excellent. Charlie was Bob's shadow and to
Charlie's credit he was playing to Bob perhaps more than playing to the crowd.
One can tell that Charlie has a tremendous amount of respect for Bob and it
shows on stage.
Years ago my buddy Marc and I saw Bob at the Murant Egyptian Room in Indy and
got to mingle with Bob and the band after the second show on the way to the BUS.
Charlie was Bob's shadow that night making sure the kids and us did not cause
any trouble. Bob must have signed 100+ autographs and a few hugs/kisses! Anyways
I digress, did I mention it was awesome having Charlie back; it has helped Bob
and the band to kick it up a notch.
Moving right along to my favorite song of the night, Cold Irons Bound, wow what
an awesome version, "the Wind in Chicago" did nothing for the Rockford Crowd
(Rockford is about 100 miles north of Chicago). Cold Iron was HOT, the version
has taken on a powerful Blues, Rhythm, even a taste of Funk, no kidding. The
song was awesome and I am wondering if this was worked on during the day off or
if this version of Cold Iron has been in place for this segment of the tour. If
you were at the show, I provided the slow HEAVY CLAP during the entire song! It
seemed to work. Out of order here but Lonesome Day Blues and Honest With Me
seemed hand picked to leverage Charlie's Love n Theft experience and it worked.
The entire night worked!
The lighting was solid and it seems that Bob may have expanded his equipment and
crew. Parked out front were (3) luxury buses and (3) Semi Trailers. Good luck
trying to park these (6) RIGS outside the Aragon on Chicago's North Side. A real
kicker for me turned out to be Masters of War, Bob brought the stage left
ambient lighting that appears somewhat haunting but the song had a flow to it
that was powerful and warm at the same time. Hard to explain but it worked real
GOOD. Even thou I did not speak to each and every song; hopefully you get the
idea that the show was special. Even with our 120 miles round trip on a
work/school night for me, my wife, and Jack (10) and 5 shows under his belt, we
had a great time. Interstate 90 was an easy drive and well worth the effort. We
are really looking forward to Friday night at the Aragon "Brawl Room".
Speaking of the Aragon, I have seen some memorable shows there: Foghat /
Montrose / Black Oak Arkansas (you can guess the year); (for this show Marc was
back stage, go figure); Ramones, and even Keith Richards and the winos. Come to
think of it, we did see Bob the last time he played the Aragon. The sound is not
that great but the crowd and people watching is the best. In closing, Bob God
Bless and thank you for the years of musical pleasure which includes 50 - 60
shows; keep on rockin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Review by Oscar Montes
After the great shows in Mexico last year I thought it was time for some more of
Bob art. I have some relatives in Chicago, so I planned to attend the 3 shows in
the windy city and bought the plane and show tickets to do so. Then another date
was announced in Rockford! I had to change plane tickets but hey, no problem is
Bob! I arrived to Rockford the day of the show 4 hours before the show so I
decided to look for some touristic places, the only one I could find was the
Burpee museum of natural history, the home of the world's most complete and
best-preserved juvenile T. rex, Jane.
After visiting Jane I took some beers in a bar just across the street from the
MetroCentre and went to the place ready to enjoy the show When I found Jose
D'amico just there! It was wonderful to see again this great all around the
world Bob follower! We said hi and someone took some pics of us.
The crowd was very cheerful, mostly people from this place. Bob was wearing a
black suit with red buttons and red stripes, black hat too. Bob started the show
with Cat's in the well, nice starting for the show. Then it came the moment for
Don't thnk twice, really wonderful, people just loved it, it was the only song
of the night where Bob played the guitar. Lonesome day blues was the next,
powerful. The highlight of the night for me was the following song, It's all
over now baby blue, with Bob on centre stage palying beautifully the harp. The
next song could have fit perfectly in Chicago, Cold Irons Bound, but he played
it here, well performed song. Under the red sky was next, a surprised for me,
really nice performance. I know that in every review everybody says that it
seems tha Bob found the fountain of youht, believe me, he really looked tonight
as tough he has done it.
