October 27, 2017
Review by Dave Moyer
Chicago Concert Features Highs, but Maybe Not as Many as Some Other
I love Dylan. So much so that I have seen him perform live 39 times. Each
show is a unique experience, and, by definition, it can't be a contest. They
are all different. On this particular evening, it strikes me as if Bob is in that
phase where he is searching for his next sound, and hasn't quite found it yet.
The show was markedly different than the one I saw mid-summer on the
last leg of the tour on the Summerfest Grounds. That show seemed to
offer a little more punch.
My buddy and I arrived in time to see Mavis Staples, and she and her band
sounded great. The sound at the new Wintrust Arena in Chicago is very
good (warning Will Robinson, the bathroom situation on the second floor
isn't quite as solid).
Bob opened with "Things Have Changed," which has been customary as of
late and was strong. The band came out in typical fashion, with Stu
strumming, George (maybe the most underrated drummer going) noodling,
and the rest of the fellas taking their places, followed prominently by the
What came next was phenomenal. I remember some extremely enjoyable
versions of "It Ain't Me, Babe" in the two slot back in the early 2000s when
Bob still played guitar flanked by Charlie and Larry, but this version was truly
"Highway 61" followed, and they brought it. "Why Try to Change Me Now,"
one of the standards came next, and perhaps this was ominous. Indeed, why
try to change Bob now? He will do what he wants, and why the hell shouldn't
he? But . . .
A really fine "Summer Days" came next. The only way I can think to describe
this is hootenanny style. Donnie's violin was a major player in this arrangement,
and it was extremely enjoyable. My buddy and I thought we were in for a treat.
Bob took center stage for the all of the covers and paraded around with the
mic in crooner mode. He sounded good, and the versions were concise enough,
that they didn't compromise the flow, as he moved from piano to center stage.
But, I just think there were too many of them. Maybe others disagree.
Interspersing so many of them in the set list lessoned the impact of enjoyable
versions of "Soon after Midnight" and "Long and Wasted Years" from Tempest,
the latter of which I absolutely love.
"Desolation Row" began in promising fashion, but got "sing-songy" about
through, and my personal favorite "Tangled Up in Blue" was delivered in
staccato fashion, and it was one of my least favorite versions of this song.
For those that are keeping score, there was no harp, not that it necessarily
A redeeming feature of the second half of the set list was "Thunder on the
Mountain." It rocked hard and was truly fabulous. George actually soloed a
bit, and Donnie, whether it be mandolin or pedal/lap steel, had many shining
moments. Many who have not seen Dylan before can say they heard a nice
version of "Blowin' in the Wind," the first of two encores.
To this Bob fan, what was good on this night, was excellent. I am not sure I
can say that from start to finish, but the respect I have for a person who
puts himself out there every night to share his gift with us has not diminished.
Review by Richard D.
tonight - the winds of Chicago were tearing me to shreds…. for real, but
once instead the new Wintrust Arena - everything was perfect. First -
Mavis…. Wow!… What voice… what charm… what exuberance … the
crowd loved her and the longer she remained on stage the stronger her
voice became until it boomed throughout the arena… she talked about
marching in Selma… about Pops Staple… and she sang with such power,
such dignity, such passion… a beautiful soul… Love you, Mavis. Then
came Bob…. I won’t give you a song by song description…. instead I
will only say this…. The band has never sounded better… Bob never sang
better…. and although I’ve seen him sing pages from ’the American
songbook’ many times before - tonight, it became magical… one moment
Bob and the band were tearing the stage up with Highway 61 and the next he
was crooning Why Try To Change Me Now… the ‘old chestnuts’ were
mesmerizing. I was in the front section center - 4th row and had a great
view, but if Bob sat at the piano he was almost hidden… when he stood
ala Jerry Lee Lewis - the view of Bob was terrific, even in the dull
lighting. He was hatless - funny, how much I missed the hats. It was a
wonderful evening - and Bob has his band performing top notch. This was
one of the top rated Bob Nights I have had. The one thing I do miss though
is the Larry Campbell days…. because when Larry and Charlie played in
the band together - Bob always included an acoustic set with cuts like A
Hard Rain’s…., Johanna… and Elizabeth Cotton’s ‘Oh Babe It
Ain’t No Lie” which would usually be a show opener. Either that or
‘Hallelujah. I’m Ready’. But still Bob was great.. the band was
great… Mavis was great…. if you miss this tour it would be ashamed…
you are missing more than a concert. You are missing Art… Performance
Art… A Masterpiece.
