Ann Arbor, Michigan

University of Michigan
Hill Auditorium

October 28, 2010

[Don Ely], [Marc Schemansky], [Joe Malekovic]

Review by Don ELy

TK Wu on Liberty Street in A2 serves up the best Hunan chicken of any place I
know, and the medium heat was about equal to that served up by Bob Dylan and 
His Band 'round a couple corners over at Hill Auditorium. Another fine evening to 
be sure, just nothing truly extraordinary, but Bob as always kept us warm on a
chilly autumn night. " Leopard-skin Pill-box Hat " was not the blistering rocker
of recent tours, and the first few performances fulfilled their mission without
being exceptional. " Senor ( Tales Of Yankee Power ) " was very nice, while "
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues " paled in comparison to others I've seen.  " Simple
Twist Of Fate " was the first breakout number of the set, a lovely version with
a unique melodious ending led by Bob's keyboard. Two songs after came the best "
Desolation Row " in recent memory. The band, who seemed perhaps a little tense
early on, really got to cookin' on this one, stretching out and giving the song
much-needed bite, as spicy as Asian peppers. During " High Water ( for Charley
Patton ) " Bob's center stage microphone went out, and though he was annoyed at
the soundman he simply sauntered over to his keyboard to finish the song. Donnie
Herron's banjo was the driver of this song, however, and I'm pleased " High
Water " has returned to a form closer to the album track. From my seat at 12th
row center, eye-level with Bob, the sound mix was good, with Donnie and Stu
Kimball both being clearly heard. Sometimes in an ensemble mix one has to
isolate the instruments to detect them, as there are fewer solos and in the case
of Donnie and Stu their role is often to provide a solid bed for the overall
sound. Dylan's keyboard playing throughout the evening was not overbearing, and
at least on the song that I noticed he was playing guitar in a " natural "
manner, that is without the neck positioned near-vertically. And, for those who
pay attention to such things, the man in the long black suit was complemented
with white Stetson and purple shirt and piping on the trousers. The low anthem "
Forgetful Heart " was the emotional touchstone of the set, and my personal
favorite of the night. I love how the band gathers 'round Bob on this one,
sheltering the singer from the storm of vulnerability, " isn't he a bit like you
and me? ". Through it all Bob stands tall, as his shadow arcs toward the golden
lattice work, his cowboy hat looming twenty feet above the stage. 
" Thunder On The Mountain " was also a sizzling performance, the best I've seen
in awhile. One thing new to The Never-Ending Tour, US Autumn 2010, are the
projections behind the band at the back of the stage; no more curtain of stars,
these range from color stills of Bob's beloved New York City to some rather
psychedelic cloudscapes. During " Thunder " they did the coolest thing,
screening video of the group from overhead in black & white as they played the
song. Nifty! " Jolene " continues to be much less frenetic than Summer 2009
renditions, and in my opinion much more enjoyable, mining that 1950's rhythm &
blues groove much like on Together Through Life. The song culminated in a snappy
solo by Stu ( yes, Stu! ), and with " Like A Rolling Stone " Bob Dylan cheated
time yet again, as he and His Band bid goodnight and rolled down State Street
toward the next joint. The satisfied patrons were left with a pleasant warm
feeling that stays with you quite awhile. 
Don Ely
Rochester, MI   


Review by Marc Schemansky

All is well in the town of Ann Arbor.  A cool fall night, students walking and
bicycling all around campus, stores and restaurants lit up and busy...  just
like most large Midwestern universities.  My daughter, an alumnus was giving me
a tour of her old stomping grounds...  as we approached Hill Auditorium the
entry lines had formed and people were filing in.  The Hill is an old building
right in the middle of U of M campus, totally refurbished, with excellent
acoustics.  There was a feeling of excitement in the crowd, the souvenir stand
was buzzing.  The business of Bob Dylan is alive and well in this recession (No
Workingman Blues here).

Around us sat some very hardcore Dylan fans; some had been to the previous
concert in East Lansing, all seemed like Bob experts and aficionados...  one
purchased an engraved harmonica at the merchandise booth and started playing
it..  one originally from North Dakota... all excited to get this party

Soon after 8pm, the intro began and out walked the band.  Bob dressed in black
and purple with a white hat.  The rest of the band in grey suits.  They always
make me wonder if this is how bands for Hank Williams or Bob Wills dressed back
in the day.  Kind of a cross between cowboys and riverboat gamblers.

I can tell you that this was an excellent concert; the highlights being Just
Like a Woman, Simple Twist of Fate, High Water, Forgetful Heart, Highway 61, and
Ballad of a Thin Man.  A mixture of genres and feelings;  rockabilly, jitterbug,
gutbucket blues, sing-alongs, heartfelt, spooky, beat-driven.. everything all in
one.  The band was tight and proud of it.  Great guitarists (Charlie, Stu,
Donnie), a tight rhythm section (Tony and George), and of course the straw that
stirs the drink, Bob.  Nothing fancy, just head down, straight arrow, don't
stop, out of our way music.  Simple rhythms sometimes, complex beats at other
times, keep ya guessing.  Guitar changes every song (Telecasters, Gibsons,
custom-mades, mandolin, stand-up bass, banjo, violin...  roadies and guitar
tuners handing over instruments like operating room nurses... 

One thing that made this show different than previous tours was the staging.  It
was very well done and extremely interesting.  The backdrops for every song
changed.. mostly black and white, moody photos of eerie cities, cloud
formations, the inside of a bus, etc.  Very cool to see the band playing inside
a bus.  But the most interesting was when they turned on a camera that was above
the band pointing down so that on the backdrop you could see a bird's eye view
of Bob and the boys (all in moody grays and white).  The lighting during Thin
Man was in front of Bob shining up, casting large shadows behind, and making him
look like a barker at a sideshow or a tent evangelist; cool effect.  It was just
one more thing to stimulate the senses and make it a full concert experience. 


Review by Joe Malekovic

Just another typically fantastic Bob Dylan show. I was a little concerned about 
being in the upper balcony, but the Hill Auditorium is probably one of the most 
acoustically sound venues anywhere. The mix to My ears was very good, all 
musicians were audible and contributed very nicely, Bob's instruments seemed 
just slightly more prominent in the mix, which is as it should be I think. The 
one glitch that took place was during "High Water" when Bob's center
stage mic quit, actually a pretty cool moment as Bob sang 2 lines without
amplification and I could still hear him, the mic issue sent Bob strolling back
to his organ to finish the song. The mic was repaired and he returned center
stage next number for "Forgetful Heart" which I recognized from the first note
of Donnie's violin. Hard to pick highlights as the show itself was a highlight
from start to finish, actually for Me, the setlist was much more than I
expected. The 3 hr. each way  drive was slightly taxing for my Wife and I, 
but not too bad, Again, just another typically outstanding show from 
Bob Dylan and His Band. 
See You All in Kalamazoo tonight, "Don't You Dare Miss It".


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