As the sun set over The Lawn at White River, Bob Dylan put on his white hat, picked up his electric guitar, and opened with “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” Beer cans cracked and marijuana smoke blew through the air.
Next, Dylan and his band bounced into a country version of “It Ain’t Me, Babe.” The steel guitar, played by Donnie Herron, whined, and Dylan’s hoarse voice careened in his signature off-beat fashion.
Dylan’s band is the same five-piece line-up he used on Modern Times [Columbia], his acclaimed 2006 record. They put their country-rock twist on other classics, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” and “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” Then Dylan sang softly on “Lay Lady Lay,” which was recognizable at the first guitar chord.
From that point on Dylan played a keyboard. Dennie Freeman’s lead guitar ran through the lawn like a train on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” Dylan screeched like a dying bird, “I got trouble so hard!” Then, the slow paced “Moonlight” was accompanied by Dylan’s gentle keyboard action and his haunting voice, perfect for the twilight. The applause was rich.
George Receli rocked the drums on “Highway 61 Revisited,” and Dylan screamed at the top of his lungs, “Out on Highway Sixty-One!” “Tangled Up in Blue” started with a harmonica, and everybody went crazy. “Her folks they said our lives together/Sure was gonna be rough.” They sounded great. Great enough to realize that Dylan will likely continue touring for many years to come.
“Honest With Me” was hard rock. Then, the lyrics “You think I’m over the hill/You think I’m past my prime” was responded to with hoots and hollers, making a seductive song like the one “Spirit on the Water” sound rebellious.
Then they wondrously resurrected the ancient “I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Have Never Met)” from 1964, followed by a couple newer ones. “Nettie Moore” was a great song for audience reactions. Dylan sings, “I’m in a cowboy band,” to which the audience agreed. And, “I’m starting to believe what the scriptures tell,” to which many nodded in agreement. “They say whiskey will kill you/But I don’t think that it will,” to which the fans all cheered. The band rocked out “Summer Days,” a newer song from Love and Theft [Columbia].
Finally, on “I Shall Be Released,” Dylan blew a harp solo, and fans sang along with the verses. By this point, everyone was on his or her feet. And of course, there was a standing ovation. They played “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” the first song on Modern Times, and finished with “All Along the Watchtower,” which was chuck-full of guitar solos. Both songs are gigantic, and they remind us that a Dylan concert is not necessarily a place where “everybody must get stoned,” –rather, it is sometimes a place to hear a bit of truth.
Photo by Nate Rustemeyer