As I mentioned earlier, my family with two of our friends plus two of Katie’s friends went to The Bob Dylan Show at Frontier Field in Rochester last night. There were three opening acts: Elana James and the Continental Two, Junior Brown, and Jimmy Vaughn. All were terrific, especially James and Vaughn. I don’t usually do this, but I bought James’ CD at the show (don’t ask me for how much) and got Elana and the band to autograph it. Gonna be worth big money some day, let me tell you! (grin)
As you would expect from Dylan at this point in his career, these bands well complemented his performance, and also indicated his very strong affinity with country these days, though not “New Country.” That’s oversimplifying because, this is mixed in with hard Texas Blues as delivered by Vaughn. It’s naive to overclassify Dylan anyway, but the hat and rhinestone suit do give you some hints. Nevertheless, with Springsteen doing Seeger, groups like the Mammals getting more airplay, and more and more Hank Williams popping up, there seems to be a real re-examination of 20th Century American folk and roots music.
Here is the set list from last night:
- “Cat’s In The Well” from Under the Red Sky
- “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” from The Basement Tapes
- “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” from Love and Theft
- “Positively 4th Street” from Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits
- “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” from John Wesley Harding
- “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” from Blonde on Blonde
- “Masters Of War” from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
- “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” from Blonde on Blonde
- “Joey” from Desire
- “Highway 61 Revisited” from Highway 61 Revisited
- “Sugar Baby” from Love and Theft
- “Summer Days” from Love and Theft
and for the encore he did
People who see Dylan now and expect to hear the old songs exactly as they sounded in in 1963 are usually disappointed, though that was often the case in 1965 as well. “Positively 4th Street” and “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” were probably the furthest from the originals in arrangement, though still quite good. The standouts for me were “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”, “Masters Of War”, “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”, “Highway 61 Revisited”, and “Like A Rolling Stone”.
“Masters Of War” was especially well done and the applicability to current affairs was not lost on or underappreciated by the audience.
This was the third Dylan concert I’ve been to in the last 20 months and Katie and I both think it was the best of the three. The venue was outdoors, and that may have had something to do with it, but I think it is more the band really being together and the songs having been optimized through extensive touring. Of course, it could also be our greater familiarity and appreciation for “new Dylan” versus earlier versions.
One final note: this was the first concert following the release of the new album Modern Times. Leave it to Bob to not play anything from the new work. Three of the pieces were from Love and Theft, his previous album, released in 2001.