Review provided by Matt Stroshane. Maybe it was just me. Or maybe it was that the show started 40 minutes late, after the promoters announced earlier that it would be half an hour earlier. Or maybe it was the crackling sound system throughout the acoustic set. Or maybe the poor reception on the big screens. Or maybe it was the lack of an opening band which would have fired up the crowd. Or maybe my expectations were too high after seeing Dylan-Simon three times already and this time expecting Dylan to come out with some different songs after taking a month off between legs of the tour. But any way, I couldn't help feeling disappointed when I walked out of Coral Sky Thursday night. I hadn't felt that disappointed since the first time I saw The Master live but wasn't yet ready for what he was going to offer. But that was a long time ago and I should've known what to expect, but I guess I just wanted a little bit more this time. At the sound check before the show, I was able to make out that Dylan was playing The Mighty Quinn and I took that as a good sign, that he might be mixing up it a little more. Dylan and the boys started off with the acoustic set as they had been doing on the previous Dylan-Simon shows and kicked it off with "Somebody Touched Me." Looked like Dylan and Charlie had spent part of their vacations getting haircuts. Dylan had a black western suit with white triangular pinstriping and a black western tie, held in with what looked like a pearl pin. The song went fast and was really broken up over the sound system and a lot of fans justifiably booed. Larry picked up the fiddle and it was time for "My Back Pages." Dylan mixed up the phrasing, repeating several words at the beginning and ends of lines and it worked well. His voice was strong and clear but it didn't really seem like he was going after the song. And it felt that way all night. He performed adequetly, but never impassioned. Toward the end,he slung his tobacco-burst Gibson to his right, picked up the harp and in his new, one-handed style, blew a few notes to the delight of the crowd. "Masters of War" followed but wasn't anything special. I'm kinda getting tired of the song and it seems that he has played at the last five shows I've seen. Time for a new arrangement or a different song altogether. But Bob tried to put a little more into it, drawing out "eeeeeyes" and sliding his feet, bending his knees and making the fake -smile face between words. Larry had some nice work in between Bob's leads. Masters was followed by "Love Minus Zero / No Limit" and it took me few lines to figure out what song it was. Larry was playing slide and it sounded a lot like Back Pages. Bob had a nice solo and sang adequetly again, nothing really moving. Bob said his "Thank you, Thank you, Everybody" and Larry lead into "Tangled Up in Blue." This was probably the first song that got any response from the crowd. The sound system had finally gotten most of the bugs worked out and some people even stood up and the people behind them didn't even go crying to the security guards this time. The hippie chicks were spinning in the baggy dresses and the old guy next to me with his walker was taping his feet and singing along. Dylan was getting into it himself more, though I didn't notice a genuine smile, just the one between lines when he pulls back the corners of his mouth like he is in some kind of pain. Again, he was playing with the phrasing, repeating words at the end and beginnings of lines and it made it a little more interesting. He put out a big solo at the end and closed the acoustic set. "All Along the Watchtower" kicked off the electric set and Dylan was striking his guitar hero pose, picking that sunburst Stratocaster way up high. Some of the energy from the crowd carried over and the song was pretty successful, but also falls under the category of being played too often lately. "Just Like a Woman" got some screams and hoots, but seemed a little flat on the intro. The singing was probably his most emotional of the night to that point and he continued to use he new, phrasing technique repeating "nobody, nobody has to guess that baby, baby can't be blest." Larry helped provide a different feel, playing the pedal steel and Charlie also provided some nice fills. The gold background lights were blazing when Dylan blasted into "Silvio." Bob was striking his guitar hero pose and the crowd was singing along. Larry and Charlie gave some nice harmonies. Dylan had a good solo and Larry provided some tasty fills with his natural and black Telecaster. The biggest surprise followed when Dylan pulled out Dwight Yoakam's "The Heart that You Own." Larry played pedal steel and Bob had some good vocals. The song was performed well and Bob seemed really into