Bob Dylan Tour Spring 2015 U.S.A.
That Bob Dylan Tour will start in Atlantic city New Jersey on the 10th of April.
For few years now I am part of an association called WWOOF : World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms.
The idea is to work 5 or 6 hours a day on an organic farm in exchange for a place to stay and food. It is hard physical work but I like it.
So I decide to spend few weeks in Florida and volunteer on a farm before the beginning of the Tour.
I pick up a farm close to Fort Lauderdale owned by a couple originally from Israel.
They mainly raised chicken for eggs and meat, some ducks and some goats for milk and cheese.
The accommodations are exceptional : I have my personal R.V. with a little kitchen and a fridge on a field that is part of the farm.
The work is easy. In the morning by 7:30 a.m. I feed few hundreds of chickens and then the ducks and goats. At 11 a.m. I am free. The only problem is that there is no WIFI on the farm, I have to cycle to the closest ‘Dunkin Donuts’ every morning. But the weather is usually warm and dry. In the early evening, I feed the same animals again until 7 p.m. Then I am free.
When I arrive Maxime (a French young man) is here. We get along and share a lot.
But we don’t share so much with the family. I feel that we are just ‘workers’ which is not the WWOOF spirit. Maxime will leave and the new volunteer is not in the WWOOF spirit neither. I don’t feel comfortable even if the material situation is alright.
A BD Fan and friend ask me if I could join her in her home in Indiana. So, this is an opportunity to move on. I fly to Fort Wayne and spent the last 2 weeks there, having a good time with Bob Dylan ,Elvis Presley and other great performers on movies.
April 9th 2015. To Atlantic City.
For 2 years now I have been using the association CouchSurfing as a way to find accommodation where ever city I go to.
It is a way to have a free bed but also a way to meet great persons who will open their home for travelers. A way to be part of a global world in solidarity and not just a global merchandise/business world. Where there is no money, there is solidarity.
So, before leaving France I requested CS (Couchsurfing) hosts until the city of Clearwater, as I am not sure yet how far I will be going on, on that Tour.
In Atlantic City, Thomas answered favorably to my request. He will pick me up at the Geyhound bus station on the 9th. I travel Greyhound or any low coast bus companies or Amtrak.
I have my own bedroom and Thomas offers me some food. I relax until the next afternoon.
I decide to walk the Boardwalk to the downtown area where I will meet with a Bob Dylan Fan from India who contacted me.
We spent some time sharing before heading to the venue. I’m all exited for this is the first show on that Tour. I haven’t seen Bob for few weeks. And of course every one expects a changing in the setlist.
This is a Casino and not my favorite spot.
I get a free ticket from … D. Well! He’s here, so is M. I feel uncomfortable. We’re not supposed to talk to each other anymore. So why does he give me a free ticket?
It makes me confused again. Now he looks skinny and unkept (not shaven). His skin has a strange color.
The show is great. The setlist didn’t change and will not until the end of that Tour (I believe).
I ask D. to give me a ride after the show. He will declined. He’s traveling with M. I don’t exist anymore. He’s finally like all the rest ; stuck in a ‘couple’ relationship. I feel jealousy and fear.
I call Thomas who is nice enough to pick me up after the show.
I have a good night and a good shower before taking the bus to Baltimore.
11th of April BALTIMORE.
From the Greyhound bus station I call Kimberley.
Kimberley is a Bob Dylan Fan who belongs to the Bob Dylan Fanclub.
She drives me to her home then to a light dinner with 2 others BD fans.
I find rapidly a free ticket. I spot D. with M. My heart beats fast but I focus on the stage.
Too late. The magic will not operate.
Kimberley, John and I drive to their home. I have a dreamless night (meaning that my dreams are not strong enough for me to remember and be of any premonition).
12th April RICHMOND.
Kimberley drives me to the Greyhound bus station. I found out to my distress that ALL the ticket to Richmond for today are sold out. SOLD OUT? Whoa!
Kimberley left and I start to panic. I check on Internet for an Amtrak train, no way!
I suddenly remember that Sue is traveling this way by car and thought of asking her a ride (if she didn’t leave yet).
She answers positively and comes to the station to pick me up. She saved that part of the Tour for me. I would have been missing the show.
We have a nice ride. She even drops me to my CS Host. Alexander was so nice as to leave the key of the house outside for me. Thanks. Sean, a roommate is exited about my adventure and finds me a free ticket on Internet. I invite him to come to the show with me. I find him a free ticket and we are both inside. At the intermission I find myself an empty seat first row, right in front of Stu. This is Magic! No one in front of me, and I don’t care about the ones behind.
After the show we go to a pub with a group of Fans.
D. and M. are there. I finally manage to talk to D. This is an uncomfortable discussion.
In fact nothing is said , nothing is done. He’s an opportunist , moving on in his life. I’m a thorn in his life.
I drink a beer that gives me a light head and talk to Sean as we walk back home.
I crash on my Futon at 2 a.m. in the morning.
13th of April SAVANNAH.
I decide to make it to Savannah, after all.
I catch a night Greyhound bus and reach Savannah in the morning.
I have no plan for accommodation.
I spend a great deal of time at the Starbuck’s Café , connecting to WIFI, trying to find a CS Host…in vain.
I contact Tim (a BD follower) who will accept to put my bags in his room the time of the show.
I go to his motel at 6 p.m.
Tim is all exited : he found 2 first row tickets on Internet for 47 $ each. He will give one to me; thank you Tim.
We are seated next to each other and we have a good time. I focus on the stage. D. and M. are far from my mind.
Unfortunately I have to spend the night at the Greyhound station until 7 a.m. but it is not too bad.
I will skip the Montgomery show as it’s impossible to reach by bus and back to North Charleston on the East coast.
14th of April NORTH CHARLESTON.
Courtney is my CS host.
She will pick me up at the Greyhound station and install me in a private bedroom.
I will spend 3 days at her home ; resting, cooking, watching movies and going to the one show.
D. and M. left the Tour. I’m somehow relieved. I also think D. is following the Tour just because he has a companion with him. He’s not a BOBCAT, an unconditional Bob Dylan Fan. He’s just an adventurer. M. might be more unconditional.
I get a free ticket almost right away. The venue is weird : the seat rows are semi-circular with no alleys in between. I feel squeezed in the middle of a row. The sound is ‘metallic’ and Bob’s voice is weak. Tired Bobby?
