November 1, 2012
Review by Tom Palaima
Arrived a little into Mark Knopfler's fine opening set because
twotrailer rigs had virtually obliterated themselves about 20 miles
south of Waco and for ninety minutes closed off IH-35, the great
north-south high-speed multi-lane life-or-death main circuit cable that
runs from the Mexican to the Canadian border, from the land of Senor and
Alias and hot chili peppers in the blistering sun to rainy days on the
great lakes, the hills of old Duluth, and winds hitting heavy on the
The Verizon Center is set out in Grand Prairie northwest of Dallas, a
nice-sized hall with tiered seating and good acoustics and sound system.
This was a beautiful evening, temperatures in the low seventies, a
cloudless sky, a gorgeous burnt-orange sunset off to the west at 6:36,
with then a gradual "Fade to Black" in fitting tribute to Mark Knopfler, a
90% full big fat moon shining like a spoon.
My fiancee Lisa sings a few of Bob's songs in her standardrepertoire of
songs (e.g. "Emotionally Yours") and likes to hear the lyrics. She had
washed away most of the bad taste of the murky sound of the summer 2010
Leon Russell-Bob Dylan and Band show in the White Water Amphitheatre in
New Braunfels, TX about 275 miles south of Grand Prairie along IH 35 and
light years behind as a venue for music.
Bob's gravelly vocals were clear and the sound mix fronted hispiano
improvisations without overwhelming Guarnier's impossibly deft bass
lines, the spare wickedness of Sexton's lead guitar or Knopfler's
beautiful guest turn on "Things Have Changed."
We were seated in row ten audience left of center on the left side of the
aisle. Bob and band moved onto stage in darkness, notably without the
"donned makeup in the seventies...suddenly shifted gears" intro, and
launched right into "Watching the River Flow."
Music conquered all.
After serviceable versions of "Watching the River Flow"(reminiscent of
Leon Russell in New Braunfels) and "Girl of the North Country" (both with
Bob setting rhythms on keyboard, the second with a small harp solo, and
the second with Knopfler fitting in on lead electric guitar), the concert
took flight with Bob singing "Things Have Changed" center stage,
emphasizing the meaning of the words with artful gestures, facial
expressions, whole body movements, and poses a la Eddie Cantor. Bob made
way at its core forKnopfler to build a beautiful solo on the spot.
A knockout abridged--4 stanzas--"Tangled Up in Blue" followed. Bob
started the song singing with harp center stage, but he brought the
whole to an expressive close back on piano.At the concert and the next
morning in recollection, it seemed to me that Bob was delighting in
dusting off alternative lyrics that he created and sang once upon a time
past. And there was some of that, riffing on lines like "Radio blastin the
news / straight on through...."; "He had one too many lovers and/ None of
them was to refined / all except for you"; "Tryin' to stay out of the
But now listening to a recording, it is clear that Bob was
re-creating.With the help of my friend Gavin Garcia, here are the
stanzas as we think Bob was singing them. They are worth a read and a
listen. Any corrections appreciated. Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early one morning, while the sun was shinin'
An' he was layin' in bed
Wonderin' if she'd changed at all
If her hair was still red.
Well, her folks they said that our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never liked my mama's homemade dress
Papa's bankbook wasn't big enough.
He was standin' at the side of the road
and the rain fallin' on his shoes
Heading out for the east coast
Lord, and the radio's playin' the news
blast on through,
Tangled up in blue.
She was married when they first met
she was soon, soon to be divorced.
Well, he helped her out of a jam I guess
But he used a little too much force.
An' they drove that car just as far as they could
And they abandoned it way out west
Splitting up on a dark sad night
Both agreein' that it was best.
He turned around to look at her
just as she was walkin' away
Sayin' over her shoulder
"We gonna ... so many things I can say,
But you're tangled up in blue.
She had a job and a pretty face
And everything seemed to fit
But just one day she just ran out of space
She write everything thing down that she was hopin' to quit
Then she drifted down, down to New Orleans
Where they were workin' on fishing boat night and day
All the while that she tried to smile
But her mind was slippin' away
All the while that they was alone,
You know the past was close behind
They seen a lot of people down there
And none of them were too refined except for you
But you were tangled up in blue.
Now I'm goin' on back again
I gotta to get to them somehow
All the people that we used to know
They're an illusion to me now.
