Slurry Dylan wins applause

A talented backup band plus a career based on creatively questioning his elders combined to satisfy at least two fans of Bob Dylan, reviewers in Style Weekly and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. And while the T-D reviewer gushed about a "nearly sold-out crowd of about 6,500," it was quite clear to this reporter that John Paul Jones Arena's, well, "failure curtain" had been drawn over the empty upper decks. Moreover, by the time I finished my Heinekens in the Arena's glassed-in Lexus lounge (which Bob's slurred words mercifully couldn't penetrate), at least a fifth of the crowd had already departed. A high-energy opening from the affable, cynical, and– this is important– intelligible Elvis Costello saved the night.

October 2 update: Egads– now, even the youngsters at VCU have weighed in with another thumbs up. Hats off to the audience member who shouted to Costello: "You're the headliner!" Oh, wait; that was I.

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all of the above opinions could have come from just about every show dylan has ever played.
the boos and walk-outs included.
thats dylan. he gives what he has every nite. he always has, always will.

to jack fate:
i agree with you about bob giving his all.i saw him in savannah last yearr
and toledo and duluth this year and i will tell you he knocked my socks
off. i love to see the master jamming. come back to georgia -we miss you
bob.wonder if he got my poem called make a choice.if not i'll send it to

I avoided that mean ol' bastard as I would plague. Dylan for som many years has been so contepmtuous of his fans, his reviewers, hell, everyone, that I can only suspect he is wallowing in some self-loasthing of his own and projecting it outward.

Plus, having just ended a relationship, I didn't wanna get loaded on Heinekens and sit there in a sorrowful state on the off chance the old man might have cut loose with "Shelter From the Storm."

Couldn't handle that, especially because I doubt that tune still means anything to ol' Bobby Dylan. And it means way the hell too much to me.

Even if Dylan has stopped caring, his residual legacy is that some of us still do.

Elvis was marvelous but Dylan sucked, he sucked hard. To call this a "live" performance came very close to false advertising. People starting leaving in a steady stream after his second song began. It sounded like an antonal monk chanting the Dylan songbook. They might has well left him hooked up to the IV and monitors that his traveling tour ICU bus must contain. Couldn't the animators at Disney just create a robot to lipsynch to his best version of his classic and call it a day.

'slurry' Dylan is given him credit he doesn't deserve. this show sucked. Costello was great, but far too brief because he was an opening act and because he spent time expressing politics (even though I agree with him)that took away time for another song or two. in typical Charlottesville fashion this was more the event at which to be seen rather than the event to go see. people wandered around, arrived hours late, stood chatting and blocking the view of others and then Dylan came on and drove folks away. the man is still living off a legacy that is 40 years old. at least he wasn;t as rude to the crowd as he was in U-Hall in the 80's. I'm mad at myself for paying to see him yet again. that was the last time.

It was a train wreck, in my opinion.

I had front row seats, and tried to sing along (to salvage the moment for myself and help my wife recognize the songs). Every forty or so notes, we'd hit about three of the same ones together (that is, when sound was coming out of his throat at all).

I didn't want to remember him the way he was the last time I saw him ¢Ã¢â??‰â?¬Å? in 1981 with the Grateful Dead. Back then, I felt as if he was contemptuous, hurling his songs at us like weapons or insults (in his autobiography, Chronicles, he admits as much).

I did not complain when Dylan went electric 42 years ago, and I never complained about his voice when he was a younger man; it wasn't whiny to me, and I like his phrasing. I am interested to hear what the man has to say. I understand that he is entitled to reinterpret his songs, even if we wish the melody was the way we love and remember it or was at least recognizable. Maybe he needs to prove he is not a monkey singing Garden Party over and over again (as Ricky Nelson once lamented in a song). The other night, the bastardization of his oeuvre might have been considered music except that his voice is past being a tubercular gurgle and wheeze - While there was a girl on acid, I think, swaying illegally at the railing, and others nearby who seemed equally entranced, I saw people leaving too.

In contrast, Elvis Costello's style has matured, and though I missed a few of the original pop hooks, his jazz sensibility carried them well (along with great humor, biting satire and a very musical delivery). Elvis was personable, too, and engaged the audience. He stood out at the edge of the stage, alternating between two acoustic guitars. btw, the greatest live show I ever saw was with Elvis and the Attractions at the Palladium in NYC 25 years ago. Everyone, check out the 10 episode podcast of Elvis Costello, available free through iTunes; great stuff!

My wife is not American born, and she is not as familiar as I am with Bob's great songs, so she could not understand Word One ¢Ã¢â??‰â?¬Å? too bad his message didn't reach her. I prepared our companions for the worst, because I know from recent CDs that his voice is GONE, but it works on some of the blues numbers, and I give him credit for being who he is.

I love many of his songs, too. The live version of Isis from the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue Tour just slays me: She asked me if I'd stay...."If you want me to, YEAH!!!" Reportedly, Allen Ginsburg was skipping gaily backstage, happy that Bob was in such good voice and spirits. I wish I could've been there. The other night, I wished I was somewhere else!

I wish he'd sung "Man in the Long Black Coat" ¢Ã¢â??‰â?¬Å? hell, maybe he did! (all they'd have needed was a chorus of crickets). He needed some backup singers too. I wish I didn't remember him now with pity for not being able to talk any longer (or sing).

I wonder why he didn't play guitar after the first two songs (he was low in the mix and being filled in by the others, imo), instead of sticking with the keyboard that seemed macabre to me at times. The band was cooking, but it wasn't enough to overcome the obvious problem with the vocal.

He was stiff, no doubt about it (age and the motorcycle crash?). Back away from the front of the stage, and never connecting with the audience. Less warm than inscrutable. Distant. But the lack of anything resembling a voice to carry a word was the worst of it, for sure. The bass player was getting into it, and the drummer too, and they all seemed to be eminently competent, even soulful, musicians. Bob's soulful too, for that matter.

Hey Bob, Elaine's still got that 1956 Martin Tiple under her bed.

There's no getting around it, Bob, you sucked.

The man has many loyal apologists who swear by that performing style, but yea, despite loving his recordings as I do, he was a bizzare, aloof husk when I saw him warble in 1995.

Definitely my first and last attempt at seeing Dylan. The bill should have been reversed, with Costello headlining and Dylan opening. Costello was wonderful! Could have certainly listened to a full concert from him. However, despite the amazing backup band already noted, Dylan was unintelligible and spent most of his time with his back to half of the audience, hidden and playing keyboard. Had Costello not opened, the entire evening would have been a waste of time and money. Have to really feel sorry for Dylan's band. They completely stepped up, for a guy who apparently couldn't care enough about his own music to at least enunciate.

I could see people around me laughing, incredulously.

The first time I saw Dylan was 1986 at RFK. It was painfully loud and sounded like a trainwreck.
I saw him twice since then and it was pretty good. Rockin and rollin.
Then I saw the JPJ show. Holy shnikeez! Terrible. And to those of you who said his band was good, you are on crack. Dylan's band was weak at best. I would think he could get the best musicians on the planet.
Thank god for Elvis who was fantastic!!!