I call Courtney for a ride back.
I dream a sweet dream, clearly remembering the details which will become some reality.
18th of April ORLANDO.
I will skip the St Augustine show. It is impossible to reach by bus.
I arrive in Orlando after 16 hours on the bus, including 4 hours stop in Jacksonville where I tried to catch some sleep on a bench. I meet 2 Spanish guys and I try the use of my broken Spanish.
The Greyhound central bus station in Orlando is in the middle of nowhere. I don’t find any CS Host in Orlando. No plan B neither.
I decide to walk to the downtown area. One hour walk in the heat!
I’m exhausted and by a ‘simple twist of fate’ I find a Motel, downtown, close to the venue. I check in for 68$. It’s the first time I spend money for a room. I take a shower, change my clothes and walk to the venue.
I see only one person in front of the theater, he’s wearing a BD T.Shirt.
We’ve met before, queuing in some Bob Dylan lines at some general admission shows.
He invites me to join him for a ride. He’s Ro and lives in West Palm Beach. He will do the 3 next BD shows and he invites me to ride with him. Ok! It sounds good. We join with 2 other BD fans for a light dinner before heading to the venue. Ro will buy me a ticket.
The venue is brand new, made of glass. The seats are small and made of Blue. All ‘tangled up in blue’.
The sound is great, a lot better than North Charleston.
I truly enjoy myself with a new companion. We spend a night in the motel room before heading to Ro’s house in West Palm Beach. Good time, precious time.
From now on I will be traveling with Ro. We’ll learn to know each other. And to learn about people , the road is a tough school.
21st of April Fort Lauderdale.
Ro drives Julia and myself to the venue. Julia is Ro’s friend and she wants to appear his girl-friend. Alright I understand the situation and step back.
I find a ticket and get in. That show will not stick in my mind. It will be just another one.
My new relationship is occupying my mind.
Ro drives us back to West Palm Beach.
22sd of April CLEARWATER.
Ro drives to Clearwater. We are suddenly involved in a car crash. A car is on fire. We are stuck for 2 hours and we must take a decision : waiting more or driving back and take another route. I am the co-pilot and Ro trusts me. We turn around , we drive through Orlando and reach Clearwater at 6 p.m. Just in time to go straight to the venue.
The show is SOLD OUT. Extremely difficult to find a ticket. Again Ro will buy one from a scalper. I’m in and happy.
The audience is warm, reacting with enthusiasm which is less and less the case.
Most of the publics are quiet and non-reactive. And of course ALWAYS seated.
Respectful? Maybe too much!
We spend only a short night at a CS host ; Christina. She will ask us to close the door in the morning (as she’s away to her job) and make sure the cat is in. Thank you for your trust.
23rd of April ATLANTA.
Ro agrees to go on with the Tour until Atlanta (for now). He doesn’t want to tell me until where he wants to travel with me. It makes me a little bit anxious. I decide to take it easy ; one day at a time.
I have a CS host ; Benno. He’s an interested character from Israel and a linguist. We have a good time with him; cooking, talking, watching movies.
We visit a park in the afternoon and drive to the venue. By now Ro and I are lovers. Mostly a move on his part.
It is interesting for me to see that his attitude is the attitude I expect from a man.
He had accepted to travel with me, he had been paying a lot for me, he had been nice to me so…I know he wants sex. I don’t believe I am wrong thinking this way. I don’t believe it is wrong.
So…what’s wrong with D.? How come D. doesn’t react this way, a ‘normal’ way?
It reassures me to see that I am not NUTS. D. IS WEIRD. And unfortunately that will fill up my brain for so long, just to try to figure out who is D.
I am not in love with Ro so the situation with that sex affair disturbs me a little bit.
I feel that I use him and he is using me. It’s not a sane relationship.
24th to 28th of April NASHVILLE.
We will skip 2 shows, far off the road ; Durham and Greenville.
We are hosted by Steve a bass guitar player, common in Nashville.
We sleep on the floor, like camping. We have the key of the door so we are free to come and go.
We spent a nice time in Nashville but with Ro the relationship starts to deteriorate. I want to see the Country Hall of Fame, he doesn’t. He will win that turn. I’m also supposed to eat when he wants and what he wants. I’m flexible but after a while I feel like either starving or being over fed. I start to see the real HIM at last. He probably feels the same about me. The only thing we have in common is …Bob Dylan. But even here I find Ro really narcissistic.
He wants to be first row for he’s sure that bob Dylan can see him and looks at him. I heard that so many times! It starts to get on my nerves and I see Ro as a little kid looking for a Father. Also Ro is constantly quoting Bob Dylan, even with people who are not Fans, like my CS Hosts. Ro is liking of empathy. He’s not smart, not fun, not even a good lover. Oops!
It will be just a question of time before we split. D. is still on my mind as an interesting character. Maybe because I don’t know all about him? Maybe because a part of him is still a mystery?
We spend time walking along Broadway street, the tourist street.
One evening we go to the Blue Bird Café to hear some new song writers at a open mike stage.
Most of them don’t even impress me. They seem full of themselves. No talent, no fun.
Another night we go to a CouchSurfing meeting. We meet with non-American people. I have a nice discussion with a young Rasta singer. Ro is disturbing my relationship , as he doesn’t understand the spirituality of Rastafarianism. He’s heavy!
In Nashville, at the venue, before the show, I bump into Stu Kimbal. For fun I ask him if he has any extra Ticket! He says no! no! I say : I’m just kidding!
I see Randy but our relationship is sore. April is supposed to come at the show but I see only her husband , Chris. They had a raw. She won’t make it to the show.
I see M. taking her seat. D. should be near. They both joined the Tour again. They look like lovers, I know they are not. But who will believe they are traveling just as friends?
What bothers me the most is the ‘lie’, the pretentiousness, the appearance. I don’t understand. I try to block my mind.
Ro, again, buy me a ticket. I feel more and more uncomfortable! I don’t want sex with him. He’s buying me. He doesn’t like me as a person.
We have 2 seats on the side of the piano. Of course this is Magic!
I see Bob’s hands moving on the piano. His left leg hopping a little bit. But I don’t see much expressions on his face. Only at some shows he will turn to Donnie for a smile. He looks tired and weary most of the time.