Some are ?? bout evolution ??
ministers of the trade
All have a strong delusion
All of their beds are made.
Me, I'm still on the road
Tryin' to stay out of the joint.
We always did love the very same one
We just saw her from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue.
Four songs later on "Love Sick," it looked as if Bob at first was going to
sing center stage with harp, but he abruptly turned and made haste slowly,
like an early Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, and moving with the
just-finished dignity, to the piano. There his sounds created just the
right atmosphere for "Love Sick."
We could hear the excruciatingly painful tick tock of time endured by the
lover. Feel ourselves haunted by streets that are dead, silhouettes and
thunderous silence.Understand the desire to be rid of the loved one
causing such torment--wishing the past could be altered, wishing that
forgetting could win out.And the closing overwhelming desire to be with
the lover's source of pain. Throughout the song the band's full sound was
relentlessly stark, emotionally brutal.
To me, the highlight was "Ballad of a Thin Man." Bob again moved from
center vocals and harp to piano. But I was blown away at the way Guarnier,
Sexton and Bob played off and with and to one another.
What Tony Guarnier does to adjust to Bob's every rhythmicalkeyboard
invention and how the ever-more skeletal Charlie Sexton(whatever he is
doing--chain smoking, if nothing else--may rob us of a great talent too
soon, so PLEASE get him to quit) inserts his guitar phrases into the
crevices Bob and Tony define, are true acts of genius creativity. They
define what a band means.
Lisa liked "Watchtower." My friend Gavin, a stern and honest critic, loved
the show, too.He put "Hard Rain" and "Mississippi" at the top.
Leonard Cohen, age 78, electrified an Austin audience on Halloween
evening. On November 1, Bob Dylan, age 71, and His Band reached into all
our souls outside Dallas.
May the songs of these inspired songsters always be sung, and may they do
the singing for many years to come. Tony Bennett is 86 and I just took in
Chico Hamilton (age 91) in NYC. So why not?
PROVISO:As soon as the band began moving on the still darkened stage
towards their instruments and places, there was a rush by adorants, drunks
and look-at-me's to stand, dance, drink and sway in the space between the
stage security barrier and the front row of seats. This caused a domino
effect. Most people in the first thirteen or fourteen rows were forced to
stand to see over those in front of them who had had to stand to see....
An usher-security person said they could do nothing about those first
standees whose rudeness so disrupted the enjoyment of the concert for
others. Why not? They were not in their seats.
Why not make an announcement at the start of the show to observe some
semblance of courteous respect for others in the audience and even for the
performers. Even if to return to seats a few songs after a first
irresistible rush forward.
Overall this Texas audience was attentive, responsive and plugged into the
Much better than the general drunken belligerence, at times almost
Altamont frightening, of the New Braunfels outdoor mob.
Review by Bryan Evans
What welcome news it was to learn that Texas would be chosen for a stop
on the Never Ending Tour! Last year's performance in New Braunfels was stellar
but the venue was disappointing. Many moons later Dallas is our destination,
and so we embarked upon a journey that took considerably longer than the
estimated and allotted four and a half hours...After an ominous prospect
of missing Mr. Knopfler proved nothing more than dark imaginings the
Verizon was on the horizon. I have always enjoyed his facility with his
instruments and we got a heaping helping of electric guitar mastery. His
acoustic selections sounded remarkably good, and after a reasonably brief
set change... No canned announcement heralding the poet laureate- just the
man and his band. The inclusions of Dignity and a refreshingly unfamiliar
version of Tweedle Dee Dee were well- received. Mississippi has been on my
favorites list since Love and Theft was first released. LARS never, ever
The band has been given the opportunity to embellish and improvise the
songs than makes a compelling argument for fewer songs with exiting variations.
Tony Garier was amazingly skilled at conveying cues to the rest of the band.
Stu's chops are strong, as are Charlie Sexton. Donnie Herron is the secret
weapon and played an array of stringed instruments with remarkable skill.
I thoroughly appreciated the band having been afforded the opportunity to
stretch out and shine.
Bob Dylan at the baby grand, center stage and on harp
provided a structure that the electronic keyboard simply cannot match.
In elementary school the music teacher had us sing Blowin' in the Wind,
toward the end of the Viet Nam War. Thursday night we heard the voice
of our nation, and Woodie Guthrie smiled.
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