I was surprised to see Jambands.com call Bob Dylan’s closing performance at Zilker Park “controversial”. I actually thought just the opposite. From where I was standing he played a careful, polished set aiming to please. I wouldn't have blamed him for phoning it in after being bombarded with flashes from the thousands of cameras in the crowd.
In many ways an improvement from an excellent show at Stubbs the night before (no review of that show here but I did see Morgan Fairchild and Joe Ely hanging out after the show -- they didn't appear to be together but check TMZ.com for an update), I feared that the masses of people waiting hours in the heat of Zilker Park would leave in mass rebellion after three songs but for the most part, the crowd stayed and seemed to enjoy it.
Back to the festival set…the opening three guitar numbers did sound a little rough vocally but no more so than normal. Then the band took on Spirit On The Water and delivered a clean, easily palatable version. It seemed if Bob was truly aiming to please and singing clearly with purpose. It was the next song, Levee’s Gonna Break that for me really took. Who’d have thunk that this song would be the live standout from Modern Times (save for Nettie Moore). It rocked and rocked hard. Great version, even better than Stubbs, which was also smoking.
Tangled up in Blue was also and improvement from the previous night. Bob managed to almost avoid the sing-song approach to the last two verses. At Stubbs he fell into that trap. I enjoyed it, but it almost made the powerful song sound a bit like a parody.
Things Have Changed would not be my choice for a revolving song for this event but the version was clean, didn’t meander and I could make out every word. Nice. Working Man’s Blues #2 has perhaps the catchiest chorus Bob has written in a long time and it’s an earnest, true song in the American style. Sounded great both nights. True to the record.
Was great to see Bob mix it up a bit for the encore. I Shall be Released was a treat for fans but by that time I was too beat from the weekend and preoccupied with planning my escape to completely enjoy it.
All of the reviews saying that this band has improved are spot on. The band sounded great. They have managed to almost completely eliminate any plodding, unsure moments. Dennt Freeman kicked ass at his homecoming show at Stubbs as well as in the park. Kudos to whoever did the sound for both nights. It was stellar.
1. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
2. It Ain't Me, Babe
3. Watching The River Flow
4. Spirit On The Water
5. The Levee's Gonna Break
6. Tangled Up In Blue
7. Things Have Changed
8. Workingman's Blues #2
9. Highway 61 Revisited
10. Nettie Moore
11. Summer Days
12. Ballad Of A Thin Man
13. Thunder On The Mountain
14. Like A Rolling Stone
15. I Shall Be Released
Nice, I always like reading about Bob's good nights
Wow, just checked Bob's upcoming dates, lots of sold out shows on the list! Go Bob! I'm sure Elvis Costello on the bill didn't hurt
Thanks for the review! Is Bob still playing a little guitar like earlier this year, or his exclusively on keyboards again?
ha ha ha...a read this 'playing a little guitar' and thought, what does the size of the guitar matter? Guess it helps to finish the sentence first
He is still playing guitar on the first three or four songs although in Nashville he picked it up again to jam with Jack White.