Of course I know the setlist by heart and most of the lyrics of the songs. He will change some words on ‘Workingman's Blues #2 ‘ or ‘Long and wasted years’.
He added ‘Autumn leaves’ in Greenville and he will keep with it along the road.
So after 2 or 3 shows it is not a surprise anymore.
Ro decides to go to Memphis and he will take me to Graceland.
Of course the traveling is a lot easier than traveling Greyhound. I do have mixed feelings.
30th of April MEMPHIS
We reach Memphis on a day off and we go straight to Graceland. We spend the late afternoon walking around the property and taking photos. The weather is fine. I feel happy.
We have a place to stay with Klaudia. She’s a Bob Dylan Fan. A beautiful woman and a musician. She accepted to give us her son’s bedroom for 2 nights. Fortunately for me the bed is small so there will be no sex. Maybe I start to feel what D. was feeling with me ; to be friends but no more. But this is a woman attitude! No?
Next day we go early to the venue. Ro buy again 2 good seats tickets ; first row on the right (piano). It is almost 5 p.m. and I know Bob and the Band will come for the sound check.
I have a raw with Ro, I want him to leave me alone around the BD bus. I know what I want to do.
Barron and Big Bob are surveying the street. Bob’s bus pulls over in a parking lot. Bob will have to walk few steps before reaching the back stage door.
I don’t want him to see me so I’m careful to be invisible. Bob steps out his bus and casually walks to the door. No rush, no fear. He exchanges few words with a technician. He’s dressed with a white pants, a black hoody and a pair of running shoes.
Well! That was my moment of glory ! ah! ah!
It is a long time ago when I could approach him and just say ‘hello Bobby!’ and he would acknowledge me and call me ‘the good gypsy girl’! My heart is crying! My eyes are bleeding!
Oh Why! Oh why! Those days are gone?
I find Ro on the parking lot. He missed his chance (to see Bob) for he doesn’t trust my knowledge around Bob, the Band and the crew people. All for the best!
Randy is at the show. April and Chris are at the show. Jay and Johanna are at the show. Thomas from Germany is at the show. Klaudia and her friend will come later. M. and D. must be around but I don’t even care.
Our seats are front row on the side of the piano. This is the best.
That day had been a great day and a great evening and a great night.
2sd of May THAKERVILLE.
To my surprise Ro decides to drive me to Thakerville.
We have to split the drive in half and we book a room in a motel at …Paris Texas.
Ro starts to have his libido exited. Ah! ah!
I turn him down in the afternoon. He starts to act mean from frustration. The same way I was acting with D. So that explains to me that D. never loved me, as I don’t love Ro.
We have no conversations. Ro lives in his bulb, I live in mine.
We have no CS host in Thakerville. Thakerville is just a huge Casino in the middle of nowhere. I found a CS Host in Oklahoma City. Ro agrees to drive there after the show. It will be 2 hours drive.
We are inside the Casino in the afternoon. I meet with Sue and a nice man who will give me a ticket. I split with Ro who is angry. Too bad!
By a ‘simple twist of fate’…D. appears in the line in front of me. I know M. is not with him anymore, for some reason I don’t know.
I spontaneously move to him. He’s not happy. Again by a pure hazard his seat and mine are in the same row, few seats away.
At the intermission I move next to D. and try a conversation. He’s cold and subdued but not violent.
He asks me some strange questions about the men I’m with ; Ro and the guy who gave me the ticket. Jealousy?
The show is the worst so far. The seats are flat on the floor so it is difficult to see Bob on stage. The sound is not so good.
Nonetheless the situation is interesting. The guy next to me (who gave me the ticket) seems to fall in love with me. I would like to know him more but between Ro and D. I’m not available.
Ro gives me a ride to Oklahoma City. It will be 2 hours drive without any conversation. Well! My head and heart are somewhere else.
He drives me to the door of my CS Host ; Brooke. As she explains to him where to park the car he says that he will not stay.
So long, good bye!
Should I feel bad and sorry?
Ro helped me a lot to have an easy travel and to find tickets. I could have done it with more troubles. It doesn’t mean I will fall in Love with him. It takes more than money to buy friendship or Love.
Plus he never understood that I imposed him to my CS hosts as an extra guest. CouchSurfing is based on trust through a CS profile. My references are excellent and I accept guests at my home. It is based on sharing and solidarity, a state of mind Ro doesn’t have. We also saved money on accommodations.
“Sex is not equal to Love”. D. said that to me once, and now I can understand it.
Brooke is a sweet heart. Next day she takes another guest and I for a ride in the area and we have a walk in the downtown of Oklahoma City, the ‘red bricks quarter’ and a lunch.
She drops me at the venue where I see Sue and D. D. seems to be ‘glued’ to Sue. Pretending to be with a beautiful woman? I’ve seen him with that attitude before. He was never ‘glued’ to me. I’m not pretty and sexy enough? Reality or paranoia?
John and his new girl friend arrive just before the show. The girl is cute, young and pretty!
D. is subdued. John is the lucky guy!
I feel like stepping back and making an analyze of the situation ; what a mess in the relationships!
I have a free ticket. I don’t need Ro.
I enjoy myself as I had a nice day and I will have a nice night with Brooke in safety.
After the show, as I wait for Brooke to come and pick me up, I see D. bragging around with some late Fans. He doesn’t even come to me to know if I’m fine. I pity his attitude. He’s deeply a lonely man.
4th 5th of May HOUSTON.
Back to Greyhound bus traveling. The ride will be 9 hours long with a stop over in Dallas.
I feel FREE.
In Houston I had 2 CS hosts. I picked up Julio first. He will pick me up t the Greyhound station. I then realize he’s living far away from the downtown area. Plus he says he’s sick and not available for sight seeing and he will be leaving himself to the airport early the day after the show.
As I have another option , I call Lee. Lee is fantastic. He will come and pick me up at Julio’s home, he will drive me around Houston for a sightseeing Tour, will cook a meal for me and drives me to the venue. I love him right away. He will become a friend.
At the venue I meet with Sue and a couple of Fans who came from Australia to see some shows. We chat and even we say hello to Tony Garnier who walks in front of the venue. Sweet Tony!
I get a free ticket. Thanks to all the anonymous people who gave me a ticket without any expectations!
