November 14, 2012
Review by Jerry Tenenbaum
This was an excellent show. I'd seen Bob Dylan and his band in
Vancouver last month and had some concerns about the band and about the
effectiveness of some of the songs played. (Some of it felt unrehearsed).
I enjoyed this show thoroughly and had the exact opposite reaction!
From the opening song, this was a show for everyone. Song selection was
varied and everyone was served well. Visions was worth the price of
admission. At times, I felt like I was in a good rock and roll bar with
a tight band playing straight up blues. The Air Canada Centre stage was
reduced to an intimate bar and the band was raw and really on. Bob at
the keyboards was a treat and he was clearly enjoying himself. Early
Roman Kings was superb and fit like a glove in this set. The sound in
this hockey arena was surprisingly much better than what I experienced in
Vancouver. It was impressive for both Mark Knopfler (superb again) and
Dylan. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere was a great starter and well executed,
while Rollin' and Tumblin', Early Roman Kings, and Thunder On the
Mountain (along with Highway) delivered that honky tonk blues feel. In
short, Bob and the Band are on their game.
Review by Daniel Maoz
I have learned to go to Bob Dylan concerts expecting the unexpected.
Last night at the Air Canada Centre did not disappoint. The stage had
been transformed into what could have been a Chicago blues bar - black
surround, dimmed lighting, pot spots strategically positioned to focus on
one man, a master of disguise and anonymity. The dancing spell was cast
equally on the arena's sound system and those within its range. Some
resisted. I gladly willed go under it.
I have equally learned to expect a creative poetic recital, not standard
musical fare. Because of this, I do not share with those who negatively
comment on the sound of Dylan's voice, the clarity of his articulation, or
the rearranging of melodies. These are all noteworthy, but for me from an
entirely different perspective: blues do not croon, they growl; careful
attention to words stimulates reflective thought; and ever-evolving
melodies invigorate imagination. Last night, ancient wisdom came to town:
no one enters the same river twice. Indeed, the same person did not stir
the ever-changing waters a second time.
From the first note of "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" to the last beat of
"Blowin' In The Wind" - corresponding to the sweet sweet smell of
salvation that filled the air - Bob Dylan's vision rang out and freedom
chimed forth its enchanting potential to any who would take hold.
The rest are details.
Review by Oscar Montes
November 14th, waking up in
Mexico City and being at a Bob show at Toronto at night! On the flight
from Mexico to the North Country, a Canadian flight attendant saw my Dylan
t-shirt and said she had seen him 9 times and was happy and surprised to
know I was just about to do the same!
Arriving to Toronto Pearson
airport wasn’t so easy, first the cold wasn’t something I’m used to and
then getting a bus and then the subway with a heavy luggage in order to
get to my hotel was something kind of hard.
Before arriving to Air Canada
Center I visited the CN Tower, really nice and exciting I must say.
Getting to the concert venue was nice and strange at the same time, this
is the first time I see Bob outside Mexico or the USA. Great to finally
meet Tim Price from England. Also nice meeting Teree Olsen from Canada.
And great to see again Sue from Ottawa and Denise from Boston, Federica
from Italy was there too.
Last time I saw Bob without wearing
a hat was back in 1999 in Florida, and see him this way tonight was
something really cool. I must say Mark Knopfler’s performance was really
good. Bob started with “You ain’t going nowhere”! I think I haven’t heard
it live since that same 1999 year! Really good start, people was happy to
see him at the ACC. Mark played guitar on the following 3 songs: Man in
the long black coat, Things have changed and TUIB. Good performance but I
have to say no one noticed he was there nor when he left the stage.
“Early roman kings” was next! A
“Tempest” song! Something to be happy for! People really responded so well
to this new song! Then two more songs that besides “Roman kings” I
listened to them for the first time: “Joey” and “Visions of Johanna”! 3
first-time songs in one night! Wow! I don’t have to tell you how happy I
A good “Highway 61 revisited” was
the next song of the night! “Sugar baby” was a nice surprise and Bobby did
it so well! “Thunder of the mountain” really strong. And the highlight of
the night with no doubt was “Thin man”, so powerful and the way Zimmy
played harp was sublime! “Rolling stone” and “Watchtower” were the songs
most people knew and they were really excited to listen to them. “Blowing’
in the wind” was the final song of the night.
Great show I must say, something
new I saw was the light system (powerful towards the audience) on the
stage and also mirrors facing to the crowd. We believe Bob is fed up with
people who takes and takes pictures. I’m writing this review on a train to
Niagara Falls where I’ll visit this nice world attraction and then I’ll
attend a NFL game where my favorite team, the “Miami Dolphins” will play
against the Bills in Buffalo.
Tomorrow I’ll be traveling to
Montreal. See you soon!
Review by Ian Marquis
I wouldn’t be writing this if the reviews in the Toronto papers were not
so bad – the ones by pro’s. Kids, punks, people who are making it up
based on what they’ve heard before based on a read of them. The show
was all right. Really all right. Like Big Mama Thorton at Larry's Hideaway -
something you're glad you didn't miss. It wasn’t '74, Rolling Thunder,
or the Gospel show at Massey Hall, all of which I was lucky enough to
see. But then it wasn’t the Kingston Ontario show, or the other Massey
Hall show with two drummers. In Kingston’s hockey arena, the sound was
impossible to hear because the acoustics were so bad. In Massey Hall, I
think he gave the sound man the night off and told him to set everything
to max and leave it there, go get drunk. Even the solo version of
Candi-i-o at that show was illegibly inaudible - just a mess of loud
sound. That was then. This show at ACC, his voice had clarity, the clarity
that is on Tempest when he sings “bury my head between your breasts’
– making that ‘sts’ as clear as can be, reveling in the two of them.
