Senor Bob Dylan played a gig here at the Aladdin Theater last week, with Merle Haggard as the opening act.
The billing and promotional imagery was much like that of Rolling Thunder tour of 1975, which was a good first sign.
Merle was killer, with a seven piece band behind him - in a loose and happy mood.
We sat right in front of the mixing station, one foot in front of their mixing guy, and the sound was nearly hi-fi.
The system actually imaged! I find that a rare sensation at an amplified arena show.
The venue used to have terrible "slap" echo, and they've diligently tried to keep improving it. Better acoustics and speaker upgrades have made the place nice.
He came out in a black old west gambler kind of outfit and played the show all kind of western review style. That reads more oddly than it sounds. He did terrific arrangements and kept the entire show very consistently engaging.
"Usually," his shows have struck me as more of a practice session where he's trying to work something out but hasn't really arrived at any final "opinion" about what he's trying to do - more like we're witnessing him noodling or rehearsing rather than putting forth something he's put some thought and effort into in advance.
Not this time. The songs showed signs of great consideration and care being put into how he presented them. He seemed to really want to put on a great show.
His voice: The best I can come up with for how the first two songs sounded would be an over-extended metaphor...Imagine Harvey Fierstein singing "The Times They Are A-Changin'" after a three day Death Valley debauch of bad whiskey and unfiltered camels.
After a two or three tune warm-up, Bob's vocals got considerably clearer and he did some interesting things with vocal emphasis and phrasing. Nice reinterpretations of tunes that put a fresh spin on many of them. He sounded more fragile, and it changed some of the songs in interesting ways. Knowing the originals made it all the more interesting to hear these interpretations of his own work, 40 years on - like a great poet reading works from his youth, yet delivering a subtlely different, wiser (introspective?) message.
1. Things Have Changed (Bob on piano and harp)
2. The Times They Are A-Changin' (Bob on piano and harp)
3. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (Bob on piano)
4. It Ain't Me, Babe (Bob on piano)
5. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
(Bob on piano)
6. Love Sick (Bob on piano)
7. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (Bob on piano and harp)
8. Ballad Of A Thin Man (Bob on piano and harp)
9. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
(Bob on piano and harp)
10. Cold Irons Bound (Bob on piano)
11. Lay, Lady, Lay (Bob on piano)
12. Cat's In The Well (Bob on piano)
13. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on piano)
14. All Along The Watchtower (Bob on piano)
He killed on the encore of "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower."
If he passes near you, this tour is worth your money.