November 18, 2012
Review by Francis King
Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler did not book a date in the Nashville vicinity
this tour, so my wife and I had to go elsewhere for me to maintain my
streak. Going into this show, I’d seen Dylan 50 times since 1974, and
had caught at least one of his concerts every year since 1997. With my
favorite performer now 71 years old, who knows how many more opportunities
there will be? So, as we had been wanting to take a long weekend in
Boston anyway, we flew up for the weekend, celebrating my wife’s
birthday on show day at the TD Garden.
First, a nod to Mr. Knopfler, who is unquestionably my favorite guitar
player in the world. I first saw him with Dire Straits in the very same
Boston back in 1979… but, that was at the intimate Paradise Club with,
perhaps, 60 or so in the audience. I’ve only had one other chance to
see him live (in 2008 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium), and this was my
wife’s first. Knopfler and his ace band delivered a predictably
virtuoso performance. The only disappointment was that they did just
three familiar numbers…. “What It Is,” “Farewell to Bonaparte”
and “So Far Away,” and we would have liked to have heard more of
Mark’s gorgeous electric leads. Much of the material played came from
Knopfler’s most recent studio release, “Privateering” (which will
have to be purchased immediately). About two songs into the set,
audience members started shouting out requests. A sly Knopfler noted,
“Here come the requests. Well, we’re not gonna play ‘em.” He
played what he wanted to play… and did so beautifully.
Turning to Mr. Dylan, I have learned to approach his post-2006 concerts
with a degree of trepidation as there has been some startling
inconsistency. (See my review in these pages of his disappointing show
at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium in November 2010…. But compare to
what I had to say about his August 2011 show at the legendary Ryman. The
former was a dud, the latter excellent…. But, in fairness, the 2010
show was hampered by the hall’s inferior acoustics). Still, I go, and
will continue to go. After all, this is Bob Dylan, arguably the most
consistently influential force in American music for the past 50 years.
Last night, Bob Dylan and his crackerjack band did not disappoint. They
shined the whole night with a super tight, classy performance. Drawing
on material from 10 different albums, plus his Oscar winning “Things
Have Changed,” Dylan delivered a consistently strong and very engaged
performance. The sound was very well mixed and, in contrast to some
shows we’ve seen the past few years, every band member could be heard,
and virtually all of the lyrics were easy to discern . There was no
mumbling or dubious “up-singing” from Bob this go-round; his voice
was strong and clear throughout, more melodious than usual and less
strained. He was in full command of the songs, and offered some
delightful piano playing and crisp harmonica interludes.
Taking the songs in the order of the albums on which they were first
From 1963’s “Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” we heard “Don’t Think
Twice, It’s All Right” (in slot 2) and “Blowin’ in The Wind”
(encore). The flawless “Don’t Think Twice” included Knopfler, who
slipped so seamlessly into the band between Stu Kimball and Charlie
Sexton, wearing a matching black suit, that he might easily have been
missed, but for the unmistakable signature sound of his guitar.
“Blowin’ in The Wind” was the version Dylan’s been doing the last
few times out, a bright up-tempo rendition that, based on my count from
what I can remember, must be about the 10th different arrangement I’ve
heard since the original was recorded 50 years ago.
1965’s “Highway 61 Revisited” had its usual three numbers in the
set… “Highway 61” (slot 9), “Ballad of A Thin Man” (slot 12)
and “Like A Rolling Stone” (slot 13). All were excellent. “Highway
61” (as well as several other songs in the set) was offered in a
jazzier more syncopated style than the more guitar driven versions I’ve
most often heard in concert, and the interplay between Dylan’s piano
and the guitars was magical. On this tune, among others, Dylan really
displayed his considerable musicianship, which is often overlooked. The
other two “Highway 61” offerings were a delight, as well. My only
wish regarding the current “Thin Man” is that Dylan would play piano
for at least some of it rather than doing the whole song sans instrument
center stage. “Thin Man” was the one song Dylan played piano on with
the Band on Tour ’74, and that performance provided early witness to
how good a rock pianist he actually is. Would have liked to have heard
something like that again.
There was just one song from 1966’s “Blonde On Blonde”…. and it
was, perhaps, the high point of the evening. This was probably the best
live version of “Visions of Johanna” (slot 8) that I’ve heard to
date. Very well sung and fantastic arrangement that built momentum
continually as the verses progressed. (I thought I heard Bob start to
flub one line in the second verse, but then make such a quick recovery
that it was barely noticeable…. and that was the only time all night
that he appeared to misstep on a lyric… and, hey, when you’re 71 and
doing songs you wrote more than 40 years ago, well, an occasional missed
lyric can be forgiven.)
1968’s “John Wesley Harding” had two spots last night. Dylan
opened his set with a less than exciting “I’ll Be Your Baby
Tonight” (a curious choice for an opener and the weakest link of the
evening…. yet, still enjoyable). “All Along The Watchtower” (slot
14) was very engaging…. yet another of his countless variations on that
classic, and a continuing testament to his ability to play the same three
chord song in a myriad of arrangements and styles.