Review by Laurette Maillet
Chicago. The greyhound bus leaves St Paul with one hour delay. I have a
surprising adventure: at 4 p.m. we stop at a Mc Donald's. (I believe
greyhound bus company has a contract with that fast food restauration!) I
don't feel like spending money, so I start munching on a cereal bar. A man
shows his face at the door and asks who is hungry and don't have money for
food. First I am suspicious but what the ekk! I follow him to McDo. I
order a menu 1 and seat with Tony. We have a pleasant chat and step again
on the bus. Thanks Tony! We arrive in Chicago late, with more than one
hour delay. It is dark and cold and I am tired. I call UBER for a ride to
my Hostel. The Hostel is brand new : clean and comfortable. The bed is a
king or queen size bed. A large kitchen is available. The shower is ....
hot. 27th of october. I wake up early and get a complimentary breakfast ;
empanada with coffee. I go to Walgreens to get soup for lunch. I am the
only one making use of the kitchen. I take another hot shower, take a nap.
I decide to go to the venue early to check out. It is an inauguration and
I have no idea how it will be. I have bad memories from Paris. The area is
.... horrible. The wind is freezing cold. Nonetheless I wait for Bobby and
the Band to arrive for the Soundcheck. Bobby's bus pulls in really close
to the back door. I just have 3 seconds to see him walking in. He is
wearing a hoodie on top of a red cup, his leather jacket and gloves. Cool!
I try to stay away from the cold wind and ends up in a large building
where they prepare a chocolate marathon for next Sunday. I stuff myself
with chocolate cookies and chocolate drinks samples. Then move out again
by the venue. I run into Sue and we are both surprised at the heavy
security. Men armed with machine guns are patrolling . Woah! They will not
allow my bag inside, so Sue accepts kindly to put it in her room. Thanks!
I am now looking for a ticket and doing that I start a 20 minutes chat
with a heavy loaded security guy who wants to visit ... Normandy! Oh well!
It is always good to be friend with security. I spot a man, all by
himself, who seams to wait for something. I move to him and say I need a
ticket for the show. "I have one " he says and pulls a ticket outside his
pocket. That easy?? We walk in as it is feeezing out. We take our seats,
behind the piano. Cool! We chat until Mavis is on. She is from Chicago,
she will mention it few times. 15 minutes and Bob is on. The venue is
filling up. There is nothing special about any inauguration. It is just a
sport arena, like any sport arena. Few Fans in the front are exited. Other
than that it is a "normal" show. He is wearing the outfit of Las Vegas :
black jacket, black pants with white straps, black shirt. Excellent on
"Pay in blood". Bobby must have a cold as I see him ... blowing his nose.
On "Ballad of a thin man " he has a weird attitude :he is checking
constantly his left hand as if it is injured! I don't see any blood! A
quick salute and it is the end. I search for Sue, retrieve my bag and
catch the Red line to my Hostel. I am glad I was in Chicago. I met great
people who don't seam to mind the freezing cold climate! Good night Bobby!
See you soon!
Review by Francis King
In late August, I started getting worried. I saw Bob Dylan with The Band
twice in 1974. I saw two Rolling Thunder Revue shows in 1975. I saw Bob
twice in 1978. Then, there was a long hiatus until two shows with Tom
Petty and The Heartbreakers in 1986. After that, with the exception of
1996, I have never gone through a whole calendar year without going to at
least one Dylan concert. When he hasn't been playing near home, I've gotten
my wonderful, ever willing wife to go along with me to other states in order
to keep my streak going.
So, as this summer started winding down, and there was no announcement
of a fall tour, I knew my long run was in jeopardy. And, then, when a tour
was announced, there were no dates in or near Nashville. What to do?
