Bob Dylan

Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, November 14

> > Nov 15 2012

Bob Dylan - Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, November 14
By Mike SauveThe first song in a contemporary Dylan set is usually a vocal warm-up and often insubstantial. "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" proved no exception. For the past couple years, the highlight has been the third song, "Things Have Changed," during which Bob shows off his dance moves (a duck walk, an Elvis-inspired flare of the leg) centre stage, as if he wants to make up for vocal losses with soft-shoe hilarity. A yell-heavy but effective rendering proved that Dylan planned on delivering in his first show in Toronto since 2006.

With guest Mark Knopfler adding all the right licks, Dylan was enthusiastic enough to extemporize a few lines. After, "I thought I saw something move," he added a jokey, "What could it be?" And after "Put it in a wheelbarrow," a goading, "And then what?" Having established that he indeed still had something to offer, he strutted over to the grand piano to pound out some loud discordant mischief.

Next, Dylan did what he has largely refused to do on this tour — he played a song from Tempest, a serviceable version of "Early Roman Kings." The song that followed was a pleasant surprise. A deep cut from the back catalogue that has only recently been dusted off after years of neglect: "Joey," an anthemic tribute to New York gangster Joey Gallo. Though he could not hold onto the long "Jo-eeeee" of the chorus, and instead shouted a clipped "Joe/E," this was the most powerful performance of the night. Another possible lyrical replacement here — the line, "Called them amateurs," sounded an awful lot like, "Called them entrepreneurs." A possible post-election dig at Romney? You never can tell with the poet laureate of rock'n'roll.

Sadly, although Bob was giving his best, "Joey" drew a muted response from the lacklustre crowd, some small pockets of "Joey" enthusiasm were found in the beer line. This is the paradox of Bob Dylan fandom — some take out loans and let their children go hungry for the chance to see a moment like this, others text in confusion or outright leave.

A workmanlike effort on "Visions of Johanna," the perfunctory yet crowd-pleasing "Highway 61 Revisited" and the rollicking "Thunder on the Mountain" all helped to provide a sense of value for those who weren't really sure what they were experiencing for most of the show.

Many early walkouts greeted "Ballad of a Thin Man," as though enough growling was enough growling already. This was a shame because Dylan really strove to connect with an impassioned harmonica solo late in the song. There's also a cool reverb effect that always make this a little less boring for those who have heard it ten thousand times.

Even the nearly exhausted "Like a Rolling Stone" had some minor efficacy, but a guy in his 60s was overheard saying, "He should be embarrassed." Then, why come? YouTube could give you an indication of how Bob sounds in 2012, pal.

Here's a theory: Since the oddly perfect New York Post headline, "Bob Dylan Heart Scare" in 1997 and the subsequent release of Time Out of Mind, thousands, perhaps millions, have attended his shows fearing they might never have another opportunity. That was 15 years ago, so it's certain these hospice-duty fans have not always been thoroughly entertained in their prolonged funeral march. Yet no serious Dylan fan could ever risk missing the Bard's last appearance in his/her region. In the light of cold economic truth, this deathwatch is a big part of the never-ending tour's ongoing profitability.