The only song from the 1970’s was a largely rewritten “Tangled Up in
Blue” (slot 4) with lyrics vastly different from the familiar rendition
released on 1975’s masterpiece, “Blood On The Tracks.” Different,
but excellent, with Knopfler adding his unmistakable imprint.
The much (and unfairly) maligned 1980’s decade of the Dylan catalogue
was skipped entirely. From “Blood,” Dylan went to the album widely
considered to be his best since “Blood”…. “Time Out of Mind,”
from which we heard a magnificent version of “Tryin “to Get to Heaven
Before They Close the Door” (slot 6). This one had a gorgeous
arrangement, with Dylan’s piano a highlight.
2000’s Oscar winning “Things Have Changed” (slot 3) was the
remarkable new arrangement that Dylan has been doing the past year or so,
enhanced by great lead fills from Knopfler. I can’t decide whether I
like this version more than the original, but it’s close…. and I
LOVE the original!
“Summer Days” from 2001’s “Love and Theft” (slot 7) was
downright jazzy, featuring great interplay between Dylan’s piano and
the guitars of Kimball and Sexton. (Kimball is getting a lot more lead
opportunities this tour, and his rhythm playing was also stellar.) I
still like the Sexton/Larry Campbell rockin’ jam versions of this song
from the early years of this century better, but this was very good.
“Thunder On The Mountain” (from 2006’s “Modern Times”) (slot
11) was also more laid back and less rocked out than usual… which was a
refreshing change as I think this one has otherwise worn out its welcome
in Dylan’s set (played virtually every show, its inclusion has become
I am growing increasingly impressed with “Forgetful Heart” (slot 10),
a gem from 2009’s “Together Through Life.” Dylan’s concert
rendition of this one is dramatic, a good example of his center stage
routine, including just the right amount of harmonica juxtaposed against
Donnie Herron’s tender violin.
There was one song from this year’s “Tempest”….. the Muddy
Waters –like “Early Roman Kings” (slot 5), an interesting
commentary that bears some more listening to the studio version. Dylan
sings “I ain’t dead yet/my bell still rings/I keep my fingers
crossed/like the early Roman Kings.” With a performance like last
night’s, one has to hope his bell will still be ringing for a long time
Review by Oscar Montes
Good show in Boston, I believe Bob is getting better every night compared
to the shows in Canada but you know, everybody has a different point of
view! After spending 4 or 5 hours in the wonderful Museum of fine arts I
met my friends Tim and Hank at our hotel and decided to have a pre-show
dinner at a bar close to the venue.
Great to see Roberto Bergadano from Italy before the show and also have a
final shot with all the usual friends like Denise, Sue, Angela Side, Susan
& Al, Jayne, etc. After 3 years I finally met up again my friends from The
Netherlands, Gaert, Lenno & John! So nice to see them again! So nice to
see also again Susan Shea Thomas. Also a pleasure to meet Karen D.Moulton
and Janice O'Hara a few minutes before Dylan appeared on stage.
"Baby tonight" was a good start for the concert; I have to say that Boston
people were really on fire at this point of the show. An excellent "Don't
think twice" was the following song with Mark on guitar also performing on
the 2 next ones: "Things have changed" and "Tangled up in blue". Bob did
so well on this last one.
We had "Early roman kings" again, 3 in a row! Good Tempest song! "Tryin´to
get to heaven" was next, a good performance for sure. "Summer days",
really rocky! "Visions of Johanna" was really nice as last night. "Highway
61" also got better. A beautifully played "Forgetful heart" was the
following tune of the night. "Thunder of the mountain" as well so rocky.
Bob is playing harp so intensely on "Thin man" lately, just great! You
have to be there to see my point. "Rolling stone" was next and made all
the people really happy". "Watchtower" so powerful, the best performance
of last 3 nights with some little arrangements, stopping for a while and
then going to the final explosion! The usual encore, "Blowin' in the wind"
finished this really good show!
Jayne was in the row just in front of me and the only bad thing about
tonight is that we both we're surrounded by 4 really drunk guys who were
really bothering everyone else, spilling beer and shouting during the
After the concert we all decided to have a little party at bar called "The
four's" just across the street from the venue! We all had a wonderful time
there! Sue, Susan, Janice, Karen, Jayne, Gaert, Lenno, John, Hank, Tim
We're driving now on our way to Philly knowing tonight we're going to have
a great show!
See you soon!
Review by Ernie Pancsofar
Expectations Met or Not at Another Dylan Concert
1. Someone will holler out Joey some time during the concert. Reality:
Infidels 2. The eye will make an appearance right before Thunder on the
Mountain. Reality: superimposed image of the eye makes an appearance
during Forgetful Heart (briefly). 3. John Brown will be in the mix – seems
to be a Boston Tradition. Reality: There are no traditions in a Dylan
set list. 4. There will be more Bruins’ shirts than Celtic shirts in the
house. Reality: I saw neither Bruins nor Celtic shirts this evening. I
did see a staggering man in a Tom Brady #12 in the restaurant before the
concert. 5. Mark Knopfler will not disappoint. Reality: superb!
