Clarkston, Michigan

DTE Energy Music Theatre

July 14, 2013

[Chris Colson], [Bill Klos], [Tim Mayer], [Don Ely]

Review by Chris Colson

Last night I was lucky enough to catch up with Bob for the first time in
over a year and I couldn't be happier.  It was my seventeenth Dylan show
and while my expectations weren't too high after seeing the never changing
set's this tour I must say I left happily surprised. My friends and I
arrived early in the afternoon to find a friendly scene in the lot and
were pleasantly surprised to be able to hear My Morning Jacket play a
solid thirty minute sound check that everyone in the lot could clearly
hear. My friends and I didn't enter until after the Richard Thompson Trio
but as soon as we arrived down in the pit we quickly realized we were in
for quite an evening. My Morning Jacket blazed through a solid set even
though Jim James was clearly fighting through the heat.  He kept a towel
draped over his head for at least half of the set. Next up was Wilco and
they did not disappoint. They jammed through their set with multiple jams
and fan favorites including "I am Trying to Break Your Heart", 
"California Stars" and "Via Chicago". For their final song they brought
out My Morning Jacket and Richard Thompson to join them on a cover of The
Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows". It was one of those special moments that
you rarely get to experience outside of a festival setting. All of these
great musicians were on stage at once having a great time singing a cover.
 When Bob finally took the stage I was afraid that he wouldn't be able to
live up to his opening acts.  As his set began my fears appeared to be
realized as he simply seemed to be going through the motions through the
first half of his set. Half way though I turned around to see the crowd
and realized that over half of the pavilion had left while a majority of
the lawn patrons still remained. One had to ask oneself why everyone who
had paid there good money had decided that they were better off leaving
than hearing the rest of Bob. The quality of the music wasn't in question
but it was almost impossible to decipher Bob. As a veteran of the
Neverending Tour I was bit disappointed since I am used to Bob's vocal's
over the past decade and even by normal standards the vocal sound just
seemed a bit off. Luckily we only need to be patient. Bob finally hit his
stride by the tenth song and delivered a clear and impassioned version of
"A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". The momentum continued to build for the next
four songs including an impassioned "Blind Willie McTell" and an
appropriately tender "Simple Twist of Fate". This run culminated with what
I considered a shocking cover of Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black
Lightning". While most people around me did not recognize this song at
all, and the rest seemed to be busy complaining that Bob didn't invited
Richard out to play it with him, I was experiencing euphoria. It seems
rare these days for Bob to cover someone unless they have recently or long
since passed.  Considering Bob's own storied history with a motorcycle it
seemed not only appropriate but was sung with the conviction of an artist
who still cares about how he spends his time.  It was clear that he was
enjoying himself while singing it. I suppose I should mention that
throughout his set Bob laid down some beautiful solo's on the harmonica,
But if you seen Bob enough before, you are spoiled enough to expect this. 
As always, my life is better off after seeing Bob again...

Chris Colson
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI


Review by Bill Klos

Got the ticket for this show at 2am Sunday and was surprised it was
available in the pit area right up front.  Definitely had to go (like a
sign from god or something) and it was the best seat (stand really) I ever
had at one of Bob's shows.   Middle aged spontaneity could only get me
there by the time Wilco came on and it was AWESOME! I never really paid
much attention to them (kind of can't fit in all these new bands
sometimes) but in a matter of a few songs I was converted into a definite
fan of their music. The highlight of this band was the break down the door
performances by all the band members, plus Richard Thompson and pieces of
MMJ for "Tomorrow Never Knows" WOW!  The guitar shoot outs, the crafty
lyrics that bring out the carnival sounds of the band and the awesome
rides they take you on are definitely why I go to live shows.  I will be
buying this band on have to in order to possibly get all
that sound!  I was truly astonished...unforgettable show! I wouldn't
compare these guys to anybody because they really seem to earn it all by
themselves, what a hard working band! SEE THIS BAND!   And then Bob Dylan
came on!  I do like this set list allot, the 1st three numbers set the
stage for what's to come and I think allot of care went into putting all
these songs like this.  Duke's full bodied guitar is missed but Charlie
really belongs up there, especially with all the new songs, his signature
along with the Tony, George, Stu and Donnie are all over these new songs
and when they play them live....well they are fantastic!  Duquesne Whistle
was a first time and tonight it was uplifting, along with She Belongs to
Me, Beyond Here Lies Nothin, Simple Twist of Fate and a real surprise of
1952 Vincent Black Lightening (no Richard Thompson, though).  Always feel
sad and anxious when I hear TUIB and AHRAGF because if you really live
your life. you do, and, it probably will some day, but when?  Things Have
Changed sounds and feels like this era's Positively 4th Street and I never
get tired of watching and hearing Bob sing this one, I really
 believe him....leave him alone...he's cared enough already! All Along the
 Watch Tower just rocks every time they play it but lately it seems like
 they pull the plug out of the wall just when its about to go all
 "Jimi" and I walk to the car each time thinking did we do something
 wrong? Why couldn't Bob let the boys jam out before bedtime?  But that's
 part of the ride, when he jumps the track, he knows allot of us still
 come back.  But Blowin' in the Wind loses its effect and so does Ballad
 of a Thin Man when they shut off Watch Tower too soon...we're just
 getting the car keys and heading out and those songs suffer the deserved
 treatment they used to get when Watch Tower was allowed to finish right. 
 It makes the band look like their in cages and it was really evident
 tonight especially after Wilco wrecked the joint.  
All in all this Americanarama was a brilliant idea from all that I
witnessed and just right for a hot, muggy Great lakes kind of day....I
became a new Wilco Fan and I remembered MMJ singing Going to Alcapulco in
I'm Not There and that was cool!  Bob did not disappoint as
usual....definitely puts on the theater for all of us like a crazy
carnival but its subtle and a blast to see and hear each time....lets us
all know I gotta be me....very cool! Can't wait til the next time!   P.S.
Masked and Anonymous would have been better without John Goddman...he
ruins things. But its priceless to see Bob react when he hugs him...check
it out.


