IN TUNE: I heard beforehand that the set list for Bob Dylan’s 2012 tour-closing show at Barclay’s Center the night before Thanksgiving was “from heaven.” It was.
Right away, you could see people smiling, gasping with delights, repeating the names of the songs to their companions — “Don’t Think Twice…,” “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Highway 61 Revisited,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
Although often known as uneven, Dylan was anything but. He and his crack band were high-energy and hard-hitting throughout — same as when I last saw them a decade and a half ago.
Dylan was all over the Brooklyn stage Wednesday night, in his black slacks, black jacket and white hat. When he wasn’t, he was beyond the baby grand or electric piano, as if he was in a honky tonk. And then there was his familiar mouth harp.
The only breather he took was to introduce the band: longtime rhythm section Tony Garnier on bass and George Recile on drums, rhythm guitarist Stu Kimball, pedal-steel guitarist Donnie Herron playing everything from viola to violin and electric mandolin, and masterful guitarist Charlie Sexton.
Speaking of masterful guitarists, co-headliner Mark Knopfler joined the group for a trio of songs, following an 11-song, 90-minute opening set that closed with many in the crowd singing along to Dire Straits’ “So Far Away.”
REVIEW, PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia ( CLIFFVIEW PILOT )
High points of the show for me:
- Visions of Johanna, sublime and beautiful as always;
- Ballad of a Thin Man, always a crowd pleaser and arguably the best version I’ve ever heard live.
There were also two songs from the new CD, “Tempest”: “Soon After Midnight,” a romantic ballad that is fast becoming a fan favorite, and “Early Roman Kings,” with an opening reminiscent of Dylan’s historic “Rainy Day Women.”
It’s a measure of his immense stature as an enduring legend that not everyone got to hear everything they wanted. I’d have gone for “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” “Gotta Serve Somebody,” or, especially, “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.” But the man couldn’t possibly sing everything in one evening — and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
There isn’t a musical turn Dylan has ever taken that I’ve objected to. The constantly changing versions of his songs are part of the journey.
Having not seen him in 15 years, the 2012 tour closer was certainly worth the wait.
1. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
2. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (w/Mark Knopfler on guitar)
3. Things Have Changed (w/Knopfler)
4. Tangled Up In Blue (w/Knopfler)
5. Early Roman Kings
6. Chimes Of Freedom
7. The Levee’s Gonna Break
8. Visions Of Johanna
9. Highway 61 Revisited
10. Soon After Midnight
11. Thunder On The Mountain
12. Forgetful Heart
13. Ballad Of A Thin Man
14. Like A Rolling Stone
15. All Along The Watchtower
16. Blowin’ In The Wind