bob_dylanHere’s a great review of Tuesday night’s Bob Dylan show in Asheville by a friend and fellow writer, Mary Weil, on his FB page. He gave me permission to post here:

Bob Dylan came to Asheville tonight to play the blues. And he put on a virtuoso performance. Likely very few others in the audience tonight had my great good fortune to have seen performances by such blues luminaries as Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, James Cotton, BB King, Taj Mahal, Albert King, Mighty Joe Young, Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Pinetop Perkins, among others, to fully realize what they were watching was a master bluesman performing at the height of his power.

It was pure genius! Pure enjoyment. Spine-tingling. Really damn good. And it was enhanced by the fact that Bob, shrouded in shadows and dim lighting, never once spoke to the crowd, never once took center stage, never once appeared in anything remotely like a spotlight. Not one word did he speak to the crowd. It added intensity: there was no joking or jiving or pandering to the crowd that you get at every show you’ve ever seen.

You either understood what Bob was laying down or you were lost. Most were lost, sadly. He wasn’t putting on a 100-level class. He definitely wasn’t doing an oldies show. He was breaking new ground right there in front of a crowd more dazed than dazzled, except me and maybe a few others. I could hear the echos of my own yells and claps, so I know there weren’t many who were seeing what I was seeing. It certainly didn’t matter to Dylan. And it certainly didn’t matter to me. If I had written the playlist myself, I couldn’t have been more satisfied with the choices made.

With the passing of so many of the great blues artists, I was certain I would never again see blues music played as it was meant to be played, but Bob proved me wrong. He did it tonight, and I’ve only seen it done as well once before (by Buddy Guy & Junior Wells in 1984). Thank you, Bob Dylan, for giving me one more taste of the BLUES.

Set list
Things Have Changed
Love Sick
High Water (For Charley Patton)
Soon After Midnight
Early Roman Kings
Tangled Up In Blue
Pay In Blood
Visions Of Johanna
Spirit On The Water
Beyond Here Lies Nothin’
Blind Willie McTell
What Good Am I?
Thunder On The Mountain
Scarlet Town
All Along The Watchtower
Ballad Of A Thin Man

Image link for Bob Dylan.

19 Comments

  1. Bob Dylan in Asheville simply masterful. The man is a mirror that tells all truths with definition and clarity. His band, with “new Stu” on guitar is a refection of a place you visit once in your life and long to go back to. This is a totally different show in pacing and timbre of shows just few years ago. The driving elements are not the guitars, but rather the bass, the drums and Bob’s voice. The guitars added the fills, but seldom took the spotlight. Stu plays all of the hard parts on the acoustic type songs (Love Sick, Soon After Midnight, Tangled up in Blue, Visions of Johanna, while Duke comes in and out with little leads, watching Bob for cues. Donnie basically ties it all together. The piano was plonked, pinged and played, depending on the song, but only on Ballad of a Thin Man did he play the whole song on the piano. He did not play the keyboard, but it was set up. The staging is dark, there are no spotlights. Yes, there are a couple of mirrors at the front of the stage facing outward, but I hardly think those can deter or impede filming. Brother Bob opened that the whole show sounded like the album Tempest. If you like the pacing and sound of that album, you will love this more reserved, somewhat dark show. it was like a club show from the 1940’s. The pacing was deliberate, but languid. Although Bob rarely speaks to the crowd, he did tilt the mike toward himself while rocking back and forth in a rickety manner. Pure style! He wore a slightly large black suit with a 5 button coat, fitted out with red piping up the legs, across the wrists and between the buttons on the back. His white shirt sparkled with rhinestones, bolo tie and his collar was open. His white boots were adorned with black tips. All of the band members except Donnie wore hats and were attired in crisp suits. Bob had a hat, which he did not wear, and it appeared to me that it held harmonicas. The highlights were Soon After Midnight, Early Roman Kings, Tangled Up in Blue, Visions of Johanna, the incredible harmonica solo in Blind Willie McTell, and Scarlet Town. I had ever heard What Good am I live and it was a reflection on how I was feeling at that exact moment. Something only he can do to me. How does an old guy like that stay so cool that teenagers in the audience are shouting “I love you, Bob!”? The only thing I can think of remotely close to this phenomenon, and it is a phenomenon, is perhaps late Pablo Picasso. Thank you Bob once again for getting me much needed serenity.

