Bob Dylan Spells It All Out Quite Clearly at Cleveland Concert
Bob Dylan put an impressive amount of energy into a highly entertaining concert at Cleveland's Nautica Pavilion this past weekend, playing a set that mixed an atypically generous number of his biggest hits with a healthy selection of songs from his extremely impressive last two decades of recorded work.
The rock legend, who recently turned 70, alternated between organ, guitar and harmonica most of the night, but on a few occasions, he played the role of a surprisingly charismatic, unarmed frontman, even going so far as to strike some dramatic poses.
The music Dylan and his crack five-piece backing band performed was a lively, hard-to-define blend of blues, rock, folk, roots and country. We guess you could call it "Americana," but it seems more gnarled, unique, and most importantly, out of our time for that -- like something that should have been playing at a vaudeville show decades back, and now exists only in cracked, faded photographs.
You can spend a lot of time analyzing Dylan's shows, looking for deeper meanings in which lines from his frequently inscrutable lyrics he seems to emphasize over others. Or, you can be thankful that he's re-emerged from a (self-admitted) long live performance funk a while back, and simply appreciate an evening of amazing songs played by a road-sharpened band and one of the true masters of the form.
Which is what we tried to do. Still, when he faced the crowd directly and broke out of his trademark wheeze for the first time in the evening during the second song, 'To Ramona,' clearly pushing across lyrics such as "Everything passes / Everything changes / Do what you think you should do," it seemed like maybe more than just us reporters were taking notes.
Later in the evening, Dylan got positively funkadelic with an extended organ solo during 'The Levee's Gonna Break,' and followed that up with an entrancing version of 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,' whose seemingly never-ending sentence lyrical structure still thrills and surprises four decades after appearing on 1964's 'The Times They Are a-Changin.''
He ended the main set with a powerful, dramatic reading of 'Ballad of a Thin Man' from 1965's 'Highway 61 Revisited,' putting extra menace into every chorus's "But you don't know what it is / Do you....Mr. Jones?" while his dual guitarists locked into their heaviest groove of the night.
A cynic could say the twin encore of 'Like a Rolling Stone' and 'All Along the Watchtower' came off a bit anti-climatic after that, and, hey, I guess I just did! You know what, ignore it -- this was a great and vibrant performance from a true creative genius.
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
Things Have Changed
Tangled Up In Blue
Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
Ballad Of Hollis Brown
The Levee's Gonna Break
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
Highway 61 Revisited
Simple Twist Of Fate
Thunder On The Mountain
Ballad Of A Thin Man
Like A Rolling Stone
All Along The Watchtower
Watch Bob Dylan Perform 'Ballad of a Thin Man' in Israel