His piano playing had the off-kilter beauty of Art Tatum at his Joyce-like
best at times, especially “Rolllin’ and Tumblin’” if I’m not
mis-remembering. Recreating the blues, a blues, his way –
pugilistically, not plagiaristically. Fighting with the anger
deserved in response to those who 'destroy your city.' George
Recile’s drumming throughout was solid, and inventive. Donnie Heron kept
an eye on the keys so closely he was able to have his steel guitar
harmonize with Bob’s strange chords so well it was a different sound,
almost a uilleann pipe-like strangeness that we heard in Knopfler’s
set. Stu Kimball did the guitar stretches that had the wind howling in
Watchtower. Bob didn’t give Charlie Sexton much room to move. So his
economy was stretched, and the gold he played was more valuable for it.
The sound got cranked up for Ballad of a Thin Man, and the reverb was all
of that, but in stereo as well, which I hadn’t read about, so it’s a
keeper. Needs a release for how good it is. Early Roman Kings hadslide
fills. The one in St. Paul on Nov. 8thhad more staccato note fills.
Educationally available recordings will show. Seems to me, too, there
was a lyric change in Blowin’ in the Wind: How many roads, must a poet
walk down, before you call him a man? But it was half swallowed, one of
the few lyrics with less than optimum clarity, so I’m not sure…But in
Things Have Changed, ah, there was the old boy, playing on that old oak
tree. "I feel like falling in love / with who? The first woman that I
meet. Feel like putting in a wheelbarrow/to do what? Rolling her down the
street." And he did. Roll. Tumble…Him and Joe E. Cause we ain’t
goin’/ nowhere. My only regret: didn't play Forgetful Heart. But Sugar
Baby was stunningly beautiful. The inventiveness continues. Long may he
and this band amble! Don’t you miss it! If you can can.
Review by Max Berger
Second row dead centre floors seats. Dylan with Mark Knopfler opening.
What more could you ask for. So me and my friend Gordie were expecting big
things. The seats were amazing to watch Knopfler and his laid back band
with bagpipes flutes violins and a Celtic influence. Also a chance for
Knopfler to show off his guitar collection - all shiny and well polished -
a different one for every other song. And a sense of humour. Knopfler said
- " I know the songs you want to hear - we're not playing em." He
eventually relented with So Far Away from the Dire Straits days.
Coming back from the break between sets was my first uh-oh moment. The
roadies had set up a couple of mirrors facing the audience to prevent
photography. One mirror was right in front of the piano where Bob was
seated for most of the show, and right in our sightline. When the show
started I had to stand on my toes just to see the top of Dylan's head. I
might as well have been sitting in the nose bleed section. It seems to me
that Dylan should be thrilled that at his age, 71, fans are still coming
to see him and wanting to take his photo. By the third song I was having
my doubts. Things Have Changed is a great song when Dylan feels like
singing. Tonight it was unintelligible gibberish. Things got worse with
Tangled up in Blue, one of his prettiest melodies. Toronto's version
sounded like the barking of a rabid dog. It choked all the life out of the
song. In all the Dylan shows I've seen I have never seen him mangle a song
that badly. But like the sun emerging after a tropical storm, things
changed with the surprise of the night - Joey. A beautifully sung
rendition that really sounded just like the original recording, but for
the accent on the title. It wasn't Joey but Joeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! And soon
after came Visions of Johanna which I have never heard live and was hoping
to hear. I got my wish but all I can remember about the song is standing
on my toes to catch a vision of Dylan's head over that mirror. Once
Highway 61 started I had enough. If Abraham was brave enough to be willing
to sacrifice his son, I'd be brave enough to hop over the first row seats
and make my way to railing separating the floors from the stage and away
from the mirror. The mission was successful and Gordie joined me. We were
about 5 steps away from Bob and watched the rest of the show from there.
Bob played SugarBaby, Rollin and Tumblin and Thunder on the Mountain which
I thought were interchangeable filler - could as easily been called
Rollin Thunder and Tumblin on the Mountain. During this interlude my mind
began to drift to thoughts of Mohamed Ali's career. Ali and Dylan were
both " the greatest " at what they did in roughly the same time period,
early 60's to late 70's. Ali won his last fight in '78. Dylan released
Desire and wrapped up the Rolling Thunder tour in '76. Between 1961 to
1976 Dylan would float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Every album
and almost every song was a masterpiece. After '76 - well things have
changed. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, a Dylan album or concert these days
is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get.
Just as suddenly I was interrupted from my reverie by the opening chords
of Ballad of a Thin Man. Bob had switched from auto-pilot back to fighting
form. This version of Thin Man with Bob playing the harp would sting like
a bee. Next- Like a Rolling Stone which Gordie never fails to remind me is
the greatest rock and roll song ever written. And then All Along the
Watchtower, which according to his website is Bob's most played song -
Toronto was his 2098th live performance. And for Toronto, a change of
rhythm and tempo to make the song fresh again. The highlights of the
show for me were Joey, Johanna, Watchtower and watching the security
gorillas chasing Gordie up and down the aisles to stop him from taking
pictures. Did I enjoy the show? I'd answer by saying that next time Bob
rolls into town I'll be there with bells on, hopefully in those second row
seats. But I'll be bringing a rock with me. So Bob - don't fear, if you
hear a foreign sound in your ear - it'll just be me smashing down that
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