From the old-time feel of the concert hall to the diverse crowd of young and old, the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor was the ideal setting to host a legend such as Bob Dylan and His Band on another leg of his “Never Ending Tour.”
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan has spent the past five decades writing and performing. His most famous work illustrates the social unrest of the 1960s with songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”
“The Never Ending Tour” is what Dylan calls his constant performing schedule, since it started June 7, 1988. Over the past twenty-two years, His Band has changed and evolved and shows no signs of stopping. Dylan turned sixty-nine in 2010 and still manages to juggle around 100 shows a year.
In 2010, Dylan and His Band traveled from Japan to Europe, and spent August and September in the American West before reaching Ann Arbor.
With the lights out, excluding a few spots of blue and purple onstage, Bob Dylan and His Band arranged themselves and their instruments to a spoken introduction of Bob Dylan’s beginnings, his motorcycle accident that turned him into a momentary recluse, his return to touring, and his Born-again period. The crowd erupted into applause.
The band started hard and chugged along with Dylan’s “Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat.” A lesser-known Dylan song, this tune playfully addresses Dylan confronting a lover who’s not-so faithful but tells her those other guys only want her for her expensive headwear.
Such a monumental performer called for a monumental stage and setup. A sheet hung behind Bob Dylan and His Band where photos of cityscapes and plains were projected. A gold light shone on Dylan in a suit, tie and cowboy hat, casting his infamous shadow across the photos.
Some performances revealed more tricks up Dylan’s sleeve. With the lights on stage dimming between each song and different backdrops, the crowd was wowed by a bird’s-eye-view of the stage projected behind the band. It looked like a funhouse mirror had been dropped on stage. Even little things such as the setting made the crowd go wild.
“I have a pretty sizeable obsession with Mr. Dylan and had seen him live three times before, but this concert blew those out of the water,” said audience member Kari. “The band was tight, and Bob seemed to really be having a blast. My seats were pretty close on the main floor, and it was great to see him smiling and sometimes laughing with the band.”
Many of his classics were reworked to have slower tempos and various lyric arrangements. Audience members singing along were almost thrown off by his reworking of “Just Like a Woman” in which the drawn out title was sung by the audience but quickly run through by Dylan.
Dylan has been touring for over 40 years so it’s more than understandable he needed to slow down some songs. But not everyone was pleased with Dylan’s performance.
“I thought the performance was mostly awful,” said concert-goer Liam Kruger. “However, it was great to see Bob Dylan all the same.”
Regardless of age, Dylan’s fans were free to celebrate this legend. Whether 20 years old or 60, many audience members stood and danced to Dylan’s encore, closing with his latest song “Jolene” and famous classic “Like a Rolling Stone.” Dylan and His Band left to a standing ovation that carried on further into the night in the chattering hearts and minds of his fans.
“The whole set list was great but hearing “Desolation Row” was probably the best part for me,” Kari said. “It’s one of my all time favorite songs. I think I’m still riding the high from the concert.”