Music Review: Bob Dylan in Ottawa

No longer do I need to have a Bob Dylan concert on a bucket list, if I had one.

After reading Robbie Robertson’s Testimony, my interest in Dylan was piqued, and during the show the musical ghosts of Robertson*, Helm, Manuel, Danko and Hudson* were on stage for me along with the crack band backing Dylan on this tour.

On tour in support of his newest 3 CD set, Triplicate, Dylan appeared to have fun with standards like Old Black Magic, Autumn Leaves and Stormy Weather. I was thank full to have Jim with me at this his 15th Dylan show telling me the titles of Dylan rollicking through classics like Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Duquesne Whistle and Highway 61 Revisited.

In a stage setting that reminded me of a ballroom, not unlike what Dylan would have played in with the Band in the 60’s and 70’s, the lighting was simple and suited the show. The lighting different in that all the lighting was directed from the rear of stage or the side, there was never any light on the faces of the band or Dylan. What we got was the iconic image of Bob Dylan’s silhouette of his head and hair from his Greatest Hits albums.


My impressions of the show are much more than musical, they are of Dylan having fun, behind the piano for much of the show. I missed seeing him playing the guitar, that is the image I had of him in my head. Now I see a man playing the piano like someone who just discovered boogie-woogie, his feet dancing below while his fingers danced over the keyboard.

Dylan is not one for words and in Ottawa he did not speak a word to the audience, but his singing surprised me. I did not know what to expect, I had read and heard of a Dylan whose vocal range was limited at best. In Ottawa, Dylan’s gravel voice was pure Dylan, nothing more and nothing less – just Dylan and that was good for me.

With about a third of the set list from recent cover recordings, that left a lot of ground for him to get to for the rest of the 100-minute performance. While I did not know them before, Desolation Row and the final song of the night Ballad of a Thin Man were highlights along with the previously mentioned Highway 61 Revisited and Duquesne Whistle. The only disappointment was Blowing in the Wind, even Jim didn’t recognize the song  until we got to the chorus.

No photos or video were allowed, and if you were tempted and took either you would be escorted out as one gentleman beside me was. So, I have two images from last night, the one I took at the end of the night when the roadies hit the stage once the house lights went up, posted here. The other is of Bob Dylan in his white dinner jacket, one hand on his waist like Superman and the other holding his mic stand as he stood there looking out over his adoring and dedicated fans as if saying, ‘here I am, I have conquered Ottawa until my next visit here’.

Now I that I have seen Dylan live, there are too many other songs to hear him perform to say this will be my last Bob Dylan concert.

*Yes, they are still alive

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