After the show Sue and the couple from Australia and myself we go for a drink at the Hard Rock Café, next door. We have a nice discussion when D. shows of. I believe Sue called him or texted him. I didn’t really want to see him. I feel embarrassed. The couple will leave soon. It will be D., Sue and I for a while. I make my move to D. But he will be ‘eyes-glued’ to Sue. I don’t exist. I feel terrible. After the closing of the Café I call Lee. D. takes me close to him and says ‘Good night Baby!’. What am I supposed to understand?
Lee cooked a meal for me. I’m exhausted and troubled but I have to be nice. Next day Lee takes me to the Greyhound station, direction …Austin.
6th of May AUSTIN
I will reach Austin in the morning. My CS Host is supposed to be a BD Fan. She and her husband will pick me up at the station, far, far from the downtown area. I have a bed in the living room. She will make me a sandwich and they drive me to the venue in the late afternoon. She will not attend the show.The venue is inside a University. Not much to do. Ro is here but we don’t say a word to each other.
After a while I decide to pay 40$ for a ticket. The first time I pay.
The venue is not exceptional. With the 2 Fans from Australia we try to stand up but the security is tough. We should be seated. F…!
I feel less and less in the Magic of the show. I need to remind myself that I am lucky to be here and this is BOB DYLAN on stage. Maybe the traveling is too easy? Maybe my accommodations have been too much luxury? Maybe I focus on other things?
I say bye to D. by the merchandise stand. He opens his arms for a hug!
I wait for Paige and her husband to come and drive me back home. They want to stop for food in a fast food. I’m exhausted but I can’t refuse. I just eat a pancake at midnight! I crash on my bed at 1 a.m.
I leave Austin to San Antonio next morning.
7th of May SAN ANTONIOIt is a short ride and I arrive in San Antonio in the early afternoon. Tanner will be my CS Host and he will come and pick me up after his work at 5 p.m.
I walk to the venue from the Station, only 2 blocks away.
Some Fans are packed around the back stage door. Bob and the Band will arrive for the sound check. I’m ashamed to see that they are all loaded with camera, tablets or cell-phones to take photos. I step back. Of course, Bob will hide and run fast inside the door. Why they don’t leave him alone???
My CS host, Tanner picks me up and drives me to his home. He makes me a sandwich and decides to come with me to the show.
We see Sue and …D. who leaves quickly as soon as he sees me.??
I buy a ticket for Tanner and I get a free ticket for myself.
This is my last show on that Tour. I want to appreciate fully. The MAJESTIC is Fantastic.
I relax on my seat after the show. D. is walking to me, pretending to look for ticket stubs???
Okay! We meet again in the lobby and chat with a young boxer who met Bob in the afternoon. Bob wrote him a note and added 3 tickets for the show. That guy doesn’t even know who is Dylan. He’s surprised to have so many Fans taking photo of him and the note, after the show.
I take a photo of him, D. and I…..pretending! Ah! Ah!
I say goodbye to D. about 4 times. He’s cold! Sick? Subdued? Unhappy? A troubled man with a troubled soul!
Tanner takes me home. After a quick night Tanner drives me to the Airport.
HOME SWEET HOME.
I picked up some of the concerts' reviews from the website Bob Links.(http://www.boblinks.com/).
It gives some ideas of how the shows went on regarding the music, the songs, the lighting, Bob's attitudes but also attitude of the publics.
I picked up some of the concerts' reviews from the website Bob Links.(http://www.boblinks.com/).
It gives some ideas of how the shows went on regarding the music, the songs, the lighting, Bob's attitudes but also attitude of the publics.
Atlantic City 04/10
Review by Peter Stone Brown
And so the 2015 Bob Dylan tour of the South, the Southwest and Midwest
starts in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a city that would be below the Mason
Dixon line if it extended into New Jersey. And for those who carefully
watch Dylan’s set lists, this is the same tour that started in Oslo,
Norway, October 10, 2013, and will continue with this format that includes
an intermission like the Dylan concerts of the ’60s and ’70s and the
set list that has changed very little over that time with one or two
exceptions. And it is quite clear that this is a specific show in every
way from the song selection to the lighting to the ensemble playing of
Dylan’s band to the lighting, the backdrops and the sound and show
volume. It is a show designed to put the songs first before the
musicians. It’s not about guitar solos, it’s not about flash, it’s
totally about the music.
Most of the shows on this tour have taken place in theaters and the great
music halls around the world and the staging is designed for that. The
ambiance of the Borgata Event Center clashed with the theatrical elements
of the show.
The first gong sounded at 9:01, and an acoustic guitar was strummed once,
but the lights didn’t dim and it turned out to be a false start. Within
a few minutes, the gong sounded again three times and Stu Kimball took the
stage playing what sounded like a minor key mountain ballad that I
couldn’t quite put my finger on as the rest of the band and Bob Dylan
took the stage starting with the song that has set the tone for this tour,
“Things Have Changed.”
I was sitting on an aisle seat and the people in the same row right across
the aisle were engaged in a conversation that showed no signs of stopping.
Keeping in mind Peter Clemenza’s instructions to Michael Corleone that
“they should have stopped Hitler in Munich and never let him get away
with that,” I knew this conversation had to be nipped in the bud or it
would pervade through the entire concert. And being an old hand at this
after decades of attending concerts with audiences that have no qualms
about spending hundreds of dollars to see someone they pay utterly no
attention to, I had a brand new line to try out. I leaned across the
aisle and said, “Excuse me, is Bob Dylan interrupting your
conversation?” As it turned out, it worked a lot better than say
“Shut the fuck up” because the guy actually had to stop and think
about what I just said, before admitting that Bob Dylan was interrupting
his conversation. Luckily, I didn’t have to take it further than that.
Other than that, the crowd was reasonably attentive with the security
flashlight shining brigade present in a big way on the hunt for mobile
device users, and even with that, people would still hold their mobile
filming apparatus high above their heads.
In the meantime Bob Dylan wearing a cool gray suit had begun “She
Belongs To Me” which received a big roar of applause on the opening line
and the song included a couple of nice harp solos, especially the second
one. I couldn’t help but note that the Egyptian ring this time around
is no longer red and back to being a plain old Egyptian ring the way it
was in the flip side of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” as well as on
Bringing It All Back Home.
Dylan then moved to the piano, playing with force and pretty much
dominating the sound of “Beyond Here Lies Nothing,” before going into
one of the first set’s high points, “Working Man’s Blues #2”
placing special emphasis on the lines, “Some people never worked a day
in their life/They Don’t Know What Work Even Means.”