Highlight – Song for Sonny Liston (Bob had Davey Moore, Warren had Boom
Boom Mancini and Mark has Sonny Liston) 6. I will be sitting behind a 7
foot person who has a need to stand. Reality: I sat behind baseball cap
dude and woman with large hairdo, which distorted my view of the stage.
7. I will enjoy seafood for an evening meal before the concert with a Sam
Adams. Reality: I enjoyed a seafood meal before the concert with a Sam
Adams Light. 8. Opening song will be either Watching the River Flow or
Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat. Reality: Opening song was I’ll Be Your Baby
Tonight. 9. There will be a debut tonight from Tempest – maybe Roll on
John or Duquesne Whistle. Reality: Bob sang Early Roman Kings, which had
its debut earlier in the tour. 10. There will be a Dylan sighting.
Reality: There was a Dylan sighting.
Review by JerrythePro
I've been fortunate to watch this legend perform well over 50+ times over
the course of five decades. It all started with the Rolling Thunder Revue
at MSG in 75'. Then there was the Budokhan tour, Vegas style. After an
extended hideout, he then launches into the Never Ending Tour with Petty,
GE Smith, John Jackson, Larry Campbell/Bucky Baxter, Sexton/Kimball and a
run of great shows that will endure forever. But like an aging athlete
that looks to go out on top, I'm hopeful Bob has a little magic to do the
same before it's too late. I'm not certain he can reinvent himself
anymore. After spending an evening with Bob at the old Boston Garden last
night, I came away disappointed. In particular with what could have been.
Quite a set list of favorites, yet an underperforming evening. Off key on
the grand, the incessant growl, the overbearing harp is just a bit too
much for me. He's reduced a fine ensemble of musicians to mere
participants with little chemistry and freedom. It pains me to even suggest
this, but it's how I feel. I know this is not the end for me, as it's my duty
to visit with him when in the area. However I've now learned to temper
my expectations and simply be thankful for the many gifts I've witnessed in
Happy Thanksgiving Bob.
Review by Mo Ritz
Boston, Mass., Holiday Inn, view across the street: Bobby Orr statue,
Band buses and the TD Garden. On the street 1950's / 1960's bus (seen this
around before), street band, tour tee shirt vendor two for $15. Festive.
The Venue: TD Garden 17,500 or so seating. Upper balcony closed, good.
Usher says crowd of 7000 expected. Large sports arena. Beer, liquor,
wine, fast food and peanut vendors. Band concession stands. Large stage,
black curtains. Not a concert hall. Opening Act: Mark Knopfler and band.
Set list mostly made up of new songs off the recently released record
Privateering. Celtic style music, a group of multitalented musicians.
Sound stellar thankful to have the opportunity to hear them. Encore,
always, So Far Away crowd standing and a sing along. Buy Privateering.
Intermission: Visit to Beer concession, no smoking, peanut purchase. No
lights flicker, no circus music, no biography, no ladies and gentlemen the
poet..., no announcer clad in Union Jack sport coat...arrive to seats at
the end of the first verse of Bob Dylan's opening song. Shucking peanuts
at a Bob Dylan show. Late Oops. Headliner: Bob Dylan and his band.
Eightnine songs heard at last three shows: Things Have Changed, Tangled
Up In Blue, Visions Of Johanna, Highway 61 Revisted, Thunder On The
Mountain, Ballad Of A Thin Man,Like A Rolling Stone, All Along The Watch
Tower, Blowin' In The Wind. Second of four shows hearing: Summer Days,
Trying To Get To Heaven,Forgetful Heart, and I'll Be Your Baby Tonight.
Hadn't heard in awhile, Don't Think Twice It's Alright. Never heard live
before Early Roman Kings. Less of a shuffle. Sound good, piano just right.
Bob enthusiastic, plays keyboard, piano and harMonica . Good set list,
nice arrangements, well played, "yes" well sung...no mumbles. Stage,
good mood lighting, logo, white spots, waterfallish. Two mirrors + stage
lighting prompt me to take photographs...good reference source, never did
this before. Not enough stuff arranged in front of Bob's piano bench, how
about adding travel trunk, dorm Frig, hat stand or not. Mark Knopfler
plays on three songs. Watch Tower lead all Stu! Looked around no walk
outs, good crowd reaction. Big Smiles. Oddities: Stu's acoustic guitar
goes missing, three empty seats row nine, row ten chick with spot light,
forgot to bring shades, should I freeze and put my hands in the air.
Handkerchiefs, god bless. Eating peanuts. Twelve Tribes news print
pamphlet man outside bus says: You know how Bob's songs make no sense,
read this and you'll know the meaning. huh? No wonder he doesn't talk.
Lasting Impression: Truly well sung, know that voice. Very satisfied.
Bookends: A Thanksgiving sandwiched between a Bob Dylan and Neil Young
show. Life is good! :-) Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Trails!
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