Well, after scouring the options on the web late in bed one night, I looked
over at my wife, and offered, "Bob's playing in Chicago in October." Just
before her eyes shut for the night, the answer came back. "Let's go!"
(She would later claim not to remember that.) Within 15 minutes, as my
wife slipped off peacefully into slumber land, I had us tickets, a flight and a
hotel room. My streak was going to remain in tact, and Dylan show #56--
I think, or maybe #57 -- lay waiting ahead in the near future! And, we
were going to spend a lovely weekend in the Windy City. I was really
looking forward to some of that famous deep dish pizza!
Well, we made it to the show Friday night, but the lovely weekend got cut
short on Saturday morning when I woke up sick as a dog, coughing and
blowing my head off. We headed home early. So much for a romantic
So, was it worth it anyway? Did someone say you can't enjoy a concert with
a sore throat? Well, to quote a line in a song --and there's always one when
you need it -- "What do you mean you can't? Of course you can!" (All right,
all right, I know. It was lifted from F. Scott Fitzgerald, but you get the point.)
This was an excellent Dylan show! Hatless (first time in a long while), engaged
and energized, lots of piano, voice strong, all lyrics remembered and intelligible --
Bob had it all going gangbusters! And, as always, the band was virtuoso. He's
played with a lot of musicians over the past 50+ years, a lot of them great,
but none (except for The Band, The Heartbreakers and Larry Campbell) have
compared to this ensemble. I And, while there were some particularly sloppy
performances back in the early 90's, there's none of that anymore. For quite
a few years now, Bob and company have put on crisp, tight, stellar musical
I'm not going to run through the whole set list, as you can see that elsewhere.
But, I will say that the latest rearrangements were inventive and exciting to
hear. Although he's been opening every show since 2013 with "Things Have
Changed," he keeps tinkering with the presentation with consistently delightful
results. And who else but Bob Dylan would mess around with an Oscar winning
Similarly, "It Ain't Me, Babe," "Summer Days," "Tryin' to Get to Heaven" and
"Tangled Up in Blue" all sounded radically different, but wonderfully so! I know
of no other performing artist who recasts and revises his material the way Dylan
does. It's one of the things I enjoy most about his live performances, and that
keeps me going year after year. And, while the arrangements to some songs,
like "Highway 61" and "Ballad of A Thin Man" were very recognizable, the
performances of those old classics were so fresh and vibrant that they could
have been written last week.
The non-Bob written standards were also enjoyable, especially "Why Try to
Change Me Now" and "Autumn Leaves." It takes a lot of guts for an old man
with a limited vocal range to attempt songs like that in front of a live audience.
And, amazingly, he pulls it off. He might not get any chair turns on "The Voice,"
but in my book, he is the voice-- the voice that's kept me company for more
than 50 years.
As he gets older, Bob Dylan just seems to get better and better. He rarely
says a word to the audience (in contrast to some performers who just won't
shut up and sing), but it doesn't matter. He knows the audience is there. And
the audience knows that he is, too. It's a magical connection, and no spoken
words are required. The songs say all that needs to be said.
Comments by Sandra Cramer
My son and I made it to one of many concerts I have had the privilege of
attending for the past 22 years (and even one before that in the early
60's) I do not go to any other concerts other than Bob Dylan (except a
Frank Sinatra once). So I am delighted that Mr. Dylan chooses now to
incorporate Frank's songs into his set lists.
No need to go through the set list... you already have seen that. Please
Mr, Dylan, do not come to Chicago again if the only place open is
Wintrust!!!! The bathroom availability(at Wintrust) was poor, the steps
were tricky, the security on the website had no mention of "water bottles
not allowed" (and I had to give up my $20 Bobble Bottle), there is no
"drop off" for senior citizens outside of the arena. The walk to the
parking garage is long! But seeing Mr. Dylan is always worth anything.
Just want Mr. D to know ...you do not need an opening act, and you do
not need even a band, to see you is enough!!! Please keep performing
in the midwest? But, then again, you are my travel guide and I have
travelled to many states to see you! No one could ever replicate your
voice!!! And I, for one, love it dearly....keep on singing!
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