“Duquesne Whistle” had kind of a strange opening where I wasn’t
quite sure what was going on and wasn’t close enough to the stage to
really see, but it may have been because it took the spot usually reserved
for “Waiting For You.” Once it got going though, it was another high
point. Then it was waltz time with “Waiting For You,” where Dylan
seemed to be enjoying his piano solo, but also served to make “Pay In
Blood” once of the few rockers in this show even more effective.
“Tangled Up In Blue” followed with the version Dylan’s been singing
for a couple of years and of course received a roar of recognition and
while Dylan was making sure very verse was clear, this time around the
verses not sung were noticeable. Simply put, it was too damn short. Just
as it was last fall, “Love Sick” was a strong closer to the first set,
and for whatever reason, maybe the cool additions this band has added to
the arrangement, this song is stronger now than at any previous point.
“High Water (For Charlie Patton)” kicked off the second set into high
gear followed by “Simple Twist Of Fate” with Dylan going real low
emphasizing the word fate each time around. Then came a slight change as
Stu Kimball put down his guitar and picked up maracas for “Early Roman
Kings” in a slightly different arrangement with the emphasis on rhythm
with George Recile using timpani sticks to beat the drums, while Charlie
Sexton kept hitting this one high note all the way up the neck near the
body of his Les Paul Gibson at the end of each line basically leaving the
solos to Donnie Herron’s slide and Dylan’s piano, and along with the
rhythmic changes, it was the piano which dominated the song.
“Forgetful Heart,” remains a song that can’t miss and led off the
closing portion of the concert. “Scarlet Town” seemed almost
dreamlike and “Soon After Midnight” seemed a little looser than usual,
and maybe I didn’t notice it, but “Long And Wasted Years” seemed to
be missing the extra stop that was added last fall.
Again, the true high point of the night, after a not bad but nothing
really special “Blowin’ In The Wind,” came an emotional and very
strong “Stay With Me,” with Dylan making every word count. Of all the
songs performed, it seemed that this was the one he really wanted to sing.
Opening night of a tour by any artist is usually not the best concert to
attend because by nature, especially after a few months off the road,
because by default it ends up being warmup night with few surprises.
Dylan was in excellent voice, singing sort of softly the way he does on
his latest album but effectively. I think by the time this tour hits
Memphis if not before, they should be in full gear the way they were in
Chicago, Philly and New York last fall.
Two notes about the Richmond show made it stand out: 1) the audience was
absolutely frenzied, more so than perhaps at any of the other 30+ Dylan
shows I have seen. The adoration grows. Moreover, I noticed that the
audience seemed older than at most other shows. While Dylan's audience
naturally tends toward we older folk, in this instance there were scant
few of the younger generation. I put this down to what I perceive to be
higher than normal ticket prices, placing entry beyond the means of many
younger curiosity seekers; 2) Dylan seemed physically out of sorts on this
night, although this did not prevent him from giving 100% throughout. On
many occasions he stretched and strained as if to 'work out the kinks.' I
remarked to my friends that Dylan appeared to have a sore back, something
about which much has been speculated in recent years.
Having said all that, the modestly reworked versions of many songs this
time around kept them fresh and engaging. Here's hoping we have the
opportunity to meet up again with the master next year, somewhere down
along the road.
In the first set some notable songs included: Workingman Blues #2, where
to my listening (using the Atlantic City tape as a reference) he rewrote
four of the eight lines of three verses and completely rewrote all eight lines
of another verse; Pay in Blood had a force and power that I hadn't heard
on the album; Tangled up in Blue was magnificent (it was at this point that
Bob really began to get into his phrasing and to my hearing he kept it up
the rest of the night); Love Sick was outstanding (and very interesting to
hear after reading in the AARP interview that he considered it his best
song about heartbreak and loss) and being right before intermission,
seemed to leave the sense "there's more of this to come". Which there
The second half of the show opened with Stu again strolling onto the
stage strumming and High Water taking us back into the world of capricious
nature, human folly and the eternal hope for redemption. Continuing with
the emphasis on phrasing there was the wonderful little rewrite in Simple
Twist of Fate: "Found a note she'd left behind/'What'd it say?'/ Said you
should have met me back in 58'/We could have avoided this simple twist
of fate" with Bob having a perfect pause right after the question. Forgetful
Heart continues to be a show stopper. Scarlet Town was haunting. Soon
After Midnight should have told any of us that Bob could deliver the songs
on Shadows in the Night. Long and Wasted Years was both a strange and
powerful way to end the second set.
Stay With Me is exactly the right end to this carefully scripted show. From
the opening song saying "I used to care, but things have changed" to
"till I find to my wonder that every path leads to thee, all that I can do is
pray, stay with me.. stay with me" I can't help but feel that we have been
lead somewhere. And we have.
North Charleston 04/17
Review by Jim Lundy
It has been only two years since Dylan played in the Charleston area and I
was interested to see how much things have changed since that blustery
night when he had to hold his hat on his head while he sang in the rain at
the Family Circle tennis stadium. I had been watching the set list for the
5 other dates he has played so far this year and knew that over half the
songs (10 out of 19) would be repeats from that 2013 concert. But true to
what he wrote in his book Chronicles, he has indeed reinvented the look,
feel, sound, and flow of the show enough for anyone who is paying
attention to notice whenever he returns to a city. At this concert I was
reminded of his famous quote from 1965: “I think of myself more as a song
and dance man.” It may have been a joke back when he said it but nearly 50
years later he has made it come true with a carefully planned and
wonderfully executed cohesive show, not just a bunch of songs.
A word about the venue: the North Charleston Performing Arts Center (PAC)
is a very nice concert theater that is the most formal setting at which
I’ve ever seen Dylan play over the last 24 years. The setting became as
much of an influence on the vibe of the show as anything that was going on
on-stage that night. The PAC is located in the center of a
hotel/shopping/big-box Mecca of sprawl that has been built up in the last
20 years in the middle of the blight of North Charleston, a city that has
become world famous lately for the police shooting earlier this month of
Walter Scott. You can also literally throw something from there – like a
rolling stone, for example – and hit the North Charleston Coliseum, which
was hosting a hockey game at the same time sharing the same parking lot.
