Tuesday, we saw Bob Dylan at the Fox. Maybe “saw” is the wrong verb, brushing the ceiling as we were. (See blog of July 31, 2010 for my “Do’s and Don’t’s” of ticket acquisition.) I had been checking set lists and reviews and entered with expectations. Ninety minutes (Yup). Encore of “Jolene” and “Rolling Stone” (Yup) – maybe, “Watchtower” (Nope). Bob rarely on guitar (Three). Newspaper critics balanced their respect for his career and endurance – he is, after all, a near seventy-year-old, multi-millionaire grandfather on his fifteenth concert in his fifteenth city in twenty days – with chastisements for his degraded voice and deviations from his recorded orthodoxies. Fans were “DON’T MISS IT.”
Since the last show we’d seen (See blog of Oct. 11, 2009), two wrinkles had been added. Charley Sexton now has a move where he bends both knees and plays guitar from about ankle level. And on “Just Like a Woman,” every time that phrase is reached, Bob and the audience have agreed that it can sing it. It is a lovely addition. As Adele said, “He’s not going to talk to us. He never talks to us. But he’s acknowledged his songs are our songs too, and he’s letting us in to play a little.” (Oh yes, one other development: no one passed joints down our row. But people checked Face Book and twittered.)
The band, by the way, was terrific. I’d gone, self-instructed to forget the records – screw the critics – and just listen; and the arrangements, strong and fresh, soared and crackled. Even Bob’s groan or rasp or mumble proved orchestrated excitement, a virtuoso’s gamble. My favorite numbers were “Highway 61" and “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and “Thin Man,” but there were no misses – and anytime you get “Memphis Blues” and “Johanna” in one evening, with no mention of Jesus – how can you complain?
FOR A MORE IN-DEPTH TAKE on Bob, see Robert Roper’s fabulous piece here:
Causes Bob Levin Supports
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, ACLU, PEN, Berkeley Emergency Food & Housing Project.