South Bend, IN -- November 1, 2019

My review of the show in South Bend: Bob Dylan and his band played in South Bend IN last night November 1. I will remember this show forever (this was my 34th concert by way of comparison).

I've been tracking the reviews of the previous shows---both here and in the papers---and this show lived up to billing. Bob was in remarkable voice---clear, strong, real singing, singing with conviction, with evident care and respect for his own compositions (one could not always say that). Ballad of a Thin Man stands out. You could hear a pin drop on Girl from the North Country. Lenny Bruce won over a lad who saw Bob for the first time. The phrasing in "Not Dark Yet" was superb. Thunder on the Mountain was a rollicking good time. I could go on.

But a few observations.

(1) The staging is different from previous tours. Bob's piano is more center stage than the more typical stage left (from perspective of performer), but Bob is positioned so he faces stage left. This means that his back is completely to his band. The band is so tight and rehearsed that the music rolls on without prompt or direction.

(2) I don't recall seeing Donnie Herron play violin on other tours (or shows that I have seen), but he did that a few times. This seemed new to me.

(3) The new band members (Bob Britt, guitar; Matt Chamberlain, drums) were given room to stand out, and they were splendid. I was always under the impression that Bob frowned on guitar solos and drum solos. Don't think I saw any of that in my previous 33 shows. Bob's band can play anything, and the new personnel bring value-added for sure.

(4). There was a mic stand very forward near the cape of the stage, but Bob never sung that close to the audience. He used it only to park a mic when he was done with it (when the lights went out). He stands WAY BACK from the audience near the drum kit. I almost thought he was going to back in to Tony Garnier at one point. I noticed this at the St. Paul show last year. The only time he stood up front from stage center was the opening song ("Things Have Changed") when he had a guitar. I can only conclude that without the prop of a guitar he prefers the comfort of his band and distance from the audience. It's as if Bob is not comfortable moving on stage without a guitar in his hand, it's almost adorable. Discuss.

(5) At one point Bob was going to finish off a song (I now forget which one) with a turn on the harmonica---he blew a note, then another, the tossed it---seemingly in frustration--on the stand on stage and finished the song instead at the piano. When the lights went down he retrieved the harmonica and TOSSED IT off stage behind him--surely irritated about something.

Well, that's enough. Fall Tour 2019 is epic and for the ages. "Don't you dare miss it".

Review Location: 
South Bend, Indiana
Review Date: 
Friday, November 1, 2019
Review Author: 
Dan Lapsley