Since I was unsure of the traffic and parking situation for those two
events, I left my house way too early and arrived at 6:30 for an 8:00
“sharp” start time. This got me a great parking spot a hundred feet from
the door but I had a lot of time to while away before the gong sounded and
Stu Kimball’s very sweet-sounding, adept strumming started the show at
It was certainly not the opening to “Things Have Changed” so I thought
there might be a set list substitution. But as the band took their places
in the near-dark stage it morphed into the recognizable intro and the
lights came up (sort of) and there was Dylan standing center stage just 30
feet from my excellent seat in row G (that cost nearly a hundred bucks by
the time all the fees were tacked on). There was some confusion at first
on the part of the audience, many of whom assumed we’d all be standing
through the whole concert just as they had every other time they’d seen
Dylan. But this was the first instance of the theater itself taking
control of the vibe of the show. The majority middle-aged audience members
were looking forward to sitting in their comfy seats and started shouting
“Down in front!” to those who were still on their feet after the initial
rush of euphoria subsided a minute or so into the song. And even the
die-hards still on their feet after most everyone else had sunk back down
had to finally give in to all the boos and jeers they were getting as they
“stood” their ground.
Once all that commotion was cleared up I could finally concentrate on
“Things Have Changed” and how it was different from two years before.
First and foremost, George Recile’s powerhouse drumming that has long been
a favorite feature of Dylan shows for me is so downplayed now as to be a
minor component of the overall sound. He was even using “soft sticks”
(like the felt mallets used on tympani) for many songs. The overall sound
of the band for this tour seems to be country swing – or at least
noticeably tinged with it – heavy on the steel guitar, and is as subdued
and beautiful as the stage lighting which is as close to candlelight as
possible. I am convinced that this is due first and foremost to Dylan’s
near paranoia of being videoed or photographed. But it has taken on a life
of its own and it is so beautifully done with so many artful variations of
shapes and shadows that it seems to affect the songs and the audience’s
behavior and lack of rowdiness.
And just as I had immediately noticed at the last concert, Dylan was
singing and expressive in a way that he hadn’t appeared capable of 10
years ago when he whispered and recited his songs in what seemed like an
irretrievably ruined monotone voice. His apparent vigor and physical
presence also seems to be better now than it was in years past with his
movements less marionette-like and shuffling. He is definitely younger
than that now.
“She belongs to Me,” one of only 2 songs from his 1960s output in the
show, was next and it was largely reinvented musically other than the
lyrics. It featured some deft harmonica work and this mostly long-lost
talent for being tuneful and evocative was maintained throughout the night
on the songs where he soloed. At this point I also noticed that he was
giving far more attention to the audience than I have ever seen him give
before, which is to say some attention compared to zero attention. He
seemed to almost be pandering for applause when he struck a pose with his
left hand on his hip and his right hand grasping the lapel of his white
suit during the instrumental sections of this and other songs. He repeated
this pose many times throughout the show very deliberately while staring
at the audience. On other songs, he sprang up off the piano bench and made
a movement just short of taking a bow right before the end while the rest
of the band was still applying the final flourishes to the outro.
With Bob’s rediscovered singing voice now available for live performances
I was sorry that so much of the concert featured the songs from his most
recent albums – songs that were produced at a time when he seemed to have
less than a half-octave range. For example, more than half (6 out of 10)
of the songs from Tempest were included (a third of the entire set list!)
and I am not a fan of the album although I’ve tried to like it.
Together with the country/swing/soft rock sound of the night I was bored
through some or most of “Beyond Here Lies Nothing,” “Pay in Blood,” and
“Workingman’s Blues #2” during the first set. The fun waltz “Waiting for
You” was a new song to me and I looked it up afterward to find out that it
is on the soundtrack of the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood movie.
It’s nice that Bob is still mining his obscure back catalog to keep
surprising people even if he is no longer changing the set list from
concert to concert. “Tangled Up In Blue” got my attention again with
another generation of substituted lyrics keeping it fresh after 40 years
(“Simple Twist of Fate” got the same rewritten treatment during the second
set). “Duquesne Whistle” had a fun start from intentionally random
doodling by the band that quickly coalesced into a tight song that
thundered down the tracks, but more like light rail than a freight train.
And this would be as good a place as any to say that Bob has this band
operating like a well-oiled machine and he knows it and is flourishing in
the confidence. Even his own contributions on piano and harmonica are
harmonious with the band rather than trampling over it roughshod as in
A rather uninspired and muted version of “Love Sick” ended the first set
at 8:55 when Dylan said “Thaaaaankyou! We’re going to slip away for a
minute,” but the intermission lasted almost 25 minutes. They returned with
a banjo-heavy version of “High Water” that was fun enough. But for me,
much of the second set was a bust with dreadfully boring but eminently
skilled songs like “Early Roman Kings,” “Spirit on the Water,” and “Soon
After Midnight” dragging down my interest level. But the absolute
highlight was “Forgetful Heart.” It was beautifully sung and hauntingly
arranged. Bob seemed to mean and feel every word and the audience seemed
to be feeling it as well. As the second set elapsed the stage lighting
seemed to get more and more beautiful although never getting beyond the
intensity of a candelabra. To quote a phrase, “The light in this place is
so bad, making me sick in the head…” But kudos to the lighting
designer(s) for doing such beautiful work. I’m sure they’re just following
orders in keeping it lit like dusk.
The second set ended right before 10:00 and Bob and the band left the
stage for the requisite 4 minutes of suspense before coming back for a 10
minute encore. “Blowin’ in the Wind” seemed to please the audience greatly
as a song they actually recognized. A stunningly sung “Stay with Me”
clocking in at a whole 2 minutes ended the concert. My guess is that many
in the audience were not familiar with Bob’s post-Blood on the Tracks
output and were hearing 15 of the 19 songs of the concert for the first
time. Which brings me back to the audience and venue. Of all the times
I’ve seen Dylan live, this was by far the quietest audience I’ve ever had
the pleasure to be a part of. While there was some talking here and there,
for the most part people were sitting and intently listening with minimal
shouting of requests, texting and phone calls (i.e. “Dude, guess where I
am? I’m seeing Bob Dylan right now!”). This really enhanced my experience
and although I’ve seen him in concerts where I enjoyed the set list or
style more, I have never enjoyed the concert setting and audience more
than I did on this night.