Which doesn't actually matter one bit. Because at the end, Bob asks, "How does it feel?" and sure, maybe he was barky and didn't do much actual singing, and maybe five hack writers are at that moment finishing their "Time for Bob to retire!" column, but Bob Dylan asked you, "How does it feel?" and that is worth something big and true and meaningful to anybody who cares the least little bit about good American music.
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Fantastic review. Very haunting, well-written, and accurate. I adored the line: "This deathwatch is a big part of the never-ending tour's ongoing profitability," because unfortunately, it's true.
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I love Dylan but he is no longer fit to be touring. It sounds like he's singing in a different language. He is too close to the mic at times and it hurts the ear to listen to him. He changes the melodies of his popular tunes to the point that they are no longer recognizable. It was a horrible performance. Knopfler on the other hand was excellent.
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Stick my head in a kettle drum
Bang it round till I'm done
This poet critic 's got to run
hearin Dylan try to sing last night
that's what
I should have done!!!!......... just sayin.
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The review I felt was honest , If one ever did sit and embrace his words one should not be disapointed ,he always mirrored his words . Bob owes us nothing he is a artist first not a entertainer , He is indeed a rolling stone not a old age crooner .
I enjoyed his show and was humbled by the legend that he is .
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I saw Dylan in 99 and his show was similar last night. Some big songs, some more obscure and virtually everything is different than the album versions. Accept the fact that your lucky to still see him on tour and accept the show at face value. I personally like how his songs are always evolving. It would be boring any other way
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Got my ticket I could live with the disappointment. If I had paid some idiotic scalper price, I would have felt extremely ripped off. I was a huge Dylan fan in the day,but I agree with Llygra. "He is no longer fit to be touring" Sorry Bobby.
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One heckuva pathetic show...a performer has to know when to hang em up..
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Great review. Honest and true. It surprises me that people go to his shows and expect him to sound like he did decades ago. For the patrons who complained they didn't recognize some of his major hits, where have they been! Listen to any live album he's released. He seldom plays the song in it's original form. When I first heard the live album "Hard Rain" I had no idea what the first track was until I heard the lyrics. Icouldn't believe that was Maggie's Farm and I instantly loved that he could just rewrite a classic. He's been playing some of those songs for 50yrs. To keep them interesting to himself and to his audience he is constantly reinventing them. That is the spirit of live music. To hear what you can't hear on an album. I love what you said about checking out YouTube before buying a ticket. I know what I'm getting into by going to see him. It's to bad that people walked out. He's a 71 year old performer who has helped mold modern music and still influences modern artists. I could never disrespect a man who has lent multiple generation his songs. We don't own them he does. So he can do whatever he wants with them.
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Hope is eternal. To listen to Dylan makes me realize nothing stays the same. Dylan should realize this as well and it's just time to stop so we can romanticize the past as oppose to see the reality of his decline.
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I think this is a fantastic and accurate review. If you go in expecting to hear a studio rehash of a song recorded between 20 and 50 years ago played by a 71 year old, you're delusional. He's always changed up his arrangements and this current incarnation of the Neverending Tour is no different, he just now uses the band/songs to suit his 2012 voice. And if you take it at face value, in terms of how he incorporates new vocal melodies into old standards, it still makes for a pretty solid show. True, it did seem like a show made for a smaller venue (dude seriously has to get a screen or two if you're playing to a full bowl setup, c'mon... it really could've been anyone on that stage from where I was sitting), but it was still a really solid one. Hope it's not his last, as always, but will it ever be?
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As much as I agree with many of the points, I disagree as well. He's getting older, his voice isn't the same as it used to be but it was still one heck of a show. Knopfeller got the crowd ready in anticipation for some good music that didn't drag on with eccesively long instrumental breaks and many of the people in the crowd would only be very willing to see the concert again. While sitting on the train to get picked up to repeat the six hour drive we took just to see the concert, people were ranting and raving about how he is still kicking and doing what he loves. He is a jem. You can paint it however you want but in all reality, you went to the concert for your love of the music and the love for Dylan.
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I always loved Bob, BUT that concert was very sad!, Dylans voice has completely gone, he tried to hide it with loud music but that only added to the problem.
If he had of sat down with an acoustic guitar and sang a little softer we might have been able to understand more than 1 in 10 words, but tryng to make himself heard over the band, (who stunk),sorry but growl, growl growl meant nothing to me, I know he is an icon, genius,
and the very best, but his voice is gone and so is the $300 it cost me.
Thank God for Mark Knopfer...he was worth going to see. first class.
someone needs to make Dylan sit down and listen to how it sounds to others. still love ya Bob, but that was beyond bad
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I thought it was a very good show. Bob was engaged and giving it his best. I thought Visions of Johanna was excellent and was so happy to see it live. It was also great to hear You Ain't Going Nowhere" an homage to his Toronto connection with The Band. And JOEY ... c'mon ... when did you ever expect to hear that live? A nice comment on Roman Kings too. Bob is a lot of work ... you need to know all the music to be able to recognize it live. His harmonica was as good as I've heard in the past decade. And having Knopfler sit in was also a treat. I made a promise to myself that I will see him every chance I get until he is gone and I'm very glad that I did.
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A brilliant visions of johanna!!! And for those who say they couldn't understand, bob was crystal clear during visions! And ballad of a thin man was brilliant!
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Ode from a Bob Dylan fan no more