Summer days was great, people dancing on their seats. If you ever go to Houston
was next, really nice song from Together trough life. Honest with was the
following song, really powerful. Then it came the time for an excellent Masters
of war! People really loved it. Highway 61 as powerful as usual! Another
highlight, Ain't talkin', what can I say? the latest masterwork of Bob, simply
spectacular! Thunder on tha mountain was good, but not like the one in Zacatecas
last year but it was ok! Another surprise, Ballad of a thin man, this song was
wonderful, everybody just loved it.
The encore, Like a rolling stone, I noticed people from Rockford did not notice
it 'till he started singing, great performace! Jolene was next, really rocky!
Bob Finished this great show with All along the watchtower, the greatest
performance of this song I've ever heard! Just perfect!
I want to thank my cousin Jesus who lives in Chicago for going for me to
Rockford after this show and got me back to Chicago to enjoy the 3 shows in the
Aragon! I hope, as usual, that Bob plays a lot of different songs!
Review by Kevin C.
This was my fifth Dylan show since '04. My first was in 1965 at the original
Arie Crown Theatre in McCormick Place in Chicago. So I'm one of the grey-haired
bunch, although the demographic was well spread out age-wise at this show. And
this was the best show yet. No disrespect to Denny Freeman, but Charlie Sexton
is just what Bob needed. He can "play his guitar just like ringin' a bell" and
his energy absolutely lights up Bob and the rest of the band. Cat's in the Well,
Don't Think Twice & Lonesome Day made for a powerhouse opening. Baby Blue was
great, Bob in his best "song & dance man" mode, arms open wide and just a hint
of diddy-bop. Cold Irons Bound was breathtaking, that little stagger-step toward
a cliff at the end of each verse--wow! Under the Red sky didn't work for me, but
I guess you have to vary the pace a little. But they came roaring back with
Summer Days, Houston (my favorite on the new album) and Honest with Me. Masters
of War sent a chill through me,sadly still all too relevant. Highway 61 sounded
better than ever, just tweaked a little somehow and, again, Charlie's energy
running through it. Ain't Talkin' missed for me, just not my taste. Thunder on
the Mountain started out sounding a little rushed, but settled into a knockout
groove. Thin Man was another winner, Bob out front with his harp, gesturing,
looking like he was having a good time. Jolene is a great song and fits well in
the encore between Rolling Stone and Watchtower. Even those old "standards" felt
fresh. The venue was half-empty, at best, but the sound was good and the show
was flat-out great. If this turned out to be the last time I saw Bob & the band,
it sure was a great finale.
Review by Morst
Aah, Dylan! I saw the Rockford show the other night. Sure is GREAT to have
Charlie back. Wow, I really have not enjoyed a Bob show as much as last
night's since he left! He sure can pick a sweet solo. Stu played two solos
all night, Charlie had the rest. Bob seemed to be in a good mood, really
messing around with the way he sings some songs, and even laughing out loud a
couple times after singing something in a particularly strange way! He
definitely PLAYS music, he looked like he was really enjoying himself last
night, and I had not seen him since Milwaukee last fall. I made a last-minute
decision to go to the show, and was glad that I did. Saved $20 off the ticket
price by doing the "reverse scalp." The locals were saying they wished the show
was at the Coronado Theatre, but somehow, I think Bob would rather play a
half-full hockey arena than a small, packed theatre. If playing the big joints
keeps the ticket prices somewhat lower, and gets more fans in the door, then it
would make sense.
Review by Rod Peck
In gathering my thoughts about Tuesday night’s performance in the days since, I
can think of no way to critique the show without starting out with a statement
about the state of Dylan’s “Never-Ending-Tour” and the significance of the
current leg, “The Bob and Charlie Sexton Reunion Tour.” At least, I cannot
resist making this statement, heh heh. For several years (i.e. since Charlie
left the band at the end of 2002) Dylanological conversations have often
centered on how boring the band is and whether or not Bob is coasting onstage.