Comments by Tim Mayer

ob...Bob’s sound men…somebody… please help! Sitting at the far left for
the show, I found it nearly impossible to hear Bob’s vocals. The sound for
the earlier bands had been excellent. This my 20+ Bob show and I know what
to expect. I have always believed that if you can’t hear Bob, you need to
move around a bit because somewhere in the venue you are going to find a
place where his vocals can be heard. I looked enviously over at my brother
in the center section Row O. Surely, he must be hearing a different show.
(He later reported the vocals were incomprehensible.) I didn’t move, I
simply cupped a hand behind my ear. Instantly, miraculously, I could hear
almost every word Bob was singing. What had been a muddy, frustrating
thing was transformed into a brilliant, idiosyncratic vocal tour de force.
Bob, in all his late career singing glory. The phrasing, the high and low
notes, the gruffness, the hoarseness, the sudden sweetness…it was

So can someone explain to me why the hell we can’t get these vocals mixed
so everyone can hear them?? In our group of 12 veteran concertgoers,
seated throughout the pavilion, NOBODY could hear Bob. I tried to convince
them they’d missed a masterful performance. I saw how hard Bob was
working, I heard how clever his line readings were. All for naught. Does
Bob know nobody can hear the great show he’s delivering?


Review by Don Ely

Where to begin? What to say? This Americanarama Festival of Music is the
best damn roadshow this side of Mars, loaded with fireworks and full of
surprises that can leave you giggling like a schoolkid. Even at it's
generous length it's the kind of gig you don't want to end, and makes you
wish you'd wagered on that Powerball drawing so you could go each and
every night! With three of my all-time favorite bands playing nearly
full-length sets, for me it's pure nirvana.

Once again I missed the Richard Thompson Electric Trio ( see my Cincinnati
7/6 post for the spiel on that ), but this time I had a better excuse. I
was rolling along merrily to my buddy Dan's place when, while listening to
the ballgame I noticed a high-pitched whine that clearly wasn't part of
the broadcast. Much to my chagrin the alarming squeal remained after
turning off the radio, so I aborted the adventure, turned the car around
and headed home, holding my breath the entire way. Well it seemed like it,
anyway. I called Dan and by this point had given in to the fact that I
wouldn't be attending the show I'd been eagerly awaiting since April. But
Dan, friend that he is, volunteered to pick me up, drive to Americanarama,
drive me home afterward, and of course drive home himself. And we live
about thirty miles apart. Now THAT'S true friendship.... This perfect
summer day, hot with brilliant laser rays of sunshine showering the earth,
began well enough. On the way to Dan's I stopped off at one of our local
state parks to hike through the lush woodland and fields, a detour from
the real world to become one with the natural world if only for an hour.
Bald Mountain is a place I and my friends have been coming to for over 35
years, first as a place to party, now as a place to be closer to God. I've
spent some of the best times of my life here, and this ground has accrued
great spiritual meaning as the calendar pages have flown by. Early on
parts of this park were more developed and maintained; now with budgets
being what they are this holy land has become more wild, as nature
reclaims what has always rightfully been hers. Heightened senses bring to
light a world awash in shimmering green, with the dragonfly dance over the
water, impossible plants and flowers too other-worldly to be true, twists
and turns that swallow you whole, stimulating sounds and dive-bombing
insects that scream out " we've got company! " , but hey, I'm on their
turf not mine. " Drowning here in summer's cauldron ", as Andy Partridge
of XTC once wrote.