it. It was also interesting that no one I spoke to around me knew what song it was, though everyone definitely liked it. The crowd had been fired up and when Dylan ended the regular set with "Highway 61 Revisited" a good portion of the crowd was on their feet. Larry played pedal steel, instead of slide on his red Gibson as he had done on the first leg. The stage was lit really bright and Dylan did a lot of walking around the stage with his grins and facial expressions. The stage was so overlit that on the monitors, Dylan appeared to be in whiteface like the Rolling Thunder days. Bob played two great solo and struck all his poses and did his knee bends and the crowd ate it up and went after the plate too. The encore was no surprise but the audience had definitely been waiting all night for "Like a Rolling Stone." The tempo seemed a little faster than it was in July and Bob seemed to be punctuating his lines more with his guitar. There was some big guitar before Dylan yelled out the "how does it feel" lines and he played a great solo near the end. Larry played lead on a Stratocaster and had some nice lines between Dylan's solos when Bob was running through his postures. It ended without the simplified ending that had been used earlier but didn't seem cut off either. "It Ain't Me, Babe" closed the Dylan-only set and has to be one of my favorite songs Dylan has performed lately. I would just like to see it in the opening acoustic set rather than in the encore. The band pulled out a great ending while Bob was playing the harp and striking some interesting poses with his Gibson acoustic held close to his right side. The ending is really effective when the band and Dylan slow it way down and you think it is going to end but then they fire right back up and end the song smoking. Dylan gave a "thanks everybody" then introduced Paaaaaaaaul Sssssssimon. The first duet was a surprise as Simon lead them through "The Boxer." Dylan was singing his twangy, throating harmony and no one in the corwd would have mistaken him for Art Garfunkel, though some elderly gentleman tried to tell me that they had the same hair... Boxer was probably not the best choice for Dylan to sing harmony on and he definitely sounded better when he sang harmony for himself on Self-Portrait. But really, how many people out there were wishing they would play this song together just because of Dylan's overdubbing? There was a huddle before the next song, as if they were improvising and Dylan had a little chat with Tony, who I must say is a pimp. He is a classic dresser. But now that that's out of my system, Dylan and Simon sang "That'll Be the Day," with Dylan singing a lot more lead than I had heard him earlier on the same track. Larry played a very Chuck Berry electric lead and the two songwriters strummed their acoustics. Simon added some who-who's that were effective and that I hadn't noticed before. They turned it into a medley, flowing right into Dion's "The Wanderer." Simon played very little guitar, preferring instead to kept his hands raised in the air above his head. Dylan's vocals were a lot stronger here, too, then on the first leg performances of this song. At the end of the song Dylan said "Let's have a big hand for Dion. He's right over there." Again, the musicians had their little pow-wow and Dylan came out singing lead on "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Larry, Charlie, and Paul gave some great oow-oow's to support Dyaln. It was a lot slower than I remember hearing it before and was easily the highlight of the concert. Charlie played some great electric lead before Simon took the second, guns-in-the-ground verse. Paul continued to sing the soft oow-oow harmonies while Dylan was singing and it gave the song a great feel. Dylan took the third verse and toward the end both sang the "I hear you knockin' but you can't come in" lines Dylan ended the song by singing the last IHYKBYCCI by himself. The song was a winner and crowd went nuts. I really feel that these guys should have an opening act with them to get the crowd fired up beforehand as well as to get the sound bugs exterminated. It was really distracting that Dylan's acoustic set was needlessly interrupted with static. But I have seen two shows when they had an opener and two shows when they have just started on a cold crowd and both times in the cold crowd shows, the fans don't really appreciate the opener as much as they should. It was only after Dylan sang "The Heart that You Own" that the crowd was REALLY into it and the momentum kept up through the encores, the duets, and Simon's show. At the concert's where they had the opener, both acts had total fan appreciation throughout their respective sets.
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