Mansfield, Massachusetts

Comcast Center

July 20, 2013

[Larry Fishman]

Review by Larry Fishman

The concert is held at an outdoor amphitheatre launched some 27 years ago
as Great Woods which was also the location of my first Dylan show.  That
July night Bob was ably backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers while on
this night he was backed by an increasingly unsteady crew, but I'll get to
that later.  It's amazing to think that after nearly 3 decades the parking
lot is still anembarrassing clusterfuck.  It's an infernal mix of Jersey
barriers, ugly scrubs, yards of temporary fences and smoldering barrels of
hazmat.  And I'm not talking about the Eagles who performed the night
previously.  You'd think with the $9.50 cans of Bud light they are selling
in one of the most commercially successful venues in America, the place
would have a semblance of order.

While the tour is billed as The Americana Festival of Music, not sure how
much Americana music I heard from the opening acts.   Certainly the
strikingly handsome Ryan Bingham was a standout.  Thoroughly enjoyed his
gravely voiced 30 minute set including a terrific fiddle player in his
band.  My Morning Jacket was thrilling - they are a fun, loud, riff
oriented band with a varied sound - a 70's arena rock vibe.   They
generously brought Bingham back for a cover of The Band's "Don't do It."  
Jim James:  you are a madman!   Wilco offered up a dull and empty set. 
The first half of their show was a series of indistinguishable acoustic
numbers.  The second half was a series of indistinguishable electric
numbers only distinguished from the acoustic numbers as they were much
louder.  I know that they have a decent following and have been around
long enough to purchase an endless array guitars which they swapped out
after every song, but their charms elude me.

Bob looked in good shape tonight taking the center stage without hat which
he only retrieved upon exiting before the final encore.  He sounded good
and looked fit, but from my vantage point (four rows after the pit) didn't
have the same level of energy that I witnessed back in the Spring.  His
center stage mic in hand performances were largely motionless with an
occasional fixing of the tie and rubbing of the neck.  I didn't see in him
nearly the same energy and intensity at the keyboards albeit with the
darkened stage lighting it's often hard to tell.

The biggest concern is the band as they are simply not constructed to push
out and stretch our hero.    Who knew that Duke Robillard's stay in the
band was going to be shorter than Freddie Koella's (whom I thought was
exquisite).   Duke was feeling his way into the band during the shows I
saw; Colin Lindell while clearly an accomplished musician was basically
nonexistent.  The only times I notice Donnie Herron is when he is playing
the banjo (which I love during "High Water" and "Blind Willie"), otherwise
he never rises about the mix.    At this juncture the band is being led by
George Recile on drums and Stu Kimball on rhythm.  Reciile is my kind of
drummer, hitting the groove and driving the beat ala the great Charlie
Watts.  His drumming pattern on "Early Roman King" is incredible.  Stu
Kimball, mostly on acoustic guitar, really propels the music's rhythm and
tempo.  And Tony on Bass is the ever present, ever constant bottom.  What
is missing are those musicians who have the confidence to challenge,
inspire Bob and to push the boundaries and the brief jams to new highs.

While this may all sound negative as a veteran Dylan concert goer I am
being a bit hyper critical.  This was a good show and I have seen a couple
of clunkers over the years.  The stand out on the nights was first and
foremost "Desolation Row" sung nicely with Bob framing this mega work in a
straight forward and powerful way.  "She Belongs to Me" was rearranged
with a deep drum riff and brought me a chill on this 90 degree night.  And
if I may shuffle the words to "Blind Willie," nothing explains my love of
Dylan more than those lyrics to" staring out the window of the St. James
Hotel" and thinking about "God is in his heaven and we all want what's
his."  I can listen to that song endless - oh yeah I do.    And I wouldn't
want to neglect the wondrous "High Water" and "Simple Twist" that

A solid night from my inspirer, as always eager to see and hear where this
never ending journey will take him and us.

Larry Fishman


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