Been a fan since i was a teen and
My boyfriend Glen put your record on
We caressed every song and touched every line of poetry divine 
You helped us through so many things it made every sense to hear you sing
We were nowhere near a concert you see 
being In Africa and away across the sea
Our fondest dream was to see you live in concert one day
Sing along to Maggie's Farm or Isis or Hurricane
Never knew what happened to him or even if he's well
But so many years later and a fan I still am

Saw you last night at the ACC near the dome  
You sounded so bad that I almost went home
On a cold November might it's all changed and it's strange
My heart has been broken by a hero so dear
I'm not sure it will mend nor will it ever be clear
Why you treat all your fans with such little regard
Why you spit on their hopes and their money when they've earned it so hard
It must be tough I'm sure but wouldn't know to be loved and adored and revered and applaud and admired and inspired and so tired too I'm sure
You're not god yet we hail you and nail you to our walls and we love you and download your songs from the store 
But for me that all changed with a dream that went bust
You destroyed the lyrics and music I trust
It's tragic and sad to witness such apathy. 
You're a grumpy old man it's so plain to see
They are your songs and I've heard you don't care. 
But you wrote them and sold them and there's a responsibility there
To your fans around the world to whom tickets you've sold 
Show some respect and courtesy 
I teach my kids every day at sports and at school
Give it your ALL and your BEST or it just isn't cool
You can cruise down the road with not a care in the world when you're a poor Joe with no records that have sold
But news flash to you Bob
You long ago went down the path of being in our homes and our hearts and our iPods 
You are nothing without fans and no fan can be sure
That you'll honor them or respect them or just be a bore
I can say I don't care but you've broken my heart
You killed my hero with one pantomimed 'Tangled up in Blue' dart
With a sneer and a grin you stamped on my soul
The joy of The Watchtower for me is no more
I'd wring my hands in despair but I'm really not the type
It's tragic to see that on stage you're not worth all the hype
So to be clear to you Dylan
Let me tell you this day
You carry on mumbling and bumbling your way 
with no thought for the little guy who spends all his dough on a ticket to see an iconic show
It won't be me anymore because laziness I abhor
That was my last trip to the lake of despair 
as a fan knowing that you just don't care
Carry on carry on go deliver the blow 
to somebody else...that was my last show
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Did anyone ever think Bob Dylan was a great singer and musician? Not me- he's first and foremost a poet and that hasn't changed. I never got to see him in the 60s or 70s and this was my last chance- and it was a reminder to me that you really can't go back and that we really are all older- maybe it's our own inability to recapture the past that we found so disturbing - one more lesson from an icon of our generation? The concert was musically unsound ( although he was pretty in the groove as of Highway 61) but I was there to experience his presence and was glad to be there
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We went to see Mark Knopfler and that's why we left early. Dylan wasn't music to my ears except when MK played along and I could ignore the croaking bullfrog. MK and his band were fantastic. I enjoyed every second.
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I've read so many negative reviews of the show. I over heard so many people asking which song he was playing. I felt out of place. Were me and my buddy the only 2 fans enjoying what we were hearing?

I still have the way he delivered "blowing in the wind" stuck in my head. it was beautiful. joey was amazing, tangled up in blue rocked, the reverb on ballad of a thin man added a nice touch of psych and visions of johanna was a huge highlight.

I'm beginning to feel that most of Dylans negative reviews come from people wanting to be the first to say Dylan was bad. like that time at the newport festival where he was so bad they wanted to pull the plug on his set.

I can't wait until the next Dylan show to hear how so many people missed out on what was actually a great concert.
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The Dylan concert was excellent. I am amazed at the number of reviews stating that Bob can't sing. Where have you all been for the last 30 years? Dylan's voice has never been his strong point, but his lyrics are what makes him an icon. People expecting Bob to be something he is not are not fans and should stay home and listen to their cd's.
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love the review. Here is mine.
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