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Concert Reviews:
Bob Dylan offers more than mere legacy in Ann Arbor
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

ANN ARBOR -- Shows on Bob Dylan's so-called Never Ending Tour, which has been going on since roughly 1988, have been notoriously inconsistent over the years. But on paper -- a concert at intimate Hill Auditorium in the counter-culture hotbed of Ann Arbor less than a week before Election Day -- the elements aligned for a good one on Thursday night (Oct. 28).

And that's exactly what the sold-out crowd got. Dylan's hour-and-45-minutes was more strong than spectacular, but the tuxedoed, 69-year-old pop icon was certainly engaged in the evening, singing clearly through his familiar rasp and at times even playful, particularly while leading an audience call-and-response during "Just Like a Woman." And Dylan and his five-piece band, which features Charlie Sexton back on lead guitar, were tightly locked in throughout, exploring dynamic and nuances with the well-honed ease of a group of buddies that could have just as easily been playing in somebody's basement.

The set list, meanwhile, was geared more towards Dylan aficionados than dabblers, touching at points of his career from the mid-60s ("Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat," "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues") to more recent selections such as "Senor," "High Water (For Charley Patton)" and the reggae-tinged "Love Sick," with a nod to Dylan's roots with a spirited cover of Elmore James' "Rollin' and Tumblin' " that was driven by Sexton's slide playing. "Honest With Me,""Desolation Row" "Thunder on the Mountain" were loose but not sloppy, while Dylan's harmonica (he spent most of the night playing keyboards) and Donnie Herron's fiddle highlighted the gentle "Forgetful Heart."

Dylan had a good time playing with the phrasing of "Simple Twist of Fate," and "Ballad of a Thin Man" was the show's most obvious, but not stated, nod to current events. "Like a Rolling Stone," meanwhile, was a dependable warhorse of a final encore but was delivered with genuine energy and authority, capping a night that offered more than just a legend leaning on his legacy.



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