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Bob Dylan at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Dylan and His Band Rock on Bastille Day


Accompanied by his current band—Stu Kimball, Donnie Herron, Charlie Sexton, Tony Garnier, and George Receli—Bob Dylan hotwired the Bowl on Bastille Day with a relatively short (17 songs), but energetic and satisfying set of music that included both “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” Although many of the older songs on offer Thursday were rendered unusual by Dylan’s arrangements and delivery, fortunately none were messed up beyond recognition. Dylan circa 2011 likes to boogie, and, although he spends most of his time at the keyboard and plays a bit of guitar, he still employs his harmonica when he wants to rev up the crowd. And this is exactly what he did on the night’s fourth number, “Tangled Up in Blue,” which picked up a new backbeat in this electric version.

Highlights included a fascinating ramble through “Highway 61 Revisited” that laid in some ice-pick blues guitar for a swinging “two-lane blacktop” effect. Dylan has insisted in the past that, like the north-south interstate Highway 61 he sings about, his music connects the Mississippi Delta to the rest of the country. It sure sounded that way in this concert, as Dylan used the ragged glory of his damaged/indestructible voice to channel a multitude of great blues shouters, including what sounded like some Screamin’ Jay Hawkins on the boldly dramatic “Ballad of a Thin Man.” Of the three encores, the first and the last were the best, as “Like a Rolling Stone” took on a near-reggae lilt at times, and “Blowin’ in the Wind” got a decisive boost from Sexton’s eloquent guitar solo.

Setlist:

1. “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking”
2. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”
3. “Things Have Changed”
4. “Tangled Up in Blue”
5. “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’”
6. “If You Ever Go to Houston”
7. “High Water (For Charley Patton)”
8. “Simple Twist of Fate”
9. “The Levee’s Gonna Break”
10. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”
11. “Highway 61 Revisited”
12. “Forgetful Heart”
13. “Thunder on the Mountain”
14. “Ballad of a Thin Man”

Encore:

15. “Like a Rolling Stone”
16. “All Along the Watchtower”
17. “Blowin’ in the Wind”



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