Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bob Dylan returns to Fairfax

UPDATED THOUGHT: Do you think it was "coincidence" that Bob Dylan decided to play the "Patriot Center" on Veterans Day? Certainly the set-list played well to a country at war just outside the nation's capitol as well as to veterans who come home - or not come home - from war.

Bob Dylan returned to Fairfax tonight, bringing with him a mosh pit (but no giant claw) and a much younger crowd. How many guys can pack in 20-somethings into an arena at the age of 68? But he didn't seem to be anywhere near to pushing 70 - it does seem he's so much younger than that now.

Great set-list, tracking with theme of separation through the first part of the night, he later turned to a broader set and who knows what theme he might have had? Perhaps each was a whim, but they certainly seemed to build on each other through the night. I was about three or four "rows" back from "the rail" which gave me a good view, if not for the rather sloshed blond coeds who would come through with handfuls of beer as though that might help them get to "the rail" faster. I'll post the setlist as soon as it becomes available.

Had a blast - Dylan has left the keyboards where he's stood for the past four years at least and is coming out to a mic at center stage which he grabs like he's a Las Vegas crooner or at least Leonard Cohen. He's very good at it though and so perhaps he was right all those years ago in San Francisco - he is a Song & Dance Man after all.

Met up with Cafe Regulars Thomas and Mary Alice at Brion's Grill where we had burgers before heading over to the Patriot Center at George Mason to get our wrist bands and head in. We had a great time of sharing and met up with two other local folks and spent the evening hanging out and swapping stories.

Again, the crowd on the floor tracked to teens and twenties - with a few smatterings of oldies but goodies as well as some relics from the 60s. I was standing next to a boisterous gang of teen boys who spent the pre-concert time laughing and shoving each other in fun. Once Dylan took the stage, though, all four of them stood immovable, transfixed, staring at the man behind the keyboard and mic. I mean, they were like statues, eyes wide. Yeah, that's really Bob Dylan.

You know, there's nothing quite like seeing four teenage boys stand in awe.

Dylan sounded great - channeling his New Orleans Bluesman persona when necessary and at other times sounding as clear and concise as he may have in 1974. Charlie Sexton rocked the place - the band was electric and tight and it was clear Charlie was taking the lead - after Dylan, of course.

There was no opening act, Dylan took the stage just after 8:00 p.m. and played for two hours. Thomas and I swapped lists of what we'd like to hear Dylan play. I got my High Water and Forgetful Heart and and Jolene, Thomas got his Man In a Long Black Coat and Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. Dylan played many other favorites, from Don't Think Twice, to Ain't Talkin' to Ballad of a Thin Man. We had fun calling out the songs. One guy, though, who was in front of me managed to call out a song (Highway 61) before Dylan and the Band had even played the first note. That was pretty cool.

The photos (and short video of Forgetful Heart) I took were with the handy-dandy cell phone - but at least they are there. And so was I. Thanks, Bob.

Here's the set-list:

1. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on pedal steel)
2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
(Bob on guitar, Donnie on lap steel, Tony on standup bass)
3. Man In The Long Black Coat (Bob on guitar, Donnie on lap steel)
4. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
(Bob on keyboard then center stage on harp, Donnie pedal steel)
5. If You Ever Go To Houston (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on pedal steel)
6. High Water (For Charley Patton) (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on banjo)
7. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)
(Bob on keyboard and harp, Donnie on lap steel)
8. Forgetful Heart (Bob center stage on harp, Donnie on violin, Tony on standup bass)
9. Cold Irons Bound (Bob center stage on harp, Donnie on lap steel)
10. Workingman's Blues #2 (Bob center stage on harp, Donnie on pedal steel)
11. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
12. Ain't Talkin' (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on viola)
13. Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
14. Ballad Of A Thin Man (Bob center stage on harp, Donnie on lap steel)

15. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on pedal steel)
16. Jolene (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel, Tony on standup bass)
17. All Along The Watchtower (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)

Thanks to BobLinks. Bill, you rock!

UPDATE: RWB's friend Russ has a terrific review (with real pictures unlike my cell phone attempts!) at RWB - check it all out!

NEW UPDATE: More reviews at RWB and a really good one from The Washington Post. Okay, I'll keep my Washington Post subscription on the Kindle. Here's an excerpt:

The 68-year-old Boy From the North Country born Robert Allen Zimmerman has been trying to break his own myth since the mid-'60s, when he alienated fans of his early folk albums by plugging in and rocking out. Since then, his muse has come and gone, but his contrarian streak has been a constant.

For the past 20 years, the road has been constant too. Dylan tours endlessly, turning up at a half-full arena or a minor league ballpark near you again and again, as if to prove he's no sage, just an itinerant song-and-dance-man. Though late-period albums like "Time Out of Mind" and "Love and Theft" have evinced a creative renewal, he's often been erratic, even indifferent onstage. Still, there's something noble in his doggedness, singing on even though thousands of shows have curdled his voice into a viscous, gut-shot croak. On a good night, he can still remind you why people worshiped him in the first place.

Wednesday was a good night.

At the Patriot Center, Dylan seemed interested, even invigorated, as his crackerjack five-piece band tore through a set that emphasized the brilliant extremities of his ocean-deep discography. He kept mum save to utter a single "thank you" and to introduce the players at an auctioneer's tempo. But his singing was clear and direct -- and his manner determined.

Though his main instrument is the keyboard these days, he strapped on a guitar to hack his way through a bloody "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and "The Man in the Long Black Coat" early in the set, always a good sign. He stayed in front of his lithe, limber combo to blow harp on a buoyant "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum," swaying and preening like . . . well, like a frontman. A queasy smile radiating from beneath the wide brim of his hat, and sporting a day-glo shirt to match the trim of his undertaker's suit, he looked like Jack Nicholson's incarnation of the Joker. But just seeing him appear to take pleasure in his songs and his band was enthralling.

Maybe it was the freshness of the material that kept him so attentive: He played more songs from the present decade than from the '60s. Though he now favors arrangements that place the roll above the rock, "Highway 61 Revisited" felt doubly urgent and volatile sandwiched between "Workingman's Blues #2" and "Ain't Talkin,' " both from 2006's terrific but more mannered "Modern Times." "Ballad of a Thin Man" swirled with noirish menace.

And then it was over ...

Read it all here. Photo from RWB.


Travis Prinzi said...

What a great set list! I'm jealous.

Sounds like a great time. I really need Bob to put Rochester on his tour schedule again.

alvin said...

Nice review. Thanks for posting so quickly. I was there with my wife,
sister who had just flown in from Pendleton, Oregon, and my son, Dylan, so you know how I feel about Mr. D. This was my 4th show in 3 years, and I believe it was his best.
Loved Forgetful Heart and loved him coming out front so much to play the harmonica. All in all, a great show.

tdunbar said...

Nice bootleg of the concert at:

The main set, minus Houston and Highway61, makes a great CD, I think.