Although it's been rechristened DTE Energy Music Theater, it's always
gonna be Pine Knob to anyone over the age of about twelve who's grown up
in the Motor City. Dan and I pulled in to Pine Knob approximately midway
into My Morning Jacket's set. I cite them as a favorite act, but I'm not
keen on all their material. I love their first three albums ( The
Tennessee Fire, At Dawn, It Still Moves ) and Evil Urges, less so Z and
their most recent, Circuital. Tonight's set wouldn't be the one I'd pick
were I made king for a day. I'm not always enamored of Jim James' falsetto
workouts or the electronic tinkerings they began exploring on Z. Still,
they sounded great, they always sound great live. " Holdin' On To Black
Metal " from Circuital is a song I've never liked much at all, with vocals
that sound like they rented Bananarama, but I must admit this version was
the best I've yet heard. MMJ are great improvisers, and there was plenty
of that late in the set, coalescing into the passionate " Gideon ".

Wilco continue to impress and continue to make me wonder why I haven't
seen them more often. Their sound is built for lazing on the hill on a
summer evening while beautiful girls cavort in their casual finery. "
Handshake Drugs " is a number I was hoping for; love the drum cadence on
that one. That was followed by a stunning " I Am Trying To Break Your
Heart "; Wilco is one of those rare bands where you don't want to go get
another beer during their slow slow tunes. " Impossible Germany " is one
of the most frequently-played songs during Americanarama, but I was eager
to hear another after last weekend's Queen City stop. Unlikely Japan,
indeed. Again, lots of jamming, lots of improvisation, guitars, and "
organized noise " as an uncle used to define rock 'n' roll.  Just relax
and enjoy sight and sound. Richard Thompson guested on Fairport
Convention's " Sloth " and on " California Stars ", handling the vocals on
the former. He remained onstage for the throwdown showdown that was to
come: My Morning Jacket joined Wilco in a psych freakout of John Lennon's
psych freakout " Tomorrow Never Knows "!! Miles of smiles bounced to the
stage and back and all around, Half of What He Said is Meaning-less as
time teetered on the precipice of Infinity. Bananas peeled slowly and SEE
what you have done now! Why don't we d-do it in the road, wild and

For this Bobcat seeing Bob Dylan live and in person began right here at
this very venue, on June 12, 1981. Of course it was called Pine Knob then,
there was less commercialism, there was still the walkway that cut through
the hill, and you could still bring your own food and drink. 86 shows
later I'm seeing Bob Dylan and His Band here again. This is Bob's first
appearance here since 2000, with Phil Lesh and Friends. It was still
called Pine Knob then, too.  Tonight the band sounded as strong as I've
ever heard them, more than reaching the lofty goals set by the bands that
preceded them. Bob was in excellent voice and spirit, he laid down some
masterful harp licks, and arrangements were tight and professional. Not
rote, however, of course that could never be said about a Bob Dylan show,
but there was enough jamming and extending of songs to make me think it
was 1993 again! And if this was Charlie Sexton's last-ever gig with Bob he
acquitted himself nicely, playing some sharp smokin' leads throughout the
night. I say last because monday in Toronto Charlie was replaced by one
Colin Linden; we'll see if that's an aberration or if in fact he is gone
again. " Tangled Up In Blue " was noticeable to me as the best I've heard
in quite awhile. " Duquesne Whistle " is a fine addition but I do miss "
Pay In Blood " in the set. Perhaps before tour's end ( or next time? ) Bob
will attempt something nasty like " Tin Angel ". We can only hope but he
does have some secrets left to spill. " She Belongs To Me ", " A Hard
Rain's A-gonna Fall ", " Beyond Here Lies Nothin' ", and the inimitable "
Blind Willie McTell ", all top notch renderings. Other reviewers have
lamented the sound quality under DTE's pavilion, but on the far right side
of the hill ( facing stage left ) our ears were being treated with candy.
But then, what's this? Something I don't recognize... I'm listening but
don't pick it up. Usually I can name that tune in a half dozen notes or
less, but this one I don't get. But my comrade Dan is singing some of the
lyrics so he knows! just when you think Bob Dylan's magic hat has got a
hole in it and he's played every trick in his universe, he bestows upon
his friends in the audience a wonderful cover of what turned out to be
Richard Thompson's " 1952 Vincent Black Lightning "!! I'm mostly
unfamiliar with Thompson's catalog, but I can say Bob and his band
performed this one like they've rehearsed it for  months, when in all
probability they've played it in rehearsal but a few times. That ability
is remarkable, almost intuitive. These musicians are that good. I've gotta
believe this was a world premiere, another first for Detroit, to stand
alongside the likes of " Buckets Of Rain ", " Get Out Of Denver ", " Ball
And Biscuit ", and " Pay In Blood ", but even if it isn't, THANK YOU BOB!

After those fireworks " All Along The Watchtower " was a bit of an
anticlimax. To also set the show apart we got " Blowin' In The Wind " as
the alternate closer. This perfect summer day had slipped away and would
soon revert to the real world of the workplace ( and the auto shop! ).
This day was a blast! Disappointment that there's no fall tour to look
forward to is tempered by the fact that Dylan's last FOUR tours have been
conducted stateside. It's time for our European friends to share the love.
Man, three shows in Scotland and three more at the Albert Hall! If I win
those sweepstakes I'll meet you there!

Don Ely
Rochester, MI 


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