AUGUST 2012: A MOTHERSHIP OF LIVE MUSIC

It’s been a sensational August for live music for me, maybe my best month for live shows yet. It kicked off with The Black Keys in Council Bluffs. The first time I saw The Black Keys live it was a small venue at the IMU Ballroom in Iowa City. Then their popularity exploded and they’ve been playing arenas and headlining festivals ever since. I wanted to catch them after their new found and well-deserved mass popularity in the arenas. I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch them at Lollapalooza as they were going to headline against Black Sabbath, so this was the appetizer before Lollapalooza. They did not disappoint.  They were a well-polished machine and they’ve perfected their amalgamation of gritty blues and glam rock. Partick Carney with his wiry frame bashed the drums with a propulsive primal ferocity while Dan Auerbach played ferocious and dirty guitar licks and sung in his signature soulful howl. The truly great live band, a truly great band. I hope they remain at the forefront of Rock & Roll’s royalty for decades to come.

Next up was my 3rd annual trip to Chicago for Lollapalooza. It was an exciting time to be alive. I think I’ll most remember the legendary set put on by Metal Godfathers Black Sabbath. The band sounded fantastic and it’s one of my favorite live moments ever, I can’t wait to hear what they’ve new record sounds like next year. With Rick Rubin behind the helm guiding the band and producing the record it’s got potential to go down as another classic in their canon. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were another big name legendary band I’ve wanted to see that I can check off the list now. They seem forever young in their live style of play. Flea I swear is the beast incarnate on bass. Jack White closed out Lollapalooza in mad scientist, guitar wizard style with two entirely different backing bands for each of his set. I loved a lot of under card acts as well including: Dr. Dog, The Head & The Heart, The Shins, Delta Spirit, The Tallest Man on Earth, Gary Clark Jr., The Gaslight Anthem, and Of Monsters And Men. The only real crime of Lollapalooza this year was The Gaslight Anthem only getting 45 minutes to play. Ridiculous. I’m going to have to see them on their own at some point.

This past Sunday I caught Dawes in the Englert Theatre in Iowa City. What a band. I was truly captivated by frontman Taylor Goldsmith. He’s rapidly blossoming into a world-class songwriter and his guitar playing was phenomenal. They played a couple new songs. I liked both of them but there was one that had this darkened lounge feel, like a Dire Straits song that I thought sounded terrific. Can’t wait for record #3 from these guys. They may be poised for a huge run, let’s hope so.

Finally came Bob Dylan on Tuesday night up in Rochester, MN. This was the seventh time I’ve seen Dylan now and I think I can honestly say, this was my favorite. I made the trip to the show by myself but that didn’t dampen my spirit when Dylan and his band took the stage. Bob and co. tore into a smoldering “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” to kick off the show. Then things got interesting. I read about how Bob was bringing a grand piano with him on tour, sure enough that grand piano made it to Rochester. And for his first song on it, “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” I was floored. The depth of the song. Dylan’s piano playing added an entire other level to the song. It also showed how much of a gifted piano player Bob truly is. Bob snarled and growled his way through classics and nuggets, I thought it was one of his best vocal performances. Bob sounded great and looked great. He seemed to be in high spirits, gesturing and flaunting on the piano, high stepping and marching around the stage while singing and playing harp, and cracking up with his bandmates. Some of my favorites included hearing “John Brown” for the first time. One of my favorite non-album cuts and Donnie Herron’s banjo playing really added to the ominous soundscape. Later on came an incredible surprise when Dylan busted out “Visions Of Johanna”, the song I’ve most wanted to hear at his last few shows. A few days ago I was clamoring for him to play “Desolation Row”, but this was an even bigger surprise and it sounded magnificent. Bob and his band then tore the roof off the place with the ferocious roadhouse blues of “Highway 61 Revisited” that really took on a new life with Bob’s piano playing. Dylan then strapped on a guitar for “Simple Twist Of Fate”. And for anyone that wondered if Bob could still play guitar? Not only can he play guitar, but he was ripping off solos and playing leads and gnarly fills like a true blues guitar master. Bob then took to center stage and preached to a willing congregation the unsettling apocalyptic “Ballad Of a Thin Man” before tearing into “Like A Rolling Stone” and “All Along The Watchtower”. For the encore Dylan came out and I got to hear for the first time as well arguably his first historical song, “Blowin’ in the Wind”. It was done masterfully with a full band, I love Bob on piano and Herron’s beautiful fiddle. Bob and company then stood at the end of the show, just soaking in the adulation like the always do. Because they’re bad asses and they know it. Nothing gets cooler than that. They left me salivating for more and I think I have no choice now but to pull the trigger on getting tickets for his Omaha show in November with Mark Knopfler. Also I can’t wait (even more so) for Tempest to be released. Get here soon September! Below is the setlist:

Rochester, Minnesota

Mayo Civic Center

Taylor Arena

August 21, 2012

1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

2. Love Minus Zero/No Limit

3. Things Have Changed

4. Tangled Up In Blue

5. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

6. John Brown

7. Summer Days

8. Spirit On The Water

9. Rollin’ And Tumblin’

10. Visions Of Johanna

11. Highway 61 Revisited

12. Simple Twist Of Fate

13. Thunder On The Mountain

14. Ballad Of A Thin Man

15. Like A Rolling Stone

16. All Along The Watchtower

(encore)

17. Blowin’ In The Wind

Band Members

Bob Dylan – guitar, keyboard, piano, harp

Tony Garnier – bass

George Recile – drums

Stu Kimball – rhythm guitar

Charlie Sexton – lead guitar

Donnie Herron – violin, banjo, electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel

…Well I’m off to Apple River now. If I survive I may have some tales for WordPress world. Stay tuned folks, it’s gonna get weird up in Somerset, WI.

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BOB DYLAN: EARLY ROMAN KINGS

This is Bob Dylan’s first released song from his much-anticipated new album Tempest out September 11th. The song is titled, “Early Roman Kings”. The song is a bluesy dirge most similar to “My Wife’s Home Town” from Together Through Life. The prominent instrument is David Hildalgo’s accordion. The accordion was a prominent fixture on Together Through Life. Bob’s lyrics are lysergic and it’s a small dose of the darkness we may be in for on Tempest. Bob’s voice is gravelly as usual but his phrasing and inflections are top notch. A good start!