Now I would never have called the band altogether boring, and I don’t blame
Denny Freeman for any of this at all. Denny was a tasteful, understated
guitarist capable of moments of luminous beauty. I’m sure when Bob hired him he
said “now Denny, what I want you to do is stand over here and play tasteful,
understated guitar.” Then on August 4 of this year, Charlie made a guest
appearance at Round Rock, Texas that obviously delighted Bob. The thing I want
to remind all of us here is that during Charlie’s first tour of duty with Dylan,
from summer 1999 through the end of 2002, people were often scratching their
heads and asking “why does Bob take so many guitar solos himself when he has two
excellent guitarists (I haven’t forgotten Larry Campbell here) right next to
him?” It was very obvious that Charlie was at the time restricted by the boss in
what he could do onstage within the context of that band at that time.
Happily, the times they have changed! I keep imagining the conversation between
Bob and Charlie after the cameo at Round Rock where Bob says “Charlie, I want
you to come back on the road with me” to which Charlie responds “if I do, you’re
going to have to let me do my thing this time” to which Bob obviously agreed. I
am trying to keep myself from falling in the Dylanological trap of trying to put
myself behind the scenes and into The Man’s thought process. Had he been
thinking about a change before Charlie’s guest appearance? We’ll never know the
truth, of course. What I do know is getting Charlie back in the band was exactly
what Bob needed! From the opening “Cat’s in the Well” it was obvious that
Charlie had free reign over the stage and even that he was in a position to
challenge Bob at any time he felt like it. I’ll never forget once back in 2001
talking to a guitarist who had seen Charlie’s solo act and being told “what
Sexton does onstage with Dylan now gives you no clue of what he’s capable of”
and WOW! There was no doubt at all that we were in the presence of a guitar
virtuoso. Now, I had complimented Denny Freeman as ‘tasteful and understated’
and I’ll always stand by that, but with Bob behind his keyboard since Charlie
left, the outfit was lacking that raw power of the best rock ‘n’ roll. Charlie
was RAW and in turn he pushed Bob into putting out his very best just to keep
The second selection was “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and this provided an
early highlight as Bob strapped on his guitar and wound up toe-to-toe with
Charlie in an intense jam. The very idea of any musician challenging the great
Bob Dylan onstage is exciting alone, and there it was right in front of us.
Tremendous! Bob kept the guitar on for one more tune, “Lonesome Day Blues” and
as it is the only album Charlie had played on with Bob, it was not at all
surprising that “Love and Theft” songs were highlighted during the show. “Honest
with Me” and “Summer Days” both received vigorous workouts as well.
As for Dylan’s voice, he truly has reached a point where he seems to growl on a
level with the blues singers he loves, sounding more like Howlin’Wolf or Blind
Willie Johnson all the time. I personally love it more than ever and I am going
to go “Forrest Gump” here and “that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
There were no low-lights to this show, and in fact there wasn’t even a chance to
take a deep breath as even relatively mild songs like “It’s All Over Now, Baby
Blue” and “Ain’t Talkin’” seemed to take on a hard edge musically as well as
vocally. “Masters of War” was certainly tension-filled and satisfying in its
current state of electrification. For me the highlight was one I was waiting on,
“Highway 61,” and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I’d say that Charlie
definitely gave Johnny Winter a run for the money here and after it was over
Charlie couldn’t keep a huge grin off his face.
I’ve got no kick against Dylan’s persistence in keeping “Like a Rolling Stone”
and “All Along the Watchtower” in their respective spots in the encores. Sure,
it would be nice if he would surprise us with something different, but I always
try to remember that Bob is also running a business here and he has to keep the
customers (masses) satisfied. My only complaint about the current show as I
witnessed it is that Stu Kimball and Donnie Herron seem to be left out of the
real action. The times that Stu switched to acoustic guitar made a difference in
the sound on those songs, but I can’t say I ever heard Donnie at all throughout
the show no matter which instrument he was playing.
I also had another slight disappointment that Bob didn’t feature “Together
Through Life.” After all, it was #1 on the hit parade this year and I can’t help
but wonder why Bob doesn’t seem more excited about it than to only play two
On a personal note, Terri and I had the extra pleasure of bringing two young
Dylan fans to see The Man for the very first time. I know I can speak for Terri
when I say I am truly thankful for that opportunity. Jeff and Katherine, I hope
you guys enjoyed it all as much as we did!
Keep on the Sunny Side
The Laughing Buddha
Founder and President;
Skillet Fork Society of Dylanologists
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