There were a lot of new verses and lyrics, most notably in songs like Tangled
Up in Blue and Simple Twist of Fate. To me, the highlight of the evening was
Long and Wasted Years. His delivery was passionate and animated and totally
powerful. There was a new verse about how we were like brothers and grew
up together and trusted each other. And then there was a line, kind of a twist
on the one in Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight, about how the past is dead gone
and tomorrow might as well be today.
Well, it's almost 3am and I think I'd better call it a night. What a great evening.
I hope Bob Dylan stays healthy and performing for many more years to come.
Review by Noel Mayeske
Ah, the rhapsody of Live Bob! I’m always kind of pinching
myself before (and during) getting to see Bob live in concert, him being
my favorite – and time not slowing down. Soon now he will be 74. Once,
according to the Beatles, 64 was the threshold for being old. Nowadays the
meter keeps sliding. How many more years can he do it?
Based on last night’s performance, I’d say he’s got as many
more as he wants, really. It would be pointless to compare his voice,
playing or energy to other key points of his career, especially in the
distant past. Things have changed. But at the Fox Theatre last night,
under Moroccan, star-jeweled “skies” (you can see constellations of stars
in the ceiling), he delivered exactly the type of show he should be
delivering in 2015 – and he did it well.
Why is it the right show? Why not a set loaded with hits - or
even non-hits most fans would recognize?
He could do that – he could Rolling Stones-ize. And it
would make a lot of people happy. But that’s never been Bob – even back
when. You could make a case that he truly did that just once – the ’74
tour with The Band. That was as high-profile as he ever got, at least to
the masses. He sold out arenas and the set lists and performances would
indicate there were probably no disappointed fans.
But the rest of the time, on this crazy journey of more
than 50 years of live performances, it’s been about a show that matched
his own preferences. Certainly you could say that about the ’66 tour where
he was booed; the ’79 tour where he played almost no old songs; the cover
songs during the NET that nobody asked for but that revealed a lot about
Bob’s tastes and roots.
That’s what he’s doing these days, with The Set. The Set is
his nearly-unchanging arrangement of songs, dominated by 2012’s Tempest –
and only two songs each from the ‘60s and ‘70s. In fact, just under half
the set (if we include “Stay With Me,” a song written in 1963 by Jerome
Moss and Carolyn Leigh, but not released by Dylan until 2015) is from
albums less than 6 years old. Remarkable, at least in showbiz terms.
Now, despite what one might think, Dylan isn’t anti-showbiz
per se. He and his band are always sharply-dressed – this night’s outfits
were brown for the band, and a dark suit with white trim and a white hat
for Dylan. The stage was carefully designed to emulate an old-fashioned
movie set, with big movie lights arching back behind the band in an
ascending arc. And there was a nice little light show – simple, and mostly
just white lights, but it changed the feel for every song, from dim
lighting for ballads to brighter lights for “Tangled Up In Blue” and
“Duquesne Whistle.” Perhaps the most effective use of the lights came
during “Soon After Midnight,” when white lights speckled across the
curtains behind the band, like stars upon stars.
So he has a sense of what he’s presenting to the public
along with just the music – hard not to call that showbiz, in its own way.
But it’s showbiz from a different era. Consciously choosing not to keep up
with the flash of modern stage production, or even the thumbs-up, chatty
energy of a Paul McCartney or mantle-wearing muscularity and audience
interaction of Bruce Springsteen, Bob has opted for something befitting
his age and interests.
So now – to the night’s music.
The first thing I noticed was two things – Dylan’s clear
enunciation and vocal command, and the tasteful arrangements.
First, The Voice – second only to The Words in Dylan
analysis. Certainly, it’s traveled many a mile (some 3,400 concerts given
since 1961) and had characteristics from the start that turned people on
or off. When I saw him in 2013 on the Americanarama tour, he seemed old
and his vocals didn’t resonate well with me. At the Fox last night, almost
every word was clear and strong – plenty of vocal power behind the words –
and even if you didn’t know the songs, you could follow along lyrically.
(Not the case at many concerts.) This was supported by the band, which
seems to know just the right colors to add.
And unlike a Dylan show I saw in Birmingham, Alabama in
2010, where Charlie Sexton looked like a caged tiger trying to break free
of the arrangements; or the Atlanta Americanarama show that turned out to
be Duke Robillard’s last with the band due to an apparent musical
disagreement with Bob; the current band understands its role in supporting
Bob’s mostly quiet songs, and does so effortlessly. (Granted, that’s
surely aided by playing an almost unchanged set list for more than a
That’s nice to see. You want a certain amount of tension in
a band, to move the sound forward – or at least play the best one can
within the range given. But it’s also nice to not see obvious dissension
The show opened with a loud gong, followed by Stu Kimball
playing some bluesy, countrified riffs – like a a song waiting to be
written. A beautiful and auspicious way to begin.
My favorite song performances of the evening started right
off the bat, with one I didn’t expect to enjoy so much, having heard it in
live shows so many times – “Things Have Changed.” It sounded fresh and
right; it really is the perfect opener for Bob Dylan.
“She Belongs To Me” is in my top 10 Dylan songs, so it’s a
pleasure that it’s held its spot at #2, even as The Set was originally
evolving in 2013. While it seemed anthemic in 2013, now it seemed a little
toned down, sweeter, with a nice harmonica solo.
“Workingman's Blues #2” is one of my top 10 Dylan songs
post-2000, and it flourishes in concert. While tonight’s version didn’t
have the grit and gravity of, say, a favorite version from Boston in 2009,
the clarity of the arrangement compensated.
“Duquesne Whistle” is fine, but feels like fluff to me –
just like its former placeholder of jump-jazz in the set from a few years
ago, “Thunder On The Mountain.” It’s a genre exercise and a mood-shifter,
without much substance.
“Tangled Up In Blue” – who would think any more power could
come from a song played so many times? Yet, this was one of my favorite
songs of the evening. Unlike the 2010 version I heard in Birmingham that
was truncated – leaving out all the fun parts in the middle about the
Italian poet – this was a full, albeit rewritten version. I love how Bob
has played with the lyrics on this song through the years. “Memorize these
lines and remember these rhymes,” as the new lyrics midway through go,
indeed. A definite highlight.
