Bob Dylan Shines In Intimate Performance

Surveys his storied career in front of 1,000 fortunate fans
Posted Jul 6, 1999 at 12:00am
Bob Dylan's pronouncements from the stage are usually few and far between and tend toward the non sequitur. That was more or less the case at Detroit's St. Andrew's Hall on July 6 when the fabled singer stepped to the mic midway through his hour-and-fifty-minute show to tell the crowd he'd spent the day at the Motown Museum. "I asked the guard, 'Where's the Smokey Robinson stuff?' and he said, 'You know what happens when Clark Kent gets hungry? He turns into Supperman!"


If Dylan didn't exactly distinguish himself as a comedian, he did prove that his musical renaissance which began around the time of his brush with death a couple years ago and carried on through his Grammy-winning album Time Out of Mind is still in progress. Taking a side trip from his current tour with fellow troubadour Paul Simon, Dylan treated 1,000 fans packed tightly into this tiny performance space to a rare, intimate evening of songs from throughout his long and storied career.

Kicking off with a country-blues version of the Rev. Gary Davis' "Cocaine Blues," Dylan led his four-piece band through a six-song acoustic set highlighted by a gorgeous reading of "Mama, You Been on My Mind," featuring stellar interplay between Dylan and guitarist Larry Campbell. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" proceeded like the ocean coming in at high tide, each chorus cresting and crashing, then going out again for guitar solos and another verse.

The band also played "Love Minus Zero/No Limit," "Tangled Up in Blue," and "Girl From the North Country." Throughout the show, Dylan enunciated his lyrics and crooned on-key. Only once, during "Tangled," did he slip into the braying stereotype that, for much of the past decade, made him seem more a self-parodying nostalgia act than an epoch-defining artist who is still as vital as his songs.

Strapping on his electric guitar, Dylan charged through a snarling, almost punkish version of "Silvio," then switched gears for a brooding take on "Man in the Long Black Coat." "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" was set as a weeping honky-tonker, while a quiet, yet intense reading of "Not Dark Yet" proved to be the set's highlight, with Dylan solemnly intoning "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there."

Dylan closed the set with a recast version of "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" and "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat," which featured recently tapped guitarist Charlie Sexton, whose blistering solo was a welcome change from the support role he'd been playing all night.

The encore spotlighted the stark, forlorn "Love Sick," and also featured a rollicking "Highway 61," and a hushed, surprisingly vulnerable reading of "It Ain't Me, Babe," on which Dylan set his guitar aside and closed the song with an extended harmonica solo. The show wound up with a high-energy version of "Not Fade Away" that was more Buddy Holly than Grateful Dead, but did seem to acknowledge the Deadhead contingent that latched onto Dylan after Jerry Garcia's passing. The noodle-dancers cheered the song lustily, but then, so did everyone else.

Overall, the show didn't contain any elements that fulfilled the audience's expectation of a transcendent night. What it did have to offer, though, was a rare intimacy -- the chance to get up close and personal with a performer whose work helped to shape the world we live in. That, of course, turned out to be more than enough.

Written by DANIEL DURCHHOLZ for News

Add a Comment

Similar Guitar News

The Doors' Robby Krieger Discusses Bob Dylan's 'Bringing It All Back Home' — The Record That Changed My Life (8/1/2014)
Robby Krieger of the Doors chooses and discusses the record that changed his life. Bob DylanBringing It All Back Home (1965) “This guy from Marblehead, Massachusetts, who I knew in school named Bill Phinity turned me onto Bob Dylan. "We had a j...
Charlie Daniels to Release Bob Dylan Tribute Album April 1st (3/28/2014)
Charlie Daniels, best known for his No. 1 country hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," is set to release a new album, Off The Grid - Doin’ It Dylan. As his tribute to Bob Dylan, the new record gives 77-year-old Daniels the opportunity to pay re...
Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Jim James and More Write Music for Long-Lost Bob Dylan Lyrics (3/25/2014)
Recording is nearly complete for Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes. The project features Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Marcus Mumford (Mumford &...
'Bob Dylan In The '80s: Volume One' to be Released March 25 (3/7/2014)
Bob Dylan In The 80s: Volume One will be released on March 25. The brainchild of producers Jesse Lauter (Elvis Perkins, The Low Anthem) and Sean O'Brien (Dawes, PAPA), the mission of Bob Dylan In The 80s: Volume One is to shed new light on a la...
Highlights of Bob Dylan’s ‘Bootleg Series’ (12/31/2013)
Standing as probably the greatest American songwriter of all time, the musical catalog of Bob Dylan is nothing short of awe-inspiring. 35 studio albums, 11 live albums, and innumerable compilations contain countless brilliant moments from the al...
Bob Dylan's Newport Strat sells for $965,000 (12/9/2013)
Read more about Bob Dylan's Newport Strat sells for $965,000 at The historic '64 Fender Stratocaster used by Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival has been sold for a record breaking sum at auction.The sunburst Strat took ce...
Bob Dylan's Famous Newport Folk Festival Strat Sells for Nearly $1 Million (12/7/2013)
This past Friday, December 6, a Fender Strat that once belonged to Bob Dylan sold for $965,000 at Christie's in New York City, setting a new world auction record for any guitar (not including private sales), according to a statement from the auc...
Album Review: Bob Dylan — 'Another Self Portrait (1969-1971), The Bootleg Series Vol. 10' (9/2/2013)
The thing about being a fan of Bob Dylan is that the discovery of his greatness is never-ending. In preparing to review the great new 10th volume of his Bootleg Series, Another Self Portrait (1969-1971), I was distracted by a host of bootlegs t...
Bob Dylan on Critics: "All Those Evil Motherf---ers Can Rot in Hell" (9/12/2012)
With yesterday's release of Tempest, perhaps his darkest effort to date, Bob Dylan has shown that he's still got plenty of fire left in him. And some of that fire is being directed at critics. Dylan is featured on the latest cover of the new iss...
Bob Dylan's New Album, 'Tempest' Streaming Now at iTunes (9/7/2012)
As we’ve reported, Bob Dylan’s 35th studio album, Tempest, will be released September 11. For those of you who can’t wait till Tuesday to hear what Rolling Stone considers a five-star album, head to iTunes, where the entire release is streaming ...
Full Story of Bob Dylan and The Band Coming to DVD (8/16/2012)
In 1966 Bob Dylan began his first electric world tour. It was a landmark moment for Dylan and the history of rock music, and it bitterly divided his audience. Backing Dylan on stage was an obscure group of Canadian musicians collectively known a...
Hear Bob Dylan's "Early Roman Kings" from New Album, 'Tempest' (8/2/2012)
Bob Dylan's 35th studio album, Tempest, will be released September 11. And while that's still more than a month away, Dylan fans can hear one of the songs off the new album, "Early Roman Kings," in the trailer for Season 2 of Cinemax's series St...
Bob Dylan's 35th Studio Album, 'Tempest,' Expected September 11 (7/17/2012)
Bob Dylan will release his 35th studio album -- Tempest -- September 11 on Columbia Records. Fifty years ago, Dylan released his self-titled debut, also on Columbia. It mostly flew under the radar and didn't sell particularly well. But after 1...
The Making of Dylan's "Love and Theft" (9/27/2001)
Two weeks, twelve songs - that's all it took for a new classic
New Dead Tribute to Feature Costello, Dylan (6/1/2000)
Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan among those on Grateful Dead project
Bob Dylan, Phil Lesh to Tour Together (5/29/2000)
Summer tour to feature Dylan, Dead bassist