  2. Jason when has Dylan ever talked a crowd and I am thinking you got the “cliff notes” for this show.
    Bob Dylan in Asheville simply masterful. The man is a mirror that tells all truths with definition and clarity. His band, with “new Stu” on guitar is a refection of a place you visit once in your life and long to go back to. This is a totally different show in pacing and timbre of shows just few years ago. The driving elements are not the guitars, but rather the bass, the drums and Bob’s voice. The guitars added the fills, but seldom took the spotlight. Stu plays all of the hard parts on the acoustic type songs (Love Sick, Soon After Midnight, Tangled up in Blue, Visions of Johanna, while Duke comes in and out with little leads, watching Bob for cues. Donnie basically ties it all together. The piano was plonked, pinged and played, depending on the song, but only on Ballad of a Thin Man did he play the whole song on the piano. He did not play the keyboard, but it was set up. The staging is dark, there are no spotlights. Yes, there are a couple of mirrors at the front of the stage facing outward, but I hardly think those can deter or impede filming. Brother Bob opened that the whole show sounded like the album Tempest. If you like the pacing and sound of that album, you will love this more reserved, somewhat dark show. it was like a club show from the 1940’s. The pacing was deliberate, but languid. Although Bob rarely speaks to the crowd, he did tilt the mike toward himself while rocking back and forth in a rickety manner. Pure style! He wore a slightly large black suit with a 5 button coat, fitted out with red piping up the legs, across the wrists and between the buttons on the back. His white shirt sparkled with rhinestones, bolo tie and his collar was open. His white boots were adorned with black tips. All of the band members except Donnie wore hats and were attired in crisp suits. Bob had a hat, which he did not wear, and it appeared to me that it held harmonicas. The highlights were Soon After Midnight, Early Roman Kings, Tangled Up in Blue, Visions of Johanna, the incredible harmonica solo in Blind Willie McTell, and Scarlet Town. I had ever heard What Good am I live and it was a reflection on how I was feeling at that exact moment. Something only he can do to me. How does an old guy like that stay so cool that teenagers in the audience are shouting “I love you, Bob!”? The only thing I can think of remotely close to this phenomenon, and it is a phenomenon, is perhaps late Pablo Picasso. Thank you Bob once again for getting me much needed serenity.

  3. How was Dawes?
    I’m on the fence with their new album (recorded here in town), i missed them at the OP when they were opening for Blitzen Trapper.
    I saw Bob and Willie on the baseball stadium tour several years back, it was a lot of fun to finally see a true legend.

  4. Panphilo Rosinante says:

    Good review brotherhead, hell I’da paid money just to have him stare at me like that again..Dylan aims for the deeper part and he got me good, head and heart.

  5. Dylan did Scarlet Town? The Gillian Welch tune? Wow.

  6. Kinda wish he would die already. He’d sound better.

  7. I’ve seen Dylan 3x in 35 years: ’78, ’93, and last night, and last night was far and away the best. Good mix of some great classics (Tangled up in Blue, Visions of Johanna, Ballad of Thin a Man, All Along the Watchtower, Things have Changed and new pieces from Tempest I’d not heard before, but now I intend to get the album, and isn’t that the best recommendation regarding concert.

    Yea, I heard some complaints that Dylan didn’t speak to the audience, and I thought, my god, man, he just spoke to me for the last 90 minutes: which song would you have exchanged for an “it’s great to be in Asheville” and “are you having fun yet?” and other useless jabber.

    And Dylan seemed happy — he smiled more than a few times, and he did some little old man dance steps in his Pullman porter or bellhop suit — I thought it all quite grand.

    • Laurie brings up an excellent point that I didn’t have time to address in my Facebook post (which was written and intended for the consumption of my Facebook “friends”), which is Dylan’s sense of style. His attire was impeccable. I especially enjoyed seeing his white spats. For the record, only Bob Dylan can pull of spats, okay. There isn’t another man on the planet that can wear spats like Bob Dylan. At 71, Bob looks like a fashion-forward Albert Einstein. His smile is a cross between the Cheshire Cat and Mr. Burns. And his dance moves are a delight–subtle but delightful. Well said, “Laurie”! Thank you.

      • Marty,
        And only Bowie can wear — all at the same time — what looks very much like silk pajamas, one dangling feather earring, AND sandals with socks.
        GQ Awards Show, 1997. See youtube esp. Moonage Daydream.

  8. Mary,

    I was right there with you. It was very nearly a perfect performance. Thank you for writing this completely apt review.

  9. Ash from Asheville says:

    The show was great as expected! How could you possibly assume “most were lost”? That is an insult to the Dylan fans who bought tickets and traveled to a show and got exactly what they were expecting. Many of us have seen him dozens of times so its silly to assume that you got something that no one else did. No one I talked to was either let down or lost. Bob Dylan has changed musical styles countless times over the years. But who cares???Its all great! He’s Bob Dylan!!

  10. His performance was par for the course on this tour. Check past setlists and you’ll notice that he’s playing basically the same songs in every town on the current tour. This is a good thing. It think it’s made him sound better and more intelligible, as hes’ had more time with the songs. I last saw him about 4 years ago and I had lots of trouble understanding much of anything he as singing. Not the case in Asheville last night. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still got a rough sounding voice, but his words were more clear then my last encounter. While I would use the words “virtuoso” and “genius” to Dylan himself, it seems a bit farfetched to think last night’s show was anything more then a solid Dylan set at this point in his career.

  11. Um, no. A “review” is about the show, not about you. This is a few hundred words about his experience, past and present. Not a review of the show.
    Posting this as a “review” helps to explain why local journalism is dead in this town.

    • It was from a post on a Facebook page, and subsequently published on a blog, which is certainly not the Arts section of the New York Times. He can write about the show anyway he wants.

  12. If you attended the concert last night expecting Bob to come out on stage and begin crooning in his Nashville Skyline voice you were setting yourself up for disappointment. It was certainly a better show than most Dylan tours of late.

  13. We went to a concert last winter in Charlotte where the band just played and played, and never said one word to the audience. We left at intermission. I told my husband if I’d wanted to hear a CD, we would have stayed at home for free.

  14. Mark from weaverville says:

    No Doubt, I was thinking “how high was this guy…”

  15. Honestly, this sounds like someone desperately trying to convince themselves that an “off” show was really a work of genius rather than a misfire. Will have to ask the opinions of some non-blues-afficianados who attended . . .

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