(pictures & video courtesy of none other than mr. dan vanderwall...)
Performing live music in front of an audience must be a lot like surfing, once you are up there on top of a wave you can either stand & wonder how it is you got there or you can keep on pushing towards a higher wave (not that I've ever been surfing or performed in front of a live audience). I've seen many concerts where Bob Dylan has been content coasting along, & others where he's struggled to even get up on the wave.
We showed up at the Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth, IN on Saturday night a little late due to construction south of Indianapolis. When we got into the casino & saw an empty hall, we wondered for a short minute if we made it to the wrong place until we looked at our ticket & saw Rain or Shine. We missed out on most "Watchin' the River Flow", an appropriate choice considering the location. It was a welcome sight to see Bob so up close, on guitar no less. We were about eight rows back, the best seats I've had in a long, long time. I was hoping to see him stay on guitar for at least a few more songs, but during Mr Tambourine Man he was back behind the organ. He seemed to be a bit frustrated with his band, making gestures with his hands the tempo he wanted them to play.
It looked like it might be a rough night as Bob seemed to keep throwing dirty looks at the bass player & the lead guitar player. Things improved a bit with Stuck Inside of Mobile (with the Memphis Blues Again), but this song usually plods along kind of slowly in concert. The next song seemed to turn things around, Ballad of Hollis Brown, which seemed to turn everything around. The song was played entirely acoustic except for Bob's organ. The song sounded as though it came from one of these small little farm towns in southern in Indiana (with his wife & five children & his cabin breakin' down).
That song seemed to give him confidence that stayed through the entire evening. From there, he seemed to leave the band behind, they were having trouble keeping up with him, & it didn't matter. The first great surprise of the night came a couple songs later, Visions of Johanna, one of two of his greatest lyrical masterpieces, in my opinion. His singing rivalled the brilliance of the lyrics, his vocals danced around the melodies, taking many side jaunts but always staying ahead of the band. The energy didn't stop there, a frenzied version of The Levee's Gonna Break was next, the first time all night that the band started to click behind Bob's singing. The song ended with Bob repeating "everybody's sayin' 'SAY WHAT?' this is the day only the Lord could ma-ake!". By then I realized that this show was much better than any I've been used to in the last five years.
The highlight of the show was yet to come, though, as the band started into the opening notes of one of Bob's best known gospel songs "I Believe in You". The song, I believe was an unspoken tribute to Jerry Wexler, the producer who worked on the song for the album "Slow Train Coming" who recently passed away. It was an incredible performance, too, one of the greatest moments I've witnessed at a concert. The extended harmonica solo was reminiscent of What Can I Do for You? & left me with the chills. See for yourself, thanks to master taper Dan Vanderwall...
Things just kept rolling around with Honest with Me, with a last verse that sounded like Bob was shooting the words out of a canon. At this point, he was clearly enjoying himself & couldn't keep from laughing as he shouted out these lyrics in such a fashion. He had an odd mannerism all night long as he would sing a lyric & then quickly shift towards the crowd & raised his left hand like jazz hands. I've never seen a show when Bob was more animated, let alone even cracking a smile...
Other highlights include a version of Make You Feel My Love that even Christie might've liked & an eerie version of Ain't Talkin, a song I was hoping to hear.
The whole weekend was wonderful, we got to see Dan & Jill's lovely decorated home. They were tremendous hosts & showed us around Indianapolis, including a wonderful record store called Indy records. A weekend to remember, for sure...
|1.||Watching The River Flow (Bob on electric guitar)|
|2.||Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob on keyboard and harp, Stu on acoustic guitar)|
|3.||Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again |
(Bob on keyboard, Stu on acoustic guitar)
|4.||Ballad Of Hollis Brown |
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on banjo, Stu and Denny on acoustic guitars, Tony on standup bass)
|5.||Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (Bob on keyboard)|
|6.||Visions Of Johanna |
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin, Stu on acoustic guitar)
|7.||The Levee's Gonna Break |
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin, Tony on standup bass)
|8.||I Believe In You (Bob on keyboard and harp)|
|9.||Honest With Me (Bob on keyboard)|
|10.||The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll |
(Bob on keyboard and harp, Donnie on electric mandolin, Stu on acoustic guitar)
|11.||Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard)|
|12.||Make You Feel My Love (Bob on keyboard and harp, Stu on acoustic guitar)|
|13.||I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) |
(Bob on keyboard and harp)
|14.||Ain't Talkin' (Bob on keyboard, Stu on acoustic guitar)|
|15.||Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on keyboard, Stu on acoustic guitar)|
|16.||Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard)|
|17.||Blowin' In The Wind |
(Bob on keyboard and harp, Donnie on violin, Stu on acoustic guitar)
I Believe in You-Bob Dylan, Elizabeth, 2008
Freedom Hangs Like Heaven-Iron & Wine
The Thanks I Get-Wilco
Boo Boo's Birthday-Thelonious Monk
Younger than Springtime-Oscar Peterson
Happy Tuesday, friends...