And although every song got great applause from the crowd,
this was the first huge cheer of the night other than the opening. Blazing
harp solo, too – in fact, the harmonica was the most remarkable solo
instrument of the night. Bob played piano on a number of songs too, but
nothing as galvanizing as the harmonica. Fun, though, to see him play both
in one song – harp first, then he wandered over to the piano in the later
part of the “Tangled.”
Part of what makes “Tangled” fit into The Set – and the
lovely “Simple Twist Of Fate” that was to follow after intermission – is
the story-telling aspect of it. It’s tailor-made for a set queue of songs
and stage set that emulates a movie set.
“Forgetful Heart” – if I were to pick a favorite
performance of the night, this would be it. Seeing and hearing Bob perform
it live adds a great deal to the recorded version from 2009’s Together
Through Life. It was nice on record, but takes on an intimacy in concert
that we’re not used to at a Bob Dylan show. Hearing it live at The Fox
last night was similar to hearing “Sugar Baby” played live at his immortal
Atlanta show from 2002 – it’s the thrill of hearing something so quiet and
intimate played to a large crowd. I read recently that Mick Jagger is
nervous about playing all of Sticky Fingers at shows this year (they’re
celebrating the 40th anniversary of that LP) because “it has three slow
songs on it… not sure how that will go over.” Clearly, halting momentum
with a quieter sound is not a problem for Bob. This performance sparkled
and pulled you in.
I was glad to see the crowd accept the lack of hits – only
once or twice did I hear the usual calls between songs (”Watchtower!”
“Hurricane!”). “Spirit On The Water” is one of my least-favorite Bob Dylan
songs, but I appreciated the response it got from the crowd – when he sang
the “You think I’m over the hill?” line, the crowd was loud: “NO!!”
“Long And Wasted
Years” is the center of gravity of The Set and I thoroughly enjoyed
tonight’s version – a close second to “Forgetful Heart” and “Tangled Up In
Blue.” It’s been toned down a bit since last year – less venom, less
accusatory, less bitter– more wistful and personal. In fact, the
performance of this with Bob at center stage felt like one of the more
personal songs I’ve ever heard from him in concert. Whether the lyrics
detail any part of his actual life, he sings them as if they do.
(As he said in the AARP article recently, “…It’s [singing
in performance] a bit like alchemy. It’s different than being an actor
where you call up sources from your own experience that you can apply to
whatever Shakespeare drama you’re in or whatever television show. With a
song it’s not quite the same way. An actor is pretending to be somebody,
but a singer isn’t. He’s not hiding behind anything.”)
I must admit, it was nice to hear “Blowin’ In The Wind”
near the end. I appreciate the guts of The Set containing almost all new
songs, but for the versions of The Set where he’s left off “Blowin,” it
feels a little undercooked. This one floats in just in time to tie things
together, before he releases us for the night with a song from his newest
A great evening with an artist who keeps on growing.
Thank you, Bob!
Review by James Mahoney
"Well, "Autumn Leaves" seems to be in the Endless Setlist, for now,
and this setlist will be endless until it isn't. I waited to write to see if
the song stayed, since it's one of Bob Dylan's most elegant (that word)
performances - and he's in voice now, no question. People have been
writing PhD theses on Dylan for years, as they do with Shakespeare, and
neither of these creative people were at all predictable, so what's ahead
with Bob Dylan, no matter how many "Dylanologists" there are around, is,
as David Lynch says, God's own private mystery.
Bu it's clear that what Bob's performed songs, in the Setlist, are more
obviously about are autumn leaves, rather than good times, or hope. And
that maybe we should listen more carefully? Like, listening to his songs
as complex artworks, not just Entertainment by our Best Guy, Bobby.
Greil Marcus has said that "I'm Not There" was the saddest song ever
written. By then. Listen to "Forgetful Heart." And Bob Dylan's always,
throughout his whole work, most of the time blessed the world, as he ends
his sets, and Dylan's not an atheist, on any level. "
Review by Francis King
Where to begin? This was the best Bob Dylan concert I've seen in quite a
while. His voice sounds great, the band is spot on, the arrangements are
wonderful and the set list is terrific. I know that some complain that the set
list is "static," that he has been playing the same show every night since the
fall of 2013. That complaint is unfounded; the set list is only redundant if
you've gone to multiple shows during this time period, or if you've spent
excessive time listening to bootleg recordings on line (well, I'll admit to doing
that) and, therefore, have had your fill (well, I have not, but that's just me).
The fact of the matter is that this set list is fresh and new for another live
audience every night in the hundreds of cities Dylan has been bringing it to
all over the world. (Time for an official live album, Bob!)
What made this show a bit better than the last one I saw in Boston last
November (same set list, except for the addition of "Autumn Leaves") was
the excellent sound quality at Nashville's TPAC. You could hear every note
and lyric clearly. To be sure, that was partially attributable to Bob's level of
engagement and his effort to enunciate, but I've noticed his improved
articulation the last few shows I've attended. The hall's acoustics certainly
Another thing about the set list: This 2013-2015 set list consists largely of
21st Century material (all very well performed) and a few great rearrangements
of old gems like "She Belongs to Me," "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Simple Twist
of Fate." This list is also markedly different from the lists he played at his shows
in 2011 and 2012. How many aging "rock stars" from the 20th Century are
going to give you that kind of variety, including a load of recently written, and
very good material? In the last year or so, I've seen Bob Seeger, Billy Joel and
James Taylor. All three put on terrific performances …. But, they all played
what were essentially greatest hits shows without much, if anything new,
and everything (including their vocals) sounded pretty much just like the
original recordings. That's all well and fine…. But, for me, Dylan's continuing
reinventions of his material are far more interesting and exciting to witness.
Another thing about the set list: By sticking with the same show every night
for quite a while now, Dylan and the band are bringing the audience an
extremely polished performance. Unlike some of his past shows, these shows
have Dylan remembering all his lyrics, never mumbling to cover a forgotten
word, and the band knows exactly what to do and when (in contrast to the
guesswork sometimes required in the past as Bob would improvise on stage
and his sidemen would have to try to follow his lead on the fly …. Sometimes,
to be sure, with great results, but other times, just sloppy sounding). This is
a very tight show in all respects.
It is just so great to see this man, at 74, so fully engaged with performing,
especially his more recent material, which is up there with the best songwriting
of his career. Again, I really wish he'd put out an official, sanctioned, properly
mixed live album!