Concert review: Bob Dylan puts philosophy to music at BOK Center
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Saturday, November 03, 2012
11/03/12 at 5:34 AM
Bob Dylan is a poetic genius, even if you can't always understand his words. He's always been that way, and at age 71, he's not about to change.
Dylan and touring partner Mark Knopfler played to a relatively intimate audience Friday night at the BOK Center in two sets filled with genre-bending brilliance.
It's difficult to describe Dylan's live show without sounding irritable, but that's perhaps how he prefers it. He's long been one to force folks to stop and think; to at once woo with vitality and wrestle with uncomfortable truths.
His music effortlessly crosses the lines of folk and rock, jazz and blues, harmonica to guitar to piano. He is a true musician's musician, always on the Never-Ending Tour.
Tunes included "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Things Have Changed" and "Tangled Up in Blue," all from a modestly-lit stage, Dylan dressed in a simple, Western-style black suit. When he spoke, it was to thank the audience and not for much else.
Dylan's famously unpredictable rasp wavered between passionately lovesick, lovestruck and a near-parody-of-himself warble.
His sets are just as famously unpredictable and vary nightly - and he built spontaneity into Friday's concert.
To know Dylan's music is to embrace these idiosyncrasies as standard fare, as many of his fans do. Not a single word of that is criticism: Dylan could lazily riff his "15 greatest hits" every night and likely draw just as many fans. He chooses not to.
Dylan's grand piano solos sometimes resembled runs on a ramshackle honky-tonk upright. (That's a compliment, too.) There's an authenticity in his concert that adds depth to Dylan's distinctive take on American life. This is how American music should sound.
His set wove into it "Make You Feel My Love," "Honest With Me," "Desolation Row," "Highway 61 Revisited" and more.
Dylan was more energetic - and energizing - during Friday's show than I've seen in any of his concerts I've been to since my first in 1988. Fans stood and cheered, lighters held high. Yes, lighters.
Dylan's band was bound by taut players Tony Garnier on bass and George Receli on drums and percussion. Guitarists Charlie Sexton and Stu Kimball also joined pedal and lap steel player Donnie Herron, but not often enough. All eyes, at all times, were on their band leader.
Scot musicman Mark Knopfler opened the night and proved once and for all that he is a solo artist these days and not a Dire Straits nostalgia act led by its former frontman.
The typically understated (and extraordinarily talented) fingerstyle guitarist-singer-songwriter performed primarily from his seven solo albums. His genres spanned folk, roots rock, blues and Celtic-tinged boogie-woogie. His hands sped over his strings; his rasp-whisper voice floated chillingly in the darkened arena.
Friday's set lasted just over an hour and included tunes "Corned Beef City," "Privateering," "Yon Two Crows" "I Used to Could," "Song for Sonny Liston" and "Done With Bonaparte" with an agile seven-man backing band that included piano, drums, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, contrabass, flute, accordion, mandolin, fiddle, keyboards, cello and more. He spoke only to introduce his stage cohorts.
Knopfler's set was immaculate.
Fans, however appreciative, also were somewhat disappointed that the two Dire Straits songs he sang, "Brothers in Arms" and "So Far Away," were stuck near the end of his set.
Original Print Headline: Keeping it simple, Dylan puts philosophy to music at BOK
Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346