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Bob Dylan stays true to rebellious roots

Folk prophet avoided the classics in Pittsburgh show

Written By Amanda Myers

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Anyone showing up to Heinz Hall last Monday evening expecting Bob Dylan to roll out with a harmonica around his neck and happily put on a greatest hits show was surely mistaken.

Dylan is as rebellious as he was in his folk days, but sheds that identity of his former self in both song and appearance.

Arriving to the stage in an oversized blazer with bed-head hair, Dylan appeared to be in favor of the ruffed-up Frank Sinatra look as his backing band donned similar styles.  He’s also keener to the suave standards that Sinatra famously made his own.

A majority of Dylan’s set focused on his most recent albums, like cover compilations “Triplicate” and “Fallen Angels,” as well as his 2000s era masterpiece, “Tempest.”

It’s often hard to understand what Dylan is saying, even if you have the lyrics memorized to his songs.  When singing the classics, he somehow fits right into the swing of things.  These songs that have been around for decades still have potency when a man as musically diverse as Dylan breathes new life into them.

“Once Upon a Time” and “The September of My Years” were notable highlights.  You could feel the wonder of their innocence even within Dylan’s off-putting gravel-like tone.

That tone may not have been preferred by everyone in the audience when it was time for him to play his own hits.

“It Ain’t Me Babe” was nearly unrecognizable until it came time for the chorus as the audience broke out into an unsure applause.  The ultimate throw-off moment had to be when he went poetic on the crowd with a spoken word version of “Tangled Up in Blue.”

Dylan was able to bring things back around, however, with a two song encore mounting hits “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Ballad of a Thin Man” against one another.  It was here that an audience of mixed ages was reminded of Dylan’s impressive foothold in culture and the music that reflected it.

He left without saying a word, just as he did upon entering.  He’s a man of mystique that prefers to let his songs, and those of others, speak for him.

You couldn’t say the same about Mavis Staples, who opened the show for Dylan.

The Chicago dynamo and former Staples singer was electric in her onstage delivery.  She hit high notes with stamina through a voice that is also a little rough for wear.

Through multiple proposals shouted from the crowd and commentary about Dylan’s stage moves, she had the crowd settled perfectly in the palm of her hand.

Her mission was to make us feel good, and she certainly delivered.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Bob Dylan stays true to rebellious roots”

  1. Leo J. Fuchs on November 17th, 2017 9:20 pm

    Very nice review. If you’re the Amanda who sat next to me at the concert, please send me an e-mail. I enjoyed talking about Bob with you. There are some good Dylan sites I’d like to tell you about.

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