October 28, 2014
Review by James Strohecker
" Brilliant performance to a highly appreciative crowd.
" A magical, seemingly solo, "Forgetful Heart."
" This band is le HOT right now.
People showed up for a concert last night.
But instead of a concert, they were treated to an epic Performance - as Bob Dylan
and his band (mostly Bob) wowed the audience with a tight, epic show at the
Paramount Theater in Oakland.
At times crooner, others poet, and even others a shaman-showman with magic in
his words, voice and dandy legs, Bob tantalized the crowd all night -- from the
opening riffs to the surprising closer, Stay With Me.
They opened with a Stu-led, long riff (than previous tours) introed, Things Have
Changed. It was tight and subdued with the new spot lighting that created a
halo over Bob's big round hat and grey suit.
The band jumped right into, She Belongs To Me, and Bob's strong, full voice led
the charge. It was clear that there was power behind the words, the music, the
arrangement and the approach. This soulful rendition and harp solo demonstrated
that the group wasn't messing around tonight. And the Berkeley-type audience
was quickly drawn into the performance.
The group then shifted to a bossa-nova beat with Beyond Here Lies Nuthin',
which showcased a big grand piano soiree and upbeat bass-backing by Tony and
George. This was followed by a tight, heartfelt, Workingman's Blues - that created
a calm stylized quiet to the theater; and made his words that much more engaging.
Bob and the band moved into an interesting, Waiting for You, that was not readily
recognized by the attentive audience. Albeit, the fans appreciated the tight,
reflective piano notes, that were upheld by Charlie's riffs and Tony's bass.
Duquesne Whistle cranked the sound back up with a fast start and a bossy-bass
backbeat, led by Tony's stand-up bass and Bob crooning and chording from the
grand piano -- hitting the keys like Count Basie. Charlie ripped some riffs on his
black Les Paul and he and Stu went back and forth across the stage. Donnie was
somewhat absent in this and other songs - he seems to have more of a back seat
role on this tour, albeit with Charlie next to him, perhaps he's simply letting Sexton
take the lead more often.
They followed with an upbeat, hard-hitting, Pay in Blood. In Pay in Blood, Bob was
spitting out the words and giving the crowd his best hand-on-hip, breaky-leg strut
from center stage, while movie star Charlie Sexton whaled on his Les Paul.
The band followed Blood with a hyped-up version of Tangled up in Blue that got
the audience frothing. Bob strutted around the stage with the mike, showing off
his suit, his singing and his energy - and the crowd loved it. Interestingly, he
changed the words in the last two verses [those of you who, ahem, access
concert recordings should check this out] and repeated his new changes in the
following night's version of the song. Perhaps this is a new construction of the
tune and the verbiage.
They headed towards the intermission with a big-bass beat, deep-voiced,
staccato-singing version of Love Sick. Charlie's riffs and Stu's twanging were a new
call-and-response arrangement of this song, that backed Bob's stage strutting.
After the intermission, Bob and the band picked up the pace - beginning with a
gong and Stu's long riff intro into High Water (for Charley Patton). Donnie's banjo
twanging and the tight musical rendering made this an upbeat start to get people
to focus back on the performance.
For most of the night, the strong-energy audience remained seated in this plush
theater. Although there were some fans that stood up in their front row seats,
most chose to sit and receive the music. People were there to let Bob perform
for them . . . and he did.
Also throughout the night, Bob showed his footwork. And he showed off his
ability to create performance art with his words, poetry, inflection and
arrangements. And the band worked to produce the sound that made the
words stand out.
The group rolled into Simple Twist of Fate with Bob giving a singsong rendition
of his poetry, and the band backed off - letting the words carry the song. Quickly
though, Bob let the horses run again and they ripped a foot-stomping Early
Roman Kings with Charlie's Les Paul guitar riffs, Tony's bass and George's drum
skin-spanking pounding the hard beat.
Next, the lights dropped and Bob led what seemed to be an a cappella solo of
Forgetful Heart. He was center-stage, with the quiet strings from Tony's
bow-on-standup-bass and Donnie's violin that threaded through the words. The
hushed audience was fixated on Bob as he delivered a magical performance.
Best song of the night. And people gasped for air - he just nailed it.
The group now was heading back to the barn and lit up the audience with an
upbeat Spirit on the Water with piano-chords matching Charlie's guitar riffs, and
Donnie's high notes that created a ditty-feel to the tune. They followed with a
tight Scarlet Town and a plunky, passionate Soon After Midnight that had a
small-venue combo band feel to it, which really brought the band to the
audience and vice-versa.
They closed with a tough-as-nails, Long and Wasted Years that showcased Bob's
lyrics. Poetry in motion. Meaning, words and framed emotion that was backed
by a tight tonal beat, as Bob gave an oratorical approach to the words.
An excellent finish.
For the encore, Bob went to center stage and delivered an epic, Stay With Me,
which was part gospel, part crooning, and clearly part message to the audience.
After the encore, Bob stood with his hand on his hip. As if to say, "That's my best."
And the band followed with similar stature.
What a performance.
Props to BW and his Partner - thanks for the info on T Stack. If you can, get to
the Paramount early and check out the beautifully restored building and colorful
lighting. Great job by the Paramount peeps. Check out Dylan on this tour if you can.
Find the cash; this is a sound that's fresh and hot from the oven.
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