The introduction remained the same:
"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the poet laureate of rock 'n' roll. The voice of the promise of the 60s counterculture. The guy who forced folk into bed with rock. Who donned makeup in the 70s and disappeared into a haze of substance abuse. Who emerged to find Jesus. Who was written off as a has-been by the end of the '80s, and who suddenly shifted gears releasing some of the strongest music of his career beginning in the late '90s. Ladies and gentlemen — Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan."
But the show was a lot more upbeat and mischievous than previous Dylan shows I’ve seen.
In fact, those previous Dylan shows had me pooh-poohing the idea of dropping money on a ticket for the 2010 edition of “The Never-Ending Tour.”
I’m sure there are Dylanphiles who would view the setlist of his Sunday night show in Cedar Falls as nothing remarkable, and I don’t want to suggest that the concert at the McLeod Center was groundbreaking. It was merely a very nice Dylan show with a fan-friendly setlist and a nicely executed performance.
The last show that I saw featured Danny Freeman on guitar, but for this series of dates, Charlie Sexton is back causing me to make funny "Beats So Lonely” Tweets while secretly growing a boner over his stunning Fender Telecaster that seemed to be finished in brushed aluminum. It was gorgeous.
The entire stage was filled with vintage and retro-minded new guitar, all mic’ed up with fancy microphones and performed by five dudes wearing black. If I wasn’t drooling over Sexton’s Tele, I was loving his Victoria combo amp.
Ah, who am I kidding? I would have taken anything that stage provided.
Bob kept the irritating up-note ending phrasing of years past to about one or two passages. Instead, he’d bark out weird phrasing-also at the end of a line-which was more effective than humorous.
For “Highway 61 Revisited,” he ended the “next time you see me coming” line with a menacing “you better run” after an emphasis added two-second pause.
He poked fun at the university during “Tangled Up In Blue” when he changed the “some are carpenter’s wives” to the more appropriate “college professor’s.”
But nothing could prepare me for the fact that Bob Dylan’s performance in my old college town provided me with my first glimpse of female breasts since the “nipplefest” Kiss reunion over ten years ago.
Yes, it’s true: I saw boobies at Bob Dylan, but not in the jumbotron flashing that you’d expect. Instead, a young woman came and sat next to me towards the end of the show (I leisurely meandered around the arena throughout, landing on some nice bleachers in the back) and I noticed that she was holding something.
It was a baby.
The baby was upset, and my paternal instinct immediately pondered, “Who the hell would bring their infant baby to a loud rock show?" Yes, the audio was nicely mixed, but as is the case whenever Bob picks up a harmonica, you’re guaranteed a little bit of dog howling moments. And it just so happened that Bob was using a harmonica on the song that had me noticing the baby’s unhappiness.
It was then the mother popped open a nipple, which seemed to satisfy the crying baby.
O.K., so it wasn’t a full-on boob shot and no, I didn’t use anything but my peripheral vision to catch a glimpse at what was going on-but still, there was a bit of nudity at the last place I’d ever think would have it.
What I did expect-and what I noticed in droves-were a lot of Baby Boomer fans who seemed resigned to see Bob out of generational obligation, only to be the first ones heading for the door before the band launched into a two-song encore.
To lift a line from Kiss, the Boomer-types didn't seem to have enough in them to rock and roll all night, but at 69 years young, Bob had no problem providing the faithful with a winning set and inspired “Like A Rolling Stone” as the last song of the evening.
How does it feel?
It felt better than the other Dylan shows I’ve seen during the last decade.
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
Just Like A Woman
Rollin' And Tumblin'
Tryin' To Get To Heaven
High Water (For Charlie Patton)
Blind Willie McTell
Tangled Up In Blue
Highway 61 Revisited
Workingman's Blues #2
Thunder On The Mountain
Ballad Of A Thin Man
Like A Rolling Stone