Dallas doesn’t get many opportunities to brag about concerts that the rest of the country doesn’t get to see. But Bob Dylan’s three-night stand at the House of Blues this past weekend – a hastily scheduled visit designed as a live rehearsal for a tour of Central and South America – surprised even longtime Dylan fans with its urgency and, yes, sense of fun.
Those of us who have only seen his ’60s heyday and Rolling Thunder era on DVD were equally impressed. Friday’s set was the best live Dylan concert I’ve seen in 25 years.
In his ’60s prime, he may have rocked harder and enunciated more clearly. But at HOB, powered by a bluesy five-man band, he was clearly “into it”: Even though he sang most of the night from behind a keyboard, his body language was loose and lively as he leaned into the mike to spit out “Visions of Johanna,” swayed to the uplifting, Memphis-soul rearrangement of “Blowin’ in the Wind” and crooned “When the Deal Goes Down.”
In between a healthy sampling of songs from his excellent 2006 album “Modern Times,” he varied the setlist each night to give each audience something unique to brag about: Thursday’s crowd was treated to “Positively 4th Street” and “Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat”; on Friday, we got “Johanna,” “Masters of War” and “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”; and Saturday’s fans got to hear “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” and “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power).”
Did you go to any of the HOB shows? How did they compare to other Dylan shows you’ve seen?